To “Jane,” Who Doesn’t Want to Be Called “Baby Thief”

Dear “Jane:

I’d like to start this by saying I understand your feelings are hurt. I imagine that encountering the online family preservation community was like a slap in the face.

I’m pretty sure that’s because you’ve been told all your life what a blessed and booful and beneficent thing adoption is…for people like you. And I doubt you’ve questioned that very much. I’m writing this to tell you it is time to start questioning that, if only for your future adoptee’s sake, because your future adoptee will be the product of pain and loss.

I know you want your own child, and I know it will seem very cruel to you when I ask you to perform the following thought experiment:

1) Think about what it would be like to bear your own child out of your own body, to have what you so long for.
2) Ask yourself: Who would willingly let go of that precious child? Who would willingly give it away?

The answer is and always has been “almost nobody.” The only reason most “birth mothers” win that title is that they felt they had no other choice. What you stand to benefit from, what you hope and pray for, what you literally describe yourself as entitled to is someone else’s unthinkable tragedy.

I’m not even going to talk much about what adoption is for the adoptee here, because there’s only so long a blog post can be. Just think about the woman you expect to willingly hand over her child to you (and then, as you say, “be respectful” of you…should you stoop to an open adoption…if you must).

I asked you to imagine that because you describe first mothers’ regret over losing their children as “blame-shifting.” You really seem to believe that if a woman relinquishes a child, it’s because she had a free and uncoerced choice to do so. We live in a society where women earn less than men and our reproductive choices are constantly challenged; yet when a woman gives up her own flesh and blood, you seem to think she is a free agent.

You are “blame shifting.” You are blaming women for the very misfortune you expect to benefit from.

If, as you say, you believe adoption can be about “finding homes for children,” then you should seek out an existing child who needs a home. Do not write “Dear Birthmother” letters to pregnant women, do not rent billboards with messages aimed at pregnant women, do not put ads aimed at pregnant women in the Penny Saver, do not pay a pregnant woman’s medical expenses, do not start a website telling pregnant women what you can give their babies.

If taking in a child who really needs a home is so unacceptable to you because it might be temporary (or for any other reason), then don’t pretend you want to give a home to a child who needs one.

I believe you when you say infertility hurts, but these days there are simply not enough desperate women lacking reproductive choices out there to supply every couple who wants one with a child. Again, that is literally what you are complaining about:  a shortfall of desperate women without reproductive choices. And you have the gall to claim such women have the advantage over you:

A person who is coming to adoption from a place of infertility is NOT in a position of power over anyone.

An infertile person is not in a position of privilege, no matter what these other groups might like to believe.

Infertility does not negate privilege. If you are well-off enough to consider adoption, you ARE in a position of privilege relative to the child’s first mother. How else could you adopt?

You live in a Western democracy. You are almost certainly white. You can realistically consider adopting. That means you either have access to a great deal of money or to the ability to borrow or otherwise obtain that money. I understand it may not feel that way, but you are incredibly privileged. To say you lack privilege because you’re infertile on a planet where women’s fertility has always been an instrument of our oppression is untrue and offensive.

[Critics] also place a moral judgement on a couple’s only alternative to parenthood and make adoption seem like it’s only being done to satisfy [APs’] selfish needs.

“Jane,” that is where you lost the last scrap of my sympathy . “Alternative to parenthood”? I was not my adoptive parents’ alternative to parenthood; I was their route to parenthood. They were and are (two of) my (four) parents. When you phrase it this way, you’re saying adoptive parenthood is not parenthood, and that is no attitude with which to raise an adopted child. While parenting adopted children is different from parenting biological children, it is certainly parenting. If you don’t think it is, you need to do some of those things the mean family preservation people might have told you to do, like get a pet, because what’s the diff? Pretending is pretending, isn’t it?

Why should my desire to become a parent [don’t you mean become an alternative to a parent?] be seen any differently [than the desire of fertile people]?

Because your desire literally depends on someone else’s loss, that’s why. I know I keep saying that. I’m saying it again because it is the point you keep missing and missing and missing.

As an infertile couple, we have the same right as anyone else to adopt and build a family.

That is true: You have the same a right to another woman’s baby or child that anyone else has, which is no right at all.

Know what might make infertility hurt a little bit less? Letting go of the (insane) idea that somewhere out there is a woman who is hatching a very special baby intended just for you. Because as long as you believe in her, you can believe in your entitlement to her offspring and her (also insane) desire to freely give them to you. And the more deprived you feel of what’s hers, the more you hurt.

The family you feel entitled to build is not rightfully yours. That (insane) idea is bullshit, and it always was bullshit. It seemed saner in the past because women had fewer rights and choices then. Adoption is an act that, were women accorded full human rights, would be so rare that the word would lose its current meaning. And while I suspect infertility hurts more than I can imagine, I think all the women who did not and do not want to relinquish their children are more important than that pain. And I think it’s many decades past time to kill the idea that anyone is literally entitled to a child if s/he can find a family tragedy to benefit from (and plunk down the bucks).

PS: I also think it’s over the top and unconstructive to call people who are not, for example, the Capobiancos “baby thieves,” but that’s beside the point.

 

67 Comments

Filed under General Ignoramitude, Misognyny, Those Wacky PAPs

Returns Not Valid After Six Years

So this story popped up in my email. You know the kind: Child ungovernable! bad product! give us a refund…and then some!

So I Googled the APs’ names and found this. By their own account, this boy seemed to be adjusting splendidly at that time.

What a difference six years in a loving adoptive home makes! Kinda makes an urchin wonder who gave this kid to these people…and what happened to him under their roof. I would say I’m trying to imagine being eight years old and expected to call a 69-year-old stranger Daddy, but I’m not, because I don’t want to. I don’t want to.

“Love the boy dearly,” my ass. “Ruined [y]our lives,” my ass. Also, what does “he was a risk for severe mental illness” mean? I think it means you have grown weary of your expensive toy, because every human ever born is “a[t] risk for severe mental illness.” If this case is what it seems to be, I hope the adoption activist community and cosmic justice will get all over this couple like stink on shit.

2 Comments

Filed under Forever Family, WTF?!, You're going to Hell for this.

Social Worker: I Hate Telling People No Families Have Been Shattered Lately

“I hate telling people we don’t have a child for them,” says an anonymous “social worker” who’s just so brought down when s/he is not immediately able to pony up the goods to the many, many couples who apparently make New Year’s resolutions to order up a kid. No, really:

I love my job, but returning after the Christmas break I find a mountain of inquires that have built up, each someone wanting to know how they can adopt. They are full of hope and motivated by a new year and a fresh start.

As wonderful as it is to know so many want to open their lives to an adopted child,

Oh, here we go again. If you have your own child, your life doesn’t have to be opened, your heart doesn’t have to be opened, and your home doesn’t have to be opened: they just ARE open. If you want us to think adoption is wonderful, stop implying adoptees are inferior.

my heart sinks. I know I, or a colleague, will have to contact them and the likelihood is we will dash their hopes.

Because that’s what adoption is about: meeting the desires of people who decide every year that this January is the month they will order up and be supplied with a child. Isn’t it odd that a social worker would fail to mention that these children are not in fact manufactured to order, but were given birth to by real live women, and are only available because something terrible has happened? I mean, don’t social workers have anything to do with securing those children for adoption in the first place? Aren’t social workers the people facing relinquishing a child are referred to? To this “social worker,” those original families just…don’t exist. You will not read of them once in this article about how tragic it is that everyone who requests one can’t have someone else’s child. Nor will you read of the effects adoption might have on children.

We have lots of adopters approved already, and for many this will be the second or even third new year since they made a tentative inquiry and started the adoption process. Back then, we were welcoming all potential adopters with open arms, explaining how the number of children waiting was growing month by month.

Ah, the good old days when kiddy vending machines operated above capacity! You’re talking about the 1950s, right? No? There were oodles of snuggly wuggly adoptable children available to anyone who wanted one three years ago? That’s not the story anyone in adoption has been telling for decades now. For decades now everyone’s been moaning about a “shortage.” While an article this author links to says adoptions have fallen 50% in the last two years, I find it hard to believe there was a booming child surplus before that. And if there was, well, that was a failure of the social system, wasn’t it? Adoption almost always represents a failure of the social system.

How I wish we had known the change that was about to take place; how we wish we could have prepared these people better for the frustration and heartache to come.

You could have. You could have said “There are no guarantees. This is how things are now, but the institution of adoption is subject to change. It has changed before, and it will change again. At present, the average couple waits from between X and X [months, years, whatever].” But you didn’t. You gave them all a cutesy reply instead:

We were always honest, we explained there is no timescale to be matched with a child and when asked “how long will it take?” would reply “how long is a piece of string?”.

So you’re sorry you weren’t preparing them, but you say you were preparing them?

But we certainly hadn’t anticipated that small ball of string would become a huge knotted boulder.

In November 2013, judge Sir James Munby said in a case ruling that councils must consider alternatives to adoption, such as extended family members. This meant adoption placement orders decreased, while special guardianship orders rose significantly. It feels as though adoption has been in freefall ever since.

Oh my god, what a tragedy. I mean, the horrible, unjust burden of considering keeping a child in his or her own family whenever possible–such a thing is unthinkable. You are not a social worker, Sir or Madam; you are a procurer of flesh. How dare you. (When I first read this noisome claptrap, this is the point at which I actually began to cry. My go-to emotion, anger, dodged right out of the way and made room for sadness. This isn’t normal for me, but it happens, and it’s part of why I don’t blog more often.)

Recently, the government announced proposed changes to the law that would mean adoption is always pursued when it’s in a child’s best interests.

And we all know what that means. It means that if someone wants to adopt, they are immediately in the child’s best interests and the child’s own family are immediately not. If I didn’t know that before, I would know it after reading the article linked to at “proposed changes,” because it bemoans the decline in adoption numbers and proclaims that the new law is intended “to increase the number of children adopted.” Adoption should never be about quotas.

In 2012 when I moved from safeguarding work to adoption, the approved adopters on my caseload were generally matched with a child within two months. Now, anything less than a 12-month wait is said to be speedy.

A year. An entire year! Some people wait three months longer than it would take to make their own baby to adopt! Can you imagine?! Horrific! Outrageous! Why, my own APs, in the mid-sixties, waited a mere eighteen months to adopt me oh wait.

It’s not just the length of time; it’s the emotional impact of waiting and hoping, seeing a profile of a child, imagining your life with them in it and then being told stronger links are being pursued. Or as one adopter put it, “someone else is better than me”.

Mr. or Ms. “Social Worker,” that is not a product of the last two or three years; that is how adoption works. Waiting, hoping, and fearing “someone else” might get picked instead of you have always been part of the adoption process. If this “social worker” is saying people could have a kid dumped into their laps on request two years ago, then s/he’s really arguing for the changes s/he dislikes so much.

Well, on and on it goes: those poor people, they want a kid so badly, they are so unhappy when they can’t have one. No other parties to adoption are worth considering–except, of course, the “social workers:” This makes adoption practitioners feel helpless, but all we can do is lend a listening ear when it gets too much.

So you are not a social worker at all: You are, as I said, a flesh peddler.

And PAPs have other problems, too, like not being in the best interests of the children they want at all:

To complicate the situation, the majority of adopters do not feel able to meet the complex needs of the children waiting. The vast majority of those needing adoptive placements are over the age of five, larger sibling groups, have complex needs, or are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

(B-bu-but their open lives!) At this point, Mr. or Mrs. Baby Broker is a hair’s breadth away from demanding that more healthy white newborns be produced for his or her clients, and that’s just evil. You’ll notice s/he didn’t waste a second considering the feelings of the kids actually needing adoption, either. Feelings are for “social workers” and PAPs.

Here is where the “social worker” links to a letter from adoptive parents who, having scored one adorable child, are very disappointed because they were assured their second adoption would take six months. Not the length of a piece of string, six months. Mr. or Ms. “Social Worker,” if people are let down because you and people like  you have been misleading them, that’s your fault.

The “social worker” concludes by saying s/he is really looking for parents who are willing and able to handle the complex, too-old, wrong-colored, sibling-having children available now, but gosh, one has to be very very nice to and sensitive to the wants of those who put in orders every January because the Baby Scoop era really did just end in England or what the fuck ever.

Personally, I think this Mr. Munby sounds like a reasonable, compassionate man.

Oh hey, look how fast the comments were closed on this one.

 

17 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand, General Ignoramitude, WTF?!

ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE

…is the set of people for whom “adoption is.” Surprised? I know I am, but Jenny Jerkins says Adoption is for Everyone, even those of us who don’t want children. So when we click over to her article, we are immediately ordered (by a graphic that doesn’t differentiate between upper-case O’s and C’s very well at all) to do it:

“ADOPT.” Um, no. I don’t want to. Nobody should ADOPT because some graphic on a website told them to.

“If you can’t adopt, FOSTER.” No. Stop telling me how to build the family I don’t want, ‘kay? I know, if everyone took just one kid home we could theoretically put Child Welfare out of business…but why do we have Child Welfare in the first place? Because some people have their children taken away after they are deemed bad parents. Therefore, children adopted or otherwise are not “for everyone” who can acquire them.

Also, who are you fooling? Fostering is not necessarily so akin to adoption that it can be called “the next best thing.” People who want to adopt want “their own” child/ren. Many people who want to adopt expect to support their adoptees after age eighteen in some form, be it letting them live under their roofs after their eighteenth birthdays or helping with college tuition. We can judge how much a significant percentage of foster “parents” cares about the kids they foster by looking at what becomes of those kids after they age out and their foster “parents” stop getting paid. It’s not pretty. Even other advocates for fostering can admit that. Fostering is very often nothing like adopting.

“If you can’t foster, SPONSOR.” I think if you have extra money and want to support a child or children with it, that is great, especially if your money goes toward keeping a child  in his/her own family. But that’s not “sponsoring,” not to Jenny Jerkins. Sponsoring is for “adoptive hopefuls.” (I’m sure we’re all terribly shocked.) There follows a paragraph about the money and the paperwork, but nothing about the position of relative privilege that allows people to adopt in the first place. Sigh. Then there’s a paragraph about how you could help foster families, but that’s the second way to sponsor, not the first and best way. The best way to be involved in adoption (as everyone already is) where sponsoring is concerned is to give PAPs money (why are you even reading this when you could be writing out a check?) .

SPONSOR my prickly ass. The nerve of those people. Are PAPs and APs being involved in adoption (as everyone is) by sinking money into other people’s children without expecting to raise those children in return? Then what makes them expect others to?

But “if you can’t sponsor, VOLUNTEER.” You kind of have to. I mean, like it or not, you are involved in adoption because it is for everyone.

And where does Ms. Jerkins suggest you volunteer? Just guess, I dare you. The answer is crisis pregnancy centers. Crisis fucking pregnancy centers. Why not just mosey across the street to the real women’s health clinic and be these assholes?

Finally, “If you can’t volunteer, DONATE.” They’ll take your time or your money. Say, is anyone else starting to detect a little…overlap here? A little overlap of ideas signifying that everyone owes APs time and money, especially money? Ms. Jerkins says donating “may not look like” giving money or time. It may instead, take the form of “buying a cute new shirt from a couple who is selling t-shirts for an adoption fundraiser. Or maybe it is donating items for a yard sale or consignment sale benefiting an adoptive couple.” Those things don’t “not look like” donating money; they look exactly like donating money, especially the first one.

“If you can’t donate, EDUCATE.” Hey, guess what education consists of? Does it mean warning women about open adoptions that slam shut or first mother coercion? Does it mean warning PAPs about GSA or lack of mirroring or even access to medical histories? NOPE: “Maybe [people you seek to “educate”] are contemplating adoption and need that extra encouragement. Or maybe you know others who have many misconceptions about adoption itself.” (Oh hey, I know people like that!)

“Use your sphere of influence to help break down those barriers and educate them about the adoption process and to share stories of hope.”

What barriers? A person’s “contemplating adoption”? That’s not a barrier. To me, “contemplating adoption” means doing the introspective work and research everyone who adopts should do. They don’t need cheerleaders anymore than they need naysayers: They need to make their own damned decision and they need to be very sure about it.

A lot of this stuff seems to come from a place of good intentions–the place otherwise known as AdoptoLand, where every child up for adoption really needs adopting. But AdoptoLand is constructed of nothing more than the myths and fantasies that best serve P/APs, and so is this article.

People involved in animal welfare know better than this. They don’t demand everyone adopt a pet–in fact, many shelters/humane organizations screen prospective pet owners and turn some away. Despite the fact that we euthanize millions of animals every year in this country, they don’t run around on the internet yelling “Pet ownership is for everyone,” because it isn’t. Nor is being a veterinarian or volunteering at a shelter “for everyone.” When one thinks about the animals first and people second, that becomes obvious. Don’t we owe young humans at least as much consideration?

Not everyone has “a role in adoption.” In fact, plenty of people who want and have roles in adoption shouldn’t have them. I do believe everyone has some sort of role in the basic welfare of humanity, even if it’s just doing one’s part to leave a livable planet for future humans and other living things. We all have some role in the welfare of children, or should (yes, even in the USA, where we generally reserve the right to think poor people of any age are subhuman). But no, not all seven billion of us have a role in some people’s desire to raise other people’s children.

“Adoption truly is for everyone.  Maybe your role in adoption is not to adopt or to foster, but as you can see there are many roles that you can have.  Each of us plays an integral part in making forever families happen.  What role are you going to play?”

Adoptees are expected to play the role we were assigned. We didn’t audition for this. In the play that’s supposed to be all about us, we often aren’t even mentioned in the libretto. By me, that means you can take your crisis centers and your garage sales and hang them in your ass, because adoption snarker is the role I’ve chosen for myself.

7 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand

More Crap Reasons to Adopt

Reason one: the money. Can anyone tell me what’s changed since 2005, and how?

Reason two: It’s easy! And you might get Steve Jobs or Michael Oher!!! No, really, that’s all this lady’s got.

1 Comment

Filed under NaBloPoMo

Some Pedestals Are Higher Than Others

A friend called my attention to this blog post. I don’t want to critique the whole thing, because I don’t find it 100% horrible. But something really struck me about the way the a’mom involved chose to describe herself.

Has anyone else noticed The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal has levels? That it’s more an Adoption Process Totem Pole? Andrew MacDougall got to climb it because he brought a whole kid from overseas instead of just sending money for food. The maker of the “adoptees dodged a bullet” graphic got to climb just it for not being a relinquishing mother, which seems like a lower level to me. Pastor Boob Job Baby got to climb it for being just a little less ignorant about international adoption than the average person who isn’t involved with adoption is–fairly low, but probably still higher than Graphic Maker. Deb Goldberg got to climb it for presuming to tell the poor they need to save their money, which any non-adopting slob can do. And Jeff Gates got to climb it just for being insulted about being taken for a pedophile. (His pedestal’s probably pretty low, but he can still lord it over Masha Allen’s “adoptive dad,” right?)

So I’ve been thinking about the pedestals and how they’re measured. Here’s what I’ve gathered from the way I’ve seen people react online and IRL to adoption stories about APS (hey, is there any other kind?).

Rich couples who advertised themselves to “birthmothers” and scored a white, domestically adopted newborn get the lowest pedestal. Not only is there a chance they waited less than nine months to get their baby, they didn’t even have to get a passport. And they didn’t have to settle for a lesser product, the way people who get foreign or older or otherwise special needs kids do (did you know not being white is a “special need” in adoption?). All they had to do was put out a lot of money and get chosen by a “birth mother” who didn’t change her mind. Hell, they probably didn’t even do it because god told them to.

As the adopted person becomes less ideal (less white, less healthy, older) the pedestal gets higher. The pedestal also gets higher to the extent that the adoptive parents talk about religion.

International adoption is complicated: The pedestal might get higher because the PAs have rescued an orphan, often for Jesus. But it might get lower because “American kids weren’t good enough for you?!”

The pedestal gets higher the longer the APs wait to adopt, and it grows a yard or more for every adoption they don’t complete because the first mother changed her mind. And if they ever had physical custody of a child and lost it because that custody was not entirely legal, their pedestal shoots into the clouds, borne aloft on a fountain of righteous anguish. Your pedestal grows if you claim your adoptee has RAD, and it gets taller the more out-of-control, dangerous, or even murderous the child becomes while in your care. Oddly enough, it retains its height should you decide to get rid of such a child. And, as we’ve learned recently, having one’s adoptee search still boosts the pedestal in some people’s eyes.

But the very highest pedestal is reserved for those for people like Megan (sorry: Megan!!!). Not because she adopted six times. Not because at least one of her children is from overseas. Not because she is a cheerleader for adopting older children, as if everyone were equally prepared to do such a thing. (Yes, it really is that simple–do it.)  Not because she has adopted four older children, and not because she congratulates herself for doing such a “simple” thing. (Most would snarl their faces with the thought of adopting an older child, let alone an older boy but not us.) Not even because, at least in one case, she and her husband had “paperwork approved for an infant” but instead chose to adopt an older kid (and let me tell you, very few things ramp up a pedestal in most people’s minds like turning down an infant in favor of an older kid).

No, Megan is the best kind of AP because, for her, adopting was never “plan B.” If there’s one thing that sets my alarm bells off, it’s the AP who takes pains to point out that s/he didn’t have to adopt. Not like those infertile slobs who had to settle for less…wait, not for less, because adopting is universally wonderful and your kids rock! So what the Hell were you doing just now besides taking potshots at people who couldn’t have their own kids?! I mean, isn’t that kinda…low?

I know, I’m silly expecting this stuff to make sense. So I’ll accept it. Nothing (except maybe ditching a kid you adopted) proves your worth as a human being and an adoptive parent like bragging about owning the functioning reproductive system most people take for granted. AdoptoLand is a strange place.

 

9 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand, Colonialism ROCKS!, Forever Family, It Can't Be Racist. I Didn't Use the N-word Once!, Jesus Told Me To, NaBloPoMo, The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal

Oops, Part Two

The answer, of course, is that nothing has changed. Read this article. Read how horrible it makes Mariette’s adoptive mom look.

Mariette was adopted in October 1986, at a time when adoption in Haiti was barely regulated. Most of the children in Haitian orphanages had at least one living parent, and the concept of signing away rights to see children was foreign, and still is.

Mariette’s adoptive parents were Sandra and Albert Knopf, at the time empty-nesters in their 40s with three grown sons. Sandra said she felt God’s call to adopt.

“I believed that I was doing it for the Lord,” she said. “I was not doing it for the children and I was not doing it for me.

Really, Sandra? I mean… you know you’re supposed to pretend you’re doing it for the children, right?

So they found a man named Henry Wiebe who could arrange an adoption from Haiti for $3,500 per child, or $6,000 for two.

He came by with photos of older children, but Sandra only wanted girls under 2.

Because fuck the Lord’s opinion, right? Sandra wanted what Sandra wanted.

He called the next day. He had found them. She was going to call them Christa Gail and Jennifer Lynne, but they already had names: Mariette and Patricia.

This is the worst kind of pile-all-over-the-shitty-a’mom clickbait, isn’t it?

Sandra never met the Haitian lawyer who processed the papers, or went to the hearing where the judge approved the adoption. Platel handled all that while Sandra got visas. It took a month.

As the plane took off from Port-au-Prince, she felt overwhelming relief.

“Circling the airport, I just looked down and thought, ‘God, I never want to see this place again.'”

Sandra’s awfulness is the point, surely? Because when Mariette discovered she had never been relinquished for adoption

[H]er adoptive mother didn’t seem surprised. Yes, she conceded, there had been red flags about the adoption. The fact that Mariette’s age was off, the way the birth and other documents weren’t available at first and then suddenly appeared, at night, some filled out by hand.

We’re supposed to hate Sandra and her pious hypocrisy, aren’t we? The article could not have been written to make her look any worse, could it?

Now read the comments. Read the comments and tell me how much our attitudes about adoption have changed.

7 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand, Colonialism ROCKS!, Jesus Told Me To, NaBloPoMo