June 29th, 2007
Posted By:
Categories: Issues/debate

I think it must not be clear, so let me shout.





(Everyone hear that? Good, because I’m a quiet person by nature, and I don’t like to yell.)

Why do I feel the need to clarify? Because it seems that anyone who brings up the negatives in adoption is seen as a troublemaker who wants to bring the entire house crashing down. My goal in speaking publicly about this topic has always been more along the lines of calling for “major renovations.” I’m not out to burn the thing to the ground.


Now, it is true that I don’t spend much of my blog time singing the praises of adoption. Here’s why:

1. The majority of society already believes adoption is a good thing. Witness the public opinion survey from the Evan B. Donaldson Institute. Most people have positive feelings about adoption. They don’t need persuading on this point.
2. Those birthparents who are pleased with their adoption experience are also speaking out. I don’t have to speak for them – they’re doing it themselves. My voice does not contradict or override theirs – both are valid experiences.
3. Adoption agencies also do plenty of work to pitch relinquishment and adoption. Increasingly, our government is also doing the same.

From a more personal perspective, I cannot be Pollyanna about adoption because my vantage point (the side I have lived and breathed) is not so pretty. Remember, I am from the giving up half of the equation, not the receiving side. Surrender is what I know. For me, the word “adoption” is about loss, not gain, and it has involved exploitation, incompetence, unjust laws, defeat, a sense of powerlessness, and intense, lifelong grief. There have been no personal benefits to me, except an increase in empathy and the knowledge that I can now survive anything.

Yet I do realize that my experience as a birthparent differs from what most adoptive parents and a lot of adopted people feel. For them, the word “adoption” has equally strong positive connotations – love, family, hope, security, peace, comfort, joy. When I speak of my side, I do not seek to drown out the other experience of adoption. I just want both sides to be viewed at once. Can we not manage to hold two opposing images in our mind at the same time? I don’t see why not – the world really is that complex!

Most people simply do not want to hear about the ugly, painful side of adoption. The few who are willing to listen usually only want to hear it once and then have the speaker go away. “We heard you, now scram.” But experiences such as mine are valid too, and they also need to be heard, and heard often.

It always surprises me that those who love adoption are the very same people who get most offended by any criticisms of the institution. If you love it, why aren’t you open to making it better? If it’s worked for you, why aren’t you concerned that it hasn’t been so swell for others? Don’t you want to make sure it works even better for the people of the future?

I have seen far, far too many people (from all sides of the triad) get hurt as a result of the “status quo.” The status quo is not good enough. If adoption worked great for YOU, keep in mind that there are scores of people for whom it didn’t. Those are the people we need to keep trying to help.

This is why I love the folks at Ethica. Ethica is a group founded by adoptive parents who, because they love their children dearly, want to improve all the drawbacks of current adoption practice. Take a look at their statement of beliefs – it’s beautiful. The Ethica people are working their butts off to make things better, and they listen to criticism in the spirit it is given – as constructive criticism for change. They understand how a good and noble institution can also have some really rotten effects, and they aren’t afraid of that duality. Like I said, it’s a complex world.

13 Responses to “My beliefs”

  1. scarlet moon 13 says:

    I feel the same way you do.

    Adoption is good, it has been around since the first dino ate the cave man and wife, leaving an orphan cave child to be adopted by the cave people next door.

    But, as a birth mother from 1964 who was lied too, coerced, isolated and ignored. Adoption has not been the best for me or my son. His adad loved him, but was an alcoholic wife beater. That wouldn’t have been what I wanted for my son, even if I had wanted to give him up.

    Reform is good. Make if better for all. Make it safer for all. So that aparents don’t lose babies because someone lied or hide from the bdad. Make it safer so that pregnant women are not promised one thing, and then find out it was all a lie, or that there was no law protecting that decision. Or that even if there is a law, no one anywhere is enforcing it.

    Reform is good. Better for everyone.

  2. Coley S. says:

    Oh Scarlet, I just love your cave man analogy!! LOL :)

  3. roni says:

    KEEP TALKING, HEATHER! (Even yell once in awhile if you have too.) Your words have helped me deal with some of my own issues and I’m sure many other people can say the same.

  4. Chromesthesia says:

    So true
    Now if this thing would let me consistantly post…
    I want to know the truth about things so that when I adopt children I can help them face the challenges of it head on.

  5. John says:

    “…experiences such as mine are valid too, and they also need to be heard, and heard often.” I am with you Heather, until the last three words. Why do your views need to be heard OFTEN? Are adoptive parents and non-birth parents in adoption unusually dense? Do we lack the memory that an ordinary person would have? Are we incapable of paying attention? Are we so incapable of independant thought that only great repetition could possibly get through?

    Let me suggest another possibility. Heather, it seems as though you can’t stand the fact that the vast majority of folks in adoption simply don’t share your very negative views. Repetition only works on the dumbest of the dumb. How about a change in strategy, see some things as positive and cover more than just the things that really irritate you. No one wants to deal with someone who is almost always negative and they are rarely effective in changing peoples minds. Just a thoguht. John

  6. Angela says:

    John, I think any birth parent experiences should be shared frequently. I would love to hear from birth fathers but they are fairly rare bloggers.

    There are new people coming through all the time. And as a writer you rarely know when something has touched a reader.

    Sometimes reframing an experience (same story, different angle) will allow someone to experience a “ah-ha” lightbulb moment. They can finally access the thoughts behind the words in a meaningful way to them.

    And I have to disagree with your opinion. I have found Heather to be very open and supportive. And honestly adoptionblogs.com wouldn’t hire anyone who is anti-adoption.

    None of the first/birth parents here are anti-adoption. They are sharing their personal experiences and thoughts.

  7. lizza says:

    my beliefs are that i wish i never had been adopted the people that adopted me already had a child of there own and they treated me awful they forced me to do things i didnt want to do then they would neglect me most of my chilhood they never played with me as a child she wa sto busy entertaining her friends she had no businees rasing a child she should have adopted dogs rathe rthan a child

  8. lizza says:

    im so angry in the way people have treated me and me being adopted i have suffered so much being adopted that its insane i wish i had never been adopted i have suffered so much i never had any freiends because im so unhappy think about it would you want to live like that and be adopted

  9. John says:

    Angela, you are right about reframing, many times it can reach someone that just couldn’t click the first time. The problem I have is that Heather’s blogs don’t seem to involve reframing. The same negative thoughts presented the same way over and over. Much like a high pressure sales pitch.

    “I have found Heather to be very open and supportive.” Wow, of what? Yes, she is open to ideas that adoption is badly flawed and should be greatly limited, and she would support efforts to achieve that. It is hard to imagine Heather being open and supportive of doing minimal damage to adoption and the kids stuck in the system while changes are made. Particularly if it meant moving more deliberately.

    Most major newspapers have at least one contributing editor that holds the opposite view of the newspaper. It creates disention and improves readership. Why would adoptionblogs be immune to wanting to improve readership? John

  10. Heather Lowe says:

    John -
    I find you to be as “one-note” as you find me to be.
    Perhaps it’s not possible for us to communicate – I don’t know.

    But I am surprised to hear you call for editorial balance, when there are positive birthparent voices on this site. Jenna and Coley have had better experiences than I have and have done an excellent job of communicating that.

    - Heather

  11. John says:

    Heather, youv’e got my attention. Editorial balance wasn’t one of the things I mentioned. My point was that you are a blogger for what should be a pro-adoption site for the same reason an unltra liberal newspaper has at least one very conservative contributor, its great for business, it stirs up the readers and keeps them reading. I was not calling for regulated thinking, I dislike that as much as you do.

    I agree that Jenna and Coley do an excellent job of giving the birthmother point of view in a positive way. Heather, one of the things that really bothers me is that you could be such an effective voice for change if you could find some way of negating some of the negative. John

  12. terri says:

    Heather, you are doing an excellent job and have been a cornerstone voice for positive change.

    It is exceedingly important that pregnant moms who consider adoption finally get to hear what has been censored/tweaked for years. The entire internet is full of primarily the positive aspects of adoption. (Just google the word.)

    When balanced with other views, that perspective is rightfully, appropriately deserving of our attention. Just as adoption, when carried out ethically, is something to honor.

    That said, too often the “positive” view has been promoted to the point of utter truthlessness/exploitation, as well as lopsided
    /flawed/coercive advertising.

    I wish there were a domestic Ethica. It’s about ethics. Anyone who cares about children should care about squeeky clean ethics in adoption. Ethics will not be addressed, have not been properly addressed, without holding the lack of them up to the light.

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