Responsibility. It is a word that is tossed around a lot in adoption. “Take responsibility”.
I am very much in favour of people taking responsibility for their actions in life. Whatever they are. I feel if you choose to do something then you wear the consequences of that choice. It isn’t really rocket science, it is just logic.
However, there are also choices made in life that are not made by you but affect you in either profoundly negative or positive ways. Choices made by individuals for whatever reasons which carry consequences that can change the path of someone’s whole life journey.
For example, child abuse (physical, sexual or neglectful), the act of war, murder, rape, being given a large sum of money/inheritance, abduction and adoption to name a few.
All these examples are the result of one or many persons making a choice and that choice altering someone’s life substantially.
Given this blog is about adoption, I want to talk about responsibility in adoption.
Over the past few years and indeed in very recent days, I have often had the odd person tell me to take responsibility for my actions in regards to my daughter’s adoption. And there are things within this experience I do take responsibility for such as being naive, trusting those who could not be trusted, wanting to do what was right, being worn down etc.
But that is not what they mean. I have been told to take responsibility for getting pregnant. But how can I when I was raped? When I said no and tried to stop my daughter’s biological father from hurting me, I took responsibility. I. SAID. NO. After this, it was not MY choice and therefore NOT my responsibility. So no, I do not take responsibility for being raped and becoming pregnant and neither should any other woman.
When I discovered I was pregnant, in a state of shock, I had to make a choice as to what I would do with my child. For me, abortion was not an option. It was not something I personally felt or feel comfortable with. Adoption was offered to me next and I immediately said “No way, I am not giving my child away”. And then I opted to parent. It was the logical choice. I was pregnant and at the end of that pregnancy I would be a mother. What do mothers do with their children? They raise them. It was fairly simple to me.
However, what I was unaware of then, is that apparently, this wasn’t my choice to make. Raising my own child somehow became everyone else’s business but mine and what I had to say didn’t matter. I had no idea that my community, my whole support network would turn on me this way and that their choice was more important.
Yes, I made the choice to listen to these people who were supposed to be my elders, protectors and people who cared about me. Yes, I chose to trust them... why wouldn’t I? Yes, I chose to look into the choice (adoption) they presented to me to get them off my back. Hardly a crime.
What I was unprepared for is the choices each individual would make in relation to my child and I. Their choices, which in most cases I believe were made not out of malice but out of ignorance, had dire consequences for us.
On to the adoption part. I am told that regardless of what anyone else said to me, it was still my signature on those consent papers. No one held a gun (well at least not physically) to my head, no one forged my signature. This is true and again, I accept this. I did sign those papers however much I didn’t want to.
But here is where I stop taking responsibility and I don’t care who disagrees with me because, and let me make this clear to you, I WAS THERE, I WAS THE ONE THIS HAPPENED TO. Not you. So unless you have walked a mile in MY shoes, have experienced what I went through then you have no say in this and your opinion counts for nought.
Adoption was NOT MY choice. I chose to parent so I do not take responsibility for “making” that choice. I didn’t then and I will not today or any other day. My story has not changed. I was never in the fog about adoption being “the best for my child” because I never believed it was. You just have to ask those who were there and knew me well to know that.
Signing that consent? Yes, biggest regret of my life and I have beaten myself up about it over and over for trusting and believing the lies. But although there was no physical gun, there was an emotional one. I was wrongly informed if I DIDN’T sign, the consent could be signed by someone else, our “Chief executive” (formerly Director-General) and I would lose her anyway. Where was the choice in that? Sign or have her taken away regardless. No choice, therefore nothing to take responsibility FOR.
But even if I didn’t make the choice to place her, I definitely made the choice to parent her clear. And I definitely took responsibility for that. How? I FOUGHT for MY child. I went to court and I fought for her. And, my first court battle, I won. Yes, I won. So, how did my daughter end up where she is? BECAUSE OF THE CHOICES OF OTHERS. Her adopters. They decided to fight to take her away from me and the rest of her family so yes, I lay that choice, the responsibility for the end result SQUARELY on their shoulders because that is where it belongs.
Often, I see mothers told to take responsibility for the actions of others. No one wants to believe our stories because we threaten and challenge the incorrect view the general public holds on adoption. Validating our experiences means others have to face THEIR responsibilities for the choices THEY made and that is just too much for most. So we get told we have to take responsibility for the choices OTHERS made. We are told to apologise to our children for abandoning them despite the fact many of us never had a choice and some of us did what we could to keep our children. Who apologises for something they didn’t do? Why is it expected for mothers to do this when others are not expected to?
I have seen mothers from the Baby Scoop Era denied their stories as being true, that they created and invented their experience just to make excuses for losing their child. This is preposterous. For one, most of these mothers had no idea how wide spread this issue was given the secrecy of the era and their own MEDICAL RECORDS prove their stories not to mention the testimonies of those who worked in the hospitals and saw this occur with their own eyes.
Even Nancy Verrier in her book Primal Wound expects mothers to apologise to their adult children for placing them. As an adoptive parent, that is easy for her to say. It excuses her from being part of the demand that continues the growth of the adoption industry. It is her and other adoptive parents who used their thousands of dollars in so-called fees to obtain an infant who should be apologising to their child for not using that money more wisely and helping them stay within their family. It would have been cheaper!
I am all for telling my daughter I am sorry she FELT abandoned and the pain that caused her but I will not take responsibility for what her adopters and others did to me to ensure my child and I were separated. Why should I? Just to make you sleep easier at night? Take a hike.
What I can take responsibility for is getting my story out there. I can be responsible for ensuring stories like mine do not keep being repeated. I can take responsibility for how this tragic event impacts my life and I do. I have. Take this blog for instance, it is where I can share my pain, my anguish in a healthy way that doesn't impact my family. If I DIDN'T blog, DIDN'T speak up, I would be guilty of NOT taking responsibility and the pain would swallow me so much I would be of no use to my family. In venting, sharing my pain and feelings here, I free myself of these emotions so I am available for my other two precious children. To ignore the need for me to blog, would be an injustice to my family.
Responsibility. Its a big word. Maybe before you judge me and talk to me about responsibility perhaps you should learn what it means and either walk a mile in my shoes or take responsibility for your own actions in life.