Guest post by my friend Flora
There is a common saying running through Adoptive Parent circles that I often hear. “Adoption was our plan A.” or more specifically, “adoption was our first choice”. Intentional adopters as I know them to be. The ones who have not suffered from infertility, deciding to adopt, not because they know they couldn’t have biological children, but because they have made a choice not too, either at all, or again. Let me clarify, that my hubby and I did not face the painful journey of infertility. We had 3 (relatively) healthy children, when we decided to act on our life long dream to adopt from Ethiopia. In that regard, we too are one of those “Plan A” people. I have no issue with those who decide to adopt out of a deep desire to do so. I AM that person. I can also relate on some itsy bitsy level, with the struggle of infertility. I had extreme complications with my last 2 pregnancies…we almost lost them both, and then I had a miscarriage after my youngest son was born. I was told that it would be “very unwise” to try and have another baby, that my health would only get worse, and the likelihood of carrying to term was slight. Part of our desire to adopt, was born out of wanting to have more kids, and not being able to do it the old-fashioned way. Not that I am in any way saying that what we experienced mirrors that of infertility, just that for us, adoption ended up being both “Plan A “ and “Plan B”. We wanted to adopt, and I couldn’t be pregnant anymore.
I am the MOST selfish.
Part of what I LOVE, when I talk to AP’s about their adoption journey, is discovering why they chose this road in the first place. Every story is different and unique. There are a variety of reasons why people decide to take on the emotional journey of adopting, whether it be through the ministry, private domestic, or international, every story is different. And special. This is exactly why I dislike so much when I read on blogs, or talk to AP’s, and they say something along the lines of, “Adoption was our plan A.” To say that, infers that there are also plans B, C or D. And clearly Plan A is better, or the higher priority. Where does that leave those for whom adoption was Plan B? Or C? I don’t mind when someone says that they chose to adopt because they thought it would be a great way to add to their family, and they didn’t feel a need to have a biological child. What I can’t stand is when that choice gets held up like it is the superior one. I know that most intentional adopters would argue with me and say, “that’s not what I meant.” What does that sound like? As AP’s we are all too aware of the sensitivity of language and words used in and around adoption.
When I hear something along the lines of, “adoption was my first choice,” what I really hear is, “we don’t have any problems ‘down there,’ but we are just such fabulous people that we decided to be super unselfish and not want what almost every other woman on the planet yearns for.” (I said almost every woman, I realize not all).
Let’s be real here, the majority of people who end up adopting are those for whom adoption WAS plan B. Because having a biological child was plan A. And Plan A didn’t work out. So they took Plan B, which was to adopt, and then fell in love with plan B. Plan B, as far as I am concerned, is just as valid as Plan A. Which makes me wonder, why the hell do we use terms like, “plan A,” or “first choice,” at all? Why do we feel a need to create more of an “us vs them,” mentality? By putting people into groups such as, “Plan A and Plan B”, or “first and second,” we create a divide. We start to create feelings of lesser, or more than. I can only imagine how it sounds to an Adoptive Parent who hears someone say, “adoption was our first choice,” when for them, it wasn’t. For goodness sake, what the heck does it matter if someone chose to adopt because their plan to have a biological child didn’t happen? Does it make them a lesser parent? Do they love their child less? Of course not. So then why use phrases that would create that feeling in other AP’s?
I understand where this line of thought comes. I have read enough Adult Adoptee blogs to know that a common grief many AA’s share is one that they were, “second best.” Their parents could not have a biological child (which was first choice), so then adopted (which was second choice), leading to feelings of not being good enough for the child, as they aged. What then happens, us AP’S chime in and say, “oh no! Not for us! Our daughter/son was our first choice, they were our Plan A!!” Again, where does this leave the AP’s for whom it was their plan B? And more importantly, where does it leave their CHILDREN? Just because it was our “first choice,” does not mean we are going to be any better at it, or that our kids are going to be any better adjusted. So what if I can tell my daughter that we intentionally chose to adopt? Because I have certainly seen with our situation, (and I don’t think we are so far from common), that we have had a rough road in terms of bonding to one another. Whereas some of my friends, for whom it was their “Plan B,” bonded with their child almost immediately. In terms of the big picture, what child is going to benefit more? The one who’s parents have formed a secure bond to him or her, or the one who knew they were their parents, “Plan A?”
I say, let’s ditch the whole, “Plan A, Plan B,” thing, and just start saying that for all of us, adoption was our choice.
Our kids were our choice.