June 17, 2010

Surrender or be terminated

I'm not sure what hormonal imbalance has led to my week of angst-y adoption posts. I feel like I should have on heavy, black eyeliner, at least one piece of clothing with a safety pin in it, and The Cure or maybe The Smith playing mournfully in the background. I swear this will be the last one for a bit...

All of these post made me think about the language of adoption. And the power our word choices have, not just in adoption, but all the time. All of the paperwork that Pie's birthparents had to sign was filled with words like relinquish, terminate, and surrender. Her birthfather said he felt like he was signing up for a war. We joked about it, but it made me think about how harsh that language is. I understand that the legal documents have to be air-tight, and unquestionable, but do they have to marginalize the birthparents so much?

Birthparents/mom/dad/family is another source of language confusion. We had a brief conversation with Pie's birthparents and that's the terminology they prefer. But I've heard biological parents, first parents, initial parents...I don't know which is the most appropriate. Anybody who falls into that category, please feel free to teach me the etiquette. Because of our previous relationship with Pie's birthparents there has been an ease to that piece of it. They have also jokingly referred to themselves as our baby mama, baby daddy, incubator and unintentional surrogate. I'm not sure that what they are called is all that important to them, but we try to be as respectful about it as we can.

But above and beyond all of that is the word "real" used in reference to adoption. This one makes me want to shank somebody. And believe me, I've watched enough prison escape/life in prison/crazy shit prisoners can make shows with Husband to know all I need is a toothbrush and a lighter, or a Bic pen and some duct tape, and I could do some damage. What I mean is when people ask what Pie's "real" parents are like, or if we intend to have "real" children. As if anyone in this situation is imaginary. WE are Pie's REAL parents. So are her birthparents. Each of us is equally important in the equation. And Pie is our REAL daughter. If we win the lottery some day and have endless amounts of money to throw at fertility treatments and end up with a biological child, that will be our REAL child too. I'm not sure what it is about adoption that makes people lose their sense of decorum. I have no problem talking about the adoption, or the fact that Pie is adopted, but it makes me crazy when people assume that her brthparents are felons or drug addicts or that there would be some struggle to bond with Pie because she's not our biological child.

Several of you have mentioned that you love reading the adoption stories and I get the sense that you may be curious. Honestly, I am an open book about it. If you have questions feel free to ask, just be aware of your language...otherwise I'll have to get my stabbin' knife.

Here's my REAL daughter kicking back in her swing. "What up my peeps?"

28 comments:

crisc23 said...

Thanks for the weapon makin tips..lol And I must say your REAL daughter is a DOLL =)

Bronzed said...

I love the venting and I do not wish to be shanked, but what happened to wordless wednesdays? I know today is thursday, but you know what I mean. My love for pie is definitely REAL.:)

Tiffany Harkleroad said...

To one of the greatest REAL mommies I know, I say, YOU GO GIRL!

Marc said...

I couldnt agree more..It used to drive me crazy when people would ask me "if I was going to have kids of my own as well" Ummm WTH are these??? Last time i checked that little one is calling me Dad and im feeding ,caring and loving them!! when people ask how many kids I have I say 2, not 2 adopted kids. there is no difference to me. They are my children end of story! Thanks for the tip on the toothbrush.. I think I can make that work :)

-K said...

YOUR daughter is super cuteness.

Georgina Dollface said...

Wow, she is so beautiful!
Thank you for sharing this experience with us. You are absolutely right about how language is so important. Although it is somewhat different, being a stepmom meant hearing people carelessly use words to subtly remind me of my so-called lowered status as a stepmom. I kept a blog on my SM experience for about a year and I met many other SM's who also felt stigmatized by language and legal issues. Society seems to have a strong bios towards biological parents over non-bio parents and guardians whether they are adoptive parents or step parents. - G

The Mommy said...

Gosh, I can't even start to imagine how it must be for the birth parent....yeah no, I can't. I'm wordless.
On a lighter note, I love that swing, isn't it a life saver, my twins were literally raised in it!!

sara said...

Cris - No problem :) if you can't get your hands on those supplies...I've got other options!

sara said...

Bronzed - Pipe down! You get to look at Pie all day long, do you really need pics of her on the internet too? Don't be greedy!

sara said...

Thank you so much Tiffany - that made my day!!

sara said...

Marcy - I admit I do want you to have more kids...but only because I love-a da bebehs! But I don't care where they come from :)

sara said...

Thanks you K!

sara said...

Georgina - I can imagine that being really frustrating too. I'm just shocked that so many people still don't recognize that the mom + dad + bio kids family is radpidly becoming the exception instead of the rule. Families are so diverse and complicated now...people need to catch up!

sara said...

The Mommy - I still can't imagine what they went/are going through. It seems like the ultimate impossible decision.

Funny story about the swing...when Pie was a about a month old and in the throws of colic, Husband called me and said "If you don't come home with a swing...don't come home!" It was funnny, but you better believe I came home with a swing. And it's been Pie's favorite place ever since!

chelsea rebecca said...

i second tiffany. YOU GO GIRL!
you are your real parents! and she is your real daughter!! i hate it when people make assumptions about adoptions and especially in thinking that the parents would have less of a bond with the child!!
plus your sweet little baby is the cutest EVER! i want to hang out on a swing all day.. where are my adoption papers?? haha.

Angela said...

She is REAL cute! I'm glad you are open about it. I have friends that adopted both of their children due to infertility and we've talked extensively about it. It is very fascinating to me...all the procedures and language and such.
I have to admit, I didn't know anything about it before talking with them and being ignorant to the topic makes you form opinions based on what you "usually" see in an adoptive situation. But we have to remember not ALL situations play out like that. It's a wonderful thing! I'm glad you have such a great relationship with her birth parents.

sara said...

CR - We are hoping to have a sibling for Pie...how do you feel about living in GA? :) And thank you for your sweet comment!

sara said...

Angela - Our relationship with Pie's birthparents is complicated but certainly easier than many I've heard about. All four of us are very laid back and easy-going so that certainly helps things!

ericka @ alabaster cow said...

the semantics in this situation is interesting and i can understand some confusion/discomfort with it. but for anyone to suggest that your daughter is not your "real" daughter just blows my mind. some people just don't think and it's a real shame.

and your daughter is gorgeous!

Ally said...

You are such a fair and loving person, I love reading your posts. Pie is so lucky to have you and you her of course.

This picture is so cute. Sorry but I had to laugh at your "What up my peeps?" above her little face. Ha ha! Too cute!

sara said...

Ericka - Thank you! I'm always amazed at what people will say. I just want to shake them...hard...and for an extended period.

sara said...

Ally - What a sweet thing to say! I am indeed very lucky to have my Pie.

That cracked me up too, but doesn't it look like that's what she's thinking!?

I am said...

First off, Pie is ridiculously cute! Wow. Seriously. Wow.
As a first/ birth/ initial/ bio/ non-parenting/ relinquishing/ non/ former/ donating father I think the language used is less important than the message behind it. The above are the "positive" suggestions I've heard. I won't bother with the accusatory titles. I tend to use "first" and "birth" interchangeably and generally only use those two terms. The reason being that they both point to chronology as their basis and avoid any further definition of role. Unfortunately there isn't any good verbiage for families built through adoption.
A very good friend had an interesting solution that may work for some people. His parents divorced when he was 1. At 3 his mom remarried and she, with his new step-dad, had full custody and raised him. His dad was always his dad, but his step-dad did his rearing. So step-dad was given a special term, used just for him. "Poppy." Ever since he was three he had his mom, pop, dad, and step-mom (a term that reflects the brothers Grimm closeness of their relationship).

sara said...

I Am - Thank you so much. I know I'm biased, but I do really think she got all the best parts of all of her ethnicities. I appreciate your thoughts. I'm new to domestic adoption (my brother's kids were international) and VERY new to open adoption, so I'm learning as I go. And trying to be as aware of everyone as I can be. Right now we refer to Pie's birthparents by their first names, but as she gets older if she wants to have a more connected name for them I think that's a great option.

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

An *incredibly* fascinating article!

New follower here from Follow Friday. Would love to welcome you to my place. Hope to hear from you soon.

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma, What's For Dinner?
www.mawhats4dinner.com

sara said...

Thanks Alex and welcome!

Kayla said...

Love it...love her....even if she is not your "real" daughter. As if!

I don't think I have ever heard anyone speak of adoption like you. I very much enjoy the read.

sara said...

Thank you Kayla. It's something I've had a long time to think about with my niece and nephew. But my thoughts on it have crystalized since Pie's arrival.

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