Adoption Reunification: When it doesn't work out

Adoption Reunification: When it doesn't work out

At Portrait of an Adoption, I seek to portray many different experiences with regard to adoption.  Some of those experiences are beautiful and positive; others are painful and even ugly.  This is a guest post by one woman whose family has had very negative interactions with her birth sister following reunification.  As always, please be respectful in your comments, even if you disagree with the views or feelings of the guest author.

By Gert McQueen

Whether one sees adoption as an evil or a blessing, there is a place for adoption in the world of humans.  All cultures at all times have had ways in which they deal with unwanted or orphaned children.  There are many types of people and methods that are harmful, cruel and obscene -- no one denies that.  It is also true that there are many wonderful people and methods that provide love and care to those ‘in need’.

Certainly there are problematic issues related to adoption that need attention.  There are right and proper channels for that.  Being adopted is not about anger; I believe anger is a personal reaction to being adopted and the acts of adoption.

I do have the right to speak my truth.

I am the oldest of five children.  When our mother died, I was nine.  The youngest child was three months old.  Our father knew his wife was dying before the baby had been born.  He searched for an option.  His elderly parents were already caring for two of us and the other two were being cared for my mother’s relatives, with young children of their own.

My father proposed an idea to an old friend who had two children of her own. His proposition was: he’d help raise her two children if she would help raise his five.  She agreed but refused to raise the yet unborn infant.

That is when he used the option of adoption, for the infant.  In order for him to actually place his child into adoption, the child had to be ‘psychologically’ dead to him, in his mind, or he couldn't bear it.  On the day his wife died, his youngest child also died…it is recorded in my mother’s Bible, in my father’s handwriting.  Times were different back then, and so were the ways in which people coped with adoption.

That was my first experience with  adoption -- the placement of my infant sister, whom I remembered.  She was placed in a closed legal adoption, via friends of relatives, and so her ‘existence and whereabouts’ were known to certain family members.

The adoptive parents that adopted and raised my sister were older folks, childless because the woman was infertile.  Within one year after the removal of my infant sister into adoption, the rest of us children, my father’s four and one of my step-mother’s, were placed in various orphan and foster homes, due to illnesses of the stepmother.

And so, the fragile home life/guardianship arrangement between my father and step-mother FAILED for all, except, in our view, for the child that was placed into adoption.  Several of us did not return to our father’s care for years and those that were returned had to grow up pretty fast, for there was no one that could care for us while our father was working.

We all thought that the baby who was adopted out got the better end of the deal that life dished out to us.  When our youngest sister turned eighteen years old, we reached out and made contact.  We wanted to know her.  The reunion was not a good one, and within a few short years, major troubles occurred and things rapidly declined.

My next experience with adoption was with my children I birthed, a son and a daughter.  My first marriage ended, and after the divorce, the child support was always difficult to obtain.  When my children were about seven and eight, I became engaged.

I was unable to have any more children.  My fiance wanted to adopt my children.  The father of my children kept telling me to ‘hurry up and get those kids adopted, so I don’t have to pay child support’.  But my fiance couldn't adopt my children . . .because he died.  Our worlds collapsed.  My children lost a second father.

My third and last experience with adoption was when a new man came into our lives.  He also wanted to adopt my children.  By this time, they were fifteen and sixteen and had to give their own permission to be adopted.  My children wanted this ‘father’ but my daughter was in the middle of that ‘teen identity crisis’ and she decided not to go for adoption.  The legal document didn't really matter, though, because my second husband had already claimed both of my kids as his children in all ways that a parent does.

By that time, my re-united sister, the one who had been placed out of the family via adoption, had become militant in her anger about adoption.  She could not abide any adoption, no matter what.  She interfered in all my parental rights and authority regarding my own family.  When I told her to let us make our own decisions, she retaliated by calling in a false child abuse report against myself and my husband.  The case was dismissed because we had just completed the rather intensive background investigations that are required when you adopt.

At about the same time, we had just relocated to another city, for employment reasons, and my daughter, in that teen-crisis, ran away.  A second false child abuse report was filed against me by this re-united sister.  I still have the court’s decision; we were proved to have done EVERYTHING that was right and proper to protect our minor child.  But the interference, the slander, the disruption to my children and to my marriage was devastating.

My family unit was torn apart; because an adoptee who was angry at the institution of adoption took it out on me, my husband and children.

I severed all ties, mentally/emotionally divorced, the re-united sister.  I attempted twice to reconcile with this sister, once after ten years, then again after another fifteen years, but was betrayed after each attempt.

Then the unthinkable stuff happened.  The reunited sister took everyone by surprise by writing a book against every member of both the birth and adopted families.  The book was proved to be libelous and pulled from publication.

Adoption is not a crime.  Death of a parent and the need to care for minor children are not crimes.  Stepparents adopting is not a crime.  Children wanting and needing loving parents in a secure home is not a crime.  If there is need for reforming the adoption laws, then there are right and proper channels to do so.

But browbeating, name-calling and other forms of hate activities are not right and proper and are crimes.  I am pro-adoption, and I will not be bullied.

Gert McQueen writes, "I am a retired certified dental assistant, mother of two, grandmother of seven, and great-grandmother of two.  My parents, Leonard Sippel Sr and Genevieve Herr, and my siblings are in the family photo below.  I and my remaining two siblings wish to restore the honor that is due to our parents, as well as the good faith that our father had in his heart when turned to the option of adoption.  We wish the same restoration for the parents who adopted our youngest sibling."
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