Friday, September 14, 2007

Gone to a good home

Oh boy. I just finished watching a repeat of Gone to a Good Home, a documentary about adoption practices in Australia between the 1950s and the 1970s. Over 150 000 unwed mothers had their babies taken from them at birth, most never even catching a glimpse of their child. They didn't choose to give their children over to adoption, they were tricked or forced into signing the papers. Most would have chosen to raise their child and would probably have done a wonderful job of it.

The documentary follows Lily's story, and if you didn't know it to be true you'd think she was making it up. The bullying, discrimination and harsh treatment that these teenage girls endured is horrific, and as a result many of them lived sorrow-filled lives.

It makes me question the circumstances surrounding birth mothers/parents of abandoned Chinese babies. We may never know whether they experience the same heartbreak yet feel that they have no choice due to societal pressures and national law. Even though their babies may not be forcefully taken from them (though in cases they are... usually before they are born), the situation that leads the mother/parents to abandon is often a result of social expectations and responsibility. Yes, I'm probably generalising and I'm acutely aware that every case is different, but I can't help but wonder how these women/couples deal with their choices (or lack of) for the remainder of their lives.

We look back on Australia's adoption history and in cases like Lily's story we are deeply saddened. We wonder, 'how could we really have been like that?' because the world is such a different place now. What will China and the world be like in another thirty years, and will Chinese society reflect on it's nation's practices and be equally saddened at the situations that lead so many children to be abandoned?

One of those babies will be ours. And there probably won't be a single day where I won't think about her birth parents. Even though loss is at the heart of adoption, it can also be something so joyous and beautiful, as families are created and children gain parents. Even though adoption is our first preference, we acknowledge that it may really be the second-best option for a child who deserves to be raised in their culture with their birth family. Unfortunately that option is not available for so many children. I think the second-best option is a pretty darn good one, and I'm working my butt off to learn everything I can about parenting transnationally adopted children to ensure that our baby always knows unconditional love and acceptance.


Anonymous said...

...and you will be an unbelievable parent!!! What a moving blog Em! Food for thought!
Karen S.

OziMum said...

I have never seen that doco, my MIL would love to see it. As she was one of those Mothers. I don't think people believe her, when she says, my daughter was part of the "stolen generation", it didn't just happen to Aboriginal people.

I'll be looking into this one! THanks so much Emma!