Wednesday, December 14, 2005

P.S. Birth Mother Addendum

Many have written me thanking me for my posting on the two birth mothers I interviewed. I wanted to respond to some of the important questions that were asked.

1) "Do you search for birth mothers?" -- I have never systematically searched for birth parents. These two women were the first and only birth mothers that I have located. I have been requested by the CCAA not to engage in this activity, due largely to its potential abuse, and respect that request.

2) "Shouldn't birth parent searching be left to the adoptee to perform?" --
I will answer that with a personal anecdote: My daughter Meikina is 8 years old. A few months ago she asked me why her birth mother had given her up, and I had to admit that I didn't know. Her need to know (now and in the future) is my primary reason for searching. I would love to be able to sit down and talk with the birth mother of my child and find out the reasons she felt compelled to give up a beautiful two-day old baby girl. I want to know so that my daughter can know. Knowledge empowers, and my primary responsibility as a parent is to empower my children.

Would I want to initiate a relationship between Meikina and her birth mother? No, that is Meikina's decision. But China is changing so rapidly -- people move, buildings are rebuilt, orphanage staff changes -- in 10 years when she makes that decision the trail (if any) will be gone. So, the burden is upon me to gain as much information, and put it away until she asks about it one day. To say that we shouldn't search for birth parents because it is the perogative of the adoptee fails to address the rapid changes that are occurring. In 10 years they in all probability WON'T be able to search, and then the burden of that failure will be upon us as parents for failing to act.

3) "Did the two birth mothers I interviewed know their children would be adopted to the U.S.?" - Neither woman had knowledge of the international adoption program, and it did not play any role in their decision.

4) "Did the women wish to have contact with the adoptive families?" -- Yes, both indicated a desire to correspond with the adoptive families, but I firmly believe the decision to communicate rests with the adoptive families.

5) "Why did you publish these two stories anyway?" -- My only desire was to enlighten adoptive parents as to the reasons why some (not all) girls are abandoned in China. I believe that the experiences of these two women are representative of a large segment of birth mothers. I have no desire to encourage or facilitate the location of birth parents.


Anonymous said...

I've personally experienced the rapid changes in China. I agree with Brian that it’s my responsibility to search for clues NOW, before they’re gone. I try to think of how I'd feel as an adult looking back at what might have been if my parents looked. I plan on finding as much as I can, while it's still there to be found. My daughter, like Brian and Lan's, has an emotional need for this information.

Anonymous said...

Brian: How did the birthmothers feel now knowing that their children were adopted internationally? Did they seem happy and view this as a great opportunity for the children? Or were they sad that they were no longer in China and exposed directly to the Chinese culture?

Anonymous said...

Can we conclude that the issue of abandonment of baby girls in China does have a light at the end of the tunnel based on this information (re: the primary reason for girls being abandoned is due to paternal grandparent pressure)? Once the generation that is being forced by the paternal grandparents BECOME the grandparents, it seems that this issue will resolve itself because when THEY are the grandparents, their belief system won't perpetuate the pressure on the generation having the children (they presumably wouldn't think of asking their son/daughter to abandon their baby girl).

I realize we're talking about many years of girls being abandoned in the meantime, which is awful. We certainly would all like to see it stop immediately. But I have to wonder if China will even be open to international adoption in 20 years if the younger generation clearly doesn't believe the way the older generation does and that results in significantly fewer abandoned girls, such that any that are abandoned are adopted domestically and there is no need for international adoption for them. I hope for the beautiful, wonderful baby girls of China that this is the case.

Anonymous said...

I am an american birthmother and was struck by your words " what they had been forced to do – perhaps not forced in any literal sense, but in a cultural one". This exactly describes my feelings at the loss of my daughter in the '60s. I had no choice; I had Sophie's choice. I am so glad to see someone addressing the pain of the birthmothers. Every adopted child had a mother and there is great human pain with every adoption. I think american's tend to forget this part.