To say that people in Australia have very little understanding about the process of local adoption, is indeed a huge understatement.
People never cease to amaze me. The strange, interesting and sometimes just downright rude questions that come out of their mouths still manage to catch me off guard.
There have been times when it has taken every ounce of my being to not slap some people, in the face for the things they have dared to ask us – but I am pleased to say that up until the point of writing this, I have been able to hold it together, and my record remains clean!
Like the time a woman at my playgroup said to me “So what are you going to do when she wants to go and live with her real mother?” or the time my next door neighbour asked me “Is there something wrong with our daughter as her mum didn’t want to keep her?’ or the time that my husband’s aunty told me that “She didn’t think it was right that our daughter’s birth mother should be allowed to see her after she gave her away”.
There are days when we are happy to share our knowledge with the whole world, but then there are others when we just don’t want to talk about it anymore.
As an educator myself, I have really struggled with this at times, as I know that it is partly my responsibility to create awareness about adoption. However, there are also days when I don’t even think about it and just get on with life enjoying my child and our beautiful family. For us the process of adoption has been a learning journey ourselves.
We had to undertake training days and personal interviews with our adoption agency, who made it very clear to us from the start that being open was of the utmost importance. I try to take this into consideration when people ask me questions, as I suppose in the beginning we had little understanding of it all ourselves.
We want our daughter to always know about her adoption, and that it is never something we are too afraid to speak about with others. I also know that this will become more difficult over time, as she gets older and the questions are asked in front of her and she understand more of the conversations.
I would like to share with you the most common questions I am asked about local adoption, and to share with you the best of my knowledge, the most appropriate way to respond when you are told that someone’s child is adopted.
1. Why didn’t her birth mother want her? Was her birth mother a drug addict? How old was she? Is there something wrong with her?
Quite frankly – our daughter’s birth mothers age, name, ethical background or socio economic status is really NONE of your business. She is a human being – yes that’s right – a human being who has thoughts, feelings and fears all of her own.
I get very defensive of our birth mother, because I know her. I have a relationship with her. I know how much she loves our daughter, and I know how difficult it was for her to make the decisions that she did. I was there on the day we bought our daughter home and held her birth mother whilst we both sobbed, and I promised her that I would love and take care of her beautiful child forever and ever.
Please don’t judge her. Please don’t feel sorry for her. Just understand that sometimes in life we have to make very difficult decisions, which are not always about putting ourselves first. Never begin to assume that you can understand what it must have been like for her to have to make the decision that she did to relinquish her right to parent her newborn baby.
2. You adopted her in Australia? I didn’t know that was even legal anymore.
Yes, you can still adopt a child in Australia. The process is long and takes time, but they aren’t going to just give you someone else’s baby to take care of for the rest of their life without doing the proper background checks and making sure you are both technically ‘sane’ and capable of caring for a child. These things take time. The adoption agency has to get to know you on a deeply personal level, and of course then match you with the right child.
Agencies work closely with birth mothers to find the people who they consider to be the best parents for their baby. I love the fact that we know our birth mother chose us. It means more to me than I ever can describe in words. I think the fact that our birth mother couldn’t do it herself, knowing that she made the final choice of family for her child, must certainly be of some reassurance to her.
All adoptions in Australia are considered open – which means that the birth family have a right by law to see their biological child four times a year. Four times a year is actually such a very small amount of contact, and you have to wonder really how families can form any kind of real relationship with that small amount of contact. We share photos, phone calls and text messages more than face to face visits, at this point in time. I send them at the most random of times. Like the times when my daughter has tipped a bowl of spaghetti on her head – these are the moments that our birth mother is missing out on, and I am more than happy to share them with her. It is the least I can do.
I am not threatened by my relationship with her. In fact I know in my heart that my daughter will be more emotionally secure in life, if she can see that we have a healthy and functioning relationship with her birth mother.
3. How much did she cost?
The actual process of adopting a child in Australia, cost you nothing. Other than other fact that you will be raising a child for the rest of its life! The only time we have had to pay anything was our lawyer fees after he drew up the legal documents for our daughter’s legalisation day.
4. What are you going to do when she wants to live with her real mother?
This one hurts me the most, although I must say it has been said a few times now. I can sometimes laugh it off, but other days it still rocks me to the core. I am her real mother – I am NOT her birth mother. She didn’t grow inside me and I didn’t give birth to her, but I am her mother every single day of the week. I am the one who reads to her every night, the one who has just recently toilet trained her and the one who she calls out ‘Mummy’ to when she needs comfort.
Her birth mother will always be such a special person in our lives, as without her we would never have even met this beautiful little human being we call our daughter.
In all of the times I have met people and told them our daughter was adopted, only one person has ever said to me simply “How wonderful”. I could have just hugged that woman so tight.
I understand that adoption is such a beautiful thing to so many people.
They are intrigued and touched deeply by our story.
But- we are a family – just like yours, that are doing our best to raise a confident, self-assured and happy little girl. Her life is already been made so complicated by the journey she has been on so far.
All I ask is that when you enquire, do it with genuine happiness for us.
Love Chrissie xx
This article was originally publish by Chaos To Calm Consultancy and has been republished here with permission.
Chrissie Davies is an educator, consultant, loving mama via open adoption, and is a passionate supporter of children with social and emotional behavioural issues. She is committed to using her vast experience to support families to create their own emotionally healthy, and happy homes.
“Our family – just the right mix of chaos & love”
Mobile: 0432 382 240
Website: www.chaostocalmconsultancy.com “