Monthly Archives: March 2012

More Praise for The You We Adore

Remember the adoption book for adoptive parents? The one that is so adoption-positive it doesn’t use the word “adoption” once? Yeah, APs still love it.

This review is extra cute, though. Check this crap out: [the author] set out to create a storybook especially for adopted kids, recognizing that despite the increasing number of adoptive families around the world, children [sic] books on the subject are all too few.

Seriously? When I was young, maybe, there was The Family That Grew and nothing else. Now the world is stuffed to its smarmy fuzzy rafters with adoption books for adoptive parents to read to their adoptive children so they (the parents, natch) can feel extra warm and cozy about adoption.

So very few books. It’s so tragic, this void that existed before someone decided adoptees are mermaids or some shit.

The review goes on, talking about Love (capitalized like that) a lot. But no mention is made of what a New and Unusual Metaphor the ‘red ribbon” is. Wonder why not?

[the reviewer] is an adoptive mother and a journalist. She is at work on a book, “The Red Thread,” a collection of stories told by families united through adoption.

Oh, I see. Money to be made, that’s why not!

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Filed under AdoptoLand, Colonialism ROCKS!

Crafty Rooskies!

After something on the order of nineteen deaths and one returned product, it seems yet another US AP has changed her mind about raising Russian children. After she lied and cheated her way to twins, too!

Unspeakably vile American woman ditches infants on cold St. Petersburg street

I’m posting this for two reasons. The first is to bring attention to the comments. Reading the first few of these, you’ll note that no American has ever done anything wrong, while decades without a cold war has only made those Rooskies worse than ever! Sitting over there all hatin’ on us, waiting to ditch their defective children on any rich American without revealing they’re monsters!

“Russians love anti-American news,” says one commentor. “Of course we are not hearing what the adoptive mother’s position is regarding this story,” points out another. No, we aren’t, are we, because she ditched two infants in the freezing cold and RAN, every bit as cowardly as Torry Hansen but at least more prompt about it. I wonder what pretty story that commentor thinks she could tell that would make what she did all right? I simply can’t think of one–but I guess my imagination is hampered by my fury this morning.

“American parents need to [be] educated” about FAS and RAD, offers another commentor. Yes, and purchasers of dogs need to know about rabies shots. Buy a dog without knowing about rabies shots and I will have exactly as much sympathy for you as I have for a cheating, lying woman who apparently purchased two babies without knowing about RAD and FAS: ZERO. Not knowing what FAS is is no excuse. Not educating yourself about a human being you plan to take into your family is irresponsible, stupid and cruel.

And of course, there’s always, always, always at least one American commentor who can’t think about anyone but American PAPs: “If this is a true story coming out of Russia, it is very sad causing good Americans who want to adopt will face more problems that are in place before this incident, if a child can be adopted at all in the future.”

Fry in Hell, “Judy.” And go learn how to compose a sentence before you touch a keyboard again.

Secondly, I wanted to point out a tendency on the part of The Daily Mail (and, it seems, every newspaper ever in cases like this) to side with the AP as far as is humanly possible.

Am I crazy? Surely nobody could side with the woman…except that wacko-ass commentor I quoted. Nope. As always seems to be the case, The Mail is very careful to avoid calling what this woman did cruel. I don’t mean they went the “hedging our bets and saying ‘allegedly’ because nothing’s proven yet” route. I mean they won’t say what she did was bad–because, apparently, there’s nothing inherently cruel about dumping two fifteen-month-olds on the street in the cold; we need more information first. It’s only those nasty ol’ Rooskies saying so, so we’ll put quotes around “cruel” throughout the article, implying there’s a perfectly good, non-cruelty-type reason for such behavior.

After all, American woman don’t just ditch children they’ve changed their minds about, let alone be so cowardly as to not do so in person, but to leave a note. No, this never has and never will happen; it is unthinkable*. So, just to leave a little wiggle room, we’ll put quotes around other things this woman couldn’t really be too, like the perpetrator of an “immoral and illegal act.” As long as the unfairness is in the favor of the white, Western person, it’s good.

Damn, but that shit makes me want to spit rivets.

*which is why all fifty US states now have baby dump safe haven laws, obviously

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Filed under Colonialism ROCKS!, Stop Saying That, Those Wacky PAPs, WTF?!, You're going to Hell for this.

Cinematic Adopto-Crap: Disney’s Tarzan

(Apologies for the appearance of this post. I know it’s hard to read, but when I get the line spacing the way I want it, the white background disappears, rendering the post illegible.)

I have got to quit looking at that We Love Adoption FB page. That’s where I found this:

“Look at this adoption beauty.. love to all…”

Well isn’t that nauseating.

But it surprises the spiky urchin not a whit. Disney’s Tarzanis an adoptive parent’s dream. It presents Tarzan as the perfect adoptee–his first parents even have the decency to die!–and his gorilla mother, Kala, as the Best Moms Evar! So good a job does she do in establishing proper loyalties in Tarzan that when the time comes to return to his own world, he turns his back on it without even visiting and, impossibly, becomes a gorilla instead. Feh.

I’m writing about this movie because Tarzan narrates the adoption experience from the adoptee’s point of view more honestly than any Disney film to date.  Despite itself, it addresses the unhealthy practice of denying rather than acknowledging or even celebrating differences…but it really fucks things up when it shows that this denial is the right thing to do, and that APs will be rewarded for it.

In one scene, Tarzan is sick of not being played with (even by his *”best friend,” who repeatedly ditches him) because he is so different-looking. He rails at his own reflection in a pool, and plasters his face with mud in hopes of looking more apelike. A’mom Kala discovers him doing this.

Imagine your reaction for a second here. If I found my child trying to look like another species so someone, anyone would play with him, my heart would break. I wouldn’t know what to say, but I guess I’d say something about how the fault was in the other children and not in him.

Not Kala. She wants to play Word Games and Denial:

Tarzan: Why am I so different?
Kala: Because you’re covered with mud, that’s why.

Seriously, did you read what I read? Because I read:

Child: I’m in pain!
Adoptive Mom: No you aren’t, you little silly.

So beautiful…It gets worse, Y’all.

Tarzan: Kerchak [Kala’s mate] said I don’t belong in the family.
Kala: Never mind what Kerchak said. […]
Tarzan: But look at me!
Kala: I am, Tarzan. And do you know what I see? I see two eyes, like mine, and a nose, somewhere. Ah, here. Two ears, and let’s see, what else?
Tarzan: Two hands?
Kala: That’s right. Close your eyes. Now forget what you see. What do you feel?
Tarzan: My heart.
Kala: Come here.
Tarzan: Your heart.
Kala: See, they’re exactly the same. Kerchak just can’t see that.
Tarzan: I’ll make him see it. I’ll be the best ape ever!
Kala:Oh, I bet you will!
Anyone seen my rivet gun? My mandible done dropped clean off again. What does the above say? It says “I love you very much, just as you are; so become like me, even though this is entirely impossible.” The most beautiful part of that scene, for me, is when Tarzan and Kala press their palms together and we can see how different they are while both being hands. Why insist they are identical when they so clearly are not, and when the point is supposed to be that it doesn’t matter that they’re different?
And why humor your human son in his desire to be “the best ape ever”? It makes me wince to even think about such gentle cruelty. (But this movie is full of Disney magic, so Tarzan does grow up to be the best ape ever while being human too. I wish I knew how to work that.) All right, on to the song:
“You’ll Be In My Heart”
Come, stop your crying.
It will be all right.
Just take my hand,
Hold it tight.
I will protect you
from all around you
I discovered very early on that my parents could not protect me from the things that really hurt me. In fact, I couldn’t always even explain what was hurting or why. So I quit trying, with the result that my parents were always finding out about bad things too late to help. How many times did my a’mom ask “Why didn’t you tell us?” I still suck at asking for help. It’s an admission of weakness, and weak babies get thrown away again.
I will be here. Don’t you cry.
For one so small,
you seem so strong
Damn, how this line bugs me. For one thing, Tarzan does not “seem strong.” He has, in fact, just fallen off Kala’s back because he can’t cling like a gorilla baby. For another, I’m sick to death of hearing about how “resilient” adopted children are. Yeah, sure, we’re freakin’ superhuman. That’s why it’s OK to do things like take us halfway around the world and subject us to mental cruelties, like a new name when we already know our real one, that other children can’t withstand. Seriously: we are resilient. We adjust so quickly and so well–on the surface–because we know if we don’t something terrible might happen…again.
My arms will hold you,
keep you safe and warm.
This bond between us
Can’t be broken

“Take that, stupid birth mothers! Stupid psychologists and your stupid ‘bonding is what children do to their natural mothers’ crap! Stupid! He’s bonding with ME and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

I will be here, don’t you cry.
‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forevermore

You’ll be in my heart
No matter what they say

That’s sweet. But of course all “they” say to adoptive moms is How wonderful! how wonderful! how wonderful! I guess once in awhile one has to hear “Are they yours?” and “How much did they cost?” but mostly it’s How wonderful.

You’ll be here in my heart, always
Why can’t they understand the way we feel?
“I know what my infant’s feelings are. They are what I say they are. This helpless creature has attached to me not out of need but out of love, sheer pure infant love! Why can’t they understannnnnd?”
They just don’t trust
what they can’t explain.
I know we’re different, but

No, Kala, you’re not different. Your child is, and he’s marked as such forever–not like you. You can go to the gorilla grocery store or the gorilla spa alone, and nobody will know you’re an adoptive mother unless you tell them. But I guess it’s a bit of a thrill to fancy yourself an outlaw without having to suffer any of the consequences, like people who insist they’re Indians because Grandpa told them they’re 1/32nd Cherokee.

Deep inside us,
We’re not that different at all

because we both have hearts, like the cockroach and the crawdad! That makes us mother and son!

And you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on,
Now and forevermore.

Don’t listen to them,
‘Cause what do they know?

They know the difference between a gorilla and a human.

We need each other,
to have, to hold.
They’ll see in time,
I know

No they won’t, Honey. You can’t just raise your trans-species adoptee to be a gorilla and expect nobody to notice (except in Disney movies, of course).

When destiny calls you,
You must be strong.
I may not be with you,
But you’ve got to hold on:
They’ll see in time,
I know.
We’ll show them together.

Sigh. Ambassador for humanity to the gorilla world is not the kind of job anyone should acquire for a person. And it’s no job for an infant, for fuck’s sake.

‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on,
Now and forevermore

Oh, you’ll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You’ll be in my heart, always
Always

At the end of the movie, Tarzan not only rejects his heritage to become the “best ape ever,” he rejects the one bit of individuality he has been allowed. One thing Kala gets right is encouraging young Tarzan, who is a good mimic, to “come up with your own sound,” which he does. But after Kerchak dies, Tarzan does not perform a Tarzan yell in tribute.  Instead, he roars like a gorilla, proclaiming his loyalty, and stays in Africa to lead the gorilla troop in his adoptive father’s place.
Then, to put a cherry on Kala’s Reward For Adopting! sundae, the two decent humans Tarzan has met turn their backs on their entire lives to live in the jungle with him and the gorillas as One Big Happy Jungle Family. Because, shit, anyone can be the best ape ever, amirite?!
This is also Tarzan’s reward, of course, for being a dutiful adoptee–for putting up with a horrible childhood and very unaccepting a’father: he gets two new fake relatives. He does not get, or ever express any desire to know, any actual blood relatives. I’m not sure I believe the movie would have ended with this reward for him if the humans who found Tarzan had been related to him in any way. Then it would have been his duty to reject them and their world and have nothing to do with “these strangers like me” because the gorillas are his Real Family.
The only good thing this movie teaches us is that adopted children can love their adoptive parents yet still feel like they’re literally a different species than their family. It hastens to plaster over that inconvenience with pink candy bullshit, but it does admit it exists. And how sad is it that this is special and significant? It wasn’t even intended–it’s just there to build sympathy for the main character–but it’s a sop, and that’s the best adoptees can expect from popular culture.

*Tarzan’s “best friend” is voiced by Rosie O’Donnell. Yes, Rosie “My adopted kids are mistakes made by god” O’Donnell, who calls her children’s mothers “tummy ladies.” Oh, the delicious irony. It cuts up my gums, but I can’t stop chewing on it.

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Filed under Adopted And Happy!, AdoptoLand, Film, Sad and beautiful

The Dangers of Magical Thinking

If you want a baby badly enough, the Universe will give you one. (Oprah said so!)

That is some dangerous thinking right there. It’s led to the state adoption is in today. PAPs, who know that god and the universe want them to have a baby, will stop their ears to any warnings about trafficking or scams or anything else that hints anything, anywhere, ever went wrong with any adoption.It’s flat-out magical thinking: If I think everything is fine, it will be.

Then they’re shocked when their child doesn’t bond with them immediately, or when it turns out that woman was never even pregnant, or their child is damaged goods and the agency lied. Frankly, I wonder how often the agencies do lie. I’m sure it happens, but I’m also sure that the average PAP is so eager to take that child home that s/he doesn’t listen very carefully to warnings about FAS or RAD. Their love will fix everything, because that’s what the Universe wants. For them.

And they get what they want:

While the parents were discussing these questions, the children who were adopted didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. “I’m curious to meet my biological parents. I want to know why they left me. But it’s nothing more than curiosity,” said S Vishal, son of Shankar.

Whatever IS the fuss all about,my fellow bastards? We’re perfectly happy, adoption means nothing, and we never, ever think about what might have been. Just ask us when we’re still young, vulnerable and invested in earning Mommy’s and Daddy’s love so we’re not given away again.  Why, you’ll get the most honest answers a kid ever gave to a question this side of “Who broke this?” and “Did you eat those cookies?”

Truly: Look how fast that poor kid made his need to know who he is and where he comes from acceptable to his parents and society. “I have questions!” Wait, Mommy’s expression says they’re bad questions. “Um, I don’t really need answers, I’m just curious.”

As long as people are eager to believe this, and unwilling to put themselves in our place for ten seconds, nothing about adoption will change. Children will go on being damaged, APs will go on being disappointed, and women around the globe who don’t have much money or power will continue to lose their children so they can be converted into “orphans” for the white, Western “saving.”

I bet this doesn’t happen with other kids. When non-adopted kids undergo a trauma, and they’re asked whether they’re OK and they say “Yes,” how often is that taken for a true and final answer? But anything adoptees do or say is evidence, either of how well we adjust or of some grown-up’s having done something wrong. So we lie at least as often as other children do–quite possibly more often. Professionals who work with young adoptees ought to know this, and they ought to probe further.

I hope they do, but my experience suggests otherwise. As an adult I was told by more than one professional that adoption has nothing to do with anything, and my insisting that it mattered in my life was wrong.

That’s what adoption means: something went wrong, and my family couldn’t raise me. My new family can help me feel better, or they can make things worse. When I’m expected to celebrate this trauma instead of heal from it, that makes things worse.

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It’s Adoption All Right

A fellow adoptee recently drew my attention to a blog post about what’s being called “open embryo adoption.” The “a’mom” carries the child, so there was some discussion in the comments as to whether this can actually be considered adoption. I say it is adoption, and I’m going to let the fertility doctor who showed up in the comments help me tell you why. He says:

The issue of disclosure is an emotional one. Disclosing to family, friends and the donor-conceived offspring could result in judgement, isolation and even excommunication of some embryo recipient families….

Growing up either unaware or ashamed of who you are is too high a price for a child to pay in order to get the secure, loving home all children deserve. And we’re talking about children who didn’t have to exist in the first place–children who were brought into the world by and for people who plan to lie all their lives about it. That is unfathomably *upfucked. Why is it acceptable? Because lying can only hurt their child, whereas excommunication would hurt them, too. Is it about wannabe parents and what they find convenient? Then it’s adoption.

This is nothing new to adoptees. “Baby can’t be told who Baby is lest Mom and Dad get excommunicated” is the same as “Baby can’t be told because of the stigma of bastardry.” But when that stigma disappeared, adoptees couldn’t know where we came from because our mothers had supposedly been granted a right to privacy no citizen has. When our mothers began to protest that this isn’t true and that they wanted to know us, the myth that opening records will cause abortion rates to skyrocket was invented, and on and on. The real reasons birth certificates were sealed have nothing to do with first mothers or adoptees and everything to do with what adoptive parents and agencies want. 

The doctor also says: The reality is that we don’t yet know what the long-term outcomes will be of an open process. […] [D]onor-conceived individuals may indeed benefit by making attachments to their genetic siblings raised in the donor’s home. Only with time and continued research are we going to be able to counsel both donors and recipients regarding the advantages and disadvantages of an open process. Until then, we should be cautious and allow the donors and recipients to find the process that seems best for them.

You can see why I quote him. He makes my case so well. Why are we forcing these children to be the guinea pigs future families learn from? Because their parents wanted babies and had the means to pay for them–and the best interests of the child be damned. Yeah, that’s adoption.

Similarly, when someone pointed out to Scott Simon that his Chinese daughters will grow up facing racism, he said maybe they would help end racism. Like the “snowflake guinea pig babies” above, these infants have been charged with being “front-line anti-racist baby ambassadors” to the USA. I don’t know any grown-ups who want that job, but Scott Simon and his wife wanted babies, and if that means those babies grow up thinking they’re white and hating themselves, well, that’s too damned bad. When adult adoptee of color John Raible suggested the parents of AOCs move to neighborhoods where their children can interact with people of their own race, many of them were outraged. Why? Because the child is expected to adapt to them and their lifestyle. Adoption is supposed to inconvenience the child, not the parents.

Apparently not having a child when you want one is suffering enough. So when you get the child, taking his/er best interests into consideration is just too much to ask. Expecting that child to pretend s/he is someone else all his/er life to please you is not too much to ask. It’s so little to ask that we expect adoptees to be grateful for the opportunity to do it.

Adoption was supposed to be about finding families for children who needed them. My research into adoption suggests that it never has been. It’s been about the government getting rid of street kids cluttering up the landscape (orphan trains). It’s been about making money via lies and kidnapping at least since Georgia Tann’s time. It’s been about letting some adults “preserve their reputations” and making other adults happy. It’s been about punishing women for the crime of being poor. It’s never been about the best interests of children.

That’s adoption all right.

*Down South this has three syllables: “up-fuckid,” with the accent on the fuck.

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