Do you read Valency? I do, and one of her recent posts knocked some things loose in my head for me. I started to write a response, but it quickly became too long, so I'm posting it here.
Valency wrote this in response to a reader's comments on her post Not My Normal Modus Operandi: ...I am just so astounded that adoptive parents would even discuss how much their new acquisition “costs”, especially in an open setting like a blog, all laying out there for the whole world to read. And then to whine about how it is robbery and put them in an unfair moral dilemma????? Say what?
What follows is my response to Valency.
I think that some APs who do so have convinced themselves that they are entitled to parent. They resent their infertility. They feel frustrated, depressed, hopeless, impatient, and very sad. I know I did; I felt all of those things. Except entitled. I never felt that. I spent eight years in the crippling grip of infertility, and never once did I think that I 'deserved' a child or that someone 'owed' me a child or that another woman should just 'admit that she's unfit and give her kid up already' - sadly, all things I have heard (or read) PAPs say.
I haven’t yet been able to sort out how much of that attitude of entitlement is pure self-absorption and how much is cultivated by the adoption industry, whether intentionally or not. PAPs hear an awful lot from industry professionals about their (the PAPs) needs, desires, dreams, fitness to parent, choices, etc., and VIRTUALLY NOTHING about the needs, desires, dreams, fitness to parent, choices, etc. of first parents.
My daughter’s first mother was something of a mythical creature to me for a long time post-adoption, and I’m not a shallow pea-brain; I’m educated, insightful, and compassionate, but I was told zero about her except for some basic stats when we got The Call. We had waited years for The Call, and we were consumed by our joy and anticipation. It was shamefully easy NOT to think about first mother. The baby is here, the baby is real, the baby is ours! M (first mother) had never been made real to us. The role of first mother had never been made real. It had never been made to be more than a means to our end. (I feel sick re-reading that, but it’s true.) We were never directed or even encouraged to explore the adoptive experience from the first parent perspective.
In fact, the adoption professionals who spoke with us gave no indication that there was an “adoptive experience” at all for first parents. It was all about us and what paperwork we needed to complete and what appointments we needed to make and what monies were due when and to whom. Heaven knows, I was grateful for the support we got… we didn’t have a clue what we needed to do or how to navigate the logistics and legalities of adopting. But I noticed that my questions about first parents were dodged with “We’re handling everything with them” or “She’s fine.” I pressed, and I was redirected. I pushed, and I was reassured. “We’re handling everything with them.” “She’s fine.” And I accepted that they were and she was. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend the first mother experience and wouldn’t presume to know what a first mother might need, so I trusted the professionals. I wanted to do the “right thing” for my new daughter’s first mother, and I got the message that the “right thing” was to let the pros handle it. So I took myself off the hook.
I learned a lot over the next 3 ½ years, and I plan to stay on the hook for the rest of my days. My son’s first mother was real to me before I met her. Real to me even before we got The Call. My earliest thoughts were more about her than the baby.
Why is she doing this?
Has she talked with other first mothers?
Has anyone explained to her how her feelings may change as time goes on?
Is she making this choice because she wants to or because she thinks she has to?
I questioned whether or not I even wanted to adopt a second time. The experience this time was all about a woman who had chosen not to parent – I wanted to spend time with her and explore the roots of her decision, her relationship with first father, her thoughts of the future, her family, her needs, her emotions, her questions, her options, her journey, her strength, her conviction, her time with her child – and not at all about us wanting a second child. Honestly, not at all.
So, where am I going with all of this? I’m not sure. These thoughts have been ricocheting around in my head for a while, and I was prompted by Valency’s recent post to type them out and hope to find clarity staring back at me.
It's not yet.
I can wait.
There are a few more things I want to say:
• Every adoption professional I have personally spoken to or worked with has seemed genuinely compassionate and ethical. I don’t believe that any of them are knowingly malevolent or unethical. I have heard of some, but never encountered any.
• I can’t call to mind any APs or PAPs who are intentionally offensive, insensitive, thieving, womb-robbers. None that I know personally. I have found some on the internet, so I know that some are. My point is that many of us aren't.
• I support adoption as an option for first mothers/fathers who do not want to parent. (And yes, they exist, and yes, it’s terribly sad, and no, I can’t imagine being an adoptee that learns that about their first parents.)
• I think it is immoral for any state to make it easier for someone to adopt a child than for first parents to raise a child.
• I think it’s crass and insensitive for PAPs to complain about the cost of adoption or to conduct personal fundraising campaigns to defray their adoption expenses. JMO.
• I am deeply grateful to my children’s first parents for teaching me. I love you.
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