Friday, April 13, 2007

Reflection on birth parents

It’s been a while since we’ve had any real news to report. So, I guess we really are totally in the waiting mode now.

That means it’s time to share some more thoughts on the process as promised.

So much of the focus here has been what WE have been going though – preparing the house, interviews, and the mountains of paperwork. I’ve also talked a lot on this blog about Carmen herself, and obviously, we talk about bringing her into our family a lot. There’s a lot of talk about becoming parents.

As we get closer to a referral (which could come in the next couple of months) I think it’s important to consider the other people involved in the process. In adoption lingo, the term “adoption triad” is used extensively. The sides of the triad consist of birth parents, the child, and the adoptive parents. The most over-looked in any discussion of adoption are the birth parents.

Perhaps after referral, I’ll talk with some detail about legal process a birth mother must go through. In short, she must be interviewed 4 separate times, including one where she also provides a DNA blood test along with the baby. In most adoption cases (particularly the ethical ones like our agency conducts), she will receive no compensation at all, save for bus fair and maybe lunch during her counseling session.

So, let’s back up a little bit – and think about how a woman might end up facing such a decision. Why haven’t I mentioned the birth father? Generally, he’s not in the picture by the time the birth mother must make her decision. What about social services? Guatemala has no such agency to assist her. Why can’t she make a go of it as a single mother like many women in the US? In Guatemala, single mother-hood is not widely accepted, and very difficult, especially without a husband to support her. Abortion? Unlike here in the US, abortion simply isn’t a readily available option.

In Guatemala, pregnant women are often caught in between the stigma of single motherhood and the stigma of “giving away” her child. It might seem like she’s seeking the easy way out, but there’s nothing easy about making an adoption plan. It’s clear to me that by doing so, she is doing what she believes is best for her child, but the pain and loss a birth mother experiences must be incredible. In reality, it’s a brave decision, one that we as adoptive parents should not over-look, but can never understand fully.

But in the end, this whole process still revolves around the child. When Carmen comes home, it will be important for her to know that her birth mother loves her very much. This is true in any adoption case, domestic or international, open or closed. Just poke around the web or do some research at the library and you will find stories of women who have chosen adoption for their child. They all express love and concern for the well being of those children, and often some sense of guilt and uncertainty. These are not at all bad or irresponsible people, in fact, quite the opposite. Birth parents certainly don’t deserve any of the stigma that comes with their decision. Anyone involved in an adoption will at one time or another hear the words – “why would a woman just give her child up like that – doesn’t she care?” Adopted kids should also not be forced to think of their parents in such a negative (and incorrect) light. They should know that it actually IS about caring.

It’s my view (and this is a newly developed opinion) that most of the time, the best-case scenario for any child is to stay with her birth family. Children should only be placed for adoption when it just isn’t possible for her parents to raise her. How can staying at home possibly be best in a place like Guatemala with such extreme poverty?

Let me tell you, my dear sister sponsored a child in Guatemala for several years, and when she learned about our adoption plans, she lent us many of his letters and information. Jose lived with his family in what amounted to a 1-room house with a dirt floor. His father had to walk for miles every day for work. They lived on about $40 a month. My sister sent $20 for the sponsorship.

If you read his letters without knowing all of that, you’d only know Jose as a bright and happy boy who loves school, church, and more than anything – fishing with his father. He loved his family and they took care of him well. There’s no reason to think that a kid like Jose would be happier to have been adopted by an American family. There’s no reason to think he would choose to leave his family or that they would wish they have placed him for adoption. In the same sense, we cannot view Carmen coming to our family as our saving her from some horrible life. We will never know with certainty all of the circumstances around her birth family.

This is simply the plan God and her birth mother will choose for her, and when the time comes, we will answer the call to be her parents.

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At 6:12 AM, Blogger ale said...

Your post is thoughtful and sensible and mostly, full of love and respect for birth parents. You're little Carmen is lucky to have you!

At 1:26 PM, Blogger mel said...

beautiful post. I wish more people thought like this.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger petunia said...

It is a difficult mental process to go through. You will always think of her biomom. It's more difficult to have reunion for them later when adopting out of the country but maybe she will stay in touch with the agency? You sound like you will be great parents!

At 6:50 PM, Anonymous mia said...

"It’s my view (and this is a newly developed opinion) that most of the time, the best-case scenario for any child is to stay with her birth family. Children should only be placed for adoption when it just isn’t possible for her parents to raise her."

Thank You.

Peace and joy on your journey. From a fellow PA resident.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Ditto Mia! I get so excited when I see other AP and PAP acknowledge the importance of keeping a the first family together when possible. My hat off to you! Thank you for the nice comment on my blog :)


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