Thursday, September 12, 2013


I was reading an article about adoption, and in the comments, there it was: a post from an Angry Adult Adoptee (AAA.)

AAA's come in different shapes and sizes. Some are just angry at their parents. Some blame adoption for all of their problems. (My favorite of those was a 19-year-old woman who said that she heard you couldn't have a healthy relationship in your life if you didn't bond with your birthmother in the first six hours after birth, and that was why she was dating so many jerks. Hello? You're nineteen, that's why you're dating jerks!) But this guy was angry at the institution. He blamed adoptive parents for funding the adoption industry, and suggested that "infertiles" (there's a respectful word) could hold their heads higher if they used their money to help bio families stay together instead of funding adoption, which breaks families up.

I'm not trying to ignore the pain of adoption here. There is a real loss in the breakup of a family, even if the adoptee was too young to remember it. Some adoptees feel this more keenly than others. Some are interested in searching for biological relatives, others aren't. And of course any given adoptee can feel differently about adoption during different stages of life. Any adoptive parent should treat these issues with respect.

At our house, we talk about these things and check in with Boo to make sure she knows this is a topic we're not afraid to discuss. She hasn't brought up many issues of her own, so we make a point of talking from time to time about feelings that are common among adoptees--feelings of sadness around birthdays and adoption days, feeling different from other kids, wondering about biological relatives and so on--so that we keep a dialogue open. And I'm not saying we're perfect and Boo will never have issues about this, just that we're sensitive to the existence of these feelings in adoptees generally.

I also don't consider adoptive parents to be some kind of heroes. I don't expect thanks from Boo, or anyone, for being her parent. I don't think we did something selfless in adopting her, or that we're somehow better than people who parent their biological offspring. (Would they be "fertiles?")

But when I see this kind of anger, or the fake psychology that claims that all adoptees are damaged, fundamentally, by adoption, I don't know what to feel. I feel really sad for the person who's spouting, and hope he'll resolve his issues soon. It just feels so misplaced and unproductive. It's one thing to spend time processing your loss, but when it becomes anger of this magnitude, you have a choice to make. You can dwell on the biological family you lost, or you can think about the adoptive family who worked really hard to have you in their lives.

There has never in the history of law been an unplanned adoption.

It can't happen. As Dan Savage says, nobody wakes up the morning after a drunken escapade to find adoption paperwork completed and filed. And not only that, in most cases adoptive parents have to meet the child they're adopting before they can complete the adoption. So if you're parents adopted you, they didn't just want a child, they wanted you. In our case, we met Boo, then flew back across the Atlantic, returned to our childless home and our jobs (in my case, a job I was giving up to stay home with Boo) and then flew back to Russia because we wanted her so badly.

That's love, baby. And it's pretty awesome.

I'm not saying all adoptive parents are good parents: they're not. If your parents abused you, physically or emotionally, by all means cut them out of your life if you think that's the healthiest decision for you. But for everyone else, remember that your parents chose you, and that's pretty special. No, they didn't choose you like one chooses a puppy at a shelter, but they could have said no. They could have decided not to adopt you or not to adopt at all. Instead, they chose you. Don't hate them for it.

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