A Look Back: Why were families so afraid to talk about adoption?

Cat-CatInBirthdayCakeYoureAdoptedI participated in a radio interview today and this question was one we weren’t able to get to, since we ran out of time.  I thought I would take it to the blog and address it here. I was a little worried about fumbling over my words in the interview on this question anyhow.

So, we’ve all seen the stories or had a friend or family member that didn’t know he/she was adopted until teen or adult years.  So the question is, why was the topic of adoption taboo?  I think this stems from a time of more closed adoptions. Adoption was a taboo subject for several reasons.

  • One of which is with infertility there is a bit of a stigma that is attached to it. Women have been placed in a role by society to have children. Men have a need to carry on the family name and lineage. With adoption their, so called, failure to do so is brought to attention.
  • Some people have the mindset that if God wanted someone to have children, He would grant that to them naturally, making it against God’s wishes.
  • Then there is the stigma of the child’s background. In closed adoptions, the adoptive parents were given very little to no information about the birth parents.  This lead to confusion or an inability to discuss the unknown.
  • Another reason adoption used to not be commonly talked about, was also the parent’s own insecurities of losing their status as “parents” to the child.  If their child ever questioned their biological roots, this may have made the adoptive parents feel inadequate or insecure and fear they may lose their child.  They may not have had many answers about the birth parents, so they avoided the subject all together. If or when the child learned of their adoption, then it was often awkward for all parties to discuss.
  • Often parents in closed adoptions also feared there was no “right time” to tell the child.  If the adoption wasn’t open, knowledge of the birth parents or a relationship with them wasn’t present, some parents may not have felt equipped to tell their child and answer the difficult questions, so they put it off.
  • Sometimes families adopted children from within the same family.  The adoption was kept a secret so there was not any confusion as to who the parent was.  The biological parent may have been a sister or close aunt or cousin.  So, while a relationship with the biological parent may have existed, the knowledge was withheld.

What other reasons can you think of that made the topic of adoption taboo or reasons why parents may have kept the adoptive status of their child a secret?

Sunday Morning Magazine Show

sunday morningI am so excited!  I am in Chicago this week visiting my husband with the kids while he works here for one of his clients.  He has been coming home on weekends, but since it’s Spring Break for Isaac, we decided to come to him and take in some of the city and things to do.  I have been trying to work on the blog here and there, but with also working and my boys coming down with colds, I haven’t posted.

A couple days ago I woke up and was checking my email, as I do every morning upon waking up, and I had an email from Rodney Lear at Q102 (WKRQ Cincinnati).  Mr. Lear was inviting me to be a guest on his radio show to talk about adoption!  After I read the email like 4 times, forwarded it to my husband, texted my husband saying READ YOUR EMAIL NOW, I responded that I would love to participate!

The interview segment is prerecorded, so I’ll be going into the studio on Thursday, April 10th.  He said he expects the interview will air on Sunday, April 13th.  I am sooooo nervous and yet, so excited!  Obviously adoption is something I am passionate about and I hope that this will really open some doors for people to understand adoption more!

For all you out-of-towners, don’t worry, the show is also streamed online.

Here’s the schedule for Sunday Morning Magazine with Rodney Lear 

Airs Sunday April 13th: (times are EST)

7:00 a.m. on WKRQ-FM (101.9)

7:00 a.m. on  WYGY-FM (97.3)

6:00 a.m. on WUBE-FM (105.1)

6 :00 a.m. on WREW-FM (94.9)

For everyone that can’t listen, I will do my best to get a link or file to upload to the blog as soon as I can after it airs.  Thank you so much for your support!

cincinnati

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Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2013

open adoption bloggers interviewI am honored to be a part of the Adoption Blogger Interview Project for 2013.  Each year the website pairs adoption bloggers that have experience with all aspects of adoption with another blogger, after getting to know one another and reading each others blogs, we interview each other. You can view all the interviews for this project at: openadoptionbloggers.com.  We are part of the 3rd group which will be posted on 11/26/13.

I was matched with an amazing blogger on the other side of the country, Robyn 20121117-161741-img_1903Chittister, who has been blogging for several years and has adopted two beautiful children.  I was shocked by how similar we are in our opinions on adoption reform and it was a real pleasure reading her blog.  She is witty and a straight shooter,  I hope you take some time to check out her blog at http://chittisterchildren.wordpress.com/

Me:  I want to live in Robyn’s Adoption Land! You speak out on adoption costs, are there any groups or policy makers you have connected with? Or do you have plans to?

Robyn: I wish! Once I’m done with the series – and I think I’m about halfway there – I’d like to summarize it. From there, I have to figure out who the correct contacts are and try to at least get the issue on the radar. I once floated the idea of a Change.org petition to an adoption forum. I didn’t get a very positive response. One person actually said it might not be Constitutional to have federal level adoption laws, as adoption might be considered “commerce between states.” I have no idea if that’s even true. The federal government can set educational standards, so I don’t see why they can’t set adoption standards.

Anyway, I would really love to do *something* about the sorry state of adoption in this country. If there’s one good thing that comes out of the Baby Veronica case, I’d like it to be that people realize that we need standard adoption laws, and lawmakers respond.

Me: How would you address fraudulent expecting mothers with the living expenses paid?

If the woman is pregnant, all agencies and attorneys in Robyn’s Adoption Land are networked. The agency can post a query asking if this woman is working with any other agency. If she is, the woman needs to decide which agency she’s going to use. She can’t receive services from multiple agencies or attorneys. I don’t want to create a system in which a woman is locked into using an agency or attorney if it is not meeting her needs (physical, emotional, etc.) but I do want to make sure that a woman isn’t trying to game the system.

Hopefully, this will cut off most cases of fraud. Once a woman has a baby and chooses not to place, it can be difficult to prove fraud vs. a sincere change of heart. I do believe that if fraud is suspected, it should be taken seriously and investigated. As it stands, adoption fraud isn’t punishable in most states. It’s horrible.

Me: What classes pre-adoption and post adoption would you feel to be most valuable to Domestic Infant Adoption?

Robyn: We took a transracial adoption webinar the second time we adopted. I definitely think a transracial adoption course needs to be required, even if people don’t believe they will be adopting transracially. (I can expand on that if you want.)

I think a class on open adoption – what open adoption is, what it isn’t, what it can be, basically, the ins and outs – should be required as well.

I’d like to see more offerings that involve being educated by adult adoptees. Whether that’s a formal class or a reading list, I don’t know.

Post-adoption, I think an “Open Adoption After the Adoption” class would be helpful. It’s one thing to learn the theories and guidelines, but when you have real people to deal with, it’s far more difficult.

Me:  Do you feel classes for the adoptees would also be beneficial and/or required?

Robyn: I have a hard time requiring adoptees to do anything. They didn’t choose to be adopted, and now they have to take a class about it? I’d like to see support groups offered for them. Pact has a tween/teen group that has some interesting offerings in terms of seminars.

Me: Did you have family and friends opposed to your transracial adoptions? If so, how did you deal with it?

Robyn: I’ve wanted to adopt since I was 13. I thought I’d adopt from Romania one day. By the time Max and I were married, Romania was (and remains) closed. So, I looked at Russia, because I have Russian heritage and I’ve always been interested in the countries that made up the USSR. But Russia required extensive travel, and they like their adopting moms to be 100% healthy, which I’m not. So, I looked at countries that escort. At that point, I started thinking about Ethiopia.

So, I called my mom and I asked her how she felt about having a grandchild who was a different race. Her response was, “I don’t care if he’s black, Korean, or blue. I just want to be Grandma!”

The only somewhat negative reaction I remember was from a co-worker. We had a very close knit group at work, and, when we were on a phone meeting, one of the guys I worked with asked about how the adoption was going. I mentioned that we were thinking of Ethiopia. He said something to the effect of, “It might be hard enough for the kid to be adopted without having to worry about not looking like his parents.” It was definitely worded from a concern for the child standpoint. I did think that had some merit, so I really stepped up the research at that point, seeking out books and blogs by transracial adoptees.

Now, we did have one of my uncles say that maybe we should foster first, so we could find out if we “could love someone else’s kid.” That, by far, was the worst response we received.

So, the short answer to your question is, no, not really. But I’m really bad at short answers.

Me: You had a post on agency discrimination, Do you find charging different rates based on race to be ethical?

Robyn: I do not find charging different rates based on race ethical. I think it’s racist. I have a post in draft form about this, but it’s way too long and needs to be broken up.

Me:  What is your favorite parenting moment?

Robyn: One night, when Jackson was almost one, I think, he cried out in the middle of the night. I went to get him, and he fell asleep in my arms. The look on his face… he was an angel. It was just beautiful, being his mom.

Me: Kids say the darnedest things… Example of one of yours?

Robyn: This was actually the toughest question. It’s hard to remember all of the amusing things my kids say, because there are a lot of them.

Jackson is especially funny and “quippy.” A few years ago, when I was employed and Max was not, we were all playing outside. Jackson got into his Cozy Coupe and announced, “I’m the Mommy. I’m going to work. My manager is selfish and mean.”

As for Cassie, she will randomly say “Dammit” at oddly appropriate times. It’s the one swear word I still use around the kids, and she totally picked up on it.

open adoption bloggers interview 

I’d like to thank Robyn for her participation in this project.  It was a honor to be paired with her.  You can see our interviews as well as all the other adoption bloggers featured on www.opanadoptionbloggers.com

And remember to check out Robyn’s blog at http://chittisterchildren.wordpress.com/.