Some families see adoption as a way to save a child from poverty or worse. Some see it as a way to offer a better future, a safe home or even as an eco-friendly family expansion option (yes really). And for most, adoption fulfills a primal need to care for a child, a way to expand yourself and your world in ways you never thought possible. But adoption comes with a dark side, and the Internet is awash with personal blogs filled with pain and loss, and sometimes deep anger at a system that adoptees and birthmothers see as having betrayed them.
When we found out, two-and-a-half years ago, that a birthfamily wanted to meet and then place their baby with us, I was nervous but thrilled. It felt like a miracle. I was focused on our incredible good fortune, and it wasn’t until we went to the hospital to meet our son-to-be that I was faced with the devastating reality of loss for the birthmother. For me to be a mother, she had to lose a child. I have spent several years feeling sick about this reality. Having people say things like: “I could never give my baby away,” only reinforced my feelings of guilt.
An abundance of birthmother blogs underscore how difficult it is to place a child for adoption. Some birthmothers were coerced into placing their children while others are angry because their so-called open adoptions were closed by the adoptive parents, and others wonder if they made the right decision. Even in the case of solid, healthy open adoptions, the reality of releasing a human life to veritable strangers is as deep as it gets.
As for adoptees, there are accounts of adoptees who never jived with their adoptive families and kids who weren’t told they were adopted and found out later. Many are angry because they have no access to their original birth certificates or who feel that adoption is corrupt and they should have been raised by their biological families.
Since we adopted, I’ve always held this nagging feeling that somehow we did something wrong by adopting, that we are somehow responsible for causing pain to the birthfamily and future pain to our son. I worry that this pain will never be resolved and I’ll carry this guilt, which is a form of pain, around for life.
Logically, I have no reason to feel guilty (my husband does not feel this way). If we had not adopted our son, someone else would have so why not us. I believe strongly that we are a great match. We have an open adoption, and his birthparents never need to worry or wonder if he is all right. As for Theo, he will always know he was adopted; he has his original birth certificate, and knows where he came from. He will understand why he was placed for adoption and know that his birthfamily cares about him and that we do to. Theo, at 27 months, is a happy, healthy, highly enthusiastic little boy who is loved and adored by a lot of people. The reality is, if anything, Theo will suffer from too much care and love, and that’s really not something worth feeling guilty about, now is it?
If you are an adoptive parent, have you ever felt guilty?