Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adoption Outcomes: Is Everybody Happy? Why is there Anger?

An adoptive parent asked if there are any 'happy' adoptees on the MPR 'What are your experiences as an adoptee?' blog, and really struck a nerve!

Lauri Lee's response:

I would be careful not to disrespect the adoptees here by implying that because we have felt pain we are not favourable “outcomes” or have not had favourable “outcomes”. I assume that’s what you meant by asking for “any other outcomes”. Adoption corruption is not about what kind of “outcomes” we have, it is about a fundamentally wrong practice, out of which many outcomes can happen. I am sure you can find many young adoptees who have not questioned how they came to be in the situations they are in whose “outcomes” you would find pleasing in them choosing not to express loss. That is hardly the point when illegal and immoral things are happening. Would you be content if your children were kidnapped and brought up lovingly by good people? Would you feel no wrong had happened to you and your husband? Would you feel appeased if your children were unaware that the privilege they were enjoying was because they were trafficked?

The concept of happiness does not exist as a binary whereby all those who have suffered shall have no happiness in their lives. That is absurd. I’m sure you understand the concept of being happy about one’s career but not happy about one’s marriage, or vice versa. Many adoptees can say they are happy about some aspects of their lives but this does not mean that they are happy that they lost their families, nor the failure of ethics which in many cases caused this to occur.

Can you say that you would be happy if some of the money you spent on your adoption went into the in-country partner agency fund that went to pay child finders who then found any number of other children by kidnapping them from their families for the international adoption market? In many adoptions, this is what happens to some of that money adopters pay out. Surely you don’t think all that money went for paperwork, admin, and your homestudies? It only takes a couple of hundred dollars to make it a good deal for a child finder in a poor country. Can you say you can account for where all the money you spent on adoption went? The kidnapped child might not be the child you adopt, but it could be the child the next couple adopts.

Frankly I don’t care how much you assert that your adoption was ethical and that how much you know (which you actually empirically can’t, you can only speculate) that your adoptive son is better off with you, the point is that when you participate in a system with corrupt practices you are a participant in the problem.

I’d guess that you only view what you know about your adoptive son’s original situation against what you provide your son, but don’t look at the alternatives of what could have been done for your son in India if the resources were available. Many agencies in India help children in dire straits without resorting to removing them from their country and culture, unfortunately many are under-resourced.

I can assure you there is much happiness in my life, I married a wonderful man, we are financially comfortable which has afforded us wonderful adventures in life (but this was not gained without many years of struggle nor does this diminish the adventures we had as we were struggling). However there is great sadness in my life for having lost my family and for living life as a racial outsider in a country I call my home and inside the home I grew up in. All this was unnecessary; I could have lived a life with my family. That would have been a life of other struggles and other joys, but just as valid if not more, as I would be living as my legitimate identity in the security of knowing who I was.

My greatest happiness in life is having found my family again. As complex as reunion is, and regardless of all the weirdness and sorrow and loss one re-experiences, part of me was just finally at peace. And I didn’t even realise this part of me was not at peace before I felt that release.

I consider myself to be a pretty fine outcome for all that I’ve been through as well. I’d probably consider myself a pretty fine outcome if I grew up surrounded by my natural family too.

What is profoundly wrong is agencies creating paper orphans to make adoptable children for affluent westerners because westerners want to adopt. What is also wrong is people overlooking what can be done in countries of great poverty to ensure the wellbeing of children in the country and choosing to remove them instead.

BRAVO!!!  Standing ovation!!!

Ji In Lugtu adds:

....I don't wish my (nonadopted) daughter to be unhappy, but I do not wish her to grow up with an unrealistic expectation that she will emerge into adulthood as either (a) happy or (b) other, nor do I expect her to reduce her childhood and upbringing as either (a) positive or (b) negative. Why must adoptees fall into category A, or be dismissed as damaged?
I consider myself privileged to personally know several of the above commenters, and although I cannot -- and would not -- neatly summarize any of them as merely a happy outcome, I can report that they are some of the brightest, most giving, most accepting, supportive individuals I've met. I've witnessed and shared in their joys and heartaches and countless moments in between, just as the rest of the world experiences every day. So it angers me to see their responses disregarded in favor of something "happier" or more "positve." These people have been honest and generous with their thoughts, and as I reread many of them, I'm wondering, how do you read these comments and only see pain and anguish? I see (valid) pain, yes, but I also see passion, patience, integrity, perseverance and resilience.

Much like Lauri, I've found great happiness in my life. I am fortunate to have a comfortable home and a beautiful family with whom to share it, and we share belly laughs every day. I won't downplay the pain and grief I've experienced to make others more comfortable or to make my comment more palatable. My search and reunion changed my entire life and outlook, and brought more questions to light than answers. And although it shouldn't matter, I maintain a relationship with my adoptive family that is just as healthy and simultaneously dysfunctional as almost every other family (adoptive and otherwise) that I've come across. Herein lies one of the greatest adoption myths: Happy adoptees love their adoptive parents, and unhappy/angry/scarred adoptees do not. I apologize that I cannot muster the strength to even begin to outline the fallacy of this notion!

Finally, I'd like to do some dismissing of my own in refuting the idea of an adoption "outcome" in the first place. What is a positive adoption outcome? Is this the same thing as the fabled happy ending? Finding closure? Turning 18 and saying, "Well, that's it. I'm happy I was adopted"? Ideas like these suggest that we as adoptees are expected to "get over" or "move past" our adoptions, yet as far as I can tell, at age 36, I am still an adopted person. A 73-year-old friend of mine, with no surviving adoptive family members, is still adopted. Like most adoptees I know, I define myself neither as having achieved a positive nor negative outcome. Rather, our stories are constantly morphing, shifting, changing with each year, cresting at joyous moments and grieving at the low points. Adoption does not afford us a finish line. 
Adoptive parents who are reading and who have also asked Kathy's question aloud or silently (and I know you number many), please allow your children more than one or two possibilities. If you only look for the fabled happy outcome, your child will never feel comfortable sharing with you their full spectrum of emotions.

Amanda wrote:
Kathy, you don't allow adoptees the same complexity and individualism you allow for yourself. While you avoid the term "adoptive mother," you are content to delineate all whom you've seen here as "unhappy adoptees."
First and foremost, I am a person. And yes, I am "happy."
My adoption's outcome, my current mood at the moment, and whether or not I am "better off" adopted is no one's concern. What is concerning is the lack of adult adoptees in adoption discourse, corrupt adoption policies, the losses of families and children worldwide, and the fact that when adoptees try to discuss these things, all some people can think to say is "you're just angry."
Angry about injustice? Yep. I think it would be a problem if I wasn't.
"Worldwide issues that impact families (which is really what we are discussing here) are tolerable to me because I look at the bright side {insert adoption cliche here}" is not something I plan on saying any time soon. If that makes me a the derogatory term, "angry adoptee," so be it.


Anonymous said...

Adoption is very sad.

Anonymous said...

Adoption outcome? Finding closure?
The truth about some "horror" adoption stories have to come out. A book should be written about that. Adopters are not saving a child and they are not heroes. They want to make themselves happy. They want a child no matter what. Ethics, manipulation, greed, honesty. A book should be written about that.
Is it true that there is a book in the works about a story you blogged March 20, 2011 about Vilma Ramirez and her daughter Esperanza? Are you writing it? AWESOME.

Mirah Riben said...

I know nothing about y book about Vilma Ramirez but I have written not one but TWO books describing in depth what is wrong with adoption as it is practiced in the U$....and suggested alternatives.

Anonymous said...

I will read them. Many more should be written.

Moonstar said...

I think one of the biggest promblems with U.S adoption culture, is that ignorant people
think that it saves tax money. They would rather separate a family and give the child to another family, than see a
dime of their tax money go to keep the family together. But whenever I defend these
impoverished mothers and fathers, I get called an "evil socialist communist."
And most people still don't know about the adoption tax credit. They get very
surprised when I tell them about it.

Mirah Riben said...

Very true. Not just the tax credit but it also costs tax payers in terms of the bonuses paid to states to remove children and then the stipends paid to foster families, some which continue even when they adopt. But no money for natural parents or grandparents who are struggling!

It stems from a long-held cultural belief that "welfare mothers" were the cause of all of the financial problems of the middle class. Even though today, thee new victim-du-jour are immigrants, there is enough of the old propaganda left to maintain and perpetuate itself.

Our gvt very cleverly creates these we/they dichotomies to keep us pointing fingers at those among us in order to keep us from seeing that it is CORPORATE WELFARE that is the real enemy of the middle class and that the gvy themselves are stealing us blind!

They have done such a good job of it, that even now as immigrants are hated for allegedly taking our jobs, the general public still looks down on single mothers who are not wealthy (i.e. celebs and professionals) as TRASH and still believe that "welfare mothers" are taking money out of their pocket, when in fact welfare has only ever been less than 1% of the federal budget....and that is exactly what it is intended for: to help families in crisis.

But people will point to the rare exception of a welfare mothers with many children and make the absurd claim that she is having additional babies for the lousy $60 a month or whatever they give her and a meager existence on food stamps! This picture remains indelible in the minds of the U$ public, defying all reality to the contrary.

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