Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Open Letter to Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs)

I posted this a few years ago, but what I've read online in the last week compels me to run it again (with minor edits).

Dear 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 and the gut-wrenching uncertainty, 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 your resentment toward parents 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 parents who place.

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. 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 understanding the totality of the adoption experience - the totality of your future child's history - and expressing your feelings with more sensitivity to birth families, adoptees, and other APs and PAPs.

Words to look out for:

1. Any words that refer to the cost of adoption. 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 parents can make.

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 she did the best she could under the circumstances. Assume your future child will read your words someday and form opinions about you because of it.

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

5. "Want." Of course you want a child. I get that. But what you want is still a part of another woman's body. That's pretty heavy.

6. "Hero." Birth parents aren't heroes. They make the decision to place because they think it's best for their baby or for themselves, 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? 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 to do?

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+


Wendy B said...

Sally, I found this article to be incredibly insightful and I love your opinions understanding the totality of the adoption experience. I myself adopted my daughter a few years ago and each year around Christmas time she gets really depressed. I can't help but wonder is she wishes she could be with her natural mom around this time. I hate seeing my daughter so down during the holiday and as I struggle to better understand her, I am finding sites like http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus to be better understand what my daughter is going through. I hope you take a look and find good information as well!

birthmothertalks said...

Great post. The only thing I would add is the words not to use such as shorting up birthmother for Bm. I have seen this many times and maybe some don't connect the two but after being told I have seen prospective adoptive parents still use that term.

Kris said...

What a great post! I cringe often when I read PAP blogs. What APs have to accept (and I am both an adoptive and natural parent) is that adoption is not the same as giving birth. Anyone who says it is the same is lying to themselves. I am not talking about the love you feel for the child. I am talking about the way you become a parent and what you are entitled to (which is basically nothing as a PAP.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, for being an adoptive parent who actually has empathy and compassion for the women who lose, while others gain from that loss. Very refreshing...

WP said...

Great post Sally! I hope it is read by many.

Alicia said...

Thank you for this post. The one that always kills me is #6. I am an ap, and I am no hero. Yet people actually say it to me when they find out I didn't give birth to my daughter. I believe that my daughter and I BOTH benefited from her becoming part of my family. This is truly not one sided. And NO ONE is entitled to raise and love and enjoy another person's child. We are We have been blessed with a gift, and should never forget that someone else first lost a child before we were given so much.

I hope you find the peace that you are looking for.

Reagan and Trevor's Mommy said...

I have to defend the talking about expense discussions. It is a common complaint for most everything related to infertility. Most of the expense complaints I hear and my personal expense complaint have everything to do with how unfair it is that infertiles typically have to spend crazy amounts of money to become parents and it is a bitter pill to swallow. It is unfair and deserves to be acknowledged whether it be the expense of IVF or the expense of adoption.

shannon said...

I agree with all of these - especially numbers 6 and 8. Thanks for reposting.

Mike and Leslie said...

This is one of the most incredible articles I've read in a while. Thanks for re-posting it Sally!

Jennifer said...

You've raised some interesting points in this article on adoption. It's made me pause and reflect on the way I as an adoptive mother discuss with others how our adoption came about and our thoughts about our son's birthmother. Thanks for sharing. Glad to have stumbled onto your blog.


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Jenessa Sargent said...

Regarding the 'hero' part: I believe they are, in fact, a hero for their child.

Dawnmarie's Life said...

Great post! When our first "match" fell through after the birth, a lot of people were so surprised and indignant that we had paid expenses that wouldn't be reimbursed. I used it as a way to help people understand that paying expenses for a mom to have a healthy pregnancy in no way entitles me to her child. What I gave was a gift. If she had to pay it back it would be coercion. I can't handle the idea that she wouldn't have the right to change her mind at birth. I chose to pay those expenses knowing the risk. It didn't entitle me to her child. Maybe I shouldn't have shared that we lost money, but I thought more people needed to understand how the industry works and I did it in one on one conversations, not on a blog. I also hate when people act like we're heros or saints for adopting. We're not, we're normal people who wanted to raise a child. That's it. If our (my hub and I and her first parents) daughter decides to call us her hero someday it'll be her choice and I have no doubt it will have nothing to do with adoption. It'll be the exact same way any child looks up to their parents. And if she doesn't, that's okay too. Heroes are overrated.