27 February 2009

The case against Adoption: an Introduction

For the past decade, I have often been asked why anyone would be against adoption. Why would anyone seek to put an end to a 'beautiful way to form a family'? Why would anyone want to prevent infertile couples from having the children they so desire?

Indeed, why would they? Has anyone, in their rush to defend adoption and its so called 'virtues', stopped and asked themselves why there is a growing number of people across the globe who are against adoption? If it was so 'beautiful' and loving, why would intelligent people seek to eradicate it? Why? There is always a reason.

Once, eons ago, Adoption had its place in society. It is not a new law. It has been around since Biblical times. However, in Biblical times, adoption was not used for infants to be placed into a stranger's home. Adoption was used primarily for adults in order to pass on inheritances or for succession purposes. Then, in later eras, adoption was seen as a way for orphans to have a home, a family and a chance of inheritance. It was about providing a family to those who had NONE, not to replace a family that already existed.

The adoption of infants is relatively new. This came about when Society deemed a child born out of wedlock was an embarrassment, a family shame, a child of no one and given no rights. Adoption in this era meant that a child could, supposedly, erase this 'stain' and become a 'normal' member of society with all the same rights and privileges of a non-adopted person.

Over the last century however, somewhere along the line, Adoption ceased to be about the children. The truth about Adoption and its hidden realities is being revealed and what is emerging is not a pretty picture.

While on the surface, Adoption poses as a loving option for so called 'abandoned' children, the reality is that adoption, particularly infant adoption, is about providing children for couples who cannot have them naturally.

What is wrong with that you say? What do I have against infertile couples?

Okay, one thing I need to make very clear, I have nothing against people who are unable to have children. In fact, I feel very sad for those who are infertile. It is a tragedy and a massive loss, one which needs time to grieve.

However, I do not see how creating MORE loss helps this first loss. I cannot see how taking a mother's baby and transferring that child to a woman who is really just a stranger, can solve anything. What I DO see, is more pain being created, more anguish and a tragedy of monumental proportions.

Adoption as it is practised today has become about lies and secrets. Pain. Loss. Misplaced families of which the effect travels down through the generations. Why does an adopted person need two birth certificates? Why does a baby with a name need a new name? Why does a mother need to lose her baby when all she needs is some support? Why does a child need to lose their family to fill the needs of a stranger's family? This is not a pet or a doll we are talking about but a real human being who has feelings, a personality they are born with, a bond to the mother in whom they grew inside for 40 weeks.

Adoption devalues a person's basic right to their family of origin. It has become, in some countries, a mere business venture where a baby is not seen as a person but a product. Prices are attached to a child's head based on their sex, race, skin colour and dressed to look as if the prices are merely fees. Some places offer education, the chance to further one's career in exchange for a child. To the general public, these situations might seem innocent but please do not be fooled. It is all to further the mighty advancement of one's wealth and there is nothing compassionate or loving in selling a child.

Open Adoption is another lie. It promises contact and updates of a child's life to the mother but is not bound by law meaning it is frequently a broken promise and in some cases a bold faced lie. Open Adoption is a new lure to coerce mothers to place their babies for adoption. In some places this is known as 'assisting a mother to make an adoption plan'. And the worst thing? Those who encourage 'Open' adoption KNOW it is a farce and that it can never be enforced.

The need for adoption in an age where secrecy and lies are seen as no longer acceptable, has come to an end. As humans, are we not creative or intelligent enough to come up with a plan that offers stability to a child who needs care outside of their family of Origin? I believe we are, we just need to cease looking at what children can do for the adults and see what we can do for the children. After all, whose needs are we supposed to be looking out for? Whose best interests and welfare are we serving when a young mother is pressured to part with her baby simply to fulfil another's desires? It certainly isn't the child's or mother's.

Research into the effects of severing a child from their mother have shown the lifelong damage it causes to both child and mother. The sad thing is this research and its knowledge was known as far back as 1943 and has been ignored.

Whilst I have merely skimmed the surface in this post about the need to eradicate adoption, there is much, much more to it than this. I have simplified and generalised a very controversial and emotive topic. But given the fact it is so very controversial and the fact there are serious doubts and misgivings as to how adoption actually helps in today's world, that in itself suggests at the very least it needs to be completely overhauled, or better still abolished. As all things in life come to an end, it is time the era of Adoption did as well and we put the focus back on doing what is right for the child and family. It is time the needs and wants of adults were put aside and as a global community we work on building what we have, the families Nature has created. Where it is sadly necessary for children to be cared for by others, lets not apply the guillotine of adoption but find a kinder, nurturing way to keep as much of a child's identity intact.

In short, let us practise what we preach about love, compassion, human rights, dignity, honour etc. Instead of tearing families apart, we need to join these families and be the village that is needed to raise a child.

17 February 2009

11 Candles

I need 11 candles to place on a cake tonight. 11 candles... representing 11 years of separation, agony, anguish and pain.

My baby is a baby no longer. She hasn't been for sometime. But etched in my heart, mind and soul is her image on the day of her birth, Tuesday, 17 February 1998.

Our first separation from each other occurred moments after her entrance to this world. Hurriedly, she was placed on my tummy, her cord clamped and severed before she was whisked away to be placed in an incubator. It happened so fast I was in a daze and barely had time to realise I had given birth let alone had her taken from me already. She was 6 weeks early.

We were reunited a few hours later when I had come to the realisation she was no longer with me. That sense of loneliness was overwhelming. I had been alone all throughout my pregnancy, barely anyone had truly supported me and my only comfort had been my daughter. And now she was no longer with me and the shock of being so very alone was scary. I begged, pleaded and argued with the hospital staff until I was allowed in to see her.

I can recall that moment like it was yesterday, it is still so vivid. Her eyes were closed but she wasn't really sleeping. She was purple and her little lips were swollen. I saw her little chest struggling as it heaved up and down and each breath was accompanied by a grunt emphasising her struggle to breathe. I was told if this grunt worsened, she would be transferred to a higher level of NICU that day.

I was shown how to touch her - premature babies have particular ways in which they like to be touched and handled - and told she might not open her eyes for another week or two.

I spoke to her, softly. Spoke her name, told her how much I loved her and Mama was right there with her. I told her how well she was doing and I couldn't wait to hold her. Right there, right then, she opened her eyes. She needed all her strength to breathe but yet she opened her eyes and gazed straight into mine. That was when I knew I was her mother. This was the moment in time that defined who I was to this tiny little baby hooked up to the NICU machines. Right then I finalised in my heart the decision I had made long ago to keep her. Right then I forgot about the vultures waiting out there to take her from me. The world consisted of only her and I - and she wanted me to know who I was to her - her Mama.

11 years on and it is difficult to comprehend the why and how of the events that subsequently followed. It is almost impossible to conceive why I have been blowing out candles on her cakes year after year after year without her by my side when I had made the decision to mother her.

How does a mother lose her child? How does that happen? I never could have imagined how fragile or precarious our situation in life could be; that others could interfere and wreak havoc in such a monumentally destructive way with such devastating consequences.

So, today I blow out 11 candles. Today, again, A is not by my side. Her absence is sorely felt.

How many more candles will I have to blow out before this terrible wrong is righted?