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Yesterday, Kevin wrote a heartfelt response (make sure to read all the comments!) to Adoption, Destiny and Magical Thinking, a blog post on the New York Times’ website. The author, researching a book on magical thinking, was pointed towards adoptive parents, and their propensity to rely on magical thinking as a way to describe how their family was formed. For various reasons, many families believed their adopted child was brought to them by destiny or as a part of God’s plan.

Personally, I believe adoptees come to their families through a conscious, deliberate process called adoption. While each adoption story is interesting in its own unique way, I don’t believe divinity or destiny played any part. Instead, the key actors are things like class, gender, race, and privilege. Much like the word “colorblind” is used to ignore racism, “destiny” and “God’s plan” is used to erase the root of all adoptions – Loss. Everyone in the adoption story starts in the negative; a mother loses her child, a child its family, adoptive parents acknowledge the loss of a biological child (whether by nature or choice).

So, here’s my uncomfortable question – If you and/or your partner are unable to have children biologically, does that mean it’s destiny or God’s plan that you not parent? Does God just skip over this fact? Is adoption just convenient way to ignore your destiny or is it a divine alternate path? Does everyone who wants to be a parent get to be a parent? I really, truly do not know the answer to this question. I’m no longer a practicing religious person, so I can’t pretend to know what’s on God’s mind. Also, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to grant or deny parenting privileges to people, but I do wonder if people, namely adoptive parents, do believe someone or thing does have that authority, what does it mean when the first or natural means to having a family is denied?

Thoughts, anyone?

2 Comments on

  1. Mary A. Coyle // August 17, 2012 at 7:44 am // Reply

    Keum Mee, as an adoptive parent I was baffled by these writings. In my opinion, this shows a lack of education by the adoption agencies on the part of the adoptive parent on all sides of adoption. It is important for adoptive parents to realize that their potential child through adoption has a history of another place and another family before they begin this journey into adoption. Once the pain of infertility passes enough for a couple to pursue their parenting plans, the adoption agencies should make sure that the couple is educated properly on all the outcomes of adoption. Hence the need for agencies to keep up post-adoption services. This part is important because this type of knowledge comes in steps just like growing up comes in stages. With each new age of a child comes different requirements from a parent.

    I think that people may tend to believe that God has a plan for them so that the realities of life and the hardships of life are not all for nothing. The pain of infertility is a pain that other people may not understand until they have the experience of it for themselves. This belief in a plan from God tends to mitigate this pain for them. I have seen other people in other circumstances use this same reasoning — like my neighbor who is dying of pancreatic cancer, and my sister-in-law who died of ovarian cancer. This belief in God’s plan for their life no matter how physically difficult gave them peace. This peace was very real. I saw it on their faces after they prayed.

    In adoption, I think an AP may use this belief in God’s plan to alleviate their pain of not being able to have/parent a child. Sometimes, the need to parent may be bone-deep for a couple. It isn’t always easy to understand this need especially to anyone on the outside of a couple. I, myself, have had people tell me to “just get over it” — as if that is possible. Adoption is another option to parent a child. It may be the second choice for a couple, but it is a choice. It is not a negative option — it is a different option. When done correctly, and thoughtfully, it is a positive way for a couple to create a family, and for a child to have parents who will love and care for them. This may be another way of looking at how some of the responders to this article are looking at their way of being a part of God’s plan.

  2. one more adult adoptee activist // August 17, 2012 at 9:00 am // Reply

    to ms coyle, with permission, somehow i missed where an adoptee is in all these plans. sounds self-absorbed, selfish, and demeaning to ‘use’ a vulnerable human being who has little rights, protections, or power to ward of the “needs” of two other adults just because they want to have a child, another’s child to fill in their gaps. i had to go to therapy to grieve the loss of my original family, heritage, identity and information. surrounded myself with supportive adults outside my afam, got a dog, actually several and i still learned to cope okay. give every child their adoptee rights and maybe some couples could earn the the right to parent. you say it’s good, then may it be good for all of us…don’t make adoptees objects of your missing parts…love and care is rarely the reason people are motivated to adopt children. it’s a great ideal when one needs to feel good about their decision. we adoptees need more than that. you dismiss what an adoptee writer expresses and wonder why you’ll never understand what it’s like to walk in adult adoptees shoes. it boils down to not accepting g-d’s plan for one’s life. there are too many children being raised in foster care and tossed out. that is an area that needs more love and care. everyone loves babies, puppies, and kittens. makes us feel more needed to have dependency. the real challenge comes with nurturing, forget about our natures after the bending, blending, molding and reshaping. there’s a lot of education that other adult adopters need to understand about the resulting internal upheavals, whether acknowledged or not experienced by child and adult adoptees. better served by asking questions and opening to what heard. the truth is out there. are you really ready??! know apars do the best just like we adoptees do. it’s got to get better than living with the lack of parts of ourselves, just as you think the answer is to bring in another human from another family and make them your own possession-like and then turn around and label us the ‘a-word’ when things are not so neat. we all seek to be made whole in some way, true.
    in peace and friendship

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