How to Tell an Adoption Story, Part One: Not So Snarky

This post began as a comment on yet another internet editorial about how the US is not doing enough to acquire the rest of the world’s children for those of its citizens who can afford to buy them. That comment was too long for HuffPo, so I’m posting it here even though it’s not terribly snarky (to my mind, anyway):

Like almost everyone who writes about adoption, the author is an adoptive parent and can, apparently, only see adoption from that perspective. So instead of asking “What can be done to help struggling families in poor countries stay together?” he asks how we can get our hands on those kids: “[W]hy aren’t we doing more to make international adoption a less problematic option…?”

He also says “…we must maintain an open dialogue and take a proactive approach to working with countries to develop the appropriate programs and policies that foster safe, ethical and efficient adoptions.”

Must we? Why? Why must any imaginable plan to aid other countries center on taking their children away, never to be seen by their families again? Because we want to and we have the power to do so? Because nobody gets something for nothing? What a wonderful example for the wealthy Western nations of the world to set for others. (How many European kids did we get for the Marshall Plan again?*)

Why is adoption such a given? Why is it so obviously in the best interests of children to lose their language, culture, homeland, family–everything they’ve known–just in order to get an education and enough to eat?

The idea is obscene on its face. But we don’t see that, in part because we’re so used to having adoption stories told by the couple who want a child–almost never by the family who loses that child or the child him/herself. Surely this is why we so often refer to children who have living families as “orphans” when someone wants to adopt them: because the demanders, not the suppliers (let alone the “product”) control the narrative. Surely this is why the author explains his Haitian children belong with him by saying *he* belongs with *them,* but nothing about even considering moving to Haiti to be where they were. Why is one idea so much more absurd than the other?

Adoption has always required courage strength, and patience. Desire means very little, and love has never “been enough.” If we could scrape some of the sugar and rainbows off adoption and look at it honestly, we might be able to make good changes.

*OK, it’s got a little snark in it.

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Filed under AdoptoLand, Colonialism ROCKS!, General Ignoramitude

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