Can we talk for a second about what adoption actually looks like? I’m not talking about the fairy tale that you were sold or have come to believe exists through media. The adoption rhetoric that pushes people to tell you to be grateful. To be happy, to feel blessed. I wanna talk about the inherent falsity of it.
Adoption, open adoption, closed adoption, semi-open adoption does not have a basic one size fits all algorithm. It’s not glowing and easy, smooth and grief-free. There are hooks and bumps. And even if you manage to have a similar open adoption, the obstacles are always different.
Oh yes, there are obstacles.
That textbook adoption? It doesn’t exist. I need you to know it’s never existed.
If it did, agencies wouldn’t be opposed to including an inclusive list of all the mental health disorders you may now be predisposed to, thanks to adoption. They won’t tell you that you are at a higher risk for PPD. Or that you may find yourself with anxiety, PTSD, or depression. (See here)
They also are very unlikely to care for you more than a year after the relinquishment. I got one month, two visits. I wasn’t diagnosed with adoption related PTSD until 6 years later.
They aren’t going to tell you that your first child after you’ve relinquished is going to rock your world. You will realize what you missed. The platitudes are no longer going to cover the depth of that realization. You will feel lost on levels you didn’t know you could feel lost.
They don’t mention the complications you can have years after when you are diagnosed with Secondary Infertility due to adoption. (See here)
They certainly won’t tell you how to handle the grief of your parented children; like when they ask if you will give them away one day, or the constant barrage of wanting to include their sibling in their life, only to be told they can’t. (See here)
And they positively won’t tell you that children will never accept, “Because that’s the way it is,” as an answer. Children are precocious like that.
Maybe they told you that you shouldn’t tell your children, so that when they do find out about their sibling, you are confronted with a variety of high range emotions running the gamut. They won’t tell you what sort of toll a secret like that can put on your body either.
They won’t tell you there is a chance that the openness you are promised will disappear and that you will have no choice but to accept it. (See here)
They won’t tell you that adoption isn’t the easier option. They’ll tell you it’s better than abortion. Easier than parenting. They won’t have any actual evidence other than anecdotal or religiously based.
And you’ll believe them.
A lot of of us did.
I believed them when they told me I would move on with my life.
I haven’t in many ways.
I believed them when they told my Open Adoption Contract was legal.
I believed them when they told me that my son would be better off without me.
That’s never true.
I believed them when they told me that parenting was selfish.
I believed them when they told me that anyone, even strangers, were better than me.
I believed them when they told me artificial twinning was normal, a sign, a miracle.
It’s not; it’s highly unethical.
I believed them when they told me that I wouldn’t want more openness, but less.
I wanted more, so much more.
I believed them when they told me that open adoption would be a joy.
That will never be a word that I associate with adoption.
I believed them when they told me that all I had to do was move on with my life to heal my grief and sorrow.
I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Panic Disorder. All connected to adoption. The grief I feel, 14 years later, is still as real as the day I signed away my rights.
Most of all, they aren’t going to show you that open adoption causes you to open and reopen a wound that they promised would heal. They won’t tell you that the other option, closing the openness, is unbearable too. They’ll just tell you to feel lucky that you have contact, that you get something, because some get nothing.
There’s no way that this picture, my own, only 25 minutes after I saw my son for the first time in years, then watched him drive away (again), would make it into their pamphlet so you could know that open adoption is arduous. They won’t tell you that this type of grief is utterly paralyzing and that it happens, every. single. time. no matter how many years have passed.
Open adoption is ineffable.
But not like you know it to be.