(for C., who nagged me to blog more. Thank you!)
*This editorial is…well, it’s terrible. It’s terrible because it’s a self-portrait of someone who had apparently been trying to come to terms with hard facts: that she knowingly did something wrong and that doing that wrong thing has made her happy. Adoption needs that kind of self-examination very badly. Unfortunately, it seems Ms. O’Dwyer has decided the cognitive dissonance is too much, and that she must perforce be innocent.
Adoption is riddled with this crap. We need less of it and we damned sure need fewer people encouraging others to do it. Adoption needs more wide open eyes, not more willful blindness like this:
My adoption is OK because the mother was unmarried.
My adoption is OK because my child is an “orphan.”
My adoption is OK because my child would have starved otherwise.
My adoption is OK because the child really was unwanted.
My adoption is OK because the mother chose us.
My adoption is OK because the agency swore my child was dumped by the side of the road.
My adoption is OK because it’s open…unless I decide to close it.
My adoption is OK because I have a special needs child.
My adoption is OK because Reasons.
It’s almost as if people feel guilty. And this author admits that she has felt guilty–well, was made to feel guilty. Not by all the research she did and all the corruption she found, and certainly not over her own actions. She feels guilty “just for being an adoptive parent” because people commented on this article.
So she’s rearranged her brain furniture to make everything prettier.
This shit just wears a spiky urchin out sometimes.
So how could one not feel just a little bit uneasy about having adopted from Guatemala? (I don’t think anyone who adopted from there can ever really know whether or not their adoption was on the up-and-up.) Because corruption in Guatemalan adoptions was “something no one wanted”!
No one wanted adoption corruption. Not Americans who wanted a child ASAP at any cost; not adoption agencies who saw opportunities for profit; not lawyers who told their clients “not to ask questions;” no one. Corrupt adoption in Guatemala Just Happened, absent any human agency, human desires or laws of supply and demand, so nobody’s guilty at all! However, then, did so many bad things happen? Were Guatemalan children and their APs drawn together by, say, **magnets? Were all the PAPs magically teleported to Guatemala, where babies blipped into their arms?
Even if it were true nobody wanted this, so what? Nobody wanted the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown to happen. Does that mean we have no obligation to clean it up or to examine very carefully what happened and how it happened in hopes of preventing future catastrophes? Does that mean that if we discovered some politician or nuclear power plant employee had caused it all, that person’s victims should not be compensated? Apparently so.
Ms. O’Dwyer goes on to contradict herself about nobody’s wanting corrupt adoption to happen, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that, while there is blame to be handed around here, none is to be handed to Ms. O’Dwyer:
For years, I have blamed myself for participating in a corrupt system. “If I hadn’t been willing to adopt from Guatemala, corruption never could have happened.”…[M]y daughter’s adoption was riddled with problems from beginning to end. After our agency cashed our check and abandoned us, I quit my job and moved to Antigua to finish the case myself. Soon after, my husband and I were urged to pay a bribe. Inquiries to our agency were answered with threats to put our daughter in an orphanage, forever. Seeking help from the United States Embassy, we were told: “This is a Guatemalan problem. We can’t interfere.”
[Now] I understand that deceit was endemic to the system, and allowed to prevail. It was much more powerful than any one individual. By permitting adoptions from Guatemala, our government reassured me, and thousands of other adoptive parents. While we participated in a corrupt system, we didn’t cause the corruption. This is a distinction that matters.
Not by me, it isn’t. I wonder if Ms. O’Dwyer extends such courtesy and understanding to those who have knowingly participated in other corrupt systems because that benefited them?
And yes, Ms. O’Dwyer, you did cause some small part of the corruption. You knew it then and you know it now. How else could you see none of the problems your adoption was “riddled with” as warning signs? Why else would you pay a bribe? Because everybody does it and you wanted what you wanted, corruption be damned. How could participating in something so dirty leave your hands so squeaky clean? It couldn’t, it can’t, and it didn’t. But here’s where you go right round the bend, Lady:
I now compare parents who adopted from Guatemala with soldiers who served in Vietnam. Soldiers didn’t cause the war, but they were misled into believing it was just. Because of that, history doesn’t blame the soldier.
No. NO! [smacks analogy’s nose with rolled-up newspaper]. BAD analogy. Many if not most of the men who fought in Vietnam were drafted. Some of them surely committed atrocities not because they were horrible people, but because they were following orders. Soldiers who don’t follow orders are likely to get court-martialed, and that’s why we don’t blame them for the actions of their superiors (except when we do because some higher-up ass needs covering). Who gave you orders to adopt from Guatemala, Ms. Eichma–er, O’Dwyer? What stockade would they have thrown you in had you refused? Do you still have your draft notice? No. No, no, no: You volunteered to go fight in the ‘Nam, and then after My Lai inexplicably caught fire while you were playing with matches and gasoline and mumbling things like “Slopes sure do deserve to burn, don’t they?” (which was all obviously no one’s fault), you gave yourself a medal.
I hate the smell of rationalizations in the morning. Smells like bullshit. And so does this:
It’s time for adoptive parents to stop blaming ourselves.
I don’t think it’s helpful to children for their parents to feel guilty about having them. I don’t think it’s helpful for children to be parented by the self-deluding, either. When I imagine having a conversation about this with Ms. O’Dwyer (which isn’t fair, because I know very little about her), I imagine that at some point she’s so perplexed as to blurt out “What would you have me do, not adopt at all?!”
Yes, Ma’am. If the ONLY way to adopt is to knowingly do it wrong (and even I don’t quite believe that), then I would have you not adopt at all. I’m prickly that way.
*So far, there’s only one comment. Way to tell her, Nancy!
**After all, it’s not as if we know how those fuckin’ things work (sorry, forgive me).