Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Open Letter to Adoptive Parents and PAPs

Dear Adoptive Parent/Prospective Adoptive Parent,

Today I came across yet another blog of a prospective adoptive couple using their blog to chronicle their "journey to adoption." Sadly, it read more like an online tantrum.

We've spent a fortune already and we still don't have a baby.

We were matched with a birth mother last year who changed her mind after she gave birth and she refused to follow through. I'm still angry about that!

Everything was set until the birth father got involved and that was the end of it. He was uninvolved for the whole pregnancy and then decided to care after we made an agreement with the birth mother. It's not fair!

I'm an adoptive parent myself. I understand the agony of infertility. I experienced the gut-wrenching uncertainty and anxiety and helplessness of the adoptive process. And I understand using your blog as a release valve; I often do the same thing. However, (deep breath), I don't understand the attitude of entitlement. I don't understand resentment toward birth families who ultimately decide to raise the children they themselves create (How dare they?). I don't understand how you don't understand that some of the language you use is crass and base and incredibly insensitive. I don't understand how you think you will love a child as children need to be loved when you seem to have such a low opinion of birth families.

Certainly, you can use whatever language you choose; it's your blog. But when I read the words below on an AP/PAP blog... it scares me. Seriously. It scares me because it reflects a narrow, self-centric perspective on adoption that I think is unsettling at best and dangerous at worst. I know first-hand the challenges of adopting. I'm NOT suggesting you deny your feelings or just grin and bear it. You need the support of people who know what you're going through.

What I am suggesting is that if you're working so hard to become a parent perhaps you should work harder on expressing your feelings with more sensitivity to birth families, adoptees, and other APs and PAPs.

Words to look out for:

1. Words that refer to the cost of adoption - cost, money, expensive, finances, savings, loan, etc. When PAPs complain about how much money they've invested in the adoption process I want to shake them and say, "I know birth mothers who would give everything they have, including body parts, to be able to raise their children or to have contact with the children they placed for adoption. These women paid dearly for their decisions, and you're crabbing about what it costs you?" You can choose to adopt privately or from foster care if you can't or don't want to pay adoption agency fees. Unless you're discussing ethics and the need for adoption reform, complaining about money is tacky and insensitive.

2. "Deal", "promise", or "agreement" as in "We made a deal with a birth mother but she changed her mind," or "She promised to let us witness the birth," or "She violated our agreement." I'm not even sure where to start with this one. You made a deal? She made a child. She has the right and obligation to make the best decisions she can on her child's behalf, regardless of what plans she may have made earlier in her pregnancy. Hormones, denial, stress, support resources, health... things change rapidly during pregnancy. Most parents waffle for months over what to name the baby, what color to paint the nursery, and whether or not to introduce a pacifier. Please, show some respect for one of the most important decisions a woman can be faced with.

3. "Lie", "deceive", or "manipulate." Even if it's true. Even if you can prove it. Even if it hurts a lot. Assume that it was unintentional. Assume that she did the best she could under the circumstances. Assume that anyone who deliberately deceives you is in a worse position than you are.

4. "Our" as in "our birth mother" or "our baby." They're not.

5. "Want." Of course you want a child, perhaps more than you've ever wanted anything in your life. I get that. But "I want, I want, we want..." makes you sound grabby. What you want is still a part of another woman's body. That's pretty heavy.

6. "Hero." Birth parents aren't heroes. Well, I know some who deserve the title :), but speaking generally, they're no more or less heroic than anyone else. Birth parents make the decision to place because they think it's best for their baby, not for you. It's not about you. It wasn't about me, either. It's not about making an infertile couple's dreams come true. It's not about being a hero.

7. "Deserve." You don't deserve children any more than I do. No one does. It's not a birth mother's responsibility to provide you with a child. She's not a breeding sow.

8. "Pray." Please, please, please don't ask people to pray that a birth mother "makes the right decision and gives us her baby" or anything along that line. Do you believe that God would rip a woman apart mind, body and spirit in order to answer your prayer? Do you really want to believe that? I'll pray with you for grace and patience. I'll pray with you for peace. I'll pray with you for a birth mother's strength and clarity. And I'll pray with you for everyone's health. Please don't ask people to pray for you to get what you want at the expense of someone else. Is that what you're going to teach your child?

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective, in softcover, hardcover, or e-book formats.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+


LeMira said...

This is a must read for every adoptive parent! You have just explained everything that I've learned in the last 3 years about my own adoption journey. We pray at our house, A LOT, and I think that you are spot on for what all prospective adoptive parents SHOULD pray for. If we'd all look at it from the mother's and child's sides of things, our voices would sound a lot different. It all goes back to your post about adoption being a way - not THE way, but A way.

I'm going to post a link to this on my blog. Thank you.

P.S. I know I still have much to learn, and I promise I'm working on it. You are helping me.

Kelsey Stewart, Author said...

As a birth mother I say ... "Thank you." What a show of support for us, what a wonderful way to put it like it is and what an amazingly honest group of thoughts from the other side. I cannot even pick one that stands out, they are all so very true.

All I can add to this, if I may be so bold, is that in #2 when you speak of making deals and agreements ... please, if you are in this position that you feel this way, remember that disappointment. There may come a time when you are a parent, when you are the one making the decisions about what is best for your child when this "deal breaking" thinking can be a two way street. Far more often than many would like to admit the "deal" is broken with the birth parents when a situation comes along that YOU think is unhealty for the child. Sure, sometimes there are good reasons for an open adoption to be closed. But before you make that decision, just think about how much that mother is depending on you to hold up your end of the bargain. Adoptive parents may have a time when disappointment will hurt for a short while...whereas if the shoe is on the other foot, it could be a lifetime of hurt and missed opportunities.

Fantastic post Sally, I too am going to share this with my readers on FB. You continue to amaze me with your gracious attitude towards birth parents!

Anonymous said...

Tough words, but so right! Thank you for posting this!

Pat Irwin Johnston
Mom to three through adoption
author: Adopting: Sound Choices, Strong Families

Angie Herdman said...

Thank you. The adoption process is so full of ups and downs. After our first failed adoption, I was listening to praise music, trying to bargain with God. My two year old asked me, "Mommy, isn't this the give and take away song?". I fell to my knees and cried. "He gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say, blessed be your name." My husband and I learned a lot about the adoption process. Most importantly, that we were not in control.

Lisa said...

This is so well written, thank you for being so level headed about it all. I am deeply offended in countless ways by the quote, and glad to see someone giving a clear and straight forward "pop on the hand" for that kind of talk.

My version would sound more like this:

Oh, okay, let me run out, get pregnant, let he or she grow and be nourished IN ME for 9 months, and then hand them over to you as if you'd asked for a cup of sugar.

But I do not say that, I think it, it will always be in my head, where it will replay as if you'd said it about, or to, me. I pray I will not be made bitter by those that believe that way. I do close my eyes pray these people are enlightened, and suggest they speak with an apotion counselor. I say, placing a child is not so simple and that when, and if, God plans for you to have a child, you'll have one in your arms. Not one day sooner, and certainly not with comments like that spewing from you so easily.

LO said...

As a very appreciative birthmother, all I can say is thank God for adoptive mothers like you! This is truly terrific - and EVERY prospective adoptive parent should read it!!

Christina said...

I love this post..and if it's okay, I've posted a link to it on my blog.


Sally Bacchetta said...

LeMira - Thank you. I appreciate your open mind. Will keep you in prayer.

Kelsey - You know how I feel about you :) Thanks for everything!

Pat - Thank you and you're welcome!

Angie - Thanks for sharing that special moment. I'm carrying that one with me!

Lisa - Thank you. I appreciate the peek into your internal dialogue. I can relate!

LO - Thank you! It's sad that so many birth parents and APs/PAPs feel like adversaries.

Stacy said...

Thanks to Christina for sending me the link to this post. I'm looking forward to reading it with my husband this evening.

Just like LeMira, we pray A LOT in our family (for our future children and for those who may be parenting them even as I write this)...

My husband and I are becoming certified to fost/adopt. Most people think I'm crazy when I tell them that we are praying that there will be some way for us to maintain contact with our child(ren)'s biological family (at least one parent, the grandparents, aunts, someone who might be able to answer questions they may have later in their life...)

Your note above (to me) just confirms what I know to be true. The reality is that our children will become a part of our family because their primary caregivers are, at best, unable to care for them (at worst, have harmed them in some way). We are simply being willing to be the safe place, where no safety currently exists. We are choosing to embrace the loss/grief of our children because we believe in redemption and healing and we pray for that for our children *and* for their family of origin.

We will always have so much to learn, but we are willing... and praying:)) With your permission, I would like to post a link to this on my blog page entitled "Adoption Resources"... Thank you Sally:)

Inheritance Adoptions said...

I work for Inheritance Adoptions in Texas and this article is blazing through the office... it speaks to the things we've seen.

I hope you don't mind if we link to it - Brent

Heather said...


Anonymous said...

I agree with almost everything the writer said. I agree about the respect that we as adoptive parents should have for birth parents, I agree with how the negative words should not be used, I agree with everything except that "the birthparents made the child". Anyone with fertility issues should be able to testify that the birth parents do not make the child, if so there would be no fertility issues. God knits the child in the womb. The child is made by God. He placed the child in the birth mother's womb, he used the birth parents as vessels, and that gives them the right to choose to raise the child themselves or choose for another family to do so. Children are a blessing from God, not something that birthparents choose to make. Again, I agree with most of what was written, if this is an effort to "set the record straight", then let's get it REALLY straight.

Christina said...

Sorry Anonymous..I don't agree. I don't think God had anything to do with my being adopted. I don't think God wanted for me to be born, just to be given up and then passed off to abusive adoptive parents. I don't buy into the whole, this is God's plan for us to adopt. No, it's YOUR plan for you to adopt.

Becky said...

Anonymous, if the birth parents don't make the child then why will an adopted child look like his/her birthparents? While children do look like the people they grow up with there are biological ties to another family, please don't forget that.

For the most part, I agree with Christina, while I believe that God does have a hand in SOME adoptions I don't think he has a woman to get pregnant just to place her child with another family, as if they (the adoptive parents) asked for a cup of sugar and there's no emotional attachment to the baby. If the birthmother genuinely can't take care of her baby, then I believe God will help with the adoption, but not if a child is ripped away from their mother and the mother is forced to relinquish her rights.

Maru said...

Excellent post, Sally.

I've been working on a post about the "our" language and you beat me to it! I just hear it too often among adoptive parents and it's just not right. "Our birth mother," they say... I never refer to my daughter's birth mother as "my birth mom". She is my daughter's birth mom, not mine. I don't own her.

"I'll pray with you for grace and patience. I'll pray with you for peace. I'll pray with you for a birth mother's strength and clarity. And I'll pray with you for everyone's health. Please don't ask people to pray for you to get what you want at the expense of someone else. Is that what you're going to teach your child?"

'nough said. Thank you!

Kris said...

Great post! Every PAP should read this.

birthMOM said...

adoption luvs

Myst said...

Awesome post Sally, very well said. Yes, something anyone who wants another mother's child should read.


Lisa said...

Dear Anonymous-
Everything is in His plan, and by His grace, I was given the strength and clarity to find an open adoption plan that works for me, my son and his AP's. I am blessed everday to know of his life and that he is loved and cared for in every way possible. that he is desciplined and given structure both in his education and his faith.

I am saddened to see that you are of the belief that my son was not made be me. Am I not an ingredient in his DNA? Did I not participate (unwillingly, I might add) in the act of creating him as my body nurished his for 9 months? Did God take the worst situation possible, and make it a positive one by allowing my eyes and heart to be opened to open adoption and to the plan of placement? Did I not CHOOSE to place him in the arms of a couple that I lovingly call friends and parents of my son? Is he not my son and theirs, all at the same time?

It requires two people, man and woman to make a baby. God may be a part of their lives, and may have His hand in the choices and situations that allow conception to happen. He may even have His hand on a child and prevent or protect a baby from harm. But He allows for choice in that creation. He allows for choice in that placement and He allows sin, just as He allows faith. While everything is in His plan, there is a decision that we as flesh must make in every moment of our lives. You might check out Genesis 30:30 "Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family." and notice that even in the Bible is says that he must sleep with her to have a child!

Debbie B said...

I read a blog recently, just followed a comment on a blog that kind of concerned me.
This waiting mom was talking about the disrupted adoption she had. So I wanted to feel some sympathy for her until I read back and saw what happened. The baby was 2 days old when the birthfather (whom they had a relationship with) decided he couldn't go through with it. She got so angry at him she sent him a nasty text and he threaten to call the police. All because a father decided he wanted to parent. Regardless of what the circumstances are it is their right.
Oh, thank you for posting this so I could let this out here, as I don't yet feel safe to let it out on my blog.

#4 on your list is a big one I see a lot.
Ugh #8 about praying that she give them the baby. I'm always cautious when I comment that I'll be praying for the right decision for the baby and everyone involved. And then I pray for the adoptive couple, that they would realize how much they are not entitled to this baby.

I will add though that I've come a long way in our adoption journey. I'm sure I've said some of these things in the beginning of our journey. It took my heart opening up towards birthparents and hearing them, seeing them as people and not just the people that will make me a mom. I'm glad I did and I wish I could help at least one other person start to open their heart and feel the same way, that's why I blog.

luna said...

this is such an excellent post, a must read for any prospective adoptive parent. bravo!

Jeanine said...

I also applaud the sentiments expressed in your post and think that we adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents need to open our eyes and hearts, to look beyond our own (valid!) struggles to the whole, very large, often painful and tragic experience of adoption and realize what a position of power we actually occupy. But I would like to add that it takes help (as from your book and your post) to get out of our little worlds and consider what it's like for birth parents.

I have read some firestorms of anger from birth mothers toward all adoptive parents. Of course we are not all greedy monsters, but it may well feel like that, and a birth mother who has had a bad experience (or just the pain that still comes with a good experience) of adoption is entitled to feel how she feels and flame away about it in order to deal with those feelings.

Adoptive parents also are entitled to express our pain about our particular struggles with adoption. It's just that because of our position, I think we carry an added responsibility to hold with utmost respect and humility, the experience of the people (birth parents and adoptees) who make parenthood possible for us.

Mandi said...

I loved reading this! We had a private adoption that failed because the birthmother changed her mind. We were hurt of course, but ultimately knew it had been her choice all along and that God ultimately knew what was best.

Meliski said...

Amen to this post! But a TRIPLE amen to #8! My husband and I are international PAPs and I was recently horrified when a couple I love and respect who are adopting domestically asked for prayer after a birth mother who had previously chosen them to parent her child, had decided to parent her daughter with her family's help. I didn't comment, becuase I didn't want to hurt their feelings, but I knew I could not join in on that prayer.

I have been considering a post like this, but you wrote it much more eloquently than I could have.



Tonya said...

What a great post.

We had a bumpy adoption journey. One adoption fell through when the birth father decided he couldn't go through with it. I was hurt and sad, but never did I feel that he had somehow "broken" our agreement.

A second adoption fell through when the birth mother disappeared -- ceased contact with us and with her attorney just a few months before her due date. I had to work hard to get over being angry -- more because of the lack of contact or an explanation -- but I did finally get to a point where I did a lot of praying that she and the baby would be okay, and that helped me get over my anger.

By the time we were matched with a third birth mother, I was pretty skittish. I started out with lots of praying that things would "work out," meaning, of course, that the baby would end up with us. But after some soul searching (and lots of reading on adoption issues), I switched to praying that things would work out in the way that was best for the baby. It took a lot of work on my part to be able to say that and honestly mean it, to not silently add at the end, "and of course that's with us." But once I could do that, there was a certain amount of peace in the remainder of our adoption journey.

Just Me said...

"You can choose to adopt privately or from foster care if you can't or don't want to pay adoption agency fees."

I am adoptee; one adopted privately.

If you (any adoptive parent) think that adoption agency costs are something to complain about then DON'T adopt privately. There are A LOT more costs when using private attorneys. My parents paid over $5,000 back in 1976 for legal fees, court costs, attorney fees, etc. And don't forget that with most private adoptions, the attorneys will negotiate for the adoptive parents to also pay for hospital fees, doctor fees, pre-natal care, medical expenses of any kind related to the baby, etc.

Paul said...

Very, very well said. My two children are adopted. Early in the process it's easy to think about the heartache that could happen when an adoption doesn't go through. However, it became clear to me that the only thing to pray for is that the best interests of the child occur - whatever God deems that to mean. We really need to be in this for the child not for ourselves.

Anonymous said...

According to your post, I'm your ugly PAP.

My "family of two" has experienced three failed adoptions. Our first failed adoption was by a woman who was not pregnant. It took us three years to convince the government authorities to indict this mother.

The second woman was really pregnant, but never had any intention of following her adoption plan. She had a criminal record, bragged about her deception on her face-book page and delighted in pointing out the fact that she had a child and that we would never have a child. Even with her criminal record, the authorities only placed her on probation and refused to discipline the adoption agency.

Our third adoption failure was even more painful. Our pastor contacted us about a teenager in the church that what to create an adoption plan for her unborn child. We did this. We found her a counselor, got her a lawyer, paid her medical bills, but her grandmother objected and six weeks before her due date her informed us that she would be parenting her child. To rub salt into the wound she and her family sued us to attempt to force us to continue to pay for her medical bills. After three months in court, we finally got the case dismissed.

Now we have been informed by our new adoption agency that we are too old, and too poor to adopt.

Also, please don't recommend the US Foster Care system. It's a joke. We been on their waiting list since 2001. We never heard from them and we inquire quarterly for any new adoption opportunities.

Also, don't dismiss us as not being qualified to adopt, we passed three home-studies, work as a law enforcement officer and my wife works as a nurse. If we are not qualified to by adoptive parents, then who is?

Rebecca Bany said...

From an adoptive parent, thanks for the post! It's a must read for all. www.rebeccabany.com