That was the question put before me from the hairstylist as she cut and styled my hair yesterday.
I answered, “No, I don’t.”
She was surprised.
I told her my story, and especially highlighted about the unwarranted government sealing and falsifying of my — and all adoptees’ — birth certificates. This got her attention. She did not know this about adoption.
So, her “belief” in adoption had changed from one conversation. By telling her the facts about adoption’s dirty little secret, I influenced her perception that adoption should not be “believed”.
But what does “belief” in adoption mean?
Adoption is not a religion. There is no creed, no doctrine, no holy book. There is only individual and group thinking that adoption is a “good thing”.
What is a “good thing”? Does that mean that if one “believes” in adoption, that one believes that the adopting parents are the saviors of a poor, wretched child who will live a life of hell until she or he is saved by adoption? By believing that adoption is a good thing, what is the “thing”? The act of adopting? That’s not a thing, but an action. Why is the general perception of adoption as a “thing”, a noun, a tangible object? Is the object the adopted child?
Or is the belief in adoption seen as an act of charity? Is the act of adopting a good act? Is that why adoptees are expected to be grateful for the handout of being adopted? Did our adoptive parents actually save us from a life of hell? Is adoption as we know it a part of a religious way of life? Is this why do-gooders rush to the aid of earthquake or other disaster child-victims? Why the presumption that children are in need of rescuing? Why are the parents of children-in-need seen as unworthy to raise their own children? Why are the children seen as gifts of life to the adopting set of parents but not to the set of parents who actually gave them life?
In my correspondence with European adoptees, I see language use as different. Europeans say “wish parents” for people who wish to be adoptive parents. But would that wish to be parents change if the world would see adoption for what it really is?
My belief, my opinion, my perspective on adoption takes into account the realities before me. Before any “better life” of being the “adopted child”, the “rescued” child, and even before records are sealed and falsified, is the act of convincing parents that they cannot and should not take care of their own infants and older children. For brevity’s sake, I’m not addressing all possibilities here, but you can see the philosophy at work. For adoption to begin, a parent or two parents must be convinced that they cannot or should not raise their own child.
Once the convincing takes hold, the relinquishment papers are signed. That starts the events in motion to “free” the child from being in the legal care of one set of parents to an agency or directly to another set of parents who are then considered to be in the process of adopting. The child is not perceived by society as ever growing up.
So, the hair stylist’s question, “Do you believe in adoption?” is indicative of society’s lack of awareness of what actually happens in adoption.
After hearing how my family of birth was destroyed by adoption, the hair stylist now understands that the glorious accolades bestowed on adoption are biased. She now understands that we — society —are influenced by by what we hear, and what we hear influences our perceptions of the world around us.
How did the two of us get on the topic of adoption as I sat in the chair getting my hair cut? By conversation. The question was put to me, “What do you do for a living?”
My answer, “I’m a published author beginning to do public speaking and promoting of my book on my adoption”, prompted the question, “Do you believe in adoption?”
The moral of this story is: the more we talk about the realities of adoption, the better chances of changing public perception and beliefs. People believe that adoption is 100% good, but when adoption reformers tell of what adoption actually is, then the general public can see that adoption is not a thing, but an act. Slowly, the general public will begin to see that our (adoptees) things — our birth certificates — were unjustly taken from us and replaced by falsified birth certificates. Our families were unjustly taken from us. Belief and opinion can be swayed by what we say.
Adoption reformers: Get out there and do some more one-on-one conversations about the realities of adoption. Promote family preservation, not destruction by adoption. Promote intact identity, not destruction by falsified birth certificates causing a lifetime of identity issues for adoptees. People who want to adopt will then see that guardianship is the only option for a child who absolutely cannot be taken care of by her family of birth, if that is the case at all. Chances are, if people really try, adoption is not really needed, nor is it wanted by the family being destroyed by the belief in adoption.
~ ~ ~ Joan M Wheeler, BA, BSW, author of Forbidden Family: A Half Orphan’s Account of Her Adoption, Reunion and Social Activism, Trafford Publishing, Nov 2009.