Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Further thoughts on adoption

Some of you responded to my previous post about my disturbing thought by talking about voluntariy relinquishment of children who were taking into foster care. That is good -- I always like it when people help other realize that something is more complicated than others were realizing.

The post was written because of some of the posts I've been reading lately, and because I kept seeing adoption advertisements on that site where Cindy's Older Children Adoption Blog is. There are always pictures of pretty, young white women and several photographs of happy couples. I look at those ads and wonder, Why is this okay? Why is it is okay to advertise to young women to encourage them to make this choice? How would we respond if the ad were addressed to women caring for babies and toddlers? "Are you exhausted and overwhelmed? Worried about how to pay for college? We know you love your child and want the best for her. Consider adoption. The loving choice."

I suddenly saw a whole series of ads. They could show photographs of women being told they had lost their jobs because they missed to many days of work because the baby was sick, or watching their toddler play with scary gang-member types in the background, or even crying while watching a man walk away.

And I got nauseous. And rather suddenly the ads for the infant adoption seemed abhorent too.

I should be clear. I want to be supportive of women who are deciding what to do when they are pregnant. I want to support women who are considering an adoption plan. If I am that woman's friend, I want to help her to discover what all her options are. I want to help her find all the resources she can. If she decides making an adoption plan is what is best for her and her baby then I will hold her hand and if anyone tells her, "I would never give away my baby" I will offer to slap that person, or maybe just go make them read Suz's blog or Zoe's most recent post.

And at the same time I will be angry about the injustices of the world. I will be angry that women have so few options, that single parenthood is made so difficult, that we do not take care of adults who need to be cared for, that basic things like health care and day care and jobs that provide a living wage are so hard to come by.

Yesterday my husband came home angry because one of his aides has asked to quit and be rehired as a permanent substitute. Her husband has lost health care benefits at his work. Her children have chronic health problems and they cannot pay the bills. In order for her children to qualify for medical assistance, she has to make less money. He is not angry at her for asking this. He thinks she is making the only choice she can. He, and I, are infuriated that we live in a world where people have to quit their jobs in order for their children's health care needs to be met.

So when I think from the place of the woman who has to make the decision I feel calm and ready to support whatever decision she makes.

When I think about the ways our society puts women in this situation, I get angry.

And when I think of an industry that exists to persuade her to relinquish because she is poor and some infertile couple are so very sad, I want to vomit.

And yes, I have left fathers out of this post. I think that most, but not all the time, when women are in this place the fathers are not part of the decision. They are not there. That makes me angry too, but that is another post.


  1. And when I think of an industry that exists to persuade her to relinquish because she is poor and some infertile couple are so very sad, I want to vomit.

    Me too, gf. Me too.

  2. I hadn't thought of it in the way you expressed it. We don't have that industry here. All adoptions in all situations here are done through social services (ie: the gov't), there are no private agencies making money through infant adoption.

  3. This is what keeps me awake at night, Yondalla. Seriously. I really don't think we would ever do anything besides an identified adoption, or one with an agency that is part of a social service network.

    And if you need any other reason to hate domestic adoption, take a look at the "pricepoints" for different races of babies.

    It really is nauseating. And I think most people are completely unaware of it.

  4. Oooh, I just reread my comment and I wanted to clarify....
    I don't think babies should have prices and that certainly isn't the way I think of them, but pricepoints seems the right terminology to use when we're talking about agencies.

    I hope that's obvious, but you know, just in case.

  5. I don't think those ads on the adoption blogs are aimed at young pregnant women, I think they are aimed at potential adoptive couples.

    They show couples that look like them. The ads depict a young, white, smiling teenager - an image that feeds into the stereotype; that just like that other couple who is just like you, you too can adopt a caucasian infant from a teen mom who is happy. The End.

    But that's not the whole story, but it is an advertisement, not a more indepth look at all the complications of adoption.

  6. Perhaps I feel differently about this because I adopted an infant. But I'm very glad that adoption of infants is available. I don't--and I don't think I had a problem before I adopted either--think it's such a bad thing that there are people who want to parent and people who don't or can't parent. And getting them together just, well, makes the world a better place.

    Also, don't forget that while some bio parents choose adoption for financial reasons, many do it for other reasons. They weren't ready to be a parent, they don't want to be a single parent, they were surprised or in denial, etc.

    I guess I also think it's a good thing when people realize they can't financially afford something. Whether that's a child or a material object doesn't matter to me. What matters is that they realized this and did something about it.

    Well, and that they didn't have an abortion and allowed their child's life to also grace someone else's. I am very thankful that my daughter was simply born.

    My life would be quite emptier if we hadn't adopted. And is it so wrong that we did not want to adopt from foster care, where we would have known from the start that we wouldn't have any chance of a fairly normal life? (Which we already aren't expecting, as we expect to become parents to our sister with FAS, one of the reasons we did not want to adopt a child coming in with known problems. and yes, in our neck of the woods, we were told it was virtually impossible to adopt a healthy infant or toddler and any child over the age of 5 would have problems if adoptable from foster care. We looked there first, in fact. Not to mention that we could have only done so if we accepted a legal risk placement as well.)

  7. I forgot one thing I'd wanted to mention: Some people simply do not want to be parents, or do not want to parent another child, but find themselves pregnant.

  8. AnnMarie,

    I think I may have got clearer in the most recent post.

    I don't disagree with most of what you have said. I don't think that placing a child or adoption or adopting a child who has been place is unethical. Neither of those acts is wrong, and I can be done for all sorts of reasons. Most of the reasons why someone might do it I regard as none of my business.

    What I am objecting to is the adoption industry. I object to agencies whose objective is persuading parents to place their children. I object to putting pregnant women in a position where they will feel that they are obligated to relinquish.

    I want a system in which the people who work with the mothers to make certain that they have understood all their options and are not coerced. I want them to have enough time after the birt of the baby to confident in their choice.

    And if a mother who has thought about it, knows her options and is not being coerced wants to place a baby, I support her right to do so. I will be as encouraging and supportive of that choice as I possibly can. I will not tell her that her reasons are not good enough. Her reasons are her reasons.

    And the couple who adopts this freely placed baby -- they too are doing a good thing.


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