May 29, 2009

Is "Positive" Adoption Language Deceptive?

Truth Way
© Photographer: Nruboc | Agency:

"No denying a mother's love in adoption choice"
 by Jacquielynn Floyd

Embracing new attitudes about moms is a huge part of making adoption
more acceptable.

The all-too-commonly used phrase "give a child up" and similar
derivatives must be completely removed from our vocabulary.

The words "give up" insinuate surrendering, abandonment and
cowardliness -- a far cry from the reality of an adoption decision.

"Making an adoption plan" explains the time, consideration and thought
behind this responsible decision. Making an adoption plan is a mature
act of total selflessness, requiring great courage and the ability to
put the child's welfare above pride and peer approval. Let's start
today embracing birth moms and their wonderful decision to "make an
adoption plan."


Here is an interesting discussion about Positive Adoption Language vs. Reality:

Posted by Laurel @ 5:45 AM Wed, May 27, 2009
Yes. Letting someone else raise your child is brave and loving and responsible. That's why everyone does it. In fact, whenever I love anyone very much, I make sure to get them out of my life as quickly as possible, because to do otherwise would be selfish...not.

Actually, I really do tend to push away those who love me. Why? I'm adopted, and I grew up hearing "Your mother loved you so much she gave you up." Think about that. Think about getting raised with the notion that love=removing yourself from the beloved's life. It's almost always a lie, and it damages children.

The "reality of the adoption decision" is that your gain is someone else's loss. Adopted children also suffer loss, and we suffer unnecessarily when our adoptive parents tell us lies to spare our(or their own)feelings. There is enough secrecy in adoption. Secrecy causes shame.

But yes, let's do embrace these women--at least until we've got what we want. It's very transparent, this "love-bombing" someone who has or had something you want badly. Something that, if you've already got it, might make you feel the tiniest bit guilty about benefiting from a "wonderful decision" very few women have ever wanted to make.

I do agree that "terminology can make or break attitudes toward embracing adoption." That's why I loathe the term "birthmother" or any variant thereof: it reduces women like my mother to breeding machines for the convenience of the higher-class infertile. It's also often applied to women who have not even given birth yet as a means of coercion. Nobody is a "birth mother" until she has given up her child.

Yes, my mother _gave me up_. There is no better or more accurate term. Had I been born at a time when giving birth out of wedlock was not so heavily stigmatized, I would probably not have been adopted. Now that the stigma is gone, most women keep their babies. I guess they would rather have their own family than help form someone else's. Selfish creatures! Don't they know they could be mature, selfless, courageous soopa-heroines?

Posted by Anonymous @ 4:40 PM Wed, May 27, 2009
You can change the wording all you like, but it's a wasted effort. Why put lipstick on a pig? People will still think exactly what luc has expressed about women making "adoption plans", and adoptees will still be raised with the stigma that their mothers are insensitive, drug addicted losers. What's worse, as long as records are closed, they may never have the opportunity to learn the truth of their own origins. A rose by any other name is still a rose, and adoption does not smell like roses.

Posted by Andraya @ 5:30 PM Wed, May 27, 2009
Giving up is exactly what it is, candy coating the wording will NOT change that.

In order for a mother to "make an adoption plan" she must first give up. She must give up her desire to parent, her ability to believe she is worthy of raising her child. In order to surrender our children we must first give up on ourselves.

Eleven years ago I gave up on myself, I gave up on being "good enough" to parent my son and I gave up my own self esteem. If I hadn't given up those things "giving up" my son would have also caused me to give up on living. Unless you feel unworthy of raising your child how could you live with yourself knowing you couldn't be bothered to fight for your own flesh and blood? The adoption industry depends on us giving up... If we don't they will go broke.

Posted by Amyadoptee @ 8:08 AM Wed, May 27, 2009
As an adoptee, I have an issue with this so called positive language thing. How about we use honest language here? It is a relinquishment. It is not an adoption plan. An adoptee will always look at it as surrendering and abandonment. An adoptee will always look at love forever in a warped way. She loved me so much that she gave me away. So love equals abandonment. Sorry that just does not work for me.

Posted by Mara @ 8:47 AM Wed, May 27, 2009
As an adult adoptee, I think adoption should be made less desirable until all adopted people are restored their civil rights and not treated as second-class citizens in this country.

In 44 states, in the land of the "free", adult adoptees are denied access to their Original Birth Certificates. This document was sealed from them when they were adopted not surrendered "given up". They were issued false documents AKA Amended Birth Certificates that list their adopted parents as their biological parents.

The lies must stop. The records must be unsealed. No one should be kept from their own biological identity. It's barbaric. It's a crime for any citizen to forge a legal document but not "the state". Scary and WRONG.

The Adoptee Rights Demonstration is July 21, 2009 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Please support your fellow American citizens (who just happen to be adopted) and help restore to us our civil rights.

Posted by Anonymous @ 6:27 PM Wed, May 27, 2009
Having a "Blank slate" health history almost killed my firstborn. He was suffering from what the doctor's originally categorized as bad croup but was truly an asthma attack. It got worse and worse until one day he turned blue and was rushed to the E.R. The doctor was hesitant to diagnose my infant son with asthma because neither my husband's family nor I have the disease.
Imagine my surprise years later when I met my natural mother and learned that asthma runs in her family.
With that knowledge, my son would have had the treatment he needed much sooner and his life would never have been at risk.
Sealed records and "blank medical histories" affect not just adoptees but their children and their grandchildren. It is anything but a gift.

Posted by Mara @ 9:02 AM Thu, May 28, 2009
Adoption in this country is still based on secrecy and LIES. It's called "Open Adoption" now, but it's all a marketing campaign, it's not really open. There is nothing legally binding the adoptive parents to keep a connection between the biological parents and the child they share. Many adoptive parents SHUT OUT the biological parent as soon as they possibly can and keep their "commodity" all to themselves. That's right, a commodity. The multi-billion dollar adoption industry views us as commodities, not feeling human beings with rights. And when we grow up and complain we're told to shut up and be GRATEFUL.

I want my rights as a United States citizen restored to me. They were taken away from me when I was a one year old and my adoption was finalized. I never agreed to the adoption and I never agreed to have MY original birth certificate altered out of gratitude for my adoption!

I'm bitter? You bet I'm bitter. Come with me to the vital records office when I ask for my original birth certificate, you'll hear how bitter I really am.

Posted by Addie Pray @ 9:33 AM Wed, May 27, 2009
Changing what you call something doesn't change what it is.

"making an adoption plan"
"relinquishing a child"
"giving up a child"
"giving the gift of a child to a infertile couple"
"terminating parental rights"
"giving a child away"
"abandoning an infant"
"being a willful participant in a campaign to end any parental connection to a child born to you"

They all mean the same thing, and all have the same result.

Posted by Mirah Riben @ 10:30 AM Wed, May 27, 2009
I write as a mother who has lost a child to adoption and as Vice President of Communications of Origins-USA. i have spent the pst 30 years in the fields, supporting and comforting women dealing with the lifelong irresolvable grief of having lost a child to adoption.

A rose by any other name...You can call bombs peacemakers, but the still blow up and kill people.

Adoption is a tragic loss and should always be a last resort after all measures of helping families remain intact have failed. Why try to promote it or make it more appealing with language? There is only one reason:

Sugar coating the loss of a child with newspeak is a marketing technique used to obtain more babies for an multi-billion dollar industry that is struggling since the supply has dwindled as mores change and resources are made available for single moms.

For those at peace with their loss, God Bless. But it is still a major loss. One can know that they are dying...but that doesn't mean it was their plan to die anymore than it was any woman's plan to get pregnant in order to lose her child (except perhaps a paid surrogate.) No more than anyone marries planning to divorce.

And when a love done dies and is gone, no matter how much time we had to "plan" and prepare for the loss - we still grieve. It is still a loss.

And many adoptees feel it as an abandonment.

Posted by Jenna @ 10:41 AM Wed, May 27, 2009
Call it whatever you want, but "making an adoption plan" is still abandoning your child for others to raise, and most importantly it FEELS that way to the adoptees who live the adoption experience their entire life. I say rather than sugarcoating it, trying to make it more palatable to the general public, we call a spade a spade and begin to deal honestly with adoption and the myriad of emotions and complexities that are wrapped up in it, rather than blowing smoke up people's...

Posted by Marlo @ 10:54 AM Wed, May 27, 2009
Why would we ever want to make adoption more acceptable? I guess since I don't agree with that goal, I'm sure not going to agree with the coercive language being suggested here to separate more babies from their families.

I'm an adult adoptee. I had a 'good' adoptive family, and like many I was told I was loved so much I was given away. Sorry but that doesn't make any sense and it does a number on a kid to hear that kind of thing.

We are separated from our mothers and families and that causes us great pain. We feel abandoned (wonder why?). We are expected to be happy about all of this, because at least we were allowed to live. Our birth certificates are lies. We have no right to our names and our heritage or our truth.

I ask again - why would we want to make adoption more acceptable?

I ~was~ given up. I ~was~ relinquished. I ~was~ abandoned. And monkeying with the words to make it easier for the general population to choke down the rainbow and kittens view of adoption doesn't change reality. I much prefer honest language. language that doesn't turn adoption into this wunnerful thing, language that doesn't turn a first mother into breeding stock. I think this "positive adoption language" hooey is just adding to the coercive tactics arsenal agencies have to woo a mother from her womb wet infant.

Adoption stripped me of my family, my heritage, my language, my band rights, and my rights to be a whole person with the same access to my information as anyone else. It taught me that people who love you leave. I lost count of how many times people told me that my first mom gave me up out of love. What a twisted idea of love to impart to a child! Someone else made a decision for me that I had no part of, and I'm still picking out the shrapnel.

What should be embraced is enabling women to raise their children, in the event that they truly cannot or will not parent, said child should be raised still in the fold of their family if possible. Adoption should always be the last resort. Always.

Posted by beegirl73 @ 11:14 AM Thu, May 28, 2009
SB, how dare you say your adopted friends are "COMPLETE" you have no idea how they truly feel. We adoptees grow up saying what people want to hear. I did it for years. We don't want to hurt our adoptive parents feelings by admiting that adoption has damaged us and that we would rather have not been adopted. I don't care who you ask or how complete you think the adoptees you know are, who would choose to be separated from their families and raised by strangers? Do they accept it? Yes. Do they say that they are fine with it? Maybe. Are they free from self-doubt, abandonment issues, lack of medical history, and identity issues? No.

Open your mind and try to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Not all of the adoptees who make comments on sites like this one are angry, bitter adoptees who had bad adoption experiences. Many of them are like me, adoptees with great adoptive parents, who lead great lives but want to do what they can to educate people so that other adoptees don't have to grow up feeling the pain that we did and still do.

1 comment:

Joan M Wheeler, born as, Doris M Sippel said...

["Your mother loved you so much she gave you up." Think about that. Think about getting raised with the notion that love=removing yourself from the beloved's life forever. It's almost always a lie, and it damages children.]

I was told as a child “your mother had too many children so she gave you to us” and a few years later “Your mother died and your father thought it best for you to live with us”.

Okay, fuck with a child’s mind. What is parental love? I have not a clue.

Adoption is damaging. It warps the minds of those who adopt a child and believe that child BELONGS to them. Adoption turns the minds of extended adoptive family into corrosive acid, inflicting their contempt for the father of the child who “gave her up” onto the adoptee herself.

Unbeknownst to me, all of my adoptive family hated my father for what he had done because they believed that no one who truly loves their child would “give her up”. My father was their theoretical target and I, being his offspring, was their actual target. I endured decades of anonymous hate mail and phone calls because I dared to hare a reunion with my father.

Meanwhile, my adoptive parents were seen as “saving” me from a life of hell. All of this because my mother died when I was three months old.

Shit, man. I much would prefer to turn back the clock. Give my mother my life. Let her live to be mother to my 4 older siblings; I don’t need to be here. I have hated myself so deeply because everyone around me hates me so much. Including my older siblings. They loved me so much that they found me when I was 18. But they found a young adult who was traumatized by adoption. I became an activist, for which, I am hated.