The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Learning About Adoption From a Child's Perspective


My six year old son was adopted at birth. And there are STILL issues, still insecurities that arise. I could play games with my daughter that I would NEVER play with my son: threatening to "send her back to the baby store" and so forth. With my son, I can feel on a deep level that he wonders if I might reject him if he isn't perfect. We never concealed the fact that another woman "carried him in her tummy" for us. And we lave him with attention and love. Maybe I'm hallucinating that there is a special need here...but I don't think so, and would rather err on the side of caution. God, I love that little boy, and he loves me, and I'll do everything in my power to make him feel as secure as a child can be. But if he had been five or six when adopted? I wouldn't even try that without a therapist in the mix. Children are so helpless--what seems a silly fear to an adult can be mortal terror to a six year old. Never underestimate their need for love and support.



www.diamondhour.com
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

11 comments:

Pagan Topologist said...

Your post here did not need the Huffington Post article to support it, Steve. It is beautiful and inspiring as it is. The article is thought provoking in a different way, though.

Dan Moran said...

I don't think you're hallucinating it. My 14 year old stepson doesn't remember not living with me; I got him when he was a baby. And I don't think there's any insecurity there at this point, but it took us most of 14 years to get there. Surely there was in the past.

LaVeda H. Mason said...

Your 'erring on the side of caution' is correct, I think...

There are plenty of instances of children being abandoned, or shunted off to others when they got to be 'troublesome'; or didn't fulfill the adults' [selfish] desires or expectations.

Some of those children have even died. I believe that this is a visceral fear for children once they become sentient; they hear about these things happening, and seek our reassurance.

I second Pagan Topologist :-)

Anonymous said...

"Your post here did not need the Huffington Post article to support it, Steve. It is beautiful and inspiring as it is."

I agree!

Also, while some idiots might call you selfish for wanting to raise your son because they objectify your son enough to think he's just a tool for his birth parents to use to exercise the right to be parents (behold the comment at http://www.thezach.net/blog/parental-instincts/comment-page-1/#comment-1603 , part of an ongoing trainwreck spanning two blogs), he himself will know that you and Tananarive definitely didn't have him by accident!

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, one of the comments at the HuffPo article was particularly odd:

"...But can you imagine if people from other countries started taking babies out of the US? It wouldn't happen, there would be such an outrage..."

IRL it does happen!

http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1027/p11s01-lifp.html

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20147746,00.html

http://www.canadiancrc.com/Newspaper_Articles/The_Oregonian_US-adoption_Canada_04JUL04.aspx

Anonymous said...

It's hard to say ALL that needs to be said in a way that people will hear.

MSN.com ran a more hard-hitting article entitled "I didn't love my adopted child". In it, an experienced mother recounting the months of shock and agony she, her husband, her original children and her adopted son went through after he arrived. She talked about realizing how unprepared they were despite their research and training, and talked the huge amount of time, special effort, and teamwork it took to learn to love that little boy and to wait for him to love them.

As near as I can tell, MSN has erased the article. The only evidence of it I can find is blog complaints about the author as a nasty uncaring failed mommy.

People do not want to hear that, irrelevant of how well or how poorly the adopted family does, the past experiences of that child MATTER, and the genetic inheritance of that child MATTERS, and *every* adoptee is a survivor of trauma. A baby separated at birth has spent *months* tuned to the scent/taste of Mama and the sounds of Mama and her life. Science now knows that there is no tabula rosa personalities; each baby come out rooting for the scent of his/her own mother's breast and listening for the sound of her voice.

Our whole *culture* of adoption has been based on the "tabula rosa" idea, the conviction that a young enough child, or a properly handled child, or a properly selected child, can be treated indistinguishably from one you've born.

The mechanics of adoption presents a frame of buying the child you want. The truth is that adoption is a laying down of a lot of cash and the rest of your life-- body heart and mind-- for the honor of doing right by somebody else's wounded kid.

It is long past time for some serious myth-busting. My biggest fear is that the media will sweep the Russia/Tennessee tragedy under the rug as one abnormal woman, one abnormal boy, and erase the real story like MSN did.

Dan Moran said...

http://www.slate.com/id/2250590/

I don't know what happened to the adopted child story on MSN, but it's still up on slate, where it was published.

Anonymous said...

"...People do not want to hear that, irrelevant of how well or how poorly the adopted family does, the past experiences of that child MATTER..."

Right on! I once saw someone in a blog comment complain about Angelina Jolie's 4 kids' surnames being changed when Brad Pitt adopted them too ("they were Jolies first!!!") and someone else reminded her than 3 of them already had other surnames and were Jolies *second* (and that the other one of them was not adopted and was given the Jolie-Pitt surname at birth instead).

Now I wonder if Jolie studies Amharic and Vietnamese too like the way I heard she was studying Khmer...

Anonymous said...

"...each baby come out rooting for the scent of his/her own mother's breast and listening for the sound of her voice..."

And that reminds me, when the legal parents of a child are his or her birth mother and stepfather or birth mother and stepmother instead of his or her birth mother and genetic father, is that child an adoptee or not?

Rae Spellman said...

when the legal parents of a child are his or her birth mother and stepfather or birth mother is that child an adoptee or not?

I consider myself an adoptee. My bio dad was AWOL from day -252. My stepfather married my mother when I was 2 and adopted me when I was five.

TC2076 said...

Dear Stefe,

I am Dr. Terence Candell. Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart are required reading at my schools. The high school students have just completed Zulu Heart and would like to write you letters. Could you provide a mailing address at which you may receive them. Your work is very important to us. My website and email addresses are as follows: www. candellscollegeprep.com and candell1@yahoo.com Thank you very much.