Sarah Coleman Needs a Reality Check

As in … it’s not all about her. In fact, adoptive parents, in general, can step away from the victimization angle any time now. I am tired of hearing about how marginalized they are by the red-necking DNA loving society that picks on their lack of genetically connected family.

Why? Because from the way I see it, in the adoption triangle, they are the ones that come out the overall winners. They couldn’t, or preferred not to, physically reproduce. They adopted. Problem solved. Birth parents are the ones who relinquish their rights and their baby due to circumstances that are beyond their control to alter. Babies, by the way, have no say, no rights and are somehow expected to deal with a loss they are too young to mentally or emotionally wrap their wee minds around and equally too young to verbalize – and later when we do, we are mollified with fairy stories and ultimately end up feeling guilty for not being more grateful for being saved from the fate of being raised by people who loved us just as much as our adoptive parents do.

Being adopted is an emotional Kobayashi Maru. The no-win scenario that can’t be cheated.

Normally, I can muster up a bit of sympathy when adoptive parents sound off about the annoying media practice of pointing out the genetic status of celebrity children. It’s unnecessary, but I get the curiosity factor that drives it because many folks don’t know anyone who isn’t genetically tied to the family who raised them.

But what irritates me to words is the victim feel to the rants of adoptive parents driven to blog or otherwise express themselves. Sarah Coleman is the latest adoptive mother to cry “foul” when what is considered the “alternative reality” of adoption finds its way into the mainstream.

Official party line is that though there may be bumps and adjustments, the adopted children are all right. And mostly, we are. We aren’t maladjusted. We live and love and don’t seek therapy or take psychotropic medications any more than those of you blessed with “flesh of my flesh” families.

Coleman had her panties in a twist over the new movie, Mother and Child, which tells the story of a birth mother, her daughter and an infertile woman who eventually adopts in a way that portrays – in her opinion – adoption in a negative light. But the reality is that there are birth mothers whose lives stopped in any meaningful way when they gave up their babies. There are adoptees who resent having been adopted for reasons as complex as they are as people. There are adoptive parents who will admit – without guilt – that they would have preferred to have had genetic offspring and that adoption was their second choice.

Oh, wait. That last thing. The second choice? Yeah, I’ve never heard anyone admit that. Even though it’s true.

And maybe that’s Coleman’s real problem. Her inner Queen Gertrude feels guilty? If so, she should get over it. It’s not as if adopted children don’t know the score and – news flash – we still love our parents anyway.

My bottom line is this – as the baby in the whole adoption scenario – I am the only one with a legitimate right to take offense and I’m not. Why?

I know that birth mother. She’s my youngest sister who gave up her daughter at birth. And I know that bitter adult adoptee. My younger brother. I know the woman struggling with infertility who saw adoption as the last resort – she would be me. They are not far-fetched inventions of Hollywood. We are real. Our point of view should get equal play.

One thought on “Sarah Coleman Needs a Reality Check

  1. Annie, I was struck while I read her piece that her premise was “this didn’t tell all the sides of the story”. What movie does?? Scripts take a side. If you see a movie about a serial killer, you don’t ususally see his/her abused childhood and how s/he became what s/he became. Movies do pick a side. If this was a documentary meant to explore all sides of adoption, I might allow that she has a point. But you cannot deny there is loss to many.

    And I am astonished you have never heard parents say adoption was second choice?? I hear it all the time. While the precise words “second choice” aren’t futtered it usually goes something along the lines of “we tried for 6 years. We had testing. We saw doctors. We did 3 rounds of IVF, then we looked into adoption.” It is not only saying “second choice”, it’s like we tried the first choice for 6 years before we moved onto second. Jillian Michaels being the (for now) exception.

    Good writing 🙂

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