The Adopted Life

Strengthening the adoption community by empowering adoptee voices

Life and Death

In my line of work, I often get asked "What is so wrong with closed adoptions?" Well, the answer is, for some birth parents it's a lot like experiencing a tragic death, similar to a stillborn child.

I strive to educate people about the fact that whenever there is an omission of the facts, or we simply do not know the truth (about birthparent's reasoning for choosing adoption, or why a baby died minutes before delivering etc.), we tend to make things up to fill the huge void where there are so many unanswered questions (oftentimes, things like; I'm unworthy, the baby was unwanted or defective, or I'm a throwaway etc.).

Sometimes adoptive families feel as though life would be easier if they didn't know their biological parents, and that knowing an birth parent may aid in confusion in knowing who the "real" parent is. The truth is, the "real" parent is the one who actively parents, the person who takes care of the child, financially, physically, emotionally etc., however the birth parent is a huge piece of the child's identity and the child's life. There is simply never an advantage to maintaining secrecy for the adoptive parents' own satisfaction and ease or for any other reason.

Truth and openness always wins out. I have yet to hear of a scenario where knowing the truth was a hindrance or a misfortune.

I have known families to go through the awful pain and heartache of miscarriages, but never have I seen so closely the pain and anguish of having a stillborn child. This weekend I attended a funeral that devasted my heart, and completely restructured my thinking about life. The  funeral was for a stillborn baby, and not only the death of the baby, but the loss that the parents are experiencing.  The death of a baby is a profound loss. Attachment to a baby begins before conception, some parents read to their child, sing to their child, feel the child and fantasize about life with this child.  Not only have they lost a baby, but they've also lost the chance to see this child grow to become a living part of their family.

I can't help but let my mind wander towards adoption, and I have drawn comparisons between a stillbirth, and a closed adoption. In both scenarios birth parents go through excruciating pain in childbirth, and then are literally  never able to see the fruit of their labor. It's a tragic loss that deserves explanation, but in the case of a stillbirth sometimes there is never an explanation. People may never know why a death happened. In the days of old, when closed adoptions were the norm, this was a tragic loss of ever getting to know the life that you created and birthed.

To all, who hope to adopt someday please know that nothing the birth mother did or didn't do while pregnant with your child is directly related to their unique qualities, whether that's in the form of a disability or a superb ability. Whether it's Cerebral Palsy or super star athlete. We don't get to choose. And some people don't get to choose why they bear a child dead on arrival, or why merciless adoption caseworkers demanded secrecy surrounding the child that you birthed.

And, to all of those who hope to bear children biologically, we must know that nothing is ever a given. Every life (both in utero and out) is precious, and a miracle.

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