In the sixties, things were simpler. Like adoption?
I was born in the latter part of the sixties. I am pretty sure my parents were upstanding members of the community and didn't smoke pot. I like to think that they secretly did and that they squandered some of their time and energy sat in a green meadow with flowers in their hair listening to Hendrix. I believe they did good works in their spare time ensuring they led a good example for their children. In fact, my uncles and aunt also were good citizens and although enjoyed an alcoholic beverage and a few Player No 7 cigarettes did not touch illicit drugs. None of them are adopted or have adopted children. Yet these days, the extended family is more complicated than when people were adopted more easily.
Yes, the thing that is on my mind today was the ease at which children were adopted in those days. This was brought to my attention by a lady I counselled in my clinic when I was a community psychiatric nurse in the 90's. She suffered from depression, a dark gloomy cloud surrounded her and completely swallowed her during 'that time of the month'. When I asked about her family history she told me that she was adopted, her younger brother was adopted and one of her brothers was now a cousin. We were similar ages, this confounded me. She was Asian, her younger adopted brother was Asian and apparently the parents had been asked by 'the authorities' to adopt him. The parents had given their third born child to their brother and sister who had married and could not have children.
Surely these days, this would not be allowed. Adoptive parents have to go through rigorous screening and training don't they? Although if you are rich and famous you can go and get a baby from a third world country and are seen as heroic. I wonder whether that has worked out as well as people think it has. It has to be better than almost probable to poverty, disease and inevitable early death?
I don't want the reader to have a debate about this in terms of what might be morally right and wrong in terms of adoption practices; more I need some education, some sharing of experiences. What I felt about the lady I was counselling was that she essentially never felt she quite belonged anywhere and did not foresee that she truly would ever feel she belonged. Whether this translated into a self fulfilling prophecy which impacted on her relationship with others throughout her life; I do not know. It certainly impacted on her at that time. She came to our sessions three times and then said she felt better and would be fine. I wasn't convinced, but she was resolute that she was able to see her difference as special and would be kinder to herself.
I remember asking my lovely family if they would consider adopting a baby from another nationality. The consensus, in summary was that it would be too complicated. A charitable wish to help a vulnerable child was outweighed by the tonnage of responsibility of achieving something they didn't feel they could control in terms of the actual outcome. I have spoken to many adopted people in my lifetime and every individual has a different story and every story has a different perspective on how adoption impacts on the adopted. Some quotes for you to see how diverse the views are:
"It feels like you are extra loved because you have been chosen; I owe everything to my adoptive parents. Being adopted feels like you are the moon, surrounded by stars that make you feel special in their glow."
"It stinks, like rancid milk left to grow poisonous spores. I have reached rock bottom, I am homeless, sick, a druggie and don't know where my next meal is coming from. I don't get why they even bothered, I was a trophy, a toy and disposable when I didn't become the so they always wanted. I was an embarrassment."
"I hear in my mind my adoptive mum saying to me, 'know that you are loved' and then a voice on my other shoulder that says, 'yes but your real mother didn't want you.' Such are the conflicts I live with."