I couldn't agree more Sorch my dear......As a matter of fact, adoption is not an easy option for the bio-mother either. Consider your own case. We are still many miles away from truly open adoptions, and it is likely that you would know nothing at all of your child these many years later and you could only hope that the child got the parents for which you would hope.
Adoption is such a complex issue that I am loathe to get into particulars here or even to begin to delineate all the issues involved. In general terms, here's a synopsis:
Adoptive parents are not any better or worse than bio parents, but they are different because parenting in adoption differs from bio-parenting in many ways. Some adoptive parents believe they will be succesful because they have bio-parented well and that is not the case.
Adoptive parents are made to "dance through hoops" or pay large sums of money for the privilege of adopting. The money thing always strikes me as no better than slavery and doesn't guarantee anything about the quality of the parents. Those of us who do the dance are made to open up our entire lives to all forms of checks and details and often painful rehashing of memories to people who are basically strangers. Then we are required to submit to criminal checks and fingerprinting followed by parental training classes. After all of this, you may still be turned down. From the standpoint of the child, bio-parents, agencies, etc........Guess what? Its still a crapshoot as to whether you will or will not be a good parent.
Even after much hard work, most states still build a wall to keep the bio-parents away until the child is 18. In some cases, a bio-mother may not want contact, but in many they do and would at the minimum like to know some basic details of their child's life. In most palces, they can't get it and its up to the adoptive parents to build that bridge if they so desire.
Sorcha, you ask of the kids.....What are they told and what do they feel. Tris will probably never understand the concept of adoption, but in Michael's case, he already does and knows that he is. He understands another woman gave birth to him, but Mom and Dad (us) are still his Mom and Dad. Most adoptive parents tell their kids the truth as their age allows them to understand. The truth for Michael was that his bio-mom was a nice girl who didn't know how to take care of a child.
"Son, do you remember the great flying dragon you got for Christmas? At the time, you didn't know how to use it or how to play with it did you? Do you remember what happened? Yeah, it was kinda' sad because you ended up breaking it because you didn't know what to do with it. You didn't mean to break it did you? Did you feel bad when it broke? Well, the nice girl who gave birth to you didn't understand how to take care of you, but she loved you a lot.....Just like you loved the dragon. But she loved you even more because she knew she couldn't take care of you and didn't want to hurt you, so she decided it would be better to let us be your Mom and Dad. That makes you very special because she loved you and we chose you to be our son. Most Moms and Dads just get whatever kid comes along to them, but we chose you special to be our son."
It took longer than that, but we've been telling him about it since he was able to grasp even a bit of it. The above is a shortened version of the conversation we had last year at about this time, just before he turned 7. Because we had been adding to it as he got older, he was able to understand it quite well. When he has more questions, we will answer them.......with the truth. Several years ago as he was learning what adoption was, someone asked him when he was born. He told her he wasn't born, he was chosen!
There are problems in adoption on all sides and many of them are created by the very culture we live in......Maybe I'll come back and get into more of all that, but I will tell you that no one loves their children more than Karen and I do and no matter how they arrived, they are the best part of our lives. There's a nice little poem that ends with the adoptive Mom saying, "You didn't grow beneath my heart, but in it."