The other day, J showed me a picture someone had posted on Facebook- a young man was holding up a sign with his name, birthdate, and place of birth. The lengthy caption underneath said that he’d been adopted as an infant, and although it was a closed adoption, he was very interested in finding his birth parents, and could social media help him? Did anyone have any information about him or his birth, and could they share? And of course, could everyone seeing this picture “like” and “share” it?
Of course, the man and his wife had contacted his adoption agency and gotten no information, which is why they were turning to social media, and which is why this ASTOUNDING amount of personal information was now available to me, a COMPLETE STRANGER (but that is a rant for a whole ‘nother post, not this one). I also read the comments, interested in what people had to say about this situation. There were people wishing them luck on their search, and several people very concerned about whether or not his adoptive parents were supportive or okay with his choice to find his birth parents, but no one, NO ONE, expressed any concern about the birth mother. No one.
This man was born in 1981 in California (OMFG, YOU GUYS. THIS IS ALL INFORMATION THAT WAS RIGHT ON FACEBOOK I AM SHOCKED AT HOW MUCH I KNOW ABOUT THIS GUY IT’S UNBELIEVABLE SORRY I CANNOT GET OVER THIS PART RIGHT NOW), which, although more than 30 years ago now, we can all agree is the “modern” era. As in, adoption was not something women were forced to do, if they didn’t want (generally speaking, of course, I know, I know, even in these modern times, yadda yadda, limited abortion access, I know), and giving up a child in a CLOSED adoption was most likely one of several choices this man’s birth mother was afforded at the time of his birth. What I’m trying to say, very inelegantly, is that this man was not born in 1910, or 1810, or some other time where women were generally not permitted to make these choices themselves. While I KNOW that I am presuming an awful lot about this woman, I feel reasonably sure that she had SOME ELEMENT of choice in the matter of the adoption of her child. I might, of course, be totally wrong, which has been known to happen, but even if I am wrong in this particular instance, I feel comfortable making the argument that is forthcoming (eventually, I promise).
And that argument is, simply, that this man’s birth mother made a choice to have a closed adoption FOR A REASON. And maybe it’s because my family is sort of on the other side of the equation (I’ll explain in a minute), but I think it’s deeply disrespectful of the wishes of the birth mother to harness social media (or a private investigator, or a psychic, or a shaman, or whatever) to find her, when she SO CLEARLY made her wishes known.
You and I don’t need to know her reason. There are a million times in our lives where we will simply not know the reason for something. Even her child, obviously adopted into a loving family, is not OWED an explanation, or a meeting, or even any information about his birth mother, simply because she declined to offer it. I am aware that this might be an unpopular opinion, and I don’t care. If I were to make such a momentous choice, and to decide, in my right mind, that I wanted the make the adoption closed, so that my offspring couldn’t find me, then I would hope that everyone involved, the nurses, the agency, the loved ones in my life who knew what I’d done, would have the decency to respect my decision. They might not like it, and that’s fine. I’ll hazard that there are people in my life RIGHT NOW who do not approve of my choice to not work in my chosen field in order to stay home with my child, and they’re entitled to their opinion, as long as they RESPECT me enough to not bother me about it.
But what if she was YOUNG and IMPRESSIONABLE and CHANGED HER MIND, I hear people out there saying. While I allow that it may be possible that she did, in fact, later in life, wish that she hadn’t closed the adoption, the fact is that she did. That at the time, she made the decision that was best for her, and now she, and the resultant offspring, have to live with that. We’ve all made decisions that we wish we could change now, in retrospect, but life doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to change the fact that you ate an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s, no matter how much you regret it. She doesn’t get to magically open her adoption because somehow, now, she thinks she made the wrong choice.
[GIANT ASIDE: I don't know, man. I think people making those sorts of arguments about the birth mother changing her mind are being kinda douchey about it. You think a woman, no matter how young, just gives a child up for adoption easily? Like, with no thought about the potential ramifications? That's the same argument people are making about women using abortion like birth control, and I DEFINITELY think those people are douches.]
What does this have to do with me? J and I chose an anonymous sperm donor for Olivia. We had the choice between an anonymous donor and one who was “willing to be known,” and we chose the anonymous donor, SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE he was anonymous. While I understand that someday, Olivia may want to know “where she came from,” the truth will be that she came from our love and our dedication to raising her. She will have no way of contacting the man who offered her his DNA, and she will have to live with that fact. It will be NONE OF HER BUSINESS why he chose to donate anonymously, and it will be one of the millions of things in life she will just have to accept. She will also have to accept that her parents are gay and her eye squinch shut when she smiles, and there will be nothing she can do to change those things. This might sound harsh and terrible, but COME ON. There are tons of things we force our children to JUST DEAL WITH, whether it be broccoli or little siblings. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really, really not that big a deal. REALLY.
BUT WHAT ABOUT HER MEDICAL HISTORY, I hear those same people yelling. Oh, fuck off. Did you straight parents interview the person you were planning on having children with regards to their medical history? “Oh, I was GOING to have kids with you, but your mom has breast cancer. NEVERMIND.” At the time of his donation, our donor was somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 years old, with 2 living parents in good health. He doesn’t know JACK SHIT about his medical history, and besides, any HUGE genetic anomalies would have disqualified him from donating IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Olivia will never meet the man who gave her some DNA, and I really don’t think her life will be any poorer for it. I hope she doesn’t spend time searching for someone who doesn’t want to be known, or time worrying about or missing someone who’s express wish was not to know her. What a waste of a beautiful and amazing life that would be.
So, good luck, David Smith, born in Chico, California, in 1981. But I hope you don’t find out who your birth mom is because some asshole on Facebook decided her privacy and desires aren’t really that important.