CRITICISM SCHMITICISM

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here's a picture of me and my beloved graduation gift from Don... I told you I had an obsession with watermelon. Okay, so I've been asked to blog about how our families have handled the hurtful comments from people about the adoption. I guess we've always had people questioning our open adoption arrangements since the beginning. People don't always believe that it works as wonderfully as we say it does. But I'm here to tell you that it truly does work. Granted, it hasn't always been easy, and there have been some really tough times, but in the end it all comes down to doing what's best for Deanna. It's amazing to think that the love of one little girl resulted in an inseparable bond between four families. That's how we make it work. But then there's always those people who doubt. The ones who honestly can' t believe that something so wonderful could be true, and they simply want to rain on the parade. It's hard not to read into some of the hurtful things people say. Here are some of the things we have heard: "Did you not have a baby because you didn't want to get fat?" (to De). "Won't it be too confusing for Deanna?" "Did you get pregnant on purpose?" "Having a baby is going to hurt like hell!" (don't ever say that to a pregnant woman. ever.) "Aren't you jealous when you let the birth mother see Deanna?" "Why would you ever want to adopt a child that's not your own?" I was very hesitant to do the News and Observer article at first because I know firsthand how nasty people can be. Adoption still carries a stigma, and I just knew that someone out there would say something negative about the article. But then I thought about my favorite quote. And I decided to do the article anyway. The quote? "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, the judgment that something else is more important than fear." And I thought about how many people the article had the potential to positively impact versus the number of people who would criticize. And I knew the answer. I had to share our story. One of the comments on the News & Observer website said, "I find it extremely strange that the adopters, De and Don, DO consider themselves parents. They are certainly caretakers, but they are not parents. It's sad that so many people have believed the adoption lies and Amy's beautiful daughter will grow up with those same lies, looking at Amy merely as her incubator. If De and Don loved this child so much, why did they take her from her mother? I'm so very sorry that De and Don have not had their own child, but I will not pretend that Amy's daughter is theirs." I try not to read into the comments too much, but really? An incubator? I guess there's no way to handle criticism other than to laugh it off and thank God that we have been so incredibly blessed. The point of an "open" adoption is exactly that--it's OPEN. Which means there are no lies. No strings attached. No having to break the news to Deanna when she's 15 years old that she's been adopted. No no. Open adoption is truth. And truthful is all we have ever been throughout the entire process. And no, I'm not merely an "incubator." I'm a birth mom. And that is so much more! A birth mom puts the needs of her child above her own needs, and that's something to be proud of. I talked to De about handling the criticism. She is so insightful! She said that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But if you know that you the right thing, then none of that really matters. Because at the end of the day, we are the ones who get to hear that beautiful little brown-eyed girl say, "I love you Mama!" and "I love you Amy Hutton!" And I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

13 comments:

dory said...

If you stop and think about, think about the anger behind some of the comments - can you not see where it's coming from? I do understand the people that make those comments. Being relinquished by my mother hurt me to the very depth of my soul. It wouldn't matter if I could see pictures of her, it wouldn't matter if we spent the day at the beach together, it wouldn't matter that I could call her anytime I wanted or that there were no secrets. What mattered is that my mother, the very person who should have loved and protected me made arrangements for other people to raise me. There is no "better life" to a child then being with their natural God-given mother.

And when it does matter to her, how on earth is she ever going to be able to confide that pain with anyone after all these blogs about her and how wonderful it all is? Can you not see how damaging that is to her? You have taken her voice from her before she has even had a chance to speak.

I'll never understand women who relinquish and say "I didn't want her raised in daycare, I wanted her to have a 2 parent family, I didn't want her to keep me tied to her father....."

Adoptive parents get divorced at the same rate as everyone else. There are no guarantees that they will stay marriage. Heck, what if one of them has a heart attack and dies? There simply are no guarantees that the relinquished child WILL grow up in a two parent family. And I bet if you ask any kid in daycare if they wished their mother adopted them out they'd say no - right after they shake with fear over the idea.

CSO said...

Phew. The N&O comment is absurd -- I hope that you know that. Parents come in all forms -- sometimes they're a birth mom and dad, or grandparents, or an aunt and uncle -- but that doesn't make them "caretakers" if they didn't supply the genetic code for the baby. And sometimes birth parents are really crappy parents -- just because a person can produce a baby doesn't magically turn that person into a good mom or dad. Trust De on this one -- everyone has an opinion, but that doesn't make everyone right. Keep up the open dialogue.

The comment above is interesting because she uses the word "relinquished." I can see the pain in that for dory and she clearly has her own story to work through, but I don't imagine that you or De feel like you "relinquished" Deanna.

Alyson said...

I've gotten the same "do you just not want to be fat" comment as De . . . a friend of mine told me to just say with a really straight face that "yes, that's exactly it." I'm really surprised by the first comment and don't want to pass judgment at her reaction because she is clearly experiencing her own issues, however, I really dislike it when people think that adoptive kids are going to have issues because they are adopted. While some adoptive children certainly experience challenges in facing the unique issues of adoptees, plenty do not. And plenty of non-adopted children have challenges and issues.

I think I mentioned to you that two of my husband's siblings are adopted (closed adoption), and both of them said that if they ever contacted their birthparents, all they would want to say is THANK YOU. Thanks for giving them the wonderful family they were raised in and all of the excellent opportunities they had to become exactly the people they wanted to be. They love their family and no matter how great their birth parents might be, they feel whole and loved by the family they have.

Unlike my sister and brother-in-law who had a closed adoption, Deanna will have the benefit of her two wonderful parents and also knowing you and Robbie and all of the love that you have to share with her. She can thank you for the wonderful parents you gave her and can also thank you for all the love you and support you will give her over the years. And apart from the wonderful life you have given to Deanna, I think it's important to recognize the gift that you have given to Don and De.

As someone who aches to hold and love a baby, the gift you have given them is amazing. Without you they would never experience the love of a child and the opportunity to be great parents to Deanna. Keep up the blogging. Just because some adoptive children have not had positive experiences (like the first commenter), plenty have and I think it is safe to say that your daughter will grow up having two heros- you and De.

ME said...

CSO said "The comment above is interesting because she uses the word "relinquished." I can see the pain in that for dory and she clearly has her own story to work through, but I don't imagine that you or De feel like you "relinquished" Deanna."

Regardless of what Amy "feels" like she did - the truth of the matter is that when a child is adopted the natural mother signs papers stating that she relinquishes all parental rights to said child. It's not a feeling, it's a fact.

Just like the social worker who made comments on the N&O article said - it is not all sunshine and roses as the article makes it out to be and it just seems wrong, unethical almost, to portray one side of the equation. I've worked with adopted children - hundreds of them. You'd be surprised what an adopted kid will ask/tell/say of their experience when they feel they have the permission to speak their their mind.

This child will never feel like she has that permission because how she feels is already made up for her by the people around her who are posting her story and how wonderful it is all over the internet.

Alyson - first of all I am an adult not a child, I am in my 40s. Please be respectful enough to not refer to adoptees over the age of 18 as children. It's ironic how you can talk about parents who ache to hold a baby yet are so easily dismissive about adoptees who ache to held by their mother by simply referring to their experience as negative.

Amy - is there a day that goes by that you don't wish you were holding your little girls hand? Is there a day that goes by that you think "I am so glad it is not me raising her"?

Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyler said...

I think it is absolutely rude that you would come on to a blog about the postives of open adoption and bash the person/s that are opening up a very private part of there lives to the public. They use this blog to both inform people that open adoption is an option, and that there it can work and can be a happy one. Also, I think this is probable view therapeutic for them to talk about the adoption.

I understand that you (whoever ME is) experience with adoption was a negative one. But it absolutely absurd to come on to what I,along with many otheres, view as a positive blog, and bash the people on it. You need to find another way to deal with your personal problems because reading your negative/ hurtful blogs in such a positive environment is horrible.

ME said...

Tyler - please point out exactly where I have bashed anyone? You are simply trying to dismiss my point of view by accusing me of things I have not done and labeling my experience as negative. People who are afraid to admit that there are 2 sides to a story often do that.

There is another side. Adoption can be very painful but so often that pain is never talked about because it is taboo and people, adoptees and natural moms alike suffer in silence.

If a blog is open to the public then I would think the blog owner would be well aware that it might provoke discussion that is not just one-sided.

Brown =) said...

I stumbled upon your blog through another one, and I'm so glad you did because I read the article about you on Mothers Day, and it touched me so much I linked to it on my blog (And warned about the comments) Your story is your story, and I'm glad you shared it. Not all adoption stories need to be negative. If it works for you, then more power to ya!!!!

thequeenofdenial said...

As an adult adoptee, I know I don't have it anywhere in me to surrender a child to adoption because I have experienced first hand the pain that knowing your mother decided others should raise you can cause.

That being said, I think it's a good thing you all are in an open adoption, but the openness of the adoption can't erase the pain of knowing that somehow, your mom decided someone else should be your mom.

I feel for you Amy, because I know it would be heartbreaking for me to watch my daughter call someone else Mama.

Heather said...

Why is it that when people point out that adoption is psychological damaging it is assumed that they had a "bad adoption experience"? Dory and ME are not being rude, disrespectful or negative, they are being honest. Why do adoptees have to justify themselves? I was adopted. I love my adoptive parents. I had a great childhood. I hate that I was adopted. For years I told people what they wanted to hear because I didn't want to seem ungrateful or hurt my adoptive parents feelings. It was only a couple of years ago that I realized that my fear of abandonment, feeling like I never belonged or fit it anywhere, my anxiety issues and more were directly caused by the trauma of being adopted. Don't say "I know an adoptee and they are so happy and all they want to do is thank their birth parents or not search at all because they love their adoptive parents blah blah blah." Unless you are adopted and are in touch with your feelings don't tell me how I should feel.

Adoption is supposed to be about the best interests of the child right? Well the best thing for a child developmentaly is to be with it's natural parents. It is traumatic to be separated from your mother. We don't separate puppies and kittens from their mothers for what 8 weeks? But it is okay to take an infant from their mother at birth? Does this really make sense to anyone?

I am not religious but I will pray for this little girl. I will pray that all of these adults who have made life so confusing for her will back off and allow her to feel the way that she wants to feel. Sugar coat it all you want but you didn't do her any favors. Just because you don't have to break it to her at 15 doesn't mean that knowing her mother didn't want to raise her will be any less hurtful. Babies are not gifts that you give to other people.

OpheliaInHeels said...

I've been reading this blog regularly because it's so nice to hear the 'other side' of adoption...I feel like all I hear are negative stories. I'm adopted, and I could not feel more loved and accepted by my parents (adopted parents). I'm so grateful that my birthmother sacrificed so much to give me up; she truly made the right decision for me. I LOVE my family and they have always been completely honest about my adoption story (I have baby books about adoption), and always supported my desire to one day reunite with my birthfamily. I met my birthmother when I was 18 and the records could legally be opened. We have a wonderful relationship, and I feel like I have two loving families now. I never ever felt resentment or hurt towards my birthmother for giving me up. It was exactly the right decision for both of us at the time. My adopted parents always told me what a wonderful woman she was based on the limited information they were given, and how much she loved me and had wanted to keep me...it just couldn't happen that way when I was born. Yes, there are negative situations associated with adoption, and there are adopted children who experience anxiety and grief, but the same is true of non-adopted children and birthfamilies as well. And ME, your blanket statements (such as: "This child will never feel like she has that permission because how she feels is already made up for her by the people around her who are posting her story ahd how wonderful it is all over the internet.") ARE offensive and somewhat arrogant...to state as fact what is clearly your opinion and speaking in such absolute terms--especially about a family you do not know--is silly. Anyway, thank you Amy for sharing your amazing story!

Don said...

I really hate to keep this going but I feel I need to ask (and answer)a few questions.

First, when will all of this unhappiness, confusion and trama come into play? Is it from birth, six years old, teenager? Because from birth to four years Deanna has exhibited none of this behavior. As a newborn she slept like a champ, right on a set schedule. She ate like a champ. No ear aches, infections, sickness of any kind (and can you believe she was never breast fed?) She was also never placed in daycare. She walked before 1, potty trained before 2, and was swimming before 3, so no issues on that front. So if you could give me a heads up when to expect such trama I will try to prepare.

And is this a learned reaction? Do people that don't know they are adopted have these feelings too?

What about the birth dad, is it tramatic to be seperated from him too?

What if you have one birthparent and a step parent? Is that only half as bad? Or what about surrogates? If the egg and sperm are from the parents but the fetus is carried by another woman, how does that work?

Statistically the best thing is for a child to grow up in an intact two parent family (natural or not). Crime rates, drug use, etc... all point to this conclusion. The puppy analogy is just plain ridiculous. That analogy if anything would favor adoption. Not only can you put puppies from other litters with a new litter you can even take different species and raise them with a litter of puppies.

I truly feel sorry for ones on here that feel like they never fit in and were adopted but that is not isolated to adoptees. That happens to all kinds of people. Adoption is an easy excuse and easy answer for some psychologist to come up with during therapy. Children have been adopted since the begining of time to say being raised by biological parents is better is just not factually correct.

Amy did the hard thing. The easy thing would have been to keep Deanna, have Amy's mother half raise her, pass her back and fourth from Raleigh to PA and for her not grow up in a stable two parent family. Amy (and Robbie)sacrificed for the good of her daughter. She is a saint and when I read this blog it opens my eyes even further to that fact. Deanna will understand this sacrifice as she matures and love Amy (and Robbie) even for it. I can already see this in Deanna.

We put this out there for people because most people we meeet are very unfamiliar with open adoption. And I am also finding that what gets advertised are the negative stories. Mainly because (IMHO) the people involved in the positive stories are out living their lives and not posting on websites. I also believe that there is a radical Pro-Choice element that tries to portray adoption in a negative light because they see as some kind of threat to "women's rights". Not saying anyone on here is doing that but in other articles on our story I have seen it.

Sorry for the rant and I don't mean to bash anyone on here but I felt the need to speak out. There are good and bad adoptions just like there are good and bad families in general. This is just a story of an adoption that so far and with God's blessing will continue to be a positive one nothing more and nothing less.

God bless you Amy. And I believe you know I say that not because you made me a parent but because you are who you are.

Danielle K said...

I enjoyed reading your blog for the first time and have been going through these comments. My husband and I are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. I think Twenty Things Adoptive Kids Wished Their Adoptive Parents Knew would be a great piece of literature to discuss. Do I support adoption? Yes. Open adoption? Yes. But we cannot deny that adoptive children MAY - keyword may- have a lifelong struggle with the fact that they were adopted. Many factors will play into this possibility- prenatal stress vs. attachment with birthmother, age of adoption, situations surrounding adoption such as poverty, death, etc, temperament, relationship or lack thereof with birthparents, relationship with adoptive parents, environment, cultural perception of adoption within their community... the list goes on and on!

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