Friday, 22 March 2013

Adoption: A month of parenting

Image from here
Adoption has been in the news this week. The Prime Minister apologised to all the women who were forced to give up their babies for adoption in the 1950s - 1970s in Australia. Tony Abbott just showed his tactlessness by calling them 'birth mothers'.

The practice of 'forced adoption' is another bleak moment in Australian history. Mothers were forced to give up their children because they were considered too young and the child was conceived out of wedlock. Imagine! Obviously this is a product of the time and the social norms of the day. We can be lucky that time has moved on.

My own family was enriched by a cousin who was adopted by my Uncle and Aunt.

The people I know who were adopted have handled their situations differently. Some have had to cope with a sense of abandonment from their parents, while others seem as happy in their skin and lot in life as anyone else. Three have said to me that the lack of insight into their family gene pool only influenced them when they were expecting children of their own. It was more of a lottery for them than it is for most of us.

We are lucky that the situation has changed and adoption is rare these days. Welfare policy changed in the 1970s making it possible for single parents to raise children. A women have choice now in the  form of contraception and termination. Their bodies belong to them.

From a parenting perspective, adoption highlights a number of things for me.

Loving a child comes with the responsibility of rearing them. As soon as a child comes into your care, you start to love them. You care for them and you invest in them. You don't need to birth a child to love him/her to the moon and back.

Birthing a child and having him/her taken from you doesn't make you love the child any less. I don't think you would ever overcome the sense of loss that the separation would bring.

There are winners and losers in adoption. Forced adoption was meant to be a win, win, win social policy. There is no way that it was. Clearly the parents who were forced to give up their precious bundles lost, but it is my hope that most of the children remained firmly in the winners corner, finding love in their new families.


How do you feel about the public apology? 




5 comments:

Sarah said...

I became and unmarried mother 3 weeks before my 18th Birthday - My son has just turned 29 and is getting married in a few weeks.

Adoption was discussed when I was pregnant and i did seriously consider the option for a while but it wasn't for me.

I can only imagine the pain those mothers went through at being given no option at all.

I couldn't be prouder or love my son more and have never regretted my decision for a single moment.

My mother was adopted towards the end of the war and although she had the most loving parents in my Grandparents and chose not to try to find her mother for personal reasons she does say that she thinks about her often with love and understanding.

An apology was necessary but it can't begin to make amends.

Michele @ The Hills Are Alive...... said...

I am ignorant (as ignorant as Tony is seems) as to the concern around the term "birthmother" - what is the preferred/correct term and why?


Is it just Mother? And if so then how do you distinguish between the parent that carried and gave birth to the child and the mother that adopted and raised them? I am not stirring the pot here genuinely trying to understand and make sure I never make the same mistake as poor Tony did with his gaffe.

Naturally Carol said...

Acknowledging the pain that these Mums have gone through must be a good thing. At a time where mothers were respected and being a mother at home raising kids was the norm it amazes me that applying some grace and kindness was out of the question and that instead of being loved and supported in raising children by themselves they were ostracised and deprived of even keeping their child. I became pregnant at nineteen years old during the late seventies and even then the doctor told me to consider having an abortion. I told my son when he was thirteen..and had worked out some dates..and in class at high school when they were discussing abortion, he told his class how I had chosen to keep him. I am so glad I wasn't born earlier and would have had to give him up!

River said...

It isn't only young single mothers who have adoption forced upon them. My mother had three sons, none of them were my father's. He accepted the first as her mistake and r was raised as my brother. The second, two years later, dad couldn't forgive and mum was made to adopt him out. Five years later, another son, but by now mum had left us and she kept this third son. She became bitter as the years passed and always refused to tell anyone who the fathers were. Took that secret to her grave she did.

Seana Smith said...

Hello, I think that apology needed to be made. I've listened to these stories mainly on the radio and they chill me to the bone, heartbreaking.

But in lots of ways I wish adoption was still seen as a valid choice, as opposed to abortion. I have friends in the USA who have adopted with open adoptions and that seems a better option.

I dreamed once that I was pregnant with a fifth and had decided to adopt the baby out. Sensible! .. I'd hate to have to make this choice myself, really would. I'd love to know if people do open adoptions here in Australia.

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