If someone says they know a "happy adoptee", it's likely because they do

This morning I'm thinking about adoption. I'm adopted and am free of serious adoption related issues. So, the question's been asked, why on earth would I write about adoption? My answer, after wrinkling my forehead in puzzlement and thinking "huh???", is because I care about kids and I think my perspective is relevant and I want to know why it, adoption, works out ok for some and not for others. I would like to see adoption reformed and focus concentrated on children and what they need, not what all the adults and parents involved want.

I read adoption blogs and have reactions to what's said. Why wouldn't I? Why shouldn't I? In a way I feel like an objective observer, even though I'm adopted, because although I'm at peace with that fact I also believe that there needs to be a better way because not everyone is at peace with adoption. I grant everyone their feelings of anger and loss. I'm a firm believer that denying a person's feelings and reactions is never helpful but I also abhor it when those same people are unwilling to reciprocate, to try to also examine what works and why.

Here's a few of my thoughts this morning.

Research and proven theories. I am in the research business, scientific research. I am not a scientist but I do their work for them. I know what goes into creating valid and concrete evidence. It takes checks, repeatability, and reproducibility in controlled environments with experimental methods that have been proven reliable. Solid research takes years and has to be conducted with integrity and without bias.

Bias is rampant in adoption blog land. I think I understand why it exists but that doesn't mean I have to accept it. People maintain they are dismissed, that they are without rights, they're invalidated, and then turn around and do it to others. They go so far as to say if someone doesn't think like them that they're delusional. It's seems like if anything is said that goes against the person's personal agenda or cause the reaction is to avoid appearing to concede anything in anyway at all costs, even if it means twisting words and taking them out of context, referencing things like popular opinion as research. Maybe it's not always intentional or conscious but it happens and will always happen when someone is too stringent in their views.

The way it's rationalized as far as some adoptees goes is to say the good in adoption is heard enough. While that may be true (perhaps especially because it's true), how do they think they can be perceived as credible if they deny it in just the same way they feel denied? It's not just about validating feelings, it's also about acknowledging reality.

With some biological parents it's the same thing. No woman willingly gives up her baby and every single one of them will eventually regret it. Anything less is deemed unnatural.

And don't you dare say it can be a selfless, loving act. How can placing their child with total strangers be loving?! How could a child feel loved if it was abandoned?! Well, I for one think trying to give a human being that you created the best life you can can be a selfless act of love and I for one do not feel abandoned, because I wasn't. I was adopted. I realize though, sadly, that's not the case for everyone.

Abandonment to me means deserted with no regard. How can anyone claim that biological parents relinquish with no regard for their child's welfare? Aside from religious views, which is an entirely different can of worms, why on earth would anyone bother to carry a baby to term and place it with other people if they didn't care about the baby? Even if a person's decision to not abort a pregnancy is because they think of abortion as murder it still indicates regard for the life they're creating, does it not?

People say "put on your big girl panties" and take responsibility for your actions and raise that baby! All a baby needs is love, not material things, and age is of no consequence. Unless of course it's in reference to adoptive families. Then, conveniently, love is no longer enough.

Now, if the parents of the baby are incapable of raising it, which I'll admit I've have seen conceded (albeit in too few and far between moments), the grandparents are expected to step up to the plate, raise their children's children. Again, a double standard in adoption land. If people in their 40's or 50's plans to adopt it's child abuse. How unfair for a child to be raised by "old people"! Unless of course, they're genetically related because biology concurs all. As long as we're "really" related everything will be rainbows and unicorns. Sound familiar?

I worry that if adopted people who have struggled with feeling they belong somewhere find a place in the anti adoption community among like minded adopted people they can become stuck, not unlike being stuck in other kinds of gang mindsets. That even if their outlook becomes less stringent they can't explore that for fear that they will lose their place in their once welcoming community. That straying from the party line or speaking out in defense of "one of the enemy" could result in being cast out or mistrusted by the very people who helped them reach a more peaceful place regarding being adopted. They run the risk of going from "hey, I'm not alone" to "shit, here I am alone again".

I worry that adoptive parents will alter their perfectly acceptable approach to parenting out of fear they will do the wrong with an adopted child. I realize I've talked about it before but I think it's important, and damaging. I think it's fantastic there are real live adult adoptees relaying their stories, sharing the struggles they've experienced because of being adopted. It's an amazing resource but how many times will an adoptive parent come back when they're constantly shot down for using the wrong term or accused of despicable crimes against the children they love and want the best for. I'm fully aware there's the odd adoptive parent who "gets it" enough to meet the approval of the anti adoption crowd but they are the rare bird. Interestingly, to me anyway, it sometimes looks like some adoptive parents almost appear to be kissing ass in an attempt to be accepted into the gang. It's like maybe if they happen to be able to please a particularly hard to please adult adoptee blogger or maybe even better, a first/birth/natural mother (I say mother because the first/birth/natural father is also a rare bird when it comes to blogs) they can somehow feel a little less guilty about being an adoptive parent that day. My advice, if you're already in it, don't parent driven by guilt or fear. Use this valuable resource to educate yourself and others, just the same way you'd use all the other parenting resources that exist. Seek out the adoptive parents who "get it" and learn from them too, even the ones who've made a slip and fallen from grace. Actually, make that especially those ones.

Something else that troubles me is the power of suggestion. Anyone who cites research has to concede that it exists. The following paragraph is an excerpt from a guest post contributed by a wise woman I know quite well, my sister.

"After meeting my birth mother, I learned that the reality of my first few days contradicted any trauma-inducing circumstances. I had been born with a name; it was on my certification of adoption. My birth mother had me named for her sister, and her one close friend at school. I was born with connections and history. And contrary to usual practises of the time, my birth mother was allowed to hold me, and cuddle me, and no doubt whisper things into my baby ears. I was wanted (I had two mothers), I was loved, and had been since before I was born. So much for my “abandonment” being the source of my insecurities growing up, as I tried to do no less than understand the world."

I don't think acknowledging the possibility of suggestion diminishes statement. I think the ability to do so can even make statement more plausible. I am far more inclined to accept the opinion of a person who's able to see both sides of a coin. Telling someone something is so, can and does sometimes make it so. Hmm, maybe that's the goal for some. It's one of the major complaints in adoption, isn't it? How agencies and evil baby stealing adopters drill things into our brains, pour kool aid down our throats, paint happy pictures of forever families all the while insisting we be loyal and grateful. How is it different to be completely rigid in saying you're obviously still drinking the kool aid if you don't think like me, paint pictures of families who unequivocally cannot be as good as what should have been, all the while screaming if you're adopted you're damaged, whether you think so or not. And again, how is it all messing with younger people? It's kind of what I was trying to get at here.

Nothing about adoption is cut and dried, the same story for everybody. There's no one size fits all. There should be no clubs or sides. There needs to be growth, understanding, acceptance, education, and respect. We need to question ourselves as well as each other.

Don't be afraid to speak up and out about your adoption experience, there's nothing to be ashamed of, but make it about your own. If someone says they "know someone who's adopted and they're fine", so what? They likely do. Just like you know adoptees who aren't fine with it.

Don't diminish others because when you do, you diminish yourself.

A short trip on the bandwagon

It's been difficult to avoid hearing the daily release of taped "conversations" between two people, one of whom is supposed to be Mel Gibson. My guess is that it likely is him, you'd have to be nuts to try and get away with making all this up, plus I've done this myself. Recorded someone without them knowing. It's a handy way to capture the bad behavior of people who have a tendency to act in unbelievable ways when you're alone with them, a way to share their words with others who may or may not be skeptical.

When listening to the aforementioned recordings that are all over the "news" I can't help but be taken back to a time in my life when I was stalked by a guy I'd been dating but broken up with, twice. There's been one other thing that really made that time in my life hit home and that was a movie called The Burning Bed, which starred Farrah Fawcett. Everything that had happened was fairly fresh when that movie was released so the impact was much different than the feelings and thoughts I have now about all that I hear and read regarding Mel Gibson and his, I presume, ex girlfriend and mother to his newest child.

It was the most recent recording I heard yesterday that struck me. It was the way the male in the recording spoke, the wildness in his voice, the threats of harm to himself or someone else that made me shudder, and remember. I remember to this day the sound of a shotgun being reloaded over the telephone and the voice saying he was going to kill himself. I remember the pure fear of it happening, the reluctance to hang up in case he really did it, being held hostage by his power.

It was a very difficult time for me. Back then there was no recognition of stalking by the police. I was dismissed when I talked to them, told to change my phone number, move, not go out, get a different job. help there, at all. I remember the cops I spoke to, and when it was that I did. I'd just been receiving repeated calls from this guy at the store I managed. The calls were manic, full of threats and name calling, screaming and yelling. They were non stop with the only solution being to take the phone off the hook of a business line that had no call waiting or answering service that cut in to replace a busy signal. It was one male and one female police officer that were walking through the mall that I flagged down and asked for help. They both listened but it was only the male who spoke to me, with the female endorsing his solution by her silence. I remember feeling incredulous. Over the years I've cheered new laws and recognition of stalking and it's existence. It still may not be enough, but it's more than what existed when I experienced the horror of stalking.

It made me sick. I lost weight, sleep, friends, and existed in a state of fear. The security door of my apartment building was regularly opened to my stalker, something to this day I think about when going in and out of apartment buildings. You know, those awkward moments when there's a person who is at the entrance at the same time as you. It's uncomfortable to say, "sorry, I can't just let you in", but it's what we all should be doing. That's what security doors are for, to keep unwanted people out.

Since my stalker was in the bouncer business he had contacts at the clubs in town. If I was out he'd appear or call me later to tell me what I'd been wearing that night or grill me about who I'd been there with or had talked to over the course of the evening. It got to the point where I had only one male friend left who refused to be intimidated into not being seen in public with me. I remember, years later, meeting up with one of my stalker's informants and asking him if he realized what he'd done to me, how he'd contributed to the problem.

There were 3 things that happened to put a stop to the madness. The first was the realization that this man was manipulating me with threats of suicide. It was a friend who was somehow able to convince me the threats were idle, that I needed to stop being controlled by them. I clearly remember saying "go ahead". It was terrifying to do but essential in this case because it not only set him off balance but summoned up a rage in me at what he was doing that allowed me to be more angry than scared, to start doing some proactive things that ultimately put an end to the abuse, the anger being the second thing that helped me get control of the situation. I remember one particular night being at my apartment with a girlfriend and my ex once again calling repeatedly only to show up, stand in the parking lot below my balcony screaming up at us, only to be let in by yet another intimidated tenant. I became so furious I grabbed a large knife from the drawer and was ready for him when he came to my door. My friend was terrified of what might happen and begged me to put it away but I was finished, fed up with the situation and was determined to protect myself and her as his rage this particular evening was directed toward her as well as me. See he'd decided to accuse us of being lovers, "that black bitch" and myself. His madness knew no boundaries, had no logic.

When I let him in he was surprised by my anger, by the knife in my hand, by my ability to look him in the eye and mean it when I said get out of here or I'll kill you. My friend was silent behind me, knowing full well my 5'3" 108lb body, even with a knife, was no match physically for this 6'6" monster who used to be my boyfriend. But, it was mentally. He left, of course mocking me as he did, trying to make me feel ridiculous for my reaction and make himself feel like a man by "letting" me win. I remember being violently ill as soon as he was gone and the door was shut and locked. I remember meeting secretly with his mom and sister to tell them what was going on and that they needed to do something, which they did. This was the 3rd thing that happened to put an end to it all. These women loved their son and brother and worked together to get him into therapy which worked for him. It all stopped and I've only run into him once since that I recall. I rarely think about him or that time and for the most part only at times like these when I hear about similar situations.

I have thoughts about people condemning Whoopie Goldberg's assessment of this Mel Gibson drama. I feel it's unfair and agree that people who call up her receptionist and rant on her or him about Whoopie are no better than the man on the recording or my old boyfriend who stalked me. I call Mel Gibson's girlfriend on her decision to have a baby with a man like him and then think about how his ex wife had multiple children with him. I think about the circumstances when I met the boyfriend who stalked and abused me. How it was in a violent situation where I defended an acquaintance from him that he was throwing out of a bar and yet I still went out with him. How the first time he grabbed me by the back of the neck and accused me of cheating I'd broken up with him only to get back together when he told me he couldn't see me anymore because of how he'd treated me and how he'd vowed to himself if he ever treated a woman like he'd treated me he'd never see her again. How although he'd sounded racist when accusing me of sleeping with my friend, he wasn't. How it would be easy to have called him a misogynist, he wasn't. He loved and respected the women in his family and other women in his life. I think about how his mom told me how when he was a boy his dad would pour lemon juice on his knuckles that were raw from being chewed on in anticipation of his father's return from "the road" and the inevitable abuse that would ensue. How he'd bravely protect his mom and siblings fully knowing how his dad's anger and demons would become his problem.

There's not much in life that's black and white, cut and dried, without gray. It's more common than not that both people in stormy relationships have a certain amount of responsibility, although I believe it's usually not an equal responsibility. I think often one of the two is damaged in some way, and the other enables by ignoring or trying to save, fix, change, or just be the one it will be different with. I bet right now there are women thinking well, Mel wouldn't have treated me like that because I'd know how to make him "happy".

I knew what my abusive boyfriend was like before I ever went out with him, I'd seen it. I knew what he was like when I got back together with him against my own better judgment. But, if he was THAT sorry that I had to beg him to see me again, he wouldn't hurt me again, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong, and if anyone reading this happens to find themselves in the same situation that I did, do yourself (and your possible future children) a favor and get out while you can or at the very least insist your damaged fixer upper get legitimate therapy BEFORE becoming involved romantically with him or her.

If you can't do it for yourself, if you're not worth it, do it for them, your work in progress, or your existing family and your future children, or for my kids and my kids' future kids. We're all in this world together and we owe it to each other to try harder to fix what we've done and are doing and put an end to, instead of perpetuating, cycles of abuse.

Can't someone get that man some help?!


Follow up

After a few exchanges of emails regarding this letter I sent a while back the following is what I ultimately ended up receiving. I appreciate the time taken to address my concerns.

Thank you for your email of June 1, 2010, to the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). As Intercountry Adoption Services (IAS) comes under my Directorate, I have been asked to respond on the Minister's behalf to your concerns pertaining to international adoption.

The Government of Canada shares your concerns for the children abroad. Canada is party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which sets out specific rights for children with regard to intercountry adoption: in Article 21 (c) it states that States Parties shall "Ensure that the child concerned by inter-country adoption enjoys safeguards and standards equivalent to those existing in the case of national adoption."

Canada is also party to the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption, which entered into force in Canada in 1996. This Convention sets out safeguards aimed at ensuring that the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration in intercountry adoption. Written to help countries regulate intercountry adoptions, the Convention's main goals are to protect the best interests of adopted children, standardize processes between countries, and prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children. The Convention establishes a system of co-operation between authorities in States, designed to ensure that intercountry adoption takes place under conditions which help to guarantee good practices and eliminate abuses. Under the Convention, a number of obligations are placed on States of origin as well as on receiving States to ensure the protection and safe adoption of children.

States party to the Convention have also, as far as practicable, undertaken to apply the standards and safeguards of the Hague Convention to intercountry adoption with States that are not yet party to the Convention. The Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference manages the Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Programme (ICATAP), which provides assistance to States prior to, or on joining, the Hague Convention. ICATAP aims to empower and build capacity in these States, mostly developing countries, to implement domestic and international policies and frameworks which meet these obligations for protection. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child regularly recommends to States party to the UNCRC that they join the Hague Convention and seek technical assistance from the Hague Conference.

Canada played a leadership role in the development of the UNCRC and the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption. Canada (at the federal, provincial and territorial levels) is committed to the internationally recognized principles that intercountry adoption must take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights. As such, Canada has taken a firm position in situations where there is evidence that intercountry adoptions from a specific country present high risks of irregularities. For example, Canada has recently imposed a moratorium on adoptions from Nepal due to irregular adoption practices (inducement of consents, evidence of undue gain and child trafficking). Moreover, moratoria are also in place in Cambodia, Guatemala and Liberia until such time as these countries strengthen their child protection systems, including family preservation and alternative care arrangements; implement strict controls on the financial aspects of intercountry adoption; and ensure that the adoption Central Authority is committed to the best interest of the child.

In Canada, adoption comes under the jurisdiction of provincial and territorial governments. Measures taken with regard to intercountry adoption require that pan-Canadian approaches be developed at all levels of government. Your email does not indicate your home province, for more information on intercountry adoption you may wish to contact your provincial authority at the following link:

At the federal level, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) administer the Citizenship and Immigration Acts which contain specific requirements that must be met before permission to enter Canada or Canadian citizenship is granted. Canadian immigration law requires that an adoption can only be considered in the best interests of the child if, in the case of a country that is not a member of the Hague Convention, "there is no evidence that the adoption is for the purpose of child trafficking or undue gain."

For more information on intercountry adoption please refer to the following site:

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect to Intercountry Adoption:

We hope you find this information useful and we thank you for your interest in the intercountry adoption process.


Ellen Healey
Acting Director General
Community Development and Partnerships Directorate


It's a little more than just luck

I spent last weekend out of town attending my cousin's wedding. Now this particular cousin is my "best" guy cousin. We were very close growing up spending tons of time together as our moms are sisters and also close.

Everything that went on is still running through my thoughts. There was a bit of everything as far as emotions go.

Pride. There are two main things I was proud of, one being my son and the other being the closeness of the family that were in attendance.

I was proud of my son for just being with me. He's twenty and much of the time twenty year olds have better things than family functions to do. Initially he'd said he'd not attend but then changed his mind because he felt he'd not been doing many family things lately and although I told him it wasn't necessary, I know he partially came to be with me. After much consideration I'd decided I'd drive my mom the fourteen hours to attend the wedding, something which my husband was not keen on in the slightest so had decided to pass on the trip (I promised my husband years ago that I'd never be the type to insist he do anything he didn't want and have stuck by my words. I'm a firm believer that it's better to be without someone who doesn't want to be somewhere, and when it's something that's important to me for him to be at, he just is, without me having to ask).

I've been traveling with my son by car, train, plane since he was two so we travel very well together, both of us being laid back and able to easily adapt to most situations. My mom, on the other hand, doesn't travel or live this way so it was very nice to have my ally with me, my breath of fresh air, my eye rolling partner, my now grown son and friend. To see him connecting with cousins, chatting with other people he'd just met, helping me gps around town, and just generally be my partner in crime was awesome and made me very proud to be his mom.

The other thing I was proud of was something observed and pointed out to me by a lovely woman I sat beside at the wedding reception. This new acquaintance has no family to speak of and was marveling at how we cousins knew each other and how important we all appeared to be to each other. How the aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, and cousins who are no longer with us were honoured and toasted in speeches. You could see in her face that she hadn't even thought this type of closeness really existed in families. We talked a bit about it, the reasons for it, with both of us deciding that although there is some luck in having closeness in family, it has to be important to the people involved or luck just wouldn't be enough.

It takes care and patience. A willingness to want it and the ability to accept differences. Many times it's necessary to forgive, even if forgetting is impossible. It can mean letting go of our visions of what we think our family should be like and accepting what is. Sometimes it means apologizing or just letting go of old baggage, agreeing to disagree with a hug and a smile. Families are never without their issues, sometimes serious issues. If they're solvable though, they won't get solved on their own.

It's an amazing feeling to be with and enjoy family. I am so fortunate.