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Triad Tension
Posted: 09 December 2009 10:40 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  32
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I’m confused by the statement that divorce “doesn’t count”.  I guess I’m the idealist who believes that a family whether through biology, adoption, divorce etc IS a family.  Ours is a family of biology and adoption…  and I consider my husband to be my family even though he was neither adopted by me nor is he biological.  Each person in our family loves each other in a complicated and unique pattern of commonalities and differences.  I think it all counts.  Every factor that comes into play to create that family counts for a lot.  Maybe it’s the semantics of “family” that are at the route of the discussions that affect the triad relationship.

In terms of what the law states…  I suppose you are right that I legally became her mom with paper, but to me that is like the old “because I said so…”  It counts for very little in terms of the way we develop our relationships.  There are so many biological and adoptive relationships that fall apart for reasons that have nothing to do with the legal or biological family trees.  In the end it is how we treat each other that determines whether we recognize people in our families as confidants or adversaries.  If the day came when my daughter needed to investigate further her birth family I would stand beside her and help her with all aspects of the grunt work.  I would do that because I love her and because I want her to feel as much love and support from as many people in her life as possible.  I, like you, would question the insecurities of those who would hinder that possess.  I have gone beyond my means to make certain we have a way to contact her birth mother and to let her know that we will support her as much as we can because she IS our family too. 

I also agree with Jess in that I WANT my daughter’s birth family to love her.  And I am fortunate in that I will never have to tell her otherwise.  Her birth mom does love her a great deal.  I thought though, that we were talking about whether my daughter would call her “mom” (wasn’t that the initial post from you?)...  That is the piece that I cannot control nor will I interfere with.  My daughter will always know who her birth mom is and as she grows we will help her navigate the difficulties that she may encounter when questions arise.  How she works through that will be for her to determine and if she wants to give her that distinguished title of “mom” I would never hinder her from doing so…  I just want to be sure, that, like all relationships she forms, it is healthy, supportive, and worthy of the amazing person our daughter is becoming, not just because she was the bearer of my daughter’s genetic coding.  That counts for a lot, but I stand behind my statement that it doesn’t give anyone a free pass.

Posted: 10 December 2009 04:22 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  27
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“I’m confused by the statement that divorce “doesn’t count”. “

It does not count because the step-parents take on legal guardianship. They are not recognized legally as “mom” and “dad.” I could be wrong and perhaps with a child (say, a toddler) whose parents have divorced - would they call their step-dad “Dad”? Or by his name? With older kids the step-dad is usually called by name, even if he is doing the “Dad” parenting in one household as an extension of the immediate family (whereas the original “Dad” is at the other household).

My friend’s parents divorced when she was just a baby - her dad’s step-mom stepped in to raise her, but she isn’t “mom” ... which is what I was trying to clarify. She does have legal custody of the child when my friend goes back & forth (of course) but she’s not legally recognized as the mom, even if she does her fair share of parenting. She is called by her name.

And I’m not sure how often a child would call a step-parent by a “Mom” or “Dad” title. Someone would like to correct me here by a real-life example? I’d be interested. smile

“I suppose you are right that I legally became her mom with paper, but to me that is like the old “because I said so…”  It counts for very little in terms of the way we develop our relationships. “

You… haven’t been around a whole lot in the blogosphere, have you? raspberry

There are a LOT of people who claim to be Moms just because they signed a piece of paper.

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: 10 December 2009 04:44 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  22
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I would be willing to bring up a few real-life examples of step-parents being called Mom/Dad.

I’m sure I won’t get them all, but I can get a few….  I have a cousin who was married and they had a baby.  When the child was an infant, the mother left both her daughter and my cousin.  Like pretty much abandoned, no joke, cause her “psychic said to.”  The daughter was especially close to her grandmother during a lot of her toddler/early childhood years and called her “mom” as she was her mother figure.  Later she DID turn into Grandma, but while she was a mother figure, she did call her that.  That wasn’t my real point, though.  Eventually the cousin remarried when his daughter was….maybe…10.  For a while his new wife was Cindy and then later has become Mom.  The child does still call her bio mother Mom as well, but loves both these women (and probably still her grandma) as “Mom.”

I had a boyfriend waaaaay back when I was in Jr High whose family was blended.  His stepbrothers and sisters called his dad “Dad.”  However, he did call his stepmother “Cathy.”  They didn’t really get along.  His brother did call her “Mom” if I remember correctly.

My best friend’s stepdaughter calls her both “Mom” and her first name.  She’s currently 9, but was 2 or 3 when they got together.

I knew plenty of kids in school with blended families, too….and it pretty much varied widly.  Some called their steparents “Mom” and “Dad” but others did not.

For a lot of people it becomes a sign of the love and respect they’ve built and while at first perhaps older children do not call them Mom or Dad….a lot of them that I know end up calling them that if they have good relationships. Or so it seems from my viewpoint, that the relationship has a lot to do with it.  Which is, I THINK, what Jenna means.  It’s all about the relationship.  And sometimes it’s a fluid thing….at first you might not be comfortable calling that person “mom” or “dad” but maybe later you feel that connection.  Much like for a long time I called my husband’s grandparents by their first names but now (we’ve been together 10 years) call them “Grandma and Grandpa.”  I also think that it depends a lot on a person’s individual preferances…and it’s ok for one person’s not to be the same as another person’s.  I know someone who calls their (bio, parenting) parents by their first names.

I think that, you know, a lot of people claim to be mom/dad (or any other relation) because of a piece of paper…birth certificates included.  ALMOST anyone can achieve that technical title….I think what Jenna is saying is that there’s a difference in having a motherLY or fatherLY relationship v being a mom or a dad. 

Myself, I have no problem with my daughter’s birthmom and birthdad being “mama herfirstname” or papa hisfirstname” or even if she drops the first name (though in person it’s confusing, but in a funny way, when she refers to one or the other of us as “mom” and the other answers. smile ).  I’m not threatened by it at all, and especially her bio mom has earned it, certainly.  But even if she did not, she would indeed still be her mom.  But….the flip side of that is I am equally her mom.

Posted: 10 December 2009 04:47 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  22
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Oh I have one more situation with an interesting twist, for variety.

My husband has a cousin who married a woman with a child from another father.  The father of the child did not have anything to do with him.  The child does not call his bio father “dad” but has always called my husband’s cousin “dad” (he was maybe….2? when they got together).  They did eventually go through adoption paperwork to have him legally become the child’s father, BUT…I’m sure any of them would say that he has been that child’s father for a long time.

Posted: 10 December 2009 10:00 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  32
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“You… haven’t been around a whole lot in the blogosphere, have you? {raspberry}”

It’s hard to tell in the written word whether you are being funny or trying to attack personally.  I’m going to assume you are being funny though because we’ve had a very rich discussion so far and I’m hoping it’s not going in that ugly direction that so many threads with people of differing points of view go.  However, if not,  I’m not going to give you my blogging resume if that’s what you are looking for, but I’m sure if you did a quick Google on my name (see I go by my real name because I’m not intimidated, ashamed, insecure, what have you, about my story).  Honestly I’m not even sure what that has to do with anything on this thread, but if you are looking for some specifics I’m happy to clarify if that would make my opinions any more credible for you. 

I wonder why the legal part of this is so important in all of your postings.  I mean, obviously, legally, there needs to be some kind trail for all the parties involved, but I really feel like that is so separate from the whole mom and dad thing, which I thought was your original point way back.  It makes me wonder how you’d feel about a same sex family raising a baby?  Let’s say it was two women and one of them carried the baby.  Would you expect that one would be called mom and the other be called by their first name?  Do you think they would have to both adopt the baby or just one partner?  What if they lived in a state where that relationship was unrecognized and therefor adoption was not a possibility?  Just curious because your thought process on the titles of mom and dad is very curious to me.

I was also caught off guard by the divorce comments.  I guess I just know so many people for whom the relationships of the step parents is strong that the titles for mom and dad shift.  I like that Jess brought up the in-laws too.  I have always called my husband’s grandparents by “memere and pepere” and my father-in-law always signs cards as “dad”.... though now I tend to call him a grandparents because I address him as Pepere for my daughters’ sake.  See how multi-dimensional it all is?  That’s why the paperwork piece, to me, isn’t so concrete as it might appear.  Over time, relationships shift as do the titles that go with them.  If I were to divorce my husband, I think I’d still call his family familial terms because I wouldn’t feel differently about them even though there would be paperwork to show that we are no longer related.

Posted: 11 December 2009 06:30 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  27
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Well, you were right - I was being funny. Not sarcastic… hence the smiley face emoticon. >.<”

“I wonder why the legal part of this is so important in all of your postings.”

Because the legal part is what makes an adoptive parent a parent even before they have started ANY parenting. The legal part is what many adoptive moms cling to - because they have finally achieved their dream of being a parent and raising their child. Without the legal custody (signature/process), they aren’t recognized as parents.

Being a parent is a somewhat of a cultural social milestone in one’s community.

That’s also why some see infertility as a personal punishment and think they’re “broken” or “fractured” by God directly… Yes, I know infertility wasn’t in the original discussion, but it does tend tie into adoption quite frequently, so I thought I’d reference it to explain what I"m trying to convey. You might say I’m being a bit over-dramatic and not every woman is infertile etc… but that’s not what I’m getting at. Please keep reading.

Blog post in explanation: http://blog.amyadoptee.com/2009/04/04/are-adoptive-parents-adopters.aspx

The industry markets itself to both “birthmothers” and adoptive parents in a very unique way.  It targets the most vulnerable side of all of us.  It targes our sexuality.  It targets the core of what makes us women and families.  If a woman is too fertile, she is considered less than.  It is her fault that she can not prevent pregnancies.  If a woman is infertile, she is considered less than.  The core of woman is to be a mother.  It is one of the most natural acts in our lives.  If we fall outside of the norms, the industry (the NCFA) attacks our most vulnerable points.

I stand corrected on the divorce thing. In all of the books I’ve read and people of divorce that I’ve talked to, their step-parents are step-parents. Not [2nd] “Mom and Dad.” (2nd = meaning in chronological order due to the original set of parents splitting up) But I still stand corrected - by your posts, I do see there are some situations where the step-parent is called 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: 11 December 2009 07:32 AM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  22
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Just for the record, I wasn’t trying to be catty with the divorce discussion….I was just throwing out some of the irl situations I know.  I think that in large part it’s that my generation (who is, in my stories, both parents in divorces and also children in divorces, I’m only 25, lol) bringing our perspective to what “Mom” and “Dad” can mean.  A lot of us are becoming more and more accepting of a LOT of things….and I think this probably carries over into who we can accept as a “Mom” or a “Dad” or even as Mom or Dad to our children.

You know, I think that there’s a lot of “marketing” in adoption, sadly.  That is definitely why it’s so important for adoptive parents, birthparents, AND their FAMILIES who are supporting them, to keep an even head about the whole process and the following relationship.

While it’s insane to say that adoption is evil and should be outlawed, it’s also equally insane to say that adoption is good! and! pure! look! everyone! wins!  Because….everyone does not win.  It is, very much, the breaking of a family to create a family.  Even in the best adopted-family-bio-family-child relationships, there is still that brokenness.

It’s bound to cause tensions, trouble, and hurt feelings.  I think that what too often happens is that people are not honest and open….and then someone jumps to a conclusion and then from there another conclusion and from there another….especially online where you’re dealing with people who you DO NOT have any real relationship with.  But, also, probably in a lot of bio-adopted parent relationships,too.

I have felt that because of these type of “misunderstandings” we’ll say, it’s always best to leave the middle man out when possible in real-life relationships.  If possible I think it’s best to speak directly to the other parent/mom/dad/whatever you want to call your peer in this relationship so that the agency ISN’T spinning anything.  I was much, much more comfortable dealing directly with our daughter’s birth family after match, and I suspect they felt the same because we found we often knew more of what was going on than our counselor! smile

We are blessed to be in a great match where almost everyone agrees, and when we don’t, we try to give each other the benefit of the doubt.  Honestly, though, it has also been all of our frankness that facilitated this. 

I hope that from our daughter’s standpoint one day she will appreciate the love we all feel for each other.  I can’t tell you how close to tears it brings me to have her bio mom text me to ask how we spell our son’s nickname so that she can make him a stocking.  Or how awesome it is to hear my child say that she loves her bio mom and brother.  I don’t ever want her to feel like I took her away from her bio family….and I don’t ever want her to feel like they gave her up.  I hope she knows that everyone is just doing the best they can do.

As for online, I think that people use the internet to vent, and too often people bring their issues along for the ride and hide behind their keyboards in order to lash out because of hurts they have experienced.  Some are probably perceived and some are probably actual, I’m sure….but the sad thing is that it just breeds real-life anxiety and anger.

Posted: 11 December 2009 07:06 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  47
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Adoption is a legal procedure.  It doesn’t really help to pretend that it’s not.  One of the many things that causes tension between members of the triad in online discussions is when the truth that adoptees express is dismissed.  If someone is trying to adopt, they’re very concerned with the legal aspects of ‘building their family’.  Somehow, when that adoption is finalized, oh, it’s so much more than just a legal arrangement.  And of course it is, but it’s not like they decided the court stuff really wasn’t important after all and dropped the petition to adopt.  What ‘forever family’ really means is that a legal arrangement has been made, and the adoptee has no way out.  Even in my mid-40’s, I cannot have my adoption dissolved.  Interestingly, most lawyers I have consulted regarding opening my records think that’s what I want to do.  I guess they can’t grasp that someone would attempt to assert their right to access their own birth certificate and early medical records without wanting to disown their ap’s?  (I don’t beg.  I demand access.  And I know my parents, so it can’t be curiosity.  It must be that I hate my ap’s?)  I don’t know what they’re thinking, but I have certainly been advised that the action finalized by the court when I was an infant is legally binding upon me forever—whether I like it or not. 

No matter what I call them personally, my ap’s are my parents for better or for worse ‘til death do us part, and frankly, even beyond the grave.  As for the sanity of someone who thinks this should be ‘outlawed’, I guess I don’t understand why anyone would think it should be lawful.  Personally, I wouldn’t be all that upset about my status as an adoptee if I had access to my own records, and if it was a voluntary arrangement.  Discovering that you have no rights in a procedure that was supposed to be all about your own ‘best interests’ is sort of an eye-opener.  And in the words of my adoptive dad, “Well, that’s not right.” 

From there, we delve further into the realm of dismissal when we’re told that hey, lots of people don’t know who their daddy is.  Well, only about 3 percent of the population is told by the government that their parentage is none of their business, and although known, will remain a state secret.  It’s sort of a different deal when it’s Uncle Sam telling you that you aren’t valuable enough as a human being to know your own identity.  I don’t understand how anyone could see this as anything but discriminatory, insulting, and dehumanizing.  We’re not talking about mama telling a fib.  We’re talking about deliberate government interference in our personal lives. 

I could probably go on, but fortunately for everyone, I have things to do.  smile  The fact is that the cute, cuddly little babies of today aren’t going to take this discrimination as well as my generation has taken it.  If my generation doesn’t right the wrongs, the next generation will be just as insulted, and they’ll probably have fewer inhibitions about calling out the industry and the government.  This aspect of the tension in the triad won’t go away without a legislative or judicial resolution.  These kids of today who are being raised in ‘open’ adoptions are going to be really insulted when they learn they are second-class citizens. 

It’s impossible to discuss adoption without discussing the legal relationships because adoption is a legal procedure.

Posted: 11 December 2009 07:32 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  27
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It’s impossible to discuss adoption without discussing the legal relationships because adoption is a legal procedure.

THANK YOU for expressing what I was trying to point out.

Because the legal part is what makes an adoptive parent a parent even before they have started ANY parenting. The legal part is what many adoptive moms cling to - because they have finally achieved their dream of being a parent and raising their child. Without the legal custody (signature/process), they aren’t recognized as parents.

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: 11 December 2009 08:33 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  22
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Darnit, I had a reply all typed up but the internet ate it.  This is bound to not be as good, and rushed, because it’s almost lunchtime for the kids.  I’m not going to proof this at all, so hopefully it’s ok. lol

But anyway.

First I want to address the legality of adoption.  Of course it’s legal…it needs to be legal so that an adoptive parent has the same rights over their adopted children’s care and safety (while the adoptive parent is alive and after, as far as willing and making trusts, etc) as they would have over the care and safety of a biological child (that relationship is just as legal, and the only way out of it is to terminate your parental rights).  From that perspective, the legality is somewhat necessary, and I know that both we and our daughter’s birth mom was happy when finalization occurred BECAUSE it meant that there wasn’t going to need to be any more middle man (the agency) and we all knew that legally what we as parents had decided for this child was going to be forever.  Our child’s birth mother was not young and pressured, she was not just “wanting a better life”....she chose adoption because she was single, without much support, and already had a medically needy child.  This type of situation is the reason I’ll defend adoption as staying legal.  NOT defend that it’s 100% good and moral or that a lot of things aren’t jacked up (gov’t interference, coercion in some cases, etc)...but that sometimes, sadly, we find ourselves in a situation like hers.  And it could be any one of us.  10 years from now it could well be me.

TPR is also a legal move, and yes, that is what “guarantees” the child is “yours” and “makes” you a parent…..and sure, a lot of adoptive parents (why are we just saying Moms again?) do cling to that.  From our POV it was all but impossible to see the birth of our daughter (please don’t pick that she wasn’t our daughter at the time, I’m just trying to avoid naming names and at any rate I mean OUR daughter) and spend 8 days in the NICU WITHOUT feeling some relief that when TPR was signed, we were her parents.  We loved her and had bonded with her and her bio family and were taking care of her….of course we were glad (and sad for her birth family, not being light, I mean that) to know she was coming home with us.

As for dissolving a parental relationship—of course it’s possible.  Anyone can divorce their parents, dissolving any legal power they have over you.  I assume this is possible with adoptive parents just as it is with biological parents, since of course legally they are the same.

As for the birth certificates….it was highly disturbing to me that at finalization we were issued a birth certificate for our child that made it look like WE birthed her.  I mean, I understand that there are times in life when you need to prove parantage with legal documentation, but why would I think it was anything but a creepy lie to see us listed next to the OB that delivered her?  That’s….just odd.  Why they don’t just let the biological parents on there and add an adoptive parents section, I have no idea.  It just seems….archaic.  It wasn’t right when they started doing that and it’s not right today.  Nor is it right that the gov’t discriminates against adoptees (I guess I didn’t know the extent because we have all her medical records and a great relationship with her bio family, so when we’ve needed medical info, we’ve just asked.). 

I think that because of these thigns, it’s especially important that the PARENTS (adoptive and bio) in adoption stay responsible and honest.  There are a lot of things in adoption that are iffy, but I’ll stand by it staying legal being the best choice.  Just because I think that, though, does not mean I agree with everything, and I know a lot of adoptive parents who would agree. I believe that’s why some get offended when others suggest that just because we DID adopt, that we see no issues with adoption.  I hope that my “cute cuddly baby” will one day stand up for her rights if she is passionate about change.  I want her to do so as an adoptee, as a woman, as a wife, etc.  More power to her, and I will go to bat for her rights, our rights, or her bith parents’ rights in such a case.  I would LIKE to see a lot of adoption reform (especially binding open contracts and access to records for adoptees) but it also doesn’t mean that I don’t stand by the decision that we all made for our daughter.  I respect a woman’s right to place a child and as long as that right is there, there will BE adoption.  It’s just that people need to stand up and make EVERYONE in the triad be accountable for the child’s sake.  Maybe I couldn’t get adoption reformed in time for our adoption, and maybe it’ll never happen, but I sure can keep track of her bio families, keep up on their contact information, continue developing relationships with them so that they’re in our daughter’s life.  It’s not us/them here, after all, and the child is the one without say, so the child is the one we need to be mindful of protecting.

Posted: 11 December 2009 10:42 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  32
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Jeanne, I don’t know who is trying to “pretend” adoption is not a legal matter, of course it is.  But to suggest that is only becomes more than a legal arrangement after the TPR is false (in my opinion).  I can only speak for myself, but from the day we began the process to adopt it was a decision we made with our hearts.  Lawyers come in because it is also a business deal, but we never handled a bit of that.  We were always primarily concerned that the match was right, the concerns were met and the child was ultimately the center of the focus.  We turned down some situations that didn’t feel right to us because it was ALWAYS much more than a legal process.  It wasn’t just about getting a baby or building a family.  It was building the right family that was the center of our attention.  That meant that we had to find a situation where we could uphold all of the stipulations called up us and that we were honest about our needs as well.

Jess… funny that you would say that the new birth certificate made you feel weird.  Me too.  I loved seeing it because it marked the end of the legal process, but it is in our baby book right next to the original one.  It serves as a reminder that she is our baby (by “our” I’m speaking of my husband, myself and her birth mother… I only say bm here because we have no relationship beyond a name with the birth father).

I feel like the idea of adoption, though complicated is a beautiful one.  Yes, it is built on the idea that a family is broken so that a new one can grow, but it is also the establishment of belonging.  We all want to belong, and when one person can’t/doesn’t want to/isn’t allowed to create a situation for a new baby to feel that sense of belonging I’m so glad that there is a process for that child to go to a place where they can belong.  Sometimes we focus so much on the ugly parts of adoption; seeing it as evil, isolating, insulting (whatever you call it), that we forget that once there was a baby who was nurtured and loved by multiple people and that they belonged to multiple families who loved them equally but in different ways.  That’s what I was talking about…  not the legal part.  Not because it doesn’t matter legally, but because it IS more than a legal arrangement.  When I met both of my daughters for the first time I made promises to each of them because they are my daughters, not because I have paperwork that makes me responsible for them, not because one is biological and the other was adopted. 

Iggy, I absolutely agree with your thoughts on the marketing of adoption.  That’s one of those ugly pieces…  how it seems to find the weaknesses and some agencies and lawyers exploit those pieces.  I remember going to an agency open house and it was a room filled with people who spent the first 15 minutes talking about the sad road of miscarriage that brought them there.  I swear the agency reps could see dollar signs behind all of the sad faces.  That was one of the reasons that we left our agency after spending 10k with them.  They served as something more than a middleman without support for any parts of the triad.  It’s sad that big business can take over what should be a beautiful relationship. 

I also agree with the quote you pulled about “being a mother is at the core…”  this is very true in my case, which is why I think the attacks on AP’s as the people who break up families or steal babies from the “rightful mom” is so hurtful (I’m not saying you said this, it’s just what I have read in out there on occasion).  I have always known I would be a mom and I AM Anna’s mom…  but it’s not because of the paperwork, it’s because I love that child beyond life, beyond reason, and beyond words.  If for some reason our paperwork were illegal or she were taken from me today I would still and always would consider myself her mom.  I love the smell of her hair and the sound of her voice when she gets a cold.  I ache when she falls and there is a moment when I’m waiting to see if she is bleeding.  Tears fill the back of my eyes when she giggles so hard it makes her face turn red.  This isn’t because I am legally her mom, it’s because she is without question the single greatest miracle I’ve ever know.  And yes, I say this having birthed another child myself.

I absolutely agree that there is a necessity to the legal aspects of adoption.  It provides security for everyone.  The bp’s don’t need to worry that the ap’s will revoke their responsibility, the child feels the love and security of a family who supports them, and the ap’s can let go of their feelings of loss that their baby could be taken away. But adoption is also such an incredibly personal commitment for everyone.  That’s why I felt strongly that in the original discussion of “mom” or “dad” titles, we needed to look beyond the paperwork and see the kinds of commitments that were being made.  Some bp’s clearly do take that role as “mom” and “dad” beyond the TPR (as in Jess’s case), while others want letters and others want just pictures.  Those bp’s aren’t taking on the role of “mom” or “dad” (in my opinion), so why have that kind of reserved title?

What a great discussion…  in case I forget to say this later, thank you!  it gives me so much to think about…  sometimes it solidifies my opinions, and other times I’ve had reason to double check myself.

Posted: 14 December 2009 09:02 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  47
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Jenna, I agree that there’s more to adoption than just the paperwork.  Of course we have a relationship with our parents that goes beyond the decree.  For better or for worse, the relationship usually extends well beyond the paperwork.  As far as reserving the titles ‘mom’ and ‘dad’, I’m really confused as to why it should be an issue.  First, let me say that I call my natural parents by their first names in conversation.  They’ve actually both asked that I call them mom and dad.  I do when I speak about them.  I always have—even before I knew them.  Anything else feels wrong.  But in conversation…it’s just so complex.  It’s often easier just to call them grandpa and grandma.  smile  It’s an extremely individual thing, and it is a bit of a hot point in some adoptions.  I really don’t understand why.  I never had to deal with the ‘birthparent’ term since (thankfully) that word hadn’t been invented when I was a child.  They were always just my mother and my father. 


Paperwork didn’t determine my parents—at least not in the sense you’re describing.  Nature determined my natural parents, and the agency determined my adoptive parents.  The paperwork legalized the choice of the agency.  Day to day living determined the nature of that relationship.  I’m going to sound cliche (at least adoption cliche), but I have two very real sets of parents.  They are both my parents.  At this point in my life, none of them can be erased on a personal level.  As we all know too well, anyone can be erased on paper, but on that personal level, they’re all my parents.  One set of parents created me, and the other set raised me.  All but my adoptive mother have been a part of my adult life.  She died during my childhood, but not before she paid enough dues to retain the title. 


Paper can’t take away the fact that when I look in the mirror, I see my natural parents.  They’re the people looking back at me.  They’ve always been with me.  They always will be with me.  They’ll always be with my children, and their children, and their children.  Meeting the people from the mirror for the first time is surreal.  It is a feeling that can’t be described to someone who has always known their genetic relatives.  It’s more than just sharing a nose.  It’s sharing a personality, a disposition, quirky habits, and little gestures.  It’s realizing that despite the fact that you are meeting these individuals for the first time, you’ve lived with them throughout your entire existence. 


That’s not to say that we are nothing but a product of nature.  We absorb things from our nurturing parents as well, but our nature survives and thrives enough even throughout total separation to be immediately recognizable upon reunion.  We’re not blank slates.  If the great social experiment called adoption has proven nothing else, it has proven that.  We may have entirely different political and religious beliefs due to our upbringing.  We may have different concepts of marriage, family, and social responsibilities.  But we have the same smile, or the same quick temper, or the same talents as the parents who created us.  All of these parents are very real, and whether we have known them personally or not, we have been having a relationship with them throughout our lives.  Whether we admit the similarities or not—they are there.  They are inescapable. 


Sometimes reunited adoptees are able to establish an ongoing relationship with our natural parents, and sometimes we are not.  Sometimes long lost parents begin to take the role of an active parent even after we are adults.  Sometimes they don’t.  Either way, we can never escape them entirely.  It is, in my opinion, far more healthy to accept them for what they are than to dismiss them for what they are not.  They may never be a nurturing parent, but they will always be a natural parent—even if they don’t like the idea.  Some things just are.  Whatever title they are assigned, they are the child’s parents as determined by Nature, and recognizing them as such does not diminish the role of the child’s nurturing parents.  I don’t understand why people worry about it.

Posted: 14 December 2009 09:03 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  47
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Going back to the original blog, and the adoption process itself:

“There is this notion of the adoption triad… the birth parents, the child, and the adoptive parents. The idea is that this triad is linked forever by a mutual respect and love for the process which brought them together.”

Not all adoptees are impressed with the process.  I know we’ve come to the point in the conversation where attention has been redirected toward the actual relationships and away from the process, but the initial conversation did address adoption as a process, and the process is extremely discriminatory toward adoptees. 

The process transfers parental rights from one set of parents to a different set of parents then seals all the paperwork and issues an altered birth certificate.  Nothing in there about adoptee rights.  Nothing in there about protecting the adult interests of the infant.  The child doesn’t even get a lawyer to sign away their interests unless the adoption is handled through foster care.  That’s a clear due process violation.  Jess mentioned inheritance, but we’re not given a guarantee of inheritance.  We can be written out just as easily as a bio child, and as a trade for that chance, we give up our claim to inherit from our natural parents.  Not all of them are paupers, you know?  My adoptive parents were also given the right to inherit from me.  It’s simply a transfer of rights. 

As for divorcing parents, I don’t know the law on that, but it’s my understanding that applies to minors as does TPR.  My adoption decree reads that it is “irrevocably binding upon all persons whomsover.”  I’m pretty sure I’m one of those ‘all persons’.  I could be adopted by someone else, but that just seals more paperwork.  Kinda defeats the purpose.  It’s not the relinquishment that seals our records.  Our records are sealed as part of the adoption process, and it is extremely rare for an adult adoptee to successfully dissolve that process.  It shouldn’t have to come to that, though.  Vital records should never be falsified.  There is no reason that all four parents shouldn’t be named on the certificate each with their respective roles and ALL records made available to the parties involved.  Well, no good reason.

In the last decade or two, instead of America joining the rest of the world in accurate record keeping, the idea of “birthmother privacy” has been introduced.  The argument is that reproductive rights should be extended to mothers of born children who don’t want the little urchins.  Of course, the idea has not been given teeth by the courts, but it’s quite popular among certain anti-adoptee groups.  The idea tries to extend reproductive privacy to apply to born children.  It’s a pretty big smack in the face, to tell you the truth.  At what age is the adoptee considered an actual citizen equal in rights to other actual citizens?  We’ve always been perpetual children.  Are we now thought of as perpetual pregnancies?

Here’s an interesting read from the courts for anyone interested.  Pages 12-14 deal with the matter of reproductive privacy and adoption records:

http://www.americanadoptioncongress.org/pdf/Does_vOregonDecisionOr_CtApp.pdf

This sort of thing is why it’s fairly easy to encounter adoptees who are not singing the praises of adoption itself.

Posted: 14 December 2009 09:55 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  22
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For the record, I didn’t mean that inheritance part like—whoa, awesome that she gets to inherit from us…just that part of the legality is so that we are more ABLE to provide for her if something happens to us.  Though of course we could write a child, any child (or adult) into our wills of course.  But it’s just the legality of it…PART of that process is necessary not just for providing for a child if you die, but also for deciding medical care, etc.  All I was trying to say was that it’s got to be, to SOME degree, the person who raises the child that has legal “rights” to the care of that child.  If you get what I’m saying? 

I didn’t mean oh hey, I want to own her!  Or….hey, she’s LUCKY (hate that phrasing, actually and take personal offense to it along with “saved”) that we “got” her.

In a lot of adoptions (I don’t think? infant adoptions?) the child is given a respresentative (guardian ad litem, though I have no idea if that’s spelled right).  My sister in law is adoted and I was around for her adoption process.  She DID have rights.  She could have refused the adoption, etc.  She could have refused the PLACEMENT actually.  But….of course as you can figure, most would not, probably.  My mom worked years as a state social worker and at least within the state, children ARE given representatives to defend their rights.  HOWEVER I believe it could be different in private adoptions.

I agree WHOLLY with you that vital records shouldn’t be falsified.  It’s complete idiocy that they issue a new birth certificate.  I don’t need that, nor do I want it!  I THINK that it goes back to protecting both the birth family (though sometimes it does quite the opposite) AND the adoptive family, back when people were stupid enough to think that adoption just plain made you “just like any other family.”  It’s retarded and archaic.  I’m sure it would be a nightmare for the gov’t to rework all their computer systems to add the place for an adoption certificate along with a birth certificate (right now the databases no doubt have spot for everyone to have exactly one birth certificate, which could be part of the issue, though it’s certainly not a reason not to call for that change to be made).

I agree for sure.  There is a lot that could use major tweaking.  I’m just saying, though, that a) there is need for SOME amount of legality if an adoption is to take place and b) not all adoption is evil and should be outlawed (not that YOU said it, but that people DO say/imply it and that’s not fair to ANYONE, including birth mothers and adoptees.).

Posted: 14 December 2009 10:23 PM   Ignore ]  
Total Posts:  47
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Jess, I understand what you meant.  If all it involved was inheritance, I don’t think the issue would get much attention—certainly not much controversy.  Children can be written in and out pretty easily whether it’s by natural or adoptive parents.  The only real difference is if a parent dies intestate and the taxes involved.  I just wanted to point out that the process is a bit lacking when it comes to addressing the interests of adoptees beyond legalizing their relationship with their nurturing parents.

As far as the legal representation, yes it would be private infant adoptions that lack legal representation for the child.  Take all that time to write it, and I still wasn’t very clear.  smile

 
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