My mother was raised in an orphanage in rural Texas from 1939 to 1950- because her mother was mentally ill and institutionalized, her father had left, and after initially staying with her maternal grandparents, they died within one year of each other leaving her standing alone at their graveside at the age of seven. No one stepped forward to take her, so to the orphanage she went.
She says she couldn't have asked for a better alternative to a real family! She goes to reunions there. I'm going with her to another one in June.
Twenty years later - my husband was raised as a foster child - never adopted. His experiences were quite different.
Because I had these two people close to me in my life, who'd had no family , I was determined to adopt- it's just something I wanted to do. I was living in Philadelphia at the time and knew I wanted to adopt from the foster care system and a hard to place child - minority and/or disabled -so I called the Philadelphia, Boston, and New York Departments of Social Services to gather information. I was told in every case that it would take about two years - not that there weren't kids waiting to be adopted, but there were not enough workers to streamline the process.
In the meantime - I got pregnant- a totally unplanned but happily received surprise. I had my son, enjoyed him on his own for three years and then started the adoption process.
My daughter's birth mother suffered from the same mental illness my own biological grandmother had. She was also interracial - the adoption worker told me these things on the phone as if expecting me to find those two things unmanageable- but they're exactly what convinced me that Olivia was meant for me.
I told the lady - 'Look, any biological child I have has the same risk - as did I, as did my mother, as did all of my siblings and their children - it's not a deal breaker for me. (By the way - none of us have it). The interracial thing is a plus - my biological son is interracial - she'll fit right in.'
We took her home at four and a half months and the adoption was finalized on her second birthday. There were no issues and problems, it just took that long for all the paper work to get done - there are a lot of kids in the foster care system in America- it's overwhelmed - that's why you hear so many sad stories.
Adopting is the best conscious decision I ever made (my pregnancy was not a conscious decision). My daughter is the daughter I could only dream of producing myself for myself- she is perfect for me. She does have a 'disability' that wasn't known at the time of our adoption of her (5 months) but having had my own biological child beforehand -I know - life's a crapshoot- you take what you get and you learn how to live with it.
Our adoption is not open as the birth mother did not want continuing contact. Again, being a biological mother myself- and knowing what a heartbreaking, wrenching decision it must be to have to place a part of yourself for adoption- I would have understood and worked with a birth mother who had wanted an open adoption - but she didn't.
My daughter is seventeen now. She knows the story of her birth mother, has a picture of her birth mother holding her, knows that I know her family name, where they live and that she has four half sisters, but she's not interested in meeting anyone from her birth family. I'm more interested than she is - but I won't unless she does or gives me permission to.
But yes, from the day I met her, she was my child and I was her mother- and whatever problems she displayed, that day or three years or twenty years down the line - became mine to deal with. That's what being a mother means.
If you can't deal with unpredictability or problems you shouldn't become a parent - biologically or through adoption.