Sunday, April 22, 2007

14 Chapters of Bullshit

Major moo-alert on this post. Consider yourself warned. Also in case you're coming in late, it's best to read the prior post first.

While “The Family That Grew” made me cry, “The Adopted Family” just pissed me off.

Sometimes, I much prefer being pissed to crying. This is one of those times.

“The Adopted Family” was, I believe, hung around our necks and sent home with us from the agencies or the hospitals. “The Adopted Family” was the hot!hot! book for parents to read.

“The Adopted Family” is so full of shit I can barely think straight.

They loved this book; the parents did, because it wrapped everything up nice and clean. Swept away any fears and made it all so much better.

You couldn’t have a kid. You got one now. Everything’s coming up roses.

Oh, there’s a brief glitch in the teen years – more about that later – but adoption is here and it will take away all your woes, aches, complaints, moldy bathroom tiles, and the heartbreak of psoriasis in one fell swoop.

Here’s you kid. Here’s your book. Off with you now.

This is a long read, and it’s a hard read. If you don’t have the stomach for it, I don’t blame you. If you’ve got the stomach but not the time, here’s a blow by blow of what you’re in for. You can decide after reading this if you want to see it in all its grey and orange glory afterwards.

This book is slowing down at an accident scene. This book is looking at crime scene photos. This book is a horror show.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And copies of this book. Welcome to the Malleus Maleficarum of raising an adopted kid.

I’m so glad I read it.

This was an important book for me to read. I can really see why my mom preferred this book to all the others. We all want to read stuff that makes us feel better, and that’s what this book is entirely about. Oh it’s all wrapped up nice and pretty under the guise of raising a happy, well adjusted child, but this book has one goal only:

Adoptive Parent Validation.

It does it well.

Disclaimer: Your miles may vary. These are my interpretations seen though a rage.

Chapter One: Growth of a Family
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 0

This book gets right to it, right in the very second sentence: “The newborn infant has no way of knowing which of the many faces that hover about him belongs to a parent.”

Chapter Two: Family by Adoption
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 0

Adoptive families are better than natural ones, because the parents have put so much time and preparation into them! So go tell all your family members with their own kids to fuck off, because you rule, they drool.

Chapter Three: Preparation for Adoptive Parenthood
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 0

A brief moment of levity in the historical context of marriage before feminism. It’s talking about how having a child changes your life. “Father, who always enjoyed fishing trips on his vacation, and Mother, who went along to please him, finds that either Father goes alone or the whole family, including the baby, goes along.” WTF??

Chapter Four: Legal Protection for the Adopted Family
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 1

Yawn. Interesting tidbit though in a paragraph about how adoptive parents should be grateful (heh) to their lawyer. “He informs them whether the birth can be registered in their name at the time of the legal adoption, or whether some other provision can be made to protect the privacy of the original birth certificate.”

Chapter Five: Setting the Social Scene:
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 0

Subtitled how to tell the Jones’ you got a kid without getting pregnant.

Chapter Six: Introducing the New Family Member
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 3

People are nosy fuckers, and will ask you about this new kid’s parents. Tell them you were assured they were from a “good background” and to piss off. And print up one of these fun announcement cards!

Chapter Seven: Adoption and Your Community Through the Years
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 0

“It is wise to advise a child’s doctor of the adoption”. Geeze, y’think????

Chapter Eight: Introducing Your Child to Adoption
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 1

Without naming names, because we’re just too polite to do this in the enlightened year of 1965, the authors obliquely let it be known that “The Chosen Child” sucks major hobo ass and that “wanted” trumps “chosen”.

Other than that, just more nonsense. Adoption is happy happy happy. Your child will be happy, happy, happy. Everybody won in adoption. Everybody made a decision. Everybody is just so filled with bliss I can’t stand it. Just don’t ever lie to your adopted child, and everything will be fine. Tell him the truth. You wanted him. His biological mother wanted him to go to a good family. Case closed.

Chapter Nine: Use of the Story Book.
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 3

This is upsetting. It sets the stage for use of the book, and getting it into the head of that new kid of yours that you are his real parents. Also the use of the “nice lady” in the story who is the adoption intermediary helps set you apart from the association with the biological parents. Phew! Glad she was there! And we're going to call them "the man and the lady" because after all, you are his real parents.

Chapter Ten: Answering the Growing Child’s Questions About His Adoption
References to their child’s parents in chapter: Lots. Finally. But none of it good.

Subtitled: Oh shit, now it’s getting tricky.

We start off this chapter by just letting you know that kids ask lots and lots of questions! Oh my god they never shut the fuck up with these questions! Where the hell are those pills from Dr. Solomon? This kid is driving me up the fucking wall with these incessant questions!

We’re telling you again and again that kids are going to ask so many fucking questions, so that when they finally ask that question you’ve been dreading, it’s not going to freak you out. Don’t worry, we’ll tell you how to handle it.

When your kid asks who his parents were, what he really means is what kind of people were they. That’s a hard concept to grasp so it’s important to get it out. It only happens in adoptees.

So when then next time I ask you, “Whose blog did you say I should check out?” what I’m really saying to you is, “What kind of hosting does the blog have?” You need to know that, because I’m adopted, and that’s what I really mean. So, our conversation should go like this:

There’s another new blog you should read.
Really? Who wrote it?

Or we could talk like this:

That new system admin is a real ass
Who is he?
About 5’9.

Thankfully again to the making-it-all-go-away powers of Super Intermediary Lady, you also have a good out to answer “I don’t know” if you kid keeps up with the questions. You just don’t know, you wanted them, case closed. Your child will be satisfied with that.

Chapter Eleven: Adolescence in the Adopted Family
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 0

Subtitled: Oh, fuck

Seriously, teenagers are fucked up. They really, really are, Moms and Dads. Yeah the kid is cute now but they get weird. It’s not because they’re adopted. Really. Honestly. Everyone has a hard time with teenagers. We swear, OK, they’re just whacked in the head. They’re so whacked in the head, we’re going to give you an entire chapter on how bizarre teenagers are, and not even mention adoption. Just remember this. It’s just teenagers. Best to send them off to boarding school at this time. (PS I got kicked out. heh-heh-heh) (PPS No it doesn't really say to send them to boarding school, but it's a good way to get rid of teenagers. But yes, I really did get kicked out. heh-heh-heh)

Chapter Twelve: Answering the Adolescent’s Questions About His Adoption
References to their child’s parents in chapter: Lotta bullshit

Um, yeah, they’re going to ask a little more than before. But, like, he knows that both you and his biological parents planned his adoption, so it’s just more of a clarifying type thing, ok? Yeahhhhhh…. just, um, kind of get it across that just because he’s illegitimate, doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with him….

And, um, like…. you know he’s going to keep it in his pants because you are obviously better parents than his biological grandparents were, after all, it’s their fault their kid got knocked up in the first place, without the “stabilizing help and guidance of loving, interested parents”

Yeah, everything will be ok. We promise. And we’re going to throw that real word out there a few times just to make it all ok. Look! Here it comes again!

Chapter Thirteen: The Adopted Family as a “Real” Family
References to their child’s parents in chapter: 0

Everything is ok. You read this book. You done did it all right. Everyone is happy. Go away now.

If you want it, here it is. I think I scanned one page set twice. Sorry.

9 complaints from ingrates:

Erin April 22, 2007 at 2:53 PM  

I'm really feeling bad for the adoptive parents from the closed era today. Especially after reading this. They were used SO badly by the system, and yes I know many of them were perfectly happy in this system and they are the ones who wanted it that way. But I have to believe that if they knew what they were doing to their children with this type of information they would change. Perhaps I'm just giving people to much credit.

The closed system screwed everybody! I think I'm gonna blog about this, maybe work it out a bit better.

Ungrateful Little Bastard April 22, 2007 at 3:23 PM  

I think there were so many factors Erin. In a nutshell, I think you could break it down into

- Education. Not so much academic education, but how much parents wanted to educate themselves on all aspects.

- Availability of resources. I think this is a offshoot of the above. If you'd like to educate yourself, it's much easier doing so if you're in a large urban area with access to an extensive library. The NY Public Library in 1965 probably had a larger selection of academic literature than say, a smaller suburban library

- Open mind to psychology and research. Someone who is not threatened or distainful of psychology is going to fare better. For a lot of older relatives I know, psychology is seen as something for 'weak people', and all 'shrinks are insane'.

I go back and forth a lot. I'd like to believe that if I was Mrs. John Smith, suburban mom of 1973 with a 10 year old adopted child who kept asking questions outside of what the book said was normal, that I'd seek out alternate advice, but I can't say not being there. I want to hope I'd recognize distress and need.

This is kind of interesting here. It's from the Adoption History Project. I TinyUrl'ed it because the link is too long for blogger's comment box:

Doughnut April 22, 2007 at 3:48 PM  

I hope this book has its rightful place in some museum as to where we were back then. I would like to believe we have evolved considerably from 1965 with our views on adoption but some things change slower than others. It is still hard to believe that there are about 120,000 adoptions per year in the U.S. (half of them being unrelated to the adoptee). The number has been relatively constant from the data I have seen...and so little information has come forward to the general public about how adoptees feel. Damn...there has to be some PhD dissertations out there somewhere that have been published showing the effects adoption has had on adoptees. Just need to find them!

elizabeth April 22, 2007 at 8:45 PM  

This book will definitley NOT be on my summer reading list.


abebech April 23, 2007 at 12:30 AM  

"Or we could talk like this:
That new system admin is a real ass
Who is he?
About 5’9."

That's how we know you're brilliant.

I'm planning on responding to these posts on my blog, because my responses will be nonBSE aparent responses and they're messy, and that's not what matters here. Maybe tomorrow?

Newlyorphaned April 23, 2007 at 12:43 AM  

I know you didn't mean to be funny but I laughed my butt off reading your sonopsis! Then I sat down and read the actual book. Can't say I laughed much during the read. My over all impression was 'Damn, I came with an owner's manual.' The Social Workers report in my file said that the book was on the table. It's pretty obvious that my adoptive mother never bothered to read the book! To be fair I think the authors did the best they could at the time. It's basically a parenting book and seems to deal with the adoptive parents issues a lot! Heck we're easy, just tell us the same thing over and over and over! And they did! I doubt that had she actually read it that it would have prepared her for the day we were doing dishes and I aske "Am I a bastard?" Although it did say something about adolescents using different vocabulary! I'm moving my adoption blog over here from now on. Seems that my venom might be a bit much for some of my friends!

Possum April 23, 2007 at 7:40 AM  

Thank you for your outline Theresa.
It made me laugh - cause you're funny and witty and clever.
I don't think I can handle the real thing right now.
I think I'm hanging on by a thread.

Unknown April 23, 2007 at 12:23 PM  

that was funny and sad and mad.

all at once.

Ungrateful Little Bastard April 23, 2007 at 7:39 PM  

Lee I wonder if there's anything on the Evan B. Donaldson's website?

E - What? It doesn't sound like fun summer beach reading???

Abebech thanks. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Jeanie - EXACTLY! An owner's manual! That's just what I used to think of it, and that just firmed my opinion. And uh-oh.. I'll head on over to 360 today to see what all the ruckus is LOL!

((Possum)) I'm glad I made you laugh.... and I'm throwing you some more thread to hang on by. I know that your thread has to be pretty thin at this point.

Thanks Erika. I was mad. Hence the f-words LOL

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