To belong; it applies to all senses of being. It brings into effect the very state of existence, and may be the essence of us all that creates the link to this circle of life. There are those who seek and have not yet found this piece in their life. Many of these individuals are children with parents who are unable to provide the appropriate amount of care that is required. It is fortunate that hope lies in the definition of adoption.
Adoption has been known of since the 14th century. When social workers started emerging in the mid-1800s, they provided a diverse system to fit the different accommodations of each adoption. Gradually, adoption was became generally recognized in two categories: closed and open–the characteristics of this classification, however, vary in their resources. Many dispute which plan is more advantageous.
In the details of a closed adoption, identification remains undisclosed. The idea behind this was to provide protection and stability for the birthmother and the child, and the adults adopting. Still, a concern for lack of knowledge on the child’s medical history is a complication, and even more so when considering emotional stability. The ages of children put up for adoption vary from infancy to adolescence so each child’s angles are vastly different. Social workers, therapists, psychologists and such provide different strategies for all the parties involved.
The term ‘open adoption’ stems not from a negative stance but from misconception. Children were given a guilty by association complex; “like father like son.” It was believed the children would shadow the actions of their parents, who could not sufficiently take care of them. This made the find for adults willing to adopt difficult, so, in the thrust of a new era, there was little choice but to create more options. The process became more enriched in knowledge for possible contact between the birth parents and their child. This was meant to feed mental stability and open communication; howbeit the adopted parents still retained status of legal guardianship.
An interview held with an adopted individual who wishes to remain anonymous shows a close up to adoption, revealing ultimately that there is almost no comparison in pattern concerning blood relation; questioning our history of origin is a natural, maybe even healthy, part of life. It could even be dared to say that it is in the environment and amount of support that makes a difference.
He was born when adoption was still trending in private processes. He was aware of his adoption since he could remember. His two siblings were adopted as well from different families, a factor that encouraged his curiosity, especially when his brother reconnected with his birthparents. He remembers sadness and pain as he led a rebellious youth, so his adopted parents decided to set up an appointment with whom he calls “a teen shrink.” However, it troubled him to realize that the people who had decided to raise him refused to believe that it was his adoption that made him feel lost and out of control. Unfortunately, this led to later incidents that caused estrangement between him and his birthparents. It did not stop him, however, from acknowledging the nobility and selflessness his adopted parents initially had. He went on to lead a fulfilling life, making his identity work for him. It was not revealed if he regrets the tumultuous situation with his adopted parents, but it is clear that he keeps a part of his heart for the people that helped mold him. When asked what he would say if his birthparents were reading this right now, he replied, “Thank you. You’ve made this world a better place. Give me a call if you want. I’d love to say hi.”
However, this strength does not pertain to just the adopted. The parent perspective is a very interesting story. The following is a letter from a couple to their adopted child. Names are omitted.
“So, where was I…
Coming to terms with infertility was more of an issue for me that it was for Doug. I wanted to have children and a lot of them. So did he. But after seven years of marriage and not using any birth control and never becoming pregnant, I suspected I had a problem because my mother did. A woman usually mirrors her mother’s reproductive cycle. She was 5 months pregnant with Uncle Dave before she realized it! He was her second child since Aunt Dee Dee was adopted. She was told she couldn’t have children and she did…four of them. But I never thought I’d have trouble getting pregnant, despite a very irregular menstrual cycle. So, after some intense hormone therapy, and tons of trips to tons of doctors, we decided to stop with all the anxiety and adopt a baby, or babies, that were already born and needed a home full of love and sunshine.
Once we decided and chose an adoption agency, things were much happier. We were much happier.
To people who are unable to conceive, we would say there are alternate routes, the most obvious one being adoption. Some people suggested to us that we foster children in our home but I couldn’t think of having to give the child back if the birth mother decided to straighten up and be a good parent. Usually children are put in foster care because the parents (mother or mother AND father, or just the father, whatever the case may be) cannot take care of the child properly or has been abusive to the child. I would gladly take in a child in need, but to give him/her back? Too much. Too much emotion invested. I applaud those people that do that on a regular basis. I had a patient at work that told me he had over sixty children pass through his house and he had the opportunity to adopt (and did) twelve of them. God bless those people. God bless those children that were fortunate enough to be placed in that home.
The agency we chose deals with foreign adoption. And we dealt with them 25 years ago so I really don’t know what their policies are now. At the time of our adoptions, we preferred closed case. We chose foreign adoption because domestic adoption took 5 to 7 years to complete and we didn’t want to wait that long. I was already 34 and Doug was 39. We were already getting old in the eyes of adoption agencies.
Our first choice, naturally, was to adopt a Caucasian baby, but as I say, time was a factor, so I found an agency in Birmingham called Americans for International Aid and Adoption or AIAA. They worked with adoption agencies from around the world and during this time, late 80s, the babies from South Korea were available and needed homes, so we decided that would be best, a Korean born baby to be raised as our own.
None of our family members opposed our decision to adopt. Why would they? It was our decision and our business. Family and friends were very supportive and happy that we had found a way to make a family through adoption. My family was especially supportive because my sister was adopted.
I cannot remember anyone from my adolescence that was adopted, except for my sister. Doug knew some children in his neighborhood that were adopted. It doesn’t matter to either one of us.
As any new parent would be, of course we were apprehensive about our role as parents but this apprehension had nothing to do with adoption. We knew we would be good parents because we both come from loving good homes and we had a lot to give. We talked a lot about how we would raise children and we always agreed on styles of child-rearing and discipline.
As soon as my children could understand, I explained to them all about adoption. We had books about it. Remember Benjamin Koo? That was a sweet story. I think it’s probably in the basement. However, it was obvious that you and Harrison were adopted because you are Korean. You don’t have the same physical features most children share with their parents. I have lots of stories about different people’s reaction to foreign adoption. Some are cute and I tell those ones a lot. Some are just strange…if people would stop and think before they talked, the world would be a better place. Your reaction to being adopted was no reaction. It didn’t matter. You were safe and loved and comfortable. What did it matter who your mom and dad is? I knew, though, as you got older, you would have more questions, and you did, and, obviously, still do. Anything I can do to help you answer your questions, I will.
We think that you and Harrison did have trouble through school when you had to confront someone that didn’t understand the concept of adoption and there were not very many foreign adopted people in the Lapeer area. Lapeer is sort of backward in its thinking. We always told you to handle the situation the best you could. We didn’t know what it was like to be in your position, but we gave you the support and suggestions best we could so you could handle any situation that came up. You were a little more sensitive than Harrison was. I think because you are so petite and because you are a girl. But you seemed to handle things well. You never told me if you didn’t. Did you handle things well?
We do not think adopted children are predisposed to more emotional problems than any other child. Whether or not to be emotional is an inherent characteristic and both of you were pretty well-adjusted growing up. You both were sensitive and thoughtful of others, kind and considerate. You both still are, even thought there have been bumps in the road. We all go through those bumps and we always will…they never cease. But it’s the way we handle those bumps that determine our happiness.
Adoption does not cause mental disorders. Mental disorders are in the genetic makeup of the individual. I have bipolar disorder because I believe my father had it, as well. Looking back at his behavior, I recall many situations of abnormal behavior, either drinking to excess or verbal or physical abuse. I was very close to going down that road but realized that I had a problem. A big problem. I decided to seek help and found medication that allows me to live a normal stable life.
Being involved with one’s culture of adoption is an individual choice, just as religion is. We gave you the opportunities to attend culture activities but neither of you seemed that interested and we were not the kind of parents to “force” you to do or become a part of something you didn’t want to do. As an adult, you have many opportunities to learn about your Korean heritage. Have you been to the Korean part of Los Angeles yet? You should go. Eat some food. Listen to the language. Observe how they treat each other, how they treat their babies, etc.
We don’t know that adoption affects our outlook on life. We have a good life and it has been so much more enriched through adopting children. We hope and expect our adopted children to lead happy and productive lives and raise children of their own in the way they were raised, in a home filled with love and good humor.
If a person is adopted from a foreign country and is an American citizen, then, yes, we believe that person should have the privilege of becoming president but he or she should have lived in the United States a lifetime. A person cannot come to America and become a citizen and two years later, run for president. No, if he or she wants to become president, he or she should spend a life here, first. What prompted this question? We thought this was an interesting one!
We think the decision for a birth mother to give away her baby has to be the most difficult decision of her life. However, once that decision is made, it has to be a permanent one. Asking for the baby to be given back is not right. It wouldn’t be right for anyone involved. It wouldn’t be right for the mother, to begin with, since there was a huge reason for her to make the decision to begin with. It wouldn’t be right for the adoptive parents because they have fallen in love with this baby and it would be heart-breaking to have to give the baby back. And most importantly, it wouldn’t be fair to the baby, since he or she had found love and security, sight and sounds and smells that are now familiar. It would be difficult on all parties involved. Once a child is old enough, then, yes, of course, he or she has the right to seek out the birth mother. But, it must be taken into consideration that the birth mother may have a new life and may not have revealed to this new life that she had given birth years before. It can get very complicated, but yes, we feel that it is a good thing if that’s what the adoptive child feels he or she needs to do. We have very limited information on both your birth mothers, however. Is this something that you feel you want to do?
Being adopted is not a culture. Being adopted is a voluntary procedure in order to insure a family life. People are raised in orphanages if not adopted, not knowing the experience and love and support of a family unit. Adoption is not for everyone. Adopted people are very special and those that have adopted children are very special.
Mom and Dad”
It is on several levels in which these words were attempted, gathered from individuals who walk different paths in separate shoes. Regardless, they share one principle in common: decisions can indeed have an impact on life, intricately woven by our existence, drive and experience. It is how these impacts are dealt with that shapes us into the people we are. Everyone is thrown into the loop of life in pursuit of happiness, so we all must make ends meet in this tangled web to excel in functionality; it is essential to find a common ground, for yes, readers, it is us.
We are the future.