I wish I could say that twenty-seven years after our birth grandson was lovingly placed with parents who were ready and able to raise a family hateful or ill-considered language is now in the past. Not so. When recounting our own adoption birth family experience I still get comments such as, “I could never give away my baby.” Or, “we adopted a girl years ago----she was “unwanted.” And even, “if that had been my daughter she wouldn’t be allowed in the house.”
I try not to judge the people who made these comments believing that if “they knew better they would speak better.” I wish the lady who thinks we gave away a baby could have sat with us through countless family meetings and sessions with social workers as we worked together to make a plan that was, quite simply, right for this unexpected but already deeply loved child. And, had the person who thinks adopted children are unwanted been in the hospital elevator with us as we left our baby behind she too might have stepped back with the others as people do in respectful silence for the emotions that rode with us: loss, grief and despair. Finally, for the man that would have shunned his daughter I would have him see the close, respectful and loving relationship between our daughter and her Dad.
As a practicing Christian my faith was sorely tested when I tried to take control of the situation by going into overprotection mode for both my daughter and my unborn grandchild. In reality, we did not have any legal say in our teenage daughter’s decisions and we came to understand that our job was to be supportive. Once I let go and let God take over I know there was a divine intervention that surrounded our family with the best social workers and health care professionals. And, ultimately, the blessing of our grandson’s Mom, Dad and big brother who welcomed him with love and compassion for our family. Much of our “positive adoption language” was learned as the language of love from our grandson’s family. I hope that the Christian cross wearing hospital nursery nurse who scowled at us and created difficulties saw and felt some of this divine intervention at work thereby softening her heart toward other young women making an adoption plan. If so, she might say, “I admire you for your strength and know that you do not walk alone.”
Friends, relatives and acquaintances do not mean to degrade adoption. They simply lack the knowledge that negative language comes across as judging the morality of others. It also diminishes the birth family’s heart rendering process of making an adoption plan that is in the child’s best interest. As a birth grandparent I am forever grateful for the grandson whom I have had the joy of watching grow into the wonderful man he is while being lovingly embraced as an extension of his family. And, I remain in awe of my then sixteen-year old daughter whose courage; sense of responsibility and love for her baby led her to Adoption Options.
More birth families need to celebrate adoption by telling uplifting stories of love, compassion, healing and joy. This is how you change attitudes and language.