I have learned over time as an adoptee/adoption advocate that adoptive parents are put on a pedal stool having to be perfect parents because they have been trusted by their child’s biological parents to love and care for the child, or to give the child “a better life.” Adoptive parents are left with little room to make an error before being put on the chopping block by adoptees and birth parents. What we adoptees and birth parents forget is that adoptive parents are human. There isn’t a manual or a book in the world that can guide someone to be a perfect parent, let alone an adoptive parent which adds another layer to parenting. Adoptive parents divorce, become widowed, have insecurities, go bankrupt, and have their share of sins like anyone else.
Yes, there are a number of scum bag piece of crap adoptive parents out there. However, when I hear of people speak negatively about adoptive parents as a whole because they are less than perfect, it hurts my heart to the core because my adoptive mom has been my hero and my role model even through her flaws in parenting me.
She didn’t buy me, nor did she play into any adoption agency’s coercive methods against birth mothers. What she did do was save my life after my birth mother abandoned me. And no, not even for a second has she ever tried to play the savior or hold it over my head that she saved my life. She gave me the best that she can with what she had. She didn’t have much. Matter of fact, we were poor. My adoptive mom is an adoptee and was a widow by the time I was seven-years-old. She worked three jobs with a second-grade education to care for us. And like any great mother, she did the best she could do to instill values and morals in us that I still live by today. Not once did my adoptive mom think to give me back when she could have, I was her daughter. In her eyes, we were blood.
But no matter how much my adoptive mom loved me and saw me as her own, she still made plenty of mistakes that adoptive parents can learn from today. Those mistakes did not make her a bad person or bad adoptive parent. It made her human; it made her a mom.
Below I will I will share a few mistakes my adoptive mama made but has now learned from through us being able to sit down and talk about adoption openly:
What my adoptive mom and other adoptive parents should do is introduce the subject of adoption to the child before they even begin speaking. According to Dr. Paul C. Holinger, author of What Babies Can Say Before They Can Talk, “Long before your child speaks, she is listening – and understanding far more than we used to think.” There is such no such thing as it being too early to read to your child about being adopted. I can’t stress how important it is to start early to make it as normal as possible. Don’t be afraid to tell your child he or she is adopted. There are a plethora of amazingly illustrated children’s books that can help you introduce the subject of adoption. Get started early! Check out this list of Best Selling adoption books for children.
What I would have wished is that my adoptive mom would have helped me to search or least gave me her blessing to do so. I did not want to hurt her. It was the last thing on my mind I wanted to do. But I had to do this for me. I had to find myself. I am thankful that my adoptive mom provided me with all the documents she had on my adoption when she sat me down and told me that I was in fact adopted. That was the right thing to do. I just wish she had my back when I searched and I was able to talk to her about it. She always teared up when I brought it up, and it caused me to shut down and walk away. It wasn’t until after I reunited with my birth family that we were able to sit down and talk about it. Now we are open as ever which makes me incredibly happy that my mom and I can walk this journey together, and I don’t have to do it alone. We should have had an open line of communication when it came to my adoption story as a child. My story was about me, not her. I know she wanted to protect me like any other parent, but sometimes it can do more harm than good to keep silent. Be supportive even when it is hard to do. Remember that your child’s adoption is about your child.
My adoptive mom feared telling me my story. She did not want to go into details about why or how my birth mom abandoned me. She wanted to protect me. She was very hesitant with the truth, but I will say she was much more forthcoming with the truth than many adoptive parents I know today in closed adoptions. What adoptive parents must remember is that the truth sometimes hurts, but it is something that adoptees need. Let us adoptees be the judge if we can handle it or not. We are stronger than you probably think we are. Being adopted in some what makes you grow up faster than non-adopted folks. It makes you think and take a closer look at relationships, family, sex, adoption, abortion, mental health, etc. all at a young age when one’s peers are thinking about hanging out, going to the movies, dating, and shopping. No matter how hard it can get processing the information, it is something that adoptees need to know and something that adoptees learn to deal with. The only time information should be withheld temporarily is when an adopted child’s life could be endangered.
My adoptive mom and I spent the entire summer together now that I was back in the States for summer break. We spent a good chunk of time talking openly about some of the mistakes she made parenting me and how they could have been prevented, as well as working on healing from some of the wounds from being adopted. What I realized is that my adoptive mom’s mistakes were not intentional. The majority of them were due to her wanting to protect me as most adoptive parents want to do for their adopted child. What she learned now that I am an adult from us sharing is that my adoption should have been about “me” and not so much her feelings. We all can all agree that adoption is complicated. However, it can become beyond complicated the minute adoptive parents try to take on their adopted child’s life instead of allowing the adopted child to travel their path and discover who they are through the ups and downs.
I am incredibly thankful my mom, and I was able to sit down and talk about these moments. I will truly cherish her openness and willingness to admit she was wrong even though all she wanted to do was protect me.
Adoptive parents: what have you learned from your adopted child?
Adoptees: what are some mistakes your adoptive parents made and how would you like to have had them handle it?
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