Welcome to week five of my Summer Interview Series. Each week I'll post an interview with someone touched by adoption. I hope that you will enjoy learning about them as much as I have. Please let me know if you would like to participate or would like to suggest someone else for me to interview.
This week - Myst
What is your name/title as you would like it to appear on my blog? Myst
How has your life been touched by adoption? I am a mother to three children; one whom I lost to adoption 12 years ago
How would you describe your opinion of/attitude toward adoption? This is a difficult question as overall, I am not in favour of adoption and most people would label me as "anti-adoption" as I did for a long time myself until I discovered what this term meant to others. I see situations where I know nothing else other than adoption would have been good enough for a child who is in desperate need of a safe and loving home; I just wish there was a way we could do this for kids without adoption as I find adoption a bit like a guillotine.
Have your thoughts and feelings about adoption changed at all over the years? If so, in what ways and by what influence? Yes, they have somewhat changed. At the beginning of my journey it was all about my rage and pain, now it is more about the fact I see so many people who have suffered as a result of adoption and what adoption has done to people and myself over the years. I like to think in some areas, I have broadened my thoughts and feeling about adoption and I do tend to think more about things from all points of view than I used to which is also part of becoming mature as one ages! Many people have influenced the way I have changed, as well as myself. I have met many mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents all whom have taught me more about adoption, some of it bad and some of it good. Now it is about surviving and supporting others who have been through the same kind of experiences.
Thinking of adoptive and prospective adoptive parents you know, how would you rate their understanding of what adoption is like for birth parents? Wow, this is a difficult one. Sadly, most prospective adoptive parents I have had interaction with has been in adversarial circumstances and they have refused to listen to the reality of adoption loss. I have only a handful of adoptive parents who get adoption loss from the perspective of the adoptee, but for my loss... maybe only a couple? So I wouldn't rate the understanding that well.
Thinking of birth parents you know, how would you rate their understanding of what adoption is like for adoptive parents? To be honest, I have no idea what other (first) parents feel. I think they see adoptive parents in a fairly negative light due to the fact many of them have had promises that were made by adoptive parents directly, broken amongst other things. In my situation, where the adoptive parents of my child actually took me to court to fight me for my child, I do not have warm feelings towards them and many others like them I have met. Having said that, I am thankful I have met some (a very small number of "some") who are not like them and thrugh them I have been given a glimpse into some of the difficulties they face. But in general, honestly, I don't think parents have much idea what adoption is like for adoptive parents.
People who I doubt would ever think of saying, "Wow, you're pretty enlightened for a woman," or "It's so nice to find a black who thinks like you do," seem perfectly comfortable saying to me, "I'm really surprised to hear that from an adoptive parent," and "I appreciate that coming from an adoptive parent." I assume good intentions, but I am nonetheless saddened that anyone would pre-define me by what little they know about one of the most personal decisions I have ever made. Have you experienced anything like that? If so, what has been your response? Yes, I have gotten that but in a more negative frame. My loss is dismissed or I am burned at the sake for callously "giving" my child away. A few people have given the typical "oh how selfless" rubbish that I really detest given it wasn't a choice I made but one that was made against my will and by some other man.
I have a three-part question: I have encountered virulent forms of prejudice from all corners of the global adoption community. I have been dismissed, denied, attacked, and mocked because I am an adoptive parent, rather than because of a particular opinion I put forth.
* Have you ever had a similar experience based on your adoption-related label(s)? Yes, all the time
* What do you think is at the root of this ongoing conflict? To be honest, I think it is adoption itself. I fail to see where it fosters good will based on how it is practised and the myths and generalisations floating around out there about each group.
* What do you think needs to happen in order to achieve greater peace among all factions of the adoption community? A tough one. I am not sure if peace can ever be achieved because on one hand you have a woman doing the most unnatural thing she could ever do by placing or relinquishing her own child, then you have the baby who is confused and bewildered by what is happening or the older child who has been through so much they are not sure what this next chapter is going to mean and they both struggle at some point with their loss and being denied a voice and then you have the party who gains, the adoptive families where in many cases (but not all) want to pretend the child is a blank slate and has no other family. Each party is so starkly on the opposite side and the gap, especially given how adoption is practised currently, is too wide to bridge. I feel if adoption were something else where all parties could work together for the best interests and welfare of the child, something could work but the very nature of adoption is to completely strip a person of the life they are born to in order for them to have their adoptive life and I think this fact causes much angst. There is too much dishonesty and covering up in adoption. Things need to be wide, wide open and I don't think denying original birth certificates fosters any goodwill. Also the feeling of who owns the child needs to change... as no one does because no one owns anybody.
What challenges you most in your life (adoption-related or not)? Okay... in my adoption life, the pain of not knowing what is going to happen in the future and whether or not my girl will come back to us or have some kind of relationship with us. In my non-adoption-related life, my other two children constantly challenge and bless me! Plus just the normal challenges of every day life like work etc.
What has been your greatest personal triumph in the last year? In the last five? Wow, okay... I don't really know! In the last 5 (or six I should say) it has been being a mother and showing myself that I was right all along and that those who told me I would ruin my child's life were wrong. You see, when people say things like that, it stys in your head. To me, being married didn't mean I would change and so I concluded that something must have been so terrible about me that I was not fit to be a mother (despite being told my whole life I would make a great mum and the fact I was a Nanny for many years). Those statements at such a low point in my life did so much damage and I believed them. Having my second daughter and seeing how amazing she is and having so many people comment on how amazing she is has helped me realise it was just another method that was used to get my daughter from me. So yeah, that has been a personal triumph and my kids mean the world to me.
Is there anything else you would like to say about your personal experience, adoption in general, a blog you'd like to share, etc.? For those who would like to know more about my story, my blog has it all in every gory detail LOL: . Thank you Sally!
Thank you, Myst!
Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.