January 14, 2013

The crux of the matter

I read an article by Jane Jeong Trenka in the MPR News this morning: How to stop languishing and get your self adopted.

Jane never pulls punches, so if you are an adoptive parent who is looking to assuage that Concern you may be feeling about your role in intercountry adoption, you won't find it here. You will find some good food for thought, however, that is an important segue from my post last week. Jane challenges society's unwillingness to adopt the kids who really need adoption, and in the process gives a slap in the face to "orphan" adoption promotion programs that encourage adoption generally but don't acknowledge that the needs may be far different than the desires of adoptive parents. Jane identifies four key characteristics needed to ensure the adoption of any child:

1. Be young.
2. Be white.
3. Be alone.
4. Be an orphan.
I don't agree with everything Jane says here, and also know that many adoptive parents who start their journey just as Jane describes us change our attitudes as we learn just what adoption means to our children. But adoption statistics, like the ones in my post, bear out that children who aren't young, aren't white and who have siblings and/or first family connections will be unlikely to be considered for adoption or adopted by the typical prospective adoptive parent, who will be seeking an infant adoption.

There are two things we need to do to straighten out this situation.

First, we need to end the notion that adoption is in any way shape or form connected or a response to infertility or abortion. These two attitudes push women facing unplanned pregnancies to bear their children specifically for the purpose of adoption, and also give prospective adoptive parents the idea that adoption is the logical next step when infertility treatments fail.

You have no idea how much I believed that last one, no idea.

Second, we have to end the notion that the only people responsible for adopting the kids who really need families are the infertile. Although we live in a time in which we have entire political structures claiming that we have no social responsibilities, I believe we do, and our first priority should be our kids.

Do we cross borders to do so? Or do we make global decisions that every country is responsible for its own, case closed? This is where it gets really sticky, I think, but perhaps if we made progress correcting the two misconceptions I describe, the answer to this last question would become clearer.

Yes, very good food for thought indeed. Thanks, Jane!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm what Jane says is true I think. It really sucks to be a foster kid. I wish that every single one of those waiting kids got a home with loving parents.
My first daughter was adopted at age 11 - she was described as white but she wasn't. Her dad was from Puerto Rico and her mom was from the Seneca Reservation - yet when we adopted her she was French and English - go figure.
My daughter who is now 48 would tell you that getting adopted was like winning the lottery. She really believes that. She was in 17 foster homes before she was 5 then she was in a home for children - a horrible institution that stripped the kids of any individuality.
I love my oldest daughter with all my heart so please don't think that I ever for even a minute regret the decision to adopt. I learned more from her about parenting than from anyone else and I am extraordinarily proud of her.
However - there is a huge difference between adopting an 11 year old with multiple issues and adopting a 3 year old and a baby from Korea. The parenting part is totally different.
Adopting an older child is tough and the rewards take decades to reap in my experience. Totally worth it!!!
But if you want to experience parenthood as we daydream about it - maybe the older child adoption isn't for you.
So I did it both ways and in my experience it was more rewarding for me for me to adopt from Korea. That does not negate the experience of adopting an older child domestically but, on a selfish level

the adoption of the other two was really more about me and making my own dreams of motherhood come true. Nothing to be proud of in that statement I know but I just want to say that from my experience it is 2 totally different adoption worlds.
I am not even sure that the 2 experiences can be compared.
Maggie

Margie said...

Exactly, Maggie, adopting an older child from care is a totally different experience from adopting an infant - at least at different parts of the journey. Adoptive parents forget that the infant they adopt could experience any number of emotional challenges that will make the two experiences look very much the same at particular points in time.

Hopefully as adoption reform takes root the people who are driving it here in the U.S. and around the world are able to make that distinction. Although I agree with Jane's points, I don't agree that prospective adoptive parent desires are the root cause of the fact that so many children remain in care; this is something that our entire society is responsible for resolving. Additionally, making this point suggests that the choice between infants and older children is primarily about wanting to avoid challenges. That's a mighty dangerous idea to allow prospective adoptive parents to think is true.

Thanks for commenting, miss you!

River, Blood, And Corn said...

Good article by Jane and good post Margie!

Kris said...

Just wanted to add...I am an AP who already had bio children when we adopted. Our social worker would not approve us (or any of his clients) to adopt out of birth order. Since our youngest was only 3, that limited us to young children. We were willing to adopt an older child but were not permitted to do so. This never seems to be mentioned. I don't know if this is common practice or not. Just sharing our experience.