The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Friday, April 12, 2013

Adoption Truth Part II: Where do babies come from?

Ariam likes to talk about where babies come from. Specific questions have included "is the belly button like an exit door?" and  "how does the baby get in there?"

She does a lot of thinking about babies. How they get in there, where they were before they were in there, and what they like to do in a uterus. She is 3. Sometimes she pulls down her shirt and pretends to breastfeed. She says she plans to be a baby doctor. She believes this means she will have a lot of babies and play doctor on them.

Not having ever carried or delivered a baby myself our conversations are usual very theoretical. If I'm being entirely honest, Ariam probably knows more anatomical names for lady parts and baby birthing than I do.

Until this happened recently...

This brave first time mama let me be a part of her 3 hour labor and delivery.

After delivery she struggled with bleeding. I was scared. I am sure she was scared. But she came through it and is doing okay. Raising her sweet boy.

This entire experience made me think.

Maybe, along with our adoption training, every adoptive parent should be required to attend a real life labor and delivery. Complete with pushing and vomit and tears and sweat. The ring of fire and tearing. Placenta and umbilical cord and more tears. Relief and more relief when the baby finally proves he won't be staying inside forever.

A new perspective:

Look at the strength it takes to bring forth life.
Look at the power of the female body and mind.
Look at the love and connection that rushes through those first few minutes - mother still connected to baby through their umbilical cord. (I had no idea what that would look like!)

I have been filled with a sense of awe ever since. It was so redemptive to see a mother struggle through delivery and to know that she will be supported and cared for as she learns how to mother for the first time.

Where do babies come from? Every baby comes from his or her mother. They are not created out of thin air. They are brought into this world in a flood of blood and pain and joy and sometimes sorrow. But they do not appear magically and they are not created in a womb as a mechanism to supply children for adoption.

I knew this logically and rationally. And I know you do too. But our hearts and our actions need to reflect this. All choices made around a child's care and future needs to reflect this reality.

My important adoption truth - babies come from mothers.

Thanks for taking this journey into the truth with me. Your supportive comments and privately shared stories meant a lot yesterday. I have never clicked refresh on my inbox that many times in one day.

~ A


  1. You are brave, you are strong, thank you for speaking the truth.

  2. It was super sweet you were invited to this birth. Glad you got to witness Y's strength and joy.

  3. This is a WONDERFUL post! Are you familiar with Women who place their babies for adoption are AMAZING sacrificial heroes. These women love their babies!

  4. Very true... As a bio mom to 3 and an A-mom to 1, this is something I knew but it hit me in a different way when I was pregnant AFTER adopting. I realized afresh how many things I had missed with Zeke and how much those losses impacted our relationship even 2 years after him joining our family.

  5. I agree absolutely with what you've shared. After two adoptions my eyes have been opened like yours. Thank you for putting this into words. I know it's not easy. :)

  6. The birth of my son was fraught with lots of trauma--a few times we thought he wouldn't make it. It made me think of maternal health care in a way I hadn't before. And then Aberash came along and I think about her birth in Ethiopia all the time and how it has shaped every movement, conscious or not, in her life. Makes me even more protective of her.

  7. I got to watch my daughter be born (ten months before she became my daughter, long before we ever knew she would be my daughter) and it was the most intense, amazing thing I had ever witnessed. You're right - it does change everything. Suddenly these children come from real women. It's not just some baby factory in the third world (which we tend to say like it's another dimension, don't we?) churning out babies to satisfy us. These are real people, giving life, and then giving it away because of circumstances that we can't even begin to comprehend.

    I spent a considerable amount of time in Haiti as a teenager and I could never wrap my head around the idea that these women would leave their children. How could poverty be so crushing? But it is. And society, and life, and emotions, and every other thing. It can crush a person to a point where giving away their child, or leaving them in a street, or handing them to a white stranger and running away - those seem like valid options to save your child's life.

    When I became a mother, I understood that if saving my children meant giving them away, I would do it in an instant. But the thought of never seeing them again, the thought that the only way to give them even a basic life would mean I could never be in it, that was devastating. And yet sometimes that's what we're asking people to do for us to become parents.

    (I'm sorry for writing a novel. I obviously have a lot of thoughts on this. Perhaps I should respond to you privately though instead of clogging up your comments...)

    1. I am so very happy to have comments filled with deep thoughts on this topic Kait. I think this is a conversation that absolutely has to happen publicly. I know your story and why you witnessed your daughter's birth. What a powerful story you she and her mother have together.

  8. From the outside looking in (adult adoptee) - I have always thought that instead of saying "we are adopting a baby" prospective parents should have to say "we are adopting someone elses baby".

    1. Someday all adopted "babies" become adults. What a powerful voice and perspective you represent.

    2. Sometimes I do so in a very grumpy manner.. simply because all the lessons have taught decades ago but whitewashed over. I think most adoptive parents are naive when they start out and once they see the not-so-shiny side and dare to speak out they are then they are the bad guys too. I hope you don't experience that - and I hope everyone continues to speak up and demand adoption be done right or not at all.

      Off my soap-box now...

  9. I am so glad you are writing about this. I read your last post and this one, and I am so grateful for your voice.

    I have a lot of memories that I treasure, but kissing my oldest daughter's mother's face and holding her tight, after thinking it would never happen, is one of the best moments of my life to date. Because you are so right: babies come from mothers, mothers who love so fiercely and beautifully, mothers who would do anything for their children out of that mother love. I hope people read the truth of your post and understand it deeply. I hope that other adoptive parents feel the ache in their bones that the mothers of their children must feel every day.

  10. And from fathers too, can we also remember the fathers? My boy's first mother is gone but his father still holds him in his heart and mind.

    1. Yes! Fathers too. I feel badly for not mentioning this.


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