Blast from the Past

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I had the strange and unusual reason to search for myself by my full name on the Internet today. Someone else is doing it so I thought I’d try it and see what I came back with. I was SHOCKED when I found the following on the Bastard Nation Website. You can also find this article on…man! I’m everywhere and didn’t even know it! LOL

Since the reason that sent me searching coincides so well with this article I thought I’d post it here. Besides, I kinda like this one even if it is almost 20 years old!

Adoption Proves Biology Isn’t Everything

By Lisa Beth Darling-Gorman

(Day paper of New London and Middlesex County, CT, December 7, 1996)

This is in response to Anne D’Angelo’s Nov. 1 letter to The Day, “Don’t redefine family, return to it,” in which she states that she “was handed a piece of propaganda which was an outline for a documentary about how the system fails to protect abused children.”. Under the section ‘What must be done?’ it listed ‘Redefine the family.. eliminate biological bias…create a national social policy for children’ as solutions to this problem.

Unfortunately for the reader, Ms. D’Angelo doesn’t bother to state from where or what group this piece of “propaganda” came. Had she, those of us involved in the adoption triad might be better able to discern for ourselves whether or not it is indeed propaganda.

Ms. D’Angelo goes on to state, “No one can replace a biological parent. How often do we hear of an adopted children searching for its biological parents or the parent searching for the child he or she gave up for adoption decades earlier? The biological bond cannot be taken lightly.”

Unfortunately, Ms. D’Angelo does not bother to state whether or not she has a position in the adoption triad and, if so, just what that position is. As an adoptee, I can state that, yes, biological parents can be “replaced” by non-biological parents and that the bond is just as strong, if not stronger, than with a biological parent. (Did I forget to mention that I’m also a biological parent?) Never was this more clear to me than when I searched for and was reunited with my own birth family. There was nothing there for me, plain and simple.

Many adoptees upon reunion find the same thing, that there’s nothing there for them or that reunion wasn’t what they had hoped for expected. While I will say that going into a search/reunion with expectations is wrong, it is also human nature to do so as we have grown up in a closed-records system and having nothing but fantasies and expectations to rely on and keep us motivated while we search.

As for the part about “how often do we hear of an adopted child searching,” it’s an adult adoptee or just an adoptee. Children do not search.

The main reason most adoptees search is not out of some need to bond with the original family but for medical reasons and plain old curiosity, which is bound to be created when dealing with a closed records system.

The biological bond is not to be taken lightly, but it doesn’t outweigh all else in the equation-or weigh in as heavily as Ms. D’Angelo would like to think. The “Primal Wound” theory is being debunked day by day by adoptees themselves.

I would suggest to Ms. D’Angelo (and to anyone out there with an interest in this subject) that if she has Internet access she come and join us in the Usenet Newsgroup alt.adoption and hear what all sides of the triad have to say or that she come and visit the Bastard Nation Web Page at The Bastard Nation is an incorporated, non-profit group of adoptees who are out in the trenches fighting for open records in the face of the Uniform Adoption Act. She may be surprised to hear what we really have to say about adoption.

Ms. D’Angelo also asserts that if we redefine the family and eliminate the biological bias, there’s a possibility that a young mother may find herself being faced with having her child taken away, which is preposterous at best and hilarious at worst. No one is talking about ripping babies from the arms of young mothers, but rather not allowing the fact that the young mother was able to reproduce stand as a reason for her being a fit parent (in some cases the only reason) if it came to a case of child abuse. That’s what ‘eliminating the biological bias’ means.

What’s truly in the best interest of the child is not always what the “adults” in any given situation might want. The children come first, they deserve to and they need to.

Copyright 1996, Day Paper of New London
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About lbdarling

Beware...the truth is spoken here. If you can't handle that...buh-bye.

Posted on 10/08/2011, in adoption, Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. From my personal experience as an adoptee, I have to disagree with these sentiments. The Primal Wound has plenty of case examples of disappointing reunions, which are in fact part of the author’s argument. The emotional and psychological development that would have occurred during initial infant bonding cannot be fully compensated in adulthood, as that window has passed. As a result, the ‘nothing there’ feeling in the adult adoptee is generalized towards all people (especially towards women) because the fear of abandonment and rejection is viscerally encoded in her/his perceptions. There is an innate difficulty in connecting emotionally that is largely permanent. To say bad reunions empirically prove that birthparents are replacable is a stretch and misses the point. (Not to mention that calling anyone replaceable, for whatever reason, sounds a bit crass.)

    Adoption placement is inherently biased against mothers of color and lower socioeconomic status. The money people are willing to pay to adopt for personal reasons would be better spent supporting institutions and initiatives that promote job placement and mental health treatment for poor families. Adoption industry lobbyists have historically promoted exaggerated images of neglect and squalor within the birthfamily’s home, e.g. the welfare queen that is still part of our countries popular mythos. Birthfamily’s have largely been dehumanized, portrayed as beyond rehabilitation, and basically disposable, which naturally makes it easier for adoptive parents to be complicit in separating them from their families with a clearer conscience.

    I appreciate that you are an adoptee, but based on my personal experiences, conversations with other adoptees, and the academic and anecdotal writing I’ve read by adoptees, birthmothers are not replacable in terms of their effectiveness during early developmental interactions with their child. These are interactions which have dramatic, lifelong consequences on that child’s personal growth and capacity for happiness. I believe proportionally speaking, there are only rare instances where removing a child from their birthparent is more ethical than providing competent social service assistance to the family as a whole. Removing children from their birthfamilies, especially when it occurs to people of color, is not only damaging to the birthfamily but also to their entire community, as it perpetuates a cycle of instability in an already vulnerable population. This is not to go into detail about the rampant corruption within transnational adoption practices.

    I know there are success stories out there, where adoption was really the right and only option. But I think this is grossly overrepresented in our media and popular culture and obscures very important issues of exploitation and class discrimination. Until the other side of adoption has a voice at the table, I think many adoptees will continue not to feel empowered enough to describe their experiences candidly. That is how I see things.

    • I appreciate you stopping by, taking the time to read that post and respond. Thank you. Since I’ve been at this for nearly 20 years now and I’ve heard all of the psycho-babble regarding “Primal Wounds” and completely disagree, the only thing I want to say to you is, if you ever met my birth family you would feel much differently.

  2. I’m glad you have had a supportive enough experience to feel that strongly about your views. But I will say that I wasn’t discounting that some adoption experiences are positive. It’s the overarching patterns that trouble me, and you don’t have to subscribe to the premise of The Primal Wound to be able to observe that.

    There have been plenty of statistics and sociological research in the past 20 years that support the notion that adoption has long-term psychological and social ramifications for a disproportionate number of adoptees. Again, I think it’s wonderful that you’ve had a positive experience with your family, but that certainly doesn’t delegitimize the experience of those other adoptees, of which I know quite a few personally here in Seattle.

    My other issue with public discourse regarding adoption is that it is intensely black-and-white. Every ethnic and national population is affected differently (often negatively) by adoption and has their own story to tell. The story of adoption should not be subsumed in the media by tales of celebrity adoption or politicized to advance LGBT rights even though I am pro-gay adoption as much as ‘straight adoption’. Adoption has its own story that needs to be told that is not distorted by the prism of overidealism and generalizing the best case scenario to the entire adoptee population, as the research doesn’t bear out such a generalization.

    • This is where you’re making your mistake: you seem to think that I’m interested in numbers or statistics. I’m not. This is my LIFE not a bunch of numbers on a sheet of paper or an abstract concept. I’m not here to tell any tales of adoption other than my own experiences or to ‘legitimize’ anyone. I was once where you are now but I’ve moved on. You might try reading more of the posts concerning adoption in this blog other than this one then you’ll have a better idea of where I’m coming from and why I think the way I do. The thoughts of others are not my responsibility.

  3. I’m aware I’m being somewhat confrontational, but only because it is an important issue to me. I do think numbers are relevant when they represent people, and when they demonstrate an overwhelming correlation between adoptees and behavorial/development issues, as well as rates of incarceration for instance, for example.

    I mainly take issue with someone saying that biological parents are replaceable. That’s a blanket statement, and emotionally it feels like you are taking license to say _my_ biological parents are/were replaceable, which they are not. That is my experience as one soul on this earth. That doesn’t mean my adoptive parents are not irreplaceable in their own right. But it is a different relationship with different potential. If you’re not interested in numbers or considering other people’s experiences that contradict your own, then the notion of ‘replaceability’ is a subjective matter, in which case, you can only say your own biological parents are replaceable, and it’s up to other people to decide whether or not their own parents were.

    I will read your other posts, Lisa, because I am genuinely interested in your perspective. Since you were making general statements that reference developmental psychology and, potentially, public policy, I assumed you were speaking of experiences beyond your own and about the collective experience of most adoptees. Even though you are personally happy with your adoption experience, I would really recommend reading the book ‘outsiders within’ (if you haven’t already). Once you realize the complexities of adoption as an institution and the myriad ways (particularly transracial) adoptees struggle, it’s easier to understand why there are so many who have strong feelings against the arguably indiscriminate promotion of adoption. I realize you might not be interested in these issues, but when you are publishing opinions about adoption for the public to see, if it affects the way a particular group is perceived and identifies itself, there are going to be dissenting voices. I feel strongly that adoption should solely be a social service, but its current practice leans more toward its quality of being an industry without regard to the net social harm it causes. Because of this, I feel obligated to round out the story whenever I hear someone describe a picture perfect adoption experience.

  4. You are not being “somewhat confrontational” you are being extremely confrontational to someone you don’t know and will never know. And without any reason whatsoever. No,this does not qualify as a reason or justification: “Because of this, I feel obligated to round out the story whenever I hear someone describe a picture perfect adoption experience.”

    Personally, I think that you just can’t stand to hear of a good adoption experience and you must dump on everyone else with an opposing view. If not, you wouldn’t carry around this ‘obligation’ which is actually self-imposed and borders on hubris.

    I have no interest in helping you further your slanted political agenda.

    I ‘reunited’ with my ‘birth family’ nearly 20 years ago. I learned about myself in the process, mainly that no one out there had the answer to the all important question: Who Am I? Nope, they did not. Like everyone else even adoptees have to answer that question for themselves. It a sad fact but it’s true nonetheless. I also learned that I am not defined by this experience and that it is only part of who I am. Do I have baggage because of it? Yeah, a little bit but it’s my baggage and, in the end, it isn’t that different from every non-adopted person’s baggage.

    I don’t believe biological families should be kept together at all costs not only from my experience as an adoptee but from my day-to-day experience as a legal secretary in a law office that deals with the elderly, the poor, the indigent, children, and the totally certifiably insane. Many of these ‘parents’ aren’t fit to raise dogs but they get all of the “social help” you stressed in your first comment…and then some. Upwards of $150,000/year per family between all combined “social services”; housing, food stamps, medical care, welfare/social security, after school care so they go to ‘job training’ that never produces a job, parenting classes, anger management classes, and more.

    To be honest, as a taxpaying citizen, I don’t enjoy paying for futile efforts. I’d rather put my money where it might do some good and I might get some type of ROI. Most of the efforts at keeping these types of “families” together are simply throwing good money after bad and the CHILD is caught in the middle of it all and suffers because of it.

    If, as a fully grown adult, you or anyone else wants to whine about the fact that they were adopted and they ‘don’t know who they are’, my only suggestion is that they be glad they are (most likely) doing it on a full stomach and in a nice soft bed, probably with a diploma or degree hanging on the wall.

    Sorry, my dear, you just kept poking the wrong rattle snake today.

  5. Sorry, I wasn’t trying to attack you. What I was trying to say is that adoptees ARE a political contingency, and to some people, what you write is actually inflammatory which is why I responded the way I did. Personally, I don’t want the adoption experience to be represented by exclusively positive accounts that are portrayed as the norm, because I honestly don’t believe it is norm. I at least want the public to be aware that it’s a much more complicated issue than how it’s discussed in the media. I am not whining about being adopted, cause I do appreciate the outlook it has given me in life. What I’m whining about is the inaccurate perception of adoption as a whole.

    Yes, I don’t think reuniting in adulthood is usually the homecoming we hope it to be or that it necessarily heals much. I don’t have a problem with that notion. My concern is with parents who believe they are getting a blank slate when they adopt. Giving them the impression that parents are simply interchangable does not prepare them for the questions, the behavioral and delinquency issues, the possibility that their child will want to seek out their birthparents. All things that, while they may not be a part of your particular history, are associated with adoptees in general commonly go through. Also, many adoptions are transracial, and there are a host of volatile intercultural and psychological issues that often arise between child and parent, as well as family and community. Treating parents like they are interchangable conveys a message that raising an adopted child is basically easy or that it’s the same as raising a biological one.

    And I know working with an impoverished community is not easy, and a lot of them will not show their appreciation for your efforts. But I think adoption, as it is exists now, helps perpetuate a cycle of delinquency and poverty for such communities and clearly specific ethnic groups are disproportionately represented in this demographic. Adoption should be reformed not eradicated, and yes, MORE has to be done to assist these communities to have better chances of upward mobility. Job training and early education has to be improved to include soft skills, because that is largely what employers base their hiring on and why job training has failed in the past. Naturally, without secure employment, there cannot be a stability in the home for anyone. Circumstances make people bad parents not genetics. Just because existing social assistance hasn’t provided results, that is no reason to abandon these communities wholesale. The system needs to be improved. And it is not inconceivable for a child to remain with their families and still go to college and eat well WITH the right support network.

    I’m not sure why you assume I don’t have experience with this population. Most people I’ve known in transition are good people and are struggling to make the best for their family. By ‘transition’, I mean recovering from substance abuse issues, extricating one’s self from gang culture, and persevering through an extended lapse in employment. Once these issues are resolved, parents should have the right to get their children back, regardless of how much more money the foster or adoptive parents have. They should not be barred from their children by a bureaucratic process.

    This also does not touch on international adoption which undoubtedly exploits the poor and which many of my friends are affected by. The reason adoption is illegal in most countries is because of the aggressive and deceptive practices that agencies use to acquire babies to satisfy foreign demand even when the supply is naturally low.

    Again, I’m not trying to attack you personally, although you may think I am. I know my view is completely antithetical to yours. I just think there is a collective turning-away by the masses on a lot of these issues, because they are not easy to solve and there is a lot of suffering involved that we don’t know how to alleviate. Someone has to take a critical stance on the current practice of adoption, otherwise the misperceptions will continue.

    • One more try: you have brought your cause and your flying banner to the wrong forum. Can you understand that much?

      The only thing I am staunchly and politically in favor of where adoption is concerned is open records. I believe with all of my heart that an adult adoptees records should be opened to them in every state in the US upon them turning 25, no questions, no hesitations, just go fill out the form and get your information. From there on end it’s completely up to them whether or not they can be satisfied or if they feel they need to take it to the next level. However they should first understand that it isn’t all Sally Jessy Raphael, Montel Williams, and Oprah Winfrey. When the lights go out, the cameras shut down, and the audience goes home it’s a very different story.

      I’m also sick and tired of adoptees blaming the fact that they’re adopted for their addictions and other genuinely stupid behavior. Personally, just like any other addict, I think they’re just looking for something to hang it on. Like any other type of addict, it makes them feel better to equate their addiction/whatever with their adoption instead of putting the blame where it belongs; on their own shoulders. At some point, we are all responsible for our behavior, good or bad, no matter who we are or how we were raised.

      If you still cannot understand the above then can you understand what it’s like to be STALKED by your birth mother for fifteen years, give or take, off and on? Just having her pop up out of the blue with her insanity to wreck the peace and quite that is your life? Do you know what it is to have her stalk YOUR CHILDREN? To have her go off on them without rhyme or reason telling them they’re ‘garbage’ and how glad they are they ‘didn’t keep that child’? Do you know what it’s like to have the children she raised without turning into vegetables tell you how goddamn lucky you are that you ‘got out when you did’ and they ‘wish they had too’?

      My answer is all of the above is a resounding ‘yes’! If yours is ‘no’ then you are completely in the wrong place and I would appreciate it if you would take your views and your crusade somewhere else. Or at the VERY LEAST actually go and READ those posts I asked you to earlier, they’re clearly in the category marked ‘adoption’.

  6. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’m not saying being stalked is okay. I won’t monopolize this thread anymore and you’re welcome to delete my comments. I will read your other posts when I get home and refrain from commenting further.

    No hard feelings. I just want to say that I don’t feel like I’m on a crusade just because we disagree about something and are talking about it. I’m usually very reserved and apolitical. I just have strong feelings about the particular things we’ve been discussing. Obviously you do, too. I’m going to eat some ice cream now.

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