How Adoption In America Has Changed

In this flashback to 1950, adoption is already being described as a thing that exists to serve the desires of adults who want kids. There is already a “baby shortage.” Time wants us to believe things have changed since then, and that’s both true and not true. But the only real “change” Time can find is that nowadays there are many adoptable USAian children USAians don’t want to adopt.

Back then, says Time, things were different. Surplus would-be parents had to resort to “so-called black marketeers” [who] would charge as much as $5,000—nearly $50,000 in today’s dollars—to match a child with a family.

“‘So-called’ black marketeers.” Isn’t that adorable? I once met an adoptee younger than I am (and I am too  young to be a 1950 model) who was literally handed off to her a’mom by a stranger in a parking lot: no paperwork, no questions asked or answered. She wanted to know if I could help her find her first family. I could not, but who cares?

In 1950, as now, any way one adopts is a splendid way to adopt. The shady ways are only bad because they cost so much. The only change is that yesterday’s “black market” is today’s private adoption.

[B]ack in the day […] it was the prospective parents, and not the children, who endured long waits for a match […].

Please, someone, find me one contemporary P/AP blog, book, or news story wherein the P/APs don’t complain about the “long wait for a match”? My parents waited eighteen months after they decided to adopt in 1964, which is now quoted on this (odious, horrible) site as being the longest time you’ll have to wait to close a domestic infant adoption today. But surely something has changed, right?

[T]he way LIFE describes the [adoption] process might raise eyebrows among modern readers. As a prerequisite for the adoption, a caseworker “took a look at Bernice’s housekeeping” and “requested a medical report certifying their inability to have a child of their own.” Linda was put through a battery of medical tests to ensure that she was healthy [.]

Wrong. While the fertile are now allowed to adopt, P/APs still bitch and moan about home studies.  And when countries like China stopped adopting out kids to people over fifty or over a BMI of 40, people bitched and bitched and moaned and moaned. PAPs still sometimes have to meet medical standards, just like in 1950.

The baby on the cover of Life fifty years ago died of leukemia soon after, so her APs adopted a boy named Robert who, LIFE reported in a follow-up story, “may not understand for many years the double measure of love in his father’s hug and his mother’s smile.”

Adoptees still often serve as replacements for children who were or children who never were. No change there.

The article closes by repeating the claim that the one thing different about adoption today is that more mothers and fathers are needed. I don’t know where to go to get stats on this, but I suspect there were plenty of “adoptable kids” nobody wanted in 1950.

Of course, some things about adoption have changed since 1950. It’s not so easy to shame a single woman out of her baby as it used to be, so you’ll probably have to do it yourself and pay through the nose rather than have the government hand you your bouncing baby blank slate. These days, the kids who really need mothers and fathers are old enough to know they had other mothers and fathers. These days, the entire world is your baby plucking ground…but no matter where you look, the newborns are getting scarcer and more expensive. It’s almost like the world is not and never was full of women willing to give away their newborn babies and disappear forever. It’s almost like adoption as most people think of it always was a sick, selfish, hurtful fantasy that celebrates building greater people’s love atop lesser people’s pain.

But hey, enjoy this frothy, retro, pseudo-inspirational bullshit about how adoption is even better today because some baby child you’d have to settle for now needs you, won’t you? It’s November, after all.

What has not changed and never will change is the big lie that says adoption is about the needs of children instead of the desires of adults.



Filed under AdoptoLand, General Ignoramitude, NaBloPoMo

10 responses to “How Adoption In America Has Changed

  1. Lara/Trace

    I’m posting your link tomorrow. (sigh)

  2. Spot on there as usual The Prickly One!

  3. Pingback: How Adoption in America Has Changed Over 60 Years | ☀️ army of one ☀️

  4. I started to get worried about you, but you seem to be all fine and snarky again!

  5. Sarah Rose

    All of your points are true. A contemporary P/AP blog in which complaining about long waits, home studies, health and age requirements, impatience with pesky birth mothers (if only she’d commit!) etc. are called out as the entitled privileged absolute bullshit they are: Transracial Adoption, a private group on Facebook. (Created and headed by a transracial adoptee, though vast majority of members (sadly) are p/ap’s, yet also includes many adoptees and some first mothers, whose voices are protected, privileged, and honored over the din of white ap’s very very loud voices.) And YES, the needs of kids MUST be the priority, but I do fear playing straight into the hands of those who believe they have a “calling” to adopt, the righteous saviors and do-gooders, the virtuous rescuers. Ughh to that.

  6. uhh crap, sorry for the double post.

  7. yan

    “It’s almost like the world is not and never was full of women willing to give away their newborn babies and disappear forever.”

    This is the most comforting thought about the world that I’ve read this month. Not even just in adopto-land!

  8. Heather

    Progress 😦

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