Over at the Adoption Under One Roof blog, an interesting exchange followed the book review I cross-posted for Aminta Arrington’s new book, Home is a Roof Over a Pig. “John”–a retired airline pilot and single adoptive father of six sons, five who joined his family from foster care–questioned why I would want to go to Guatemala in the first place, much less establish contact with my daughter’s birth mother. In a comment titled “posterior backwards,” John wrote:
Guatemala? I used to have layovers there as an airline pilot. Street kids were seen as non-persons. No one cared about them, and it was acceptable to shoot them if they dared to steal anything. Every shop had an armed security person with a big gun and a bad attitude. Almost all folks carried a gun. Poor people were in about the same category.
Did your daughters come from a wealthy family? If not, returning them to their wonderful roots means that they accept that they are nothing, and no-one cares about them. It also means accepting that they will have no future. How is this wonderful? Guatemala is not a wonderful place for a child to grow up in, neither are parts of china.
Lets do reality, not goodie two shoes. A strange book with a strange premise, Mom and Dad work hard to become indistinct and not to be themselves and provide the unique views and opportunities that only they can provide.
To which I responded:
I may not have stated this clearly, but as I read it, Aminta Arrington’s intention is to allow her daughter to feel comfortable and familiar with the Chinese side of her heritage.
When my family visits Guatemala, our intention is the same. For us, this makes sense. Our children were born in Guatemala; Guatemala is in their DNA. Re: your statement that our kids must “accept that they are nothing, and no-one cares about them”: That hasn’t been our experience.
My fellow blogger, Lisa S, then addressed a blog post to John’s comment, in which she wrote:
Reading John’s comment touched on a sensitive subject that I roll over in my mind everyday. Through an intermediary, we have had regular contact with my daughter Ella’s birthmother. I send her photos about once a year and she gets updates frequently through our intermediary.
The birth mother is very eager to meet Ella and frequently asks when am I going to bring Ella to meet her. I have put off this trip because I am conflicted on the subject. I have discussed my conundrum with many people, some professionals, and with experienced people such as our new blogger/owner Jessica, who has experience in this area. That being said, I am still highly reticent about a reunion between my daughter and her birthmother and here is why: …
Lisa enumerates her reasons why she hesitates to go back, to which I post my response.
The entire discussion reminds me that visiting Guatemala, searching for birth family, and choosing whether or not to maintain contact are important issues for many adoptive families. The discussion also confirms that joining Adoption Under One Roof was the right decision for me. The best horizons are ones that are expanded.