Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Adoption: Who and What is "Real" and Who and What's Not?

The story goes that Lee Campbell, President of Concerned United Birthparents opposed the term biological mother and its shortened version: bio mom.  She preferred "real" "natural" mother.  But adoptive parents objected, saying it made then unreal unnatural or "artificial" and of course, they are the paying customers and get what they want. So Campbell acquiesced to the term "birthparent" as better than biological.

To this day, adoptive parents get their panties in a jam when the media refers to an adoptee's "real mother." Much has been written about these "Mommy name wars."

To appease adopters - the paying customer in the adoption process - an entire complex ruse has  based is created and gets official government sanction in the form  of false certificates to protect secrets and lies. Adoptee's birth certificates are falsified to make it appear that they are the parents of birth....making adoptees "as if" twice born, though one birth is legally hidden. 

Secrets and lies are acceptable to make the unreal real but being labeled as anything less than real or authentic is not. (?)  That is akin to openly declaring the Emperor is stark raving naked!

We cannot accurately list adopters as parents by adoption because that would make them feel lesser, and that would be too painful, so we can't have that!  They are REAL parents, by lie and pretense. They are real and their adopted kids are really their real kids...except when they are not....

As in the case of "Artificial Twins." says:
"Artificial twinning" has gotten increasingly more popular as potential adoptive parents travel abroad to adopt, or like our family, are offered two or more placements nearly simultaneously. We began the adoption process with a potential birth mother while fostering a 4-week-old infant. says:
Artificial Twinning is a term used in domestic adoptions to describe the process of adopting two children at the same time who are less that nine months apart in age and biologically unrelated. Most domestic adoption and social welfare agencies prohibit the practice because it is so stressful to adopting parents and counter productive for the children. In domestic adoption, the only way to complete the adoption of "artificial twins" successfully is to work without official approval. 

Artificial Twinning by International adoption standards is no different from the domestic definition except that the practice is done regularly and even encouraged by the adoption agencies. There are a number of reasons for this change in philosophy, some of them altruistic, some self-serving. Our task as informed adopting parents of children from foreign countries is to question the validity of this philosophical change. The success of future placements depends on it.
I know a man and woman who were adopted months apart by the same couple in Long Island, NY in the 60s.  It made their adoption, which otherwise would have been a private family matter, the subject of curious conversations in school and anywhere they went as brother and sister - months apart in age.

They had to explain that they were adopted and that they were in fact not biologically related at all - had different mothers and different fathers.  They were a novelty!

One has a lifelong stutter, the other spent her life battling drug addiction. (I am not drawing any conclusions based on one case, nor am I claiming cause and effect as they were also raised by drug users who divorced and then by a step mother not much older than they who proceeded to have "real" kids for the father who were then dotted on...)

But really..."artificial twins."??  THIS is cool with adopters?  THEY cannot be made unreal by correctly descriptive names for the mothers who gave birth to the kids they are raising, but they can call those kids "artificial"?? Really? 

I only found one objection, but it is NOT to calling them "artificial."

"Artificial twinning has long been of concern to adoption professionals, who argue that it is not in babies’ best interests" writes at Perspectives Press.  Johnston continues:

"...rarely do these 'artificial twinnings' happen with the knowledge and approval of the adopted babies’ birthparents. Adoptive parents who artificially twin often do so by behaving less than truthfully and honorably with their children’s birthfamilies in fully confidential adoptions or in adoptions expected to be communicative only until the child is placed. These would-be parents assume that deceptions by omission can have no future impact on themselves or their families. But they are wrong....

"Though a few birthparents will agree to artificial twinning–especially those who have not well counseled to feel confident about their own “worthiness” to make careful, best-option decisions on behalf of their newborns–most birthparents who know that the possibility of artificial twinning exists with a prospective family will not agree to such a placement. Even if thinking only of themselves, birthparents legitimately worry about whether a couple working on two separate babies-to-be at a time could be expected to be fully committed on an emotional level to both options."

Johnston goes on to relate how difficult it is for "gestational multiples" or those simply known as naturally occurring twins who have to compete for attention of stressed out parents and how much worse this is when you add the complication of being unrelated,

So, the practice is not well supported. But I cannot help wonder how "articial twins" feel about being called "artifical."  ???

UPDATE: 12/2/10

Here is the latest classic example of how uptight and hypervigilant many adoptive parents are about language that distinguishes or differentiates adopted kids. This from FlowerPatchFramGirl:
One of the things that rubs me most wrong is when people make comments such as, "Is he your adopted son?" or, "We have our own kids, but we also want to adopt".

I'm not saying I necessarily judge those sorts of comments, because I know they are often said from a very different perspective than the one in which I live. I know it is possible that I have said similar things, in the past.

Still, imagine a life where you repeatedly overhear people refer to you as anything other than the child of your parents. Imagine how years of being told that you were not really "theirs" might scratch away at your already shaky sense of security and belonging.

My children were adopted, but I would hope that this singular fact will not define them forever. There is a difference between "She was adopted" and "She is adopted".
I disagree. I think adopted people ARE adopted, present tense, as long as they are denied the same rights and equality as their non-adopted peers! The laws keep them DIFFERENT.  If adoptive parents want to erase the difference, lets repeal the practice of falsifying their birth certificates...and for goodness sake, don;t call them "artificial" life forms!!!


Von said...

Does it never end?The abuse of babies and chidren by adoption, the money grabbing of agencies?

maryanne said...

Lee Campbell never supported using "real" mother as the term to describe mothers who surrendered, nor was this term used legally or in social work."Real Mother" was and still is used in the vernacular; it was never an official term. Lee wanted a name for her new organization that was neutral and official, hence "Birthparent".

The term that adoptive parents objected to, and that led to Lee using "birthmother" was "natural mother" which was what was on most legal documents before the late 60s. "Biological mother" was just creeping in to usage. Lee's popularizing of "birthmother" had nothing to do with "appeasing the paying customers" because adoptive parents were not paying customers of CUB. It was a compromise between "biological" and "natural" supposed to be inoffensive to both sides, a neutral word. It was meant to be used to differentiate between birthmother and adoptive mother, that's all. No sinister intent.

Birthmother became the general usage term for a mother who surrendered until it was demonized by some birthmothers who preferred other terms and created their own twisted mythology around the word.

Robin said...

I prefer the term natural mother for my first mother. It is accurate as it refers to the bio process and I don't believe it implies that aparents are unnatural. This artificial twinning sounds like a dangerous trend. It seems like another way to say that the biological connection means nothing in terms of what constitutes a "family".

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget