Monthly Archives: July 2013

Fuck Your Adoption Process Moral Pedestal

Hi, Everybody! Know what? A’dad Andrew McDougall is better than you are. Not just richer, oh no. Not just more entitled to the children of others: certainly not! More virtuous. More actually, factually Good–and now far too Good to help anyone else who might need it. (Send five pounds to the starving kid I saw on TV? Nope, fuck that “life I could have saved.” I’m helping society by raising a child of my own! …just like almost everybody else.)

That’s right: Since at least late 2012, Mr. McDougall has considered himself super special for raising a child he didn’t contribute that one precious cell to. Why is that nobler? Is it because adopted kids are defective and require extra special love, or because the real reason to have a child is so you can look at your own face all day without walking to a mirror every time? Sorry, but I don’t think those are good reasons to parent. I think parenting is about wanting to raise a child, period. So the fact that you are raising one “not your own” makes you…a dad! The fact that you accomplished this by adoption makes you…a (damned lucky and privileged) dad! The fact that you filled out all the forms and waited and hoped makes you…a dad! The fact that you wrote an article about “the adoption process moral pedestal” (and I hope you made that phrase up just now) makes you…an asshole. Congratulations! I’m sure your child will be thrilled to learn about your “moral pedestal” once s/he’s old enough to Google his/her own name.

(Seriously: “Daddy, what’s a pedestal? …If you weren’t standing on one, would you still have loved me?”)

You, Mr. MacDougall, adopted in January of last year, so you’re an expert. (What about your wife, who is *no doubt doing all the heavy lifting? She’s mentioned in the article exactly once, and as “my wife.” But I digress.) Of course, your Year-Plus-Eight-Months Adoption Experience-ence-ence-ence! doesn’t mean you’ll think of the rest of us as lesser people for not adopting. Heavens no. That would be

wait for it

beneath you:

Is it that my adoption story sees me sit on the moral high ground pouring judgement down upon those of you who haven’t adopted – shame on your having your own children, the fires of hell await?

What? Why is your adoption story spying on you? While we’re at it, does your adopted child have an adoption story which is in any way separate from “your adoption story”? Didn’t think so.

Or I could opt to patronise you and say that ‘not everyone is cut out for adoption’.

Which is, of course, absolutely true.

No of course that isn’t my view.

Of course it isn’t, Mr. McD. This is a parody, right? And now my commentors and I will have the joy of deciding what to call the adoption debate equivalent of Poe’s Law, won’t we? You’re making fun of the dialog currently surrounding international adoption, aren’t you?

Aren’t you? I mean, it’s hard to tell, because you keep contradicting yourself and because your writing confuses me:

This adoption process has (rightly or wrongly) given considerable boost to the feeling that my contribution to society has allowed me to stand proud at the summit of my moral pedestal.

“If I write it poorly enough, I can write this sentence so it says ‘the adoption process’ is an active subject that runs around forcing people to do and feel things, rather than a process I initiated. –Oh! is that a pedestal? Do I have to climb it, Mister Adoption Process? To its very summit, even? [blushes, titters] Thank me so much! But really….”

As the adoption process fills more of my life, the greater the realisation that this was meant to be.

Someone paid you to write this, didn’t they? They need their money back. Look: the common English construction here is “The more X, the more Y.” You could also have chosen “as X, so Y.” Instead, you went for the mixed construction while again choosing to frame “the adoption process” as a subject which acted upon (a passive, implied) you, all on its own. This is so symbolic of the way we talk about adoption I could just eat it up with a spoon (or belt it one, I’m not sure which oh yes I am).

So my adoption pedestal helps me hold my head high, and saves me a few quid, but it is not license to bark my pseudo new moral army of beliefs at people.

What a wonderful man you are, Mr. McD, to write an article about how much better you  are than non-APs in the name of protesting that you’re no better than non-APs. You’re an arrogant ass, but that’s not what infuriates me about your article.

You imply that raising a kid in the UK somehow costs less than sending, what was it, five pounds per month overseas (for some lousy kid you don’t even get to name and coo over and climb a pedestal about). That’s not what infuriates me about your article, either.

What infuriates me about your article is the fact that it is still so indicative of the way we think about adoptees. Adoptees are castoffs, mistakes, bad blood. It takes a very, very special person to care about the likes of us. And it takes a super special person to not only care, but to call his caring nothing special while waving it around like a winning Powerball ticket.

Cynical as I am, it had never occurred to me before reading this article that there is an “adoption process moral pedestal” APs get to climb whenever they see a TV ad for a charity because they already scraped some let’s-face-it gutterkid out of the gutter.

If my a’dad were alive, Mr. McD., he’d be ashamed to share the title “dad” with you. He never talked of helping society by taking me off someone else’s hands. He talked of being lucky to have me and my a’bro in his life. And you know what? He was a good dad and a good man. I could write paragraphs of support for that statement, but they’d probably tip off someone as to his identity, so I hope you’ll take my word for it.

He published a fair few articles, too, but none were about being an adoptive dad–perhaps because he  had a crazy thing like his children’s privacy in mind. Still, at his funeral, I think I shook the hand of half the population of [my region of my home state].

I keep rereading this article and hoping it’s a parody. And I really do wonder if Mr. McD. didn’t mean to be somewhat, somehow light-hearted here.  But I can’t tell, because I can’t laugh about this:

…[M]y adoption pedestal […] is not license to bark my pseudo new moral army of beliefs at people.

Then come down off it, Sir. Because making others feel less than you is the one and only thing pedestals are for. And here’s what is carved on that thing:

I AM A WELL-OFF WHITE WESTERN MAN WHO IS SO MUCH SMARTER THAN YOU ARE THAT I CAN FOOL BOTH MYSELF AND YOU ABOUT MY BRAGGING WHICH IS TOTALLY NOT BRAGGING.

*I got this wrong: He’s a stay-at-home dad, and is therefore doing a good part of the heavy lifting. (My point remains: When a dad does childrearing, it’s bragworthy. When a mom does it, nobody notices.)

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27 Comments

Filed under AdoptoLand, The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal, WTF?!

Abduction, Adoption, Tomato…Dead Hearts

“Neither child trafficking nor baby buying in Chinese international adoptions are widely studied. No one can say for certain how many children are kidnapped in China each year, or what percentage of them end up being put up for adoption domestically or internationally.”

There, just as here, nobody really wants to know. But Charlie Custer and Leia Li have made a documentary on the subject, and that’s a start.

3 Comments

Filed under Film, Uncategorized

We Are So Pro Life!

How pro life are we? We’ll take your fresh, newborn infant off your hands even if it has Down syndrome!

…Just like all the heathens, only we’ll do it for the glory of god, because our Christian desire for a baby makes us angels.

Other articles assure me that hundreds of people from all over the world called wanting to adopt this as yet nonexistent Down baby to save it from abortion. This means pro lifers put their money where their mouths are and do too want to adopt all those aborted babies, so they win! ….even though absolutely nothing has been done yet, and even though plenty of non-anti-choice types raise babies with Down Syndrome.

“The only thing that surprises me” crows author Wesley J. Smith, “is that anyone would be surprised. The outpouring of selflessness and love to save the baby’s life and commit to parenting him or her for the duration was entirely predictable. There are exceptions, of course, but from my experience, this is what most pro lifers see as their calling.”

Fucking bullshit, Sir. Selflessness is when you help and expect nothing  in return. Not the baby, not money, not the adoration of your neighbors, not a “thank you” letter from the baby when it’s old enough to write, not your name in the paper: Nothing. Maybe I’m crazy, but I believe the “-less” suffix has a meaning.

And love? I guess anyone can love some nonexistent person they’ve never met…in a useless, worthless, abstract way that requires them to do nothing but declare it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s a cheap and shitty sort of love that costs the lover nothing but air.

But Mr. Smith is right about one thing: this outpouring was predictable. If there’s one thing I learned when I was a veterinary assistant, it’s this: Everybody wants the very different, very special dog or cat, the one they read about in the paper, the one to which something very bad has happened. Google will even suggest the search terms “abused cats for adoption” or “abused dogs for adoption” in case you need to be that super special owner who makes excuses for your pet’s shitty behavior with “he was abused before I got him.”*

Nobody wants the ordinary, abandoned adult dog or cat that’s about to be put down in the shelter because it isn’t cute anymore and isn’t equipped with a sob story that will make its new owners look like Great Humanitarians. Don’t get me wrong: the puppy or kitten with the sob story generally gets a good home with people who are really glad to have it. But that doesn’t stop those people, in almost all cases I know of, from milking it for all it’s worth: “This is that little dog you saw on TV. This is one of those  kittens they found in that bad place.”

Almost all of the the people who called and insisted they “have to have that [abused] dog” (and that’s really how they phrased it) were doing so on impulse. They probably thought no one else wanted the animal, so their not-really-appropriate home would be good enough. They thought (and they weren’t necessarily wrong) that, as an alternative to dying, their home looked pretty good. But they didn’t get the dog unless someone decided they were the most qualified to take care of said dog, and despite their good intentions, they almost never were.

How many of the people who called wanting that Down baby are qualified to raise it? This is a country with a long, long waiting list for every healthy white infant that might be available…and a long, long list for many other infants who might not be either white, available or entirely “healthy.”

There are many people out there who are really willing to do what it takes to raise a baby with Down Syndrome. They prove it by learning what the task is, deciding whether they can do it, preparing themselves, and finally seeking out such a baby. They don’t do it by waiting to hear that such a baby might be available soon, picking up the phone, and praying to be that lucky ninth caller.

People who really want to prevent abortions expect no baby in return. They expect nothing in return. They do boring, unglamorous, “non-traditionally pro life” things like lobby to insure that women have access to free/cheap birth control and shelter and food and work and good child care. But it’s much easier (and it feels much more righteous) to be a “prayer warrior” doing “sidewalk counseling.” (See that woman who turned crying away from the clinic door just now? I SAVED HER BAY BEE!)

I could put up a Facebook message offering a nonexistent baby with any number of crippling health problems and prompt a similar outpouring of the impulsive nature of human beings (i.e., “selfless love”). I could even leave Jesus out of it, insist it was the mother’s CHOICE to have this baby over the objections of her family and doctors, and say she was a Wiccan. Then, when I got a thousand phone calls, I could call the papers and brag about the glorious love and selflessness of pro choice Neopagans. Either way, the baby would not exist, it would not yet have a home, and I would have proven nothing about the “superiority” of the pro choice position.

And I guess some people might well complain that to use a  soon-to-be-born baby as a cheap political ploy would be cold and manipulative of me. Those people would be one hundred per cent correct.

*Of course not all people who adopt rescue pets are like this. The ones who get the very special dog or cat when they had no previous plans to acquire any pet at all very often are, though.

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Filed under Jesus Told Me To, Stop Saying That, Those Wacky PAPs, You're going to Hell for this.

Racism In Adoption

Snark 1102
Teacher: Today’s lesso–
Bright young student [reads blackboard]: Oh! Oh, I know, pick me!
Teacher: Yes, bright young student?
BYS: This is gonna be one of those things where we find out there’s racism in adoption and that’s terrible because an AP might get hurt by it, right?
Teacher: Well, you have been paying attention. That’s exactly what this is.

The author of two books about adoption and a’father to six says he chose Russia because “[o]ur adoption/foster system here in the States is a big mess, and adopting within [it] proved to be a nightmare. That isn’t to say it gets better when you adopt internationally. It actually gets worse.”

Wait, what? You adopted in Russia because it’s so much harder? I think what I really just read was “I know I’m not supposed to say ‘because I didn’t want to have some kid in my house who might never be legally mine,’ or ‘because I didn’t want to deal with a first mother’ or ‘because US foster kids are more messed up than Russian orphanage kids’…but what will I say? Um, it’s easier but harder! That’ll fix’em.”

It didn’t. Perhaps perplexed at not having gotten an answer, the interviewer asked again why he and his wife chose Russia.

“I’ll be honest. It was racism. To my wife, race didn’t matter. For me, personally, I could have had a child from any race and it wouldn’t have mattered to me. Still, I was afraid that as a child aged, it might matter to them.”

Of course it will matter to them! And you shouldn’t even contemplate an interracial adoption if you can’t take a long, hard….what? What did you say?

“I was afraid of being rejected by my adopted children.”

No. No, that’s not possible. It must be these glasses. [rubrub, squint]

“I was afraid of being rejected by my adopted children.”

No. No. No. No.

He was afra… [counts to ten] He was fine with bringing some hypothetical kid here from Ethiopia or somewhere. He was fine with the idea of raising that kid in a society that would judge him/her inferior by skin color forever. He was fine with doing that even though he, as a white parent, can do little or nothing to help that child negotiate racism. He was fine with all that. That would have been dandy. But a resentful child? Oh no, racism, now you have GONE TOO FAR.

Adoption is about rescuing a kid who’s properly grateful for it. It’s about the wants and feelings of well-off Western whitefolks, and if some kid’s gonna resent them, it’s just not worth it!

The assumption that no child who “looks like” Mr. Simmons will ever dare find fault with his parenting skills is not merely racist, of course. It’s outright harmful to adoptees of all backgrounds. Back before people knew any better, a lot of us grew up feeling that using anything short of gushing praise to discuss our a’parents was disloyal. Some of us grew up thinking all our confusion was our own fault, and that we must have been given up because somebody knew we would think secret bad thoughts about our parents. And if we looked a lot like our a’parents, we were expected to be like them and have fewer problems than adopted kids who didn’t “look like” their parents.

We know better now. Psychologists, adoptive parents, everybody knows better now. Surely a man who published two books on adoption knows better?

Anyway there it is, the “racism” in adoption. (Scare quotes signify that the resentment of their oppressors felt by the oppressed never has been and never will be racism.) Any questions?

BYS: Oh! Oh! Miss?
Teacher: Yes?
BYS: Is at least one of Mr. Simmons’ books on adoption drowning in sugar?
Teacher [marks extra credit column]: He calls it “saccharine,” but that’s close enough. Here’s why:

“First, it’s easier to write fiction. If you don’t like a part of the story, you change it. If you want to make a point, or you don’t know a detail, you don’t need to do research, you just make something up.”

Mr. Simmons, as a writer of fiction, let me just say that is not exactly how I or anyone I know writes fiction.

“Secondly, there are a lot of beautiful experiences that come with adoption. Why cloud it up with the uglies? Paint a rainbow on the bedroom wall, give the kid a stuffed unicorn and live happily ever after.”

(He actually. Said. Rainbow.)

(He actually. Said. Unicorn.)

But yeah, why not go on spreading the same sweet lies about adoption? It’s not like the book will have an effect on anyone–

“It was pretty easy to use a little saccharine (to artificially sweeten the story). I wanted people to adopt, so why not ‘sell’ it?”

You want people to adopt based on a prettied-up version of adoption. Well, that kind of thing never leads to expectations a child can’t live up to, does it? And those could never in turn lead to a little white child’s resenting his or her white parent/s down the road. Mercy, no.

To give him his due, Mr. Simmons would seem to be doing good work in Russia for those children who won’t be adopted.

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Filed under AdoptoLand, Colonialism ROCKS!, General Ignoramitude, It Can't Be Racist. I Didn't Use the N-word Once!