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Triad Tension
Posted: 22 November 2009 06:10 AM   Ignore ]  
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I still think adoption sucks in this country.

Posted: 24 November 2009 08:43 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  5
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Jenne: Sounds like a terrible situation and I am sorry for that. Yet I’m not sure how generalizing from your personal experience, especially one of closed adoption then reunion means that overall adoption sucks.

My mother…my biological mother was an emotionally stunted, narcissist who acted as the sucking black hole for our entire family. The fallout and emotional consequences to everyone left standing have been astronomical. I’m still in therapy on and off after decades letting go of trauma that was not my fault or responsibility. I used to say that if there was any chance of me being a mother like my own mother, I would tie my tubes right away.

But here I am older, more self-aware, and able to recognize what is mine from what belongs to my broken mother. Yet would it make any sense for me to say that mothers suck based on the fact that I had a mother who did in fact, suck? Am I destined to be a horrific parent because my mother was? Is there no way to break cycles or have redemption or have a different outcome simply by being mindful and working really hard?

Luckily (and thanks to a lot of hard work) I am so different a parent than my mother, thus I know that my experience need not color what motherhood is for the entire world. I respect the pain and disappointment that you feel. I know that I would feel similarly were my child that I had hoped would have a better life to end up broken because of issues of boundary setting and questionable parenting. Yet what we do not know is how she would have/could have turned out had other choices been made. Was her oppositional behavior part of her hardwiring or related to environment or a little of both? The fact is that her behavior is one of acting out due to pain and anger. The reason for this only she knows. She must work through her own traumas, as we each must do.

But adoption, parenting, relationships…it is all so complicated with so many variables. There is never a one-size fits all solution for everyone. All we can do is to be aware, to guide, to set limits, and listen, really listen to what our children are saying to us. But we can never guarantee success for all even following that formula to the letter. Yet we can only do the best we can.

Peace.

Posted: 30 November 2009 07:28 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  2
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Ok I am knew to this place and found the talk about the triad very interesting. I am finalizing an adoption, I have had Logan since birth and it has been an open adoption. It is also a relative adoption. Logan’s birth father is my nephew. What I need input on is this…. I have birth family members who are also my family memebers whom I am having difficulity dealing with. I had hoped we could all be grown ups and think about logan but things are getting stressful and I am about to tell them to just get out of my life, Not the birth parents but the extended birth family members. They seem to feel like they have some right to Logan that I do not have because I am just adopting him and he is their real family kind of thing. Example: I do not refer to birth father as daddy, i refer to him by his name. This upsets other family members but I truely believe it is best for my son right now. To me daddy comes with so many expectations that will not be met in this situation. I am a single parent, Any advice out there? Anyone have any similar experience?

Posted: 30 November 2009 09:04 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  32
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I think it is perfectly acceptable to not refer to your nephew as “daddy”.  I have no intention of calling Anna’s birth parents “mom” or “dad” for the same reason you mentioned.  The expectations of someone in that role are enormous and for our daughter, I know it would be met with disappointment.  However, I will always let Anna know that she is loved by her birth mother.  That is obvious by some of the emails she has sent and for Anna’s sake, she doesn’t need to know much more than that until she is older and asks for more information. 

Every adoption situation is unique and for that reason it’s hard to tell you that it’s okay or not okay to cut these people out from your life.  What I can say is that your BABY has to come first.  If having a relationship with the birth family is something that is healthy for the baby than you need to maintain that.  It doesn’t mean that you share in holidays or decision-making, just that you are civil and respectful of one another.  I often think about Anna at 14 when she is as ugly (inside and out) as a teenager can be.  Most likely she will go through some tough times when she is uncertain about herself or her place in the world.  She will say things that may hurt me, and I may say things that could hurt her.  I ask myself, “Will the relationship I have with her birth mother be good for HER.  Will I be able to say that I tried my very best to have a relationship that will help her understand her history? Will she resent my lack of communication?  On the other hand will she wish I had not included her birth mother in so much of her life?” 

For us, it comes down to a healthy level of respect and communication.  I need to be able to tell Anna what her story is, give her the resources to dig further if she wishes, and be able to stand back (or by her side) as she decides whether to know her birth family.

Posted: 01 December 2009 09:53 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  47
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I haven’t checked here much lately.  I would just like to point out that I’m Jeanne, but I’m not jenne, in case anyone missed that. 

teendoc, I’m glad your agency has taught you the importance of identity.  I hope they’re actively pursuing open records legislation because so long as sealed records are the law, the recognition of adoptee’s identity is nothing but idle talk.  AP’s can walk away and never even disclose the adoption—no matter what they’ve promised during the process.  While a particular agency may support open disclosure or even open records, that’s different than the industry as a whole.  If the industry as a whole honestly cared about adoptee identity, sealed records would be a thing of the past.  Altered birth certificates would be a thing of the past.  The stigma borne by my generation has been passed on to today’s children through these oppressive, tyrannical laws rooted in shame and secrecy.  It goes way beyond the adoption language police.

Posted: 03 December 2009 01:52 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  5
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Jenne seems to have deleted the entire content of her post that I replied to. Oh well.

Jeanne: Your statement about the wrongs that exist legislatively for children of adoption extend beyond my ability to remedy. I agree completely that adults should have access to their original birth certificates. Even with such access, however, the whole concept of genetic parentage is such a morass of issues when you consider that almost 12% of children born are not the genetic child of the father listed on the birth certificate. And 12% of all births is a significant number. When you add to that the number of donor gamete children who have their biologic mother/father listed on the birth certificate but not their genetic donors, the issue grows even larger. So adoption is only one part of the genetic/biological parentage issue that arises knowingly or unknowingly in children’s lives. And I have no remedy for all of these situations that I can cause to be enacted.

What *is* in my power, however, is an absolute commitment to my daughter’s identity by providing her access to her original birth certificate, open contact with her firstparents (with stipulations for these in our will), and no secrets or shame about how she joined our family. It may not seem like much considering the extent and gravity of what is going on legislatively, but it is the best I can guarantee for her. As new opportunities arise for me to effect change, I will take it. But her needs, her identity, her wholeness is my first priority, as it is for my husband and her firstparents.

Posted: 03 December 2009 12:57 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  2
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Thanks Jenna,
I do so want my sons birth parents to maintain some form of contact, I think in the future it will be good for my son when and if he has questions for them to be there. I also have no problem with them seeing him but firmly believe they need to go through me and set that up. My biggest issue is that my sister and niece treat this like nothing is different and it is different than my sons biological half sister. They have an all or nothing approach, i give them everything or I am a monster. I do have some luck i guess in that they live across the country and so will only have to deal with them face to face once a year at most. I have stressed myself sick literally over them comming for christmas as I know there will be issues. I just have to keep focused on what I believe is best for my son and not what is best for the adults.

Posted: 04 December 2009 10:39 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  32
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Teendoc, Wow…  beautifully stated.  We cannot change the world by starting at the top.  We start with what we know and build upwards.  We start with ourselves and our families.  We can affect change in our homes and provide our children with knowledge, pride and from there come power. 

You are a bright woman and from what you’ve posted, a wonderful mom.

Posted: 08 December 2009 09:54 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  27
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“I have no intention of calling Anna’s birth parents “mom” or “dad” for the same reason you mentioned.  The expectations of someone in that role are enormous and for our daughter”

When people say things like this, I wonder if it is more about the adoptive parent’s hidden insecurity, or if it really is about the child’s “confusion.” Open adoption is not confusing if you explain it right - as many bloggers have been writing about the benefits of open adoption and have proven it can work if done properly.

My adoptive parents always referred to my biological parents as my “other mom and dad.”

It didn’t harm anyone.

黃 美玲

Transracial Chinese adoptee, in contact with her original family for 3 years
~ reunited overseas for 3 months with a culture/language barrier

Posted: 08 December 2009 10:12 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  32
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Iggy, I am in no way insecure about my role as a mom.  A mom or dad is a reserved relationship.  To me the notion of a mom and dad are the people who provide security, shelter, support, health.  They are the institutions of confidence, a place to go when the world feels like it’s crumbling.  It’s the place where a child can be themselves without pretense, where they go for structure in times of uncertainty, for love in times of insecurity and self-doubt.  For me, that’s a role that isn’t a word on paper, it’s the actions over a lifetime.  If Anna were to someday have contact with her birth mom and they created a nurturing relationship between them…  if that woman became a mom to her and she decided that she wanted to call her “mom”, then I think that is her right to do so.  Would it hurt my feelings?  I’m not sure…  probably?  But hey, if there is someone else in the world that can love her with the depth of my love for her I’d welcome it for her.  But like all the types of love in her life, I wouldn’t want her to throw some labels out there unless a person has earned that privilege in her heart. 

For instance, right now, Anna is experimenting with saying “love you” (It sounds nothing like this), but I’m letting her say it to anyone she wants because she likes the reaction.  Eventually we will talk about how love is something very special and it needs to said for the right reasons.  When she feels love she can say that…  just like if she feels in her heart that her birth mom is a “mom”  she can use that language too.

By the way, I’m also not a big fan of calling all of our friends and neighbors “aunt” and “uncle” like a lot of people do.  I feel like that is a reserved relationship, not a biological/adoptive one.  When she feels that sense of closeness with some (such as maybe her Godparents), then she can call them “aunt” and “uncle” too.

Posted: 08 December 2009 11:03 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  27
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“To me the notion of a mom and dad are the people who provide security, shelter, support, health.  They are the institutions of confidence, a place to go when the world feels like it’s crumbling.”

I don’t disagree with that. It is the claim made by many, many adoptive parents. It is also loosely based on the notion that the biological parents did not “want” to parent or did not “want” to love their child. It is based on the “myth” that the child was unwanted.

Yes, the adoptive parent does all the things the biological would have (or should have) done. But… isn’t that what they are *supposed* to do?

“I wiped the bum. I cleaned up the vomit. I fed the child. I clothed the child. I celebrated the milestones.” ... isn’t that a parent’s duty through love and care? To present it as saying that it’s a label which has to be earned - but not in such a way that it’s like saying “I did because you DIDN’T.” Of course, I’m probably getting the wrong vibe here.

My biological mother is not my mommy. She was, once. But the years have built up a barrier which seems insurmountable to ever bridge, let alone attempt to build a relationship out of. Yet, knowing she is not my mommy hurts, too, because she is supposed to be. She *was* supposed to be, but she wasn’t and won’t ever be in the same way that my adoptive mom is. And of course, I will never be her baby in the way that my raised siblings are.

However, for someone to say “Well, your adoptive mom took care of you because SHE (Taiwan mother) didn’t” is like saying “Your original mother was irresponsible and clearly did not want the duties of loving/caring for you. Serves her right” or something like that.

I really, really don’t think that’s what you meant. But sometimes when I see that, all I can see is “Due to whatever ‘choice’ was made, her biological mother will never be her mommy. That is a title reserved for a lifetime relationship on the sole basis that the person has done ANY parenting whatsoever.” The minimizing vibe comes from the idea that the biological parent actually had a choice and deliberately decided not to parent.

And hey, that happens in situations. But I don’t think it happens that often overseas.

I’m well aware that personal preference comes in as a HUGE deciding factor in terms of honorifics and titles and whatnot. But to some extent, I think there is also a great deal of psychological issues around being a parent in terms of adoption - even if subconsciously (eg. “I did all this! I’m the REAL mom!’) - and it can get messy.

Please don’t get me wrong - I know that to take care of someone else’s child and then your own through adoption does make one a parent. But I really, really wish people would stop presenting that as if the biological parents “didn’t” want to parent or “didn’t” want to love, and therefore the adoptive mom “had” to take over.

(Just as a note, I thought I should mention that I might be a little more triggered by this post because I am one of the adult adoptees who has photos of when she was held by her parents before the adoption finalization… and I’ve also been through reunion, so I think my views are a bit filtered. I stand by what I said about the adoption myths, though.)

黃 美玲

Transracial Chinese adoptee, in contact with her original family for 3 years
~ reunited overseas for 3 months with a culture/language barrier

Posted: 09 December 2009 03:46 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  32
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Iggy I think you are suggesting that in order for the adoptive parent to feel like the parent it means the biological parent cannot also have that same distinction.  These aren’t mutually exclusive notions.  I’m not Anna’s mom because someone else isn’t.  My response did not say that I held that role because her birth mom didn’t want it.  In fact the only thing Anna will ever know is that we are indebted to her birth mom for trusting us with being the parents that she was not able to be at that time.  It’s not a judgment in anyway, but the fact will remain that she was adopted.  We are her parents.  Whether she was placed because her birth mom didn’t want to parent, couldn’t parent, wasn’t allowed the opportunity to parent isn’t a crucial piece of this part of her story (it is obviously very important for other reasons). 

The role of being her mom is not one that I take lightly.  I didn’t become her mom because I have a document that says so.  I am her mom because I have earned her trust and love.  In that way, I do believe that anyone who wants to be in her life needs to be worthy of all that she has to offer.  I’m not at all suggesting that her birth mom isn’t one of those people too.  I’m simply saying that she doesn’t get a free pass just because she has the biology behind her.  Similarly, I don’t get a free pass just because I have some piece of paper with her name on it.  The relationship between parent and child (through biology, adoption, marriage etc) is earned over time and it is more fragile than we often consider.

This brings up an interesting idea though that sort of makes me think back to the origins of this post.  The triad tension.  I wonder if we read into the post responses so much of our own story and perhaps that is why the internet tension exists.  When we are angry or feel misunderstood we may displace those feelings on people who share the title which upsets us rather than the actual person that we feel wronged by.  All of our points are relevant, but I feel like our tones have become defensive because they are colored by the unique characteristics of our individual adoption stories.

Posted: 09 December 2009 06:34 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  27
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“I didn’t become her mom because I have a document that says so.”

In terms of the law, yes, you did. raspberry

“I am her mom because I have earned her trust and love.  In that way, I do believe that anyone who wants to be in her life needs to be worthy of all that she has to offer.”

I like the way you phrased that, actually.

“I’m simply saying that she doesn’t get a free pass just because she has the biology behind her.”

I will be one of the adoptees here to say that biology is not the end-all and be-all. Yet, I think there is much more to biology than is given credit in adoption-related conversations - namely, the fear that if biology is pointed out, the familial relationship through adoption will cease to be [as] important.

It is also important to take into consideration that our bodies are wired to nurture what we produce. It doesn’t always happen that way. Heck, I know a “mom” in real life who shouldn’t be a mom!  Seriously, she should have never had kids; she doesn’t take responsibility for them, she doesn’t take care of them, she doesn’t bother to step up and do her duty as a mother.

But a mother who births a child is “supposed” to love that child. She does not automatically become a good mother because she has given birth, lord no. But based on biology books, on pregnancy hormones, on the wiring of the brain before, through and after pregnancy, it is more than substantial to make the moral claim that biology does, in fact, have a strong factor regarding a mother’s birth and love for her child.

“I wonder if we read into the post responses so much of our own story”

Oh, probably.

But another issue with adoption is that a child isn’t “supposed” to have two mommies and two daddies.  A child isn’t supposed to have “the life that never was” while “living the life that -IS-.” A child isn’t supposed to be relinquished out of one family, have their records sealed or disappeared ‘anonymously’, nor is a child supposed to be a “bridge” between two families.

It’s all implied by adoption language:

“Where’s your ‘real’ mom?”

“Aren’t you curious about your ‘real’ mom?”

“You should be grateful you were adopted, this person who took care of you all these years IS your ‘real’ mom.”

And so on.

(Note: Divorce does not count. A step-mom/ step-dad become legal guardians, but they are not recognized as a new “mom” or “dad”)

黃 美玲

Transracial Chinese adoptee, in contact with her original family for 3 years
~ reunited overseas for 3 months with a culture/language barrier

Posted: 09 December 2009 06:59 AM   Ignore ]  
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I want to say that I agree with a lot of that….my stance is actually that my child’s bio parents are also her mom and dad too.  Obviously.  I mean…frankly, by definition, biology DOES make you a mom and a dad….that can never really be revoked.  I’m not threatened by it in the slightest, or offended by it. 

In a perfect world those who are ready and able and willing to parent would be pregnant.  And they would have enough resources to care for any children they had.  Unfortunately, the world is very much IMperfect.

It’s ok for my daughter’s bio family to love her.  I WANT them VERY BADLY to love her.  To be in her life. To be someone who, like Jenna said, that she can go to when the world is falling apart.  We definitely have that with her bio mom….I desperately WANT it with her bio dad.  At this time we do not have that, though.

Maybe nature didn’t design my kid to be a “bridge” (no joke, that is CORN-EEEEE) between two families, but she is….and her bio mom and dad had good reasons to place her.  They wanted her.  But at that time, felt it wasn’t best to keep her.  And now, she IS the thing that joins our families and makes them one.  And we’re all allowed to love her.  Maybe it’s not perfect…it came from heartbreak, after all, but it’s what we were all dealt.

And….much like stepfamilies come from the heartbreak of divorce, our family came from the heartbreak of relinquishment.

And, for the record, I do know a lot of families who have stepparents who have become second moms and dads….and who are treated as such.  Some with bio mom/dad still in the picture, some without, some just effectively without.

Posted: 09 December 2009 07:15 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  47
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teendoc, it’s not just about access to the birth certificate, although of course, adoptees should enjoy that access the same as the non-adopted.  It’s about disclosure of the adoption itself.  What I’m saying is that agencies who ‘promote’ open adoption where there are no laws to enforce it (which is most states) are facilitating some adoptions that will never even be disclosed.  Some of these children will not be told about the adoption itself.  It happens.  There’s nothing preventing it.  While access to birth certificates should be the law, and IS the law in most every nation except the US, even open access doesn’t solve the problem of disclosure.  Children adopted under the ‘promise’ of an open adoption may still grow up never knowing they were adopted—let alone their identity. 

Since apparently it’s not the responsibility of the consumer to force these agencies into accountability, I guess the product (adoptees) will have to fend for ourselves and protect our own political interests.  And that’s a pretty big source of some of the tension in the triad.

 
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