Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And then there is this.....

To continue, having unexpectedly found a name matching that of Genea's birth mother on facebook, I was frozen in place as to what to do next.

About a year ago I read a fascinating post on the blog Casa Bicecleta. The blog author had attended a seminar presented by a well known adoption expert (who she never names). Muddling through emotional incendiary explosives as one does at these things, she listened closely as the subject of birth parent searches came up.

The lecturer was  asked "Is it okay for the adoptive parents to search for the birth parents?". The blogger (CB) had spent a long time considering the many facets of taking on the search for a young child adopted internationally. Whether it was the right thing to do, whether it would do more harm than good. 

I expected CB would go on to explain the speakers answer in terms of "if/then" and geared up to skim the section.
IF the child remembers their birth parents, THEN you should make contact.
IF the child's birth parents do not want contact, THEN you should respect that.
IF the child has medical needs, THEN search.

I was one hundred percent surprised to read on and find the presenter gave an answer in absolute terms.
No, she said. Never.


Searching out birth parents is something I thought of as my responsibility! To get what information we  could get and hold it for Genea until she was of an age to either handle it or when she became an adult.

I was highly tempted to dismiss the opinion. CB goes on to reiterate the status of the lecturer. Well known, highly respected, with great insights and loads of personal experience (still no name).

However, something I have discovered many times on this 'adoption journey' is, I may not always understand. I might just have to accept certain ideas as facts which I will never comprehend.

At any rate, CB proceeds to analyze her own beliefs in reaction to the lecturers statement. Here is an excerpt:

 And when I think about searching....I'm trying to think if she would want me to do that FOR her.  And I'm not sure she would want me to do that.  I want to give her information.  Because I want to help her.  I think that having information will make her feel better, having answers to her questions will give her a narrative that she can latch on to--she's a very concrete person.  I think a story will help.  I.  I.  I.  I think.  I want.  I suppose.  Mostly because I know for myself I would want information, I would want to have that, I would need it, it would make me feel better.  I, me, my needs, my wants, what I think, I feel.

And then, if I try to think of myself and my Mother......if I try to put myself in Bicicleta Girl's place.....


If I think of my Mother trying to do something like doing a search for me....  I have a feeling it would piss me off. I don't know.  I was, am, continue to be, fiercely independent. And if my Mother tried to hone in on my story and make herself part of it or tried to decide what I wanted, something so personal, something so excruciatingly personal as my Birth story....yeah....I would hate that.

I never thought of it that way before.  I always thought of it as me, the Mom, giving something to my daughter.  Something to help her.  Something to arm her with.  I wanted to give my girl some information to help her.  I wanted to be the one to GIVE her what she needed to be strong.  And you know what?  Maybe she doesn't want what I have to give her.  Maybe she wants to get it all by herself.

Mmm, yes, the "I"'s have summed up my opinion perfectly.
Part 4 to come (surely you didn't think I could keep it simple?)

What is your perspective?


  1. Oh my. I had no idea I figured so prominently in this story....
    As you well know Essie, we actually decided to forgo what the respected adoption professional said (email me, I will give you her name) and continued to search and even shared what we found with Bicicleta Girl. So yes, while I tried to see things from all sides, in the end, DH and I together decided it WAS STILL the right thing to do in our case. I did try to see it from her pov, I tried to put myself in her place, I thought and I thought but in the end, I know my daughter and what she NEEDS. We still did it.

    I 'm sure you've carefully considered this from all angles. If you've decided not to make contact, then it must be because that is the right thing for your daughter. Searching is so personal. Everyone has to do what is best in their own situation.

  2. You know, I think it's one of the things that impacted me, your speaker laid out such an absolute 'no'. No room for gray area's. I just don't think it's a subject that is absolute.
    I was actually trying to be vague as to what happens next, I'm out of practice!

    1. Oh! There's more to the story? Well then, write on!

  3. I think you should search - while the *potential* to obtain valuable information about Genea's beginnings is available. Get it while you can... it may not be there 6 months or a year or 3 years down the line.

    Genea can at any time decided she does not want the information. She doesn't *have* to look at it or keep it or think about it. However, if she decides she wants the info down the line, it might not be findable any more.

    I'd go for it.

    1. I agree with you. We have a country that is stable to search in, but what about countries like Haiti where people still live in tents after that horrible earthquake- I think they have an even harder search especially in 15 or so years. The speaker made the point though, that if adoptive parents have found a birth parent, then the child feels more prone to looking, since it is there. But again, I agree with you!

  4. I'm with those who search. If you can gather information, I think it's important to do so. Then it can be your child's to do with as she/he wishes. There is no telling how "live" the path will be by the time our kids are of age. My sons are dying for information, and I am living in envy of your having found Genea's bm on FB. NO such luck (yet) for us, though we have linked with a non-profit whose ED is a graduate of our kids baby house and residential school in western Ukraine. Even that connection is so cool for our sons! I can't wait to see part 4 and hear what you went on to do.

    1. I actually just found a matching name- there were several that were clearly not right, and one that had no picture but the profile had been put up 2 weeks prior to my finding it. Yeah, I think having a connection to your own early history is so important to kids who don't have it. I would feel an emptiness if it were me, for a lost portion of my life. But then again, I'm from a stable middle class suburban family so my perspective comes from a completely different place.

  5. I personally think the well-known speaker is an imbecile. Or a very elderly person who sopped up the attitudes of the '50s and '60's when secretiveness was the way things were done - in adoption, and so many other areas. "Be secretive because it is up to you to protect others." Honestly, I can kind of buy that, but it is not the way things are going and I can buy that, too. (The way churches, organizations and school districts hid sex abuse is just another example....)

    And, actually, I think the HOW is what matters. Look at it this way - a search not done early is SO much less likely to be fruitful. You are envisioning your mother searching and somehow "inserting herself" into the story. Why would you think of it that way? (I figure it has something to do with the dynamic between you and your mom.) She does not necessarily need to insert herself into the story any more than a mom would do so seeking medical information for a child. There is some engagement, but in general the information is being sought for the child - who wouldn't be able to make a decision about doing it for years to come. And the child can ignore it or jump in with both feet when the information will be of interest to her or not. The main thing to remember is that she probably won't be able to get it for herself. I don't expect I could find the next door neighbors from my childhood - here in the US.

    I found Sergei's sister because he asked me to, but he doesn't care that much, now he knows she's OK. He's happy to have me take over the relationship. Anastasia and Ilya were very engaged with their family, so connection was obvious. I didn't search for Zhenya's family (I just sort of fruitlessly kept sending letters to the one address I had) and now that he is 13, he is upset with me that I didn't KNOW earlier his grandmother had died and found his uncles. Maxim read the paperwork about his family, was horrified they were so low-life and that was it.

    People are entirely different in how they feel about it. I guess that's the main thing - the the people they will find are, likewise, very different. From the educated and upscale young woman who didn't want a child out of wedlock, to the drunken prostitute. And everything in between. But, your daughter will eventually have the freedom to read the findings or ignore them, seek contact or not. The only way I think she could be angry at you is if you don't seek information while you can.

    There is a wonderful young man who recently wanted to seek his Russian family. He was lucky and they were found. He is over the moon about it and so grateful to the searcher he's volunteered to set up a website, and a facebook page for him. He's in contact with all of them in Russia and visits back and forth are in the works. He loves the fact that his adoptive parents are not only supportive but also seeking a friendly relationship. His is the perfect story, I guess. http://postadoptionbirthparentseek.com/site/content.php?pagename=David039-s-Story

    1. Annie, all excellent points! Particularly that you wouldn't be able to find neighbors from your own childhood- I hadn't thought of that and I bet its true for me as well.
      The speaker seemed to be saying, the story is the childs not the adoptive parents and that's all there is. But I disagree with no shades of gray. At the same time, I have to acknowledge I will never have the experiences that shaped the opinion, so even though I question it, should I just accept it?
      Last thing- that was a big thought I had too, if it were me and I knew my adoptive mother could have searched and didn't, then the trail ended, I would be livid. So.

  6. If a person absolutely does not want to be found, they will not be found. Case-in-point, my husband's mother abandoned him when he was 3. She has made herself completely obscure, there are no FB leads, nothing on her in Google, other than a random newspaper quote about how she likes the new bus system in her town. We know it's her-- she had an unusual name and the age matched up. But otherwise, she has made it clear that she doesn't want to be contacted. My husband, on the other hand, is a pretty public figure, well-known and published in his field. If you google his name, he is all over the first hits. She has never reached out. She doesn't want to have any connection. He has left it alone, not wanting to be rejected a "second" time.

    1. That's true, TV shows make us think its easy to find anyone but if they stay off the internet and out of the public attention, it can be hard to find someone. I remember trying to get our electricity back in my name after renters had moved out and the public services would not tell me anything about had they paid, had they disconnected, forwarding address etc. Even though we were responsible for any unpaid bills they left! Much different circumstances but you are right, if person does not want to be found they can make it difficult.

  7. I don't like "never" answers! (Unless it is of the "are you going to leave me, too?" type from my daughter - then it's a big fat NEVER!) A letter from our daughter's biological mother (sort of... it was obviously and poorly written by case workers on her behalf) hit our email box totally unexpectedly about six months ago. I finally mentioned it to Princess last month. (I"m going to blog on it in depth.) I told her the parts I thought were right for her to hear. She didn't want more. She didn't want to see the photo that was with it. But she knows I have it if she ever changes her mind.

    1. I totally agree with you there! I think there are so many possibilities in circumstances that a one size fits all answer is impossible.
      Seems strange a letter arrived unannounced and unsolicited from the case workers like that! I can think of 100 ways that could have backfired but maybe I should try to be more positive. See, and that's a factor too- what if there are biological parents pushing the information? Should adoptive parents just ignore it per the speaker? I just don't know. Trying to understand!

  8. I am a friend of CB so I am biased. I have to say that using her post as a jumping off place to discuss the role of the adoptive parent (your use of the: "I. I. I. I think. I want. I suppose") was snarky. Why not sound off on it from your own perspective? Why do you have to call someone out and be shaming? I am thankful that, as an adoptive parent, that I can see that it is best to follow your own heart when it comes to how to deal with your kid who is adopted. It seems, looking back, that following the most popular approach is not always the best course of action (i.e., closed adoption, ignoring race.....etc.). I am happy to share my approach to BF search, but I have a blog that is too public and have not shared there before. If you link back to me, you will see my email there.

    1. OH NO! I adore CB and this post of hers has resonated with me for over a year! That's why I used it, not to be nasty! The italicized text was lifted entirely from her post- I did not alter it in any way, and that's not me saying the "I, I, I" part, that's CB. I lifted that section because her thought process went exactly as mine did reading it.
      I know my writing does not always "read" as it "sounds" in my head when I'm doing it. If you could, please let me know what exactly sounds shaming and snarky and I will adjust it. Not my intention AT ALL!
      Er, not sure how to do a link back but would you email me? theaccidentalmommy@live.com


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