"Isn't it hard for you to work in adoption?"
Well, yeah. It's hard to work in a field that turned my life inside out and caused me immeasurable grief and pain. It's hard to watch other women follow in my footsteps to make the same decision, especially when we have similar stories. It's hard to watch some adoptive parents walk into this journey with an ego and sense of entitlement and superiority. It's hard to watch some other professionals make light of the hardest decision I ever had to make. It's hard to see others embellish our stories so that they are 'Instagrammable.' It's hard to watch other women's adopted children come in 20 years later and describe their brokenness to me. It's hard to imagine what it could be like if my son ever feels the same, and how I would want to help him through that.
That all seems very heavy, and sometimes, it really can be. However, most days aren't that hard to get through - but that doesn't mean I'm not conscious of the needs of these women and children. No matter how my day looks, I'm always on a mission to provide support and education, and to encourage ethical practices in adoption. There will always be women who choose adoption, and we have to make sure that they have a light at the end of the tunnel. I see so many agencies and law firms ditch the scene once mothers put pen to paper, and she's left in the dark.
This job affects me in nearly every aspect of my life, because I cannot exit from adoption by simply quitting my job. This job bleeds into my personal life and doesn't just stop when it's closing time. I don't truly have the option of organizing my life into neat little compartments. I live and breathe this every single day, and I know I am not the only one. I can confidently say the same for my colleagues that are also birth moms, as well as adoptees: we are always brainstorming and thinking of how we can make adoption healthier for all parties involved. And isn't that what is so critically needed in this field?
The adoption field needs more birth mom and adoptee voices.
No, not to validate what is already going on. Not to spread propaganda and blindly regurgitate the typical "adoption rocks" tagline. These voices are vital to the transformation of adoption. Birth moms and adoptees are the only ones that know exactly what it's like to be them. They are the ones who can truly make productive changes. Last week, I listened to several speakers at the National Adoption Conference in Washington, DC and to be honest, I cringed more than I clapped. I heard one particular agency speak about birth mother aftercare with a 'used-car salesman' presence. They showcased seemingly manufactured, robotic videos of birth moms saying 'thank you' to their agency for helping them, as if they were all unfit parents and this agency saved their babies from them. I got an impression that their entire presentation was just a giant ego trip. It became evident to me that the missing piece, was the real voice of a birth mom.
Do you want to get into the adoption field? Have an honest conversation with yourself about it. Not everyone is meant to do this work, but if you feel that you are, allow yourself to consider it. Make a list of the things you want to see changed. Look at how you want to play a part in that. Talk to others in this field that you trust. Think about what role you would like to play in all of this. Do not always take the job with the first agency that approaches you. Do your homework and be aware that many agencies and law firms simply do not want change. That would be too hard, and we could never mess up the simplicity of their business transactions. Wrong. Stand tall and find your way. Adoption needs more of you and less of them.