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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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82 Responses

  1. BruceJ
    BruceJ April 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm |

    I don’t think we want to get into the business of saying that families can’t have the number of children they want to have, either biologically or by adoption.

    We don’t have to. We should step in when the children are suffering. To use your animal hoarder analogy: a person with 23 dogs may well be classified as a ‘hoarder’. Then again, they may be a AKC breeder, taking good care of the dogs, with appropriate shelter, food and human contact.

    Same thing with children…if you have a dozen kids in a healthy, well-adjusted home, hey that’s just a big happy family. If you have 12 kids and they live in their wing 4 to a room, and there’s clearly food shortages, yeah the state should be stepping in.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl April 18, 2013 at 9:19 pm |

      That’s not the problem, Bruce, not really. People who adopt because they are convinced that God told them to “save” foreign children are highly unlikely to raise that child in a way that is ethical and respectful to that child or his heritage. There is a whole lot of imperialism and racism that so often comes into play when people go into adoption with a mission that has nothing to do with doing what is truly best for their adopted children, and is all about saving the child from perceived lack of religion (or worse, Catholocism!) and padding one’s fundamentalist Christian bona fides.

      Adoption is a complicated and wonderful thing, when done right. When done wrong, it too often sets that child up for a life of unhappiness and even potential abuse by the adoptive family. It’s definitely not better to take a child out of poverty and put them into an abusive home just because that adoptive family talks a good Christian talk.

      1. A4
        A4 April 18, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

        Adoption is a complicated and wonderful thing, when done right. When done wrong, it too often sets that child up for a life of unhappiness and even potential abuse by the adoptive family.

        Just pointing out that this applies to all methods of child procurement and care, not just adoption.

        1. JBL55
          JBL55 April 19, 2013 at 7:52 am |

          Exactly. People have children for reasons that can range from the benign to the creepy.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 19, 2013 at 9:07 am |

          A4, I used the language I did for a very specific reason. Adoption is worlds more complicated than child having through either PIV or ART conception for several reasons. Most importantly, because it must be done in a manner than respects that child, his family of origin, and his cultural heritage if he is being adopted out of that culture.

          There is a very ugly history here in the U.S., Canada and plenty of other countries across the globe where adoption has been used as a tool for various less than virtuous purposes. Those include, but are not limited to the punishing of the original parents/family of that child, and even the punishing of the children themselves, the erasure of entire cultures and their histories, and missions of religious inculcation.

          Please stop with the pat, gotcha responses, A4. This one in particular is so terribly off the mark and only shows your own lack of education on this subject. I would really urge you to do some research on the subject of adoption before you continue on derailing this discussion the way you seem intent upon doing.

        3. A4
          A4 April 20, 2013 at 6:04 pm |

          Please stop with the pat, gotcha responses, A4.

          Bite me

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm |

          Bite me

          (1.) Eww. No than you.

          (2) Your comment is verging on sexual harassment.

          (3) Your male privilege is showing.

          (4) Do we need a giraffe alert?

        5. A4
          A4 April 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

          @Lolagirl

          I’m sure you’ll recover.

          You initial hostility was unwarranted. Your statement made it sound like adoptive parents are essentially more likely to neglect and abuse their children, which plays right into harmful tropes about adopted children not being as loved. My point was that nonadoptive parents are just as capable of being terrible and abusive. The specific contexts are different, but you weren’t speaking in specifics when I responded, you were making grand generalized statements.

          Make fewer ridiculous assumptions next time.

        6. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm |

          We need a giraffe in here.

          [Moderator note: thank you for sending a giraffe alert. Just a hint - if your giraffe alert comment doesn't go into moderation, then you haven't used quite the right alert phrase, and it takes longer for mods to see it, because it won't be emailed to us.]

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

          Your statement made it sound like adoptive parents are essentially more likely to neglect and abuse their children

          A4, do you really believe that people who have their own biological children, who are presumably at least partly their own race, are exactly as likely to be racist towards their children as some Christian fundie who thinks they need to Rescue The Heathen Orphunz For Jesus? I…think that’s what you’re arguing, but I can’t tell. Lola’s comments were all clearly about transracial adoption and racism within families…

        8. A4
          A4 April 21, 2013 at 2:06 am |

          Lola’s comments were all clearly about transracial adoption and racism within families…

          They weren’t, but Lolagirl tried to get me moderated or banned so I really have no desire to continue this discussion.

        9. tigtog
          tigtog April 21, 2013 at 8:16 am | *

          Calling for a giraffe is not necessarily a request to ban or permamod anybody. It is a request for moderators to cast their eyes over a thread and see whether intervention of some sort is required. Moderators have a variety of tools to use to shape discussions, and permamod or banning are the heavy weapons that only come out at the last resort.

      2. (BFing) Sarah
        (BFing) Sarah April 19, 2013 at 11:00 pm |

        YES, Lolagirl!! I’m surprised there wasn’t more mentioned above of the racial implications. I can’t see how a child of color would feel super awesome about themselves in a family of like 6 siblings that are bio related to the parents and in a community that is mostly (or all) white. ESPECIALLY when the parents are not prepared and do not care to prepare to raise a child of another race because they are “color blind” or some other “all are precious in His sight” type of society-denying crazy.

        1. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen April 20, 2013 at 12:48 am |

          Could we maybe stay away from conflating mental illness and ignorant, bigoted and/or religiously-based viewpoints, please?

        2. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah April 20, 2013 at 7:57 am |

          No, not really. In my experience, they can be quite intertwined.

        3. bookshopcat
          bookshopcat April 20, 2013 at 11:33 am |

          If these issues are so intertwined, why not address it with a thoughtful, nuanced comment that could start a productive discussion instead of resorting to a lazy throwaway half-sentence? As someone who lives with several serious mental health conditions as the result of years of abuse at the hands of the religiously-motivated people who raised me, I’d really appreciate an analysis that goes beyond the alienating, dismissive stuff you’ve posted so far.

        4. Annaleigh
          Annaleigh April 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

          No, not really. In my experience, they can be quite intertwined.

          As someone with a psychiatric disability who endured abuse within a religion (Word of Faith movement) because of my psychiatric disability, I’d say they are two different things. To conflate them is really offensive.

        5. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah April 22, 2013 at 7:42 am |

          Why not discuss it with a thoughtful, nuanced comment? Because I don’t think it warrants that here? Because my comment was a discussion about RACE and its implications on adoption, not about the intertwining of religion and mental illness? Because I’m tired of talking about things other than race when race is clearly an issue in the discussion? People who think they are “color blind” and who think their children of color will not be judged based on their skin color are “crazy,” as in the dictionary defintion of crazy: “not showing good sense or practicality.” They might very well be mentally ill as well, but I don’t know that so I didn’t say they were mentally ill. They might also be ignorant or stupid…but that’s not the word that I chose because I didn’t think it applied as well. I have met quite a few people within the movements above who could be diagnosed with a mental illness, but who are instead praised within their movement for their religious fervor and, what looks to me to be their religious paranoia. I know something about religion and mental illness, but no, I’m not going to take this opportunity to give you my streed cred. I’m not going to be derailed any further into this discussion based on one word I used when I was attempting to actually discuss race and adoption, which the OP didn’t really get into as much as I think it could have and which is actually a discussion related to the OP. Don’t want to discuss race and adoption? Then don’t. But I’m not discussing the word “crazy” right now.

      3. Buttered Lilies
        Buttered Lilies April 20, 2013 at 2:05 am |

        That’s not the problem, Bruce, not really.

        How exactly is not raising a child in a way that’s respectful to their heritage so big an issue that not feeding them enough seems like small beans?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm |

          Well…I think it’s a case of “all other things being equal”. The kids seem to be fed inadequately/starved, abandoned, etc, no matter what. In that case, the place where they’re also isolated from their culture, unable to speak the language and, oh, under the control of fundie fucknuts is objectively a worse deal, don’t you think?

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 20, 2013 at 3:40 pm |

          Abandoned, except for the ones who haven’t been, of course.

        3. Calioak
          Calioak April 21, 2013 at 2:54 am |

          Really? You can’t figure this out in the country founded on ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ ?

          I’ve know enough people who went hungry growing up, who had loving respectful childhoods to call bullshit on this. It’s one thing if parents choose not to feed their kids, but to say that children should have their families taken away because the average income for people with their demographics won’t support a family is just bigotry.

          Do you honestly think that people living in poverty have nothing of value to teach their children?

          Do you know how to take the legacy of colonialism, explain it in a way that is respectful to Native Americans, at the same time, kind patient and easy to understand for outsiders? Do you know how to get everybody on the same side make something contructive out of the legacy or colonialism and move forward? I don’t but I’ve met someone who does and I can promise you he didn’t learn those skills in a western university education because he had them before hand.

          Do you know how to call out other people on their bullshit calmly and clearly even when you barely speak the language and you are completely powerless? Can you do it in business situations? With law enforcement? I know someone who does this.

          What about the treatment of women? How many men do you know never comment on a woman’s body, who embody the ideal of yes means yes, who weren’t raised in a culture with a virgin whore complex? I know someone who does this too, but he didn’t learn that from mainstream American or Mexican parents.

          Are the parents who teach their children these things not fit to raise kids?

      4. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl April 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

        How exactly is not raising a child in a way that’s respectful to their heritage so big an issue that not feeding them enough seems like small beans?

        Small beans, who said that? Not me. What I did say is that they different beans, at least equally important beans, but not small, no big deal, beans.

        Here’s the bottom line, there is a small but growing contingent of fundamentalist Christians here in the U.S. who have undertaken a savior complex based mission to adopt children from certain countries like the Sudan, Ethiopia, and handful of South American countries (bonus points if those countries tend to raise kids Muslim, Roman Catholic or other non-fundie x-stian religions.) That mission may be prettied up with lots of language to the effect that they are taking kids out of starvation and deprivation, but they are too often not truly trying to do what is best for those adopted children. Maybe they are given enough food and sufficient shelter (although that isn’t always a guarantee either) but they are treated like religious converts in the making and zero respect is given to their family or culture of origin. Oh, and any medical, neurological, or adjustment issues those children have are often also ignored as well. Furthermore, there is little done by some of these Christian agencies to insure that those children are procured and adopted legally and ethically.

        There is a whole lot more to doing what is best for a child as they grown and mature into adulthood than making sure they are fed, clothed and housed. To raise a truly well adjusted, healthy child one must treat them with love, respect and decency. All of which can most certainly get left out of the equation when one’s parenting is all about showing the world what good Christians you are and how you have taken your evangelism to the next level by adopting foreign babies so that they can be “saved” and brought into the light, etc.

        1. matlun
          matlun April 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

          What I did say is that they different beans, at least equally important beans, but not small, no big deal, beans.

          They are not anywhere close to equally important beans. Basic necessities and being brought up in a loving home is far, far more important than the specific culture of that home.

          To raise a truly well adjusted, healthy child one must treat them with love, respect and decency.

          Yes. And “respect to their family or culture of origin” is not necessarily part of that.

        2. EG
          EG April 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

          being brought up in a loving home

          How is “the people/culture from which you come, which you remember, which helped form you, is inferior and unworthy of respect” part of the message a loving home gives its children?

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm |

          Basic necessities and being brought up in a loving home is far, far more important than the specific culture of that home.

          Yeah, you’re not sounding exactly like the colonisers at all, Matlun. Particularly when you take into account that in these cases, these children were being denied those necessities and loving homes. At that point, your argument just starts to look really, really asshole. I agree with your point in general, but this is the worst possible thread to make it in (that doesn’t involve, say, First Nations residential schools).

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

          They are not anywhere close to equally important beans. Basic necessities and being brought up in a loving home is far, far more important than the specific culture of that home.

          OK, I’m taking the gloves off at this point and completely abandoning any effort at civility. Because a an adoptive home is not, nor can it be, a loving one if it does not respect that adopted child’s family of origin and culture of origin.

          Period. Full stop. No two ways about it.

          Raising an adopted child in a way that ignores the reality that the adopted parents are not the original parents of that child is not loving or respectful to that child. Raising that child to pretend that Jesus dropped that child into the adoptive home because the adoptive parents, being the good and observant Christians they are, were superior to that child’s family of origin is not loving or respectful of that child. Raising that child to pretend that they are true blue Americans with no native cultural background, a cultural background that is that child’s birth right, is not loving or respectful of that child. And raising that child to hate who they were, and of course who they continue to be, when they entered that adoptive home is absolutely in no way loving or respectful of that child.

        5. matlun
          matlun April 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

          It depends on the circumstances. If the child was adopted as an infant, then I do not think the heritage matters that much at all. That just smacks of racial essentialism.

          If you adopt an older child, then certainly you need to consider the previous experience of that child. But that is still only as part of respecting the child and their individual experiences. It is not about anyone else.

          Whether as adults they will end up following or even respecting the culture of their biological ancestors depends on many factors, and may not be that important in the end.

          I probably should not have gotten involved in this discussion, but I do find it very annoying where illusory “rights” of an abstraction like culture or heritage are elevated to the same level as the rights of real, living children.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm |

          find it very annoying where illusory “rights” of an abstraction like culture or heritage are elevated to the same level as the rights of real, living children.

          Matlun, I absolutely agree that if the choices are “badness, starvation, abandonment, abuse” vs “loving, caring home in a totally different culture”, the latter option is better. Particularly if, as you said, the child is an infant and unlikely to experience culture shock or alienation.

          But that’s simply not the choice being offered here. In the situation we’re actually talking about. The choice, here, seems to be “possible badness, starvation, abandonment, abuse” vs “badness, starvation, abandonment, abuse in a totally different culture, oh, and you probably have a home and family, you just got de facto kidnapped or trafficked”. At that point, yeah, the host culture looks a fuckload more healthy to me. Doesn’t it, to you?

        7. EG
          EG April 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm |

          If the child was adopted as an infant, then I do not think the heritage matters that much at all. That just smacks of racial essentialism.

          OK, seriously, have you read the article? These people are bringing home children, not newborns.

          Further, if you bring a child of color to the US and sever it from its heritage and culture, then what you are doing is consigning that child to a lifetime of institutionalized racism without giving it any sense of what about its racial heritage there is to take pride in, thus leaving it appallingly vulnerable to internalizing that racism even worse than would otherwise be.

        8. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date April 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

          It depends on the circumstances. If the child was adopted as an infant, then I do not think the heritage matters that much at all. That just smacks of racial essentialism.

          @Matlun, I think it would be a good idea to shut up and listen to what people who were adopted transnationally/culturally/racially as infants have to say about this (assuming that you are not such a person.)

        9. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah April 22, 2013 at 7:58 am |

          It depends on the circumstances. If the child was adopted as an infant, then I do not think the heritage matters that much at all.

          My mouth just fell open. Honestly, it did. It doesn’t matter if the child was adopted as an infant. Do you think that a black infant grows up into a white child just because their parents are white adoptive parents? No? Then you know that when a black (or Asian or Hispanic) infant grows up and goes to school they are just another black or brown child. Then they are a black or brown teenager. The world doesn’t care that their parents are white. The world doesn’t care how they were raised. The world sees a person of color. And if they were not taught to feel love for themselves as a person of their ethnicity and love for their color and their background, they can’t possibly fight back against the distrust/hatred/anger/ignorance that some people in this world will bring to them because of their skin color.

          I do find it very annoying where illusory “rights” of an abstraction like culture or heritage are elevated to the same level as the rights of real, living children.

          How dare you. You don’t think that real, living children have a need to know their culture or heritage? Have you ever even MET a transracial adoptee?? If you don’t think this is a real world problem, you need to get out there more. Talk to someone who tells you about how every time they look in the mirror, as an adult Korean man (who was once a little baby brought into an all white community in Iowa), that he wishes he saw a white person looking back at him. He wishes that his face could match the faces of those around him and match the way he sees HIMSELF, as a white person. No one thought his ethnicity or his pride in himself as a Korean was important and now he’s an adult who hates himself. How is that not abusive? How is that not “REAL”?

          And, okay, as someone who has worked with orphans in a for real orphanage abroad (don’t ask–I was young), I get that their needs for food, shelter, love and parenting are important. Very. But, you can’t just pretend that their race and ethnicity do not matter at all. The world doesn’t see it that way, and they should be led towards loving themselves for all of the parts of who they are by the people who are raising them. Providing food, shelter, and parenting are not the only important parts of parenting, right?

        10. matlun
          matlun April 22, 2013 at 8:51 am |

          Have you ever even MET a transracial adoptee??

          Yes. I have even discussed these kinds of questions with him and we were in agreement. A sample size of one, but there you go.

          And as to how to address racism, I fail to see how the biological culture is relevant. If a black adoptee grows up in US and has to face racism, I do not get how knowledge about his parents culture in Africa would allow him to handle this better. I would have expected that for example sharing the experiences of other PoCs in the US would be more relevant.

          I am not denying racism. I just fail to understand why knowledge of (to take a random example) Yuruban culture would be a comfort and help for the child in question.

          This is all very possibly just my understanding of human psychology that is lacking.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 22, 2013 at 10:57 am |

          If a black adoptee grows up in US and has to face racism, I do not get how knowledge about his parents culture in Africa would allow him to handle this better.

          Holy shit, you’re clueless on this, Matlun. Okay, so here’s how this works. If you’ve been Different your entire life – you look nothing like your family, or the people around you (or most of them, but we’re going with Whitey White White Community And Black Kids in your example, so wev), here’s what you know, implicitly, about People Like You:
          1) Your family doesn’t care to hang out with anyone who looks like you.
          2) Your family does not in any way associate itself with the culture from which you are descended.
          3) Your family does not in any way expose you to people who look like you.

          Now, to take a different example: growing up, I was not officially allowed to read books with LGB content (I snuck some, though). I met my first out bi person at 17. Sex in general was not discussed in my family, nor was homosexuality ever a topic of discussion that I can recall. Now, being the clueless non-NT that I am, this led me to normalise being LGB (because if it were wrong, they would have told me right???) – but again, unless literally every transracial adoptee is exactly as bizarre in thinking as I am (I freely admit my thought processes are pretty fucking bizarre), what they’re going to take away from it is that people who look like them, and the culture in which they would have normally grown up, is at best worthless; at worst, actively evil. The absolute best-case scenario is to imagine that your family’s attitude is “But it’s okay, you’re not like those OTHER ones”.

          How in the fuck is that healthy?

          I know what a mindtrip it laid on me when I realised that my parents were saying the same thing re: me and LGBTness. (To be fair to them, they’ve come around since. They have come around a LOT.) It felt like being told “well, you’re all right, but literally everyone else who’s like you is stupid/perverted/pedophile/slutty/rapey”.

          I repeat. How in the fuck is that healthy?

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 22, 2013 at 10:59 am |

          (Note to thing still in mod: I accidentally implied that “slutty” was a negative. It’s not; I was quoting my parents, who definitely think it is, despite their evolution on all other things.)

        13. EG
          EG April 22, 2013 at 11:18 am |

          You fail to see how knowing the nuances and details of one’s original parents’ culture, understanding its complexities, its value, its internal debates and the ways it has resisted subjugation, its achievements and its strengths, could help a child resist and withstand a barrage of personal and cultural contempt for where ze comes from? You don’t see how that could help a child resist simplistic racist notions of “savagery” and “primitiveness”?

          There’s a reason that reclaiming history was so important to black nationalists in the 1970s. It is to counteract the racist rhetoric that seeks to devalue non-white cultures and erase their achievements, and therefore to naturalize white “superiority.”

          It’s exactly the same reason why little girls of all races need to be raised with an understanding of women’s history and achievements.

        14. matlun
          matlun April 22, 2013 at 12:29 pm |

          @mac: I agree with the problems you point out.

          To go with the example of a black adoptee in a white community in the US: Yes, that would clearly be problematic, especially considering the rather dysfunctional racial relationships in the US. Since that kid will have to deal with identity issues and racism, good parenting will include facing this and helping the kid to deal with it. Perhaps by connecting with other interracial adoptees with shared experiences? Perhaps by exposing the kid to more diverse communities and openly discuss how to relate to questions of racial differences? The best practical approach will vary depending on the specific context.

          I do not think anything in this contradicts what I have written above.

          Perhaps understanding the culture of his biological ancestors will actually help in some way? If so, go for it, and feel free to (continue to) call me clueless since I do not understand how that works.

        15. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

          @matlun,

          Okay, I’m going to give this a shot, and please keep in mind that the colonial context I’m coming from is different, so maybe my statements don’t 100% apply to a black kid with white parents.

          Perhaps understanding the culture of his biological ancestors will actually help in some way?

          I think that, given the ridiculous heights of whitewashing of history, particularly scientific/artistic history, knowing the history of one’s culture from as decentralised (and unwhite) a perspective as possible is valuable. And finding that perspective is hard, when you’re part of white culture. Hell, it’s even hard when you’re not. Until I was 15 I bought the “White people brought India democracy” shtick hook line and sinker – and then I finally got into Tamil history deep enough to see that the Cholas, at least, were a quasi-parliamentary monarchy back when the Greeks still thought women weren’t humans. Etc, etc.

          What it does, to get a strong academic perspective on your native culture, is to give you a base of the good (and the bad and the ugly) of what you come from. History as taught in the US is amazingly and deliberately incompetent at teaching the histories of non-white people; history as taught within fundie culture in the US is worse. (If you don’t believe me, go to No Longer Quivering and search “history curriculum”.) This provides some base for resistance when one is constantly bombarded with white supremacist bullshit about how White People Did Everything Evar.

          Second, it’s not just African history that needs to be taught, to continue with the example. The history of black people in the US is another necessary thing, because it gives the kid some context for the kind of shit they’ll have to face, personally. (Racism against Indians and racism against Indian-Hyphenators seems pretty different in many ways; I’m extrapolating from that.)

          Third: Yes, the kid needs to know black people. A number of black people, as diverse as possible. Look…I found a massive online community of not-straight people, once I came out and really started looking. They saved my life; they are my friends, my kinda-sisters, and hell, I married one of them. And still, in my first term at college, when I found out one of my teachers was gay, I came home and cried a little, because it was different, studying under someone who got it. To know that I could be that, that I could get there. This kid’s one classmate and the mailman and Distant Friend Bob who drops in for cocktails every few months in his jet-setting lifestyle – well, they’re better than a polaresque epidermal landscape, but they don’t make a community.

          Since that kid will have to deal with identity issues and racism, good parenting will include facing this and helping the kid to deal with it.

          Yes, it will. But, like I said in my example above, if the parents aren’t even willing to make the basic effort to live in more diverse communities, learn and teach a balanced cultural history, expose the kids to tons of different cultures (not just US Generic WASP + Wherever Is In Eyeshot Of The Kid’s Birthplace) – well, they’re not really anti-racist.

          (Before people chime in with “How dare you tell someone to move”: uh, your kid did, you can too, I swear.)

        16. A4
          A4 April 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

          MacavityKitsune, I love everything you’ve said in this thread.

        17. matlun
          matlun April 22, 2013 at 2:10 pm |

          @mac: I am not sure I have anything more to contribute to this thread, so I may not respond further.

          However, I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to give your perspective. Your posts have been honest and interesting and thought provoking.

  2. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl April 18, 2013 at 9:10 pm |

    I know a fundie Christian family who live nearby and who have adopted something like 6 kids from South America. They are surprisingly open about their feeling “called” to save as many children as they can from godlessness and bring them into the light through adoption. They also homeschool all of them because of the usual fundie homeschool spiel about all of the wrong things with public education, in a town well known for its strong public school system. Probably worst of all, they are really terrible about erasing the kids’ native South American cultural backgrounds for reasons that are so offensive I will not even write them out here.

    It’s really pretty detestable, and I just have nothing kind or sympathetic to say about what they and others like them are doing. Adoption can be a wonderful thing, when done in a manner that respects the child, his family of origin, and his cultural heritage. But if general you is incapable of doing those things, then get over your adoption savior complex and just don’t adopt.

    1. Niall
      Niall April 19, 2013 at 8:52 pm |

      Probably worst of all, they are really terrible about erasing the kids’ native South American cultural backgrounds for reasons that are so offensive I will not even write them out here.

      Oh I think I can pretty much guess. It makes me think of what happened here in Canada to the First Nations children who were taken from their families and placed in those residential schools run by Catholic and Protestant churches. This was done under an act made by the government of the time who made it clear that cultural genocide was the objective. The schools were started in the late nineteenth century and continued well into the late twentieth century. (The last of these schools closed its doors in 1996!) It had had tragic consequences for the FN people. Many of the conditions one finds on reservations here one could say are a direct result of the legacy of those schools.

      It just saddens me when I hear these kinds of stories about Christians adopting kids with the same ends in mind. That famous quote from George Santayana; about those not remembering the past comes to mind.

  3. karak
    karak April 19, 2013 at 2:34 am |

    I find it disturbing when people want to adopt overseas and refuse to look at the children here in America that need good homes and loving care–because those children are “damaged” and unpleasant, and they want a brand new child, like a human being is a car or another kind of toy.

    Working in an institutional foster care hammered home how many kids need foster or adoptive families, how many families could provide for their children if either given a little support or just letting the child know they had somewhere to go when things got tough at home.

    In my hometown, there’s a very deeply religious fundementalist mindset. The people there believe Jesus commands them to open their homes to children in need–and they take foster children with special needs, physically, mentally, behaviorally, and emotionally, the kids no one else wants because their files are thick and gruesome, and often adopt the children. They also look for kids who are in families–keeping siblings together is a priority, even when the kids aren’t easy. These kids are told they are fiercely wanted, by their adoptive family and by Christ, and it’s a powerful message to kids who often feel abandoned.

    One of these little boys was a good friend of mine, who changed his name when he was eight, at his own request–he took a biblical name to represent his struggle against abuse and his ultimate triumph over his past.

    So, there’s something to be said for Christian desire to help children. I’ve seen it work.

    1. LMM
      LMM April 19, 2013 at 11:48 am |

      I find it disturbing when people want to adopt overseas and refuse to look at the children here in America that need good homes and loving care–because those children are “damaged” and unpleasant, and they want a brand new child, like a human being is a car or another kind of toy.

      (sarcasm) Yeah! They’re just like all those women who abort fetuses with Down’s syndrome because they’re not going to look perfect in the family photos! (/sarcasm)

      Seriously, could we cut this out? We’ve generally agreed — rightly! — that women / transmen have the right to decide *not* to give birth to a particular kid for whatever reason they want (however trivial), but a lot of people seem to have decided that individuals don’t have a similar right to decide what kid they *do* want to have without being vilified. People have a lot of motives for what they do, and this kind of strawman is ridiculous.

      I’m not sure I’ve heard of *any* kind of adoption that isn’t scrutinized to the point of absurdity. Foreign adoption (for the reasons you listed) is out. Domestic adoption is also fraught with issues. Should children be placed with parents of their own ethnicity? (Parents who adopt outside of their own ethnicity are isolating their adopted children from their (the children’s) culture! But parents who go for their own ethnicity are selfish and only willing to adopt children who look like them!) Shouldn’t they have pushed to let their children be adopted within the children’s original community? What kinds of rights should biological fathers (or other close relatives apart from the mother) have to claim custody over their adopted children after the fact? There’s been a few big-profile cases of that sort of event over the past decade or two — and I’m sure it’s most adoptive parents’ nightmares.

      And — well, honestly, adopting older children is quite different than adopting an infant or toddler. I have no desire for children personally — but I think that individuals who are struggling to deal with their own infertility (or who are dreaming of a baby) would find the suggestion that it’s selfish for them not to adopt a six-year-old instead rather insulting. I also don’t think that parents who realize they won’t be able to deal with (say) reactive attachment disorder should be criticized for not adopting a child with it.

      What really concerns me, though, is the constant assumption that people who try to adopt the ‘wrong’ way (whether that be non-domestically or trans-racially or what have you) and not the policy makers or adoption agencies or whomever are acting in bad faith. Adoption is one of the few options available to people or couples who are unable to have biological children (whether because of medical issues or simply because the individual(s) concerned lack uterii) — and the constant barrage of scrutiny I see seems to only be possible if one assumes that adoptive parents had realistic parenting options available to them *besides* adoption.

      So, seriously. Discussing the problems with adoption as practiced in our culture should *not* have to involve painting the majority of adoptive parents as villains.

      1. piny
        piny April 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm |

        These same concerns–the children are traumatized, the children are too old to adjust (or just too old), the children have special needs requiring skilled care–do not seem to apply to the international adoption cult or the popular understanding of international adoption. In fact, the horror–war, desperate poverty, abuse, or just a sensationalist narrative of same–is a selling point. They’re downright eager to adopt kids who are refugees from genocide. That’s easier than a kid who’s been in foster care?

        Part of that is exotic fetishism, part of it is racism, part of it is a savior complex, and part of it is an ability to dismiss the families and histories of foreigners as less real. People see these kids as more deserving of saving, less deserving of harm. And this has been true since adoption became popular in this country.

        And yes, that mentality needs scrutiny. The stories that have come out of this movement prove that: traumatized orphaned kids are being subjected to further trauma and abandonment because their self-identified parents have lost their grip on reality. I don’t particularly care if we do impose a double standard on adopting parents. They have a lot of power over some very vulnerable kids, and it does seem like the culture of adoption has a lot of influence on adoptive parent responsibility.

        1. LMM
          LMM April 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

          It is possible to criticize the ways that we perceive and perform adoption in our society without portraying adoptive parents as intrinsically acting in bad faith. The above post did *not* do so. This isn’t about a “cult of adoption” — this is about someone saying explicitly that the desire to adopt young children or infants explicitly shows that adoptive parents see their children as props.

        2. piny
          piny April 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

          You’re wrong. This is what she says:

          There are some serious and real stories of children who have been abused by adoptive parents, but a lot of the time even in the worst cases, parents entered into this with good intentions. But good intentions are not equivalent to being adequately prepared to adopted traumatized children or take huge numbers of children into their families.

          Adoption is for many people a way to fill that very human desire or need to be a parent. But that is being overlaid with this idea that what they’re doing is pure out-and-out rescue. Those two things are extremely enmeshed and it’s hard to disentangle them. …

          There is no real, strong number of children in the world who are in need of adoption. That misunderstanding is driving a lot of the arguments that children would have a better life here.

          So we have a misunderstanding, good intentions, and a normal human desire for children. She doesn’t say, at any point, that adoption is intrinsically objectifying. In fact, she doesn’t mention an unwillingness to adopt kids out of foster care. She only points out that infants are tabula rasa for international adopters–this isn’t objectification, exactly; it’s a reassuring narrative pushed by agencies and churches.

          She’s also talking about a specific subculture, with it’s own very different ideas about what children are, let alone what parenting and adoption should be. She’s not talking about adoption as a general thing, rather international adoption and the toxic mentality that is changing it for the worse.

        3. piny
          piny April 22, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

          And karak herself referred specifically to parents with savior complexes, and then went on to describe that mentality in her own area. So…nobody said that adoptive parents are either acting in bad faith or adopting because they think kids are like iphones.

      2. Beatrice
        Beatrice April 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

        Um, there are some serious issues with people adopting children of a different ethnicity and raising them in a way that completely disregards their ethnicity. You can’t just wave it away.

        And yeah, there are also issues with people wanting to adopt an “exotic” baby. People who want to be parents aren’t exempt from valid accusations of racism.

        1. LMM
          LMM April 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

          I’m not hand-waving. I’m pointing out that the ‘right’ solution kayak offered isn’t right.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune April 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |

        Adoption is one of the few options available to people or couples who are unable to have biological children (whether because of medical issues or simply because the individual(s) concerned lack uterii) — and the constant barrage of scrutiny I see seems to only be possible if one assumes that adoptive parents had realistic parenting options available to them *besides* adoption.

        Yeah, but… look, nobody has a RIGHT to go pick up kids from foster care like they’re a can of beans at a supermarket. You* want kids? You’d better be able to clear the (imho ridiculously low) bar of “not a racist”. Transracial adoption isn’t necessarily a clusterfuck. Transnational adoption isn’t necessarily a clusterfuck! But the whole “are people trying to ensure adoptive parents can’t have babies evar !eleventy!” thing just seems really ridiculous. Like… what, you can’t even manage not to be a racist towards your own child, and you think you’re entitled to one anyway?

        *general you

        Also, yes, un-PC opinion coming up: I don’t think people are entitled to a child no matter what. If they’re not abusive or neglectful, then yes, absolutely, a child should not be separated from its parent(s). But that’s a far cry from the sort of “Kids are parental property, HDU judge us for our racism/misogyny/violent homophobia, WE R PARENTS” rhetoric that fundamentalists love to scream, and frankly it triggers an automatic assumption from me that the person cares less about the well-being of the kids in question, and more about their right to possess and control said kids. Which is frankly just creepy.

        1. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon April 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm |

          Also, yes, un-PC opinion coming up: I don’t think people are entitled to a child no matter what.

          YES

        2. Willard
          Willard April 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

          Also, yes, un-PC opinion coming up: I don’t think people are entitled to a child no matter what.

          Just curious, do you feel is this only within the context of adoption or also biological reproduction?

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm |

          Just curious, do you feel is this only within the context of adoption or also biological reproduction?

          Nobody is entitled to the control of a child’s life irrespective of their behaviour towards that child. I don’t care whether they contributed DNA to it or not.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

          Also, Willard, I find your implication that I would be A-Okay with someone abusing a child and feeling that the child was their property as long as they’d Made It Themselves(TM), to be incredibly grody. Just saying.

        5. Willard
          Willard April 19, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

          Definite agreement from this quarter, I just didn’t see that 100% in the comment above.

          The difficulty I often have articulately my feelings on the issue are that I view the act of conception in some cases to be verging on abuse/coercion, and then of course the “eugenicist” ad hominems start coming out. I think there is an ethical case for licensure of all parenting, but it’s so legally fraught it’s not worth thinking about. It’d rely on systems already in place that are overtaxed and under-scrutinized (education, foster care, etc.), so better to improve those.

        6. Willard
          Willard April 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm |

          There was no implication meant, and I apologize for the grody feeling. You probably wouldn’t be surprised the cognitive dissonance some people have both towards adoption and biological reproduction.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

          @Willard I totally get it, no worries.

          . You probably wouldn’t be surprised the cognitive dissonance some people have both towards adoption and biological reproduction.

          Urgh. Yeah.

          The difficulty I often have articulately my feelings on the issue are that I view the act of conception in some cases to be verging on abuse/coercion, and then of course the “eugenicist” ad hominems start coming out.

          Ohhhhh, yeah. I wish I could say “you must be yea decent to parent”, too. Although my standards wouldn’t be so much accused of eugenics as assholiness, because my #1 is “don’t have band-aid babies, you fucknuts”, followed closely by #2 “don’t keep having kids because you want a son if you’re going to then treat your daughters badly, wtf is the matter with you misogynist douchebags”.

        8. DouglasG
          DouglasG April 19, 2013 at 6:47 pm |

          [But that’s a far cry from the sort of “Kids are parental property, HDU judge us for our racism/misogyny/violent homophobia, WE R PARENTS” rhetoric that fundamentalists love to scream, and frankly it triggers an automatic assumption from me that the person cares less about the well-being of the kids in question, and more about their right to possess and control said kids. Which is frankly just creepy.]

          Well, that sounds like my life. And not just fundamentalists.

        9. Willard
          Willard April 20, 2013 at 12:07 am |

          Although my standards wouldn’t be so much accused of eugenics as assholiness

          It’s funny because none of my standards come close to what would be considered eugenics. I’d envision the criteria aimed toward weeding out blatantly negative tendencies ie. markers for physical or emotionally abusive behavior or reliance on dangerous traditional ideas (my favorite from my cultural background is “whisky is great for teething, colic, or general restlessness”).

          The eugenics comes in after I get accused of supporting sterilization (which I don’t), and after explaining just how terrible such policies have played out in the US and elsewhere. After a full run down of the roots of racially motivated eugenics in the Progressive-era US, the blank stare across from me gets a little glint of animal intelligence and I get called a Nazi.

          Also:

          don’t have band-aid babies, you fucknuts

          Seconded.

        10. Sarah Dalton
          Sarah Dalton April 21, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

          Jill said:
          “I won’t speak for Mac, but I don’t think people are entitled to children no matter what. They are entitled to reproduce without coercion or interference, but if they’re abusive, then I am fine with the state stepping in and removing children from their home.”
          (Sorry I don’t know how to do quotes)
          I completely agree, though I’d add that along with the state stepping in, children should have a right to leave a home if they decide that they would be better off somewhere else. I’ve seen a few situations in Canada where friends of mine have decided to leave homes where they were being hurt even though government programs that were meant to support them encouraged them to return to their parents.
          (That is really poor phrasing and I can’t seem to get it together to improve it.)

      4. A4
        A4 April 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

        the constant barrage of scrutiny I see seems to only be possible if one assumes that adoptive parents had realistic parenting options available to them *besides* adoption.

        This viewpoint seems to only be possible if one assumes that everyone has a right to a child. They don’t.

  4. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 April 19, 2013 at 3:29 am |

    Hitch was correct.

    It spoils everything.

    1. yes
      yes April 23, 2013 at 3:41 am |

      Poisons, but yes. This is a nice example of religion infecting people in their most basic integrity.

  5. jemima101
    jemima101 April 19, 2013 at 3:35 am |

    What, people using racist othering to invent myths and “save” those who do not need saving…now where in the context of trafficking have I heard this before?

  6. Julie
    Julie April 19, 2013 at 10:50 am |

    This same author was interviewed on another site “Mother Jones”. I hope you’ll read this author’s contrasting point of view to Ms. Joyce.

    http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/04/18/mother-jones-shameful-attack-on-the-christian-adoption-movement/

    1. Ginjoint
      Ginjoint April 19, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

      Julie, I went over and read that article you linked to. As I was reading, I was thinking, “Hm…maybe this guy (the article’s author Jonathan Merritt) has a point…maybe Joyce did rely a bit too much on fringe sources…before I buy this book, I want to read some more reviews of it to make sure that’s not the case…hm.”

      Merritt goes on to list his cred: “It struck me as odd that even though I’ve covered the American Christian movement in over 500 articles for dozens of publications during the last decade (italics mine), I’d never heard of the publication that Joyce seems to believe is so influential.” Now I’m starting to doubt some of Joyce’s research and sources. I mean, this guy seems to have really covered the topic of American Christianity. He’d know from lousy, non-influential sources, right? Even if from a right-wing perspective? O.K., I’ll give him a listen. I don’t want to automatically rule him out; that would be narrow-minded, right?

      BUT then he states this: “And she (Joyce) references a self-published book, To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl, two pastors I’ve never heard of.” (Italics mine.)

      !!!!

      WHAT?! I am a non-churchgoing Christian. I don’t read religion-oriented blogs very much, if at all. So it’s not as if I’m more likely to be familiar with the players in evangelical Christianity. However, over, say, the last five years, I’ve read about Michael and Debi Pearl dozens of times on the internet and in other media. They are very prominent figures in evangelical Christianity, and their names and actions appear accordingly even in the secular media. If this writer Jonathan Merritt has never even heard of them despite his credentials, well, he just obliterated his credibility – as well as any confidence in his competence as a reporter and researcher. So now I can’t believe a word that comes out of his piehole, much less his opinions on Joyce’s research. Pathetic.

      Sorry, Jill, I hope this isn’t a derail. I’m just pissed because once again, I tried to give a conservative Christian the benefit of the doubt, give ‘em an ear in the name of fairness, only to be disappointed once again. And I’m pissed because Julie thinks that this lousy article negates in any way the points that Kathryn Joyce is making. Jesus, indeed.

      1. tigtog
        tigtog April 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm | *

        Wow. A simple Google Search on “To Train Up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl” gives you a Wikipedia heading of “Controversy over To Train Up a Child‎” as a top result. So even if he’d never heard of them, it would have taken literally seconds to see whether they were well known by others.

        1. Ginjoint
          Ginjoint April 20, 2013 at 10:58 am |

          Tigtog, I went to that link, and did a little further reading. Lo and behold: the Pearls’ To Train Up A Child was used as a guide by no less than three couples whose children ended up dead as a result.

          All three kids were adopted, two from overseas. I say, what a coinkydink! In an article defending (overzealous) Christians adopting, especially from overseas, the (supposedly well-informed) author Jonathan Merritt has never heard of the Pearls. My ass, he hasn’t. Nice try, Jonathan. Nice try, Julie.

          Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, Jill. As an adopted person, and as someone currently in the process of becoming a foster parent, I’m definitely going to pick this up. The more I can learn about “the system” (good, bad, and ugly), the better.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune April 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm |

          Ginjoint, if you decide to do further readings on the Pearls, No Longer Quivering and Love, Joy, Feminism are two blogs with a lot of resources on them. And both sites come with a giant trigger warning from me, since you’re a parent, and make the warning even bigger if you’re a survivor of child abuse.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl April 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

        So now I can’t believe a word that comes out of his piehole, much less his opinions on Joyce’s research. Pathetic.

        Seriously, I had the exact same reaction! The Pearls have been pushing their fundie based child-abusing rearing book/mission all over the place for years now. Google Christian based parenting and their book will pop up quite quickly. The negative press they have gotten has also been everywhere. Even Anderson Cooper recently did an expose interview on them on his AC360 show. Either Merritt is lying through his teeth or he has been paying zero attention to what is going on in the Evangelican/Fundamentalist world in which he claims to be steeped and embraced.

        The bottom line as far as I can see is that Mr. Merritt’s entire article sounded incredibly disingenuous upon full reading. His criticisms basically came down to, HDU! be so unkind to Christians, and adopting Christians, without any refutation that was based in actual facts. Don’t be so mean, and I don’t know what you’re talking about doesn’t cut it.

  7. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune April 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm |

    Jill, I want to take a moment to really thank you for your coverage of, and the nature of your coverage of this issue. It’s close to my heart – or rather, close to my rage – for several reasons, the primary one of which is that a place I was doing some disaster relief in after the 2004 tsunami suffered from the other end of this sort of exploitation. Kids that some missionaries took away, ostensibly to keep them in school or safe from disease while their schools/homes/infrastructure were being rebuilt, just. fucking. disappeared. Some were found months later across the state (and only brought home after the parents literally physically fought with the missionaries to get them out of the boarding house they were in), and some were still missing the last I heard of the place. The kindest possible fate I can imagine for these kids – almost all of whom had a living parent, and the rest still had a grandparent/uncle/aunt – is that they wound up adopted out to someone rich enough to shell out money the missionaries would have liked. That is the kindest fucking fate I can imagine.

    But no, please, won’t someone think of the poor white saviours!?!??!?! THEIR PAIN IT IS SUCH PAINFUL PAIN.

    1. dawnofthenerds
      dawnofthenerds April 19, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

      That breaks my heart, even for the kindest version. Especially considering the very long history of missionaries ripping children from their families in order to ‘save’ them both in Canada and elsewhere.

      1. dawnofthenerds
        dawnofthenerds April 19, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

        Also, I mention Canada because I’m Canadian, and it’s a very ugly part of our history that so many people ignore.

  8. tigtog
    tigtog April 20, 2013 at 8:27 pm | *

    I’m not following this thread closely enough to determine exactly what went fubar when with this discussion, but for right now I’m putting the whole thread into auto-moderation, and I suggest that everybody take a break from it for a while. I won’t be moderating this thread personally from this point on, but the other mods will now keep a close eye on it.

    1. Mike
      Mike April 21, 2013 at 3:42 am |

      What went FUBAR? I didn’t’ see anything off topic/rediculous that slipped through mod.

      1. Mike
        Mike April 21, 2013 at 3:43 am |

        except those typos

      2. tigtog
        tigtog April 21, 2013 at 8:12 am | *

        A call for a giraffe was sent upthread.

        Discussions can go FUBAR without any one comment/person actually breaching the comments policy, Mike. Sometimes threadjacking spirals need to be nipped in the bud.

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