Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adoption is Sunshine & Rainbows. Just ask this adoptive mom!

I have many times read an adoptive parents views of how wonderful adoption is.  I belong to a forum full of people with a rainbows & sunshine view of adoption.  But I have never really experienced a full-blown happy-happy attitude in real life until today.  I thought my head was going to explode.

I work in an elementary school.  There is a family of adopted kids, the mom always brings the "Adoption Day" cake to share with her kids & their friends at lunch time.  This has always bothered me, but I have been able to ignore it for the most part.  Until today.

This morning the little boy, 1st grader, came in telling everyone that mom would be coming because it was his "anniversary".  So at least I had a little warning. 

Mom comes in with a beautiful cake as usual, but this time she has a photo album in hand also.  She was early, so she came into my office to show everything off while she was waiting.

I will call the little boy LB, who was 2 years old when he was adopted.  As I started looking at the photos, I remarked about his serious looks.  Mom told me that it was two months before he smiled.  She did not say this with any sadness, it was really weird.  It was almost like it was being bragged about.  She said he did not cry, smile, laugh, anything, the entire trip back to the US.  She again mentioned that it was two months before he smiled a true smile.  It broke my heart, mom seemed unfazed. 

LB has had sores on his face for as long as I have known him.  They will clear up a bit, but sure enough he starts picking at his face again before long.  I remarked about his face being clear in the first photos I was looking at.  She laughed and said "Yup.  That's how I can tell which ones were taken in Russia.  In Russia, no sores; in the US sores."  She in no way seemed sad or upset about that.  It was just a simple little fact to her. 

I got to the photos of the orphanage.  Mom had written the name of the orphanage, and some info about the place.  She also had written LB's russian name,  I asked her how it was pronounced.  She told me, and told me that his middle name was his father's first name.  I remarked that I thought he had been an abandoned baby (that's what I had been told by someone).  She smiled and said no, they knew his parent's names.  I asked her if she knew why he had been given up.  She told me that 9 days before LB was born, his dad died at only 31 years of age.  The family was already poor, already raising a 5 yr old son, and mom gave him up because on her own she couldn't make enough money to support two kids.  Just as I was starting to say "That is so s..." (going to say sad), she smiles and says to everyone "Yes, LB's adoption story is so full of positives.  That his mother was strong enough to allow her son to be adopted so he could have a better life.  I can't imagine doing that, birth moms have got to be so strong, so loving, blah, blah, blah, blah." 

I do not even remember which teachers and staff were in my office at this point, I know there were at least two others at that point.  I seriously thought my head would explode.  I wanted SO BADLY to finish my sentence and say how sad it was that the mother lost not only her husband, but her precious child, simply because of being poor.  I couldn't get any sound out.  I don't even know for sure if I was breathing at that point.

I managed to ask her if they sent letters and photos to his mother.  She replied that the mother left the city after leaving her son at the orphanage, but the rest of his extended family still lived there and were allowed to come visit LB anytime they wanted, and could have taken him out of the orphanage at any time. 

Mom went on to tell everyone how upset that made Adoptive Dad.  He was mad that even as they were there in Russia waiting the days till they could take LB "home", the family could come get him.  Mom though, lovingly reassured Dad that God wouldn't have brought them this far, only to have their son taken away from them.  At this point I was going to say something, but LB's class came into the commons area and she saw him & went out to show him his beautiful celebration cake.

I was, am still SO livid at her callous remarks and attitude about the great loss in LB's life, about the poor mother in Russia who has no idea how or where her son is.  To be able to tell the story of the father's death, the birth of their son so soon after, and that the mother felt she had to give him up because she was too poor.  How completely sad and horrific is that story?  And Mom is so clueless to smile and proudly say that LB's adoption is so full of positives?!?!?

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for LB, firstly of course because he is adopted, but mostly because he has so many challenges ahead of him because of the effects of living in a Russian orphanage for two years.  He is a challenging little guy, but he is also so loving, and has come so far in the years we have had him in our school.  Now that I know the callous attitude his parents have about his adoption, it just breaks my heart. 

They will continue to celebrate the day he was torn from his country, from his family ~ who continued to visit him until he was brought to the US.  They will have no clue about the loss he will associate with his "adoption day", while they are celebrating.  They do not honor his mother's pain, they only see that she was loving and giving. 

And this, my friends, is what is wrong with adoption.  Adoptive parents who fail to see that adoption is based on loss.  Great loss.  So many things in LB's story that would have most people crying, instead have mom smiling. I have been fighting tears all day.  I have a feeling that tonight my inability to cry may end.  Tears for LB, but mostly tears for his mother in Russia.  Maybe even finally tears for me. 

How I wish I could find a way to get LB's mom's name from LB's adoptive parents and find her.  Send her pics and tell her how her sweet little boy is doing.  Put an end to the unknown for her. 

I feel that I need to talk to adoptive mom someday.  I don't know where or when, but I feel that I owe it to LB.  And to his mom.  Both of them...


  1. Oh wow, I don't know how you kept it together. The scene just seems so sad. I think the adoptive parents that can admit to the loss make much better adoptive parents than those who only see sunshine.

  2. This breaks my heart as well. I don't know how you kept your cool.

  3. I had to re-read this. It makes me so sorrowful.

    I dont know how you can be around that situation. It must be extremely triggering for you.

    I keep thinking about what you said about his sores. He is picking his skin. He is self harming to soothe himself. I cannot even tell you how many adoptees I know who do this.

    God....it is just so sad.

  4. Oh my, that is so sad, sad, sad. Hug LB for me.

    I am always amazed at how many people lack basic empathy…humanity.

  5. It makes me sad to continually hear of so many Adoptive Parents who don't get it. Adoption is not all one way or another. It involves great losses. If someone cannot take those things into account, they are not acknowledging the experience of the child.

    How heartbreaking.

  6. That poor little boy...and shame on the aparents for not recognizing that he's self-harming for a reason! Holy shizznit.

    Hugs to you..and hugs to LB.

  7. I don't know what to say. Except... I don't know if I'd want my parents to celebrate such a day. Right now he's little and all he thinks is that he's getting cake and extra attention. When he's older he may tell her where to shove that cake and it won't be back in the fridge.

  8. Yuck, just yuck. I too don't know how you stayed cool during this exchange. I so wish that you can get LB's mother's name and write to her. I'm thinking how much I would have appreciated that as a mother who lost her son...

  9. I don't know what to say-- unfortunately, I do see it among a few aparents-- I am an amom. Most of the aparents I know adopted from China.

    Most make efforts to keep *our* children somewhat in touch with Chinese culture-- most of us realize that we can only do this at a superficial level at best.

    Some aparents have the attitude, "their American Now." It is sad-- to say the least.

    Many aparents do celebrate adoption day-- call it Gotcha Day. We do not have a big celebration-- nor do we use that term. We say adoption day or when we first met.

    It is hard to know what to do with this day-- since many of our daughters' families celebrate their adotpion day-- we don't want them to feel that we were not happy to adopt them-- but based on what I have read and heard from adult adoptees-- this is not a day we want to 'celebrate' either.

    We look through the adoption book I made for them-- it also has blank pages to represent what we do not know as well as pages with pictures from their life in the orphanage or with the foster family-- for our youngest. The pictures and what I wrote does talk about the grief and anger they showed.

    We don't gloss it over and I know a few other families who do not gloss it over either.

    We've maintained contact with our youngest's foster family and will continue to do so. We know how much they love and care about her-- I cannot imagine not staying in touch.

  10. I hear you. I am a mom of 6 kids. My first son like yours was adopted when I was 18. I have been in a reunion with him for 6 months. I am also mom to 3 more sons all bio and 2 3 year old twin girls we adoted from Russia. We celebrate the day we became a family because it was such a happy day for us. Our girls never would have been adopted be cause one of our girls had a birth defect that was never repaired. I dont know why we felt like we were supposed to travel to Russia we never tried to get pregnant. We will never pretend like the girls do not have a Mom in Russia. I want to find her so all of them can heal. I just realize none of us own our children. We are here to just love them and help lead them to the path that they were mafde for. Bless you I know how emotionally hard this reunion is. I never knew the emotions that have come from it. !!!!!! I finally went to counseling and it helped me heal from the repressed anger of losing my first son