The Dangers of Magical Thinking

If you want a baby badly enough, the Universe will give you one. (Oprah said so!)

That is some dangerous thinking right there. It’s led to the state adoption is in today. PAPs, who know that god and the universe want them to have a baby, will stop their ears to any warnings about trafficking or scams or anything else that hints anything, anywhere, ever went wrong with any adoption.It’s flat-out magical thinking: If I think everything is fine, it will be.

Then they’re shocked when their child doesn’t bond with them immediately, or when it turns out that woman was never even pregnant, or their child is damaged goods and the agency lied. Frankly, I wonder how often the agencies do lie. I’m sure it happens, but I’m also sure that the average PAP is so eager to take that child home that s/he doesn’t listen very carefully to warnings about FAS or RAD. Their love will fix everything, because that’s what the Universe wants. For them.

And they get what they want:

While the parents were discussing these questions, the children who were adopted didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. “I’m curious to meet my biological parents. I want to know why they left me. But it’s nothing more than curiosity,” said S Vishal, son of Shankar.

Whatever IS the fuss all about,my fellow bastards? We’re perfectly happy, adoption means nothing, and we never, ever think about what might have been. Just ask us when we’re still young, vulnerable and invested in earning Mommy’s and Daddy’s love so we’re not given away again.  Why, you’ll get the most honest answers a kid ever gave to a question this side of “Who broke this?” and “Did you eat those cookies?”

Truly: Look how fast that poor kid made his need to know who he is and where he comes from acceptable to his parents and society. “I have questions!” Wait, Mommy’s expression says they’re bad questions. “Um, I don’t really need answers, I’m just curious.”

As long as people are eager to believe this, and unwilling to put themselves in our place for ten seconds, nothing about adoption will change. Children will go on being damaged, APs will go on being disappointed, and women around the globe who don’t have much money or power will continue to lose their children so they can be converted into “orphans” for the white, Western “saving.”

I bet this doesn’t happen with other kids. When non-adopted kids undergo a trauma, and they’re asked whether they’re OK and they say “Yes,” how often is that taken for a true and final answer? But anything adoptees do or say is evidence, either of how well we adjust or of some grown-up’s having done something wrong. So we lie at least as often as other children do–quite possibly more often. Professionals who work with young adoptees ought to know this, and they ought to probe further.

I hope they do, but my experience suggests otherwise. As an adult I was told by more than one professional that adoption has nothing to do with anything, and my insisting that it mattered in my life was wrong.

That’s what adoption means: something went wrong, and my family couldn’t raise me. My new family can help me feel better, or they can make things worse. When I’m expected to celebrate this trauma instead of heal from it, that makes things worse.



Filed under Adopted And Happy!, General Ignoramitude, What It's Like

14 responses to “The Dangers of Magical Thinking

  1. It’s all wonderfull !! Adoption is all unicorns and rainbows, adoptees are chosen ! No need for pesky questions about your family that is still out there somewhere, and heaven forbid how you ended up in your “forever ” family.
    The most vile comment I ever came across was a tharapist who consoled the parents of an adoptee who was questioning how he landed in his situation by saying “some children were not made to be adopted”. Why not blame the adoptee?
    If magical thinking worked I would “want badly” that the people with the power live with the situation they put the adoptee, and the mother and who lost that child in.

  2. Heathermother

    Thank you. Your words are very helpful.

  3. “That’s what adoption means: something went wrong, and my family couldn’t raise me. My new family can help me feel better, or they can make things worse. When I’m expected to celebrate this trauma instead of heal from it, that makes things worse.” This is brilliantly articulated, T. Laurel Sulfate. I have been struggling to find words to explain to friends, family, other ap’s why my thinking about adoption has changed, why and how, and this conveys at least part of the shift in my understanding perfectly. I appreciate the very sage words.

    • Glad to be of assistance!

      It’s so obvious to me that adoption is the result of a tragedy that I find it difficult to believe saying so is radical, but I know it is….

  4. aylyssa

    Oh please!

    Adoption did not “ruin/damage” the child. The truth is, in today’s world, most birth “mothers” do want to raise their children. Many of today’s bmoms are older and/or have children already; they don’t want the burden of “raising another one”. Do yourselves a favor and take off the glasses because without adoption, many children would be lost in the system of foster care

    • Heather

      Wow aylyssa … I wish I could be as knowledgeable about adoption as you are. How did you “learned” yourself so much?

      I never trust anyone who starts a sentence with “The truth is”

    • Mei-Ling

      “Many of today’s bmoms are older and/or have children already; they don’t want the burden of “raising another one”.”

      Hello there, generalization! It’s so nice to see you again.

    • Did you ever stop to think that the economy has been suckin’ since 2001 and really went into the crapper about 2008 or so and that there are REASONS raising another child is considered a “burden”? It’s not like society is WELCOMING to an impoverished or near-impoverished woman who has a baby on the way, no matter how many other children she might have had or how many she might have in the future.

      Guess what? Children ARE lost in the foster care system. Do your freaking homework. There should not be ANYONE in the American foster care system if keeping them out of it is what adoption really is about.

  5. Oh look! A commentor belittling the feelings of (some) adoptees. That’s new and different.

    Being relinquished and adopted doesn’t necessarily “ruin” anyone, but bad parenting certainly can damage adoptees, just as it can damage anyone else–and it’s much easier to parent poorly when your child is adopted; there are simply more things that can be “done wrong.”

    “Birth mothers” are plenty scarce these days because they do have more of a choice. Some still feel coerced. Some see open adoptions slam shut. Some become “birth mothers” when their children are kidnapped for sale to Americans, but that’s more of a foreign than a domestic phenomenon.

    If it weren’t for adoption I would very probably have been “lost in the system of foster care.” That doesn’t mean I can’t criticize adoption. Do yourself a favor and read blogs you like, because you’re not going to enjoy it here.

    • In my not-so-humble opinion, adoption *always* involves coercion. No little girl grows up saying, “When I grow up I wanna be a birthmother!” There is ALWAYS some extenuating circumstance driving the surrender of the child, and usually there is more than one. If there were NO extenuating circumstances, the adoption wouldn’t happen. Therefore, coercion is involved. Every single time.

      Just influencing a young woman to believe she will never amount to anything in life if she doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree by the time she’s twenty-two constitutes coercion. And all stops on the political spectrum are guilty of that one.

      • When every woman has *actual,* shame-free access to birth control, abortion, and the resources to raise a child should she so choose–then and only then will adoption be voluntary…and, I suspect, pretty damned scarce.

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