Friday, September 10, 2010

"The choice to adopt is a luxury choice" (Yoon Seon)


For most adoptive parents, the choice to adopt is a luxury choice...No matter how you put it, adoptive parents have benefited from the lack of choice available to mothers in dire straits and desperate situations. Adoptive parents have taken advantage of the fact that someone else has not had the luxury to choose." Yoon Seon

“Adoption mostly happens because of lack of freedom of choice.” Mei-Ling

"If Christians wish to focus on adopting as a way to give back then they need to adopt the entire family - not just the child - no Christian should be purposely severing the biological link that God created...God told them to care for all humanity...not just the little ones..." Sandy, adoptive mom (click here for another related post by an adoptive parent blogger with a Christian background)

“...the current culture places a high value on material wealth that results in discounting the emotional costs to the birth mother and family that are often found to be faulty valuations” Tad W as quoted by Mei-Ling

(you can click on any of the names of those quoted, and the links will take you to the original posts)

* * *

[Note: When I blog about "adoption," I am most often referring to international adoption because that is my personal point of reference and experience.]

I encourage you to
read the entire blog entries from which I extracted the above quotes (if you click on the name of the one quoted, it will take you to the original posts).

If I am going to say anything, I think the above statements should provoke all of us who are connected to adoption to think more deeply about the complexities of the circumstances that result in the ongoing practice (industry) of modern adoption.

I by no means incriminate any single individual nor do I place any ill blame on my own parents--I do believe they are truly decent people with sincere and loving hearts, and I am grateful to call them my parents (not all adoptees can say such, however, and their voices and experiences provide valuable insight and truth regarding the realities of adoption).

The truth is that the practice of adoption as it exists today is not simply the happy, selfless act of charity that it is so often lauded to be. It is in it's current state, a practice in which those who live in luxury (relatively-speaking) get to take the children of those who live in poverty. Bare bones, no sugary coating, that's the facts, people. And when I say luxury, I not only mean material luxury, I also mean social and cultural luxury. The luxury of choice is indeed a sociocultural luxury that many in the world do not have.

It took me a long time--and I still wrestle with it today--to recognize the truth that the practice of adoption is indeed an industry from which many profit monetarily; and hence, this profit factor perpetuates the practice of oppression, falsification, deceit, omission, etc. involving the practices in which children are relinquished and obtained for adoption as well as the documentation of so many adoptees' histories and identities prior to being adopted. (If you have spent any amount of time reading adult adoptee blogs, particularly of those who are searching or have searched for their biological families, you know I'm not making this stuff up to prove a point. You know that it's true. Even in my own experience, these practices played a role.)

So often, to support the current practices of adoption, I hear people say that every child needs, deserves a family to love them. I, of course, don't disagree with this.

And yet there is a hypocrisy I sense in America when people repeat this over and over to me.

They say love is enough, and yet it really isn't, because there is a contingency, a qualification to what is meant by "love." As quoted above by Tad, our American culture seems to equate love with the practical ability to provide material things and "higher" education. In other words, money and education become synonymous with love, because American culture places a higher value on financial wealth and education over family preservation. The so-called "love" that so many claim to believe in is nothing more than a cover for saying that material wealth is the superior determining factor as to whether a mother (or family) is fit to care for her own child.

It is true that a mother needs financial resources to provide basic needs for her child. But if those resources are made available, and she has the love and the desire to preserve her family, why should she not be able to do so? Why should a lack of material wealth deem her as unworthy or unfit to do so? There are so many mothers, who if they had the resources, would choose to raise their own child. I understand that some of the prohibitions involve cultural stigmas and practices that must also be overcome, but culture doesn't change if people are not willing to pioneer the needed changes. And again, the luxury of choice remains relevant.

As Sandy is quoted above, we are so quick to take another mother's child and yet slow to help her keep her child. I believe we need not be so assuming to think that we know what is best for another mother's child. There needs to be more of a willingness to give our resources toward family preservation when such is possible.

And as Yoon Seon and Mei-Ling expressed, their is a lack of choice on the part of the original mothers. If circumstances are provided in which they actually have a real choice, and they so choose to relinquish their child, well, that's a whole other topic of discussion. But if they choose to relinquish their child because they think that their simple love is not enough nor worthy because they don't have material wealth, but rather a richer, more educated family is what will be better? Something is wrong with the value system--and when people say "love is enough," they don't really mean it. They mean my love is enough, and hers is not. They mean, since I live in luxury over here while you live in poverty over there, I should get to raise your child.

My own biological mother has stated that had she had the resources that are available today, she would have chosen to keep me. Who knows if she really would have chosen so. But after having to live for 30+ years with the emotional and social consequences of her choice to relinquish me, I don't believe she makes such a concession lightly. Again, this is no reflection on my American parents whom I love and don't want to imagine my life without, but it conveys the reality of how convoluted these adoption situations remain.

Look, I know it's complicated, believe me, I know.

But it's not so complicated that we cannot know the truth, and it's not so complicated that we cannot begin to do something about it.

* * *

[For a follow-up post in response to readers' comments, click here]

26 comments:

The Richerts said...

As a mom who recently adopted a toddler with an unrepaired cleft lip and palate from China, I have already spent a lot of time thinking about these issues. Our biological children are adults and teens, we thought we were done parenting. I am very much aware of the crime and abuse prevalent in international adoption. I hate the fact that oppressive governments, war, poverty, and more, contribute to severe hardships in families around the world. I hate to think that our little girl (who was found at a day old) would have been able to stay with her family if she hadn't been born with a severe birth defect. I would like to think that she was wanted and loved. Perhaps she was left because of her gender, her family's lack of resources, or the stigma that exists in the culture toward special needs. I don't know.
What I do know is that growing up in an orphanage is not better than growing up in a family. I also know that in the short time that we have had her in our home, she has brought more joy than we could have imagined. We are not looking for pats on the back or anything in return. We are happy to love and cherish this little girl. We are also ready to ride the wave that she brings with her -- all the ups and downs, all the questions, all the struggles.
I guess the hypothetical question could be asked. Would we have given all the money that we spent on an adoption to a needy family that needed a large sum of money to stay intact? That is happening all over the world with child sponsorship. And we do that! But for our little girl, hypothetical ideas would not have saved her from a life in an orphanage. Certainly you cannot think that is a better option. Certainly we would all rather have intact, healthy families. And hands down, we all would rather not have a single child orphaned. But until that time, I am thankful for families that are willing to try and be part of the solution rather than waiting for the world to be more perfect and there are no more orphans. I can't change the whole system, but I can try to make a difference in a few children's lives.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

This post makes me a little squirmy. I agree with much of what you say, but you seem to be presenting a narrative of adoptive parents "taking" children from willing first parents. But in nearly every case of international adoption, a child is abandoned first. In fact, in a legal adoption, a child is either orphaned or abandoned first. If I did not adopt my son, he would not be back with his birthparents. He would still be at an orphanage.

To imply that it is adoption that continues child abandonment is a bit simplistic. There are plenty of countries where adoption is not practiced, and there are still plenty of orphanages full of abandoned children who will age out with no family to call their own. Look at sub-saharan Africa. You cannot blame adoption for the lack of family preservation there.

I don't think that family preservation and adoption are mutually exclusive, and I'm always dismayed to read things that suggest that they are, or (worse) that suggest that the act of adopting is what causes child abandonment in the first place.

I desperately want to see mothers parent their own children and have every resource they need to do so. It's why we sponsor families and ministries that do that work. But I also desperately want to see children who have been abandoned to be able to grow up in a family.

I have heard you express frustration that adoptive parents are not listening to adult adoptees. But when we are subtly implicated by some as the cause of our child's tragic seperation from their birth family, one has to wonder how healthy it is to keep reading, when this presuposition so strongly twists the reality for most of our children, who would still be without a family had we not adopted them.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Also, on another note, I think the most important "luxury of choice" to prevent birthfamily disruption is to ensure that women everywhere have access to birth control when they want it. I can only speak to Haiti, where I adopted from, but it is the lack of access to family planning that leads to so many newborns being abandoned, by mothers overwhelmed by caring for multiple unplanned children.

Von said...

Great post, quotes and links.Viewed from elsewhere American adoption is so much about money.Love is free.

Jenni said...

@Richerts & Kristen

I feel like I read a different post than either of you.

"their is a lack of choice on the part of the original mothers. If circumstances are provided in which they actually have a real choice, and they so choose to relinquish their child, well, that's a whole other topic of discussion... My own biological mother has stated that had she had the resources that are available today, she would have chosen to keep me. Who knows if she really would have chosen so."

Why do the majority of international adoptions happen? Because a woman with resources had decided she doesn't want to parent? Or is it because she lacks resources and/or society stigmatizes her or the child?

"I can't change the whole system, but I can try to make a difference in a few children's lives."

This just isn't true. Human beings have changed and do change systems. Change is absolutely possible.

Change is happening in Korea right now, for instance, where adoptees, adoptive parents, birth moms, and single moms are working to change the stigma and lack of social support that has forced so many Korean women to give up their children. I'd advise you to look at the work of Dr. Richard Boas, an adoptive father, who went from facilitating adoptions to helping unwed moms there to keep their children.

Also, nowhere in this post does it say kids would be better off in lackluster orphanages.

I DO think that if we can support the great orphanages, communities, and other social projects out there we should do so. And we should use them as models for others. There are some that are doing amazing work and would love to have the money and resources that American families get to spend on adopting and they could help WAY more kids! Isn't that something worth discussing? Isn't that something worth striving towards? You said you already support an organization like this. That's great. Do you think every adoptive parent does? Or do you think they tell themselves they have made a difference in the life of one child?

Adoption will never help out all the kids that need help. But it gives the illusion to society that we are working towards a solution.
It's a band aid solution at best. And this just breaks my heart to think of all the kids suffering in the world.

I saw a video a few months ago that was one of the most disturbing things I ever saw in my whole life - a mother in Africa who had no resources giving her children to a prospective adoptive mom. The mother then went outside and wept. You could see the complete pain she was in. And the new adoptive mom talked about how she hoped that the mother would just get that this was for the best. I mean there you have it FACE TO FACE, the utter disregard and dehumanization that some PAPs and APs practice. If you're not like that, I think that's great, but clearly there are people out there like that. And hopefully blogs like this will break open their hearts.

Mei Ling said...

"In fact, in a legal adoption, a child is either orphaned or abandoned first."

In the mainland, true. In Malaysia, that is true. In Korea, that is true.

But there are always some cases where a child must be legally declared "abandoned" - even if it's a lie - to become adopted.

Mei Ling said...

"It's a band aid solution at best."

This is what I pointed out at another adoption forum thread.

Response: Adoption is a band-aid solution.

AP: How can you say that? Do you think an orphanage is better than a real home?

Response: Of course not. But what I'm saying is that while adoption is providing a solution of taking kids OUT of orphanage, it's not preventing kids from ending up IN orphanages. There will always be more kids going INTO the orphanages. Adoption doesn't get at the root problems.

AP: Well it doesn't prevent kids from ending up in orphanages, but at least kids aren't *staying* in the orphanages.

Sigh.

Kris said...

I think the above comments illustrate the complexity of adoption. I read the post and nodded my head in agreement, especially since I know my daughter's relinquishment was due at least in part to a lack of choice.

However, I could also relate to Kristen's comment "...when we are subtly implicated by some as the cause of our child's tragic separation from their birth family, one has to wonder how healthy it is to keep reading..." I was nodding as well. There is truth in what she says too. I would even go so far as to say sometimes it is not so subtle. There is a post up on another blog right now where a commenter blatantly calls APs "child traffickers".

I believe international adoption should be allowed only when all other options are exhausted. And more should defintely be done to ensure families can stay together whenever possible. I completely agree with Mei Ling when she points out that adoption gets kids out of an orphanage but does nothing to prevent kids from going in. I think that hits the nail on the head.

I have never heard of Dr. Richard Boas but will look him up. I know my daughter's pediatrician is doing work in Russia to try and set up foster care to get kids out of orphanages so yes, change is possible. We APs have a particular responsibility to work toward that change.

Jenni said...

@Kris, I understand where you're coming from. But Kristen said that Melissa twisted things around. I haven't seen her twist things around. She doesn't attack adoptive parents. She never attacks anyone and is always very respectful.

Yes, the subject of adoption is complex, but let's be even more blunt, it's a painful topic, for everyone involved. One of the reasons I think it's painful for adoptive parents is because they've grown up in a society that doesn't teach them the painful and confusing realities of adoption. They've grown up hearing what a wonderful thing it is and then when someone tells them it's not, it doesn't match up with how they've been taught to see things. So it can often be heard as attack, even when it isn't. Another thing is that someone who is attacking the instition of adoption is often seen as attacking adoptive parents, even when they're not. Even when they're simply criticizing adoption.

Not to say that there aren't people who are attacking adoptive parents, but as we all know, human beings can often let their anger get the best of them. No, it doesn't help the discussion.

"I completely agree with Mei Ling when she points out that adoption gets kids out of an orphanage but does nothing to prevent kids from going in. I think that hits the nail on the head."

It's not just that it does nothing to prevent kids from going in, it's also that it does NOT get all or even most kids out of the orphanage or off the street, etc.


"But what about the children?!"

This, to me, seems to sum up the response of those who don't like criticism of the adoption instituion. In fact those who are criticizing adoption ARE thinking about the children - all of them who will never be adopted.

The "solution" of adoption gives a only a handful of children oppurtunities. It then tells them that they are the "lucky" ones. It instills guilt in them. "You could have been in an orphanage, on the street, dead, etc. When they talk about loss, it pats them on the head and tells them not to dwell on the past. If they get too passionate, it tells them they're "angry adoptees." When they, out of compassion and from a place of bravery, talk about the other children, women (mothers), and people left behind, it tells them they are condemning children to an a horrible orphanage

The arithmetic of adoption is a faulty one.

Kim said...

I agree that the option to adopt is a luxury. But many of us also view it as a responsibility... not to just hoard what we have, but to give. When we read statistics about how many children who "age out" of orphanages end up in gangs or prostitution - or dead - is it not right to pull the one or two kids out of that cycle that we can?

That's the tension we AP's feel. Yes, we're pulling kids out of a culture. Yes, it's hard to know whether they'd make it anyway without us. But sometimes it truly is life-expectancy or none. Then what? Knowing that?

But on the other side, if our support of some organization could keep a family together, preventing the need for adoption, isn't that better? Yes, that too.

Many of the other AP's I know - and our family included - try to do both. Support aid organizations that strengthen communities and families while still being available to provide homes for kids who otherwise truly won't have them. We get it wrong sometimes. But then there are the other times...

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

I don't think Melissa is twisting things around. I just think that she is creating a narrative in this post that suggests that adoptive parents are "taking" children away from birth parents, as opposed to parenting children who have been abandoned, which is usually the case.

I think most of us passionate about adoption on either side are coming from a place of wanting to care for the world's parentless children. Some will do it at the individual level through adoption, others via sponsorship, and others through more systemic social change. None of us can do it all, but all of us can do something. It just grates me that rather than working together, the adoption part gets painted as a part of the problem rather than a part of a solution. Ethical international adoption does not cause the severing of a birth family - those ties have been broken prior to placement, and that is verified by USCIS before a child can be adopted.

And I would agree with the previous poster, I think most of us come into adoption with a heavy burden for children who need homes, not out of some stance of "luxury choice", savior mentality, or whatever the description du jour you choose to subtly insult the decision to adopt.

Melissa said...

Kristen & Richerts, no hard feelings, I understand where you're coming from, and I appreciate your input.

I do have to say, though that I do feel completely misunderstood, and I do feel as though my words were twisted to mean something that I never intended them to mean--that you've put your own words in my mouth, and that does hurt a bit. But these things will happen in discussions regarding adoption...

Anyway, I actually had to write a whole other post to respond to your comments...feel free to read or don't, but just know that I was in no way personally attacking you or anyone else for that matter. ;)

But anyways, I hope you'll take the time to read my response to you (that I posted as a blog entry simply because it was too long...)

Best to you and your families...

Melissa said...

And Jenni, I do have to say "thank you" for hearing what I was actually saying and for reading what I actually wrote. Deep breath and sigh of relief...helps me to feel not so crazy, cuz boy, do I feel it at times!

Mei Ling said...

"I think most of us come into adoption with a heavy burden for children who need homes"

I don't understand this sentence.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Mei-Ling - a burden - an unease - that there are children in this world who may never have parents. Not a savior complex, but a desire for all children to have families, and to whatever part we can in that.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Mei-Ling - a burden - an unease - that there are children in this world who may never have parents. Not a savior complex, but a desire for all children to have families, and to whatever part we can in that.

Kim said...

@ Mei Ling - Yes, yes, it would be better to prevent kids going INTO orphanages... some of us just don't make that connection during our first adoption process.

They seem like two unrelated things, until you start to dig deeper and realize that if you're looking to "give the best thing" to a child, it's to help [loving, non-abusive] first families stay together.

It's if you're looking to parent-therapeutically that you should consider adoption.

And then be prepared for a lot of cultural researching, counseling, purposeful friend-making with those from your child's culture... Things bio-parents don't necessarily have to think about, at least not in the same way.

But I've gotta say, I've learned that latter part more from my masters' program and from living POST-adoption with our kids than from anything ever presented to us IN our first adoption process.

You don't walk into an adoption agency's office and then come out loaded up with information on social justice programs, usually. They're there to "do adoption" - and that meets THAT need - but you have to KNOW to look elsewhere for the other stuff.

@ Melissa - you have a sweet spirit that comes through, even as you address these hard topics in a straight-forward way. I'm glad to be able to follow your blog! Thank you!

Mei Ling said...

"some of us just don't make that connection during our first adoption process.

They seem like two unrelated things, until you start to dig deeper"

So, for many of you, you think the orphanage seems to be the psychological beginning to the child's life as an adoptee, regardless of what led up to them being there?

Kristen: Thanks for clarifying.

Funnily enough, I just covered the saviour issue in my recent post. You can read it here: http://sisterheping.wordpress.com/2010/09/06/creating-the-adoption-narrative/

윤선 said...

Kristen: You left a comment on my blog which annoyed and offended me, probably similar to the way you made Melissa feel. And like she said, none of us adoptees deliberately go out to offend APs. Like I've said a gazillion times, adoption probably won't end. At least not for a while. But the complexities need to be thought about.

You said:

"Not a savior complex, but a desire for all children to have families, and to whatever part we can in that."

I recently wrote a rather angry post on my own blog in response to the comment you left me. And I couldn't help but feel that you were coming from a "I want to save a child" way of thinking. You say you don't come from that viewpoint, however what is the difference between a "saviour" viewpoint as you put it, to what you said above? You want all children to have a family: that's something you feel strongly about: a world issue that is - yes - sad and very real. But how are you not "saving" a child from that "fate" that you so obviously consider to be so awful? If "orphans'" realities weren't so "bad", would you be inclined to adopt them at all??

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

@윤선, I'm sorry that my desire for parentless children to be parented is offensive to you. We clearly have such different value systems that I'm not even sure how to respond. I am a family therapist, so the family unit is important to me. I have spent a lot of time in orphanages and have seen the drastic effects on development. I'm also seeing the effects in my own home. Avoiding institutionalization and attachment disorders in children is important to me, at a systemtic and individual level. You kind of make it sound like these aren't real issues, or that caring about these issues and putting it into action is somehow offensive?

Feeling a call to include adoption in my family building does not mean that I parent my children like they need to be grateful or like they needed to be rescued, or that I feel I "saved" them. Because I don't feel that way, and they have the same right to be resentment, ungrateful, or irritated with me as their very imperfect mom as my biological children do.

I think that social justice can be a motivation to adopt - but it shouldn't affect a way someone parents, and you will never hear me referring to my kids as being "saved" by adoption. But I wonder if you think there is any legitimate motivation to adopt?

윤선 said...

Kristen: It seems we are having rather different conversations on Yoon's blog here and my blog.

I have not been able to give you a more "wholesome" response, as I have been replying on my phone and haven't had access to a computer very easily today.

That said, you asked whether there is a "good enough" reason for people to adopt, in my eyes (and perhaps those of other adoptees?). I believe this question requires a response that goes much further than Yoon's post or my post on Choice. I've said in my own blog that I'm not 100% against adoption, and I know and see that there's an obvious reason for its existence. That said, I can't help but feel that this viewpoint so easily trumps the other issues that come with adoption, and that's what many of our blogs are about.

Regardless of what you may think, my life is pretty good in Australia. (Well, really good.) I'm married to an amazing guy, have amazing parents and sister and have generally had an amazing life that I may or may not have had in Korea. That being said, it doesn't mean that because of my being adopted, life is perfect. Of course children need families and love and affection. I have never said they don't. But I can't help but feel frustrated when we speak of the other issues that go unnoticed and ignored for the reason that "children need love and families", and adoptive parents and advocates for adoption get so mad at us. I'm sorry if you feel that you're being confronted on something that you clearly think strongly about, but there is another side that comes with adoption; the one that APs don't like to see. It's about the things that go unsaid and often remain in our minds and experiences, hence the reason why I blog now.

Do I think there's a "good enough" reason for adopting? Of course. I think people adopting to have families is great. Why else would you adopt? But that doesn't trump the other things that are going on and the baggage FOR ADOPTEES that come with it: things that APs often don't see because children just don't have the words and language and worldly understandings to put their feelings into words and things that adults are used to communicating through.

Like I said on my blog, if you want to continue talking about this, that's fine. I think we both got a bit heated up on my blog, and I do apologise for that. But please be aware that one or two blog posts does not cover the entirety of my opinions on adoption and/or my experiences.

윤선 said...

Kristen: It seems we are having rather different conversations on Yoon's blog here and my blog.

I have not been able to give you a more "wholesome" response, as I have been replying on my phone and haven't had access to a computer very easily today.

That said, you asked whether there is a "good enough" reason for people to adopt, in my eyes (and perhaps those of other adoptees?). I believe this question requires a response that goes much further than Yoon's post or my post on Choice. I've said in my own blog that I'm not 100% against adoption, and I know and see that there's an obvious reason for its existence. That said, I can't help but feel that this viewpoint so easily trumps the other issues that come with adoption, and that's what many of our blogs are about.

Regardless of what you may think, my life is pretty good in Australia. (Well, really good.) I'm married to an amazing guy, have amazing parents and sister and have generally had an amazing life that I may or may not have had in Korea. That being said, it doesn't mean that because of my being adopted, life is perfect. Of course children need families and love and affection. I have never said they don't. But I can't help but feel frustrated when we speak of the other issues that go unnoticed and ignored for the reason that "children need love and families", and adoptive parents and advocates for adoption get so mad at us. I'm sorry if you feel that you're being confronted on something that you clearly think strongly about, but there is another side that comes with adoption; the one that APs don't like to see. It's about the things that go unsaid and often remain in our minds and experiences, hence the reason why I blog now.

Do I think there's a "good enough" reason for adopting? Of course. I think people adopting to have families is great. Why else would you adopt? But that doesn't trump the other things that are going on and the baggage FOR ADOPTEES that come with it: things that APs often don't see because children just don't have the words and language and worldly understandings to put their feelings into words and things that adults are used to communicating through.

Like I said on my blog, if you want to continue talking about this, that's fine. I think we both got a bit heated up on my blog, and I do apologise for that. But please be aware that one or two blog posts does not cover the entirety of my opinions on adoption and/or my experiences.

윤선 said...

Kristen: It seems we are having rather different conversations on Yoon's blog here and my blog.

I have not been able to give you a more "wholesome" response, as I have been replying on my phone and haven't had access to a computer very easily today.

That said, you asked whether there is a "good enough" reason for people to adopt, in my eyes (and perhaps those of other adoptees?). I believe this question requires a response that goes much further than Yoon's post or my post on Choice. I've said in my own blog that I'm not 100% against adoption, and I know and see that there's an obvious reason for its existence. That said, I can't help but feel that this viewpoint so easily trumps the other issues that come with adoption, and that's what many of our blogs are about.

윤선 said...

ARG. Sorry about all the comments. Something weird happened with their posting. T_T

Raina said...

I'm jumping in this conversation a little late. I read through the comments and boy is this a frustrating dialogue.

The first order of business is to ensure proper education of women, regardless of their background. Lack of family planning, disease control, cultural traditions that all but force women to surrender their children - these are the root causes. I don't think anyone can disagree with this very academic first analysis - as Kristen has already agreed on my blog a few days ago. But when those root causes are not addressed, and women do surrender their children, then children are ultimately the collateral damages. Harmless, blameless children who grow up to be me, Melissa, YoonSeon, Mei-Ling. We, as children, needed homes. We, as adults, seek to address the root causes to end this cycle.

The problem is that many - most - APs/PAPs limit their role to the consumer end, without regard for the reasons why child supply is robust to begin with. We are all educated enough to acknowledge that very few women will willingly surrender a child. Most would have preferred to have avoided the pregnancy or kept the child.

Back to Melissa's point - people who have the affluence to adopt are clearly in a position of power. Adoption is DEFINITELY a luxurious choice. People who surrender children are in a position of powerlessness - whether economic, cultural, medical, etc. The "choice" to surrender is no choice at all. Those of us who adopt, it is not enough to save those few children. We have blood on our hands, because we fuel a self-serving culture and industry that would collapse with the demand of adopters. We may be trying to be part of the solution for children, but in doing so we are implicitly a part of the problem for families that are unable to preserve themselves.

Kristen, we are not "taking" children from families. But we are supporting an industry and culture that forces women to surrender children. It is not an easy thing to admit. It hurts to know that, in trying to be a solution, we are part of the problem.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Raina, I agree everything you are saying in terms of root causes. I feel so strongly that adoptive parents (and everyone, really) should be doing what they can to see change occur for oppressed women and cultures. These issues are heavy on my heart.

I agree with what Melissa was saying, too, about the privilege differential of adoption.

This is the sticky point, though, and where I feel like some adoptive parents stop listening (and I am tempted to):

"an industry that would collapse with[out] the demand of adopters"

I don't agree with the idea that adoptive parents have blood on their hands. And not because I'm in denial or because I'm scared to see it. But because I've seen too many full orphanages in countries that have NO adoption programs. No demand. . . and yet still, generations of children growing up in institutions due to the other forces you've mentioned above. I don't put adoption as one of the root causes. I TOTALLY agree that it is a band-aid. A band-aid on a big, gaping, bleeding whole. I think it is a solution for some children, and perhaps it's apples to oranges since I adopted from Haiti, where the percentage of children in orpahanges who ended up adopted are very, very low. But to me, saying that getting rid of adoption will keep kids from ending up in orphanages is like saying that getting rid of rehabs will keep people from becoming alcoholics.

All that to say, though, that we still have a huge common ground here, and that is: how do we keep kids OUT of orphanages to begin with?

I have found this discussion discouraging, too, and I will own my part in getting stuck on the parts where I don't agree, instead of focusing on the common ground. But I do get dismayed when it feels like if someone is very pro-adoption that they just aren't "getting it" - which seemed to be a theme in the comment thread on the post above this one.