For a long time - back in the dark pre-historic, pre-internet days - adoptees, (birth) mothers and adoptive parents - aware of the pain of adoption - joined forces and were called a triad. While we maintained separate groups such as CUB focusing on birthparents, Adoption Forum and ALMA, focusing on adoptees, and groups like APFOR (Adoptive Parents for Open Records) being obviously made up on adoptive parents...we all networked and got along
The good old days? Images of John Walton's family all saying goodnight? Hallmark cards and flowers? To some extent, yes. It was a simpler time. We got along easier - working jointly on events like a marches to Washington - because we all share done common goal: Open Records and all worked on search and support.
My first book (shedding light on...The Dark Side of Adoption) published in 1988 reflects this comraderie and the idealistic hope that we could all continue to learn from one another's perspective to increase compassion, honesty and openness.
Today, not only are the three sides of the old "triad" far more separated but even within each of those groups there are many subdivisions.
There are adoptive parents who support open adoption, those who do "theoretically" but "cannot" because they adopted internationally, and those who are simply opposed to it and chose closed adoptions. Some who buy into every myth and believe their child is "the same as if" born to them, and others who wear their adoption status proudly and loudly as a symbol of their altruism. Some who never mention it and others who blog and attend every conference on a option they can and make their life revolve around it (true of mothers and adoptees as well.).
There are adoptees who still believe that everything is honkey dory in adoptionland as long as as adults they are "allowed" the "privilege" of peeking at their own birth certificate as if it were a hornets nest. And there are a growing number of adoptees who want total equality, while still others seemingly want only to rant in total ANGER at having been adopted and want to speak out against the entire institution and in particular international adoption. And, of course, there are the: "My REAL mother is the one who raised me and I have no need for any other" variety, some who are quite boisterous about that!
And mothers...ahh...now there's a diverse group. There is not even a unilateral agreement on what they call themselves! Some now use:
Mother who lost children to adoption
And what they seek in terms of healing varies just as widely. Some want simply a sisterhood - like a sorority - which has an annual reunion called retreat. Just hang out, laugh...party.
Some are still coming to terms with their loss - having just awakened from their years of denial by being found, or being faced with a major change in reunion status...or because the loss was very recent, maybe even being contested. These mothers need a great deal of SUPPORT, hand-holding etc.
Other mothers are more interested in activism, and find it very healing because of its empowerment, others are focused on apologies for the past, and still others just seem to wallow in anger or self-pity. And, finally there are those still in denial or consciously against any involvement in or discussion of the subject.
Why decipher some of the major groups into which mothers (and others) fall within the adoption "movement"? First to point out that all are legitimate positions - there are no right or wrong ways to deal with something so personal. AND...many people have a foot in more than one grouping and/or will float back and forth over time. There are LOTS of us who are members of multiple groups, organizations and email discussion lists because each serves a different need and broadens our horizon and understanding. AND...many people grow and change over time, and their needs change.
More importantly, IMHO, is to recognize and allow for these different needs of mothers and be pleased that there are a multitude of groups to fill their many needs.
I have often drawn the analogy between my adoption loss and a chronic illness, such as my RA. Neither will ever be cured; both have ups and downs (remissions and flare ups); and both require a combination of treatments to just survive with a minimum of pain to be able to function. The rheumatologist who treats my disease often needs to refer me to orthopedic surgeons and others. Like any caring, non-threatened doctor who wants the best for his patients, he doesn’t deny me that referral for fear that he will lose me as a patient. He knows that the disease effects me in many ways and I need complementary resources to deal with it all.
It would be best for the health and welfare of all of us to follow this model and openly refer to one another. A far cry from putting down other groups simply because they face the issues with a different strategy, philosophy or mode of support.
Origins-USA, for instance lists meetings, conferences and events from other groups; participates in RegDay and in general networks with many, many groups and organizations from Ethica to aPEAR. We have no fear that our contact with them will "contaminate" or water-down our mission, because we are strong and committed to our goals!
While Origins-USA has recently established H.U.G.S. (Helping "U" Get Support) for one-on-one telephone and email support, and we also have a discussion forum...we currently have no in-person support groups and do not plan either a retreat or conference in the near future.. So why not refer people out for these services?
To withhold such options as are available is to replicate the cruelty of what was done to us to obtain our children.
We need to be the change we want to see. Thus, we need to be open and honest and offer all mothers all their OPTIONS!