I saw this “meme” from an Kate Dahlquist from her Media Album entitled “Stuff We Talk About” which are conversations with adoptees and many others affected by adoption.
It has caused me to think and to feel many different thoughts and emotions.
I am an adopted person – an adoptee.
I am a therapist.
I am a therapist who works with children in foster care and some who are in the process of being adopted.
And it is complicated.
The first line of this meme is how I feel about children who’s parents have not been able to reunify with them for so many painful reasons. Drugs. Violence. Death. Apathy. There are a million reasons, sometimes excuses, why parents lose their rights. It is so painful when this happens to a person. It hurts my heart. As much as it hurts my heart, it hurts the child’s heart a million times more.
Every child deserves a home. Every child deserves love. Every parent deserves the right to have help in being able to parent their children, and to overcome the reasons they are not able to parent. Not every parent is able to parent their child. Seriously, this is complicated work. Children who are in Foster Care, and who are “available for adoption” deserve to be loved, to have a home, to have ADOPTION COMPETENT therapy and to be given every chance at living their best life. There are no easy answers. Foster care and adoption is complicated.
I think of my own birth mother. She had 5 boys in foster care when I was born. She never came back to get them. She never wanted to keep me. She had 1 more child that she placed for adoption. She had 3 more children. She raised 2 of them. She had 10 children total. I have not yet been able to heal all of the pain and emotions that this information has brought into my life, my heart and how it has altered my brain. I am working in therapy to heal my heart and my brain. A lot. It is complicated.
I think of those 5 boys every time I look into the face of my clients. How did they feel? What did they go through? One brother has gone to heaven. Two of them I have not met and I don’t know if I will ever connect with them. I have the privilege of knowing 2 of my brothers now in our adult lives and due to DNA reunion. They are brave, courageous men in my book. I hope to honor them and their experience by the work I do. How I wish they could have had a mom that came back for them. How I wish I would have known them when we were children. How thankful I am to be able to build a relationship with them.
There are maternal siblings that came after me. My beloved sister, Sarah, was adopted and passed away in 2017. I have 3 younger brothers whom I have not met, nor do I think I will have that opportunity. I just don’t know. They may never accept me. I love them anyway. Still, complicated.
I just found my paternal side of my family in the past month. I have a sister, who knew of me, who was looking for me and who loves me. She is wonderful. We are learning more about each other and hope to meet one day (soon) in the future. I also have 2 brothers who are her siblings. I have 2 younger siblings, a brother and a sister, who I am not sure will every accept me. See, super complicated.
I had one adopted brother who passed away in 2000.
All totaled, I have 15 siblings. Now THAT is complicated!
Back to my thoughts on the work I do and on adoption. I am for family preservation. I work with parents to rebuild lives and relationships with their children. Deep in every one of my cells, I know that this is the best for the child. No judgement of the parent or their past, or their demons, or their struggles. Every parent I have worked with has cried and has loved their child deeply. Now, I have not worked with every parent of every child I have worked with, but the ones I have, it is evident that they love their child – no matter their circumstance. My hope is that my clients can go back to their parents. And, I know that is not always possible. Every situation is complicated.
I am NOT for sealed records. Every adoptee deserves to have their original birth certificate. Period. States need to allow ADULT adoptees access to their birth, health and adoption records. This is NOT complicated.
I am not for coercion of birth mothers to choose adoption. I am for helping mother’s parent. I do recognize there are situations and times when a mother will choose adoption. What I am saying here is, I am not for agencies convincing a woman that they can not, should not, can’t possibly parent a baby. I am not for an exchange of money for an agency producing a baby. I know there are legal fees, but no one should be “paid” to get a child. By the way, my own adoption legal fees were $450 in 1965. My parents chose the attorney because his fees were low. Wow – that one is super complicated.
I am not a huge fan of programs that “advertise” children who are available to adopt, or web sites who have pictures. I get the purpose, but it feels weird to me…. My complicated jury is out on this one.
I am for children’s rights. Mother’s rights. Father’s rights. Grandparent’s rights. Sibling’s rights. Family rights. I am for families.
I don’t have my thoughts completely figured out on the topic of adoption. What I DO know is that for as long as I am alive and working as a therapist, I will do all I can to support those who have been adopted to heal the trauma of adoption. I will work with families to heal and I will work with parents to be better parents. (all parents need help, not just those who have experienced the child welfare system).
This is my promise to the planet: To love and to hold a space for anyone who is looking for solace. To dream bigger. To heal deeper. To love more. To make good on living my “one wild and precious life” One thing I know for sure, Love is never complicated.