Friday, December 11, 2009

The Kid

I just finished reading "The Kid" by Dan Savage, and I loved it.  It's an adoption memoir--one of my favorite genres.  Or would that be a sub-genre?  Anyway, this one has a bit of a twist, as the adoptive parents are a gay couple and the birthmom is a "gutter punk."

I learned a lot from "The Kid".  For example, I've always wondered why it's politically incorrect to say that someone "put up" a child for adoption.  That's the term I had heard my whole life, and it never occured to me that it was hurtful or to wonder where it came from in the first place.  Well, according to Dan Savage, it has its origins in the orphan trains, when city folk would place adoptable children on trains headed out west.  At each stop, the children would be "put up" on platforms and the rural folk would come look them over to see which ones looked like they'd be good farm hands, and those were the children who were adopted.  It's no wonder that term is seen as offensive.

In "The Kid," I thought Dan Savage did a wonderful job in being frank and funny and brutally honest.  Read what he has to say about why open adoption is important:

"But to see Melissa's pain at the moment she gave up that baby, and to feel pain ourselves at that same moment, drove home the logic of open adoption, its absolute necessity. 

"In a closed adoption, we wouldn't have witnessed the moment our son's mother gave him up.  That we saw what we did, however painful, is to the ultimate benefit of the kid in the car seat.  The idea of starting off as his parents without experiencing what we did was suddenly unimaginable.  One day, D.J. may worry that his mother didn't love him.  Because of open adoption, we'll be able to sit him down and tell him about this day; we'll be able to describe the moment Melissa gave him to us, and how hard it was for her.  We won't have to guess at what it was like, or tell him that we're sure his mother loved him.  We know she loved him; we saw it.

"And seeing how hard it was for Melissa to hand us her baby, and knowing that we would never have been a family if she didn't trust us with him, how could we even think of denying her the right to see her baby as he grows?  Having seen what we did, how could we begrudge her visits, pictures, or phone calls?  After what she had given us, how could we deny her anything?"

Adoption is ultimately based on loss, and as adoptive parents, we often forget that.  Someone else's loss is our gain.  And it's not just the birth families that feel loss; our children feel loss too.  That's not to say I don't think adoption is a good thing--I think it's one of God's perfect miracles, like taking two wrongs (infertile couple and unwanted pregnancy) and making a right.  But at the same time, I believe that it's good for us as adoptive parents to be a witness to the loss and the pain underlying our miracle, to recognize and honor it, to never forget it, to not pretend it isn't there.


A Nest With A View said...

I just love you, you know that?

rlvd said...

great post; so true to remember...and for some, to know.

Heather said...

Hi Kimberlee! You don't know me yet, but you will soon! (You're taking my soldering class) but I wanted to share that as an adopted child and birthparent, I LOVE this post! I'm ordering the book right now.

can't wait to meet you!


Sweetie Pie said...

Heather, thanks so much for your comment! It means so much coming from someone who has experienced adoption from different perspectives than mine. I look forward to meeting you at the soldering workshop!

Cheryl Carey Bass said...

Wow! So much to take in here. My husband and I are looking into foster care/adoption. Although it won't be the same as open adoption, there's still so much to consider. Thanks for this enlightening post. And, for the record, I never knew either that it was offensive to say "put up" for adoption. Good to know. I'll be much more careful. Thank you for the research!