Among the activities of Romania’s Pro-Life Week 2014 there was the roundtable “Adoptive Parents – Our Wishes and Problems”. The attendance was made of persons who adopted and persons who were thinking of adoption. The aim was to create a support group where all interested parties to be able to come with their own experience or ask questions. This exchange of experience can later be turned into a common action to change the usual thinking on adoption in Romania and – why not? –Romanian adoption law, which can still be improved.
The attendance was moved by Iulia’s experience. This adoptive 33-year old mother from Bucharest told the story about her pre- and post-adoption period.
She came to the meeting wishing to share her experience and help other actual or would-be adoptive mothers: “Who has already decided to adopt will do it against all odds. It’s my personal conviction after all I’ve been through. Yet, I think it’s much better if future adoptive parents are prepared about the problems that may arise. I’m sure this won’t make them less willing to follow the path they’ve chosen. On the contrary, it can make them much stronger and prepared for what lies ahead”.
Iulia said it was very difficult for her and her husband to see the child daily for one month and a half and then leave him day in day out in the foster care home, because the adoption file needed further approval.
When they finally managed to get the boy home, Iulia had to make a major sacrifice in order to be by him and respond to his emotional needs. When she realized he constantly needed her presence, she gave up a successful career in the management of a multinational company and totally devoted herself to him.
A serious problem of adoptive families in Romania is the secret of adoption. In countries with an open adoption practice, it was noticed that it’s much better for the child to know it was adopted and to have the possibility of meeting his natural parents.
That is why Iulia, after asking for advice from some friends who are expert in child psychology, decided to tell her little boy he was adopted, by using a language to his understanding. “I told him: ′All children are born at the hospital. You were born at the hospital, stayed there for a little while and then Mom and Dad came to take you home′. ”
Many testimonials from people involved in the adoption process show how sensitive this aspect of adoption is in Romania and how many difficulties it creates in the family. For instance, there are children who know they were adopted, but their parents don’t know that they know. This brings a lot of unnecessary suffering and prevarications.
It is amazing how the adopted child, through a sixth sense, feels he’s been adopted. Iulia’s experience is proof. When he grew up a bit (he is now five), her little boy became aware of his coming into the world in an unexpected way. Iulia recounts: “Last summer, at the seaside, after getting out of the water, he came to me and told me one of his dreams: ′I was in the countryside and my mother threw me by the fence. I climbed the fence and met Daddy′. He depicted a situation and used a vocabulary I had never used before with him. So I asked him: ′Which mother, me?′ He said it was another mother who had abandoned him in the dream. Another time, he dreamt he was on the bottom of a pit, from where he came out and met me. In another dream, he was on a train and descended in a station where he found me. Then I reminded him of our early childhood discussions, when I told him Mommy and Daddy had taken him home from the hospital. Then I added it was another lady who had given birth to him at the hospital, not Mommy”.
The child would have wanted to know who the lady was that had given birth to him but, unfortunately, Iulia does not have this information.
On another occasion, the family was talking about a new-born who had just come out of his mommy’s belly. Iulia’s boy told her it was the same as he had come out of Iulia’s belly. Not immediately, but later on, Iulia told her little boy: “You know, you were not in Mommy’s belly, because Mommy could not carry you. You were in another lady’s belly and were born at the hospital and then Mommy and Daddy came and took you home”.
Iulia says she never treated the adoption as a big secret to be kept from the child. It seemed much more natural not to hide this from him. “It doesn’t make us less than parents and it doesn’t make him less than our child”, she says.