Category Archives: The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal

Stuff People Who Know Who Their Blood Relatives Are Say

Parenthood Requires Love, Not DNA!

PRLND is the name of a Facebook Group. You can click the link if you want, or you can take my word for how awful it is. It’s page after page of disembodied baby feet being held in disembodied adult hands, and posts about how love knows no color, and god’s plan, and how giving up a baby is not giving up a baby, and how Moses was adopted and every other nauseating trigger I or other adult adoptees have ever discussed. But this image took the motherfucking biscuit. Look at it. LOOK AT IT:three-things

Sacrificing family is for adoptees and their original families. So is sacrificing your heart: You will love who you are told to love and like it. Dignity? Are you SHITTING me? Adoptions are all about the loss of dignity–but not for youuu, you special, special parents who know DNA has nothing to do with love but also know who you are and where you come from.

Fuck you all with rusty rakes. Doesn’t cognitive dissonance ever reach a conscious level with you people?!

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Filed under AdoptoLand, Stop Saying That, The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal, Those Wacky PAPs

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.

 

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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

God Even Rewards People for NOT Adopting

Sometimes, just for wanting to adopt, he gives them their very own baby!

The Jensens had a child, but they wanted another. So after they spent lots of money on fertility treatments and went through two *miscarriages, they decided to adopt because some of their friends got cute little Ethiopian orphans-or-were-they-who-cares?

Like many people who started out wanting Ethiopians, they chose Congo instead. Pardon my suspicious mind, but why not Ethiopia? No more babies, too much money, too much waiting? I mean, that’s what happens when everybody gets there before you: The country gets wise to the lying, cheating, child-purchasing  international adoption game, er, runs out of kids worth adopting, er, waiting children.

Admitting they just didn’t know any better (and didn’t bother to find out), the Jensens turned to the so-corrupt-it’s-been-closed-but-we-won’t-mention-that-either Congo. A Google search would have turned up horror stories, but that’s too hard. So is keeping in touch with one’s adoption agency, which didn’t contact them often enough. The Jensens believed everything said agency told them, including that the girl was Really Truly Theirs. Then

The adoption failed.

Their little girl’s grandmother intervened and took custody of the child and her brother

Um, didn’t you guys want to help a child who really needed a family? You didn’t say so, of course, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt since this story is about your good intentions.

…because she feared they were being brought to the United States for slavery. […]

You know, if I were a grandmother in the Congo, and some Nice USAian White People wanted to spend lots of money to take my grandchild away from me forever (and I’m assuming here she wasn’t promised the kid would come home again at age eighteen as so many foreign relinquishers have been), I might think that, too. Because if there are two things everyone knows about the USA, it’s that we perfected race-based chattel slavery and that we almost never do nice things without expecting anything in return. We certainly don’t often spend money without expecting anything in return. But on to the happy ending and god’s mysterious ways.

When the agency sent a caseworker to the village to try to explain that the Jensens wanted to make a new life for the girl, the grandmother wouldn’t believe it. According to Jennifer, the woman told the agency members to never return.

Despite the heartache, Jennifer said she is convinced that God wanted them to attempt to adopt.

“I honestly don’t think we would have gotten pregnant with Makenna if we didn’t send in those adoption papers. I think (God) wanted us to trust him.” […] Makenna was born in January 2013, six months before the adoption failed.

Well, the Jensens are wiser now, and if they had it to do all over again, they’d do it differently. For one thing, they didn’t get all their money back. For another, they’d definitely nag the agency more so they didn’t get such a nasty shock. In other words, they have learned nothing. Nothing about international adoption, nothing about corruption, nothing about the folly of trusting people who take their money, nothing. Which is exactly what readers will learn about adoption from this article. Which wouldn’t bother me so much if it didn’t pretend to do otherwise:

Accurate data on failed adoptions can be difficult to find because a child’s records may be closed or personal information may be changed during the adoption process.

Is it really? …May they REALLY?! How do such things happen?! And how is it an audience can be as ignorant about adoption as this article’s readership is presumed to be?

Also, adoption dissolutions and disruptions may both be categorized as failures […].

Because they are failures, damnit.

Dissolutions and disruptions often happen because the adoptive family identifies behavior problems they did not foresee or find themselves incapable of handling.

And they often happen because APs who adopt in order to “save an orphan” can be entitled people who act on impulse, do no research, lack all foresight (like the woman yesterday who couldn’t believe her new child jumped on the sofa), and can’t finish what they start. But, like pretty much anything factual about adoption, that’s not something this article talks about. It talks abut being rewarded for such ignorance, and that is all fucked-up. (Forgive me for pimping that post again; I think its brilliant.)

*which is really horrible and I am truly sorry

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The only thing that could have made that photo more annoying

has come to pass: The couple in it believe those trumped-up, bullshit Planned Parenthood videos.

In case anyone has any doubts, they’re bullshit.

No, really:

It’s bullshit.

And since so many people seem to think their tax dollars go to pay for elective abortions, I’ll add: that’s bullshit too. (If you have a problem with exceptions for rape, incest, and health conditions medically certified to threaten the pregnant woman’s life, well, I don’t even know what to say to you.)

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Filed under General Ignoramitude, Misognyny, NaBloPoMo, The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal, Those Wacky PAPs

“From her archive”

comes this guaranteed-to-make-ya-click advice column rerun. It’s not nearly archival enough.

Carolyn Hax is an advice columnist for The Washington Post. This “rerun” column posted on 16 August, 2015:

Carolyn Hax is away. In her absence, we are offering columns from her archive.

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are “bidding”

if you put quotation marks around this word, it won’t be true

for a closed adoption

really, what other kind is there?

through our church. The birth mother is 17 and already has a child.

It’s two thousand somethingsomething and our local church, rather than helping a girl who clearly needs help, is raffling off her baby. We are the bestest Christians ever!

She is considering us as well as one other couple. This process involves a lot of waiting and is really fraying my nerves. We are the “better” couple — higher income, more child care experience, a son who can’t wait to be a big brother, and we live in the suburbs (while the other family has a condo in the city). We have not yet met the mother, but the other couple has apparently established a friendly relationship with her.

This is wrong not because it’s coercive, of course, but because it allowed them to cut in line ahead of ME. Can you imagine–there’s something I want, and there’s actually a line to wait for it, and there are people who aren’t me in the line, and I have to wait behind them? just because they got there first? Where, I ask you Lord Jesus, is the justice in that?!

We hope to do the same over the summer, to help her decision process

by which I mean to help her pick us and our superior suburban money, NOW because oh mah precious fraying nerves

My problem is

that slavery is no longer legal

that I cannot come to terms with the fact that the choice will ultimately rest with this girl

when obviously she should simply punt the baby into my lap and disappear without my having to sully my hands with her. I mean who does she think she is, the baby’s mother?!

On paper

by which I mean in reality

my husband and I are the easy

by which I mean obvious, correct, only and One True

choice. Nothing against the other couple

except that they suck and we rock, of course

but I believe if it were up to an objective party, anyone would choose us. But the process is designed so that the girl

the child’s own mother! I mean, can you believe this shit?!

has the final say, which I can’t understand. Why should it be her decision? She has already demonstrated questionable decision-making capabilities

in bringing into this world the child I want to love and cherish and raise as my own, that stupid slut

and she will never know anything about us besides what she learns over a couple of casual lunches. We hope to make a good impression on her, but I am really going to pieces over the thought that maybe there are factors we won’t be able to influence. Why is this OK??? Atlanta

Carolyn’s reply: Dear Atlanta: If I were the mom, your quickness to dismiss both the other couple and my right to make decisions for my baby would disqualify you without so much as a follow-up “casual lunch.”

What I see are two families who want a child, and both may offer this baby a wonderful home — neither one “better” than the other, just different. And I see a mother who got herself in a stupid spot [all by herself, apparently] but who is doing her best to get out of it, in the way that best serves her child.

If you can’t get over yourself long enough to see this isn’t a competition, but instead a community effort to save a life — and, therefore, that any good home is a great outcome, even if the home isn’t yours — then I hope you’ll recuse yourself from the “auction” altogether. Yours truly, City-Dweller

Nice answer, Carolyn.Please look away while I vomit. Yours truly, Snarkuchin.

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Filed under AdoptoLand, NaBloPoMo, The Adoption Process Moral Pedestal, Those Wacky PAPs, You're going to Hell for this.

We Clock You from a Mile Away

Dear wealthy, white, entitled moms of adoption: Adult adoptees see you, and some of us don’t find your words “inspirational.”

The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.

Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.

Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?

We recognize you from a mile away because your interactions with your child suggest you are a complete control freak–one who believes pregnancy and childbirth are a cakewalk that “just happens” to women, but that having “an opportunity dropped into” your righteous lap requires grit, fight, determination.

I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.

We recognize you from a mile away because it’s obvious you believe your sweet precious angel child is defective because s/he wasn’t homemade. No matter how loudly you shout that the opposite is true…we see you, and we recognize you.

I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.

We recognize you from a mile away because some people who had to undergo one lousy home study and a background check–the kind you undergo when you want to lease an apartment or go to college–wear a look of butthurt resentment about it FOREVER. I mean… you had to CLEAN YOUR HOUSE! Who does that?!

To be fair, I don’t know anything about the “so many” adoptive parenting classes. I don’t understand why anyone would resent them, either. Don’t we all joke that children should come with instruction manuals? Well, you get one! Lucky you! Don’t we all complain from time to time that parents ought to have to pass some kind of test before they can have children? Oh wait, I get it: you meant parents who are not of your class should have to do that. You are supposed to get the benefit of the doubt.

And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic.

We recognize you because you think you’re special for being sleepless and dealing with a colicky baby. And no, most mothers don’t have “followup visits” (how many exactly?), but if they aren’t of your class, if they have the misfortune to be the wrong race or too poor or not married, mothers face constant public scrutiny and shaming. They often do face a lot of followup visits from people and agencies that don’t believe they are worthy of their own children. And they have a lot fewer resources to defend themselves against those people and agencies than you do.

And yes, you probably get asked some rude questions if your child doesn’t look like you, but for every one of those questions, you get articles like this all November and people telling you how wonderful you are all year round.

I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.

We recognize you because you seem to believe doing what other mothers do makes you exceptional. Plenty of non-adoptive mothers work full-time, do without maternity leave and never receive balloons and plants or the support of their families.  And seriously: Balloons soon sag or pop, and plants often don’t get cared for and are tossed out. Your suffering, I am not feeling it. (Mothers’ suffering, yes: It’s a hard world to raise a child in. Women’s suffering, yes: It’s a hard word to be female in. Your super special adoptive mommy suffering, no.)

We recognize you from a mile away by your insistence upon actual superhuman powers, like your magical ability to survive without inhaling an iota of oxygen “for months. Months.”

And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.

We recognize you by your insistence that the luxury of being able to take weeks off work to fly overseas without going hungry or being evicted is a horrible burden.

I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time.

We recognize you because you have to force yourself to offer respect and compassion to a woman who is about to lose her child forever. We recognize you by your willingness to hurt your fellow woman in order to get what you want…and then congratulate yourselves for it.

We recognized you before we’d read a complete paragraph of this mess. Maybe we’re superhuman, too.

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I Control the English Language, and I Say…

This article is old, but the comments section keeps on going, so I’m gonna tackle it. Says Amanda Kosior:

Dear journalists, scriptwriters, and other members of the media: I officially revoke your ability to use the word “adoption,” in any of its related forms.

No, Ma’am. You do not get to tell all the media in the world to never again use the words “adoption,” “adoptive,” “adopting,” “adopted,” “adoptee” and any others I might have forgotten. That would be a grotesque denial of reality. That would shut down any media, literary, or public discussion of the A-matter altogether, wouldn’t it? And nobody wants that, right?

I believe Ms. Kosior does want that (although I suspect she’d make an exception for ads suggesting women “consider adoption,” because she’s looking to A-word a second child right now). She says The lead story on CNN recently (which was not about adoption in any way, shape or form) pointed out not once, but twice, that a couple adopted their son. In one instance, they use the line, “…[She] carried him out of the hospital in her arms, as ecstatic as if she’d carried and birthed him herself.” A sensation, indeed: imagine, a woman whose name is on her own child’s birth certificate is over-the-moon at the anticipation of parenting her actual son. A banner day for mothers everywhere, to be sure.

Her name’s on the birth certificate. The child is hers. Why so defensive? Aren’t APs usually the first ones to insist that it doesn’t matter, that adoption is wonderful and love is love? Isn’t that what you’re saying? Yet you sound like you’re arguing that there is not enough secrecy in adoption, which is bizarre at best.

My favorite is when the article goes something like this: “Nicole Kidman will begin shooting her movie next week. Kidman, who has two adopted children, one biological daughter, and another daughter born by surrogate, cut her hair for the role.

As my many “celebri-tease” posts attest, I have a problem with articles about celebrity adoptions too: I think they’re insulting and exploitative and need to stop. But Ms. Kosior seems not to like the A-word in this context because she thinks it’s somehow a knock at her as a mother to have it said that raising adopted children is different than raising biological children, which is absolutely true. I repeat, this is absolutely true. Different does not mean lesser, it just means different. (And reducing it to extra ice cream sprinkles is not cute or funny.)

Here’s the thing: People want to know about celebrity adoptions because they want to know about celebrities, not adoption. They don’t care that one of Angelina Jolie’s children was literally stolen; they just want to see photos of her with her Majickal Rainbow Family. I, as an adoptee, am not angry because the adopted kids of celebs are called adopted, but because they are being exploited for entertainment, because their adoptions were often corrupt, and because these corrupt adoptions are being held up as evidence of the celebs’ humanitarian status and their extra-special capacity to love. And that’s fucked-up.

Of course, Ms. Kosior does have a point. It is hurtful as Hell to be referred to as adopted as if it means less-than. The problem is when she jumps from “this is hurtful” to “so shut up about it.” You skipped a step. That step is exploring why it’s hurtful. It’s hurtful because society still thinks deep down that being adopted is being less-than. And you know how you’re not going to change that? By denying adoption and never speaking of it. That’s how we handle things that really are shameful and less-than, isn’t it?

Like so many APs before her, Ms. Kosior is simply denying differences. Denying differences hurts adoptees, and we have known this for a long time now. It’s as hurtful as denying any other differences we’d rather ignore. It does, for instance, matter whether you’re black or white. That’s not a statement about the inherent quality of human beings, but about societal and cultural differences. It does matter whether you’re male or female. And it does matter whether or not you are adopted. Again, that’s not a statement about the quality of child or parent, but a statement about the reality of the way your family was formed.

Know how you can tell someone is really enlightened about an issue? They don’t flinch from talking straight about it.

Why does she deny the differences? As I said before, I think it’s because she thinks the A-words are a knock at her as a mom. She pretends it’s for the sake of her children, saying she wrote the blog post

out of the fear that one day another kid will tease him or her about something over which they had no control or participation based on some nonsense they read on the Internet or saw on Nick Jr.

Well, Ms. K, that’s gonna happen. That is absolutely going to happen. I mean, I think you’re dead-on when you say it’s inappropriate to use the same word to signify bringing a child into your family, acquiring a pet, and cleaning up a stretch of highway. People do say stupid, insensitive things about adoption. And I do sometimes get a twinge when I see someone’s child described in a newspaper story as “adopted” when it *doesn’t seem relevant. But demanding that the world stop doing that right now, and do it by blotting words out of public discourse, is insane.

Your son is going to hear the dreaded A-words, your son is going to be questioned and teased, and if you don’t prepare yourself to deal with that when it happens, you won’t be doing him any favors. Kids tease other kids about things they have no control over all the time. (I got teased about being adopted…and about having freckles and the way my mom chose to cut my hair and being female). Adults go so far as to kill each other for similar reasons rather often. This is the planet you live on. To pretend otherwise is to be the AdoptoLand equivalent of people who use phrases like “post-racial America” or “sexism is over” without a trace of irony (or self-awareness, or any sort of awareness really). And the adoption world is already so awash with such people and such levels of denial it’s hard to have a conversation about it at all, let alone examine it and see whether we can improve it. And you want to make this worse even though it directly hurts your son? Then it’s not about him, it’s about you.

I mean, how can you point out how crappy people are to adoptees without realizing that shutting down the conversation entirely is simply another and worse form of shaming? HOW? How can you make this all about you and your legal ownership papers?

The fact is, parenting is parenting. There is no asterisk next to my name on my son’s birth certificate. My “Mom” necklace is not surrounded by quotation marks. In the eyes of my country and God, I am my son’s mother.

Yes! Yes, you are! Why, then, are you so damned defensive about it? (Also, did anyone else read “ME ME ME ME REAL MOMMY ONLY MOMMY ME MOMMY ME ME ME!” just now?) I think somebody’s jealous. That’s a shitty thing for me to say, but it’s written all over this article. If you can’t deal with your child having parents who are not you, don’t adopt, because those other parents are part of the definition of adoption. And that’s why you want the words to go away, and that is so sad for your son (and so so so fucked up).

Say, you know what? I have a better idea. Since it’s the notion you didn’t give birth to your child that apparently distresses you so much, why not forbid the media to use the word “birth” in any of its forms? No “born,” “newborn,” “birthing,” “maternity ward,” or “midwife,” no birth notices in the papers, none of it. Your feelings about birth and adoption are more important than recording reality (and raising children to deal with it), so what difference does it make which words we ban?

Yes, let’s do it that way. Dear Media People: Quit Using the B-Words! Our society sometimes acts as if it is very ashamed about sex and how babies get into the world, so it makes perfect sense. It’s just as stupid as getting rid of the A-words and just as unlikely to happen.

 

*But why doesn’t it seem relevant? I hope to address this in my next post.

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