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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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169 Responses

  1. E.J. Graff
    E.J. Graff October 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm |

    Thanks, Jill. The biggest problem is with infant and toddler adoptions, I have been told. The good news: those adoptions are going down, while adoptions of the children most likely to be truly in need — children 5 and up, children with special needs (medical issues, trauma issues, attachment disorders), and sibling groups–are on the rise.

  2. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 5, 2010 at 4:36 pm |

    i’m a little biased, being currently in the middle of a protracted legal battle in a foreign country in an international adoption case.

    however, it actually is true that there are thousands and thousands of adoptable babies in the world (in a world of 6 billion people that really shouldn’t come as a surprise). it is also true that in some countries there are serious problems of baby trafficking. but there’s also the serious problem of misplaced nationalism has ended up condemning children who could be with loving families to an institution for their entire childhood. that’s what is happening in a lot of states in the former soviet union, with kyrgyzstan currently being the worst case but with other tragic cases in russia and kazakhstan. in those places there have been no cases of trafficking (when there are a lot of abandoned kids, there is no market for kidnapping children) and yet international adoption problems often get reported as just that, “international adoption problems”. as if the problems in various disparate countries are all the same.

  3. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin October 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm |

    I’m sure there is an industry at play, but I hate to think about the ethical implications of foster parents being able to “order” the child that best suits their fancy. I wonder sometimes if being parents has a certain amount of mystery present on purpose, since I know my folks weren’t certain what I was going to be like until my mother gave birth to me.

    Yet, there are certainly lots of needy kids out there who would greatly benefit from two loving parents, also.

  4. Jadey
    Jadey October 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm |

    There is also the issue of how international adoption, even reasonably ethically-practiced international adoption, exists within a long-standing colonialist global framework that problematizes the practice at its core (and adoption of this kind has a long, sordid, and on-going history as a very effective colonialist practice). Adopting children out of their communities and regions of origin should always be a last resort. Supporting communities and supporting children whose support networks have been broken down in some way needs to come first, before permanent adoption and transplanting is even considered.

  5. Jim
    Jim October 5, 2010 at 5:00 pm |

    “And yet, as these documents reveal, U.S. officials in Hanoi did not have the right tools to shut down the infant peddlers while allowing the truly needed adoptions to continue. Understanding how little the State Department and USCIS could do, despite how hard they tried…”

    It can literally take an act of Congress. that’s what it took to shut the market down in Cambodia. One of Angleina Jolie’s kids came from there, and a lot of poeple got hurt all the way around, both adoptive and birth parents and kids.

    Part of the problem in that particular instance was that parents had placed kids in institutions without believing they were relinquishing parental rights and ties. The orphanages were just selling kids who already had parents, just parents who couldn’t feed them – all these kids were the fourth of fifth kid in the family.

  6. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 5, 2010 at 7:31 pm |

    upyernozL i’m a little biased, being currently in the middle of a protracted legal battle in a foreign country in an international adoption case.

    A little biased?

    There are children in need of adoption. In all cultures. But they’re not the healthy babies that are prime for the adoption market. Whenever wealthy people from a developed country enter an undeveloped country willing to offer money in exchange for a nice healthy baby, nice healthy babies will be acquired by people who want some of that money in order to sell them.

    The international adoption market is the same coerced adoption system that crisis pregnancy centers funnel low-income women in the US towards: the same system that the Magdalen Houses in Ireland were a part of.

    It seems pretty clear: if you’re a wealthy Western couple entering a poverty-stricken country with the intent of adopting a baby, first of all you should go home, and secondly; if the baby is healthy and well-fed and not disabled in any way, the chances are you’re being offered a stolen child who has living parents who will miss their child till the day they die.

  7. Vail
    Vail October 5, 2010 at 7:53 pm |

    I agree that more regulation must be done. There are a lot of bad adoption agencies out there and we need national standards and oversights. However I must point out that there are some countries that are very very careful about allowing international adoptions. I must say that I am very happy that my daughter’s birth country cares so much for her welfare. So please don’t fall into the trap of painting every country like it’s full of back alley baby dealers and corrupt government officials (not saying anyone here has, just that I’ve seen it on other articles).

  8. rox
    rox October 5, 2010 at 8:09 pm |

    If the kids have living parents that can’t afford food, a humanitarian involvement would involve providing food. Anything else is just exploitation. There are children who need homes and yes, they are largely older children. There are babies available as well, but newborns come from locatable mothers, and if parenting resources aren’t offered and she is in dire poverty, then taking her baby and selling it for thousands is just plain exploitation as well. And evil.

  9. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 5, 2010 at 8:20 pm |

    There are 500,000 children in foster care in the US.

    There are a little over a 100,000 kids in the US waiting for adoption.

    There are nearly 20,000 international adoptions by USians every year.

    Maybe at least part of the answer lies in fixing our broken system and discovering why parents who are willing to fight the system aren’t willing to love kids over the age of three.

  10. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm |

    It seems pretty clear: if you’re a wealthy Western couple entering a poverty-stricken country with the intent of adopting a baby, first of all you should go home, and secondly; if the baby is healthy and well-fed and not disabled in any way, the chances are you’re being offered a stolen child who has living parents who will miss their child till the day they die.

    Jesurgislac, i think you have no idea what you are talking about. yes, stolen children is a major problem in a number of countries (e.g. vietnam, guatamala). however, in other countries there are very different problems. if you are unable to have children biologically, what is wrong with taking in children who would otherwise be warehoused in an institution for their entire childhood? you’re simply treating all international adoptions as if there is no difference between places that don’t have a lot of abandoned children but nevertheless are popular with foreign adopting families and places that have a lot of abandoned children. believe it or not, different parts of the world are different.

    furthermore, the process is not “money in exchange for children.” that’s not how it works. and i wonder by putting it in that framework if you have any idea how international adoption works at all.

  11. Tripp Baltz
    Tripp Baltz October 5, 2010 at 10:40 pm |

    The international adoption system is broken. Helps us fix it. Orphans needs families — now. Go to our web site (www.bothendsburning.org) and sign our petition urging the UN to enact real adoption reform, and you will help us build an system that promotes ethical, efficient, expeditious adoption so parentless children can have families after attempts to reunite them with their families of origin have failed. THANKS!

  12. Sarah
    Sarah October 6, 2010 at 12:27 am |

    Kristen J.: Maybe at least part of the answer lies in fixing our broken system and discovering why parents who are willing to fight the system aren’t willing to love kids over the age of three.  

    I have to disagree with you a little here. I’m with you up until parents aren’t willing to love kids over the age of three. Plenty of parents do adopt older kids and find out that they have such severe mental issues from foster care and abandonment that it’s impossible to have them for fear that they’ll physically harm the other children in the house. Then other parents hear these stories and are scared away. I’m not trying to say that every older child is going to be a menace, but it’s a more complicated problem than just saying that parents aren’t willing to take in an older child because they can’t raise the child from birth.

    On a different note, I recently read “The Girls Who Went Away,” by Ann Fessler, an amazingly well-done and horrifying book about unwed mothers from 1945 into the ’60s who were forced to give up their children for adoption. Scanning those documents reminded me of those women’s stories, except it’s worse – there’s really no chance for these women to ever be able to contact their children.

  13. akeeyu
    akeeyu October 6, 2010 at 2:45 am |

    Jesurgislac,

    “It seems pretty clear: if you’re a wealthy Western couple entering a poverty-stricken country with the intent of adopting a baby, first of all you should go home, and secondly; if the baby is healthy and well-fed and not disabled in any way, the chances are you’re being offered a stolen child who has living parents who will miss their child till the day they die.”

    There is just…so much going on there.

    I do think there is an awful lot wrong with the adoption industry and process in a lot of countries (including and perhaps especially the US, so the advice to ‘go home’ is not exactly great), but I just don’t think you can make a statement like that without some kind of factual support. Well, I guess you *can*, I just don’t think you should.

    Is the assumption that only women in the west place children for adoption for a variety of reasons? Is the assumption that all women in other countries always want to parent their children? That the only reason any woman in Vietnam or Guatemala would choose not to parent a child is because of a perceived disability?

    That just seems like a weird assumption, as if women in disadvantaged countries do not have the full range of motivations and feelings that women in more fortunate countries have, and that’s…fucked up.

    Again, I find many aspects of ALL types (and locations) of adoption extremely problematic (which is why I didn’t do it and instead pursued ART, which means I get grilled on why we didn’t “just” adopt on a regular basis, proving that after the fucking patriarchal medical system mishandles your reproductive system and renders you infertile, EVERY decision you make is both wrong and up for public debate), but I still think your statement, which appears to promote the idea that ALL women, everywhere, ALWAYS want to parent their children, full stop, is just problematic.

  14. blogueur
    blogueur October 6, 2010 at 6:00 am |

    hello,

    In Europe as USA it’s difficult to adopt, even if there are many orphans. you must wait for year.
    Parents leave in Eastern Europe or in Africa to adopt.
    i hope you will understand me :)
    Alex from France

  15. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 6:46 am |

    I started out on the presumption that it was a good thing for unwanted children to be adopted. I really did. It sounds like such a no-brainer.

    Then I actually started looking at why so many countries, when Westerners come looking for babies, start trying to stop it – and found that it’s not because of nationalism or patriotism or anything else – it’s the plain and simple fact that it means babies get stolen to feed the demand.

    A newborn baby belongs with the mother. There are horrible exceptions to that rule, but bluntly: you want to take a baby away from their mother, you better have a better set of reasons than: You want the baby, the mother’s poorer than you are, and the country the mother lives in is such that you’re going to be able to do that. And yeah: I do see most international adoption, including the practice by some British adoptive couples of going to the US to take advance of the Crisis Pregnancy Center adoptive baby racket, as just pure exploitation of poverty by wealth.

    If the mother’s dead in childbirth and the baby survived and the baby’s family want to care for their child, then the right course of action is to help them do that.

  16. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 7:06 am |

    A few links: Discount babies and a CalTech study of how gender and race affects the decision by prospective parents to choose “their” baby from those on the market: Child-Adoption Matching: Preferences for Gender and Race.

    E. J. Graff, “The Lie We Love”:

    In reality, there are very few young, healthy orphans available for adoption around the world. Orphans are rarely healthy babies; healthy babies are rarely orphaned. “It’s not really true,” says Alexandra Yuster, a senior advisor on child protection with UNICEF, “that there are large numbers of infants with no homes who either will be in institutions or who need intercountry adoption.”

    That assertion runs counter to the story line that has long been marketed to Americans and other Westerners, who have been trained by images of destitution in developing countries and the seemingly endless flow of daughters from China to believe that millions of orphaned babies around the world desperately need homes. UNICEF itself is partly responsible for this erroneous assumption. The organization’s statistics on orphans and institutionalized children are widely quoted to justify the need for international adoption. In 2006, UNICEF reported an estimated 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. But the organization’s definition of “orphan” includes children who have lost just one parent, either to desertion or death. Just 10 percent of the total-13 million children-have lost both parents, and most of these live with extended family. They are also older: By UNICEF’s own estimate, 95 percent of orphans are older than 5. In other words, UNICEF’s “millions of orphans” are not healthy babies doomed to institutional misery unless Westerners adopt and save them. Rather, they are mostly older children living with extended families who need financial support.

    British and Canadian parents who come to the US looking to adopt babies aren’t doing so because the US is a Third World country in which there are lots of orphaned babies: they’re doing so because the US is a country which provides so little help to low-income mothers that an American woman who knows she can’t keep her job and look after her baby, and can’t afford to have a child if she’s jobless, and has been fed a pack of lies by the pro-life movement about how easy it will be to give up her baby for adoption, will end up on a catalogue for prospective adoptive parents to pick out the one they want.

    And that is a comparatively nice form of international adoption: everything (aside from the emotional trauma of adoption) open and above-board.

  17. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 7:20 am |

    That just seems like a weird assumption, as if women in disadvantaged countries do not have the full range of motivations and feelings that women in more fortunate countries have, and that’s…fucked up.

    I think what is fucked up is the presumption that the adoption industry makes that the less money a mother has, the less likely she is to want to keep her baby.

    That applies whether we’re talking about Stephanie Bennett from Ohio or this semi-anonymous Yvonne who discovered she’d lost her baby because she didn’t have the money to pay her hospital bills or Isabela or Dora from Guatemala.

    The normal human reaction for women who have given birth – the normal biological reaction – is to want to keep the baby. There are exceptions. But unless we suppose that maternal instincts increase with family income, there really is something very fucked up going on when it’s invariably poorer women who lose their babies to adoption.

  18. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 6, 2010 at 7:39 am |

    Sarah: Plenty of parents do adopt older kids and find out that they have such severe mental issues from foster care and abandonment that it’s impossible to have them for fear that they’ll physically harm the other children in the house.

    I think part of this is a failing of our system provide adequate care and part of this bullshit. There are 100,000 kids waiting for adoption. Do you really thing more than 4/5ths of them are mentally disturbed and potentially violent with other children? Really? I’ve worked with a lot of kids in the system and I know this is not the case.

    There are no guarantees with children. Some adopted children will have psychological difficulties arising from their adoption regardless of their age at adoption and love and care they receive from their adoptive family. You can’t order a perfect baby and just because you hold them from the moment they are small doesn’t mean you will be able mold them into the person that you want.

  19. Whit
    Whit October 6, 2010 at 9:42 am |

    Another case of a baby funneled into the adoption system to rich white parents because the poor mother was unable to prove to the hospital staff that she could provide what they deemed a good home to the child. Because she was undocumented, and they could not find a translator in her native language, so the misunderstanding by the (wrong) translator they did provide was enough evidence to apparently confiscate her baby.

    Thankfully, mother and child are now reunited.

  20. Jadey
    Jadey October 6, 2010 at 10:10 am |

    If people are interested, there are also a lot of bloggers out there who are internationally adopted themselves, and have talked in great depth about what that means to them and the issues surrounding international adoption in general. The voices of actual adoptees (especially adult adoptees) are so frequently ignored and overlooked, as parents’ and others’ voices are centralized.

    Jan Rae Kim at Harlow’s Monkey is a favourite blogger of mine, although she has recently closed her blog in order to pursue other things. But the archives are still there, as well as links to other relevant blogs.

  21. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 10:22 am |

    Then I actually started looking at why so many countries, when Westerners come looking for babies, start trying to stop it – and found that it’s not because of nationalism or patriotism or anything else – it’s the plain and simple fact that it means babies get stolen to feed the demand.

    which specific countries are you talking about? as i said above, in some countries baby trafficking is a major problem. in other countries it is extremely rare. as odd as this may sound it all comes down to demand: if there is a lot more demand for children than the number of truly orphaned children then there is an incentive to kidnap non-orphaned kids.

    my point is that different countries are quite different from each other. which is why when you talk why there are problems in “international adoption” with such a broad brush, it comes across to me (as someone who is currently living with a nationalistic backlash) as completely ignorant. what i am seeing is you are taking the trafficking problems that are well-documented in countries like vietnam and guatamala and projecting them onto all international adoptions.

  22. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 10:31 am |

    my point is that different countries are quite different from each other. which is why when you talk why there are problems in “international adoption” with such a broad brush, it comes across to me (as someone who is currently living with a nationalistic backlash) as completely ignorant.

    You are welcome to think of me as completely ignorant if you like: it’s true I haven’t paid much attention to the “problems” of the wealthier wannabe-parents looking to adopt. I read a lot more about the issues of the children traded and the mothers who lose their children to adoption.

    The issues about adoption are different with regard to race, class, nationality: but any adoption of a healthy infant ought to raise large blinking question-marks about why that baby is “available” for adoption at all. If the answer is because it suits wealthier people much better to take the baby for themselves than to provide sustenance to mother-and-baby, then they ought to feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

  23. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 10:53 am |

    The issues about adoption are different with regard to race, class, nationality: but any adoption of a healthy infant ought to raise large blinking question-marks about why that baby is “available” for adoption at all. If the answer is because it suits wealthier people much better to take the baby for themselves than to provide sustenance to mother-and-baby, then they ought to feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    who has ever given that answer? that’s pretty absurd. obviously any time you are considering adopting a child (whether young or old, healthy or unhealthy, domestic or international) you should have serious questions about whether that child is up for adoption legitimately. but those are questions that can be answered.

    you’re still just painting all international adoption with a broad brush and not acknowledging that every country is not guatamala or vietnam (two countries that are currently closed to international adoption because of substantiated trafficking allegations)

  24. Miss S
    Miss S October 6, 2010 at 11:06 am |

    A newborn baby belongs with the mother. There are horrible exceptions to that rule,

    No, there are perfectly acceptable exceptions to that rule. Namely, that the mother does not want the baby, or doesn’t believe that she is in a position to care for him/her. I understand that international adoption is problematic, but telling women who willingly place their children up for adoption that they are horrible exceptions isn’t the answer.

    This is no better than demonizing women who choose abortion using the reasoning that women who are pregnant should have a maternal instinct to have the baby.

  25. Vail
    Vail October 6, 2010 at 11:22 am |

    We adopted from Mongolia where they are pretty strict and have a very very small adoption rate. We adopted internationally after looking at the Wisconsin foster system and private adoptions. Here in Wisconsin there is no Foster to Adopt program. You either adopt from the special needs program (and we’re talking major special needs or ages 15+) or you become a foster parent and hope that the child you’re fostering comes up for adoption and you get first dibs. Private adoption at the time looked really risky to us… Lots of stories about broken adoptions, criminals etc. made us unwilling to risk that when we could give a home to a toddler who, though not a new born, needed parents.

    BTW there seems to be a myth going around that you’re “rich” if you adopt internationally. We aren’t. We’ll be paying off our adoption for awhile. There is also the assumption that countries don’t care about their children adopted out of country and that they see them as money to be made. In my experience that just isn’t true.

  26. ginasf
    ginasf October 6, 2010 at 11:23 am |

    Miss S: Thank you so much for this comment. My daughter (who is a non-ethnic Russian minority from Russia) came into my family through adoption. She was relinquished from birth by the birth mother who was going through some very difficult times. We have been in contact with the birth mom and corroborated this. We had to go through a complex court proceeding (this was in ’98) including dealing with a prosecutor who represented the child not being adopted and exhaustively examined the paperwork. My daughter is from a minority which, realistically wouldn’t be adopted by a Russian family so, basically, her other option would have been to grow up in the orphanage and state school system which has a nearly 30% suicide rate and a huge percentage of young women being forced into sexwork upon graduation (sex traffickers use post-orphanage teens as a steady source for their ‘business.’).

    I’m not saying there doesn’t need to be strict regulations for international adoptions, much better ongoing support for adoptive parents (and, especially support for impoverished moms in donor countries) nor that international adoption is any kind of substitute for international aid, but neither is it the demon industry being portrayed here nor the bogeyman as its been written about for years by journalists. Relinquishment, adoption, child rearing and social identity are complex issues and using them as objects of broad policy statements reduces them to little more than blaring headlines.

  27. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 11:26 am |

    Miss S, I find it interesting that you want to turn the discussion from the problematic nature of the adoption industry, and the highly problematic motivation of people who believe their comparitive wealth gives them a right to parent other people’s babies, into a (false) claim that I’m trying to “demonize” the tiny proportion of women who go t hrough pregnancy and childbirth and then, without any economic coercion, decide they don’t want their baby.

    No, there are perfectly acceptable exceptions to that rule. Namely, that the mother does not want the baby, or doesn’t believe that she is in a position to care for him/her

    When the mother wants the baby and knows she isn’t able to provide for her baby, that’s a horriific tragedy, Miss S – it’s in no way “perfectly acceptable”. It’s a horrific tragedy which US economic policies create in the US on a regular basis. That American mothers so often endure the trauma of being involuntarily separated from their babies because they “aren’t in a position to care for the baby” doesn’t make it any better.

  28. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 11:28 am |

    BTW there seems to be a myth going around that you’re “rich” if you adopt internationally. We aren’t. We’ll be paying off our adoption for awhile.

    Estimated per capita income in Mongolia: $3,200 (2008 est.)

    Are you really exactly as poor as the Mongolian mother who lost her child to you? Somehow I doubt it. By comparison to her, my guess is, you’re rich.

  29. Miarh Riben
    Miarh Riben October 6, 2010 at 11:43 am |

    Ninety percent of children in orphanages worldwide are not orphans. They have at least one living parent. It is common practice inimpoverished nations to use orphages for medical care, education or temporary care. Families visit, bring food, and have full intentions of bringing their children home again, as was the case with both of the children adopted by Madonna.

    The remainder of the children in orphanages, like those in US foster care, are older or disabled.

    The $20-40,000 people pay per child causes children to be stolen and kidnapped in China, Guatemala, India, Nepal…to fill the demand. They are taken – sometimes at gunpoint – and sold to orphanages with falsified papers claiming they are abandoned. When nations stop allowing adoptions the number of claims of “abandoned” children drops and if adoptions are re-opened, the numbers escalate again.

    For more exposure of the adoption industry, see THE STORK MARKET: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry at http://AdvocatePublications.com

  30. Katie
    Katie October 6, 2010 at 11:52 am |

    It’s pretty astounding to me to read the ableism on this thread, too, from people who take it as given that we’d all understand why they wouldn’t want a flawed, needy, *gasp* disabled kid from the US.

    Parenting a able-bodied kid isn’t a right conferred upon those who can afford a “better class” of baby/kid to buy.

  31. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 12:46 pm |

    i was waiting for mirah riben to show up in this thread and there she is! it seems like all she does is troll around looking for news articles or blog posts about international adoption so she can drop a link to her book and spam the thread.

    she sure does love that “unregulated adoption industry” line though. for a self-proclaimed expert on international adoption, it’s funny that she has never heard of the hague convention on protection of children and co-operation in respect of intercountry adoption. in the post-hague world, international adoption is heavily regulated.

  32. akeeyu
    akeeyu October 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm |

    Katie,

    Exactly. It’s also interesting that adoption is assumed to be traumatic for healthy infants (I do believe that assumption), but somehow the emotional upheaval involved with adoption is assumed to just pass right over children with challenges, or “needy” children. There seems to be an assertion that separating children from their parents is wrong, unless of course they have physical or emotional challenges, and then by all means, go right ahead.

    My friend Uccellina, who comments here on a semi-regular basis, ran into technical difficulties trying to post, and asked me to cut and paste this for her:
    “Jesurgislac, I agree with you that the fact that poor women lose custody of wanted children at a higher rate than wealthy (or relatively wealthy) women is appalling and sad. That having been said, you are placing harsh blame on adoptive parents for a systemic problem not of their making, and pretending all international adoptions are alike. If, as Upyernoz and others have said saying, there are children waiting in orphanages in countries with low rates of adoption corruption, would you advocate letting them sit there until institutional change occurs in Vietnam and Guatemala?

    It would be really great if wealthier people would provide sustenance to mother-and-baby, but what system would you put in place to regulate that? Do the wealthy people then get to have cameras in the home, to watch their “adopted” family? Do they get a letter and a photo to pin on their refrigerator? Does their money go directly to the family, or do have a tax increase just for infertile people to increase international aid to often corrupt governments, or should all would-be parents just donate money to OXFAM and UNICEF? I get very tired of people blaming individuals for systemic problems and then not offering any viable solutions. “

  33. tannenburg
    tannenburg October 6, 2010 at 1:10 pm |

    Jesurgislac: BTW there seems to be a myth going around that you’re “rich” if you adopt internationally. We aren’t. We’ll be paying off our adoption for awhile.Estimated per capita income in Mongolia: $3,200 (2008 est.)Are you really exactly as poor as the Mongolian mother who lost her child to you? Somehow I doubt it. By comparison to her, my guess is, you’re rich.  (Quote this comment?)

    Well, I can say that in our case (Vail’s husband here) we have solid information that our daughter was not kidnapped or her parents coerced into giving up their infant. Copies of the documentation from the Ministry of the Interior of Mongolia given to us at adoption states that she was abandoned at the steps of the State Maternity Hospital when she was approximately three days old. The Police then placed ads in local papers for a number of weeks describing the infant and the circumstances of its discovery; we have copies of those advertisements as well. No-one came forward for the sixteen months she was in the orphanage. Thus we have to trust that the Mongolian authorities did what they could – and since the above actions occured at least ten months before our future daughter even came up as a prospect for adoption I think it highly unlikely that she was pre-selected for an adoption-for-profit.

    Of course, as you state, “rich” is a relative term, isn’t it? We do indeed have the privelege of living in the United States, with all of the benefits that accrues. We acknowledge that, especially as we toured the city of Ulan Baatar and saw the level of poverty that the collapse of Communism and the withdrawal of Soviet subsidies inflicted upon the Mongolian people. With that in mind – and not out of any sense of “liberal guilt” – we regularly donate via a Mongolian adoptive parents society to the orphanage, which lacks funds for even basic items like diapers, infant vitamins, and blankets. Again, we’re not trying to cloak ourselves as heroes for adopting a “disadvantaged” child or as “saviors” – two narratives which we find abhorrent – but rather view ourselves as exceptionally lucky to have adopted our daughter, and view her connection to her birth country as an important one to keep alive in both her experiences and ours.

    But in the end we’re not blind to the dark side of international adoption. Again, we have to trust that we worked through a reputable adoption agency, and that we have complete transparency from the Mongolian government, and thus that our adoption was completely without coercion or lies. That being said, we are still troubled by abuses of international adoption and have advocated with those U.S. officials we can reach for more stringent international adoption accords and agreements.

  34. Partial Human
    Partial Human October 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm |

    Katie – ableism isn’t generally seen as a ‘real’ issue here.

    Jesurgislac – please refrain from posting anything that dribbles from Jessica DelBalzo’s mind please. Do you know who she is? She is anti-adoption in every case. She believes that children are better off with abusive relatives than with adoptive parents, and that all adoption is wrong, any adopted child who says they’re happy is delusional, and that no woman has ever wanted to give up a child.

    Oh, and she also says that she believes that mothers should be free to murder their own children up to 4 weeks PP if they don’t want to keep them, as this would ‘free’ the child from adoption.

    Did I mention that she’s a rampant ableist and thinks that all disabled children should be aborted, and that mothers should have the right to kill children who become disabled as they are a ‘burden’? Do you know that she claims that nobody can ever truly love someone they’re not genetically related to? She’s also stated on many occasions that if she were to find out tomorrow that any of her kids were swapped at birth, she would not care, would not miss them, and could freely attach to her ‘real’ child without a backward glance at the child she raised.

    Quoting her viewpoints does not bolster your argument, it makes you look like one of her insidious cronies who think that molesting and impregnating your child does not mean you should lose custody, because adoption is ‘far worse’ than child abuse.

  35. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 1:17 pm |

    I have very little reason to play fair with people who think adoption is so great.

    There are, as has been noted before, very few true orphans out there that people traditionally have desired to adopt. It almost always requires an intensely sexist and otherwise nasty society to make a large pool of women “who needed to give up their baby”–and not let grandma or aunts and uncles do the rearing like with my mom.

    Point blank–there aren’t the babies, and what babies there are, exists because they’re romany or some other despised ethnic group, or because a society gets really, really warped from the structure that demands babies of a sex, like dowries. Moreover, plenty of people have really deranged ideas about what they want to adopt. That russian kid that got put back on the airplane is just the tip of the iceberg.

  36. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm |

    Katie: It’s pretty astounding to me to read the ableism on this thread, too, from people who take it as given that we’d all understand why they wouldn’t want a flawed, needy, *gasp* disabled kid from the US.

    Parenting a able-bodied kid isn’t a right conferred upon those who can afford a “better class” of baby/kid to buy. Katie

    This. Exactly. Would you stop loving your kid if they developed psychological problems or a disability? What makes adopted kids unlovable if they don’t fit into that person’s definition of “healthy.”

  37. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm |

    katie and kristen,

    can you give me an example of the ableism in this thread? i’m having a hard time seeing it, much less “rampant ableism”.

    who specifically is advocating not loving kids because they are not healthy? but maybe i’m just blind to what is really going on. can you point to a particular comment?

  38. Indigo Jo
    Indigo Jo October 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm |

    There was a programme on BBC1 (the main UK terrestrial TV station) last night (Panorama: Kids in Care) which was all about children in the UK care system, following two boys and a girl, and the older boy and the girl (both aged 14) had long-standing, intractable family and behaviour problems. The youngest, however, was about 4 and was in a long-standing foster family (a middle-aged couple with two teenage daughters) which was refusing to adopt him because the father considered himself too old (he was 50!). So, they were looking after him and he believed they were his parents, but they knew that the phonecall saying that an adoptive family were interested in him could come at any time. Seeing what had happened to the other two kids featured, it was quite unbelievable that they were unwilling to take him in permanently — of course, they didn’t see what was happening with the other kids and I hope they changed their minds when they saw the programme.

  39. Vail
    Vail October 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm |

    @Kristen J. I can tell you right now we didn’t stop loving our daughter when she was diagnosed with RAD. Or when they said she had Sensory Integration Issues. Nor right now, when I’m fighting to have her get the therapy she needs because they believe she has Aspergers. We are happy everyday that she’s come into our lives. BUT when you are sitting there looking at the box that says Special Needs you think about a lot of things. Can I get them to a doctor? Do we have a local support system if something should happen? Will our insurance cover everything? Will we be good parents to a child with special needs? When you’re a first time parents with no family around nor friends with kids jumping right into the special needs pool was daunting. And we knew that chances were that any child we got that had been in an orphanage would have issues. So we checked a box. And that box lead us to our daughter. And that, in our mind, made it the perfect box.

  40. Bee Jones
    Bee Jones October 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm |

    It’s not an ideal world, is it?

  41. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 2:38 pm |

    I’m not ever going to say that adoption is never a good thing, however I will say that adoption because you have more rights than the child you are adopting or the parents giving up that kid is inherently a bad thing. Mostly because as few genuinely adoptable babies (of course, not older children) there are, there are as few or even fewer prospective parents that I’d ever feel comfortable having children. By far the large fraction that I am aware of, perceive children as a status symbol, or worse, a kind of pet. Frankly, international adoption parallels mail order wives in largely similar pathological ways. Sure, there are ernest types who are sterile and really want the sort of relationships that children growing up can offer, and international adoptions offer easy ways to satisfy that need.

    However that’s not even a large minority of the crowd that adopts internationally. As far as I can make out, adopting internationally is largely about getting children where the birth mother has no rights. Even in adoptions inside the US, there is a substantial fraction of potential parents who prefers that the birth mother be alienated. The legal system makes it hard to do that, especially wrt white women, and so…

    Even so, we’re not really even covering just how many children are kidnapped by people who use the international adoption infrastructure.

    All in all, there is just no reason not to be intensely hostile to international adoptions, and every reason to be difficult about domestic adoptions, accepting that there will be suboptimal situations that result. This is so because whenever the rules are loosened, people start using the loopholes to kidnap or coerce babies for wealthier, entitled couples. The thread last year about anon adoption is a case in point.

  42. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 2:40 pm |

    i guess i can kind of see how the thread can be read like that. but at best, that’s just the implication of some of the comments. and i don’t think they necessarily have to be read that way.

    as vail says, it is a difficult issue when you adopt and are asked frank questions about what kind of child you would be open to adopting. my wife and i struggled quite a bit to fill out some of those forms, which didn’t just ask “special needs? yes or no” but rather went through every chronic illness and disability under the sun, and for each specific problem we had to answer “yes” or “no”.

    we came to adoption after trying to have children biologically for several years, including going through several cycles of unsuccessful fertility treatments. when you imagine being a parent, of course you imagine a healthy child. that doesn’t mean that we would not have loved and cherished any child we ended up having. wanting a healthy child does not mean that you think an unhealthy child is unworthy of your love. it just means you want the best for your kid. when a pregnant woman hopes that her child is not born with cerebral palsy doesn’t mean that she is prejudiced against children with CP. it just means that she is hoping that her child doesn’t have the difficulties that come with that disability.

    when you are adopting, the whole thing is turned on its head. like any “expecting parents”, we want the best for our child too. but unlike biological parents, we have some say over which individual child we end up with. which means we are left with a very difficult moral decision and have to make frank choices about what kind of health problems we feel we can handle and which one’s we don’t think we can, even though we know if we had a biological child with those problems we would find a way to handle them no matter what.

    there are no satisfactory answers to those kinds of questions. but i simply reject the idea that by virtue of choosing to adopt i have a special obligation to choose a special needs child. occasionally people tell me i should have chosen a child with greater needs than the one i did choose and my response is always the same: why don’t you adopt a special needs child yourself? if i’m ableist in the choices i make, then everyone who has not adopted a child with greater special needs is also ableist.

    put another way, if it is ableist to “not want to adopt a child who has mental or physical disabilities”, then are you an ableist jill? i believe you have no adopted such a child and you probably could have if you wanted to.

  43. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 2:44 pm |

    By far the large fraction that I am aware of, perceive children as a status symbol, or worse, a kind of pet. Frankly, international adoption parallels mail order wives in largely similar pathological ways.

    spoken by someone who seems to have no actual experience with real people involved in international adoption.

  44. Cactus Wren
    Cactus Wren October 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm |

    I don’t think it’s at all ableist to acknowledge that ableism does exist — that in fact, many if not most PAPs areableist and do want to adopt an able-bodied child.

    The fact is, as L. Anne Babb has pointed out, that when most PAPs say they only want “a child to love”, what they mean is that they want a lovable child — and here, “lovable” all too often means white or whitish, under two years old, healthy, properly gestated (no alcohol or other drugs), and with a compliant mother who’s not going to cause “problems”.

  45. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm |

    Well, you do admit to being biased yourself and in a legal situation. Perhaps it could be said that you are too familiar with your own situation and projecting your specifics onto a global?

  46. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm |

    we are all biased. i just was trying to fully disclose where i was coming from.

    and no, i do not think i am projecting here when i say that it is inaccurate to say that a “large fraction” of people who adopt internationally perceive the children as a status symbol or “a kind of pet.” in fact, i cannot express just how offensive that comes across.

    in the course of my adoption adventure, i have met seven other families who are all in the process of adopting from the same region that me and my wife are. we’ve been through a lot together and i know these other families quite well. i can guarantee you that not one views their child as either a status symbol or a pet. they’re just trying to be parents, and we’ve all been traumatized by a horrible political backlash determined to condemn a bunch of children to a life in an institution when they could be with loving families.

  47. There is reason for the term, “dirty adoption” « Adoption Update

    [...] children are removed from their homes all for the sake of money. I came across these documents from Feministe that shares some disturbing truths of adoption stories in Vietnam. Vietnam used to be an adoption [...]

  48. Chally
    Chally October 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm |

    Kids with mental illnesses deserve love as much as anyone else. Being mentally ill doesn’t make you imperfect. I’m getting really uncomfortable with the frankly condescending use of “special needs” in this thread: needs are not special, they’re just needs.

    upyernoz, you’re “blind” to the ableism that is going on? Seriously? I’m disabled, and I definitely am reading those comments that way: they can be read as just implying that because disability=unlovable is assumed to be common sense.

    ‘when you imagine being a parent, of course you imagine a healthy child.’

    Wow mate. Some people don’t necessarily. Some parents are themselves disabled! Some parents think that the “best” for their child would be getting all their needs filled, whatever those are, and wanting a world where disabled people are valued if the child is disabled, so that society makes it easier to fill those needs. Possibly what we all should be aiming for is greater resources being allocated and prioritising of the care of PWD so they are not shut out from being adopted by parents who don’t have the resources.

    And you don’t get to moralise at Jill about whether she’s a parent or not.

  49. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm |

    thanks for the clarification, jill. i really hope you didn’t take my prior comment as too directed against you.

    personally, i don’t think “the adoption industry” is quite as cold-hearted as you have portrayed it. but i only really have first-hand experience with one adoption agency and that agency actively encourage families to consider adopting children with special needs. maybe other agencies are different.

  50. Jeff Kaufman
    Jeff Kaufman October 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm |

    upyernoz: if it is ableist to “not want to adopt a child who has mental or physical disabilities”, then are you an ableist jill? i believe you have no adopted such a child and you probably could have if you wanted to.

    The claim is that ableism comes from saying “I would like to adopt a child, but not one with mental or physical disabilities”. If you don’t want to adopt at all, that’s neutral with respect to ableism.

  51. Shoshie
    Shoshie October 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm |

    Jill-
    I think it’s a horrible tragedy if a woman gets pregnant and would like to have a baby…but feels forced to put her child up for adoption or have an abortion because society has failed to help and support her. Because she cannot complete her education with a baby. Because US social services suck ass. Or whatever. Obviously, if the woman does not want the baby, for whatever reason, it’s not a tragedy if she gives the baby up for adoption or has an abortion.

  52. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 3:18 pm |

    @chally

    they can be read as just implying that because disability=unlovable is assumed to be common sense.

    but no one is saying that. in fact, i said the opposite. but you’re still reading it as some weird assertion that disability means unloveable.

    i understand that some parents are disabled themselves. but that doesn’t mean it isn’t common for people to imagine their child to be free of disability. and saying that doesn’t mean that i think a disable child is less lovable. that’s quite a leap of logic right there. for the same reason if i say i imagine my child will have dark hair (like me) that doesn’t mean that if i end up with a blond haired kid i will love him or her any less. maybe people tend to imagine their children with qualities they themselves possess. but that doesn’t mean when the actual child comes along and doesn’t have all of those qualities is any less worthy of love.

    and i wasn’t moralizing to jill about whether she was a parent. i think you completely misunderstood my point. luckily, i don’t think jill did.

  53. anna
    anna October 6, 2010 at 3:20 pm |

    I don’t think refusing to adopt a special needs child necessarily means you are ableist. A lot of people do not consider themselves capable of providing for a child with special needs; it can be very intimidating, especially for first time parents. I can understand “if you really love children you’ll take any child because all children are loveable” but it takes a great deal more time, money, and resources to care for a special needs child than one who doesn’t have special needs, and some people really can’t provide that.

  54. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 3:29 pm |

    @jeff

    The claim is that ableism comes from saying “I would like to adopt a child, but not one with mental or physical disabilities” If you don’t want to adopt at all, that’s neutral with respect to ableism.

    fourth thoughts on this:

    first, no one can realistically rule out getting a kid with mental or physical disabilities, even if the child appears to be healthy initially. i don’t know if anyone is quite that absolutist to begin with and if they are, they are not being realistic.

    second, i wonder how many adopting families rule out all disabilities when they apply to adopt a child. my wife and i did not.

    third, do you believe that every family who decides to adopt has an obligation to choose to adopt a disabled child and if they decide not to are they ableist?

  55. Sarah
    Sarah October 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm |

    I realize that this sounds harsh, but…if you don’t want to care for a child with disabilities, then you probably shouldn’t be a parent at all, period, whether through it’s adoption or natural reproduction. There is no guarantee that you will get a “perfect” child. Many children may have disabilities which aren’t detected at infancy; many will acquire disabilities. If you can’t deal with that possibility than you should seriously re-think your capacity to be a parent.

    The entire discourse of “but it’s so haaaaaaaard to have a disabled child” often is ableist. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that ableism exists, as Jill and others have done so here. But to see that as a reason not to raise a particular child can be kind of skeevy. Racism and sexism exist, too, and we don’t see that as valid reasons not to want to raise a girl or child of color. The assumption that it is “only natural” to want a non-disabled child* is ableist, or at the very least able-bodied/neurotypical-normative.

    *I don’t like the word “disability free.” Thanks to Chally for pointing out the problems with “special needs.” We all have special needs. It isn’t easy to raise any child, or so I would imagine. Why is raising a child with a disability such an unthinkable horror that surpasses all else?

  56. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm |

    ugh, please excuse all the mistakes in my prior comment. it’s 3 thoughts not “fourth thoughts”.

  57. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 3:50 pm |

    I suppose you *could* say I know some couples with children adopted from overseas. I do not know them well, and I do not wish to know them better than I do.

    My opinions are also formed from knowing people who are adopted domestically. Enough such that genuinely decent relationships over the long term for anyone in any kind of relationship, it seems, is something to be treasured. People can be really rotten, and in really sophisticated ways, and the adopted people that I know have scars, even though they had loving or “loving” parents. The scars aren’t so different from the travails of people being raised by biological parents, but they do tend to be amplified by sometimes chronic feelings of insecurity.

    Perhaps, it’s just the South, but the white families here with the Asian daughters really skeev me out. Perhaps, Jill, it might be that you know better people than I do, but I tend to think that the natural paths of abuse are there even if not exploited, and that it tends to be in the framework of decisions even if consciously rejected. I wouldn’t tell your friends that they shouldn’t have had their little bundle of joy, but I would tell them that they have a great deal of work to do, on top of the challenges all children pose.

  58. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm |

    Vail & upyernoz,

    If I get pregnant tomorrow and have a child or adopt a “healthy” child…that child may have a disability. I need to consider the possibility when I *choose* to get pregnant (assuming I choose) and when I choose to adopt that I will have to devote enormous personal resources to helping my child. I’m not going to give hir back because ze needs those additional resources. This is a real possibility.

    The idea that potential adoptive parents are forced to resort to international adoptions (which have a large potential for exploitation) because they don’t have the resources to care for the USian kids who are disabled is nonsensical. Kids have different needs and require different amounts of resources and you can’t judge this stuff based on the boxes you check or the genetics you have. If a person doesn’t think they’ll have the resources to take a child to the doctor or insurance coverage or family in the area what are is that person going to do when their child develops a medical or psychological issue that requires those resources?

  59. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 6, 2010 at 4:18 pm |

    Kristen J.: The idea that potential adoptive parents are forced to resort to international adoptions (which have a large potential for exploitation) because they don’t have the resources to care for the USian kids who are disabled is nonsensical.

    I should mention again that there are people who adopt internationally because they cannot adopt in the US or adoption in the US is too difficult. The system is seriously broken in this country and one thing we *must* do starting putting the children in our care first including providing them with the resources they need and reducing the *stupid* barriers to adoption that exists in our country.

  60. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 4:19 pm |

    Jill: But we can do that without attacking individuals who adopt

    You’re right: it was a cheap shot, and I apologize, Vail.

    I decline to apologize for the mother losing her baby, though. Virtually every baby adopted means a mother who lost her baby. Those mothers are made invisible in the ordinary narrative of adoption, but they still exist.

    Do you think it’s a horrific tragedy when a woman has an abortion for those same reasons — because she feels like she can’t afford a child? Or because she’s in school and doesn’t think she’d be a great mother right then? Or because she’s young and doesn’t feel equipped to parent? Or because she already has children and can’t handle another?

    No. I think it’s a pity – I think it would be far better if there were no unplanned pregnancies, and so far less need for abortion. But I don’t think that aborting an unwanted pregnancy can be called a horrific tragedy – whereas I do think losing a baby is a terrible thing to happen – a tragedy. And virtually every infant adoption is a tragedy – a mother who loses her child.

    Look, this shouldn’t be taken personally – because obviously everyone is different in how they feel about things, and there’s a certain amount of normal human variation – but biologically speaking, a woman who has an early miscarriage, induced or spontaneous, is not experiencing a severe biological trauma: in general, as a species, we get over early miscarriages relatively easily, and the earlier the easier.

    But a woman who has just given birth needs her baby, and her baby needs her. Their biological systems are interconnected. Her body is, biologically, all set to care for the baby – to produce the immunisations and the food her baby needs. Yes, she’ll survive losing her baby. Her baby will survive too, given the right nurturance. But dismissing the trauma of a woman in poverty who loses her baby to adoption because she can’t afford to care for her child, is just wrong. Infant adoption is offered by pro-lifers as a “solution” or even a “wonderful option” – it’s not. It’s a massive trauma inflicted on women whose feelings are then dismissed as irrelevant because the focus is on the adoptive parents who wanted a fine healthy baby, and got one – always at another woman’s cost.

  61. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm |

    If I get pregnant tomorrow and have a child or adopt a “healthy” child…that child may have a disability.

    yes, i agree. i made the same point above. see comment #61, for example.

    The idea that potential adoptive parents are forced to resort to international adoptions (which have a large potential for exploitation) because they don’t have the resources to care for the USian kids who are disabled is nonsensical

    i agree also. did anyone ever say otherwise? where did the assumption that anyone is “forced to resort to international adoption” or that they go the international route because they want to avoid adopting disabled american kids come from? i don’t think anyone said either of those things anywhere in this long thread.

  62. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 4:32 pm |

    @jill @#66

    i basically agree with what you write. except that it overlooks that some adoption programs involve choosing a child. i’m all on board with being open to whatever kid you end up with, but it gets much more complicated when you have to actually choose a child rather than have one chosen for you.

    under those circumstances, do you think it is acceptable for adopting parents to choose a healthy (or maybe i should say “apparently healthy) child? or is every adopting family morally obligated to choose the most severe disability they can handle?

    if it is the latter, why do adopting parents have this special moral obligation that other parents do not?

    i really don’t think there are simple answers to these questions. but i have a hard time believing if you cannot have biological children, that means the only correct path is to choose a disabled child.

  63. ginasf
    ginasf October 6, 2010 at 4:34 pm |

    I can only speak for my own first-person experience… when we adopted from Russia in ’98, all adoptions were considered special needs adoptions. All children who’ve, on some level, been institutionalized should be considered special needs, both in terms of developmental issues and even physical issues. Our now 13-year old daughter is extremely smart and creative but she still has legacies of the first 21 mos. of her life while institutionalized, including strabismus, a certain amount of (minor) physical issues and very likely some degree of PTSD and attachment issues (even though I think we have a very close relationship). At the time I adopted, anyone who thinks they were adopting a “problem free” child wasn’t listening to what they were clearly told. At no time did I ever think I was adopting a problem free child and I know many people who adopted children from Russia with fairly considerable, and clearly stated physical and emotional disabilities and did so very willingly.

  64. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm |

    me: If the answer is because it suits wealthier people much better to take the baby for themselves than to provide sustenance to mother-and-baby, then they ought to feel thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    upyernoz: who has ever given that answer?

    Anyone who ever adopted a child knowing that the child’s mother was alive and well has with their actions given that answer: they chose to invest their money in taking the child for themselves, rather than in supporting the unit of mother-and-baby.

    Uccellina: “Jesurgislac, I agree with you that the fact that poor women lose custody of wanted children at a higher rate than wealthy (or relatively wealthy) women is appalling and sad. That having been said, you are placing harsh blame on adoptive parents for a systemic problem not of their making

    It’s difficult.

    Certainly, as individuals, the adoptive parents are not to blame for the fucked-up system in which poorer women lose their babies to wealthier people. No more than any individual man who has sex with a sex-worker is to blame for the fucked-up system in which men learn to think of their sexual wants as needs that deserve satisfaction even if no one will voluntarily have sex with them. We don’t live in that world: we live in a world where some people feel entitled to pay down money and get babies: just as some men feel entitled to pay down money and get sex. Are individuals to be harshly blamed for doing what’s best for them in a fucked-up system? No: but I see no more reason to praise someone for adopting a baby and trying to ensure that the baby was more-or-less voluntarily relinquished than I see any reason to praise a man for going to a prostitute rather than committing rape. It’s not especially discreditable: it’s just taking your best advantage in a fuckedup system in which you are in the position of privilege: but no one’s entitled to someone else’s baby, any more than anyone’s entitled to sex with someone else.

  65. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm |

    @Jesurgislac

    Anyone who ever adopted a child knowing that the child’s mother was alive and well has with their actions given that answer: they chose to invest their money in taking the child for themselves, rather than in supporting the unit of mother-and-baby.

    once again you have stated something that has no relation whatsoever to the actual adoption i have experienced first hand. in my case there is a child whose biological mother relinquished all parental rights at birth. he was not adopted out of the maternity hospital because he was two months premature and suffered from several related complications. after spending the first several months of his life in the hospital, he was transferred to an orphanage where he lived another 7 months until he was offered to me and my wife for adoption. during those preceding 7 months he was offered to local families for domestic adoption but they all declined to adopt him.

    meanwhile, my wife and i have been trying to have kids for 7 years, both biologically and through other adopting programs. everything up until now has failed. we were offered this child for adoption and decided to do it. when we reached court, the judge attempted to contact the biological mother to inquire whether she had any objections to our adoption, but the biological mother did not want to be contacted.

    you seem to be assuming that we somehow paid off the biological mother, or someone did. that’s not the case at all. you also are assuming that there was some way we could have spent money to support her “mother-and-baby relationship” but i honestly don’t see how.

    this is why i previously said that your comments strike me as ignorant. they are totally detached from the reality of international adoption as i have experienced it. i suspect that other people with their own experience in adoption would have the same impression.

  66. Alison
    Alison October 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm |

    But a woman who has just given birth needs her baby</I.

    Oh really? So, women who do not want babies but got pregnant and chose not to abort but to carry to term and give the child up for adoption…they *need* the baby? Why do they need it? Just because their bodies might be ready to physically connect – such as through breastfeeding – doesn't mean they mentally, emotionally, etc need the baby. Some do not need or even want the baby.

    As others have pointed out, you seem to consistently be saying that no woman ever actually chooses to give up a child and relinquish her role as a mother, that it's always some devious thing where the baby was stolen or coerced away from her. Guess what? NOT ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE MOTHERS. Therefore, if those women give up their child for adoption, they do not *need* the baby and they do not want your help to remain a "mother-and-baby" unit. Stop insisting that you know what every single person's real and true motivations are – you don't, and you're getting pretty offensive with this stuff.

  67. Alison
    Alison October 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm |

    (Oh grrr at html fail. Sigh)

  68. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 5:13 pm |

    Jill asked

    Thing is, if you ask that question, you should then anticipate a higher priority question, which would be “Why would a woman continue with a pregnancy if she does not intend to keep the result?”

  69. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 5:14 pm |

    Ah, error in formating…

    Tried to quote Jill and wound up quoting myself.

  70. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm |

    Also, an undercurrent in my thinking is that the more women have rights, the fewer children that will get adopted. Pregnancies are avoided and unaffordable accidents gets aborted. The more minorities gets rights, the more children will be sent to relatives rather than state institutions.

    Sure, there are women who want no part of a (another) child, but it’s not really honoring her free choice to make adoptions available. She’s in that situation because of a lack of choice, and frankly, groups of people are pretty good at creating circumstances such that there will be plenty of women with very inconvenient pregnancies out there. I think denying sinks, like recognizing that US drug habits cause damage elsewheres rather than the other way around, is an important part of suffocating demands for unequal societies. I don’t think adoptions should be banned, but I do think there should be very strong limits placed on them.

  71. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm |

    upyernoz once again you have stated something that has no relation whatsoever to the actual adoption i have experienced first hand.

    Well, yes: you are not a woman who lost her baby to adoption, therefore your experience of adoption will bear no relation whatsoever to losing a baby.

    you seem to be assuming that we somehow paid off the biological mother, or someone did.

    Then you’ve completely misunderstood me. One of the characteristics of the adoption industry is that the mother doesn’t get paid. She provides the baby and gets lost.

    Jill: Do you really not accept the idea that there are women who have given birth but do not want to be part of that mother-and-baby unit, and therefore place a child for adoption?

    Yeah: I think that women who don’t want a baby, have an abortion. Why, do you think otherwise?

    Yes, obviously, there are exceptions to any broad brush “it’s generally true” statement. There exist women who gave birth and then realised they had no maternal feeling for the baby. There exist women who desperately wanted an abortion but were unable to obtain one and for whom giving up the baby they were forced to give birth to may be a blessed relief, not a trauma – and again, it would be way better if they had been able to get an abortion.

    But can’t you accept that those are exceptions, not a general rule? And that where those exceptions exist, they’d exist all over the income spectrum (with the caveat that the richer a woman is, the more likely she is to be able to obtain an abortion). But the women who lose their babies to adoption are pretty much invariably at the low end of the income scale – the richer a woman is, the more likely she’ll be able to keep her baby. Economic coercion is still coercion.

  72. shah8
    shah8 October 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm |

    I’ve heard this sort of line from anti-abortion people. I’m very unsympathetic to that argument.

    I’m not a woman, but I have a *very* good imagination. Why would I miss time at work for a child I’m not going to keep? Why would I be inconvenienced by a body that wants what it wants as far as consumption and elimation is concerned? Why would I be in pain and assume serious health risk for the sake of someone(s) else? Moreover, it’s not as if my body isn’t going to have stretch marks and varicose veins and other permanent reminders of my event.

    Left to their own devices, I cannot help but assume that the vast majority of women will keep the results of their own pregnancies. And everywhere around me, I see tons of social structures and pressures that are explicitly designed to get a certain amount of reproductive excess despite what is best for the parents. Some of it is obvious, but there is plenty that is not. I think we should be careful not to allow the phenomenon of adoption to regenerate the malevolent forces that causes excess children.

  73. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm |

    Alison: Guess what? NOT ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE MOTHERS.

    And then: they have abortions.

    Jill: A lot of women carry pregnancies to term and don’t intend to keep the results. It happens commonly enough in the United States.

    Yes. The US is a very pro-life country – and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

    Alison: Stop insisting that you know what every single person’s real and true motivations are – you don’t, and you’re getting pretty offensive with this stuff.

    And yet, so many people on this thread are asserting they know that women who lost their babies to adoption didn’t suffer at all. You don’t appear to find that offensive. You just appear to find it offensive that I assert the feelings of women who gave birth and then lost their babies.

  74. piny
    piny October 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm |

    I don’t agree with everything Jesurgislac has said. But I think it’s inaccurate to say that she was arguing that all mothers naturally want their children. She’s not arguing for some instinctive, essentialized connection between every mother and child. She’s talking about a striking disparity–a disparity that has created this international market. People from wealthier western countries don’t travel to places like Mongolia and Guatemala because they don’t want babies from their own countries of origin. They resort to international adoption because of availability.

    If the difference is only extreme poverty, then we have a moral obligation to ameliorate the conditions that keep mothers from caring for wanted children. If something more sinister is at work–and I think this is at the very least a strong possibility wherever need can be commodified–then we need to investigate. Otherwise, we are complicit in exploitation.

  75. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm |

    upyernoz.

    See above:

    Plenty of parents do adopt older kids and find out that they have such severe mental issues from foster care and abandonment that it’s impossible to have them for fear that they’ll physically harm the other children in the house. Then other parents hear these stories and are scared away.

    I don’t think refusing to adopt a special needs child necessarily means you are ableist. A lot of people do not consider themselves capable of providing for a child with special needs; it can be very intimidating, especially for first time parents. I can understand “if you really love children you’ll take any child because all children are loveable” but it takes a great deal more time, money, and resources to care for a special needs child than one who doesn’t have special needs, and some people really can’t provide that.

    when you are adopting, the whole thing is turned on its head. like any “expecting parents”, we want the best for our child too. but unlike biological parents, we have some say over which individual child we end up with. which means we are left with a very difficult moral decision and have to make frank choices about what kind of health problems we feel we can handle and which one’s we don’t think we can, even though we know if we had a biological child with those problems we would find a way to handle them no matter what.

    So we’re talking about international adoption which may be exploitative and mention that there are lots of kids in the US that also need loving homes and the response is (1) “those” kids are difficult, (2) difficult kids are too hard/resource intensive, (3) since I get to choose I don’t want a kid who is resource intensive. Which taken together pretty much says…people don’t adopt USian kids because they may be more resource intensive and people don’t want to expend the resources.

  76. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 5:54 pm |

    Years ago, I remember reading about a case of a stolen baby. A woman had simply stopped by a pram left outside a shop, picked up the baby, and walked off with her. The mother came out from the shop to find an empty pram. The baby was only a few months old.

    For five years, the mother tried to find her baby again. The child was eventually located – the woman who had taken her had moved and told her new neighbors and eventually her family that she had had a baby: she was charged with kidnapping, convicted, and jailed. The child was returned to her biological mother, whom of course she did not remember: the only mother the child had ever known was now a jailed felon who wouldn’t be eligible for parole, even, until the child was almost grown up. It seemed unlikely that the biological mother would help her child maintain contact with the mother of the child’s earliest years, and I remember thinking, how traumatic and weird that had to be for that little girl – suddenly to have happen in her life “Your mother isn’t your mother, she’s a criminal: this complete stranger is your mother, and you willl remain with her from now on – from your perspective as a five-year-old, you may as well think you will never see your mother again.”

    It wasn’t that I thought the kidnapper deserved to keep contact with the child she’d stolen: but I did think the child deserved to keep in touch with her mother, or at least have her loss treated sympathetically and respectfully.

    For adoptive parents, for adopted babies, once the family has been created, it exists: the system is fuckedup, but the families are real.

  77. sophonisba
    sophonisba October 6, 2010 at 6:51 pm |

    It almost always requires an intensely sexist and otherwise nasty society to make a large pool of women “who needed to give up their baby”–and not let grandma or aunts and uncles do the rearing like with my mom.

    Yes, older women are simply panting to get their hands on any and all babies that fall into their lives — you don’t have to ask them, let alone pay them, to devote a second 18 years of hard labor to raising still more children after they’ve finished raising all of their own. All you have to do is let them. If I had gotten pregnant as a teen, I’m quite sure I would have graciously allowed my mom to do the childrearing for me, just as I was so generous as to let her pay the mortage and take care of my college bills. Truly, I was a giver.

    So yeah, thank god there’s a better, less nasty, non-sexist way to deal with non-ideal pregnancy situations — using other women as free labor. And a few token uncles, of course.

  78. Vail
    Vail October 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm |

    @Jesurgislac all adoptive parents must take classes before adopting that include training on helping children go through the grieving process. Foster parents also must take classes where this process is discussed. I do however think that more class time should be mandated for adoptive parents. Grieving is a real, horrible thing that children go through, even if they don’t have a mother/father figure they have bonded to. In my daughter’s orphanage the turn over rate was very high so there were new caretakers all the time. My daughter still grieved for the place, the smells, food and other children that she left behind. Nothing in this process is perfect but many of us try to do the best we can in making our childrens’ lives better.

    BTW if anyone wants to donate this is the website to the BRAFF organization that is run by adoptive parents who try to make a difference in the lives of the children still in orphanages.

    http://www.braff.org/programs2.html

  79. Jadey
    Jadey October 6, 2010 at 7:18 pm |

    Jesurgislac: Alison: Guess what? NOT ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE MOTHERS.

    And then: they have abortions.

    Uh, no. Not everyone who is pregnant and does not want to be a parent is able or willing to have an abortion, for a multitude or reasons. I think that should be obvious.

  80. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 7:31 pm |

    Jadey: Not everyone who is pregnant and does not want to be a parent is able or willing to have an abortion, for a multitude or reasons.

    Conceded that a person may be living under a pro-life regime where she wants an abortion and isn’t allowed to have one.

    Evidence that women who are pregnant and don’t want to be will spontaneously decide that instead of having an abortion they’ll have the baby and give him/her up for adoption… pretty much nil, because if this were a common, normal, human reaction unaffected by economics, it would be unaffected by income level and nationality. And it isn’t.

  81. Jadey
    Jadey October 6, 2010 at 7:46 pm |

    Okay, no. Some people will choose not to have an abortion, even when they are technically able to. *Some*. Not all. You are committing an ecological fallacy with your assertion, and you are erasing real people who are making valid choices.

  82. akeeyu
    akeeyu October 6, 2010 at 8:03 pm |

    Jesurgislac,

    “Conceded that a person may be living under a pro-life regime where she wants an abortion and isn’t allowed to have one.”

    You know, some women are themselves anti-abortion. I’m not, but plenty are. Those women can and do choose to carry the fetus to term and place it for adoption. You’re not doing them any favors or being respectful of their rights by assuming that they don’t exist or are all all brainwashed or subjugated.

    Pregnancy symptoms are very subtle in some women. Plenty don’t realize they’re pregnant until the fetus is viable and abortion is no longer an option. Those women may also choose adoption.

    Piny, you “But I think it’s inaccurate to say that [Jesurgilac] was arguing that all mothers naturally want their children”

    Jesurgilac said:
    “The normal human reaction for women who have given birth – the normal biological reaction – is to want to keep the baby.”

    So…yeah, she did say that all normal women want to keep their babies.

  83. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 6, 2010 at 8:23 pm |

    Kristen J.

    you wrote:

    So we’re talking about international adoption which may be exploitative and mention that there are lots of kids in the US that also need loving homes and the response is (1) “those” kids are difficult, (2) difficult kids are too hard/resource intensive, (3) since I get to choose I don’t want a kid who is resource intensive. Which taken together pretty much says…people don’t adopt USian kids because they may be more resource intensive and people don’t want to expend the resources.

    which is actually a perfect example of the point i was trying to make to you above. you’re not actually trying to understand what i mean. i wasn’t talking at all about why people don’t adopt domestically. where was i saying anything in response to a claim that american kids also need loving homes? i agree, they do! i also think that kids in other countries need loving homes.

    my statement that you excerpted was from when i was asking jill whether it is per se ableism to choose to adopt but to not choose to adopt a disabled child.

    plus you’ve got it kind of backwards: these days most international adoptions involve a child with some form of disability. some are of the disabilities more severe and some are more minor (some are simply a product of prolonged institutionalization).

    and yes, with very serious disabilities it can be harder financially and emotionally for the parents. i don’t think it is ableism to say that. i believe it is a fact. but saying that is not the same as saying that disabled kids don’t deserve to be adopted or aren’t just as lovable.

    as for Jesurgislac. i still don’t get how in my situation that i describe above in #74 i could have used my resources to “support[] the unit of mother-and-baby” instead of adopting the baby myself. or, for that matter, in my particular situation, how exactly is the broken bond between birth mother and baby my fault. it happened many months before i even set foot in the country.

    basically, if my wife and i did not choose to adopt our son (or if we lose our current court battle), he will probably spend the next 14.5 years in an institution. that’s the sad reality.

  84. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm |

    Jesurgislac, I disagree with the assertion that all normal women want to keep babies that they’ve birthed. I do think that the important point you were making is that there are women who have had their babies taken away from them and put up for adoption without their consent (or without the ability to make the decision sans economic coercion). Are these women the majority in some countries? I definitely see this being a bigger issue in countries with a significant number of the population under the poverty line, but it’s important even if it has only happened to one woman. It’s important to spread awareness of this problem. I especially like the point about learning of the birth mother, and looking at supporting her and her child together if she wanted to keep the child but couldn’t for economic reasons.

  85. Miss S
    Miss S October 6, 2010 at 8:50 pm |

    When the mother wants the baby and knows she isn’t able to provide for her baby, that’s a horriific tragedy

    Well, yes. But women don’t always want the baby. That’s the point. Sometimes women don’t want the baby because they don’t believe they can adequately provide for him/her financially. Sometimes women don’t believe they can provide for a baby emotionally. Maybe the woman wants to focus on her career instead of becoming a mother. Claiming that placing a child for adoption is wrong because it goes against maternal instinct is as ridiculous as claiming that abortion is wrong because it goes against maternal instinct.

    It’s not just pro-life women who opt for adoption. I know women who are pro-choice but wouldn’t actually get an abortion themselves.

    I’m not suggesting that women are never exploited in the adoption industry. I’m pointing out that women (even women in developing nations) can choose to place a baby up for adoption for a myriad of reasons without being exploited, coerced, or forced. Not having access to safe abortions would likely increase the amount of babies being placed for adoption, as well as various cultural and religious beliefs. There are a few factors that you seem to be glossing over.

  86. Miss S
    Miss S October 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm |

    As far as ableism, I feel like it needs to be acknowledged that special needs children require a lot of time, energy, and financial resources. Women also abort for these reasons. It doesn’t mean that they would disown a child that becomes disabled nor does it make them horrible parents. Perhaps they are considering the cost of care, including medical care. If a child requires around the clock care, one spouse may have to give up their job. There are a host of factors to consider, not the least of them financial. What’s with looking down on women (and men) who adopt, or place a child for adoption, or don’t believe they can handle a child with special needs?

    I know a woman who didn’t abort after her fetus tested positive for DS. This couple is also extremely wealthy, white, and she had planned on being a stay at home mom from the beginning. They could afford the medical care, the special schools, and the cost of her not working. Although adopting or having a child with special needs isn’t only about class, it obviously is a factor.

    Sarah- thanks for determining who should consider having kids and who should not.
    I’m a woman of color and if I were to adopt, I would likely prefer a child of color. I’m from a mixed background, so skin tone, or ethnicity wouldn’t really matter. But if I’m being completely honest, I would rather adopt a child of color than a white child. I don’t think this means I’m incapable of being a good mom. In fact, I don’t really see how it’s connected.

  87. Chally
    Chally October 6, 2010 at 9:34 pm |

    No one is saying that is isn’t often harder to parent a disabled child than a non-disabled child, or that saying so is ableist, of course that’s going to be the case in an ableist world in which PWD aren’t granted needed resources or valued as much as abled people. (You know, the kind of ableism reflected by the continued use of ‘special needs’ in this thread, as discussed above.) That’s been acknowledged multiple times here. Parenting can be difficult for lots of reasons, but somehow these conversations tend to come back to ohnoez how terrible to have a disabled child!

  88. piny
    piny October 6, 2010 at 9:39 pm |

    So…yeah, she did say that all normal women want to keep their babies.

    I disagree:

    Normally, people want families.

    All normal people want families.

    Normally, people like dessert.

    Not liking dessert means you are abnormal.

    …Not the same. She’s not saying that women who don’t want to raise their children are unnatural or weird. She’s saying that, generally speaking, women who have babies want to raise those babies. And this is true: it’s rare for mothers to put their children up for adoption. It’s rare even when mother and child live in terrible poverty. In some places, it’s apparently more common. Since we cannot believe that mothers in those places feel differently towards their children, then we must look for some other explanation.

  89. piny
    piny October 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm |

    Jesurgislac, I know women who are not anti-abortion but would not have abortions. Access to abortion, and safe medical care in general, is a very complicated thing for many women–and not just women living with religious fundamentalism or misogyny. It’s just not so simple as to say that women who don’t want to raise their children will get abortions, or that not getting an abortion is evidence that the woman wanted to raise her child.

    And you know, I’m sure, that “pro-life regime” covers a lot of the world.

  90. piny
    piny October 6, 2010 at 9:51 pm |

    …Okay, I’ve read some comments that were stuck in the queue and I take it back. Jesurgislac is making biologically essentialist arguments. I think that surrendering children for adoption is not something most parents are prepared to do. I also think that it is wrong to insist that all mothers feel a certain way about their babies. Mothers have complained about that assertion for long enough.

  91. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 9:51 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: Jesurgislac, I disagree with the assertion that all normal women want to keep babies that they’ve birthed.

    So would I if I had made it. And I didn’t.

    I very carefully qualified my statements. I made no absolutes.

    But what I’m getting back from supporters of adoption is that they just don’t believe that a woman living in poverty feels anguish when she loses her baby. Is human feeling measured by relative wealth, then?

    Miss S: But women don’t always want the baby. That’s the point. Sometimes women don’t want the baby because they don’t believe they can adequately provide for him/her financially.

    So you feel, then, that maternal feelings are measured by relative wealth? A woman who loses her baby because she can’t afford to look a baby obviously doesn’t “really” want the baby? Seriously?

    Maybe the woman wants to focus on her career instead of becoming a mother.

    Which in turn means either: She wanted to have the baby – that’s why she didn’t have an early abortion as soon as she knew she was pregnant – but because she lives in a country which doesn’t support mothers with children: for example, if she lives in the US, and so won’t have paid maternity leave, may not have health insurance with her job – won’t have health insurance at all if she leaves her job… can’t breastfeed the baby if she’s at work: so it turns out that she can’t keep her job if she has a baby. Or maybe she works for a Catholic school and has just been sacked and is going to need to jobhunt like crazy…. she’s got to lose her baby or they both go under.

    Again: are you seriously arguing that in your view maternal feelings go with wealth? Are under a person’s intellectual control?

    I’m pointing out that women (even women in developing nations) can choose to place a baby up for adoption for a myriad of reasons without being exploited, coerced, or forced.

    Odd you haven’t been able to come up with a single one, isn’t it? All your arguments amount to your disbelief that a woman on a low income suffers the same pain that a wealthier woman does she loses her baby.

    Claiming that placing a child for adoption is wrong because it goes against maternal instinct is as ridiculous as claiming that abortion is wrong because it goes against maternal instinct.

    Oh, pro-life nonsense. Pro-lifers like to claim that an >8 week embryo is just exactly the same as a baby – I never expected to see this claim unchallenged on a feminist site. Having an abortion – especially an early abortion of an unwanted pregnancy, and for a woman who doesn’t want to be a mother any pregnancy will by definition be unwanted – is not the same as losing a baby, because no: whatever the pro-life lies you have been fed, an embryo or even a fetus is not the same as a baby: terminating an unwanted pregnancy early is not the same as losing your baby.

  92. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 6, 2010 at 10:00 pm |

    piny: I know women who are not anti-abortion but would not have abortions. Access to abortion, and safe medical care in general, is a very complicated thing for many women–and not just women living with religious fundamentalism or misogyny.

    Well, yeah: that’s another form of coercion. If it’s difficult for a woman to get a safe legal abortion as soon as she decides she doesn’t want to be a mother.

    The pro-life movement has consistently and very successfully over decades in the US claimed that even an embryo >8 weeks is just the same as a baby: has completely denied that women who lose their babies to adoption feel anything much: has claimed that having an abortion is an awful emotional trauma: has made having an abortion, in many parts of the US, unnecessarily complicated and difficult and just problematic. Pro-life politicians don’t just vote against access to abortion and healthcare for women: they also strongly tend to vote against support for single mothers and low-income familes. The US is still the only country in the developed world that doesn’t guarantee women paid time off after work – and has a crappy healthcare system which benefits insurance companies more than patients. I’m seeing this successful strategy coming back from people who would probably never describe themselves as pro-lifers – but have absorbed the pro-life propaganda about abortion, adoption, babies, fetuses, and embryos, and who are so used to the US system they don’t see how outrageous it is that any woman should have to give up her baby because she can’t afford to have a baby, and there is no other option provided for her except adoption.

  93. Miss S
    Miss S October 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm |

    So you feel, then, that maternal feelings are measured by relative wealth? A woman who loses her baby because she can’t afford to look a baby obviously doesn’t “really” want the baby? Seriously?

    I’m sure that in some cases, the women do want the baby, and in other cases they don’t. However, most decisions are constrained by financial limits. We should be promoting a society that allows women the choice to have children if they want them, while recognizing that it doesn’t in the meantime. It seems as though you’re arguing that in a perfect world (with health insurance, flexible careers, maternity leave, and wealth) no woman would place her child up for adoption. That might be true, and it might not.
    I agree that the exploitation of low income women needs to be addressed, but I don’t think using phrases like ‘maternal instinct’ is the way to do it. Being a woman, and being pregnant does not always result in an overwhelming biological instinct to mother. Hence, abortion.

    I’m not pro-life. I was pointing out that your argument about biological instincts sounds awfully similar to theirs.

  94. Dave McGreen
    Dave McGreen October 6, 2010 at 11:04 pm |

    blogueur: hello,In Europe as USA it’s difficult to adopt, even if there are many orphans. you must wait for year.
    Parents leave in Eastern Europe or in Africa to adopt.
    i hope you will understand me :)
    Alex from France  

    Your English is quite good Alex, no worries. Certainly much better than my French :P

    This is a tough one… but Jesurgislac doesn’t have enough facts straight:

    Jesurgislac: Oh, pro-life nonsense.Pro-lifers like to claim that an >8 week embryo is just exactly the same as a baby – I never expected to see this claim unchallenged on a feminist site. Having an abortion – especially an early abortion of an unwanted pregnancy, and for a woman who doesn’t want to be a mother any pregnancy will by definition be unwanted – is not the same as losing a baby, because no: whatever the pro-life lies you have been fed, an embryo or even a fetus is not the same as a baby: terminating an unwanted pregnancy early isnot the same as losing your baby.  

    Do some digging- an EKG will tell you that basic cardiac function starts after four weeks (on average). EEG’s show the delta and theta brain frequencies (the mental facilities associated with comas, sleep and dreaming, not just base functions) start after about eight weeks. Alpha, Beta and Gamma waves begin at around 12 weeks (learning, thinking, and what is associated with conscious thought), slowly evolving into what you would expect a baby to be at 25 weeks. It’s not the same as a full fledged baby at 8-12 weeks; It’s closer to a sleeping baby, or a baby who was boozin’ and cruizin’ and hit it’s head too hard in an accident. Don’t just believe me though, a biomedical electrical engineer at a prominent international medical device company. Do the research yourself! Never believe what anyone tells you on the internet ;) .

    Now that we have our science straight, let’s move on to what this issue is REALLY about- the morality of it. As a man I believe in a woman’s right to choose, but I believe abortion is wrong when it is used as a “get out of jail free” card, which I personally saw all too often in high school and even college. It’s just completely unfair that women are the ones who get the short end of the stick in the process, something that most men tend to forget. “Pro-choice, anti-abortion” if that makes any sense.

  95. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 6, 2010 at 11:11 pm |

    upyernoz,

    If you agree that there are USian kids that need loving homes and you agree that international adoptions carry a great risk of being economically exploitative then why would adopt internationally if you could adopt domestically? People on this thread of given the rationale that the reason to adopt overseas is because the kids available here have “problems.” And then you and others defended that rationale.

    As for international adoptions being mainly disabled children…I point you to the case of Romania where adoptions almost dried up when it became known that some of the children adopted from there had serious health problems.

  96. Uccellina
    Uccellina October 6, 2010 at 11:59 pm |

    But what I’m getting back from supporters of adoption is that they just don’t believe that a woman living in poverty feels anguish when she loses her baby. Is human feeling measured by relative wealth, then?

    Jesurgislac, you’ve raised this point several times, and no one has directly contradicted it (perhaps because it seems such an obvious red herring), but neither has anyone agreed with it. I think the answer to your question is that women in higher socio-economic strata are less likely to choose adoption for their babies because they are less likely to get pregnant unwillingly, and if they do, they are less likely to to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, in part because they have the resources to obtain abortion services where poorer women may not.

    Generally speaking, it is probably safe to say that women living even in dire poverty feel anguish about giving up wanted babies*. Again, that having been agreed upon, what solution do you propose? Ban international adoption wholesale until poverty is gone from the world? I get the feeling that you are more interested in lamenting the problem than in finding a solution to it.

    *Asterisk O’ Controversy: “Natural” or not, just or not (and it’s not, obviously), there is evidence that extreme poverty can and often does produce a psychological barrier between mother and child. See Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Death Without Weeping. I say this NOT to justify the removal of children from mothers who want them, but as a counterpoint to Jesurgislac’s repeated assertions that the bearing of a child necessarily results in caring for the child borne, regardless of context or circumstance.

  97. Bridget
    Bridget October 7, 2010 at 12:43 am |

    Jill, I completely agree. I have some friends who have given up children for adoption. Mostly it was because they did not feel ready to be parents. They certainly seemed to feel some anguish about it, but ultimately they decided it was the right thing for them at that time.

  98. Uccellina
    Uccellina October 7, 2010 at 12:46 am |

    Jill,

    Poverty is coercive, just as patriarchy is coercive. That is to say, we may have free will, but decisions are made in specific social contexts. That isn’t to negate or deny the agency of women living in poverty (or in patriarchy), but we do them (and ourselves) a disservice if we pretend any choice a woman makes concerning her reproduction is a “free” choice.

  99. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 7, 2010 at 1:34 am |

    Dave McGreen: As a man I believe in a woman’s right to choose, but I believe abortion is wrong when it is used as a “get out of jail free” card, which I personally saw all too often in high school and even college. It’s just completely unfair that women are the ones who get the short end of the stick in the process, something that most men tend to forget. “Pro-choice, anti-abortion” if that makes any sense. Dave McGreen

    Ah yes…the slut shaming reasons like “Get out of jail free” bullshit.

    Good times…good times.

  100. akeeyu
    akeeyu October 7, 2010 at 2:35 am |

    Oh, I thought we were ignoring the obvious troll.

  101. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 7, 2010 at 4:30 am |

    MissS: Being a woman, and being pregnant does not always result in an overwhelming biological instinct to mother. Hence, abortion.

    Precisely my point, if you remember. We’re not talking about women who decided against motherhood and therefore had an abortion: we’re talking about women who decided to become mothers – and then were forced to lose the baby.

    I’m not pro-life. I was pointing out that your argument about biological instincts sounds awfully similar to theirs.

    Really? That’s odd: I get into arguments with pro-lifers about it all the time, because I say – in absolute contradiction to them – that a woman who decides not to be a mother should get to have an abortion ASAP, not be forced to have a baby she doesn’t want: and I say – also in absolute contradiction to them – that a woman who decides to be a mother should get help to keep her baby, not be told that losing her baby is the solution to their poverty.

    You sound awesomely like a pro-lifer arguing for adoption as a “solution” for low-income mothers.

    Jill: And I do think, on this thread, there’s this essentializing of womanhood = motherhood that we don’t see anywhere else on this blog, at least when we’re talking about “Western” women. But then all of a sudden when we’re talking about women from less-wealthy nations, it’s “women and their babies have a biological inseparable bond” and “women are natural mothers” and on and on.

    Er, the US is a “Western” nation, and I’m talking about the coercion applied to low-income American women to provide babies and the denial of the anguish they feel (I note Bridget admits they felt anguish “for a time” – I suspect, knowing as I do women who lost babies to adoption a lifetime ago, and they just quit talking about the issue). This is not an exclusively international adoption issue.

    I acknowledge exceptions – I acknowledge that everyone feels differently – but nonetheless: yes, a woman who’s had a baby, regardless of her nationality or her income level, usually and normally does have a biological, hormonal, emotional attachment to her baby, and suffers anguish when she loses her baby.

    The fact that this anguish is inflicted on so many women because they live in poverty does not make it any less. Adoption of a baby from a healthy mother is normally a horrible tragedy, and arguing that it’s not tragic because it usually happens to women who are not financially able to support their child … is just so unbelievably wrong.

  102. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 7, 2010 at 4:46 am |

    Uccelina: Generally speaking, it is probably safe to say that women living even in dire poverty feel anguish about giving up wanted babies*. Again, that having been agreed upon, what solution do you propose? Ban international adoption wholesale until poverty is gone from the world? I get the feeling that you are more interested in lamenting the problem than in finding a solution to it.

    Well, there is a limit to what any individual can do to fight against poverty. I do what I can: donate to Oxfam, buy Fair Trade, support my government cancelling Third World debt, you know,… what you can do. And I admit that damn few individuals are ever going to be able to do much as individuals.

    But does that mean that just because you can’t do much as an individual to fight global poverty, it’s okay to take advantage of it?

    I agree with whoever it was upthread who said that this is not just an international adoption issue. It’s an issue about infant adoption, and how rarely it can ever be morally jiustified to remove a healthy baby from a healthy mother.

    Whatever wholesale rule is made about adoption, fostering, any kind of family issue, is going to be wrong – badly wrong – in at least some cases, because this kind of issue is just way too complicated to say “it’s ALWAYS wrong” to do this or not do that.

    But: you can have general principles. You can say, for example, that it’s good for people not to think they have a “right” to specify they want a “normal” child, whatever that means to them, when they’re looking to adopt: or this dismissal of older children in need of parents as just “too difficult”. And you can say, as a general principle, that a woman who’s had a baby should be helped to keep her baby, not “helped” by telling her if she can’t afford to bring up a child she can lose her baby.

    And that’s what I’m trying to do here: to raise, as a general principle, that infant adoption from living mothers is a bad thing. That it may be justified in rare individual cases, but it’s not a good general rule to live by. Because yes: we have evolved so that, in general, the mother is the one who should be caring for her infant baby, and helped to do so, which is why in all developed countries but the US and even in many undeveloped countries, women have a legal right to go on paid leave for weeks or months after the baby is born. They can decide not to take all the leave they have a right to, but they have a right to decide – unlike in the US! – that they’re going to care for their own baby.

  103. RD
    RD October 7, 2010 at 4:48 am |

    Jesurgislac- the FUCK?!?? I don’t know anything about international adoption, but your comments about prostitution are really offensive. First of all, men who would otherwise rape “normal” women, are going out and *raping* prostitutes for the most part, because they get off on that, and because whatever they feel entitled to do to “normal” women, they feel at LEAST as entitled to do to prostitutes. In which case, someone is still getting raped. Maybe just not someone you value as much. Men who are frequenting but not raping prostitutes are probably not rapists in their everyday lives in general either. Also, most men who see prostitutes? Are actually able to convince “normal” women to sleep with them. Many but not all (and probably less than half), are married. Those who can’t get anyone else to sleep with them are not necessarily bad guys, and would not necessarily otherwise be rapists.

  104. RD
    RD October 7, 2010 at 5:04 am |

    Also if you are right then rape rates should have really soared in this recession. (I’m not doing it now but I know that) customers have really dropped off. One reason sex workers have not been doing well in the recession, the other being more competition.

  105. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 7, 2010 at 8:23 am |

    Kristen J.

    If you agree that there are USian kids that need loving homes and you agree that international adoptions carry a great risk of being economically exploitative then why would adopt internationally if you could adopt domestically?

    because kids in other countries also need loving homes and domestic adoptions also carry great risk of being economically exploitative. and, as i said above, there are ways to minimize the chance of exploitation in any adoption. you just have to choose your agency carefully and research the problems of the country before you get involved. as i said at the very beginning of the thread, child trafficking is a major problem in some countries and is very rare in others.

    People on this thread of given the rationale that the reason to adopt overseas is because the kids available here have “problems.” And then you and others defended that rationale.

    actually that’s not how it came up. but let me be clear: i don’t think anyone who has had actual experience with international adoption in this thread said that they decided to adopt overseas because the kids available here have “problems.” several people who have such experience have popped into this thread (myself included), but if anyone made that assertion it is someone who didn’t decide to adopt overseas and is thus attributing a belief to others which i can attest is not accurate. i don’t know why you are attributing this motive to me and others like me. as i noted above, it is inaccurate to say the child i am adopting does not have “problems” or whatever euphamism you prefer.

    As for international adoptions being mainly disabled children…I point you to the case of Romania where adoptions almost dried up when it became known that some of the children adopted from there had serious health problems.

    actually romania closed to international adoption because the romanian government banned it in 2001 (it was originally a temporary one year moratorium, then it was extended and then it turned into a permanent ban in 2004). there would have been no reason to legislate the ban if adoptions had mostly dried up. on the contrary, there were a bunch of families who were in process when the ban went into effect, there were a few exceptions made to let them complete the process. so it’s inaccurate to say that “adoptions almost dried up”.

  106. Vail
    Vail October 7, 2010 at 9:25 am |

    Just a note about economics being the only reason women give up children… In Korea a lot women give up children born out of wedlock due to the shame. These women probably have the economic resources but choose not to parent. I’m not saying this is a good thing, as shaming any woman is bad thing, and shaming a woman into giving up her child against her wishes is freaking horrible but it’s not always economic pressure that influences women.

  107. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 7, 2010 at 10:34 am |

    Upyernoz,

    Check the stats for the 90s in Romania. A decade before the ban. The adoption level went from 4000ish to 100s in one year based solely on info about developmental delays and HIV status.

    You have a very rosy view of international adoption that I think defies reality. I suggest you look at the surveys of “preferences” in the demand for adoption (of which there are several sources) and speak to social workers who have been told point-blank that couples don’t want, and I quote, “broken children.” Or listen to me when I tell you about foster families that were seeking to adopt and then “returned” children with easily managable conditions only to then adopt internationally. One child I represented has been in 4 supposedly forever homes and rejected all 4 times because she has severe chemical and environmental allergies…which are managable but are also apparently too much work. Each of those families subsequently adopted overseas.

    So when I say that this is an issue its because I’ve talked to these kids and heard their stories. I’ve spoken with their social workers and heard their stories. And I’ve looked at the statistics and confirmed that its a widespread phenomenon.

    And “problem” isn’t a euphemism. Problem is what people are calling children. They are just kids and they already have to struggle with ablism and inadequate care in addition to their feelings about adoption. Frankly the whole thing just makes me want to throw in the towel on humanity.

  108. Bridget
    Bridget October 7, 2010 at 10:42 am |

    Jesurgislac, my point is that some mothers, though they do feel anguish, still feel that giving up the child for adoption is the best choice for them. They can feel anguish and still not want to be a parent.

  109. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 7, 2010 at 11:00 am |

    Kristen J.

    You have a very rosy view of international adoption that I think defies reality.

    why do you say that? in my prior comments i acknowledged that trafficking is a real problem and there is a real danger of exploitation in adoptions. is that rosy? again and again you seem to be attributing ideas to me that i have never said whether it is the idea that people adopt internationally because they want perfect children, or that i think disabled children are not deserving of love, or now you’re saying that i think international adoption is all puppies and rainbows. i’ve never said any of those things, nor do i believe any of them. it’s very weird to have a complete stranger talk to me about the personal decisions i have made in my life and repeatedly attribute such inaccurate thoughts and motivations.

    I suggest you look at the surveys of “preferences” in the demand for adoption (of which there are several sources) and speak to social workers who have been told point-blank that couples don’t want, and I quote, “broken children.” Or listen to me when I tell you about foster families that were seeking to adopt and then “returned” children with easily managable conditions only to then adopt internationally. One child I represented has been in 4 supposedly forever homes and rejected all 4 times because she has severe chemical and environmental allergies…which are managable but are also apparently too much work. Each of those families subsequently adopted overseas.

    if you’re asking whether some families go into the international adoption process with strong racial and disability preferences, then the answer is obviously yes. that’s also the case with domestic adoption. but those facts don’t mean that everyone who adopts either domestically or international makes the same choices.

    similarly, if you have anecdotes about why other people in the past might have chosen to go international as opposed to the domestic foster care system, that’s fine. i’m certainly not going to deny your experiences as others have tried to deny mine here. and i’m not surprised that things like that might have happened. i honestly don’t see why by virtue of the fact that i have chosen to adopt overseas, i am now responsible for all of the crappy motives of everyone else who has ever gone through international adoption.

    Check the stats for the 90s in Romania. A decade before the ban. The adoption level went from 4000ish to 100s in one year based solely on info about developmental delays and HIV status.

    that may be. honestly, i understand why someone would be reluctant to meet and make such a strong emotional commitment to a child with a terminal illness.

    but let’s back up here. this whole romanian digression started because i wrote:

    “these days most international adoptions involve a child with some form of disability. some are of the disabilities more severe and some are more minor (some are simply a product of prolonged institutionalization).”

    i thought we were talking about “these days”, not the 1990s. international adoption has changed dramatically in the past 5 years, with several countries closing, the ratification of the hague convention, the slowdown of chinese adoption, etc., which has completely changed international adoption opportunities and as a result the expectations of adopting families.

  110. Jennifer Grant
    Jennifer Grant October 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm |

    This conversation is incredibly interesting to me, as a journalist and a mother (I have children to whom I gave birth to and a daughter whom I adopted).

    As is ever the case, broad generalizations and cold judgment of others doesn’t really advance dialog. My favorite comment, posted somewhere above was along the lines of “the world isn’t a perfect place.” (Amen.)

    Before adopting my daughter, I spoke to everyone from adoption zealots who feel that everyone should adopt a child, to those who feel it’s a “necessary evil,” to those who think it’s just plain evil.

    I adopted my daughter from Guatemala; a few years earlier I’d written stories about the problem of homeless “street kids” in Latin American countries, including Guatemala. I learned about the lives of “glue sniffers” or “resistoleros” (named for a brand of shoe glue that is sniffed by homeless children to provide a high that staves off cold and hunger).

    Would my daughter have ended up in that tragic situation? I don’t know, but I feel privileged to be raising children who desire to improve the economic and health status of people around the world.

    I’m glad to be able to give my daughter the food, education, and opportunity her birth mother desired for her.

    Before adopting my daughter, I did my research (and had many tools available because of my job), adopted a child who was a toddler and categorized as a “waiting child,” and carefully checked out the agency and its history, critics, and devotees. I didn’t know whether she would have special needs, just like when I was pregnant with her siblings, I didn’t know what their needs (or special needs) would be.

    I appreciate the attempts to be honest and the hungering for justice which underlies the vast majority of these posts, regardless of the poster’s convictions about the ethics of adoption.

    I encourage us all to find ways to make the world a safer and more equitable place for everyone, especially those who (because of the misfortune of being born in a resource-poor setting or to parents who for whatever emotional, financial, political, or psychological reason do not feel they can raise them).

    I know that anything we can do to support organizations that provide educational opportunities to girls will address, long-term, all of the injustices you all reference here.

    Here’s a wonderful, informative UN slideshow about this: http://www.educategirls.org/.

    Hopeful, proactive, and yes beautifully feminist. Enjoy.

  111. Whit
    Whit October 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm |

    I don’t feel like any of the defenders of adoption, or adoptive parents, or even Jill have really responded to the fact that the vast, vast majority of mothers who give up their babies are poor. And that the vast, vast majority of adoptive parents are adoptive parents because they are well off enough to 1. afford health insurance to get an official diagnosis, assuming that they’re straight and cis 2. go through rounds of infertility treatments paid for by said insurance company 3. fly around the world and pay fees to adoption agencies, lawyers, and whatnot for however many years it takes them to find a child/children they “match” with.

    Those adoptive parents are much more comfortable, and taking home much more income than 85% of humanity.

    That clearly indicates that the economic disparity between the birth family and the adoptive family is great. If there are women out there who want to carry the pregnancy to term but don’t want to keep the child, why do we not see pregnant women from the upper classes giving up their children for adoption?

  112. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac October 7, 2010 at 2:37 pm |

    RD: I agree with your issues about prostitution and rape, if not the tenor of your comment: I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say, but I also think that was at least partially my fault, for using such a contentious example.

    Many couples who adopt infants say that they know their adoption was OK because they confirmed as far as they could that the infant they adopted really was an abandoned child, who would have been left in an institution or in worse if not taken by this couple who want children.

    That’s good: just as it’s good when a man who makes use of prostitution for sex confirms as far as he can that the sex workers he deals with are in the business with at least no other coercion than economic need (not, I mean, trafficked, or abused, or pimped, or beaten) and that he always uses a condom and always pays an acceptable fee, etc.

    But trying to behave with ordinary human decency within a fucked-up system doesn’t mean the system itself any less fucked-up.

    Neither the wannabe parent nor the man in the paragraphs above deserves any praise for not acting as illegally and abusively as their privilege in the system gives them the power to do. Men who don’t rape don’t deserve to be praised for not raping; wannabe parents who try not to buy kidnapped children don’t deserve to be praised for not doing so. Prostitution is a fundamentally fucked-up situation in which men get to treat their sexual wants as if they were needs. Infant adoption is a fundamentally fucked-up situation where wannabe parents get to treat their wish for a child to parent from infancy as if it was a need.

    Jill: I don’t think branding adoption as universally unethical or suggesting that all women everywhere want to keep their children is particularly helpful.

    Maybe you should point out the comments on this thread where people are doing that? I’ve read this thread through at least twice and I can’t see any examples of this happening.

  113. Whit
    Whit October 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm |

    If we’re going to accept that part of living in an ablist society is that adoptive and birth parents are expected to have a preference for able-bodied and mentally typical children, then we should also accept that part of living in a colonialist, classist, sexist society is that poor women are expected to be the parents of origin and that rich, usually white, usually western parents are expected to be able to adopt those children with relative ease and general good will.

  114. Whit
    Whit October 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm |

    General good will being societal acceptance. The idea, also, that nulliparous couples/family units or women approaching menopause should be seen as more acceptable to society than the above groups who choose to remain childless either because they’ve chosen to suppressed their fertility or are infertile through no choice of their own is tied into this.

    Couples that don’t have children are assumed to want to either try fertility treatments or adopt. If that’s the case, if that’s something the average childless person is expected to feel entitled to, then that begs the question, where will these children come from? And why do families that choose to remain without children face so much stigma compared to the general back clapping and congratulations for adoptive parents?

    Also, why are adults who were adopted children not back clapped and congratulated? Why are their voices silenced so that we can center the voices of adoptive parents? It seems part of that has to do with the fact that these children may tell a different narrative than their adoptive parents, and that’s one that cannot be centered if we continue to defend adoption.

  115. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 7, 2010 at 2:54 pm |

    not to beat a dead horse, but what do you mean by “relative ease” in comment #125? the adoption mess i am going through now is by far the hardest thing i have ever done. it’s been going on for almost two and one-half years. it has wreaked havok with my life and it’s still not over.

    you’re also assuming that adopting parents are “rich” which is only true in the sense that we are rich compared to the people in the host country. most of the other families involved in this process with me are far from rich. several are funding their adoption efforts by taking out loans.

  116. Whit
    Whit October 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm |

    Relative ease, meaning, you’re not going to lose your residence because you choose to adopt. Because adoptive parents keep decrying the length of time it takes and difficulty in navigating the red tape to complete an adoption, as if the legal responsibility for the child’s life should be quick, cheap and easy with a minimum of mental anguish.

    We live in a society that values convenience. In everything. Expressing a desire for a more convenient adoption process, rather than a more open and transparent adoption process that may be longer and more arduous, speaks to this.

  117. Whit
    Whit October 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm |

    upy, adoptive parents who are adopting from within the same country are also generally significantly better off financially than the birth family.

    Also, the fact that these families you’re familiar with can take out loans does in fact, indicate their wealth. Would the birth families have been able to take out loans to afford to keep their children, if economic coercion is the reason they’ve had to give up custody?

  118. upyernoz
    upyernoz October 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm |

    …as if the legal responsibility for the child’s life should be quick, cheap and easy with a minimum of mental anguish.

    what?!?!? i didn’t say that at all. i knew from the start that it would not be cheap or easy, but i had no idea how hard it would be. i suspect from your comments, neither do you.

    Expressing a desire for a more convenient adoption process, rather than a more open and transparent adoption process that may be longer and more arduous, speaks to this.

    who is against a transparent process? why do you keep attributing ridiculous positions to people you don’t even know? i would not mind at all if the process was stretched out to make it better. the problem is that is not why things are taking so long. i guess you see no reason not to cast judgment on my situation just because you don’t know anything about what it is.

    Also, the fact that these families you’re familiar with can take out loans does in fact, indicate their wealth.

    i guess it depends on what you mean by wealth. really it only means they are home owners (these are home equity loans), something i don’t think only the wealthy are. but maybe your definition of wealthy is different from mine.

    Would the birth families have been able to take out loans to afford to keep their children, if economic coercion is the reason they’ve had to give up custody?

    i don’t know. i don’t even know to what extent economic coercion played a role (as opposed to social stigma, which might could have also been the reason). the bottom line is that custody was given up and there are now children who have nobody and who have been languishing in an institution for the past year and a half. i agree that in an ideal world they would not have been abandoned, but the fact is they were abandoned. maybe it was for a nasty reason, but whatever it was it happened. it happened whether or not i ever decided to set foot in this country. adoption is always about making the best out of a shitty situation. i’ve never denied that child abandonment is a terrible thing.

  119. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 7, 2010 at 4:27 pm |

    upyernoz,

    The problem is that throughout this thread you’ve been saying things like this:

    “honestly, i understand why someone would be reluctant to meet and make such a strong emotional commitment to a child with a terminal illness.”

    Which, is just wrong…on so many levels.

    And defending international adoption generally even while acknowledging that its problematic.

    There are a couple of *systematic* privilege problem with adopting internationally which you seem to fighting with statements like the one above.

    But to be clear: this is not about you personally, your child, your method of adoption. I have no reason to doubt that you’ve done your best to make ethical choices in an unethical world. But I still see reason to criticize the ethics of the world.

    So instead of being about you this is about international adoptions, the “demand” for children and how *as a society* we value some children over others because of our kyriarchial structure that prefers infants over older children and “healthy” children over children with medical issues, among other things. And how in our capitalist system USians use our relative privilege to adopt from (some) people who might haven chosen otherwise if they had the same opportunities that the adoptive parents have.

    There is a lot to unpack about international adoption. And in my opinion, on a systematic level, its not sufficient to say: well, if we research things and make sure that our child wasn’t trafficked then this process isn’t exploitative. The process is still exploitative and reflective of our kyriarchial society. And we have to acknowledge/accept the full nature of its fucked-up-ed-ness before we can move forward to solutions.

  120. anon
    anon October 7, 2010 at 4:44 pm |

    I am adopted, and I can tell you that for me, being adopted is quite confusing. It wasn’t when I was a child, of course, since I was raised religiously (Protestant) and the whole thing was simplified for me: “God made you in someone else’s tummy for us”. As I got a bit older it changed a little “Your birthmother couldn’t take care of you but she loved you so much she gave you up so that you could have a “better life””. It was always “God’s Plan” so I never questioned it. I never questioned what a “better life” meant, nor the reasons my first mother couldn’t care for me.

    I do question now. I know much more now, and I don’t fall for the cute little adoption quotes anymore. I have met my first mom, I searched for her and finally called her. I think I may have made her day by making that call, if not her whole life. She had been waiting since I was old enough to find her. It was a closed adoption. She was poor and very young and had no choice. Her mother told her she couldn’t come home with a baby. Her family was religious and against abortion. So she only had one choice: Adoption. It probably made sense to her at the time, to make the “loving” choice. She did love me, and according to the rest of the world, giving me the best life meant her giving me up. So she did.

    Yes, I have had a “good” life. I have never worried about money or food or whether I could afford to go to college. To some, my issues that probably stem from adoption are minor: severe fear of rejection, clinginess, social anxiety, fear of failure, fear of not living up to my parent’s/society’s expectations, etc. I always felt different, and even now I wonder sometimes if my parents wish I were more like them (I’m the polar opposite of both of them), or if they are disappointed that I didn’t have similar goals that they did. I’m in counseling finally, and hope to overcome these things, as they affect my life and relationships greatly.

    Knowledge can equal pain. Sometimes it hurts to learn, and sometimes it is easier to remain ignorant. Sometimes, sometimes I wish I could go back and just believe in what I was told as a young child, go back and let it be so simple as God forming me inside someone’s womb especially destined for my adoptive parents. That makes it simple, pretty, not painful. But I can’t be ignorant anymore, I understand that the reason I am with the family I am with is because they had something my first mother did not: stability, marriage, and money. I realize that my first mother didn’t keep me because to society she was an “unfit” mother. So she gave me to “fit” parents. That’s a hard reality to deal with.

    I love my parents. My sister/s and brother/s are also adopted. They love my parents, I think. But we are not close in the way that other families I see are. I don’t know if that is just the way my family is…or if it’s because we are adopted. I will never know. I just know there is something off sometimes, no matter how much love there is.

    I rarely talk about this with others, as they tend to ignore or try to cover my feelings up. Most respond hastily that if I hadn’t been adopted I wouldn’t have had all the nice things I had growing up, all the opportunities to travel and see things, wouldn’t be going to college, etc. Perhaps they are right. I don’t know, maybe I would have had none of those things, or all of them. What I’m starting to realize is that maybe it shouldn’t matter.

    Some people wonder then if I’m wishing things had been different. I don’t know. I can’t answer that. It is what it is, and because I can’t go back and change anything, I can’t allow myself to dwell on it. I do just wish that my first mom had had more options, so that I could believe that it truly was her choice to give me up, and not just because she had no other options.

    I am a domestic adoptee (united states) and we both still live in the states. Adoption is simply complicated no matter which way you want to look at it. My views on adoption have changed so much since I was a child, but it’s still a bit murky. I believe many adoptions are coerced, that for most it is perhaps not a choice, but a lack of choices. This bothers me greatly, especially considering one of those women was my mother, my first mother. However, I also see my parents. They did not know what they were doing, whether clouded by good intentions or religion, I don’t know. They meant well, they wanted children and wanted to give me a good home and raise me well in their eyes. And I love them and they love me. Adoption is such a gray area, there is no black and white. In an ideal world, the only adoptions that happened would be uncoerced by anything including finances. But we don’t live in that world yet. So I try to focus my criticism on the system, and not the adopters or the adoptees, or the mothers. They are all victims of the system, we all are. (Yes I realize that there are adopters who knowingly are coercive and deceptive, but I believe most are like my parents, and simply wanted children and wanted to give a baby a home).

    I can question why they didn’t adopt an older child, or a child with “special needs” or why they adopted at all. But I can question all I want and it won’t change anything. They did what they did, and I can’t condemn them. I condemn society for not giving my mother a chance in the first place, and for not making it easier for parents to care for children no matter how great their needs.

    Simply put, adoption is a damn complicated gray area. I’m trying to figure it all out in my own life…how to work out my relationship with my new family (technically my original family but they are new to me) and keeping the relationship with the family I grew up with. Few understand how complicated that is…to transgress the simplicity of adoption by attempting to have a relationship with my biological family. It seems to bother people for some reason…like I’m betraying the way things are supposed to be. It’s why I’m in counseling, and will be for a long time just to figure myself out.

    That was long, so for those who read this whole thing, thanks. It is nice to be able to share anonymously, because this issue is so polarizing it tends to be hard to share without people telling me why my feelings about my own adoption are wrong (especially in my religious hometown).

    On a last note…some pet peeves I have personally:

    The word “birthmother”. I still say it sometimes as it’s been ingrained in my head because it’s what everyone used when explaining adoption to me as a child, but I have come to find the word offensive. It seems to imply that my first mother was nothing more than a vessel who gave birth to me, and it’s not true. For those who want another term, I have started trying to use “first mother” or simply “mother”.

    The often used quote: “Parents are the ones who raise you, not that give birth to you”. I heard this a lot growing when I questioned about my first mother. It’s a pretty saying, and in many situations it may be true. But it’s again, a gray area. My first mother thought about me my whole life, so did her family. I was never out of their minds, always worrying, not knowing how I was or where I was. I think that “counts” too. Maybe they didn’t raise me but they cared.

  121. Jadey
    Jadey October 7, 2010 at 5:00 pm |

    Thank you, anon.

  122. anon
    anon October 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm |

    On a side note, just realized I wrote an almost 1500 word blog post but I can’t seem to get my final research paper started. Oh feminist blogs how I love and hate you. Sigh.

    -a feminist procrastinator

  123. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm |

    Jesurgislac: The normal human reaction for women who have given birth – the normal biological reaction – is to want to keep the baby.

    Jesurgislac: PrettyAmiable: Jesurgislac, I disagree with the assertion that all normal women want to keep babies that they’ve birthed.

    So would I if I had made it. And I didn’t.

    I very carefully qualified my statements. I made no absolutes.

    What a bunch of bullshit. You said the normal human reaction is to want to keep the baby you’ve birthed. This automatically implies that it is an abnormal reaction to NOT want to keep the baby you’ve birthed. You’re kidding yourself if you were suggesting that you were implying that both reactions were normal (i.e. “It’s normal to like apples.” “It’s normal to like oranges.”). Your statement was NOTHING like those. If it was akin to “It’s normal to like apples,” it wouldn’t need to be said at all. Is there anyone here that thinks that some women who give birth might want to keep their babies? No. Why? Because this concept has been shoved down our throats since the dawn of time. If you meant, “Women in dire circumstances have the full spectrum of opinions regarding keeping or giving up their birthed baby, but there are abuses in the system that prevent a woman keeping a wanted baby,” then say that. Don’t pick one line of thought, slap a label of “normal” on it, then suggest that if they didn’t really want a baby, then they would have an abortion — before backtracking when people point out how ridiculously stupid that is.

    Jesurgislac: Alison: Guess what? NOT ALL WOMEN WANT TO BE MOTHERS.

    And then: they have abortions.

    And there’s your reference for when you claim you didn’t say that either. Oh, but you didn’t say “ALL WOMEN” in either case. That makes it more acceptable to purposely misspeak to support your cause, right? Then you have a back way out when someone tells you to stop.

    What you’re saying throughout has a lot of merit to it; however when people are telling you that you’re erasing them with your language usage, shut up and listen.

  124. Miss S
    Miss S October 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm |

    Precisely my point, if you remember. We’re not talking about women who decided against motherhood and therefore had an abortion: we’re talking about women who decided to become mothers – and then were forced to lose the baby.

    Every statement you have made relies on the assumption that all women who get pregnant but don’t want to become mothers choose abortion instead of adoption. Your assumption is wrong.

    You sound awesomely like a pro-lifer arguing for adoption as a “solution” for low-income mothers.
    Explaining that women can -and do- choose adoption instead of abortion is not anything like arguing for adoption as a solution for low income mothers. I think women should be able to make whatever decision works best for them. I agree that women need more resources so that they can choose to parent if they want to. What do you suggest be done in the meantime?

    I’m sure that all women who place children for adoption feel ‘something.’ That doesn’t mean it’s not the best decision for them at that time.
    All decisions are made by constraints. This isn’t a new concept. Poverty is a constraint. So is relationship status, or family beliefs, or cultural norms. Every single woman that choose to give birth and keep the baby or terminate the pregnancy or place a child up for adoption isn’t ‘freely’ making that decision.

    Also, referring to couples who may be unable to conceive children as ‘wannabe parents’ is incredibly disrespectful.

  125. Miss S
    Miss S October 7, 2010 at 5:52 pm |

    Which, is just wrong…on so many levels.
    Perhaps it is for you. That doesn’t mean it is for everyone. I realize that you would like to determine who has kids, and what kids they should have, but that’s not how it works in reality.

    Whit:
    You claimed that people could adopt children with ‘relative ease.’ Someone explained that it wasn’t ‘relative ease,’ but rather a long and expensive process. In turn, you accuse this person of “Expressing a desire for a more convenient adoption process, rather than a more open and transparent adoption process.” You’re pulling accusations and motivations out of nowhere.

    Anon-thanks for sharing your story.

  126. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm |

    Miss S: Perhaps it is for you. That doesn’t mean it is for everyone. I realize that you would like to determine who has kids, and what kids they should have, but that’s not how it works in reality.

    I don’t think you even were paying attention to what I said. Since this bears no resemblance to anything we were discussing.

  127. RD
    RD October 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm |

    Ok, Jesurgislac. I can see that I did misunderstand what you were trying to say. Going to someone who is believed to not be coerced beyond financial decisions vs. going to someone known to be trafficked/forced, rather than going to a prostitute vs. raping women who are not prostitutes. My mistake. I agree it is basic decency to not knowingly go to someone who is trafficked/forced/pimped, to not force (or even pressure for) unprotected sex or rip the sex worker off, etc. These things are not deserving of praise…instead the people who do otherwise are deserving of…well, worse than condemnation, whatever that is. But by abused you mean currently right? Because a history of abuse does not mean someone is currently being forced/abused into prostitution, or that they don’t need to the money or you shouldn’t see them…you can’t make the decision of whether someone “should” be a prostitute for them, based on their history.

    So anyway we agree on some things. But some of the other things you say are still making me uncomfortable and I’m trying to wrap my mind around why. This whole “system of entitled to sex or babies” thing…I don’t know. I think I have said this here before, but johns are not entitled to sex. They have to pay for it. And even that, does not give them license to do whatever they want to you, whenever they want. I think it is really harmful and really contributes to a lot of the abuses that many sex workers face, that some people think that it does. Sexual wants as if they were needs? I’m not sure I even understand this. People pay money for things they don’t “need”…and even realize they don’t “need”…all the time. And prostitution if often very much like that, with people seeing it as a luxury expense that they enjoy. And if you want sex with your best friend say, the “system of prostitution” in most cases is not going to give you that. Or make you think of that as a “need” that she owes you. If you think like that it is probably something wrong with you, something internal. But if someone enjoys anal sex, or some unusual sexual fetish, and the only way they can fulfill that desire is by paying for it (from someone who offers it, not forcing or pressuring from someone who doesn’t and doesn’t want to), well, then I guess I don’t see the big deal.

  128. Emily
    Emily October 8, 2010 at 7:37 am |

    I think this thread is in need of an “it’s not about you” privilege check. To say “adoptive parents want” is not to say that you, one adoptive parent, want X. Issues of structural inequality cannot be discussed without rhetorical generalizations. Saying “I fit into category Y and I don’t think X is a derail. If the generalization doesn’t apply to you, it isn’t about you. Your individual experience does not disprove the generalization, and it’s impossible to have a discussion without using and generalizing statements. This is something that feminist blog commenters seem to get for generalizations about “men” but seem to have trouble with when it comes to other privileged groups. And in discussions of adoption in most US spaces, adoptive parents are privileged as compared to birth parents or acolytes.

  129. Emily
    Emily October 8, 2010 at 7:41 am |

    damn it, automatic word filler-inner, “acolytes” should be “adoptees”

  130. Whit
    Whit October 8, 2010 at 8:21 am |

    MissS, pretty much what Emily said is what I have to say.

  131. Vail
    Vail October 8, 2010 at 10:31 am |

    I do think however that we as adoptive parents can point out that there is a hint of “save the savages from themselves” in some of these comments. In our experiences these are very smart, honest people doing the best they can for the children in their care. Korea for example isn’t a third world country, and yet they allow international adoption. Yes there is abuse in all the processes of adoption but lets frame it in a way that we don’t infantilize the people involved in other cultures and countries.

  132. JustAQuestion
    JustAQuestion October 8, 2010 at 11:02 am |

    I have a question.

    We’ve heard from a lot of people on this thread asserting that women who give up their babies for adoption do so essentially out of free choice, and just accept it.

    We’ve heard from some adopted children, but as far as I can see (theres over a hundred comments so I may have missed it) we have not heard from any woman who DID give up her baby for adoption and how she feels abiut that. Only from second or third hand sources.

    Is any one who has that experience willing to share?

  133. groggette
    groggette October 8, 2010 at 11:47 am |

    JustAQuestion:
    Here’s just one birth mother’s story.

    I do want to point out though that I don’t think anyone here has said that all women who give up their children for adoption have no problem with it, just that it is indeed possible.

  134. Whit
    Whit October 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm |

    Just a question, there are a bunch of links both in the OP and in the first few dozen comments that contain first hand accounts of first mothers and adoptees.

  135. JustAQuestion
    JustAQuestion October 8, 2010 at 5:28 pm |

    I do want to point out though that I don’t think anyone here has said that all women who give up their children for adoption have no problem with it, just that it is indeed possible.

    But no birth mother has commented to say that her experience is that it was no problem?

    Just a question, there are a bunch of links both in the OP and in the first few dozen comments that contain first hand accounts of first mothers and adoptees.

    I didn’t click all the links, sorry. The ones I read didn’t sugest that it wasn’t a problem for mothers. Where are the first-hand accounts from birth mothers that the people saying this is no problem, are basing this view on?

  136. Lu
    Lu October 8, 2010 at 5:52 pm |

    Vail, with all due respect, IMO Korea is not the example you want to be bringing in here of a country that is “not third world” but engages in international adoption (presumably meaning that it’s not exploitative in the process? Sorry, I may not be understanding your intent there). I am not Korean, nor am I an expert, but I have done a lot of reading about contemporary Korean society, the history of international adoption there, and the experiences of Korean children adopted overseas and the mothers whose children were adopted overseas. And it can be a very un-pretty picture.

    All the issues talked about in this thread are applicable in many cases, as well as some others. These include systemic misrepresentations by adoption agencies (calling children “orphans” when they have living family members and taking in children under false pretenses, i.e., lying to the birth parents [more often, just the birth mother] that they could come back later for the child and then sending the child overseas), not to mention a society that traditionally so disempowered single mothers that they had no other option but to “give” their child up for adoption. The biggest international adoption agency in Korea, which I won’t name here, engaged in a long-term venture to deliberately acquire and send overseas many more children than were actually “orphaned” and in need of a supposedly better life overseas. These stories have often only come out when the adoptees investigated their own histories and got their records. They show the kind of systemic problems that people are talking about, societal problems that some very developed countries try to “solve” by sending supposedly unwanted children overseas.

    This is actually a pretty big issue in contemporary Korea–why as a society they sent so many thousands of children away. I love Korea and have much respect for its people, but this is a problem that needs to be dealt with.

  137. Lu
    Lu October 8, 2010 at 5:54 pm |

    Aaaand, I’d like to amend my last statement. It is not for me to say what Korea needs to deal with. I apologize.

  138. Pony
    Pony October 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm |

    upyernoz:
    Case in point for privilege reality check. I could spend all day responding to the many comments here, but this pretty much slapped me in the face. I really don’t mean to single you out upyernoz, but I found much of what you’ve had to say problematic, and the quote above is one where you really might want to take 10 big steps back and consider how framed in privilege it is. Hold it up it against any example of poverty that comes to mind and just really really think about how that statement could sound very very privileged.
    When that kind of statement is just an assumed belief, I don’t see how it couldn’t taint any understanding of the systems of poverty and wealth that are supporting this whole international adoption crisis. And unfortunately I think it might be a pretty commonly held attitude. This isn’t meant to belittle you or your adoption experience but yeah…just think about it. I’m going to quote Kristen J from an earlier comment on this:

    signed-a feminist for whom anything but a 700 sq. foot studio and a much wanted child is still a financial pipe dream (and has very real firsthand experience of real live poverty)

  139. Pony
    Pony October 8, 2010 at 6:27 pm |

    and…..big formatting fail! sorry!

  140. Vail
    Vail October 8, 2010 at 7:13 pm |

    I wasn’t holding up Korea as a model of super squeaky clean adoptions, but as a non third world country who has continued international adoptions. As always more regulation on our side is a goal we need to strive for. I myself think we need nationalized regulation and accreditation here in the USA.

  141. Whit
    Whit October 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm |

    Just A Question, if you read the two links mentioned in the original post, they will lead you to the original documents from the state department. Some cases described mothers who were put up in halfway houses and provided with food and shelter and clothes during their pregnancy if they signed papers agreeing to relinquish their babies when they delivered. Then, when they told this to the consular authorities, they were summoned to the capitol city on their own expense (which they had to borrow) and “reminded” by officials that they “consented” to give up their children. The women reported being physically ill on this journey.

    Other mothers were told that their children would be returned to their custody when they were 11. Or were paid nearly a year’s minimum wages as part of coercion tactics to relinquish their children.

  142. unbreakablebond
    unbreakablebond October 8, 2010 at 9:23 pm |

    I am a birthmom who just recently gave my baby up for adoption. I chose her family myself and I really loved them. I told them not to worry about anything…that this baby is their’s and that I just can’t financially or emotionally deal with being a parent. What I should have said was..I am really struggling right now and the emotional distress of her birthfather’s new wife and absence is more than I can bare. After the adoption was final..I wanted to die. Mind you, this is days ago. I had to reach a place with God tonight. I have read this blog for days. It has haunted me what some of you have said. Even in my mind I secretly thought that maybe one of you are my baby’s adoptive mom. You scared the shit out of me. I always knew there was stigma but this is unreal. Even if a birthmother thinks she can go through with the adoption and very confident in her reaction at the end, it doesn’t mean that’s exactly how it will go. I wake to tears and despair every day. I want her back. I want my baby. I think if a birthmother changes her mind, she should have her baby back. Period. I am her mother. She has my blood in her veins. She was given to me by God. It takes open minds and hearts to give and receive. I know I made a mistake and I have to live with it the rest of my life. With enough money..I could fight this. I could have my baby back. But I should actually just be able to ask her adoptive mother for her back. I’ll gladly carry their child for them. I’ll do anything to help their pain. They are willing to do NOTHING for mine. So yes, you should be willing to help a birthmother keep her child if she wants to. There is nothing you can say that justifies not doing so. At least just give her back. It’s obvious that my doubts circling the adoption all together is just how different we are. I have more to offer her and I didn’t know until now. I made a huge mistake. I’m praying non-stop. It just doesn’t feel right. It was wrong. Not all adoptions are. Most are beautiful and it’s a blessing from God. I just want her back. I need her. I’m sorry.

  143. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm |

    JustAQuestion: Where are the first-hand accounts from birth mothers that the people saying this is no problem, are basing this view on?  

    Wait, what? You want proof that some women were happy with deciding to give up a baby for adoption?

    You know how when you google a drug you’re thinking about taking, and all you get is informative sites and a bunch of people complaining about side effects? It’s because people who had a good experience with Cipro aren’t going to get together to talk about it.

    Now, compound the fact that people don’t tend to fly to the internet to talk about experiences that weren’t traumatic with the social stigma associated with talking about being HAPPY about giving away your child (slut-shaming from the right for getting knocked up, non-abortion-getting-shaming from the left) — where exactly are these women supposed to go to talk about their experiences?

    Besides, what do you mean “no problem with it”? They were still pregnant. They still rented out their bodies for nine months. They might live in a society where abortion is stigmatized and where they are consistently slut-shamed. But an example of someone who doesn’t regret giving up their baby? http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Gave-One-Of-My-Children-Up-For-Adoption/562566

    Google, I know. Amazing stuff.

  144. Miss S
    Miss S October 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm |

    But no birth mother has commented to say that her experience is that it was no problem?

    Do you honestly believe that no birth mothers making that comment on this thread truly indicates that no birth mothers anywhere feel that way? Is this particular thread on feministe really indicative of all women everywhere?

  145. unbreakablebond
    unbreakablebond October 9, 2010 at 1:18 am |

    No way! There are birthmoms who are happy and at peace with their adoption story. Actually, I LOVE my baby’s parents and will continue so. Some women have harder times than others. It’s different with your first baby bc you have never experienced motherhood before. The pain and loss are REAL but it can be more tolerable…leaving a better story to tell. Also, with more time and healing mine will be better too. The ultimate reason I chose adoption still stands. It’s only been a few days. I just want her back in my body…under my heart. My doubts. fears, and regrets are real and heart wrenching. As for women placing their baby and not feeling a thing? That interest me none what so ever. In an adoption there has to be a circle of trust, love honesty and direction. But most of all understanding. If you can’t understand it..just accept and move on. What? Birthmoms do it from the beginning. Just sayin’

  146. JustAQuestion
    JustAQuestion October 9, 2010 at 3:24 am |

    Wait, what? You want proof that some women were happy with deciding to give up a baby for adoption?

    yes.

    is that so odd?

    we’re hearing a lot from 2nd-hand/third-hand people saying they know their friends were happy after a while or they know lots of women must be happy with it because it happens so often, but no direct cites, unless your comment, from women saying they did and they’re happy.

    you and Miss S sound pretty aggressive about this, but I don’t see why: why wouldn’t we want to hear from all sides? do you think that women who are happy giving up their babies for adoption are less likely to be reading/commenting on a feminist blog? why?

    thanks for the link, tho; appreciate it!

  147. Anonymous for this because my name isn't your business
    Anonymous for this because my name isn't your business October 9, 2010 at 4:40 am |

    Okay.

    When I was 21 years old I got pregnant. I placed the child for adoption. I’ve not regretted the decision. I live in a country with access to abortion on demand, and lived within an hour’s drive of an abortion clinic. I had friends and the man who I got pregnant with offer to drive me to a clinic if that was my choice. I am 100% pro-choice, I just didn’t want to have an abortion. I’m happy. I’ve been happy since the very instant I decided on adoption. It was an open adoption in that my then-partner and I chose the family, but I have not stayed in touch.

    My partner at the time was quite upset about it, and as far as I know continues to be. His grief is the only thing I feel bad about.

    The feministe mods will be able to verify, should it be necessary, that I’m a regular commentor and commenting from my usual IP, and that I haven’t been involved in this discussion, but I assume that won’t actually be necessary.

    The reason I don’t want this associated with my name is because of my former partner’s sadness. It’s important to him that no one ever knows that he “gave away” his child, and people we know in common read Feministe.

    Certainly I know there are many women who have been forced to make the choice I made willingly, and their stories haunt me. Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me because I’m not sad, I don’t wonder about her very often, and my only concern is that she may want to find me in the future and be hurt to find out that I don’t spend any time thinking about what my life would have been like with her. Her family wanted a baby, and I didn’t want an abortion. The end.

  148. shah8
    shah8 October 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm |

    Man, posts like anon above is why I really wasn’t as aggressive as I could have been. Unpacking that sort of thing feels really rude and probably is.

    Let’s be straight here. I don’t have a problem with adoption by stepparents, adoption by parent’s friends, adoption by family members, adoption of foster children, regardless of whether it’s babies, international, inter-racial or “harm free”.

    I have a problem with the adoption of children who have legally or socially impaired parents. Works of various scandal books and journal articles like…

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2206.2000.00172.x/abstract;jsessionid=C999724A8E7C14D23CC531B6C072F467.d02t02

    tells me that the bulk of domestic adoptions comes from social services declaring people unfit. Fitness and unfitness tends to be judged by class–not too many unfit rich parents get their children taken.

    When it comes to international adoption, there is an emphasis on commoditizing people otherwise known as children. Cheaper to get ‘em overseas. Better product too, with some nifty advantages.

    A great number of people and institutions have made a considerable amount of money from that trade. It’s just not a non-malicious *industry*, and the better conduct of the friends of people here is simply anecdotes. They aren’t the bulk of what happens. It’s great that you eat free-range chicken. However, if everyone ate free-range chicken, it’d be a once a month or once every two week affair. While that might be righteous to you, the bulk of people would really, really, really not agree to that.

    Absolutely no ill-will to any of you guys that adopt. I just want people to understand *how that process of getting you that kid works*. You might make the time and effort to do it right, but you’re not everyone.

  149. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm |

    JustAQuestion: yes.

    is that so odd?

    I mean, it’s fine if you understand the ridiculous limitations on your request that I put forth and you ignored. And, you know, the whole part where if you really have “just a question,” you can Google it. Anonymous below you pointed out yet another valid reason that people aren’t necessarily trumpeting their decision.

    Anonymous, it’s kind of you to respect your former partner’s privacy. I’m glad this decision worked for you. I genuinely hope that you never think there’s something wrong with you for not being sad again because there absolutely is not. Different things work for different people.

  150. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm |

    shah8: Fitness and unfitness tends to be judged by class–not too many unfit rich parents get their children taken.

    And race and national origin and ability…then again…many children are left with unfit parents because they fit all the right categories…or because the system is to overtaxed. Ah…well…if I were queen of the universe…

    (I’d probably just screw it up in a different way…)

  151. Vail
    Vail October 9, 2010 at 11:02 pm |

    @shah8 Just FYI it’s not cheaper to adopt overseas. It’s actually cheaper here in the USA … Unless you get a shady lawyer or your agency gouges you with fees. Overseas is more expensive with hotel costs, travel costs, translation fees (which are usually large, because you’ll be sending reports back to the birth country for years), orphanage fees etc. That’s not including the cost of all the paperwork the government makes you cough up to adopt overseas.

  152. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 10, 2010 at 3:11 am |

    Vail,

    Actually, according to the stats, and assuming both are private adoptions, they cost about the same. I know from my friend’s experience that domestic adoption can be extremely costly if you are covering the birth mother’s living expenses during the pregnancy.

    Source: http://www.americanadoptions.com/adopt/domestic_international

  153. Vail
    Vail October 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm |

    @Kristen J. International adoptions as a whole are NOT private adoptions. You go through the government here and in the birth country. Part of the reason there was so many problems with Guatemala was due to private adoptions. If you adopt from a state run orphanage (which are usually the only ones you can adopt from in most countries) you go through the government (your adoption agency just helps you do all the paperwork and matches you up with a child from the files the government sends them).

    Here is a list of fees (don’t know how accurate it is as we adopted 5 years ago)

    http://international.adoption.com/foreign/international-adoption-costs.html

    I noticed the list didn’t include the cost of finger printing ($500 bucks for both of us) which only last a year, so if there is any delay you have to do that again. And nowadays you have to add in the cost of luggage to the travel too. Then there is the cost of getting extra copies of your birth certificates and marriage certificates etc etc. Lots of fees that add up. Then when we got her home we re-adopted her here, so she had a USA birth certificate so we didn’t have to send to Mongolia for extra copies.

  154. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm |

    Vail,

    Right, but private domestic adoptions also cost between $10,000 and $35,000. My friends spent 28,000 in NYC…so approximately the same cost.

  155. Robin
    Robin October 10, 2010 at 5:52 pm |

    I agree with the anti-infant adoption sentiments expressed already—most reputable adoption agencies have policies NOT to place infants from poverty stricken countries where baby stealing has been rampant (Guatemala is but one example of this).

    But the international orphan crisis cannot be dismissed. When traveling in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I was struck by the lack of adults between 25-40. It’s incredibly jarring to be in a city where almost everyone is either young (often very young) or “old” (life expectancy is around 48) and where there are parent-less children everywhere who, in Ethiopian society, are considered worthless and fair game for abuse. The U.S. govt has the power to improve conditions, but they continue to choose not to.

  156. Persephone Magazine » You Complete Me Internet Vol. 3

    [...] Anatomy of an Adop­tion Cri­sis on Feministe [...]

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