Both Sides Now- Joni Mitchell is a birthmother

Sometimes my emotions run so deep that words, written, or said verbally, cannot even begin to touch the depth. And in those moments I turn to music, and have been known to listen to the same song (or set of songs) again-and again-and again, until something changes or I cannot cry anymore.

I can’t write more about it. My heart is hurting too much, so I’m sharing my go-to song to express the depth of emotions that I am feeling at the news of a sweet 4 year old being ripped from her tribe, her daddy, her sister and extended family, and thrust into the confusing world of being raised by genetic strangers with a reality that doesn’t match the reality that you know in your heart.

This is a song I grew up with. My dad sang it to me as a little girl, because I loved the imagery of bows and flows of angels hair. I listened to it a thousand times before I knew that Joni Mitchell was a birthmother in reunion with her daughter. And while we may dicker about whether it was really written with adoption or reunion in mind, I’ll say that it cuts to my very soul and makes me feel the complexity of life and confusion seeing the world from the perspective of innocence, and the eyes of the ‘old soul’ who has witnessed far too much in such a short amount of time.

And so, this song is for Veronica.

Both Sides Now
-Joni Mitchell
Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that wayBut now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my wayI’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

Oh but now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From WIN and LOSE and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

What music can you listen to repeatedly? Any mood music (sad/happy/angry/depressed) that is your go to? 

Personal Opinion on Adoption

What is your opinion of adoption today? Are you in favor of or against adoption, and how do various circumstances affect your opinion? Has your opinion changed over time? If so, what caused you to rethink your former opinion? What do you think is the biggest need for change in the adoption industry or is the current model for adoption fine the way it is?

I am fundamentally a family preservationist. My opinion is both influenced by my adoptee status, as well as my professional work as a mental health professional specializing in adoption, foster-care and crisis work.

I believe that women and men should be supported in raising their children, regardless of their parental age, socio-economic status, race, or educational achievement level.

I believe that women should bond with their babies after birth before they make the decision whether they can or want to raise their children, because hormones and emotions are powerful, and even I, an almost-30-first time mom with a Master’s degree/home/good job/partner did not believe, while pregnant, that I could do it.

I believe when individuals do not wish to parent, that children should be raised by close biological kin…aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins.

And when children are unable to be raised by biological kin, I believe they should be cared for by fictive kin, (“aunties” or neighbors or members of the church/synagogue) and be able to retain their original identity as a member of their biological family.

I believe that children should have a safe place to grow up, free from neglect and abuse.

I believe in providing homes for children who need homes, and not babies for individuals who want babies.

I do not believe that adoption is the ultimate answer to the statements above.

But if adoption has to happen, I believe that it should be open, and legally enforced custody arrangement on both sides, so that a “birth parent” cannot cause an adoptee to lose access to their family, and an adoptive family cannot simply decide to close the adoption for whatever whim they decide.

Because, the way I see, it, adoption as a system, is so flawed that it can be considered broken. This may seem shocking to people, because from a dominate narrative, adoption is a booming wonderful industry that is bringing “forever families” together. I see it very differently. I see the number of viable adoptable infants going down each year, because of a greater support system for un-wed young moms, and the money on marketing toward women in order to coerce or influence an adoption plan when a woman could be supported in keeping her baby is going up. I, in fact, am a victim of the pervasive subversive supply and demand need by the ever starving adoption industry.

I had gone in for my first wellness check with Potamus, around 12 weeks or so into my pregnancy, and the whole tone of the appointment changed when the nurse learned that Potamus was not, in fact, planned. The next thing out of her mouth was, “have you considered adoption?”

Potamus was not a child languishing in an orphanage because of abuse and neglect, and I was not some crack-whore who needed my kid taken from me. But I was nervous about pregnancy and whether I could do it, and I can only imagine that if I had been younger or with less support, even I might have fallen victim to such preying-on tactics. And I believe that it is unacceptable for that to take place.

But adoption is a booming business, and needs mothers to be separated from their children in order for cash-paying couples to get what they want.

It’s gruesome to look at it that way, but it is the truth. Money changes hand. You can try say that the money I spend in a restaurant is to go for the servers and the cookers and the dining room chairs, but, I am, at the end of the day, buying a burger to eat. And that is how current adoption is functioning, here in America. When money gets involved the corruption skyrockets.

And then, we take our shiny American dollar and go into a foreign country where it is worth MUCH more and see children who (legitimately) need to be cared for…but then people realize that there is money to be made, and the (equally legitimate) trafficking of children happens. This is why countries have shut down their international adoptions, because American dollars flood a poor economy, and women feel forced to relinquish kids, or they are kidnapped, and sold into rings where they are made available for American adoptions. Nepal. Vietnam. Guatamala. Ethiopia. Check it out, it is disgusting…AND takes away from children who might also legitimately need homes or to be cared for.

So, if I were to change anything, it would be the money aspect. And the society’s rosy color glass belief that adoption is really a win-win situation for everyone. But that’s probably a topic for another day.