Dear wealthy, white, entitled moms of adoption: Adult adoptees see you, and some of us don’t find your words “inspirational.”
The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.
Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.
Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.
Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?
See, we recognize you from a mile away because your interactions with your child suggest you are a complete control freak–one who believes pregnancy and childbirth are a cakewalk that “just happens” to women, but that having “an opportunity dropped into” your righteous lap requires grit, fight, determination.
I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.
We recognize you from a mile away because it’s obvious you believe your sweet precious angel child is defective because s/he wasn’t homemade. No matter how loudly you shout that the opposite is true…we see you, and we recognize you.
I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.
We recognize you from a mile away because some people who had to undergo one lousy home study and a background check–the kind you undergo when you want to lease an apartment or go to college–wear a look of butthurt resentment about it FOREVER. I mean… you had to CLEAN YOUR HOUSE! Who does that?!
To be fair, I don’t know anything about the “so many” adoptive parenting classes. I don’t understand why anyone would resent them, either. Don’t we all joke that children should come with instruction manuals? Well, you get one! Lucky you! Don’t we all complain from time to time that parents ought to have to pass some kind of test before they can have children? Oh wait, I get it: you meant parents who are not of your class should have to do that. You are supposed to get the benefit of the doubt.
And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic.
We recognize you because you think you’re special for being sleepless and dealing with a colicky baby. And no, most mothers don’t have “followup visits” (how many exactly?), but if they aren’t of your class, if they have the misfortune to be the wrong race or too poor or not married, mothers face constant public scrutiny and shaming. They often do face a lot of followup visits from people and agencies that don’t believe they are worthy of their own children. And they have a lot fewer resources to defend themselves against those people and agencies than you do.
And yes, you probably get asked some rude questions if your child doesn’t look like you, but for every one of those questions, you get articles like this all November and people telling you how wonderful you are all year round.
I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.
We recognize you because you seem to believe doing what other mothers do makes you exceptional. Plenty of non-adoptive mothers work full-time, do without maternity leave and never receive balloons and plants or the support of their families. And seriously: Balloons soon sag or pop, and plants often don’t get cared for and are tossed out. Your suffering, I am not feeling it. (Mothers’ suffering, yes: It’s a hard world to raise a child in. Women’s suffering, yes: It’s a hard word to be female in. Your super special adoptive mommy suffering, no.)
We recognize you from a mile away by your insistence upon actual superhuman powers, like your magical ability to survive without inhaling an iota of oxygen “for months. Months.”
And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.
We recognize you by your insistence that the luxury of being able to take weeks off work to fly overseas without going hungry or being evicted is a horrible burden.
I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time.
We recognize you because you have to force yourself to offer respect and compassion to a woman who is about to lose her child forever. We recognize you by your willingness to hurt your fellow woman in order to get what you want…and then congratulate yourselves for it.
We recognized you before we’d read a complete paragraph of this mess. Maybe we’re superhuman, too.