Roe v. Wade was canceled. Adoption is not a solution to the lack of access to abortion.


“Your son is so lucky.”

As the mother of an 11-year-old child who came to our family through adoption four years ago, I hear this comment often. Friends and strangers tell me that my child is lucky, that he “seems like such a happy kid” and “you would never know he was adopted, he is so well adjusted!” Some say these things within earshot of my biological son or daughter.

I know their comments are mostly well-meaning, so I usually change the subject, not wanting to start a weighty conversation at the grocery checkout or school pickup. But what I want to say is, “He’s not ‘lucky.’ He’ll never fit in. Adoption is a trauma, and no child – or birth parent – ​​should ever have to go through that.

It took me a year to find a therapist with knowledge of adoption who could take us in (at $200 a week, no less) and longer to find a trauma-trained caregiver.

Yet before the planned reversal of Roe v. Wade, many opponents of abortion rights have presented adoption as an antidote to unwanted pregnancies. After the draft advisory was leaked in May, Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, in a typical comment, told ABC News “This Week” that his solution if abortion were banned would be to “increase maternal health services, to increase services for adoption services… We want to invest in these areas that will help these women in very difficult circumstances of pregnancy. He did not specify in which “adoption services” specifics he would invest, or how much, or where the money would come from. It’s almost as if he hadn’t thought about that part.

He certainly failed to recognize what these services entail and how they can never compensate for the hardships faced by adopted children or their parents. As life without Roe becomes a reality in the United States, lawmakers must understand the toll they are imposing on families if they do not allow women to have abortions.

My son is funny, gregarious and wise, with striking almond eyes that take up a third of his face and a killer jump shot. If anyone’s lucky, it’s us; being his mother is one of the great joys of my life. But with that joy comes a trauma — his, ours, his biological family’s — that changed us forever. We have chosen to adopt and therefore accept the humiliating, messy and demanding work of navigating the path of healing and connection. Our son had no choice, and soon thousands of infants and birth mothers may have no choice either.

In my work as the director of a non-profit organization that supports young people and families involved in child welfare, I am well aware that there is already a serious lack of accessible resources. and effective trauma healing for children, birth mothers and adoptive families in this country. . But I had this first-hand experience after bringing our son home.

Although my husband and I had easy access to adoption and trauma experts through my job, a support network of family and friends, and the time, money, and desire to provide all available resources to support our son’s recovery, we struggled. It took me a year to find a therapist knowledgeable about adoption who could take us in (at $200 a week, no less) and longer to find a trauma-trained caregiver who we trusted to watch over our son. even for a few hours.

We needed help coping with his intense rages, in which he punched himself and the walls while moaning from a place so deep inside it felt primitive – which it was. He would fight at school and run away; he scrawled “I hate you mom and dad” in Sharpie on his bedroom wall. Though loved, wanted, and safe, he operated in fight-or-flight mode 24 hours a day, his pulse quickening under my hesitant fingers even as his eyelids drooped while reading.

No amount of training or education could have prepared my husband and I for the force of his pain, but slowly, day by day, we moved forward bit by bit. We threw “normal parenting” out the window, battling our own triggers so we could model calm and security even when he was throwing a tantrum. We patched the holes in the drywall without a word and stopped chasing him when he got away.

Over time, our son’s nervous system deflated and he stopped seeing everything and everyone as a threat. We began to see glimpses of the compassionate, silly, creative boy trapped inside this shell of fear. Exhausted but full of hope, we stayed the course.

Not all adopted children will rage, but each will carry trauma that manifests in various ways until it is confronted and dealt with. A friend’s son, adopted at birth from a food-insecure mother, suddenly started hoarding food as a teenager; an adult I know, adopted at two months old, was a self-proclaimed “happy and perfect child” until she left for college, when seemingly out of nowhere she started cutting herself, fail in class and fantasize about suicide. The transition from leaving her safe hometown, where everyone knew her as so-and-so’s daughter, and going to college, where her dorm photos raised questions about why her entire family was white when she was Asian, opened the wound of her early trauma.

As for biological mothers, young women who never wanted to be mothers, they also suffer complicated losses — the loss of their freedom to choose when and under what circumstances they give birth, the loss of children they never had intended to have.

Four years later, after his adoption, our son is thriving, even though the impact of his past has changed him – and us – forever. He comes out of that shell of fear almost every day now, but it’s always there, just like the pain of his first parents will always be there too. He trusts and loves me but remains hypervigilant, anxiously asking “What’s wrong, Mom?” when he watches even the tiniest micro-expression of frustration or annoyance crease my brow. He often wakes up at night and paces; at 11, he worries about the future.

Republican lawmakers are prepared to strip a woman’s right to choose without any sign that they have seriously considered, let alone resources, the long-term effects of such a decision. Adoption, a difficult reality for many that is made more complicated because it contains both beauty and pain, should never be presented by lawmakers as the easy fix to a problem they created. by wielding their inordinate power over millions of Americans.

Adoption requires a lifetime commitment and serious patience, time and therapeutic interventions. It should never be imposed on anyone. Lawmakers should focus on understanding, planning and funding trauma healing support services for the thousands of young people and families in the United States already impacted by adoption, instead of committing thousands to it additional Americans without their consent.


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