Thursday, October 01, 2009

Some Thoughts

So there's a woman, Anita Tedaldi, who's making waves for her "heartbreaking" choice to give up her adopted son after eighteen months, because they had failed to "bond." Forgive all the quotation marks here, but outrage at her words is hard to express without them. What's even worse about the tale is that she manages to lay the blame on him, saying he (he being a tiny, tiny baby) wasn't attaching to her.


So she returns him. Kind of like how I returned those jeans that were too tight on my ass and too loose on my waist. Yeah, I thought I liked them, but turns out they weren't a good fit.

I believe in adoption. I believe in an institution that takes someone who is alone in the world and places them into a loving family where they can forever belong. I also believe that for it to be valid at all, there must be no difference between an adopted child and a biological child. Because if there is a difference, then there is really no such thing as adoption. If there is a difference, then all we have are people agreeing to be stewards, not parents.

But that is the utter idealistic side of me. The realistic side recognizes that there will always be a difference; it simply cannot be denied. But the key is that the difference--an emotional and evolutionary difference that cannot be helped--has to take a backseat to what should be the same (and what can be helped): commitment. You cannot guarantee that you will love the child you adopt as much as you love the child you gave birth to. Would that it were so, but you cannot. What you can guarantee is that you will give the child as much love as you give the child you gave birth to. Because the love we give and the love we feel aren't always the same thing. I'm sure there are plenty of parents (I'm sure I will be one of them) who don't always feel love towards their children, not when they're being spoiled brats, not when they get caught shoplifting, not when they act snarky and mean and terrible, as most of them will at some point. But there is a commitment built on blood that can never be denied. The adoption commitment may not be built on blood. Instead it is a commitment built on sweat and tears, based on a shared vow instead of a shared genetic makeup. It's a more difficult commitment--and one that I already know I am not prepared to make--but it is just as strong.

That being said, it is important to note that, for all I've just written and all of my sarcasm, I don't judge Ms. Tedaldi for giving back her child. I can't judge her without being a hypocrite. People make mistakes. Things get overwhelming. Vows are broken. These things happen every day. Maybe it was too much for her. Maybe a biological child of the same nature would have been too much for her (though I doubt it). I understand that, sometimes, we just can't do it.

My anger lies in the semantics of the story. I am angry that she is explaining herself to the world. That she feels the need to hold up her hand and say "I'm a failure" (because she does admit that) while at the same time quietly justifying her actions. She admits to failure, but at the same time she refuses to admit that she has done anything wrong. Failure is not the same thing as contrition. She may be a practical failure, her essay screams between the lines, but she is certainly not a moral failure!

Ultimately what she wants is for people to think that what she did was not so terrible--that in fact it worked out for the best for everybody. He got himself a better family, she learned how to be less judgmental. It was a learning experience. My problem is that it was terrible. It was human, but it was still terrible. And to me there is quite a difference.


mrs.notouching said...

Wow... it is hard to even read about it. I try not to judge her but it is much harder to do after you give birth to your own child... the way I look at the world will never be the same.

Bex said...

I know what you mean. I am way more affected by that story than I would have been before--in fact I'm way more affected by everything. I start crying when baby animals get separated from their mothers on nature shows. Seriously.