Category Archives: Adoptee

Articles that explore the viewpoint of adoptees, as well as ideas of special concern to parents who are raising an adopted child.

A conversation I never want to have

(This entry was originally posted as a guest post on Stirrup Queens as part of Geohde’s Great Blog Cross-Pollination.)

Because I have chatted with some of you, I know that many readers here are looking for travel brochures to Adoption World or are considering relocating there. Periodically I’m going to write about adoption language and why I choose some words and phrases over others.

The first phrase is give up for adoption (and variations). And here’s the conversation I never want to have.

“Mom, why did Michele give me up?”

“Well, she loved you very much. In fact, she loved you so much that she found Daddy and me to be your forever parents.”

“She loved me so much that she gave me away?”

“Well…not exactly…”

“If she loved me less, would she have kept me?”

“That’s not what I meant…”

“And through the rest of my life, should I be afraid of anyone loving me too much because then they will reject me?”

“Let’s start over, Reed.”

Some may call it semantics or political correctness, but I DO have reasons for choosing certain words and phrases and rejecting others. In this case, I prefer made an adoption plan to gave up for adoption.

First of all, made an adoption plan implies conscious thought. Michele thought about her baby as she decided what to do. She was aware of him. She planned the best future possible for him, given the resources available to her at the time. She was not forced out of parenting him (although this does happen in some cases, which I’m told is devastating for a child to realize).

And more importantly, it doesn’t include rejection. Gave you up and gave you away are inherently rejective (to make up a word). And they could make the child feel like an old toy or an outgrown article of clothing, a toss-away. Imagine if you lived your life thinking you really weren’t worth keeping.

It’s not such a leap from she loved you so much she gave you up to big love = rejection. This is NOT a belief I want to impart to either of my children.

I want them to know that their firstmoms loved them enough to make a difficult choice. I want them to go through their lives fully capable of giving and receiving love. I’d rather have THIS conversation.

“Mom, why did Michele do adoption with me?”

“Michele loves you so much. She knew back then that she wasn’t ready to be a mommy to any baby. Even though she really wanted to be with you, she made a plan to make sure you had parents who were ready to take care of you.”

“That’s you and Daddy?”

“Yup. You have so many grown-ups who have loved you from the very beginning. You are so lovable! (devolve into a tickle session.)”

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Other terms I plan to cover:

  • “birthmom”
  • “our” birthmother
  • the birthmom “changed her mind”
  • “He is adopted.”
  • “a child of my own”
  • “born in my heart”

Please let me know if there are any others you’d like me to have addressed.

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I’m honored that Jenna and Pamela Jeanne have included me in a fabulous group of women who have been awarded the Blogger Flame of Fortitude. Jenna created this award to recognized our battle scars, our victories, our defeats and our courage in facing infertility.

I now pass the torch to Furrow, Yoka and Lea Bea and Niobe. Let’s keep on supporting and keep on going, no matter what.

Breathing and birth certificates

When was the last time you really thought about air? Not air in the abstract, like the part of the Earth’s atmosphere that humans may be warming and polluting.

But the concrete. The air that you’re breathing right now. The air that’s in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. The air in your Jeep, Honda, Chevy. The air on the bus, at your office, in the gym. The air in the grocery store, at Costco, surrounding the baseball field (oh, that’s right. Only Colorado and 2 other teams are still playing baseball. Ha Ha!).

You haven’t thought about the air you breathe in the last day, week, month? That’s because YOU HAVE IT.

If all the air were to be sucked out of your home, your Honda, your Costco, then would you think about it? You bet your sweet bippy. You wouldn’t be able to think of anything else. Thoughts of air would consume you.

Now. When was the last time you thought about your birth certificate? That tired and rumpled old document that says the date, time and location where you were born. That shows your height and weight. That shows your parents, and thereby infers your very identity by virtue of the underlying ethnic background and health history.

What? You haven’t thought about your birth certificate since the last time you applied for a passport or driver’s license? And even then you didn’t really study it?

Then, you must not be an adopted person.

Adopted people in many parts of the United States are prevented from having access to their original birth certificates. I can have mine. You can have yours (unless you were adopted). But a class of citizens — through circumstance of birth — are denied the right to see and have the document that shows their identity on the day they were born.

Check out this video compiled to a Dashboard Confessional song and visit the site. Our country, founded on equal rights for all, should not tolerate the treatment of second-tier citizens. Support Open Records in your state.

Another Reason Open Adoption Works for My Children & Me

no medical history in adoptionMy childhood friend Juli tells me that one of the worst things about being adopted is going to the doctor. The nurse always asks about her health history, including her parents’ health history, to see what kind of risks to watch out for.

She draws a blank. Each and every time. She has no clue if the experiences she’s had with her body and mind are rooted in her genetic makeup.

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A friend had some bad news recently: her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer  (caught early; the prognosis is good).

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So what does this have to do with open adoption? My children will know.

Tessa will be able to ask Crystal at what age she started her period  — did you know that before age 12 is a risk factor? She’ll know if and where cancer may occur in her genetic line.

Reed will have access to heart and lung, skin and kidney, prostate and stomach history and everything else. And if he ever has a daughter (or a son), he’ll be able to tell about the presence or absence of breast cancer in his genetic line.

adoptee blank medical chart

I want my children to have dynamic information about the health of the people whose DNA they carry — not static information about the health of their birth parents at age 20. Open adoption enables Tessa and Reed to know over time what goes on with their birth relatives, clues to  what their own medical puzzle may look like.

What my friend Juli wouldn’t give for that.

Image by OpenClipart [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Lori Holden's book coverLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.