Wednesday, November 18, 2009

ABC's "Find my Family"

I wrote this a couple of nights ago when I couldn't sleep, before the call came. I figured I might as well post it now or we might have so much else going on it will never get posted!

I just received an email from an adoption group I belong to online which brought to my attention a new show that will be airing on ABC on Monday. It is called "Find my Family" and will feature adoption reunions. The person who brought this to the list was offended by the concept, as will be many other adoptive families I am sure. What bothered them was that birth families would be called "family".

I went to the web site which features a promo that you can view here:

After viewing the quick promo I had to step away and think about this. How do I feel about such a show? Does it somehow devalue us as an adoptive family by using the word "family" when speaking of birth parents? How would I feel, as an adoptive mom, if one or all of our children came to me asking to seek out their birth parents or wanting to arrange a meeting after having found them?

I realize this is such a sensitive area for all involved in the adoption triad. All are coming from unique and very different perspectives, emotions run quite deep as we all know. And somehow, I always seem to fall in the camp that is least popular when it comes to such things, and then ocassionally find myself attacked for not knowing what something feels like or "thinking" I would react one way when others insist I would act another.

The fact is, I am not offended at all by calling biologically connected people "family". There, as unpopular as that may seem, I said it. I have never cared one whit if someone refers to the boys' birth mom's as their "real mom", I have no need to rip away the image of another mom from my kids. We did not adopt overseas in order to wipe out all possibility that our kids would ever meet their birth families. In fact, at moments I would give everything we own to be able to provide Matthew, Kenny and Joshua with some tangible proof of their life before orphanages and America. A photo as a keepsake and touchstone, to know who they look like. A memory, hopefully loving, of a mother's sacrifice and love for her child whom she wished she did not have to relinquish. A family anecdote, so that they might know whose traits they carry. Anything would be precious.

We have nothing. And for those of you adopting infants, it matters.

We are far enough down the road now to have thoughts expressed and questions asked. We have had children look up at us and ask "You told me real mommies never leave their babies, why did she leave me?" or "Do you think I have any brothers or sisters that look like me?" or even "Do you think my first mom and dad have enough food to eat?". We have lived through nights filled with angry rages, with sorrowful cuddles as one analyzed that he was too ugly for his mom to want to keep him. We have had thoughtful comments from the back seat when watching extended families walk into Walmart as one said "Mommy, I have grandmas and grandpas back in Kazakhstan, don't I?" as it finally clicked that there was more lost than just a bio mom.

Whether you want to believe it or not, whether it is politically correct or not, whether it hurts your feelings or not, when you adopt, your children do come with strings attached. And yes, you do gain additional family, even if that is not what you bargained for nor what you want to call them. For regardless of how it might rankle you, for your child, there was another mom and dad...there was and always will be another family out there. You can depersonalize it all you want by insisting haughtily in front of others that they never refer to your child's biological mom as their "real mom", you can regale them with all the facts about how many diapers you changed and how many late night feedings you handled which give you the right to proclaim "real mom" status. And your child will hear this and may not argue in front of you, but you can never deny the difference in genetics, and you can NEVER fill the gaping hole that adoption often leaves in some children's hearts.

Real mom or not, you did not abandon them, and that question will forever remain caught in their throat.

How silly and selfish of us to make this more about us and our feelings than about our children and theirs! If you really ARE the "real mom", then you need to put yourself aside and recognize the yearning in your child's heart to know who they really are and where they came from. Because from the very beginning, it is no,t nor should it ever be, more about us than it is about them. Sometimes, that is easy to forget.

And if you are the "real mom", nothing can ever change that or take that away. Not titles, not others' words, not the lack of genetics. Real moms are there through thick and thin, that doesn't get washed away by reunions. Sure, there might be a fairytale like quality for awhile, but isn't there when any meaningful relationship enters our children's lives? Isn't it our job to help them celebrate and sort it all out...not jealously guard our own place in our children's lives?

So while I may not think this is the best idea for a TV show because I think certain things should be held sacred and not for public consumption, I am not at all disturbed by the premise nor the title of the show. In my mind, that would be dishonoring my family...not the ones you are thinking of, but the ones I too have never met...the mothers and fathers of my children.

Thank God for the sacrifice of those family members.


Christina said...

I am glad that you decided to post this before your world became crazy (or crazier as some would argue). I agree with you... we have relationships with our kids bio extended family, and they are just that, family. Wanted or not, they came with our precious children.... My job is to help our children with whatever they struggle with, no matter how it makes me personally feel.... For us the current struggle is the bio dad. The bio mom has died, and the bio dad is unknown, and that leaves a hole, no matter how wonderful their dad (my hubby) is. Have much fun in this exciting time for your family.... HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

Every situation is different. I make every effort I can to let those loving birthparents know how their children are (the ones I know). The others, well, I will be quite frank, the families are filled with evil. We've promised our children when they're 18, they can either visit their country or in some cases find their birth families. We acknowledge that we ourselves would be curious beyond belief to meet ours if we were them and we will support them every inch of the way. We know they will have to deal with the reality of that evil if and when they're ready to see those birthparents (not all birthparents have given up their children with the intent of "saving" their child from a difficult life) and can only pray that they will see through the facade. Mostly, we know that as they mature, they will recognize who we were in all this, their constant, their stability, the place where they felt love and hopefully learned how to love. When they realize eventually who some of these people are, it will be heartbreaking in the saddest way and they will also have to deal with that and, no doubt, will wonder if they will be like that too, but I pray by then, each will have the Holy Spirit and the best adoptive Father one could ask for, the One who can save them from the "sins of their forefathers". In a big way, I wish those that have that to face, will never want to find their birthparents, but because they are the U.S. children and I now exactly where their birthfamily is, I know they will want to. My only prayer is that through this show (I cried through the clips) they will also show what the adoptive parents meant.