Oprah has a biological half-sister. Her mother placed a baby for adoption when Oprah was nine. Oprah lived with her father in another state, so she didn't know about the baby until a few months ago. I Tivo'd the show earlier this week when Oprah made the big announcement and then finally watched it last night. I was riveted, so I hope you got to see it too. There were some unfortunate aspects of the story. I was really sorry to hear the sadness and pain that came from Patricia's (the half-sister) adoption story. There was no mention of the adopted family, or why she was in foster care for so many years, so I can only assume that the entire situation was not good. I hate hearing adoption stories like that because some people then assume that all adopted children suffer pain. And that is just not true. In this specific case, it sounds like she had some lousy parents, and that happens plenty of times when families are formed the old-fashioned way too.
However, I thought the story was mostly fabulous. I love it when adoption -- specifically open adoption -- gets a national audience. And who better than Oprah to tell an adoption story!
I loved that Patricia said over and over again that finally meeting her biological family made her feel whole. I believe that too and that is precisely why we have deep and meaningful relationships with our boys' birth families. In fact, Sambo's birthmom is coming over tonight. I hope my boys always feel whole. I hope they never have to formulate their own conclusions because they don't have answers to their beginnings. Fear breeds from a lack of knowledge and understanding. And there really is no reason for my sons to have any fear or worry about their adoptions.
And mostly I loved that Oprah encouraged her mother to let go of the guilt of placing a baby for adoption. Placing a baby is not shameful. It's hard. It's excruciating. But it is not bad. If society could stop making birth mothers feel ashamed of placing a baby, we'd have more women make that choice. And the women that do make that choice could have an easier time healing.
On a related note, Oregon and Idaho have several proposed bills that would essentially make it impossible, if not very difficult, for a woman to choose to a place a baby for adoption. Considering I have a boy born in each Oregon and Idaho, these bills concern me. They are supported by birth mothers that had bad experiences and had their babies "taken" from them years ago. Fortunately, those scenarios don't happen any more because they are illegal and unethical. And fortunately open adoption is the trend now, thus eliminating that fear I was talking about before.
I look forward to getting involved to make sure these bills get stopped before moving past committee. If the time comes where we need more support I will call on my friends and family to pitch in to help write letters too. I will keep you posted!