Adoption as Supply-and-Demand for Infertile CouplesPosted by Kim
I’ve run across this issue a bunch lately as I’ve started reading adult-adoptee blogs, then turning back to the usual adoptions-in-progress blogs. Of which mine is one.
And I’ve become really sensitive to something that keeps coming up. I ran across it again tonight. An off-handed, hopeful comment by an adoptive-parent in-process about how great it is that her agency has connections with an orphanage with “plenty of young children available for adoption.”
To her, that’s great news! Lots of babies and toddlers, so she and her family can get one!
But then look how that sounds from the child’s point of view: “Hurray! Something has gone horribly wrong in your life (and the lives of a number of your peers), and your birth parents can’t parent you - just what I’ve been hoping for!”
Of course that’s not what my fellow-blogger means at all! She doesn’t wish harm on tiny people from foreign countries. Not really.
But sometimes we forget, in all our hopefulness as adoptive parents, that our great joy in getting to parent our kids comes at the expense of a whole other family-of-origin. First-parents lost a child. A child – our child – lost first-parents.
Not that that family of origin was “doing just fine till we came along.” Definitely not. And certainly children should not be left in abusive or severely neglectful situations. But many times, it’s not abuse or neglect that leaves orphans available for adoption. It’s poverty.
So what we sound like we’re saying when we rejoice that a particular geographic region is flush with adoptable young ones is that we’re happy that someone else is desperate. So desperate that children have to be moved to new families, new countries, new cultures.
And one of those someones is our future child. How’s that for a start-out attitude in a life-long relationship that at least at times will involve that child going through deep grief at all he or she has lost? Whoops.
And how likely is it that we’re going to do something to combat that poverty when we’re benefiting from its existence?
On the one hand, it’s semantics. Intent is more important right? But on the other hand, do we as Americans maybe have a latent belief that everyone is entitled to get to parent? And to parent from infancy or toddlerhood at that? And if what we’re looking for isn’t available in enough supply here in the U.S., we’ll cross the globe if need be to find it in some other place that conveniently doesn’t have the handle on welfare services that we do here.
It’s great that as a country we have made the move from the adoption-secrecy of the 50′s and 60′s – where parents frequently believed it was best (and certainly most comfortable) to “pass” their adopted children as biological. To refrain from telling their children their adoption stories. Yes, we’ve made healthy progress, in my opinion.
But now that adoption is so acceptable, it seems like it has almost become a given-alternative to biological parenting. “Can’t” have kids? Just adopt! “Want a bigger family?” There are some great, cute babies available in ______ [fill in the "third world" country]. And worse, we sometimes feel like the “sacrifice” of adopting somehow entitles us to the right to “custom-select” our child.
Which usually, statistically speaking, ends up being a girl between 0 - 2 years of age.
Now that I’m reading adoption stories from adults on the other side of the adoption experience from me – many of them adults older than I – it’s hard to ignore how we sound at this end. We want kids, we’re excited when we’re matched with kids that meet our desires for our families. Maybe we forget that it’s not exciting for those kids. Not now, anyway. Not while they’re in the process of needing to be adopted. And not completely even years from now. They will always have gone through great loss in order to get here, no matter how much they and we come to love each other. We’re going to need to remember that as their parents.
And maybe think about how we sound. Adoption is not a supply-and-demand proposition. It’s a redeeming solution to a heartbreaking situation.
We should want less of those available. Not more.