Opinion: Adoption isn’t always a fairy tale, but it’s not a nightmare either

– In Rob Marrevee’s Vaderland book, he writes about the foreign adoption of his two sons. The Nijmegen native hopes to put an end to the “fairy tale of adoption” through his book (Trouw, 2022). Marrevee has spoken about his experiences with adoption and how his children have suffered because of it in several interviews: “If he had known the effect of adoption on boys, he wouldn’t have done it.” (Broadcaster Gelderland, 2022).

It’s been known for some time that adoption doesn’t have to be a fairy tale. From “baby farms” in Sri Lanka to the illegal abduction and sale of children in Asia: adoption does not always go well. Additionally, it isn’t necessarily smooth sailing for adopted children: many adoptees at some point begin to question their origins. One would work on it for a day and the other for years. The problem can start as early as childhood or adolescence, and it can stay with them forever. No, this adoption is neither complete nor without consequences, it is really not news.

But does this mean that we must accept the Marivian experience as the enduring truth?

My adoption story

I was adopted from China in 1999 when I was six months old. I was welcomed by a Dutch couple with open arms who could never have had children. My childhood was flawless. I went to primary school without any problems, as a result of which I got a good result. Things went wrong during puberty: I started having problems at school and had to drop out at 16. And now you may be thinking: “You see, something went wrong with her too! Marrevee is right.” But dear reader, I have bad news: all this really cannot be attributed to one thing. Is it approved? This really has nothing to do with it. I dropped out of high school because I had a backpack; It had to do with multiple DSM-5 diagnoses, all of which had nothing to do with my adoption history. Or adoption should be the new “vaccine” that you’re supposed to have autism, but I haven’t heard that conspiracy theory yet.

No, adoption has little to do with the way my life has turned out. For the most part, my background also made little difference, unless you consider my time in TTO (bilingual education) “made possible by my Asian genes”. That’s why I’m writing this: Despite adopting myself, and I’m well aware of the identity problems that can arise from this, I still have a question versus Marrevee and similar adoptive parents: Is it realistic to blame problems like truancy and cannabis smoking?

Adoption has nothing to do with the way my life has been

I will not beat the bush: I myself too have been plagued by questions about my adoption and doubt my place in Holland. In a country where I was not born but my adoptive parents brought them. Like Marrevee’s son, Zenebe, I had quarrels with my parents. I asked them critical questions about why they adopted me, and I haven’t communicated with them for several months. However, I can tell you that at the age of 23 I loved my father very much and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Quarrels are part of growing up. You can stumble into it and blame everything on the adoption registry or talk about it and make it up together.

One experience should not represent the whole picture

Everyone is free to think of something and share experiences. Marrevee has the right to tell his story, just like everyone else. But my fear is that with all the attention now being given to his story, this will become the new portrait of adoption. And I find that disturbing. I agree with Marrevee that the fairy tale of adoption is outdated, but we don’t share the same ideas about how to deal with it. My personal opinion is that the Marrevee and family experience may be there, but it is too short-sighted for the overall picture of adoption. I miss the experiences of other adoptive parents, and the press research on this topic.

When I had mixed feelings about adoption, I began to think and look beyond what I had already found and known. Thanks to the books of journalists Martijn Roessingh (Why did China give me two daughters) and Xue Xinran (Messages from a Chinese motherIt gave me a broader picture of adoption and a better understanding of the reasons why children are given up for adoption in China.

It’s easy to portray adoption as “bad,” but one shouldn’t forget that adoption saved lives, too. Where in countries like China they may have been strangled with their own umbilical cord or had no chance of life due to an underlying disease or disability, here children have been given a second chance. In the Netherlands, unwanted girls are welcomed and children called “special needs” receive appropriate care. People who wanted children, but could not have them biologically, were given the opportunity to become parents after all. And while there will undoubtedly be cases of illegal adoptions or people who would have been better off not being parents, it is important to me that adopters are not generally portrayed as “sad”: “sad that your parents abandoned you” or “you shouldn’t have been.” On your adoptive parents, “These are the comments I don’t like hearing anyway, and I know this applies to many adopters.

Adoption also saved lives

I think the topic of adoption is more complex than just a ‘fairy tale’ or ‘just a nightmare’. In fact, it is nothing but black and white and it is very important that we have a good conversation with each other. Overseas adoption involves many parties, from adoptive parents and children, and there are winners and losers. From adoptive parents who find it difficult to raise children, to the children themselves, who find it difficult to fit in here. From adoptive parents whose desire to have children is fulfilled, and is more beautiful than ever, to adopted children who cannot imagine a different life because they are happy here. Who may not live in another country.

Finally, but surely not to forget: biological parents who want only the best for their children and who have given up on it for a better future. Let us not forget these fathers either and nullify their “sacrifice”.

What is always and remains important, regardless of whether you embrace it or embrace it: Communication is a must. You cannot determine your past, but you can determine the direction of the future.

Lotte Van Dyck (23 years old), RN7 trainee and student media editor

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