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 PAs 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.