Bringing Adoption out of the Dark Ages and into the Light of the 21rst Century

Bringing Adoption out of the Dark Ages and into the Light of  The 21rst Century.


It wouldn’t take you very long if you immersed yourself in the adoption community before you picked up on the complexities involved.

If you dared to dig further, you might find yourself wishing you hadn’t.

 While adoption is beautiful. It’s also extremely complex. No other word sums it up better. The act of adoption is an exchange of emotion and relationship between a group of people that usually have never met prior to this situation in hopes of coming together to form a family unit. This emotional exchange is really personal. We can’t predict beforehand how each person’s mental health is going to be affected.

 How could we? 

Adoption puts people into an experience that they never before dealt with and leaves them there to integrate that into their everyday life. It takes time and varying life circumstances before we can know how each member will work this complexity out in their day-to-day lives. Add to it that society tends to portray adoption as this win-win exchange of love.  The stereotypical picture is of a union between a happy well-off couple who is unable to conceive and become parents, a desolate woman who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, and a helpless adorable child that is portrayed to be providentially lucky that another couple wants to love and care for them. When in actuality they had no say whatsoever and were the only ones in the relationship who were totally thought for.

If we look at the adoption journey through the lens of each person individually we see three very different stories and perspectives.

There’s the adopting couple or person who wants to bring a child into their lives to love, grow with, and finally be included in the parent “circle” arena of life experiences. They themselves cannot bring this child into their world biologically and yet truth be told as ugly as it is, they can in a sense purchase one like they would a home or car. 

 Right here is where the problem starts. Children are not commodities like homes and cars and yet if we’re to be disgustingly honest they end up being bought because that is how the adoption industry facilitates the experience.  How could some sense of entitlement not arise when you are paying for an experience? How could we not consider HOW this is going to affect the mental health of the others involved in this “transaction”?

 Yet we blame the couple. Often they are called baby snatchers and not only are they dealing with the grief of infertility but now they are dealing with the grief of the reality of the situation they find themselves in. They have to watch how this all plays itself out. On one hand, they are so happy to be a family. To have a child to love and after all, aren’t they also helping a child and a birth mom in need?  On the other hand, they see how this experience affects everyone else involved. They feel the grief of knowing that while they hold this baby in their arms another woman’s arms are empty as a result. To make matters even more complicated, they now have to include this woman in their life. They know it’s best for the child but it sure does a number on the ego. We send the happy adoptive couple on their way to navigate these uncharted waters and tell them the importance of maintaining relationships with the birth family. 

HOW they cope with that is greatly influenced by the type of support and care they are met with. 

If we thought it takes a village to raise a child perhaps it takes a country to raise an adoptee. An awake, unbiased, and unprejudiced country.

Then, we have the birth mom who if we were looking through her lens finds herself pregnant unexpectedly. She is now solely responsible for how this pregnancy will continue. She alone has to make this life-changing decision with only 3 options to choose from. Abortion, Parenting or Adoption. She has a time limit if she is choosing parenting or adoption. She knows that by the time the baby is ready to be born she has to have a solid plan. 

Usually, we plan to have children and we have the time to do the things necessary beforehand to ensure that the child will have everything needed to live a stable and healthy life. We have healthy support systems to help us through it.  Life doesn’t always follow the path of “usually” though. Thus many women choose a higher good than themselves at that time and make lifelong decisions based on a difficult season in life. We call this decision placing a child for adoption.

The birth mom is left alone to live this paradox out. On one hand, her child is alive so her grief is often misunderstood and dismissed. On the other hand, she has to try and find her place back in life after having given birth, seen, held, and fed an extension of herself, her child. She has to move on in life and watch another family receive the joy of this child’s first steps. 

Every milestone is second-hand experience and over and over again in one way or another she has to practice the fine “art” of giving her child up again and again

Each day she has to fight the inner demons that try to lie to her and overwhelm her with shame. When she’s done fighting them she has to face society and family and their opinions on what took place. She has to look back each day and wonder what if? “I could of”, “should of” and “would’ve” done this or that. The cycle plays itself out continually. It affects how she sees herself worth and that affects her life personally and professionally. The birth mom is left to herself with well-wishes to move on past this in her life and manage the grief alone. 

 HOW they cope with that is greatly influenced by the type of support and care they are met with. 

Now the excruciatingly hardest lens to look through. If we look at the adoption relationship through the eyes of the child the heartbreaking reality is far from the adorable lucky child who was chosen or waited for. The reality is they were chosen FOR

 The child had NO say, NO choice, and NO Control over anything. 

 As a birth mom it breaks my heart to the core to know that the deep-down reality of my situation was that because I was in a place of no say, no choice, and no control, I transferred that state of being to my child when I brought him forth and placed him for adoption. Today, thankfully I can assure the adult him of my undying love and of my lack of circumstances. He too can see there was nothing else I could do IN those circumstances.

Yet, regardless he has to live with them.  The memory cells in his body cry out for healing from this feeling that can only be compared to rejection because there is nothing else out there that compares to the complexities that each member faces. He has to live with unnecessary but required loyalty to the adoptive couple who are his mom and dad. He has to square this all in his head and find his place and identity today.

HOW that works itself out is also influenced by the type of care and support received along the journey.

So many adoptees are labeled with ADHD and other things when perhaps they just have some questions that need answers. Maybe they have some layers that need to be healed.  When years pass and they start to become curious and reach out for understanding we get fearful and don’t talk about it or we diagnose the adoptee as having ADHD and ignore their need to know their heritage.

Research confirms that the adoption experience contributes to everything from depression, suicide, grief, and anxiety to PTSD. These effects are present in all triad members. Time goes on and these people who were brought together have to learn how to communicate with one another, set personal boundaries, and deal with their own personal confusion and grief. So many voices are sharing the results of this antiquated system. Yet post-adoption care continues to go neglected.

 AND we wonder why mental health issues are increasing daily and running rampant!

 Adoption is a mental health crisis right now and it will continue to wreak havoc until we do something about it.

Isn’t it time to reexamine the structure after all these years and make the necessary repairs? 

HOW much better would it be if adoption was examined in today’s light with today’s wisdom and understanding? How much better would it be if we had programs established to meet the individual needs of all members of the triad. How much better would it be if we listened to what is working and what isn’t?

HOW much better would it be if we brought adoption out of the Dark Ages and into the Light of the 21rst Century?


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