Author Topic: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions  (Read 335 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Jag

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1601
  • Darwins +174/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • Official WWGHA Harpy, Ex-rosary squad
Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« on: February 21, 2014, 10:17:14 AM »
This is NOT a thread to argue about abortion - if you cannot speak to the actual topic at hand, please do not participate in this thread.

I'm working on an advocacy assignment, and I chose to address the subject of adoption. My "imagined audience" for the presentation is pro-life supporters. although that may not be the case by the time I present.

Background for clarity: I'm firmly pro-choice, but that position is political as much as personal. I don't believe that abortion is murder and I want that to be crystal clear here (not in the presentation). I do not endorse governmental involvement in health care decisions, and AFAIC, an abortion is a medical procedure. I don't imagine that this is a big surprise to any of you reading this.

Also, I've long believed that this is the wrong fight - abortion is a symptom of the problem, not the actual problem. Deal with the actual problem (UNWANTED pregnancy, NOT unplanned ones) and the number of abortions performed will decrease significantly as a result.

Last, I'm speaking as an adult adoptee. I (and other adoptees) are uniquely suited to speak on this matter - we know what people have said TO us about being adopted, but more importantly, we know what people have said ABOUT us, and TO us about our biological mothers. And let me say - it's f'ing shocking sometimes.

So, moving on the the actual topic. Pro-choice supporters seem to be quite fond of throwing out the alternative "answer" of adoption - I'm well aware that adoption is an alternative to parenting, not to pregnancy, but I have to meet my audience where they are, not where I think they should be. So my piece (5 minutes maximum) is going to be focused on the stigma associated with women who "give their children up", the language we use to talk about adoption, and the harshness with which women who choose adoption are treated.

There's a weird dual-attitude about adoption in our society. Things have gotten better - society generally supportive of adoptees now (at least to their faces, and seemingly spurred by international adoptions in particular), but we continue to be highly critical and judgmental about everyone else who participates in the adoption process, especially the biological mother. My position for this piece is that by changing the way we ("we" being society in general) talk about adoption, we will start to remove the stigma of being a "birth mother". Essentially, I'm going to scold my audience, very politely and subtly, for being hypocrites and point out (again, very politely and subtly) that they are a significant part of the problem - the ONLY time they speak positively about adoption is when they are talking to a pregnant woman who is considering abortion. THEN it's a "loving" thing to do, at all other times the woman is spoken of as if she is some sort of human horror show who "gave her child away to be raised by strangers".

I'm not kidding myself that this is going to make a difference - I realize that the rabid pro-life people are not at all concerned with the lives of children, they are concerned with judgment and punishment. It's possible that my audience may shift to simply be people with strong opinions on abortion, because frankly, both sides need to pay attention to the words they use and the thoughts they have about this topic.

I'm interested in the opinions of WWGHA members. What are your thoughts on adoption? Any personal experiences you would be willing to share? What do you hear people say about this topic. or what have you said? I'm long past the point of being sensitive about this in relation to myself so don't hold back out of concern for hurting my feelings or offending me. The piece will be best if people are honest about their opinions, so please share, either here or by PM.

One last caveat: I am not going to delve into the problems with the structure and processes of adoption in this piece, I'm only addressing the stigmas and how the stigmas make the proposed alternative so very unattractive as a "solution".

Thanks in advance for any help given.
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.

Offline wright

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1732
  • Darwins +72/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • "Sleep like a log, snore like a chainsaw."
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2014, 01:43:27 PM »
Interesting topic.

My brother in-law was an adoptee. He was conceived via an extramarital affair and his birth-mother's husband persuaded her to put Charles up for adoption. I never met her, though I did get to know his adoptive mother for the last few years of her life. He and his adoptive sister are still close; it's clear they were a happy family from early childhood on.

Sometime before I met him, he recontacted his biological mother. She was very happy and wanted him to get back in touch with his "real" (I'm not sure if she actually used that word) family. He told her, politely, that he already had a family and wasn't interested in being part of hers.

He was already a grandfather when he met my sister. He's utterly devoted to her and a loving, attentive father to my nephew (conceived via a sperm bank). In general, he's a very thoughtful, gentle sort. I've never asked but gotten the impression he was adopted while still an infant.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Jag

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1601
  • Darwins +174/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • Official WWGHA Harpy, Ex-rosary squad
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2014, 02:21:20 PM »
Interesting topic.

My brother in-law was an adoptee. He was conceived via an extramarital affair and his birth-mother's husband persuaded her to put Charles up for adoption. I never met her, though I did get to know his adoptive mother for the last few years of her life. He and his adoptive sister are still close; it's clear they were a happy family from early childhood on.

Sometime before I met him, he recontacted his biological mother. She was very happy and wanted him to get back in touch with his "real" (I'm not sure if she actually used that word) family. He told her, politely, that he already had a family and wasn't interested in being part of hers.

He was already a grandfather when he met my sister. He's utterly devoted to her and a loving, attentive father to my nephew (conceived via a sperm bank). In general, he's a very thoughtful, gentle sort. I've never asked but gotten the impression he was adopted while still an infant.

Thanks for sharing wright, I appreciate it.

You also touched on one of the points I'll be making in the presentation - the issue of "real" families and who gets to decide, on behalf of someone else, just what constitutes "real" in this instance. AFAIC, the family that raised me IS my real family - my biological mother gave birth to me, yes but that was the beginning and the end of her involvement. It's not that her part was insignificant, but it certainly was limited. I understand that you were very careful to not claim anyone said that, by the way - this is just such a common remark, it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Most of my focus will be on the language we use to talk about adoption, and how much those word choices reflect our attitudes about the subject. Like Nam has pointed out on several occasions about various translations of the bible, words used influence interpretations; the same idea is at work here.

My experience was entirely positive, thanks to my family, and my mother in particular. Had she not done such a great job of ensuring that I knew how very loved and wanted I was, the words of strangers could have been completely devastating to me as a child. You wouldn't believe some of the appalling things I've heard over the years about a woman who's entire self can apparently be surmised based on her decision to allow me to be adopted. I realize that most people do not say those things intending to be unkind, but the lack of a few seconds of actual thought before speaking has been kind of shocking sometimes.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2014, 02:23:22 PM by Jag »
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.

Offline wright

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1732
  • Darwins +72/-1
  • Gender: Male
  • "Sleep like a log, snore like a chainsaw."
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2014, 02:56:12 PM »
Very good point about how language shapes our perceptions. And about the power of careless words.

"Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!"
--James 3:5

One of the few things the Bible got right.

Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
--Marcus Aurelius

Offline Betelnut

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
  • Darwins +13/-3
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2014, 12:14:46 PM »
I adopted a little girl about 6 years ago.  I feel conflicted sometimes even now since sometimes I feel like I "took her" from someone else. (It was an international adoption which sometimes are considered/assumed to be done unethically.  I have no idea, for certain, if mine was completely ethical or not.)

Obviously I am "pro-adoption" but I am aware that "adoption is a permanent solution to sometimes temporary problems" (a saying I've read many times on adoption forums) so it is difficult.  There is a bit of cognitive dissonance.

We always call my daughter's birth mother her "first mommy."  My daughter is aware (as much as a seven year old can be) that she has three mommies.  "First," Foster, and Forever.

Offline Jag

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1601
  • Darwins +174/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • Official WWGHA Harpy, Ex-rosary squad
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2014, 02:44:49 PM »
I adopted a little girl about 6 years ago.  I feel conflicted sometimes even now since sometimes I feel like I "took her" from someone else. (It was an international adoption which sometimes are considered/assumed to be done unethically.  I have no idea, for certain, if mine was completely ethical or not.)
I'm going to assume that it was ethically done, and extend my congratulations, albeit 6 years late.
Quote
Obviously I am "pro-adoption"
Me too  ;)
Quote
but I am aware that "adoption is a permanent solution to sometimes temporary problems" (a saying I've read many times on adoption forums)
You know, I've only seen that recently myself. I've heard it before, but in connection to abortion, not adoption. I find it rather unsettling that it's being used on adoption forums to be honest with you - one of the perceived problems with adoption is concern over the potential impermanence should the birth mother, at some point in the future, "change her mind". I realize that it may happen, but my recent research indicates that it's far more rare than common assumptions would imply.
Quote
so it is difficult.  There is a bit of cognitive dissonance.
This is the kind of thing I'm hoping to shed some light on. With such a strange push me-pull you attitude about adoption in this country it creates really unique challenging circumstances for anyone involved in the triad that are almost impossible to explain to someone who has never been involved. The sense of needing to validate your family as a legitimate unit, even if only to yourself, is such a common experience.
Quote
We always call my daughter's birth mother her "first mommy."  My daughter is aware (as much as a seven year old can be) that she has three mommies.  "First," Foster, and Forever.
That's the sweetest thing I've ever heard about an adoption!

If it's not too personal or uncomfortable, can you tell me a little bit about the reactions of other people to your decision to adopt? What has your experience been like? I've noticed an increasing level of "no big deal" as the age of the other person decreases - in other words, the older the other person is, the more likely they have been to say something really judgmental (or worse, pitying) or to make assumptions about my birth mother. The line appears to be right around the mid-40's by my experiences. Of course, that's a sweeping generalization not meant to be applied to individuals by any means.

I've also noticed that as international adoptions have become more common (well, as common as adoption can be said to be), adoptees have become less ... well, stigmatized. There's been no change of that nature for birth mothers though.

Thank you for sharing Betelnut. I appreciate it.

I'm going to fill in a few details to clarify why I chose this topic. I rarely talk about being adopted, not because I'm uncomfortable with it, but because it makes other people uncomfortable. Again, the younger the other person it, the more likely they just shrug it off, but I've had enough thoughtless remarks directed my way to just avoid the topic all together most of the time.

The other reason has become a bigger deal as I've gotten older though. I'm pretty openly pro-choice - I've participated in lots of events and am quite willing to speak about why I'm pro-choice when it's appropriate*. I don't acknowledge that I'm also an adult adoptee however - I only made that mistake once, an accident that I won't let happen again. Being both adopted and pro-choice apparently makes me an even worse human being than a birth mother, as far as abortion opponents are concerned. Heck, some of my friends can't quite parse it. Apparently being adopted is supposed to be a defining characteristic about my personality so there are people who simply cannot figure out how I can be both an adoptee, and still support the right to chose. To me, it's the most reasonable position I could take, but most people see it as dissonance.

The assignment that I'm working on is my first step toward formulating an active work of advocacy to address the social problems that result in fewer adoptions than most of us would probably like to see happening. The shitty way the people who push adoption treat the people who choose it needs to be addressed, and I'm beginning to think I might want to be involved in addressing it. if I'm going to call people out on their hypocrisy, it might as well be over a matter that has a measurable effect on real people. Who knows? I might even crack open a mind or two along the way.

*edited to clarify: when it's appropriate to discuss it.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2014, 02:49:04 PM by Jag »
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.

Offline Quesi

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1986
  • Darwins +371/-4
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2014, 03:42:20 PM »
Oh my.  I have a great deal to say about the topic. 

My beautiful daughter was born to a woman who lived in a country with no legal abortion and little to no access to birth control.  She was the member of a marginalized ethnic group.  She was single and unemployed.  She already had children that she struggled to support in a society that didn't give a shit about her or her children.   My daughter was born in a country in which 6 out of every 100 children died before reaching age 5 the year my daughter was born.   

Stigma?  I have a problem with the society.  Not with the woman.  And a problem with your pro-lifers who would rather move towards that sort of a society. 

I had hoped to maintain contact with my daughter's birth mom.  But it looks like that will not be our destiny.  And it makes me sad.

For me, becoming an adoptive mom was a decision that was literally like a light bulb going off in my head.  I had planned to be a mom.  I had planned to be a single mom.  I had pursued various options, including anonymous donor insemination, co-parenting with a gay male friend, and various other options.  And then it occurred to me, there are already too many people on planet earth.  Why create a new person to fulfill my selfish desire to parent? 

Adoption became the obvious choice. 

What I wasn't prepared for was my own sainthood.  As an adoptive mom, I am sometimes (often?) viewed as some sort of savior.

The irony is that I do take great pride in the social justice work that I have dedicated my life to.  But parenting, deciding to become a parent through adoption, is not part of a social justice project.  It is all about wanting to be a mom. 

And it is the best thing that I have done in my life.   

Offline Chronos

  • Global Moderator
  • ******
  • Posts: 2267
  • Darwins +120/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • Born without religion
    • Marking Time
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2014, 04:14:06 PM »
I am not adopted, nor have I given up a child for adoption nor do I know anyone directly who has given up a child for adoption. However, I do know various parents who have adopted children.

There's a weird dual-attitude about adoption in our society.

There is a very, very weird double-standard about adoption in our society and it is appalling to me how many pro-life people do not even remotely care to acknowledge it much less address it.

Here are the societal viewpoints on adoption that I witness from my perspective:

(1) You adopt a child when you cannot procreate. This inherently creates a feeling that adopted children are somehow lesser children. There are a lot of children who can be adopted and since few people are standing in line because they think that they can create better ones, adoption becomes a backup plan. Adopted children do have some holes in their history. Unlike biological children to whom a visual or behavioral call back to a parent can be made, adopted children have unknown histories (this is neither good nor bad, just something that is not immediately recognizable and relatable). I think this is an innate conflict and it is displayed in other creatures. We can get over it, but we have to train ourselves to get over it -- and we're not doing that.[1]

(2) While abortion is a mortal sin and adoption is an option, there is an innate desire to maintain one's own children. Giving them up for adoption is betraying nature. It can be very difficult for the mother. I am sure that the hormones of pregnancy do something to a mother's mind that causes her to cling to her children. If that didn't occur, humanity would not have survived. However, if we can train ourselves to do all sorts of things, and if raising children properly is so damn important, why can't we train ourselves to consider adoption as a solution and not merely an option? Why can't we even promote smart adoptions? We expect that if you have the financial wherewithal, even remotely, you should keep that damn child you created and live with the consequences of your behaviors. This is utterly idiotic. Just because you have a great income or a lot of money in the bank, you are not automatically going to be a good parent. The parenting education we give kids is to keep them from getting pregnant. It doesn't appear to encourage adoption as an option or recognize the courage and intelligence of the choice to give up your child(ren) for adoption.

Religious organizations always claim that they will find ways to help young (almost always) single mothers survive that unexpected pregnancy. They claim that they will assist the mother with some monetary help and, of course, parochial help with everything else. Churches do not promote adoption -- at least not the giving up part. They are accepting of the parents who receive but not the parents who give. This attitude transcends religion to society as a whole. If churches aren't advocating adoption, then society won't, either.

Essentially, adoption is part of the virgin-whore paradox. It's okay for men to go have sex, but it's not okay for women to have sex. And since society views man-on-man sex as an abomination, who the hell else are men going to engage in sex besides women? Goats? How many of us know the expression "You have made your bed, so you must lie in it!" Why do children have to lie in the same bed as their parents for the next 40-50-60 years? Why can't those children get a better start somewhere else?

Our society puts more thought, care and actions into controlling the supply of cats and dogs than we do the supply of children.

 1. One notable exception is when parents take home the wrong children from the hospital. I have read about cases where some parents thought the child they brought home was strange for various reasons, but dismissed it later. In other words, they get over these minor differences.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2014, 07:29:03 AM by Chronos »
John 14:2 :: In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Offline ParkingPlaces

  • Professor
  • ********
  • Posts: 6113
  • Darwins +685/-3
  • Gender: Male
  • Hide and Seek World Champion since 1958!
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2014, 05:33:36 PM »
When I was growing up in the 50's, it was common to call a child not being raised by his biological parents or a single, unmarried parent a "bastard", and the fault way laid on him as well as whoever was raising him. And the word was used disparagingly every time it was spoken. These days the same word is generally considered an generic pejorative, and it has been years since I heard it literally, with its accompanying spite.

I grew up in a neighborhood where there were two brothers whose parents were married, but the father was killed in the Korean war. They were not ostracized. But another kid was the child of an unmarried mother, and I heard adults refer to him as a little bastard, despite the fact that he was a well-behaved kid. I remember being confused about the term for several years before figuring it out.

And there was another kid I grew up with who had been "bought" by his parents. He was not adopted, but purchased. Under the table. I have no idea how common that was, but he was the handsome, blonde haired child of two wrinkled and elderly adults of Jewish/eastern European origin. And lets just say they really messed him up with their version of parenting. He too was at times referred to as a bastard, but not as often (in my experience) as the kids who was the child of an unmarried mother. And usually the word was aimed at his behavior, not his parental background. (Part of the reason that I, as a kid, was confused about the term.)

So I like to think that things have improved a bit (not necessarily a lot, but at least a bit) in the last 50 years. But as societies do most of the time, we are winging it in the kids who need parents department, just as we do with everything else. The structure of adoption or creating other alternative parenting situations is just as broken as our bridge infrastructure, our overcrowded prison situation, our trigger-happy cops, our lobbyist-run legislatures and our automatic dependence on sports to supply our feeble version of happiness. We are not a society that is capable of rationally addressing anything. So while it is at least sad, and often times downright tragic, we shouldn't be too surprised that we can't handle parentless kids any better than we can handle potholes.

But we can't give up based on the pervasiveness of out futilities. We gotta keep working on things. And I do hope, Jag, that people with a compassionate point of view on the subject (and this obviously goes for Quesi and Betelnut and others here as well) can make a difference. It is better to take too long to fix something than not to fix it at all.
Not everyone is entitled to their opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Jag

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1601
  • Darwins +174/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • Official WWGHA Harpy, Ex-rosary squad
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2014, 10:16:28 PM »
Bastard. What a fun word.

I was in elementary school the first time I heard it. My friend applied it to a boy in our class, in a very matter of fact way - she simply stated that he was a bastard. I asked what the word meant and she explained that it just meant his parents weren't married when he was born. I pointed out that I was born to a woman who wasn't married - did that mean that I was a bastard as well? Understand, neither of us had a clue what a loaded word it actually was.

Apparently she asked her mother that night. She told me the next day during lunch that no, I wasn't a bastard, being adopted "made that all go away". We spend the entire recess trying to figure out how that worked - by then we had caught on that it wasn't a nice word, but we were both confused about why he was a bastard but I wasn't.

In retrospect I really wish we'd asked one of the nuns to explain. That would have been interesting  :o
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.

Offline Jag

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1601
  • Darwins +174/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • Official WWGHA Harpy, Ex-rosary squad
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2014, 10:27:03 PM »

Stigma?  I have a problem with the society.  Not with the woman.  And a problem with your pro-lifers who would rather move towards that sort of a society. 
You've got my wholehearted agreement there.
Quote
I had hoped to maintain contact with my daughter's birth mom.  But it looks like that will not be our destiny.  And it makes me sad.
I'm truly sorry that's happened to you all.
Quote
What I wasn't prepared for was my own sainthood.  As an adoptive mom, I am sometimes (often?) viewed as some sort of savior.
I've noticed the same tendency. And I can't tell you how often as a child I was told that I needed to (fill in the blank here with any number of things), because my parents had saved me, and I owed to to them to (whatever the expected outcome of their suggestion would be). No one ever said anything like that to my siblings - I was the youngest and my parents had three children before adopting me, but I was the one strangers expected to be grateful for the privilege of being a member of a family.
Quote
It is all about wanting to be a mom. 

And it is the best thing that I have done in my life.

Which is exactly as it should be. Thank you Quesi.
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.

Offline Jag

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1601
  • Darwins +174/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • Official WWGHA Harpy, Ex-rosary squad
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2014, 10:35:07 PM »
Chronos, you're right in everything you said. Adoption is a taboo topic in so many ways. International adoptions have a significant number of challenges that must be overcome, but in completely different ways domestic adoptions do as well.

Our society puts more thought, care and actions into controlling the supply of cats and dogs than we do the supply of children.

This observation is absolutely true. And that's kinda f'ed up.
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.

Offline Chronos

  • Global Moderator
  • ******
  • Posts: 2267
  • Darwins +120/-6
  • Gender: Male
  • Born without religion
    • Marking Time
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2014, 07:44:01 AM »
When I was growing up in the 50's, it was common to call a child not being raised by his biological parents or a single, unmarried parent a "bastard", and the fault way laid on him as well as whoever was raising him.


Bastard. What a fun word.


I learned early on that a bastard was the product of an unwed couple, and I think I learned that from hearing the word used on television.  But in my world the word was always used as a disparaging remark against any male that one didn't care to deal with regardless of parental status. I don't recall anyone directly being called a bastard who met the classical definition. I'm not sure but perhaps the locals where I grew up viewed the word "bastard" as more acceptable in casual speech than "asshole".

I do not recall my fellow students ever using the word bastard. They used a lot of other words as my mother was shocked to learn when I would arrive home at the end of a school day and ask her what @#%$ meant. I was the fourth child with 9 years difference and in retrospect I thought she would have been accustomed to such questions. Apparently, of the four I was the more "open" child. The culture had also changed on her. There was a vast difference between the 1950s and the early 1970s.


Additionally, many years ago I know my daughter asked me what the word bastard meant but I don't recall my daughter mentioning the word being used by her peers. Perhaps there are enough "bastards" in modern culture to effectively render the term meaningless -- at least among younger generations.

John 14:2 :: In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Offline LoriPinkAngel

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1198
  • Darwins +124/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • I'm Your Nurse, Not Your Waitress...
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2014, 05:22:48 PM »
bm
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline G-Roll

  • Graduate
  • ****
  • Posts: 341
  • Darwins +39/-2
  • Gender: Male
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2014, 07:18:27 PM »
I once dated a girl who was raped at a young age. She was pregnant and didn’t know it until she was pretty far along. She was scared of how her parents would react so she didn’t tell them. Then there was a baby! She gave her up for adoption and kept contact from time to time with the adoptive family. As I said before she was young at the time. 14 or 15 at most if I remember correctly. So the child was placed in a home with two people well equipped and desiring a little girl. That decision IMO improved the girls lot in life. Sure a 15 year old girl can be a loving single mom and what not, but most people who wouldn’t understand this particular adoption and look down on the actions taken would probably turn their nose up at a 15 year old mom as well. I can speak on that from experience as a 17 year old dad.

I agree that the stigma placed on adoptions lies with the birth mother. More so the birth mother than the birth father. The problem lies in sex. Dirty filthy unwed sex. Sex between a slut and a bachelor. There is a heavier scowl on sexually active females than males, yet also a negative stereotype of a "dead beat dad." Yet the dead beat dad is often forgotten when the idea of a mother giving up their child is thought of. Perhaps that notion is rooted in the ideology that the purpose of women is to have babies and raise them. An ideology that I feel is being left behind. 

Offline Betelnut

  • Undergraduate
  • ***
  • Posts: 143
  • Darwins +13/-3
  • Gender: Female
  • WWGHA Member
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2014, 08:31:22 PM »
Jag wrote:
Quote
If it's not too personal or uncomfortable, can you tell me a little bit about the reactions of other people to your decision to adopt? What has your experience been like? I've noticed an increasing level of "no big deal" as the age of the other person decreases - in other words, the older the other person is, the more likely they have been to say something really judgmental (or worse, pitying) or to make assumptions about my birth mother. The line appears to be right around the mid-40's by my experiences. Of course, that's a sweeping generalization not meant to be applied to individuals by any means.

Hi Jag:

The reactions of most people were very positive.  I was 42 when I started the adoption process and 45 when the adoption actually went through.  Plus, I adopted as a single person.  The "most" negative reaction was from my Dad.  I think he was mostly concerned about the monetary aspect of being a single person trying to afford a kid.  He did say one rather hurtful comment during the adoption process (he said that she would be an albatross around my neck (I think he meant this financially)).  Once I actually brought her home, he adored her and still does.

Other people, including my Mom, were happy and some were very supportive as well as very surprised.  I worked at the time with several people who had adoptions in the family so they were extremely supportive as well.

No one has ever said anything negative about the birth mother though.  I guess they assume that the adoption was due to the poverty of Guatemala and lack of opportunity for education/medical care/etc. there.  That actually makes the birth mother rather noble instead of someone who is "bad."

The actual experience (the adoption process) was very stressful and frustrating.  Just lots of bureaucracy, paperwork, and uncertainty.  Once it went through and after I went down to Guatemala to pick her up, life just went on.  It HAS been quite difficult as a single person--no one to help with the parenting but it is certainly quite a ride, needless to say.  My daughter is about to turn eight and is quite the sassy little girl.

Offline Jag

  • Reader
  • ******
  • Posts: 1601
  • Darwins +174/-6
  • Gender: Female
  • Official WWGHA Harpy, Ex-rosary squad
Re: Adoption and birth mother stigma - a request for opinions
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2014, 09:34:06 PM »
Betelnut, I'm sincerely pleased that this has been such a positive experience for you overall. Parenting is hard work and single parenting even more so. I imagine "quite a ride" is barely adequate as a description some days!

G-Roll, you bring up a very valid point about the issue really being about sex outside of marriage. There's a lot of truth to that, and the accompanying idea of punishment - it's hard to hide a full term pregnancy so she is being judged by everyone, while the father can stay comparatively invisible (if he chooses) with no difficulty at all.

It's extremely hard to find reliable current information on domestic adoption outcomes, although international and gay adoptions both have large bodies of research available. I assume this is partially due to the air of secrecy that surrounded adoption for so many years, and partially because the limited research done in the 60's and the 90's is still assumed to be valid despite it's flawed methodology. By the time people got interested again there were new aspects to consider.

International adoptions have done wonders to change social views on adoption in many ways. We still have a long way to go at home though.
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.