How has adoption changed your life?
I was 18 when I got pregnant, 19 when my son was born and 5 days later relinquished for adoption. It was 1966. That’s when I learned about crushing loss and grief. I internalized the pain and shame and protected myself by numbing my feelings, while outwardly I did my best to build a life for myself, channeling my energies into building “family” through my business activities. I am gratified that we were reunited in 1993, and that we continue to grow in our relationship along with other members of our expanded family. Our meeting was the real beginning of my awakening to the whole process of adoption, its impact on everyone involved, and the many challenges along the way. I’ve learned that secrecy is toxic. I’ve also learned to listen to the voices of adopted adults, and adoptive parents and to have a greater appreciation and understanding of the complexity of this lifelong journey.
What changes would you like to see made in adoption?
I am disheartened by a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter about celebrities adopting that demonstrates how money is used to get priority access and to sway the hearts and minds of vulnerable expectant parents. It is but one striking example of the need for reform and more transparency. We need to respect and protect the rights of expectant parents and to do everything possible to assure that they are informed of every option and resource, especially with regard to parenting. Anything short of that undermines the very foundation of adoption that should be focused on children who truly need a family and not on how best to separate a mother and child. I’ve learned that education and counseling, pre and post adoption are vital. I would also like to see access to original birth certificates for adopted adults across all 50 states, and more genuine openness in adoptions that do take place.