It Matters to Adoptees How We Got Here!

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

I had a great run of success in the 90s getting Letters to the Editor about adoption published: Harper’s Bazaar and Time magazine and USA Today, Los Angeles Times and various smaller regional newspapers. (Newspapers—how quaint!)

I came to hold that particular genre in high regard. I dubbed it “micro-journalism”: a way for readers to get small but potent doses of new awareness about important issues like adoption. Mind you, this was in the 90s, long before the epidemic shrinking of attention span that plagues us writers in today’s impatient, “just-give-me-a-listicle” era.

One of my earlier posted articles, “Honest Talk About Adoption,” was inspired by a quote from an adoptive father in a cover story in the L.A. Times Sunday Magazine. The article was “The Future of Motherhood”  and featured couples in various stages of using reproductive technologies—including the stage when they had given up on conceiving their own biological child. Only then, once they “had tried everything,” as this father said, were they willing to move ahead into an adoption journey.

Yes, I wrote an article for the California Association of Social Workers quarterly journal inspired by that father’s attitude. But I also felt the need to share a more immediate, public response to another troubling theme of that L.A. Times article: that it doesn’t matter how a child gets here, just that he or she does indeed get here.

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

MOTHERHOOD

Elizabeth Mehren’s thought-provoking discussion on the future of motherhood in this era of high-tech reproduction, surrogacy and adoption included a declaration that it doesn’t matter how kids get here (“The Future of Motherhood,” May 11). While that may be admirably egalitarian from an adult’s perspective, it precludes any possiblity for that adult’s child to be concerned with how he or she got here. 

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceChildren do instinctively care deeply about how they got into this life and a particular family. Children love to hear about the time in their mother’s belly, the day they were born and the day they came home.  For them, it helps to lay a foundation of connectedness—to a family, to this earth.  It grounds them.  

As an adoptee and an adoption educator, I’m exquisitely familiar with the experience of those of us who didn’t get to hear those stories—after all, it didn’t matter how we got there, just that we were there—and who always felt vaguely not of this earth, not grounded, as if we hadn’t actually been born like other children but instead hatched from a very special, top-secret file.  

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