I mentioned in my last post that there were discussions in the adoption-blog world that had my head spinning as of late. Tonight, I followed a link to a seven page forum topic where a few adoptive mothers were repeatedly attacked for their decision to adopt, while also being patronized about not having “perspective.” These women were told they were selfish for choosing to adopt infants (and, thus, participate in a “corrupt” system that preys on the misfortunes of others), instead of becoming parents through the foster system.
This said by women who admit that they got pregnant relatively quickly after placing a child to fill the hole of the biological child that they weren’t parenting.
How utterly selfish.
After all, they put their desires to fill that void with an infant above the social injustices suffered by waiting children. They couldn’t have the child that they wanted–the one that was lost to them–so they should “expand their horizons” and enter into a situation that they didn’t feel prepared for, instead of selfishly choosing to parent another infant.
Sounds crazy, right? So why is it crazy for me to say this about a woman who can choose to biologically have another infant, but perfectly acceptable for a birthmother to say it to a prospective adoptive parent, who does not have the option of biology due to a medical situation? (And, for the record, before submitting my profile to our adoption agency, I called a neighboring county about a ten-year-old girl that had been in the system for years–they weren’t currently considering placement for her due to severe emotional problems, and I still occasionally check my state’s listings to see her status, five years later. I also came thisclose to submitting my homestudy for a sibling group, as well as a toddler with some developmental delays. I DID look very seriously at that option, but the situations weren’t right. I am no different from many potential adoptive parents who explore “the system” before deciding that it isn’t the right place for them–at least right now.)
Near the end of the forum discussion, one of the women who had made a lot of the statements that bothered me posted to the adoptive mothers that she was NOT attacking them–that she respected them for their courage to broaden their horizons and try to gain “real perspective” as opposed to the subjective kind (this true perspective, naturally, was based on her views). She then went to her personal blog and lamented the entitlement displayed by these women who were never going to “get it.”
And so, I finally feel pushed to the point of sharing my perspective on these topics (although not nearly as completely as I would like, due to the realities of attention span).
No matter what you want to tell yourself, life has everything to do with choices. This doesn’t mean that wrongs don’t occur, or that social injustices don’t exist. But how we deal with the situations we face is still a result of our choices.
I take issue with those who claim that adoption is a broken system because it only exists because of poverty, lack of education, lack of social support, or anything else of that nature. Yes, those factors can come into play as part of a woman’s choice. It is interesting, though, that those who attempt to evaluate the “strength” of a potential adoptive match site the fact that an expecting mother is much more likely to choose adoption if she has MORE education, is older, is currently parenting another child, or has well-defined goals and aspirations for her life (at least in the arena of domestic adoption). In other words, it is the ones with more “privilege” and “choices” that are considered more likely to choose adoption.
I do not disagree that there are horrible social injustices that drive women in other countries to choose adoption (deathly poverty, limitations on family size, the fact that an illegitimate child and its mother become complete social outcasts in some countries…).Here’s my complaint, though. If you are bothered by those injustices, focus your energy on FIXING them, not on destroying a system that is, at least, alleviating some of their effects on the next generation.
I am bothered when I see people repeatedly referring to those of us who adopt as using our “privilege” to strong-arm babies from those who don’t have as much “control.” Believe me, the four years of hell that I endured with infertility was no privilege. Neither were the effects it had on my marriage, my mental health, or my pocket book. As much as I (and many other couples) would like to eventually open our hearts and homes to those children who wait, the emotional fallout of infertility often leaves us unable to deal with the additional (severe) emotional ups and downs of dealing with the foster care system. And while many of the same women who rail against our privilege will complain bitterly any time they perceive a comment as somehow telling them they should get over the emotional turmoil caused by their experiences, well, those suffering the emotional fallout of infertility just need to “broaden their horizons” and “get perspective.” Ugh.
This post is long. The time is late. And I don’t know if I am effectively communicating my feelings. At this point, I hear my mother asking me (as she has in the past) “Why are you wasting your time–you won’t change these people’s minds.” And you know what? She is right about that. I know I won’t change the minds of the people who make these statements. It is the people who READ them that I’m concerned about.
So, why do I bother? I can sum it up in three words: Madalyn Murray O’Hair.
One of the quickest ways to get decent people to abandon their beliefs is to tell them that they have more power, and it’s not fair. Despite what an enormous section of our population believes, we are not a society of majority rule. It is the very vocal minorities (the squeaky wheels, if you will) that tend to shape policy. When I first started contemplating this, a month or so ago, I did a little research and read some things by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. She brought new meaning to the word “radical.” The vast majority of our country didn’t even come close to agreeing with her views. But she and her views forever changed the face of public education. And those changes didn’t just protect those who did not have Christian beliefs–it essentially muzzled those that did. It swung the pendulum too far in the other direction (effectively removing rights from the majority).
That is my fear–that is why I respond. I see too many women being told that they lack perspective–that they can never even HAVE perspective, because they haven’t experienced childbirth. Their greatest insecurities are played on to convince them that they have done something wrong, something unfair. And I see too many of them who believe it. So I respond, and I hope that since I HAVE been in both situations–going through infertility and adoption, then experiencing pregnancies–that I might offset some of that guilt that is being thrust upon them.
And I hope that by doing what doesn’t seem to be politically correct, by disagreeing with these adoption “reformists,” that some of their frightening suggestions don’t eventually become policy. I do think that there is room for reform. But I think that reform should focus on the children being effected, and on protecting everyone involved–not just on making a certain segment feel good.
What more can I say? Squeak…squeak…squeak…