“We cannot, we will not, choose the path of surrender” – Woodrow Wilson
“Hello, Janie, come in. Sit down. You and that baby should be comfortable. Do you want to put your feet up?”
Janie smiles a weak smile, hiding it behind long bangs. She takes the seat offered but declines the need to put her feet up.
“I understand you are considering surrendering your child to adoption? Is that correct?”
“Alright then. Why don’t we get started? There are a few things I would like you to consider before you surrender your child.
Your child’s adoptive parents may divorce. Divorce rates in the United States indicate that a marriage today has a 50/50 chance of ending in divorce. Marriages that have been strained by infertility sometimes have a greater chance of divorce IF the couple has not worked through the infertility issues and of course, if infertility was even a reason for their adoption. Not all couples adopt due to infertility. Just keep in mind that if you are surrendering your child due to your single motherhood status, there is NO guarantee your child wont end up being raised by a single mother. Additionally, more and more agencies are placing children with single adoptive mothers. Unless you meet your child’s adoptive parents, you have no way of knowing.
Adoptive parents are permitted by law, to give back, abandon your child for any reason. They can state the child was not a good fit, did not eat the foods they wanted the child to eat, whatever they desire. This can be done immediately (often called a disrupted adoption) or many years after your child has been with the adoptive family. Important to note the child will NOT be given back to you. No matter your child’s age, if the adoptive parent changes their mind about the quality of your child, the state, the agency, or other will take your child. You will never be told.
Now, this might make you think you can change your mind. While many states offer revocation periods, few truly honor it. If you surrender your child and within a month or sooner decide you made a mistake, you should be prepared for a possible long legal battle. Legal battles are often drawn out for years so that the agencies and adoptive parents can then claim the child is better off staying with the adoptive parents. Do you understand that? Adoptive parents can change their mind but you cannot – at least not without a good arsenal of attorneys, money, time and the reality that in the end your child may still stay with those that adopted him or her.
If your child dies, of natural or unnatural causes, you will never be told. You may spend your entire life waiting for reunion but will have no way of knowing your child died years prior. Passive adoption registries will offer no hope to you as your child must be alive to register. Yes, I know that is a horrible thought, that your child may die but it does happen. No only do they die of natural causes like disease but are often killed in accidents or even murdered by their adoptive parents.
On the subject of diseases, keep in mind that due to closed records, if health problems occur for you or your child, there will be no way for you to notify each other. If your child needs an organ, and you are able to provide it, chances are they would never contact you. Medical history is terribly important and it changes daily. The history you provide to the agency today may be very different in ten years. Can you trust your agency to provide those updates to your child’s family? Will the family even want to receive them?
Adoptive parents, just like biological parents, also abuse and molest children. If you are surrendering your child due to abuse in your family or your life, you should know that surrendering them to adoption does not prevent that from happening to them. Adoptive parents abuse and molest just like natural families do.
Your child may not behave (due to being genetically different) as adoptive parents want them too. They may have different temperaments, tolerances, talents, thresholds for pain. Your child, when misbehaving, may be told by the adoptive parents that they will be given back. We are not exactly sure where adoptive parents who threaten this believe they are going to give them back to but as you saw above, this is allowable. This is important for you to note as many adopted children suffer with serious abandonment issues due to being placed for adoption. Being later threatened by their adoptive parents to be abandoned again reopens a primal wound that began bleeding usually three days after they were born.
Your child may never understand how you could given them away. No matter what financial, legal, emotional challenges you are under today, it may never negate your child’s feeling that their mother abandoned them and threw them away like yesterdays newspaper. They may demonize you, even hate you. If they were indeed abused by their adoptive parents, they may find that to be your fault as you put them there (or so they think). Many adopted adults have no conscious desire to know their mothers. Most children that feel this way believe their was something wrong with them versus something being wrong with the world they were born into. I note this because if you choose to search for your child, your child may not want to be found. Alternatively, they may be so blinded by the pain and trauma of losing you, they are not strong enough to let you into their life.
On the topic of emotional strength, it is very important for you to know that many adoptees suffer from serious emotional disturbances as a result of being separated from their mother. These disturbances are often labeled bipolar, borderline personality disorder, manic depression and other. Sometimes those labels can be true but in many cases they are not. Many times a child is suffering from the unrecognized or incorrectly treated trauma of losing their mother. Many adoptees are put on strong, mind altering drugs that permanently damage their organs.
The family that is adopting your child may be extremely wealthy. Their family values may be vastly different from yours. You may want your child to grow up with a mother who bakes cookies and tends flower gardens around the white picket fence. However, it is possible he will be adopted by incredibly wealthy individuals who believe in sending children off to boarding school and retrieving them once a year around the holidays for the yearly photo op. They may also feel they are being treated like an nice accessory, similar to a Luis Vuitton bag.
Conversely, it is also possible; the family that adopts your child will be poor. Maybe even less well off than you. There are families who live in two room apartments in major cities that adopt. My point is, be very careful what you fantasize about. That may not be what your child ends up with. The only way to truly know who is parenting your child and under what conditions is for you to do it yourself.
If you are surrendering your child with the expectation that it will be confidential and no one will ever know, you should know that there is no such legislation that guarantees you confidentiality. Additionally, open records movements are making great strides in insuring all adopted children and adults have access to their information. I encourage you to review the open records movement data and understand why it is so vitally important to adopted adults to have access to their information.
Of course, open records assumes your child knows they are adopted. Many children are not told. Still others are told very late in life and it is very disturbing to them. Again, keep in mind the power over your child’s mind rests with the adoptive parents. If they want the child to know they are adopted, they will tell them. If they don’t want to, they won’t. You have no control over that.
Janie, are you okay? You look a little confused. Should we take a break? Do you need some water? We still have material to cover… specifically what might happen to you after you experience the loss of your child to adoption. Yes? Okay. Why don’t we break for now…”