Friday, July 6, 2012

Yay or Nay

Several people have asked me whether I am pro or anti adoption. Before discussing my feelings, let's look at the politicking behind these terms. (This is a rough, "party line" style review, not a case study. Please understand the statements that follow are generalizations. Your experience may differ)

To be "Pro-Adoption" means adoptions are useful, necessary, and ultimately beautiful. They allow the creation of families that would otherwise not exist. This stance means supporting networks that help place children in strong families that can properly care for them. This view is realistic in its acceptance of "circumstances of necessity" in which parents cannot raise their children.

Being "Pro-Adoption" also tends to belittle the horrendous experiences of the first family and the adoptee. It ignores the fact that adoptions can only begin with incredible pain, and many leave significant baggage for the child to deal with later. Being blindly "Pro-Adoption", only seeing the beautiful, wonderful, miracle of adoption not only ignores, but in fact condemns, anyone who speaks the truth of their painful experience. It also undermines our appreciation of families without children. Many people who choose to adopt describe a deep need to parent. Some, however, talk about how much they "want a family". This ignores that most of these people already are a family. The difference is raising children. I'm not coming down on hopeful adoptive parents. But I am highlighting a big social message sent to families that they are incomplete without children. There are a lot of people who have children because it's the next thing to do.

Birth fathers tend to be pushed aside for fear they will derail an adoption plan. He may be allowed to participate if he fully supports every decision made by the first mother, but if he desires direct input he will usually be shamed or threatened into leaving. This is for fear the father may with to parent, thus destroying the beauty of a prospective adoption.

To be "Anti-Adoption" means seeing through all the salesmanship of adoption agencies and recognizing the truth; adoption hurts. Everyone involved gets scarred in one way or another. This view is usually accompanied by a dogged determination to see nuclear families maintained and given the resources necessary to provide stable homes for their children. It's about keeping children with their parents and keeping women protected. Many adoption agencies are for profit businesses. They provide service to their customers while attempting to reduce their output and expenditures as much as possible. Who are their customers? Future adoptive parents. This reduces birth mothers and children to commodities. Women are taken advantage of, children are bought, and the adoptee is usually left to pick up the pieces.

Being "Anti-Adoption" typically ignores one, blatant, truth; many parents are not capable of raising their children. For all the arguments about the way things "should be", lobbying government to change adoption laws or increase funding for WIC doesn't help the children who are in need now. This view also tends to have a very rigid view of what families are and can be. Very often there is a huge focus put on keeping children with "their real parents". This is a devastating message not only to adoptive parents, but also to step- and extended family members. It tends to ignore the things that adoption can get right. Instead the focus is on victimization and pain. This focus can be so intense that it actually victimizes people who speak of a positive adoption outcome. The "Anti-Adoption" rhetoric is less frightened of men than it is angry at them.

First fathers tend to be condemned if they participate in an adoption and if they allow the mother to parent alone. Anything less than a wedding ring is unacceptable. This ignores how many relationships between men and women are unstable.

The question stands; am I pro or anti adoption?

I'm neither. I'm pro-child.

I neither support nor protest the institution of adoption, nor adoption agencies as a whole. I support ethical behavior, and well scrutinized decisions. Each child's needs are different, and each family's situation is different. To be either pro or anti adoption across the board means keeping some children from what they need to be happy and healthy. No matter what, someone is losing. The only way to avoid this is individual discernment. Every situation must be taken on its own as something new. There is no cookie cutter solution.


  1. Thank you.

    I'll just send people over here when they accuse me of one or the other. I don't fall into either camp, finding extremism on any topic to be too black and white for my liking.

  2. How many ways could I possible say thank you?

    It has been so hard for me to explain to people how I feel about adoption. They don't always understand how I can simultaneously be at peace, and even happy, with how the placement of my birth daughter has turned out, at the same time that I still grieve and speak out about some of the unethical practices in the industry.

    Adoptions aren't all the same. It is a relationship like any other, each one unique. They're neither all good or all bad. But they do all contain some degree of pain, for everyone involved.


What do you think? I'm curious.