How My Granddaughter Changed My Perspective on Adoption


2011 Reunion in Ethiopia. Photo © Maureen McCauley Evans

I am pleased to have an article on today, titled “A New Light: How My Daughter’s Pregnancy Made Me Rethink Adoption.”

I am the parent through adoption to four amazing, wonderful, beloved children, now all in their late 20’s. When my daughter Aselefech, adopted from Ethiopia when she was 6, became pregnant at 17, all our lives were changed. I had worked in adoption professionally for several years. I couldn’t imagine, though, even before she was born, my granddaughter being placed for adoption.



My article includes the story of my daughter’s re-connection with her Ethiopian mother. My granddaughter is her granddaughter as well, always and in all ways that matter.

I have often spoken out about how first/birth parents deserve far more support and resources than they currently receive, and that their voices are among the most marginalized in adoption. I have also spoken out about the need for greater emphasis on family preservation. There surely is a place for ethical, transparent adoptions, and there surely are children who will benefit. That said, we need to do a better job of supporting those mothers and fathers who want to keep their children, and of providing resources and communication for those who do place their children.

My eyes were opened in many ways because of my daughter’s pregnancy and my granddaughter’s birth. A decade later, and we have all met/reunited with my daughters’ Ethiopian family. I have learned so much, about love, privilege, and family, in ways I never could have predicted.


3 thoughts on “How My Granddaughter Changed My Perspective on Adoption

  1. Hello

    It is great that you have made these realisations and written this article. Please know that the next lines i write are written in goodwill (in case the tone is not apparent).

    But it is what mothers have been saying for a very long time, and being shut down for it.

    Have you realised also that prospective adopters infertility / reproductive issues and name on a list also creates a demand and therefore pressure on pregnant mothers by adoption workers and involved parties to surrender their child for your service. So that often it is not a case of not being able to care for the child but being convinced by agents working on the behalf of the adopter (formally and informally, because we all know about the ‘pain of being infertile’, it is a well advocated ‘issue’ in culture.

    And are you aware that the bending of the law and practice by withholding the truth of adoption loss trauma (and yes it is a trauma) and withholding accuracy on the law , along with promoting the needs of the adopter while disentitling the mother (to her own child. you described the vulnerability very well) is a very common practice amongst the adoption industry in order to procure babies for adoption i.e. in order to create paper orphans? So that people on a waiting list have a child to adopt.

    Only then to have the supposed ‘grateful’ adopters renege on promises of contact ?

    And have you questioned why there can be no ongoing contact between mother and her child, so that the issues of bewilderment and loss are not so great (I do not wish to simplify open adoption as a wonderful simple arrangement but it is a sight better than the not knowing)

    Has it occurred to you that the mother may very well feel like she has also lost her grandchild as well as her daughters?

    As someone who is a mother, and who lived through the flip side of the legal entrapment, arrogance and dismissiveness of adoption practices (and practitioners and adoptive parents) I can very readily tell you of the exceptional heart breaking ongoing grief, the inhumane nature of the arrangement, the belittlement and breaking of the spirit, the fight to survive the suicide impulses (and no i didn’t have any of this before the loss of my child to permanent stranger adoption) , the inequitable legal arrangements and privilege of the adopter and the dismissive assumptions at the heart(lessens) of this law called adoption.

    I am very glad you are sensitive enough to be there for your daughter and granddaughter so that they did not have to endure what many mothers who have lost to adoption have had to endure.

  2. Thank you for this! My family and my husband’s family have both been affected by adoption. I think some of the adoptions were a good thing for both mother and child, but not all. Also, my grandmother died from a botched abortion when my mother was 7. My grandmother had already given birth to 5 children, two had been given up for adoption. And my grandmother, finding herself pregnant once again, knew that she and my grandfather couldn’t afford another child. She also couldn’t bear the thought of giving another child up. Had there been other options, she would have lived.

    On the other hand, one of my sister-in-law’s gave her son up at birth because she didn’t feel she was emotionally capable of being a good mother to him. He tells us he had the absolute best parents and is grateful my sister-in-law gave him up. Although. he would have liked to have been able to meet his bio family sooner.

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