Adoption- It’s for the Children. (Really)

Squeezed into my recent schedule of child-free jet setting, and my darn near desperate search for a new hair stylist, I have been educating myself on third-party reproduction and have concluded that the arguments for surrogacy, egg and sperm donation almost inevitably end in “how is it different from adoption?”

Good question.

America was doing adoption way before it was trendy and I credit our Judeo-Christian ethic which emphasizes charity and the care of widows and orphans.  I am also, as an adoptive mom, pretty biased towards it being one of the most awesome things you can do for a child in need of parents. But in this culture, where we are increasingly viewing children a commodity, I have noticed that the adoption lexicon has begun to move toward how adults can “get kids.”

This is problematic and indicates a deeper, more insidious, shift in the mentality of our society. It’s one that I was once guilty of as well.

In my first year of working in the adoption field, I learned an important lesson from the founder of our agency.  One family had run into some road blocks and I had made the comment to her that “I was working hard to get this couple approved.”

“Katy,” she said. “This agency does not exist to give a child to every couple. We are here to find parents for every child.”adoption

It was a subtle, but critical, distinction and I have never forgotten it. Adoption must always, always, be about meeting the needs of the child, not the adults.

Adoption is built on brokenness.  For a child to find their “forever family” they have to lose their first family.  Regardless of whether that child’s adoptive parents are there to witness the birth, or it follows years of serving time in foster care or an institution, adoption means that the child has lost something irreplaceable. The loss of the child’s birth family is something to be mourned. I do believe that adoption is the most redemptive solution to that loss, but by no means does adoption solve everything.

A good friend of mine has two adopted children from the same birthmother, with whom she maintains a relationship. My wise friend puts it this way: We often talk about adoption as the way to “fix a problem.” The mother has a child that she cannot care for and the child needs a family. Adoption fixes both problems right? Everyone should be happy. Except that there remains an open wound around the severing of that relationship.  Even when parental rights are willingly relinquished, the birth mother still yearns for that child and, even in the best adoptive placements, these children often long to know their biological parents.  Why is that?  Because biological connections are intended to be permanent and when they are broken, the pain doesn’t just go away.

Last month, I spoke with a woman who is in her sixties.  For forty-five years, every July 2, she thinks about the daughter that she gave to a wedded couple. She remembers the months of feeling the baby alive inside her, giving birth, marveling as she took her first breaths, and then, heart-aching, leaving the hospital alone. Each year on that child’s birthday she remembers and wonders and mourns.

Am I grateful that God placed my Chinese son with us?  A thousand times, yes.  Is he better off with us than in the orphanage?  Absolutely.  I consider him every bit “my own” as my biological children. But, if it comes to that, we will give him space to mourn and question and rage when he confronts the difficult realities of how he came to be in our family.  He has lost something real that we cannot replace.  Adoption was unquestionably the best remedy for his situation, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t cost him plenty.

I am afraid that our society, because we have over-emphasized the beauty and redemption of adoption, chooses to ignore the pain and injustice suffered by the child when they lose their birth parents. That imbalanced depiction has contributed to the idea that biological connections are irrelevant. Until we see adoption rightly, we cannot adequately address questions around third-party reproduction.  Because if separating a child from her birth parents after she’s born is no big deal, then why not get a jump on the process from the get-go and just factor out one or both parents at conception, right?

Since we have indeed swallowed the “biology doesn’t matter” lie, it is no wonder we have such a thriving fertility industry. And because women are going against the biological clock and pushing motherhood into their 30s, 40s, and even 50s; and we are polluting our bodies with chemicals and sexual diseases that stifle fertility; and we increasingly favor household arrangements that do not involve a permanent relationship between a man and woman, third party-reproduction becomes the “get out of jail free” card.

We need to reign it in here people.

This falls smack dab under the “Just because we can………..” cliché.

As adults I believe we all should adhere to the Hippocratic oath when it comes to, well, everything really. For those of you that didn’t grow up on St. Elsewhere, it is that we Do No Harm. That our first and foremost intent is to repair and intentionally improve on circumstances.  Severing the relationship between parent and child is a BIG DEAL and adoption is our society’s remedy to stop the bleeding. Third party reproduction not only creates the victim by it’s very nature, it also inflicts the wound. It is irresponsible of us to wield such power over another’s life; to take so casually the seriousness of the impact on a soul who has been manufactured by parents. At worst it is human trafficking. Intent does not change the truth of the outcome.

If a child has lost her parents due to abandonment or death or because her mother and father are certifiably unfit to raise her, then we have a societal duty to find a permanent home for that child.  We also have a duty to make sure that children are not conceived with the intent to deprive them of one or both parents.

Bill Clinton was so fond (and good) at professing it was all “For the Children”.

So let it go down in black and white print that I am completely with Bill on this one people.

It is for the children.

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20 thoughts on “Adoption- It’s for the Children. (Really)

  1. There are an estimated 143 million to 210 million orphans worldwide. That’s the population of Great Britain, plus France, plus Spain- all combined.
    In this context, the idea of appealing to the egocentricity of 3rd party reproduction is obscene. Or, if I say what I really mean, immoral.

  2. As an adoptive mother who is intimately familiar with the rage, the grief, the frenzy and the lasting, nagging feelings of distrust and abandonment that adopted children can feel, I find your post the very opposite of “obscene”. I find it to be truthful and honest about an issue that we need to be very truthful and very honest about.

    Adoption says “Let me help”; third party reproduction says “Let me have”. Adoption says “It’s not about me”; third part reproduction says “It’s all about me”. Adoption says “I want the best for you”; 3rd party reproduction says “I want the best I can have”.

    If the issue of millions of children without homes and parents is obscene, it’s because we as a society have failed these children. Decrying 3rd party reproduction is not what’s obscene; failing the children that already exist and that we have an obligation to protect and nurture is what is obscene.

    • Tisha, as always, that’s a perfect summary. “Let me help vs. let me have”. “It’s not about me vs. It’s all about me”. It the succinct message that the Frau and I were looking for! Thank you for those words.

      I believe that Pink and I are on the same page about this one if I’m reading his comment correctly. He is also outraged at the number of children who need homes. And to look at the scope of need and then still decide to create a child outside of nature’s boundaries, that is “obscene.” I agree.

    • Katy. This post could have been boiled down to Tisha’s second paragraph. Boo ya Tisha.
      P.S. As I read it, Pink is on your side.

        • No, your phrasing was succinct. It is your name I think might incite some less than critical reading because you are not the pinkagendist you were. I will see about emailing you, I am a sucker for compliments.

          • Am too, na na nah na nah nah 😛 Some just didn’t know I was above politics. I’m for ideas and results, not teams.
            Show me how a method works, and why, and if it’s true and verifiable, why would oppose it?

          • You’re right, Frau….my reading comp skills were lacking on that one! As much as I think I’m so objective, mistakes like this one make me realize I’m not. 😦

            On the plus side, I’m really glad that pink and Ask and you are blazing the trail of loving and teaching each other! Bravo and hugs ❤

      • P.S. II- you’ve given good advice recently 😉
        And as editor lady, may I suggest you vet comments and commenters…? Just a thought. You can email me if you want to know what I mean.

  3. The adoption industry is becoming more corrupt. Foster kids who have parents or relatives that are still alive to care for them are being considered for adoption, even though their parents/relatives are alive, it’s just familial issues that need to be worked out in order for the child’s existing family to be suitable to care for that child.

    But even the foster care industry is corrupt in that they rarely go after the “tough cases.” Here in Canada, CAS has a bad past. There have been numerous headlines where children have been beaten or sexually abused for years and we’re all left thinking, “Where was CAS in all this? Where was the community in all this?” Foster kids also are often forced to move from family to family, which creates instability in their lives. The screening process for foster parents could also use improving…

    I am a former foster child myself, although my case was very minor. My mother hadn’t been taking her pills for her bipolar disorder, but I was never abused, verbally or physically, and my father had/has no mental disorder to deal with. My parents fought, but that easily could have been managed with marriage and family counseling (they improved a lot during the time I was away from home and they currently haven’t fought in years). Instead, my mother’s psychiatrist decided to contact CAS and I had to spend 9 months in a foster home, only getting to visit my father once a week (never my mother) until around a few weeks before my release when I got to spend weekends with my family.

    I was placed in a nice church-going family environment, but there was still that tear from my roots. There was a rip in my family for 9 months.

    I am saying this because if foster kids start getting put up for adoption, cases like mine (and there are many) that can be fixed and mended with some effort, would not get that opportunity. I loathe the advertisements and propaganda that claim “There are thousands of kids in foster care waiting to be adopted!” No, they’re not waiting to be adopted. I wasn’t waiting to be adopted. Orphans in orphanages are waiting to be adopted; foster kids are waiting to rejoin with their biological roots. They want to be reunited and reconciled with their mother and father, or closest relatives. They are waiting for the brokenness in their homes to be fixed so that they can live happily with the people who created them/share their blood and genes. They do NOT want to be given to a stranger family to recreate the bonds they shared with their true families.

    Foster care is supposed to be for the children, too.

    • Friend, thank you for sharing your story. Yes yes yes. Foster care should be about kids every time all the time. I have several friends who are fostering kids. All of them are doing it to serve the children (often they already have biological kids of their own). All of them see the destructiveness of the hopping in and out of homes, all of them see the harm to children when the state gets it wrong. And there is such a spectrum of circumstances when you are talking about foster kids. Many truly have been rejected by all biological relatives, some are there while the mother/parents work out temporary (hopefully) issues with the law or addiction. But it’s messy. And painful for everyone.

  4. Pink, I’m curious why you think invitro fertilization is obscene or immoral. If I’m reading your comment correctly, that is what you think? Just wondering.

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