Every time I meet someone in my natural family for the first time, I learn something new. New information about my family specifically or generally, or something about myself sudden comes into focus. It makes me angry because it shines a harsh light on the lies I was told growing up adopted. I was not supposed to question or miss what I had lost when I was taken from my mother. None of the things she could give me where considered consequential in any way, and I have come to discover as the years roll by that nothing could be further from the truth.
The basic lie of adopted families is that they are no different at all from families of origin. Taking someone else’s child to raise as your own is the same thing as giving birth to a child. It’s not a win-win. It’s not harmless solution for solving the infertility issues of one couple or the single parenthood issues of the mother. Harm is done, and I would argue just as much to the infertile couple as to the birth mother who is being asked to abandon her child for some nebulous greater good.
Why do I say that infertile couples are harmed by adoption?
First, adoption allowed them to pretend they aren’t infertile. At least publicly. It doesn’t erase the damage that infertility as wrought on them personally or on their relationship. In fact, it might make both those things worse as it gives them an excuse to not deal with the issues.
I know my adoptive parents did not deal with the damage done to their relationship because my adoptive mother couldn’t have children. He blamed her. Blamed her mother. Was quite angry for the majority of my life about being denied a biological child. He thought we didn’t notice, but he wasn’t subtle about his disappointment. Every time we didn’t live up to his expectations, it was there, an elephant lumbering about the room, trampling us children.
Second, adopted families aren’t viewed as “the same” by societies in general. I have lost count of the number of people who praised my adoptive parents for “taking those children in” as though we’d been left on doorsteps. Adopted children are less than. Adopted families are “better than nothing”. That’s the harsh truth.
Finally, it never gives the couple proper space to mourn and heal from their infertility. Everything they went through trying to get pregnant. Treatments. Miscarriages. An adopted baby is a band-aid for a gaping wound. It’s not the job of a child, suffering their own separation trauma, to fix the adults who’ve acquired them like one would rescue a kitten or puppy.
I don’t bother to discuss this with my adopted mother anymore. She is too deep in her own feelings to see mine. She’s too old to really have the in depth conversations we needed to have decades ago in any case. It’s unfortunate but reality can’t be amended to suit my needs at this point.
I do not support non-familial placement of infants and children. Reunification is best. Keeping children with extended biological family is next best. There should be a concerted effort by the government to make sure all efforts are made and that includes financial support if necessary.
What can be done for infertile couples? The obvious financial support for assisted reproductive health measures for one. Mental health support for those who cannot because parents if medical intervention fails. Finally, society supporting the idea that having children is something not everyone does. The absence of children is not a personal failure and should never be sold as such by anyone or any institution.