I am a heterosexual woman, recently in my mid-thirties, with a long-term partner, biological daughter and no fertility issues. I want to adopt our second child. Some people would rather I not.
When I tell people that I want to adopt, they look at me wide-eyed and ask why I would go through the expense and bureaucracy when I could just have more biological children. I want to adopt, I tell them. I want to be a parent to a child who needs parents. Having a child either way is a process that may be fraught with obstacles and expenses. I don't see one as being better than the other.
Inquiring minds continue by asking, "Why would you risk having an adopted child that is not as [insert your 'wonderful' word here] as your biological daughter?" I respond by saying that I see it as an opportunity to parent an adopted child who will be as special as our biological daughter. Our children will be different, adopted or not. They will not be the same, nor would we want them to be. Nobody is better because of blood.
And if anyone asks if I'm adopting because I think it is fashionable like Angelina or Madonna, my response would be: "Are you a moron?"
Now, I have been able to answer all of these questions without taking the connotations, incredulous glares and judgmental tones personally. But then, I got this question: "Why would you want to steal a baby from a family that can't have children?" I was floored. This ridiculous question did not come from a curious acquaintance, friend or relative. It came from a prominent private adoption practitioner, who was referred to us by a couple that had successfully adopted. This woman couldn't understand why we were "doing what we were doing when we didn't have to." Why would you want to hurt other families who can't have children on their own, she'd said.
To my surprise, I calmly countered. "Isn't it up to the birth mother to pick the family that they think could offer the best home to their child? If the birth mother thinks our family is better than a family profile with fertility issues, isn't that fair?"
The private practitioner told me she would still take our money and accept our profile. Something didn't feel right. I asked her point blank, given how strongly she was opposed to us adopting, if she'd really be showing our profile to birth mothers or present us fairly to the birth mothers. No, you are right, I wouldn't, she sighed. And that was it. Ultimately, she would not accept our application.
I called every private adoption practitioner in the city to ask if my fertility was an issue. Had our adoption social worker not tipped me off that private adoption practitioners frowned upon families without fertility issues, I would never in a million years had thought to call and check. My social worker had been at a conference the week before and was informed that this was a common consensus amongst private practitioners. After my calls, I had to accept that fact.
It had never crossed my mind that we were in competition against infertile families. For me, it had simply been the question of whether we could provide a home for a child who, for whatever reason, was unable to be with their birth families. What kept me up at night was the question of how we could be the best parents to help a child build the best possible life and give them all of the opportunities they desire. These were the same thoughts that cross my mind about my biological daughter.
After the shock of the accusation of being a baby thief, I became angry. I added a new pillar to our family plan: adoption was our Plan A. We weren't adopting because we were unable to have children. No child in our home would ever be considered Plan B. At the time, I thought that I was simply strengthening the rationale of our family plan. Now I know that I was reacting to the fact that I was competing with infertile families.
While I have taken myself out of the race, I have not overlooked the reality of the situation that remains blatantly unfair. The injustice is the fault of the practitioners, not the families in the system. It is discrimination, pure and simple. In being advocates of infertile families at the expense of other prospective parents, they are doing a disservice to birth mothers by not presenting profiles of all prospective families, fertile or not.
I believe that the private Canadian adoption system has lost sight of what is paramount to the process: the needs of the children who need forever families. There has been a clear shift away from this goal towards fulfilling the desires of parents who are unable to conceive.
What does this mean for my story? Through this process, I have realized that I have become frustrated, insulted, offended, angry and disillusioned. But, more importantly, I have learned that I am dedicated to my adopted child and the process of bringing him/her home to us. Our adoption story will not begin with the day he/she enters our home but years before, even before we had our birth daughter, when I decided that our family belonged to him. Will this make us a better family for an adopted child than a family with fertility issues? Who knows? What I do know is that it doesn't make us worse.
By Amana Manori
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/cindy-williams-birth-moms-adoption-portrait_n_2396938.html">Cindy Williams: 'I Didn't Know My Sons For 11 Years'</a> "I don't remember exactly when I found the online support group, but I am so glad I did. I really think that no one understands a birth mom like another birth mom. No one else has ever had the kind of experiences we have had. I can see that all the feelings that I had over the years were normal, and that I am very lucky to have met my birthsons."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/intra-family-adoption-story_n_2403300.html">Why Do I Have To Be Adopted? A Story Of Intra-Family Adoptions</a> "Adoption was shameful back then. Terminology like “real mother” was de rigueur. Women who couldn’t have their “own” children were lesser, and the only reason a fertile woman wouldn’t raise her “own” child was her own inadequacy. And if she was pregnant “out of wedlock” (another popular phrase), then it was clearly all her fault. Never mind if she was only twelve."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/why-we-will-adopt-story_n_2405249.html">Michelle Mercurio: 'We Realized That We Couldn't Wait Any Longer To Adopt'</a> "Our nephew is at the heart of our adoption story not because we lost him, but because of the love and connections that grew in our hearts because of him. We know now, more than ever before, that we would be compassionate parents who would fiercely love and protect a child to help him or her grow into an amazing adult."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/05/imaginary-redhead-adoption-story_n_2405298.html">Adoption And Family: How Everyone Is Affected, Not Just 'Us'</a> "As an adoptive parent, I struggled with the loss of privacy, the loss of control over this aspect of my life -- becoming a parent -- and the loss of my imagined child -- that redheaded basketball player I had expected."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/05/clarks-voice-adoption-story_n_2405407.html">Jay D. Lenn, Adoptive Parent, On Helping A Child With Speech Delays Find His Voice</a> "Biological parents cannot, of course, control everything about their children’s development. I suppose a primary difference with adoption is learning to accept that loss of control before you even start parenting."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/grey-market-adoption_n_2424888.html">Searching For The Truth About My 'Grey Market' Adoption</a> "My adoptive parents are the ones who raised me -- they changed my diapers, fed me, and listened to my terrible teenage poetry. The fact that they didn’t trust me enough to tell me the truth is the only part of the past year and a half that still hurts."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/adoption-portrait-foster-adoption_n_2432547.html">Gina Sampaio, Foster Parent, On Navigating The Birth Mother Relationship</a> "I still have no guides to navigating this relationship, but at least for now, I think we’re doing alright forging our own path."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/15-and-pregnant-adoption-portrati_n_2440974.html">15 And Pregnant: Why I Chose To Put My Baby Up For Adoption </a> "I knew this was why this horribly terrifying thing was happening to me. It was supposed to happen; it was my job to give someone a baby that they could not have on their own. I was strangely at peace, or at least as peaceful as you can be when you find out you are pregnant at 15."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/how-being-adopted-as-a-child-affects-me_n_2447477.html">I Was Adopted As A Child, But That Doesn't Define Who I Am </a> "Having been adopted is part of me, and will probably always have some kind of impact on me, but it doesn't need to define me. I am who I am. Does knowing I was adopted change that?"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/merrin-donahue-a-letter_n_2447681.html">A Letter To My Son's Birth Mother </a> "You and I will always be connected: the mother that carried him and gave him life and loves him from so far away, and the mother that has been blessed with the unimaginable gift of being called “Mommy” and being here to kiss the boo-boos and chase away the bad dreams. You are my sister, and although I will never meet you, I have more love for you than you will ever know."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/12/stop-asking-adopted-kids-real-parent-question_n_2449836.html">The 'Real Parents' Question To Stop Asking Adopted Kids </a> "My real mom is an accomplished author and teacher. That’s my mom. There’s no such thing as a REAL mom and a fake mom. Sure, there’s my birthmom, but I don’t ever care or think about her. She did a very selfless thing to give me up, so why would I want to bug her? That’s incredibly selfish of me."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/13/foster-mothers-love_n_2450107.html">How My Foster Mother's Love Saved My Life </a> "It is the love, attention and support of a parent which can make or break the people we turn out to be. Although my foster mother died when I was at a precarious age, the substance she raised me with has been a foundation upon which my life has been built."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/14/adoption-portrait-never-called-mom_n_2450459.html">The Grief In Knowing My Son Will Never Call Me 'Mom' </a>
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/foster-parenting-and-connection-adoption-portrait_n_2457370.html">Saying Goodbye To The Foster Child I Fell In Love With </a> "I did not enjoy a very real Rayna shattering my “mother fantasy.” I realized I subconsciously had hoped not to like her. I was forced to admit quite the opposite after that first phone conversation."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/adoption-portrait-open-adoption_n_2459132.html">We're Still Learning What An Open Adoption Looks Like</a> "To be the adoptive parents there are no descriptions of your relationship with the birth family, no rules, no prescribed etiquette. There’s this tiny person who cannot talk and her mom tethering you to them and them to you. In other words -- you wing it."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/looking-for-birth-mother-adoption-portrait_n_2489262.html">How Becoming A Mother Changed My Mind About My Own Adoption</a> "I was also very aware that I was opening myself up for a potential One might ask why would I subject myself to this -- Talia was the reason. She was my only daughter and literally the only blood relative I knew at that point in my life."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/18/foster-to-adoption-process_n_2496567.html">What A Foster-To-Adoption Process Is Really Like </a> "I do not think there is any amount of training that can truly prepare a person to understand the opposing elements of fostering-to-adopt, and the State’s number one goal, which is reunification of families. Sure they warn you, sure your head “understands.” Logically you can spout off to any person who will listen that it is important to keep families together. Realistically, though, to the heart, it is a different matter."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/19/meeting-your-childs-birth-mother_n_2506000.html">Meeting Your Child's Birth Mom: When The Challenge Isn't What You Feared At All </a> "My insecurity and fear are more real to me now than ever. I am afraid. That’s what it boils down to. I am scared. Here’s the thing, though: she gave this precious boy life and decided, for all her many reasons, that she wanted me to be his mommy. This fact doesn’t lessen her importance, in fact, it magnifies it. She did something AMAZING. Something I know I could NEVER do. And now … I am at a crossroads."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/20/adopted-son-dad-greatest-moment_n_2507385.html">Hearing My Adopted Son Call Me 'Dad' Was The Greatest Moment Of My Whole Life</a> "But then the greatest moment of my whole life occurred. My son came home and came out onto the back deck where I was hanging out. We talked a little about nothing in general. Then he turned to me and said: “He is okay as a buddy, but you are my Dad.”"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/21/the-adoption-process-letter-to-birth-mom_n_2507449.html">The Adoption Process: Trying To Write The Perfect Letter To A Birth Mom</a> "The next stage for us is to create our profile, our family marketing plan, if you will. It is this profile, we are told, that will attract our birth mom or birth family. This profile is our best tool to find the proverbial needle in a haystack –- a birth mom who believes we are capable of parenting her child in a way she cannot. This is beyond humbling and mythic in its emotional proportions."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/adoption-painful-struggle_n_2507454.html">Our Painful Struggle Over The Son We Desperately Wanted To Adopt </a> "Before she went any further, I felt a warmth rush through my body. My heart started to race and I choked on tears. She hadn't said a word more but something was telling me, almost like a whisper in my ear, "This is your son. Go get him." (I still get chills when I think about it.)"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/adoption-walls-of-secrecy-dissolved_n_2528692.html">'The Click': How I Knew I'd Found The Right Family To Adopt My Baby </a> "A few days later, I signed over my parental rights, and William became Jim and Lynn’s, legally. I cried. She cried. Everyone cried. I was so sad and empty going home without him, but I was equally relieved and happy that he was with these amazing people."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/this-crazy-wonderful-hectic_n_2536739.html">Notes From A Birth Mom: 'I Have Been Very Fortunate To Be Allowed In Katie's Life' </a> "Our annual visits get easier for me every year, and I think that ease comes from knowing my place with Katie and her knowing that I love her as much as I love E and D. When I saw Katie this past summer, she had changed so much. She had cut her hair shorter; she was wearing braces and she was almost as tall as Carrie."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/25/adoption-stigma_n_2542717.html">I'm Still Waiting For The Stigma Of Adoption To Go Away </a> "And those family ties count for a lot -- more than you think. Just recently I got into a discussion with someone about tracing my birth family. "Why do you need to know?" she asked. And I answered: how often have you heard or said among your family, "she looks like her dad" or "that runs in the family" or "he's just like his grandfather" or "it's in his blood.""
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/26/why-my-son-has-a-closed-adoption_n_2544287.html">Why My Son Has A Closed Adoption </a>
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/27/friends-becoming-grandparents_n_2544289.html">My Friends Were Becoming Grandparents And It 'Often Felt Like A Stab In The Chest' </a> "She was tired of the drugs, shots, doctor appointments, rude questions from people, and the whole ball of yarn. She wanted to start a family and didn’t want to wait for more tests, more failed pregnancies and more heartbreak. She certainly put things in perspective. How could I blame her for having had enough? Having had two successful pregnancies, I certainly didn’t understand entirely what she was going through both physically and emotionally. She was pursuing another specialist, but she also wanted to pursue adoption options."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/28/we-didnt-get-to-keep-the-other-baby_n_2544377.html">'We Didn't Get To Keep The Other Baby, But This One Is Ours Forever' </a> "We are invited into the room where Cammi is with her son and her family. There is a reverent feeling and lots of tears. I sit down and then think better of it and rush over to give her the biggest hug. This girl, there are no words to express our love and gratitude."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/29/giving-my-baby-up-for-adoption_n_2567272.html">I Finally Understood My Birth Mom When I Gave My Own Baby Up For Adoption </a> "There are so many things I wish I could tell you. The most important of all is that I love you. I've loved you since the day you were born, and I miss you terribly. I spend a lot of time wondering if you know that. I spend a lot of time wondering if you're happy. I pray that you are."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/adoptive-father-and-daughter_n_2575154.html">Andrew, Adoptive Father: 'Love And Devotion Do Not Require The Same DNA'</a> "I cannot imagine not being able to feel her hugs or see her smile. Her expressions of love, often in the form of a note or a picture, have always affected me. She is so very complicated, so fiercely independent, and so vulnerable. I love that she wears a storm trooper costume on Halloween and then wears footie pajamas to bed. I love when she talks about her imaginary team of unicorns that pull our car along as we drive. Mostly, I just love her."
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/31/getting-in-touch-with-birth-parents_n_2575254.html?utm_hp_ref=parents&ir=Parents">What I Never Expected When I Met My Birth Parents</a> "bMom broke away from bDad and ran the last few steps, grabbed me in a hug. I lost it. Tears steamed down my face. I remember seeing bDad walk up. I heard him say, “What about me?”
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