In what I like to call my everyday interweb adventures, I usually stop by the reddit subforum, birthparents. Recently, an expectant mother posted there asking for advice regarding the adoption option. Of course, in stark contrast to most of the advice she received, I posted some truthful answers about adoption in the vein of what I wished I had known before relinquishment. In response to my reply, I was asked, “you sound like your adoption experience wasn’t pleasant. May I ask why?”
Upon reading this, my immediate response was to chuckle to myself. What exactly does a pleasant adoption experience look like? No matter the circumstance, how can giving away one’s child EVER be considered pleasant? My experience wasn’t the horror show that happens to so many other women, to be sure, but I would never categorize it as something on the pleasant part of the adoption experience spectrum. I’m not sure anyone can.
The question itself (at first glance) seems innocuous. In my experience, however, a question like this is asked to discount my input. It is a different way of saying, “I’m sorry your experience was bad, but not all experiences are like that.” Or maybe this mother was hoping to figure out how she could avoid the unpleasantness I experienced. The thing is, adoption is always unpleasant, for both first parents and adoptees. It is something to be avoided, if at all possible. The fact that this mother would ask a question like that leads me to believe that whomever she has been discussing her options with has not presented her with a full, truthful portrait of what adoption means. That is unacceptable.
Most of the advice doled out by other first parents on this forum is equally unacceptable. One mother advised her to seek out counseling from an adoption center and to try not to think about how her child might feel in the future. Excuse me? What kind of advice is that? Shitty advice, that’s what kind. But hey, who I am to say, my adoption experience wasn’t pleasant, afterall.
It is one thing to not get all “anti” on mothers who have already relinquished. To a certain extent, I agree with not berating these mothers who are happy with their experience (for now). There are times when I wish I could go back into the fog. It is quite another thing to lead a mother questioning their ability to parent their child down the adoption primrose path. It is not okay. It is not okay to let another mother believe that adoption can ever be pleasant. With all of the sorrow, grief, and despair that first mothers feel, even in a “happy” adoption situation, how can we ever mince words and give encouragement to the option of adoption. I would never wish all of this angst on another human being, and essentially, that is what many first mothers do. It is wrong. Our role in giving advice to other mothers should be to present the full and honest picture of what adoption is, let mothers know how soul crushingly difficult it is throughout the rest of our lives. To present it as a solution to a problem is wrong, especially when what they need to make an informed decision is the absolute truth.