Some Pedestals Are Higher Than Others

A friend called my attention to this blog post. I don’t want to critique the whole thing, because I don’t find it 100% horrible. But something really struck me about the way the a’mom involved chose to describe herself. So:

Has anyone else noticed The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal has levels? That it’s more an Adoption Process Totem Pole? Andrew MacDougall got to climb it because he brought a whole kid from overseas instead of just sending money for food. The maker of the “adoptees dodged a bullet” graphic got to climb just it for not being a relinquishing mother, which seems like a lower level to me. Pastor Boob Job Baby got to climb it for being just a little less ignorant about international adoption than the average person who isn’t involved with adoption is–fairly low, but probably still higher than Graphic Maker. Deb Goldberg got to climb it for presuming to tell the poor they need to save their money, which any non-adopting slob can do. And Jeff Gates got to climb it just for being insulted about being taken for a pedophile. (His pedestal’s probably pretty low, but he can still lord it over Masha Allen’s “adoptive dad,” right?)

So I’ve been thinking about the pedestals and how they’re measured. Here’s what I’ve gathered from the way I’ve seen people react online and IRL to adoption stories about APs (hey, is there any other kind?).

Rich couples who advertised themselves to “birthmothers” and scored a white, domestically adopted newborn get the lowest pedestal. Not only is there a chance they waited less than nine months to get their baby, they didn’t even have to get a passport. And they didn’t have to settle for a lesser product, the way people who get foreign or older or otherwise special needs kids do (did you know not being white is a “special need” in adoption?). All they had to do was put out a lot of money and get chosen by a “birth mother” who didn’t change her mind. Hell, they probably didn’t even do it because god told them to.

As the adopted person becomes less ideal (less white, less healthy, older) the pedestal gets higher. The pedestal also gets higher to the extent that the adoptive parents talk about religion.

International adoption is complicated: The pedestal might get higher because the APs have rescued an orphan, often for Jesus. But it might get lower because “American kids weren’t good enough for you?!”

The pedestal gets higher the longer the APs wait to adopt, and it grows a yard or more for every adoption they don’t complete because the first mother changed her mind. And if they ever had physical custody of a child and lost it because that custody was not entirely legal, their pedestal shoots into the clouds, borne aloft on a fountain of righteous anguish. Your pedestal grows if you claim your adoptee has RAD, and it gets taller the more out-of-control, dangerous, or even murderous the child becomes while in your care. Oddly enough, it retains its height should you decide to get rid of such a child. And, as we’ve learned recently, having one’s adoptee search still boosts the pedestal in some people’s eyes.

But the very highest pedestal is reserved for those for people like Megan (sorry: Megan!!!). Not because she adopted six times. Not because at least one of her children is from overseas. Not because she is a cheerleader for adopting older children, as if everyone were equally prepared to do such a thing. (Yes, it really is that simple–do it.)  Not because she has adopted four older children, and not because she congratulates herself for doing such a “simple” thing. (Most would snarl their faces with the thought of adopting an older child, let alone an older boy but not us.) Not even because, at least in one case, she and her husband had “paperwork approved for an infant” but instead chose to adopt an older kid (and let me tell you, very few things ramp up a pedestal in most people’s minds like turning down an infant in favor of an older kid).

No, Megan is the best kind of AP because, for her, adopting was never “plan B.” If there’s one thing that sets my alarm bells off, it’s the AP who takes pains to point out that s/he didn’t have to adopt. Not like those infertile slobs who had to settle for less…wait, not for less, because adopting is universally wonderful and your kids rock! So what the Hell were you doing just now besides taking potshots at people who couldn’t have their own kids?! I mean, isn’t that kinda…low?

I know, I’m silly expecting this stuff to make sense. So I’ll accept it. Nothing (except maybe ditching a kid you adopted) proves your worth as a human being and an adoptive parent like bragging about owning the functioning reproductive system most people take for granted. AdoptoLand is a strange place.




Filed under AdoptoLand, Colonialism ROCKS!, Forever Family, It Can't Be Racist. I Didn't Use the N-word Once!, Jesus Told Me To, NaBloPoMo, The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal

9 responses to “Some Pedestals Are Higher Than Others

  1. A strange place indeed! With hierarchy, levels, stigma and everything just like a real commercial venture which commodifies and exploits!

  2. cb

    I’ve taken to looking at the different adoption types ina different way. Rather than Foster, DIA or IA or younger/older children, I look at it as “involuntary” and “voluntary”. *Involuntary* reliquishment involves the removal of a child because the family itself is believed to be not safe for the child. *Voluntary” relinquishment involves the parents deciding that another alternative is considered better for a child.

    Looking at it that way, one realises that IA is not just “international foster care” because in many cases in IA, the child is not removed by authorities but rather the parents have often “voluntarily” relinquished their child to an orphanage – the situation is closer to what happened in western nations at the turn of the 19th/20th century than it is to modern day foster care. There are also those who “voluntarily” relinquish to orphanages in order that they be “adopted to a wealthier nation” – not too dissimilar to DIA.

    The thing about “voluntary relinquishment” is that outside factors almost always play a role and thus very open to corruption. When voluntary relinquishment involves reiinquishing one child for “a better life”, this is often due to market forces. There does seem to a disconnect when we talk about adoption in that we always act as if all “voluntary” adoptions involve bmothers just deciding “I’m going to relinquish this child, where it ends up I don’t know/don’t care” and then the adoptive parents just came along and saved the day, yet since the war, the “enticement of what adoptive families have of offer” has always been part of voluntary relinquishment, especially in the US. This document is about a particular adoption organisation in NZ

    and if one goes to page 67 where it says this:
    “.There was no need for overt pressure on the single woman, although this was certainly used on occasion. It was enough to ask her a question no other kind of expectant mother was asked: was she going to keep her baby or not? She was toldto compare what she could offer the child with what a married couple could offer, and to decide, not according to what she wanted, but according to what was best for the child.”

    The above even today is an integral part of any adoption counselling – eg see “Good mother; birthmother”:

    Anyway the point of the above ramble is that even though APs by themselves might not have caused an individual person to choose adoption, when it comes to “voluntary” adoptions of any kind, if there are far more people considering adoption than there are those voluntarily reiinquishing children then that does affect the counselling and care the vulnerable might receive. This happens in IA as well as DIA. So when people say “I always wanted to adopt; I didn’t have to” and then choose a “voluntary” adoption route, they may be part of the collective problem by swelling the collective numbers. If they really want to adopt a child that needs a home, it would seem to me to be better to go the “involuntary” route where the child has been removed from their original home for their own good. There may well be those cases where a newborn truly needs to be relinquished for their own good but those adoptions should also be handled through welfare organisations where the person’s situation is explored fully. I do realise also that some infant adoptions are involuntary/voluntary (i.e. where the child is likely to be removed at birth anyway and thus the emom is given the option to voluntarily relinquish) but even then those adoptions should be done through non-adoption organisations.

    Of course, “involuntary adoption” is not free of corruption – in countries where incentives are offered to municipal councils per every adoption they engender, this can lead to the more “marketable” children being removed more readily than the least marketable.

  3. cb

    As for the last sentence:
    “Don’t adopt an older child, or any child, because you want to save them, do it because you want to save yourself; because it will be so worth it.”

    and earlier:
    “We did not save them; in fact they saved us. They saved us from a life of selfishness, a life of never seeing the broader picture. They saved us from ourselves.
    That sounds great, right? Who wouldn’t want a spiritual awakening, an earth-shaking change? Well…it’s not all rainbows and daffodils. In fact, it’s hard. It’s really hard, but it’s worth it. Oh God is it worth it.”

    That attitude really worries me too. One shouldn’t be adopting to make oneself “a better person” or because it makes one feel “more spiritually whole”. if we want to help people, we should do so because they need that help not because of the spiritual brownie points.

    • Totally agree about helping people cause we want to not because it does something for us. I became a Big Brother volunteer cause I wanted to see if I could help a kid by being a friend. I didn’t volunteer to fill some void or make myself a better person that would be completely unfair to my little.

  4. Heather

    I never trust anyone who first words are “I am honest”. If that was true there would be no need to mention it.

  5. Referring to children as “plan b” is shitty no matter how you slice it. Patting yourself on the back while doing it, is even more shitty.

  6. cb

    Further to the “spiritual awakening” thing.

    Even though I do see APs in general moving away from the direct “I am saving a child”, I do see more of a move towards some of them seeing adoption along the lines of “Adoption has made me so much more spiritually fulfilled and it was worth it just for that” – as our adoptions are just about being for the the aparents’ personal growth.

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