Adoptive Parent Guest Post: We Don’t “Own” Our Children

We heard from an adoptive mom who happened upon this blog and felt outraged on behalf of birth mothers who seem to be fighting for the updates every year. Everyone brings their own history to adoption and responds differently to the idea of openness; here is this adoptive parent’s perspective.

As I read through some of the blogs I see on the Internet, I am absolutely horrified at the behavior of adoptive parents. And I am an adoptive parent!

When I signed up for this “gig,” there were many things I knew I would have to do, things that could be difficult given my conservative upbringing. I never questioned being able to love a child not biologically related to me … as a teacher, there were several instances I would come home and let my husband know if “X” student needed a home, I wanted to step up. I never questioned having to prepare my conservative family for such a radical idea, but to my utter surprise and delight, they have more than stepped up. If a stranger walked into a family gathering, I have no doubt that they would not be able to pick out the “adopted” child.

I never questioned being able to let a first mom into my life, not in the “Hey move in with me” sense, but if she wanted visits and was not abusive, then who was I to deny her? This is what has horrified me the most in seeing some of the reactions of adoptive parents. They seem to think these kids are their possessions, like their houses and cars. Like these women who allowed them the privilege to parent have no feelings. And I feel sorry for them because one day may come when they realize this child was never “theirs” in the first place. The child is “ours,” as in birth family history, adoptive upbringing history, and decisions that child will make that create his or her life story.

After all, this first mom, as we generically call her, she gave me the opportunity of a lifetime that I would never have otherwise had. She chose me to parent her daughter, trusted that I would nurture her and help her grow. Trusted that I would not be abusive to her and to do what was within my power to do right by her. Trusted that if we had an open adoption agreement, that I would honor it, this being the most raw kind of trust there is. How could I deny her of her own right to see her child? Yes, this little girl is undoubtedly  “mine.” I have claimed her and bonded with her and would take a bullet for her. I can proudly say I know her better than anybody on the planet. But she is also somebody else’s daughter, with a history that does not connect to my own. And she may want this somebody else in her life one day. Who am I to deny that? Why make problems for her later down the road? And why would I want to have to answer the question as she matures, “Why didn’t you let me see my first mom?” when her first mom tells her that the adoptive parent was the one to cut off contact? I sure don’t want to have to be in that position!

For we don’t own our children, we are given the honor and privilege of guiding them to be the very best they can be for what is ultimately a very short time. If this is an adoptive parenting situation, that honor and privilege is extra special, because of the level of trust that was given to us. And if we are lucky, the children will come back to both of their families once they are grown and our relationship with them will strengthen and deepen, but that is their decision to make.

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