Way back when I started this blog, I thought this would be a good way to share a little what was going on with us with far-flung friends and family, especially as we proceeded with adoption stuff. However, I haven’t blogged about adoption or what we’re up to recently at all. A dear friend recently asked me what was going on. And, in the way that good friends can, asked me whether we had some sort of mental block going on. The timing was impeccable. Just how great a mental block we have going on had come crashing down just a few days earlier in reading the news from Shelly and David, who have matched with an expectant mother (yeah Shelly and David). Shelly and David sent their fingerprints off the same week as we did. I’m ecstatic for them, but it really accentuates our inertia in this matter.
Our friend’s question, and the recent good news from Shelly and David, made me sit down and try to articulate what my hang ups are. I must admit, the hang-ups are mine rather than Green’s. Over the past year or so I’ve read countless blogs about adoption, from the perspective of the child adoptee, the first parents and the adoptive parents. It isn’t always easy reading, actually it often isn’t easy reading, and it has made me question whether you can ever ethically adopt. Talking with our friend is always good for me because she has been through this in the role of an adoptive parent, and as I talk with her about the reasons that her children were placed it reminds me to turn to the first-hand data I have access to:
Our family (like most, it has been impacted by adoption)
Our friends (who are adoptees, first mothers and adoptive families)
What are their experiences? What can I learn from them?
There are a few specific issues that I grapple with and are contributing to my mental block.
1. Is there ever a situation where it is the right thing for expectant parents to place their child with another family? Should the genetically linked family be preserved as a traditional unit at all costs?
2. Do we compromise our moral code by engaging in the Adoption Industry? Is there a way to avoid this?
The numbers of children, specifically newborns, placed for adoption in the US is significantly higher than that in the UK. The lack of an adequate social safety net for families is disgraceful, and is without a doubt part of the contributing factor to the number of placements that happen. I feel strongly that poverty should not be a sole reason to place a child. That as a community we should be more family friendly and supportive and not just in words, but also financially. I believe that we should provide health care including easy access to birth control.
Talking with friends who are first mums and adoptive parents with pretty open relationships with the first parents, poverty wasn’t the sole reason for their placements, sometimes it wasn’t part of the equation, sometimes it was. Not being in a good place mentally to parent; not being in a relationship with someone that they wanted to parent with; not having sufficient emotional and physical support from family to go forward; all given as reason, maybe not exactly in those terms, but basically along those lines.
I know that if I’d been pregnant and not ready to parent my family would have taken my child under their guardianship. They told me as much while I was growing up, they were in a position to, not all families are despite great mounds of love.
I know that at times in my life I was not ready to be a parent.
I know that despite a the burgeoning adoption industry, adoption has been going on formally and informally for all of human existence. That persistence doesn’t make it right, but it can inform us.
I know that I can’t stand in judgment of first parents who have decided to place their child, because I haven’t walked in their shoes and I can’t say I wouldn’t if I was in their position.
I grapple with the problem, but I think we’re at the point now where we can say adoption can be a positive. A positive that is messy and complicated, but a positive all the same and that we’re ready to see if a situation arises where first parents think their child may thrive in our home.
If we’re going to be open to adoption, we have to get on with this home-study paperwork.
My friend, the mama over at Our Family Changes sat me down last week while Green and Bean were off in Nebraska (more on that later), cracked the whip and has me working on this paperwork again. Working out how we’re going to deal with the whole adoption industry thing, that is a post for another time. For today, this is adoption thing is messy, not well articulated and definitely a work in progress.