Yesterday’s posts at Catholic Exchange and Mommy Monsters, as might be expected, produced several heated responses as well as some useful information that I hope to include in future posts. However, there was one bit of information I received today — a letter in NCR from Melinda Selmys (dated 10/5/08) in response to the outrage her original article produced — that I wanted to share here:
Response from Melinda Selmys: “I have had several letters from people who were angered by my column. Specifically, they were upset by my discussion of adoption, and by the claim that there is often lack of similarity between an adopted child and his or her adopted parents that can lead to rifts, lack of understanding, and an inability for a parent to reach their adoptive child.
“My intention was not, in any way, to disparage the love of adoptive parents for their children, nor to imply that there are not circumstances where adoption really is the best option for a child. Certainly, there are many situations where a mother is physically or emotionally incapable of caring for her newborn; there are also situations where a child is left without any biological parents whatsoever.
“The unique sacrifices that adoptive parents are called upon to make in order to care for these children are without a doubt a reflection of the love of Christ.”
Well, isn’t that nice… but does she still consider herself an “anti-adoption advocate”? And is she willing to concede that her original assessment of those poor teenagers just MIGHT be attributed to something other than … adoption?
We don’t need a reassuring pat on the head, Ms. Selmys. We KNOW we’re doing our best at a tough job. We don’t need to be portrayed as selfless saints; trust us, we’re not that. It would be nice, however, if you would address the core issue: Not “hurt feelings,” but outright error.
You don’t even know what it FEELS like to be Adopted lady. You talk about self sacrifice, but none of you AP’s sacrifice your anger at barreness (towards God either) and forgive a woman for an act of fornication LIKE CHRIST WILL. You people are the judgemental hypocrites He talked about. The ones He said will NOT go to heaven. We “bastards” do not owe you infertiles anything. YOU and all other Christians, including clergy, owe us forgiveness and helping us to stay with our Real Mothers by giving your money, donations of clothes, and other items and services to help this sacred bond stay intact. But you people (infertiles and other Christians) do not forgive-including Church clergy-Christ never said ONE word about penance-he did not ask penace of the adultress when He spared her from stoning-penance is man made garbage so the Church can control people. So is Adoption-most infertiles lose their faith in God because they can not conceive, and oh no, the Church can’t lose parishoners, they will lose so much money! They will also lose people to control and kick around with their Anti-Christ man made dogma. So the Church invents Adoption, which takes care of many things at once-to wrongly punish women who have children out of wedlock and their little bastards, to give faith back to infertiles and call a child that was stolen from her Real Mother a “gift”(as in gift from God, which is even more nauseating now, because some of you bring Santa Claus into this and fyi barreness is a punishment from God like child birth pain and mold and He doesn’t want you raising a child-just spending time with and giving money to orphans and) to make a ton of money for the Church by selling babies whose Mothers wanted them to barren couples. Then all of you lie on top of this-BIRTH MOTHER PRIVACY IS A LIE. IT IS ALSO A LIE THAT WOMEN WOULD ABORT IF THEY COULD NOT HAVE SEALED RECORDS. Soundex and Alma, that reunited millions of Real Mothers and their children taken from them is proof of that. But you over look that all the time. You also over look, that the abortion rate in Kansas and Alabama never ever went up when they decided from the beginning to never seal the records. You infertiles use this lie of birth Mother Privacy, because you don’t want the poor Real Mother to come back and rightfully take her child. The Church doesn’t want the Real Mother to find her child because then they can’t punish us anymore, and the Adoption Agencies continue this Birth Mother Privacy lie, because they make more money if infertiles think the Real Mother will never be around. People like you infuriate me-being told growing up you can not know your own Parents name is the most painful thing that can ever happen to a child. We do not know if they are dead or alive and not letting us IS CHILD ABUSE. It is also doing this that messes us up-it is NOT genetic you biggot, it is alos having to live a lie, calling strangers Mom and Dad, not knowing who we look like and being told we don’t have the right to know, plus many other forms of oppression and being made to feel we are not important and good as others, thanks to the immature Adoption system-I really hope AP’s that think like you burn in hell. It is the only place good enough for you and you satanic, unloving and non forgiving thinking.
And your Anti-Christ jealous, coveting, lying, stealing, God hating, bitter hearts made of stone.
In your anger, you (and others whose comments do not appear here) make a lot of generalizations about people and situations YOU know nothing about. Your outrage is understandable — but misguided. It is not APs (adopted parents) who are the root cause of your loss. We are the ones who are trying to help our children come to terms with their loss.
Of course the Lord forgives sin, and so must we … and yet, the consequences of that sin remain. Not the child — a child is a gift, not a burden or a punishment. I’m speaking of the damage that has been done both to the natural order of that family unit, to both parents, and especially to the child. In abortion, the child receives a death sentence for the choices of his parents; in adoption, he receives consequences of another kind — your e-mail is further evidence of that. Even if the child is raised by his natural mother, the absence of the father carries consequences all their own.
I’m addressing the birth records issue separately, and so will not discuss that here. I just want you to know that my prayers are with you.
Improper Adoptee: I (sort of) understand where you are coming from but there was no need for such insults on a blog that isn’t yours…
hsaxton: (I’m assuming it’s okay to refer to you by that since we’re in a more public space?)
“We are the ones who are trying to help our children come to terms with their loss.”
How so? By constantly saying that God will save our souls? How does that accomplish anything? You keep repeating the same dialogue from the context of the Bible every time someone questions you on it.
What is *your* opinion – albeit the Bible?
“Even if the child is raised by his natural mother, the absence of the father carries consequences all their own.”
What if the father was there? Not all women relinquished because they were unwed. Not all women got pregnant by accident in their teens and so never needed to consider abortion.
Yes it is AP’s that are the root of my loss as you put it. PAP’s and AP’ lobbyed with social workers and Adoption Agencies in 1951 to close our records. They are still closed. The AP’s did that for themselves, so our Real Mothers could not find us. They did that without ever thinking once how that would destroy us. Why do you ignore that fact Heidi? There are many AP’s that take off in Open Adoption too, before the child is old enough to remember facts, which makes the Adoption closed which the Real Mother or the Adopted child never agreed too. I think you talk about the natural order of family, because it reflects all the anger that infertiles have, because they can not have their own family by the natural order of nature, ie: conceiving. Most infertiles take their rage and neurosises out on we Adoptees and the BSE Mothers. And there is no consequence of sin to remain-what consequence did Christ give the Adultress? Hmm? He said go and sin no more. THAT was it. He never said you must pay penance. You Catholics and the Catholic clergy just make that up so you can take babies away from their Mothers-so infertile Catholics can get what you want-but it is stealing, and it is coveting to want another woman’s child-and I am talking about infant Adoptions here, that still go on all the time, in the same manner that they did in the 50’s-we Adoptees DO NOT suffer damage from some interruption of the family order as you put it. We suffered and suffer because we were told and still are by Adoption Agencies today, that we could not know our own Mother and Father’s names. And because we are treated in an inferior way and like second class citizens while we are being denied our OBC’s. Do you have ANY idea how that feels? So the problem is then, is with the Adoption system and the AP’s that closed our records. NOT because our Mother’s had us single. I would of rather and would of been, much, much better off, and happier, living with my real Mother without my Father around then be told I could not know my own parents names and what they look like. Add to that, that my AM abused me, neglected me and did not protect me and I am living proof that Adoption is a nightmare. So, no Heidi, Adoption is not “fun”. Adoption for so many of us is hell. And I can’t help but think, that that is exactly how “Christians” like you wanted it to be. With all your Adoptees have to pay for sin manure. Also, I did not send you an E-mail-I don’t even know your E-mail address-and we are not gifts either. When you people say that, it makes us feel used. Like we are an object. Would you want to feel like that? All that was ever, and still is, needed to fix the “damage” as you call it, that hurts the natural order of the family unit as you say, was to forgive our Real Mothers for conceiving out of wedlock and letting us stay together. If God was so into the family unit He would not of let there be so many widows raising children alone. You people take God and twist everything to cover up your spite and your anger and the fact you don’t want to forgive for your own benefit. I was raised Christian, and I know how it is supposed to work-but I do not feel most Christians want to do the hard emotional work to do it right-especially American Christians who are spoiled and more into money and getting what they want(and thinking they are entitled to everything they want) then they are into Jesus,morals and “do unto others”. The Church and other Christian groups have NO right to keep our records closed and I know someday God will punish all involved in that act because He knows our pain and the pain of our Mothers (due to closed records) and He has forgiven us when Christians won’t. As far as Foster children go, I still don’t beleive in Adoption-because it serves the ego needs of infertiles, which hinders the child-but of course I beleive if a child has been serioulsy abused they can not live with their parents. BUT, it is still better for the child to stay within his or her own family and live with another family member. If this is not possible, then two other adults should be granted Gaurdinship-but having a Foster child call two people who did not make him or her Mom and Dad is not in reality and that is not good for the child. Living within the system my whole life, and knowing what I know about how many Foster and Adopted children have been abused by Foster and Adoptive parents(and social workers and Attachment Therapists), I do not beleive Adoption and Foster care is in the best interest of the child. I think it is in the best interest of the AP’s, The Foster Parents, the Adoption Agenices, and The Church for ego and financial reasons. I have read too Heidi, your article in the Catholic Exchange and I found it highly insulting. Hence, my comments on here. Is is Christian to insult other people? I need to add too, that self-sacrifice is living with out a child if an infertile can not have one. Not punishing single women who give birth and taking her baby and not letting the baby know their family and heritage. It annoys me how Christians have twisted what real self sacrifice is. I do not know what the circumstances are concerning the Foster children you Adopted, so I will not comment on that. But I have commented because you have stated there is something wrong with people like me who want our Adoption records open. I hope you will take my views to heart, in case the children you have Adopted do not know their heritage, because denying them that, will prevent them from ever having any peace. And denying a child that peace, makes all the adults in the child’s life to have failed that child. Which of course, destroys the in the best interest of the child theory once more.
I’ve received your many comments on my blog, and I’d like to respond to a few of your misperceptions.
You seem determined to portray yourself and all birth parents and adoptees as victims, and ALL adoptive parents as manipulative baby stealers. Each time you’ve commented here, you’ve made sweeping generalizations about adoptive parents (such as all of us being infertile), which are both combative and simply not true. I will be writing about the birth certificate issue separately. For now, I’d like to address the “forgiveness” issue.
There is good and bad in everyone, and everyone makes mistakes. (Some are actual sins, some are simply imprudent judgments that may or may not be sinful.) However, even the most well-intentioned (or impulsive) mistakes can have far-reaching consequences that simply cannot be wiped away with an apology. Saying “sorry” does not restore everything back to the way it was before the deed was committed.
When a man beats his wife and she truly forgives him, the bruises and broken bones do not magically disappear. In reality, this act is disordered and sinful — and the suffering remains. By rights, no matter how much he blubbers his regret, the woman should leave him, taking any children they have with her. In an ideal world, he should do hard jail time for assault.
When a woman kills her child (drowning him in a bathtub after birth or aborting him before), and asks to be forgiven, the child does not magically comes back to life. Again, in reality the act was disordered and sinful; the child’s right to life is taken from him forever, and the woman (even if she is sorry) continues to suffer. (The one who drowned her children was institutionalized.)
I’ve experienced the consequences of imprudent judgements myself. When I let my dog run in the yard unsupervised, knowing she loved to run next door to play with the neighbor’s dog, and the dog ran into the street and was killed, I was horribly, terribly, heart-breakingly sorry … and yet, my dog was gone. It’s been three years, and I’m still feeling that loss, as are my kids. No amount of “forgiveness” can take that away.
When a woman chooses intimate contact with a man who is not her husband, it is contrary to God’s purpose for sex, which is to bind the couple together for life and to produce children. When the act of sex is deprived of its intended meaning, it is disordered — meaning, it has grave consequences that are both temporal (in “real life”) and moral. When we receive forgiveness, the moral consequence is lifted (the penalty that Christ paid on the cross on our behalf). However, the temporal effects remain.
In this case, the child suffers by being deprived of the family God intended him to have. The best case is when the couple marries and raises the child after the fact. Even here, there are risks. Not all couples who marry under these circumstances are ready to have children. The parents of many foster children fall in this category: married, but barely able to care for themselves — and the kids suffer. (A good marriage is a beautiful thing … a bad one is hell on earth.)
The next best case is if the mother is mature enough and has resources sufficient to care for the child — but there are grave risks here, because the family unit is not intact without the presence of the father. The mother has to be both mother and father to the child, working long hours that deprive the child of her much-needed presence. She may marry — but that is also a great risk. I’ve seen in my own family how children can be mistreated and even abused by their mother’s husbands (who resent the reminder of the previous relationship).
When the woman is unable to care for her child, it can be a truly loving thing for her to make an adoption plan — especially when the alternative is to have the child killed through abortion. The child still suffers the loss of his birth parents, but at least he is not deprived of his right to life.
Mei-Ling: When everything is relegated to the level of opinion (mine or yours or anyone else’s), it’s easy to get bogged down on the level of emotions and passions instead of reason. Human beings have the gift of intellect that allows us to respond to objective truth, and order our thinking correctly.
The natural goods of the human soul are goodness, beauty, and truth. This idea predates Christianity, incidentally — I believe its a product of Platonic philosophy. For Christians, the standard of objective truth is Christian Tradition, with a special place for Scripture.
We also learn from each other — I am learning constantly about issues about adoption. And, as I pointed out in my review of “The Adoption Mystique,” I also have found that I sometimes need to change my thinking on one issue or another, to fit the “big picture.” Right now I’m thinking a lot about the birth certificate issue — trying to listen for truth, even when it comes in a package that is not easy to listen to. It’s hard to be objective at times (especially when the personal attacks start). But I’m trying.
Now, to your question: “How do adoptive parents help their children come to terms with grief?” This is something I live with every day. Faith does play a part of it, but even those who aren’t Christians grieve, and find ways to help their child grieve their losses.
My situation is very different from that of most adoptive parents because of the sheer volume of information we have about the birth parents — including both sets of birth records. We even have pictures, which are in their rooms and in a special album for when they’re older, of members of their birth family. We retain contact with their other siblings. Those who adopt infants do not always have these benefits, so they have to be more general in the information they share with the child as they learn of their adoption and grieve their loss.
* We encourage the child to talk, to find ways to express their loss (drawing, writing letters, etc).
* We assure our child that he/she is not to blame for what happened — that they “are and were a beautiful person” from the start. (My daughter likes to read “Forever Fingerprints” that tells the “facts of life” from an adopted child’s perspective.)
* We are truthful about how they came to live with us, yet are careful not to villify the birth parents, knowing that the child retains a bond with the birth parent that stays with them for life. Some adoptive parents hold for the child the information they have about the birth parents, possibly in a “life book.”
* We assure them that we will always love them, always listen to them, and that they can trust us with their feelings. They may choose to see their birth parents when they become adults … but they will always have a home with us. (My son is already making plans to build a home for his family in our back yard.)
* We talk about heaven. They are looking forward to spending as much time as they want with their birth families when they get there. Sarah asks me if her birth parents will be in heaven, and I tell her, “I hope so … that’s up to them and God.” It’s not my responsibility to decide who will be there … It’s my job to teach my children right from wrong, and how to make good choices, and the fact that God loves them. The rest is up to them.
This doesn’t make their loss — any loss, really — go away. Like other kinds of loss, grief is managed, not cured.
I hope that answers your question. Heidi