This morning I noticed a link to my blog at “China Adoption,” and stopped by to check out the blog. Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve been attacked by a mandatory open records advocate, and I suspect it won’t be the last. However, I’m not alone in advocating for a standard of mutual consent with regard to birth records.
The situation is simply not as cut-and-dried as the open records advocates suggest. And frankly, parents who adopt internationally come from a very different place than those of us who foster-adopt or who adopt domestically. Because of this it’s very easy — but also very unfair — to make snap judgments about other people’s motivations and beliefs. It isn’t necessary to vilify those who have a different point of view, based on their own journeys. In an ideal world, we can even learn from each other — so long as both sides work from a presumption of good will.
China Mom, I hope you are successful in helping your children find their birth parents, if that’s what they want. You certainly have a long road ahead of you, and I wish you the best. I can understand why this would be a deeply felt need — just as my kids will one day want to see their parents again. Which is something I will support when they are adults — because I already know this is what their birthmother wants.
Adoption is complicated, and no two triads are exactly alike because of the variety of circumstances and personalities that created that triad in the first place. There are some absolutes: Children deserve to be raised in a safe, stable environment, securely bonded to the parents who love them. Parents deserve to make choices on behalf and for the benefit of their minor children, based on the information they have at the time. And all three sides of an adoption triad need to respect and honor the other two sides, recognizing that all three sides share a permanent bond.
“Respecting and honoring” can mean something very different from one family to the next. For some, it may involve searching and finding missing family members. For others, it means interpreting the events of the past as gently and with as much compassion as possible. “Speak the truth in love,” is the standard of St. Paul, and it applies very well to parents. The way of compassion and forgiveness is the way of healing.
It makes me sad when I read angry posts from members of an adoptive triad. It makes me wonder what good can come from wasting this kind of emotional energy, which could be much better spent just walking alongside those on the same path. However, when I encounter these individuals, I’ve learned that not much can be gained from prolonged discussion, as the same arguments tend to get rehashed over and over, with neither side willing to concede a point. There is too much pain and anger and frustration.
Sometimes the healing process can be a painful one. The other day I held my daughter as she got her H1N1 vaccination. She DID NOT WANT THAT SHOT. She screamed and kicked and raged at me for holding her down so the nurse could administer the vaccination. If it had been up to her, there is no way she would have allowed it. But as her parent, I knew it was my job to make that choice for her. Later, she asked me, “Mommy, why didn’t the shot hurt Christopher like it hurt me?”
I said to her, “Christopher didn’t struggle, honey. He was brave, and let me tell him a story to distract him while he got his shot so it didn’t hurt too much. Maybe next time, you’ll cooperate and let me tell you a story, and it won’t hurt you so much.”
There are some aspects of adoption that are a bit like that shot. Unpleasant, even painful. But easier when the child learns to trust the parent making choices for him. The story changes over time — the details are adapted or even added according to the needs of that child in a particular place and time. Ultimately, the child needs his parent to help him work through the big feelings and questions; it is the bond of family life that helps him find healing for his hurts, and answers for his questions.