Sunday, October 15, 2006

Some good, some not so good

So the news is partly good – we have our first interview with the agency director on Friday – I’m feeling quite calm about it, probably because I suspect they will ask us the same type of thing the social worker from the first agency asked on the phone the other day. Even Mr Spouse seems quite calm.

I heard from a very dear friend who lives in the US and has one son through IVF that she is a) almost certainly coming back to live in the UK and b) expecting FET twins. She was very sweet and said if I didn’t want to mention it she’d understand totally.

We have told quite a few friends about our plans to adopt and they have invariably been very positive - in fact, it has given us some ideas about who might make a good referee (we have to have three each, I believe) based on their comments (although some of them seem to be a little unrealistic about us!) So we thought we should probably tell my mum in case someone else told her, as we were visiting over the weekend. The good news is she says she isn’t going to tell anyone else – though she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about my first pregnancy, and did…

She was incredibly negative about the whole idea. First of all, she thinks that no children who are not genetically related to us will be any good, to be honest. I have to say this is something I’ve struggled with but we are going to have to get over it. There are nice, pleasant, even bright people in this world who aren’t related to us. Such as my husband, for example. And being highly intellectual is not a guarantee of being pleasant or happy.

I'm not really sure what she thinks our options are - whether she thinks we are doing this instead of getting pregnant. I am not sure I really want to ask, but I know she is not in favour of IVF, so I don’t know quite what she thinks we should do. Wait another two years and hope we actually manage to keep a pregnancy, and if we don’t, then what? Does she think we’re refusing treatment for miscarriage, or that we’ve decided not to get pregnant because we don’t want to have any more miscarriages? I have a feeling even if "old-fashioned" adoptions where young, bright girls gave up their babies voluntarily at birth were still possible she'd probably be against the idea.

But she also seems very set on the idea that adopted children are bound to be extremely disturbed, no matter how good their foster homes, or how little they remember of their birth parents, or how young they are. I have tried to explain that we are consulted at every stage about what types of difficulties we would be able to cope with. We are, I hope, going into this with our eyes open. I also pointed out to her that if you have birth children you have no guarantees - I used the example of autism - she says there's no way we’d have autistic children because we are both normal and outgoing – of course my godmother's family who have a grandchild with Asperger's because they are weird.

As you can imagine I’m not very happy about this! - it's all very well to say "oh, she'll love them when they come along" because I'm not entirely sure she will. As far as I can work out, her opinion is that no-one in her family should have a child with a difficulty or disability, and if you do, you've brought it on yourself - she is really, really negative about the distant family member (my age) with Down Syndrome, despite the fact that she's a happy and loved individual - she says "oh, they didn't have the choice in those days".

I think I’ve been thrown by this partly because of the positive reaction of most of our friends – I assumed she’d be the same – she loves our nieces and can’t wait to see them (although she also can’t wait to say goodbye sometimes!)…

Edited: after Thalia's comment - I don't know which book you've read, but as part of my research is in this area, and there's a lot of recent data suggesting input/environment is MUCH more important than previously thought, and I keep telling my mother this (and have always done so) I can't help feeling like banging her head against the wall and saying "Have I taught you NOTHING?". But strict nativism makes much more sexy copy.


Thalia said...

Well, at least you've got a bunch of supportive friends, that's something to hang on to.

Re your mother, I don't really know what to say. It utterly sucks, and it's incomprehensible that she can't put aside her prejudices and be happy for you. Maybe it will take time, I'm wondering if there's anything like PFLAG for adoptive parenting (parents and friends of lesbians and gays - their logic is that once your child comes out to you it's easier to talk to another parent than to your child about your sadness/anger etc.). Yes, sorry I am kidding about the PFLAG thing but only partially. Does she know anyone with an adoptive family? Can you find one for her?

The genetic thing is tough, especialy since I've just been reading a book that tries to show that even more traits are inherited than previously thought. But you've been through this and you know how YOU feel, and in the end it's YOU who is going to parent your children. I just hope she comes round.

DinosaurD said...

Well, all I can say is that you and your husband would be the parents, not your mother.

As to the nature vs. nurture debate, its all statistical. It means NOTHING unless you are planning on having a large sample size (like say 10,000 genetic children and then 10,000 adopted children). And there is always the reversion to the norm.

I also have to say that the intellectuals I have known do not form a one-to-one mapping with the most intelligent people I have known. Having the dedication and political skills to thrive in academia is not a sufficient condition for great intelligence (neither is having any number of degrees).

I also think it's a little sad if a requirement for a child is that they are leading the cohort in intelligence. I don't know that my son is going to be any great intellect and I wouldn't trade him for any number of very bright kids (what my son does have is enormous empathy and a great sense of humor).

If a person can't find something to love in a child (any child) then its a statement about that person, not the child.

Okay, I will get off my soap box - unless you'd like to give me your mother's phone number?


perceval said...

My parents would have been exactly the same, and even more dismissive of adoptions from China (human traffic!!!!), so I wasn't looking forward to that long hard slog at all. My sympathies - this is tough.

e said...

Parents can sometimes say the most hurtful, ill-thught out things without realising what they're doing. I think it mostly boils down to them voicing their fears out loud, using their nearest and dearest (ie -their children) as sounding boards. I wonder if your mother woud make comments to a total stranger. I suppose that your children's children are actually very closely related, and that many people like to relive their own parenting experience through their grandchildren. She is anticipating never being able to say "ooh, she has her aunt's eyes!" and it is freaking her out. I reckon she will settle in time.

Also, there are children available for adoption in the UK who do not have health or behaviour problems. A set of friends, thinking there was no chance of adoption, sought fostering of teenagers, and were instead encouraged to adopt a two-year old (a seventh child of a woman with known poor parening skills, he'd been taken away at birth) with no problems who'd spent his whole life with the same foster parents. It is possible. Good luck.