I've been trolling around the internet lately looking for different perspectives on adoption. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of different ones out there. Adoption is a complicated and emotion-filled issue, whether we want to admit it or not. Sometimes an act of mercy that allows a child to be given a second chance to have a family, and yet sometimes an act of coercion that causes untold grief. Not easy to pigeonhole, especially since you also have three often conflicting ways of looking at the issue: one from each side of the adoption "triad". What can seem like an unmitigated good to one member of that triangle can be perceived as horribly wrong to another, and vice versa all the way around and around.
What have I been reading on the subject lately? Some interesting stuff. Here are a few links:
The recently-reactivated Fleas Biting blog has an excellent post on the need for accountability in international adoptions, and why turning a blind eye to corruption only hurts everyone involved. Law professor and blogger David Smolin writes "Adoption systems in which large numbers of children moved became infected with large-scale and systematic abusive practices impacting substantial numbers of adoptions. Within those systems, even the children who were properly adopted are damaged, because they and their adoptive families must live with the uncertainty about whether or not they were stolen---an uncertainty that is very difficult to resolve. Thus, most adoptive parents and adoptees who were adopted from affected countries have no way of knowing whether their adoptions were tainted by child laundering or other abusive practices." Read it all, and the post prior on this blog, if the subject interests you. Very thought-provoking stuff.
Adoptive mom Tonggu Mommy writes a beautiful post on the chance she had recently to speak to a group of moms at her church about the realities of adoption. Again, read the whole thing - the part where she talks about her daughter loving her and her husband but hating having been adopted made me cry. And she reminds all of us who look to God for meaning in adoption that, "[a]s Christians, it's our job not only to speak about God's hand in adoption, it is also our job to encourage compassion in others, and to point out how God prefers family preservation over adoption, whenever possible." Amen.
I read a not-as-pretty but definitely compelling post at First Mother Forum, called "Why Was I Given Away?" More tears for me - definitely something I needed to read. In it, birth mom Jane Edwards writes about the compulsion many birth mothers feel to give their children up, and how many of them were convinced that "an irresponsible person like you doesn't deserve to raise this baby", and so chose adoption not for any positive, but instead all negative reasons. More importantly, she makes the point that birth mothers do not give up their children because they love them so much; they give them up because they have no way to do otherwise. After 41 years of listening to the former claptrap ... bing! epiphany time for me! Of course you don't give someone you love up because you love them - none of us who are currently parents would do so, so why in hell would anyone assume that a birth mother felt any differently?
And even uglier - did you know that you can find babies online, listed by race and due date? Well, you can get anything online, can't you - why not a newborn? Apparently Mormon sites like this one make a habit of it. I've even found one that lists prices. Please note that they aren't called "babies" - they're "situations". And you thought he lived in New Jersey!
Finally, after ugliness, we get to math (some of you think this post just got uglier, others, not so much). Abba Fund's blog has a post (a little dated, I know) about how many orphans there are in the world, and what the term "orphan" means in UNICEF and other circles. Complete news to me, I have to admit. As the post writer Jason points out, "Therefore, of the 132 million children they [UNICEF] classify as orphans, only 13 million have lost both parents. The majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent, grandparent, or other family member. 95% of all orphans are over the age of 5." Additionally, UNICEF has more recently identified that, out of that 132 million, 2 million are not in family care at all and are institutionalized (scroll down at the link to "Children without Parental Care" for the scoop). Having been convinced at one point that there were orphanages overflowing with parentless infants all over the developing world, these stats surprised me.
These posts are just a handful of the millions out there on adoption - so many of them are so good to read. Everyone has an opinion, don't they? And that's not a bad thing, especially if you have an open mind.