I said it

The statistics:

“According to Dr. Ruth McRoy at the UT School of Social Work, there are approximately 5,000,000 US births each year. Of that, approximately 118,000 are adoptions (roughly 2.36% new adoptees each year). Anywhere in the US, a minimum of 2.3% of the population are women who are also birthmothers who have placed children for adoption. Then you also have 2.3% of the population who are birth fathers, and 4.7% of the population who are adoptive parents. Total that up and you have about 11% of the population who are triad members. That does not count aunts, uncles and grandparents to adoptive families and birth families.
Whenever you are in a room of strangers you can figure that one out every ten is a triad member.”
from www.reocities.com

The Evan B. Donaldson study from 1997 claims that one in five Americans is or knows someone close to them who is a member of the triad.

The 767 I flew on today had around 300 passengers. I sat next to an adoptee. How often, I wonder, do two members of the triad who are total strangers end up sitting next to one another? She was a charming 40-something on her way to visit her terminally ill 82-yr-old mother. Born to a 15-year-old, she was adopted by a woman who’d already had eleven kids.
I told her my story. “Well, you did the noble thing,” the woman said. “I would not have wanted to be raised by my 15-year-old birthmother.” I might have smiled and nodded or even said thank you when someone said this to me years ago.
“I don’t buy that line of thinking anymore,” I said today. “I think society needs to work harder at keeping mothers and babies together.” She was a little taken aback, and nervously fingered the psychology textbook she’d propped on her tray table. We talked a bit longer about separating mother and child and the hole that separation leaves in both lives. She’s working on her Masters in clinical psychology. Maybe just maybe what she knows about herself, what she knows about mothering her 4-year-old son, what we talked about today will affect how she counsels triad members in her future practice as a psychologist.

4 thoughts on “I said it

  1. Von

    If she believes only empirical evidence counts, then maybe not.
    If she believes in “the triad” it won’t help her to be unbiased either.Triads suggest equal partnership, when clearly in adoption that it not so; babies have no choice, mothers little or none, leaving the adopters/adoption industry in the driving seat.Part of the myth of adoption.

  2. maryanne

    “Triad” is just a word to describe the parties in adoption, and it is one that has become commonplace, like “birthmother, another word that has acquired all sorts of connotations it never had, and only has in the small insular world of adoption reform. Generally none of these connotations mean anything to the general public, and talking about them just derails the conversation.

    Maybe this adoptee learned something from meeting and talking to a birthmother about her life, grief, and feelings that would have been lost had she been lectured to about the word “triad” or any other word.

    Telling our own stories and meeting people where they are serves our cause much better than getting on a politically correct soap box with strangers.

  3. maryanne

    “Popular adoption words” are only loaded to the insiders who perceive them that way. To the general public they are just words. Getting hung up on using the “proper” words according to one’s own idea of political correctness only hampers understanding and dialogue with the rest of the world.


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