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ADOPTION EDUCATION, LLC


OPENNESS IN ADOPTION

by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


A CASE AGAINST ARTIFICIAL TWINNING 7 - continued

The Professional View

Though most adoption professionals want to offer appropriate support and education to families already created, I have found no responsible adoption providers who encourage pseudo-twinning of newborns or argue on its behalf. Few willingly engage in it. Still, there has been no professional call to have artificial twinning banned by law, and there is unlikely to be one. Rutgers researcher and clinical professional Dr. David Brodzinsky cautions that if children are raised as if they are twins there can be drastic consequences, and he advises against artificial twinning in general. But he points out something very important for us to hear: that when parents of back-to-back children are realistic in their expectations and are well supported, most families appear to function quite well.

Child therapist Michael Trout, an expert on infant attachment issues and director of the Infant-Parent Institute in Champaign, Illinois, believes that healthy preparation for parenting in adoption can't happen when adopters' don't give themselves the unencumbered opportunity to experience a psychological pregnancy, but instead the adopters' focus is on "getting the baby out of there (away from the birth family)."

"This is unnatural," writes Trout in an issue of Pact Press, "and it makes people manipulative, dishonest with themselves and incomplete," reminding us, "A pregnant woman does not begin pregnancy thinking only of how to get the baby out of there (away from her uterus). She and the baby's father get to linger over the separateness and reality of the baby in this place they cannot touch. They get to ponder all the ways their lives will be changed and they get a chance to fantasize running away, as well as to fantasize the wonder of opening their space and their hearts to this new, separate and mysterious new person." Trout joins me in advocating for a psychological pregnancy for adopters-an almost impossible task for would-be parents hedging their bets by "working all the options."

According to Joyce Maguire Pavao, a well-known family therapist specializing in adoption and who was herself adopted, artificial twinning should be avoided. "It's difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill both children's needs," she states in an interview with the New York Times (December 26, 1991), noting also that adolescence may be a particularly difficult time for artificially twinned adoptees.

The consensus of professional opinion seems to be that adopting two children at once, adopting while in treatment, or pursuing treatment while actively working on an adoption are bad ideas for everybody: for would-be parents, for birthparents and gamete donors, for the professionals who care about each of these clients, and, most of all, for the children.

7 "Instant Family? A Case against Artificial Twinning" appeared in articles in Adoptive Families magazine, Pact Press, and Serono Symposia USA's newsletter Insights into Infertility before becoming part of Launching a Baby's Adoption and then this book.

 

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