Really Good Things

What’s with this week already? There are a bunch of really excellent pieces already, which you must read. In no particular order:

Kathryn Joyce on the death of adoptee Hana Williams, and how international adoptions too often hand vulnerable children over to savior-minded Christian parents. The worst abuses seem to come from the homes that have upwards of a dozen children in them, resembling de facto orphanages except without staff or oversight, and from homes where the drive to adopt is religiously-motivated and the parents use fundamentalist and violent child-“training” techniques. If it were up to me, states and adoption agencies would look at large-number adoptions as a warning sign of potential abuse or problems at home — if you adopt a dozen cats, any reputable animal rescue organization is going to see a red flag, and it’s despicable that it’s not the same with children.

Thanksgiving in Mongolia, by Ariel Levy, is a heartbreaking piece about pregnancy and loss — and it’s incredibly raw, beautifully written, and wrenching. Levy has long been one of my favorite New Yorker reporters, and her ability to turn the gaze back on herself and construct a piece so clear-eyed is one reason why.

My Abortion: 26 women tell their abortion stories.

Author: has written 5281 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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19 Responses

  1. Andie
    Andie November 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm |

    I feel like (and I could be way off) people adopting 1-2 kids want a family… 5, 6, 7 or more and they want an army.

    In regards to the abortion article, I thought it was great. No, not everyone who has an abortion wants one. Not everybody walks away completely scarred for life, nor does everyone forget about it the next day.

    It’s terrible that the fear of stigma (and even violence) from sharing one’s story prevents those who have faced this choice to feel utterly alone. The stigma allows anti-choicers to play on their claims of abortion causing depression, where in many cases it’s stigma and isolation due to stigma that causes depression.

    Or, sometimes depression can contribute ones decision to abort.

  2. Donna L
    Donna L November 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm |

    I liked Ariel Levy’s article a lot, and thought it was very sad, but I very much wish that her editors had cut out her reference to her fear of contracting “Mongolian AIDS” (whatever the hell that may be — but she must have thought it was worse than garden-variety Western AIDS) from the EMTs who tried to help her. It was jarring, to say the least, if not flat-out racist in an exoticizing/Orientalist/Yellow Peril kind of way.

    1. Miriam
      Miriam November 12, 2013 at 10:33 pm |

      I’ve seen that in a number of places, so I wish her editors had taken out the line, too, because it was jarring for readers and the piece is so powerful. But I totally get where her AIDS worry came from. I’ve done a fair amount of travel to the developing world, and it’s routine and common for stateside pre-travel clinics to warn travelers that we can’t assume hospitals will sterilize equipment. I’ve always been provided with sterile needles to bring. In the scary, out of control situation she was in, I’m not surprised at all that worry would go through her head.

  3. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie November 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm |

    Or maybe people who adopt More Kids Than You Think Is Appropriate just want to help kids.

    1. Brennan
      Brennan November 12, 2013 at 7:29 pm |

      Did you even read the article?

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

      That’s pretty toweringly inappropriate given the actual subject matter of Hana Williams.

    3. karak
      karak November 12, 2013 at 10:17 pm |

      I love bunnies, doesn’t mean I should have 20 of them in a two bedroom house. Intent is not magical, especially when it comes to living, feeling things. Wanting to “help” is not a legitimate reason to collect humans like they are collectible spoons.

    4. Miriam
      Miriam November 12, 2013 at 10:26 pm |

      I’m sure in their heads, they think that they do want to help kids. Unfortunately, there is an intersection of fundamentalism and racism that leads some people to think it’s still helping the kids when they use extreme disciplinary measures that are really more accurately described as child abuse. Also, past a certain size, it is simply not possible for untrained adoptive parents to provide traumatized children with the special attention that the children need.

    5. Donna L
      Donna L November 12, 2013 at 11:01 pm |

      After reading about what those people did to those children, I am horrified by your comment. WTF?

    6. shfree
      shfree November 12, 2013 at 11:06 pm |

      You can’t have read the article. You just can’t. Because this comment is just way out of line if you had.

    7. All Cats Are Beautiful
      All Cats Are Beautiful November 13, 2013 at 11:09 pm |

      Maybe this was meant as a reply to Andie’s comment above? Nevertheless, given the subject of the article linked to, I hope this here doesn’t turn into a discussion of how international adoption is Not Always Bad.

    8. huffysnappy
      huffysnappy November 14, 2013 at 4:36 am |

      Really now tinfoil hattie, what ARE you thinking? Yes, you don’t know ME, but as a lurker on various feminist blogs, I’m well acquainted with YOU, and your commenting work. I’m thinking back now, and I’m having a distinctly hard time remembering anything that you wrote that wasn’t thoughtful, or was spiteful or judgemental or self-righteous. So WTH are you commenting at Feministe?

  4. amber p
    amber p November 13, 2013 at 4:07 am |

    I’m an absolute mess after reading Levy’s article. I recently gave birth to twin boys at 25 weeks gestation. They are alive and mostly okay though still in the NICU. I didn’t have placental abruption. I had an incompetent cervix, which sounds almost comical (like habitual aborter, which is also in my chart because of the number of miscarriages I’ve had). I was fortunate enough to have an appointment to measure my cervix at 21 weeks and that’s when we saw that I was fully effaced and starting to dilate. I was sent to the hospital where I stayed on bed rest until I went into labor. But the thing is I experienced the pains she felt that before my cervix was checked were explained away as “probably round ligament pains” by nurses over the phone. And then when I did go into labor my back pain was attributed to a long bed rest and the cramping to the expansion of my uterus. The small amount of blood was probably from me straining a bit to have a bowel movement. And there’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think that maybe if I had been more insistent that something was wrong (before the cervix check and then again at the start of my labor) that maybe I could have earned my babies at least a few more days or maybe weeks in my uterus. I will always feel like I failed them. As the weeks go by the feeling is less prominent, but I know deep down it will always be there. Now I tell anyone who listens if something doesn’t feel right to err on the side of going to the doctor or hospital. Just go. Don’t let yourself be talked out of going. Maybe there’s nothing wrong or maybe there’s something wrong and there’s nothing they can do for you, but there’s a chance that there’s something wrong and something they can do to help.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog November 13, 2013 at 6:18 am | *

      amber p, just in case it helps to know, my mum was born a premmie not much further along than your twins, way back in 1936, long before NICU was even a thing, and she lasted nearly 80 years. She was full of joie de vivre, generosity, compassion and mischief. May your little ones enjoy life just as much as she did!

      1. amber p
        amber p November 13, 2013 at 7:41 pm |

        Thanks so much. We think of these preemie survivals of being a recent thing, so it always amazes me when I hear about babies from a more distant past who survived and did well.

    2. Goldenblack
      Goldenblack November 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm |

      It is never your failing. Your whole life, you have been told, over, and over, that for the good of your children you MUST ABSOLUTELY listen to the nurses and so forth. As if you would change that – you were trying to do your best by your pregnancy! What you’ve done is very difficult – but it’s nothing remotely like failure, nor are you complicit in any difficulties.

      But, no, of course you have not failed. Not at all.

    3. Tyris
      Tyris November 14, 2013 at 2:05 am |

      We sometimes forget that this body was born early – it had to be evacuated by Caesarean three months ahead of time due to pre-eclampsia – because it just doesn’t show any more. Sure, it had to spend some time in an incubator, and spent the first year of life being small enough to cradle entirely with one forearm (to say nothing of ugly enough to reflect a gorgon’s gaze), but then it grew into a happy, healthy human child whose premature status wasn’t even a part of their self-identity.

      Hope’s not lost yet.

  5. SheWalksandTalks.com
    SheWalksandTalks.com November 15, 2013 at 8:40 am |

    I was going to adopt years ago and found it to be such an ethical minefield to navigate.

    One aspect I found troublesome was how it is for the children who are adopted to be “saved” rather than loved. I read many stories from adult adoptees who were adopted not to grow a family but so that someone else could feel they had lived a righteous life. They expressed anger and feelings of emptiness, some seemed truly lost.

    Private international adoption could stand some scrutiny and regulations. There should be some assurances that these children will actually be loved.

  6. Xexyz
    Xexyz November 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

    That article about adoption was appalling. Something in particular stuck out to me:

    Several of the families were linked by their adopted children’s biological siblings, who were divided among the group.

    Are you fucking kidding me? This is the exact practice slaveowners engaged in back in the days of American slavery. There are just no words.

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