But it wasn't enough. I grew up, and I functioned. I passed in the world as whole. But I wasn't whole. I was nurture devoid of nature. I was missing an essential element that I needed for psychological health.
It is true that biology does not make a parent. There are plenty of people in the world who have no biological children of their own yet are amazing parents; my husband is one of them. There are also plenty of people who give birth or provide the genetic material for a child, but, for various reasons, don't seem to know what to do after that.
Angry adoptive or prospective-adoptive parents who comment on blogs (not so much this one, but others I have read), I hear you when you say this. I really do. I also hear you when you say that there are worse things than being adopted. It is worse to endure horrible physical and psychological abuse at the hands of a biological parent. It is worse to grow up without parents at all, raised by strangers in an institutional setting. I get that. I hear you.
But I am also begging you to please, please hear me when I say this one simple thing: if you remove a child from his or her biological family and completely cut off all connection with and knowledge of that family, you are doing harm. You are depriving the child of something essential, something necessary for psychological health and well-being. From the child's point of view, biology does matter.
Now, we can argue all day about where that harm falls on the scale of things, but that's not really the point. I'm asking us to aim higher than "better than terrible." I believe that, whether we adopt or not, the children of the world are our responsibility -- all of our responsibility. I know that many of you share my view. In fact, some of you feel so strongly about this that you have decided to forgo having biological children of your own and to instead devote your energy and resources to taking care of children who are already living: children who need parents, and in some cases, not only parents but parents willing to take on the challenges of caring for children with significant special needs. You have chosen adoption as your strategy, and I am not saying that you shouldn't adopt.
But I also believe that our ultimate goal should be for all children to have not only adequate food and shelter and love and care, but also psychological health and connection to their roots and heritage. If we can love children who are not our biological offspring enough to adopt them and bring them into our homes and our hearts to be raised as our own children, can we also love them enough to want them to have the whole package?
I think we can all agree on the goal of having happy, healthy, well-adjusted children. Disagreements happen on the level of strategy. I understand that we live in a world that is far from ideal and that my goal is a lofty one. Adoption is a flawed strategy for a flawed world. It is not in itself something holy. It is crucially important for all of us who are connected to adoption to keep this in mind, and to continue to have thoughtful, critical discussions about this human-created institution. Yes, there are many situations in adoption may be the best strategy under the circumstances, but there are also many, many situations in which it is not. Let us please all continue to explore alternatives when they are viable.