elle cuardaigh

Adoption: A Permanent Solution To A Temporary Problem


This thought came to me last night.

I guess I had read one-too-many posts on adoption as a victory, while suicide is a tragedy. It all came together like a head-on collision: When we ask women to “make an adoption plan,” what we are really saying is, “Die, and let me have your child.”

How often have you heard people chastise those who decided to end their lives as playing God? It is called a sin. The dead or would-be dead are weak, disturbed, selfish, short-sighted, and angry. Much discussion ensues on how suicide must be prevented. It doesn’t matter why the individual wanted to die, the act of suicide must be stopped.

But when a woman thinks about relinquishing her child, there is no outcry. Instead, she is encouraged to go through with it, not unlike spectators on a sidewalk, mocking the desperate individual on the ledge with, “Jump, jump!”

To even consider adoption makes her a “birthmother”, a lesser person. She’s all at once a whore and a saint, no matter her final decision, if it even is her decision. To relinquish is selfless and selfish, loving and hateful, a promise of a better life and abandonment.

But let’s not forget, she didn’t abort. So the adoptee needs to be grateful for that as well. Even though adoptees have said they feel like “nine-month abortions” by being severed from their mother at birth.

If you argue there is no comparison, I counter that to the baby, there is no difference. Either way, their life-source is gone. “As if born to,” for the adopted family also means, “As if dead,” for the birth family. And we are expected to be happy about it. As writer Julie A. Rist famously quoted, “The adoptee is expected to dance along with everyone else on his or her own mother’s virtual grave.”

When babies are removed from their mother at birth for any reason, they shut down, go silent. This is a known phenomenon in the medical world. I did this myself, only waking when my mother held me and spoke to me two days later, then fell silent once again when she was “gone.” My adoptive mother noted in my baby book that I was “quiet and good, slept all the way home,” the following day, not realizing the sorrowful reason behind it.

“It’s not like adoption is a tragedy,” someone recently threw at me.

Really, is it any wonder why adoptees are four times more likely to attempt suicide? The “chosen” sometimes just can’t take it any more. The endless feeling of disconnect combined with society’s constant demand for our gratitude becomes overwhelming.

The photo symbolizes present-day adoption: A locked gate. The original mother is on one side, the adoptee and adoptive parents on the other. The gate may be beautiful – perhaps they can even see each other through the bars – but it keeps them apart. Like a prison cell or a gated community, depending on which side one is on at the moment.

The subjects of abortion and suicide make people very uncomfortable. To distance themselves, they repeat platitudes like, “It’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” But adoption is sacred. They claim adoption is not “playing God,” even while misusing Scripture to support the very act of playing God: “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom 8:15) Encouraging women to give up their children so you can play savior is not Christian. It is encouraging someone to kill themselves so you can have what they have.

Only when adoption is considered as wrong and unnatural as slavery will adoptees really be free.

Elle Cuardaigh is author of The Tangled Red Thread and contributor to The Adoptee Survival Guide.