The Yin and Yang, as it represents the dual nature of life, also represents the dual nature of adoption. While the common concept is of the Adoption Triad, I have personally never found that concept to be very satisfying, very accurate or even very true. There seems to be an assumption of equality in this, as if there are only three parties, with equal power and equal impact. This has never been the case, nor does it include the others who gain from adoption, including the attorneys, the agencies, the states who wield the power over records, the lobbyists and the other parties who have created an entire industry around adoption, and they are, arguably, the seat of the most power and influence.
Others have argued that adoption would be better represented as a plane, where all sides and possibilities are present, but that never resonated with me, either. It was sterile and seemed to imply that all things are possible, all experiences are equal. That is imply not true, either.
Personally, I have always felt that Adoption, at least from the standpoint of the mothers of the EMS, was better represented by the Yin/Yang...the gainers, and the losers.
The mothers lost, no question. We lost our babies, we lost our sense of stability, the power to influence our own outcome, the right to be our own women, the right to parent our own children. We also lost our trust, our youth, our naivete, our innocence, and the women we were destined to grow into.
Arguably, our children also lost. Many will admit, especially the adoptees of the EMS, that they were bewildered by the loss of their mothers, a bewilderment from which some adoptees never recovered. They all lost their heritage, their lineage, their history (both medical and family) and they lost the adults that they, too, were destined to become when they were created in their mother's womb.
The other side of the equation, the side of gain, the side that profited from adoption, include, but are by no means limited to, the adopters, who most directly profited by gaining a child. They will argue that they lost their imagined child, the child of their dreams, the shadow child that never was, and the loss of whom they hope to correct by adoption, but never the less, they gain a child to love and care for. No matter that it isn't the child of their imagination...it is a child to love.
Another party of gain in adoption is the Adoption Industry, that includes the attorneys, the Agencies and social workers, and the brokers who locate possible children to be surrendered. These are some of the immediate beneficiaries of adoption, the HAVES, or the ones who gain and profit by the mothers' and adoptees' losses.
Other, more shadowy and less direct beneficiaries of adoption loss are also represented on the gainers side of the equation. Their less direct connection makes them less obviously recipients of the bounty. One such group, The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, has become almost mainstream and totally acceptable to some mothers. Their opening paragraph from their website, on the surface sounds so benign, so cerebral, but when you read it from the standpoint of loss, of one side or the other, it is less so...
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute conducts original research on critical issues in adoption designed to inform, educate, and most of all, to change reality on the ground in ways that tangibly improve both people's lives and adoption practices. In addition, the Institute provides resources for researchers and anyone interested in obtaining reliable, unbiased information about adoption.
The E. B. Donaldson mission is to re frame adoption. The do so by tweaking the language to encourage women to surrender. They do research to find better, more positive sounding ways of subtly encouraging women to relinquish their newborns. They also have changed their approach to seem much more empowering to women who are faced with an inconvenient pregnancy, with terminology designed to encourage the most positive outcome for the industry that pays them. Their subtlety is their danger for mothers, desperate for allies, because it camouflages their intent. One only has to remember their full name to be reminded.
Another such organization, the NCFA or the National Council for Adoption, is more direct. They also do research to try to identify ways to entice women to Surrender. They are more overt, as their membership, the Adoption Agencies, are in business to make a profit, and the NCFA is their lobbyist arm. They also, taking note, I believe, of the efforts of Donaldson to soften their message have now brought in Chuck Johnson (blog from earlier this month) who is a much softer sell type than the Infamous William Pierce, or the more recent Tom Atwood. Johnson, who privately seems an affable "nice-guy" who really earnestly WANTS to do the right thing, is still the shill for the most open enemy of mother's rights. They have begun to tone things down, soften their message, show some "compassionate concern" for mothers well-being, and their possibility for "heroic redemption" by sacrificing their infants for adoption.
It is easier to dislike the NCFA as an organization than the E.B. Donaldson Institute, because they are a bit more flagrant in their focus, which they outlined in what amounted to their manifesto (shown at left) in the summer of 2006. In it they outlined everything they would be doing to increase the numbers of domestic infants surrendered for adoption in the United States. They gave a point by point summary of their plan, and they have followed through on it, and yet, despite that, mothers and others are continually surprised and outraged at their audacity.
The yin and yang also indicates the dual nature of the participants, the Saints and Sinners...for example, if the adopters are The Saints, taking in "unwanted" children, the alternate side is the Mothers or The Sinner, a woman who doesn't want the child. They can be cast as students trying to get a degree, women who are in a difficult place in their life and typify surrender as simply a choice, like not aborting, to place their children after crafting, with a social worker, an adoption plan for the infant. These are the ones who are "restoring their honor", "redeeming themselves, heroically, as noted in the NCFA's publication, "Birthmother, Good Mother: Her Story of Heroic Redemption".
The more saintly adopters, those who earn their wings by adopting from foster care have as their alternate the the more sinful crack whores, the slatterns who would rather drug, drink, carouse than be bothered with getting her act together to parent her children. "After all, women don't lose their children to CPS for no reason, do they?" Unfortunately, while this is no longer a fact, either in the US or the UK, or likely other countries, these stereotypes die hard. Especially when there are people whose careers and livelihoods depend on the stigma remaining.
Unfortunately, adoption is so well-entrenched in our society that it is difficult to impress upon a people who have been allowed few remaining heroes. America WANTS to believe that adoption is indeed the loving option that the industry paints it to be, that it is a win/win/win situation, that children don't notice the switcheroo played on them, that mothers who surrender their infants really do go on to lead better lives and truly do forget. But, deep inside themselves, in a place where they don't want to see, they know that it simply isn't so. Given a moment to think about it, to even consider it, they know that the other side, the dual nature of adoption is the grieving mother and the bewildered infant searching for its mother.
In everything there is a darker side. Adoption is no different. There are winners, there are those who profit, and then there is us.
*Note: When spell checking this before publishing, I noticed something odd. The words, Adoptee, birthmother, crackwhore are not recognized by my spell checker. However, the word, Adopter, is what they suggest as an alternative to Adoptee. I thought that was interesting.