05 October, 2006

Warning: No-Delete Post Follows Topic: Adoption

It's late and I'm tired so I'm just posting whatever comes to my head and not hitting the delete button. So please forgive me if I say something that just makes your blood boil. Or don't forgive me. Either way.

First question is a biggie. When did orphans from foreign countries become the latest hip accessory? Tim and I, for reasons of our own, have decided not to adopt so I realise that I'm sitting in the cheap seats on this one. But honestly, these people (mostly celebrities but a few regular folks too) keep swooping down on China and Subsaharan African nations to pick up their new purse trendy baby.

A few weeks ago we had an older woman friend tell us of a friend of hers who adopted a child from somewhere that had black babies. I can't remember the country. I just remember the fact that the baby was black because that's exactly how our friend told us the anecdote. "They just decided that they wanted a little black girl." Me: "Was that their favourite flavour?" See, that was my cynical response, but it seemed to fly over our friend's head. Look, I have no gripe with people who adopt. I know scores of people who adopt and scores of people who ARE adopted and it's all cool. But as far as I'm concerned you adopt a baby because you feel called to be a parent and you believe strongly that adoption is an avenue for you to do that. That's when adopting is cool. But when you start getting all up in picking out children the way you pick out cars or puppies you seem to me to have stopped wanting to be a parent and started wanting to be accessorised. The thing that's so bad about all of this is that these children in these various places really DO need homes. So I feel like Queen Bitchface for even saying one thing about it. Like I said, I'm in the cheap seats here. I'm not getting my passport ready to go pick up an AIDS baby.

People have been after me and Tim to adopt for over ten years now. Usually the minute someone finds out that we don't have children they ask us when and if we are going to adopt. Of course, no one would ever think to ask us other equally personal questions like how often we have sex, how much we weigh, if we like to be spanked or if we have ever considered anal sex. There are a dozen reasons we have not pursued adoption yet. That doesn't mean we have anything against the concept or are not thrilled for our friends who thoughtfully and prayerfully adopt after feeling the call to be parents. And that doesn't mean that if God changes His mind and asks us to adopt that we won't do it. But who we are right now and where we are with our lives means that we are not looking to adopt right now.

And I say all that to say that I think adoption is a hard and personal choice and when I see people like Madonna swooping in to scope out an orphanage as though she were looking at sofas it makes my skin crawl. And when I hear people say things like "I think Chinese babies are the keeyoootist things!!! I just want to adopt a little Chinese baby" it strikes me that we've reached a place as a society that is almost too twisted for words. Babies may be cute but they are not THINGS. They are people.

Repeat after me: Adoption is not about getting a baby. Adoption is about crafting a person. Over a lifetime. And it's not about you. It's about the child.

A special note needs to be added here to my mother and some other people with whom I've had serious conversations about adoption in the past couple of weeks. This stuff here is not at all directed at you guys or in any way inspired by our conversations. This post is inspired by Madonna, a woman I used to work with, an unnamed family member who doesn't read my blog and the graphic artist I know who turned down a Guatamalen girl because when they went to Guatamala to pick up the baby they had been working 8 months to adopt they saw that older children in that country had darker skin than they were willing to accept. These various people are the bad examples. You all are not in that category. And I know you all well enough that if you were I'd say something outright to you.

I know that I started by saying that I had a "first question" which implies a second question. But now that I'm at the end of my tirade I realise I don't have a second question worthy of mentioning. Unless "Does anyone know what Steven King Book they were reading on Lost?" counts.

16 Comments:

At 6:53 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger John H said...

yo Bitchface, how often DO you have sex? (o:

Re the S. King question, don't you think the book HAS to be 'The Stand'?

Seriously, I've had three work friends who made the trek to China for the right reasons, and who've been grateful every moment since then that they made the trek. Not trying at all to refute your point..some people do want to accessorize with Bulgarian or Asian babies. I'm glad I know people who have had the right motivations.

Lynn and I have had many couple/married friends who chose not to have children. The common thread among all of them is that people/family question them regularly as to 'why not kids?', as if they were letting down their family, America, and perhaps the planet.

 
At 7:49 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Mr. Mack said...

Yea, Kat, thats a pretty cynical view...but understandable. The first thing that comes to mind is that white babies usually get adopted first, if the others go at all. Going after a specific "brand" bothers me too, unless that person has some connection, perhaps a distant relative from Iberia. (is that really a place?) Sorry about the intrusive questions you have been asked, I mean, it's ok to ask if you have children, but, not why don't you have children?

 
At 8:05 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger -d said...

I really don't know why people spend so much money and go through so much crap to get a chinese baby, or any other nationality or race. All you have to do is give me a call, I got a few varieties here in the basement from when I used to work for Kathy Lee...I think there is a paisley one...$50 carry out, $75 delivered.

(this by the way is how I see Madonna and her people)

The end is here, and we have a front row seat. So enjoy the snacks and turn your cell phones off please.

"Let's all go to the lobby. Let's all go to the lobby..."

-yup

 
At 8:44 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger dolphin said...

Sometimes people will say "I want a black baby" not because they specifically want a black baby, but because they understand that there are waiting lists to adopt a white infant, but there are non-white and older children who are in desperate need of a loving home yet nobody wants them. I don't think it's selfish or obnoxious in that situation to want to provide a home for a child that nobody else will take in. The Boyfriend and I have discussed what plans we have for when we are ready to adopt, and both of us agree that adopting a hard to place child is something e'd like to take on, not for us, but for the child.

 
At 8:58 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

As an adoptee (of the simple American mutt variety) I have wondered the same thing.

Not the anal sex bit, but I mean the whole thing about trendy foreign adoptions.

 
At 9:08 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

Right on. I know of people who have gone to other countries to adopt because they want a *baby*, rather than one of those used up non-infants in this country.

 
At 9:27 AM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have some friends who recently adopted from another country. In their case it was mostly a financial decision. They couldn't afford the "more expensive" option of a native-born american baby, so they looked at their budget and made the decision largely on that. There are unwanted children in every country/ethnic group, so this kind of deciding factor makes a certain sense to me. They desperately wanted to be parents, and the ethnicity of the child didn't matter, so they took a responsible look at their finances and let that be a deciding factor.
I don't think there are that many people who are so craven that they'd consider a human being as being an "accessory". In fact, I'd suggest that there are far more natural parents who care less about their own children (witness the typical 22 year old poor mother with 4 children I saw in the grocery store the other day). You'd think that they would learn that birth control is MUCH cheper than raising a kid for 18 years.
In my opinion, 99.9% of the people who choose adoption are doing it for the right reasons. "Surprise" pregancies happen to those who, by definition, aren't prepared. Parents who choose to adopt go into it with much more consideration.

Just rambling.

Jason

 
At 9:52 AM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous shauna said...

I've wondered if you and your husband were considering adoption, and I guess now I know.

The Madonna thing weirds me out a little bit. I feel like it's somewhat irresponsible to take on the care of a baby at that age, even if you're a bazillionaire. I dunno.

 
At 10:52 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

John, given the discussion I would have SWORN it was The Stand, but none of the books looked thick enough or had the right cover art. (Yes, I am that obsessive).

At the risk of sounding like I'm backing off my point, I'm not. But I really want to clarify for Jason and others. I know MANY people who adopt without selfishness. In fact, MOST of the people I know who adopt do so from a loving heart and a desire to provide a good home for someone who needs it.

The fact that out of ALL the people I know who've adopted I know three "Madonna" types who were looking for keyoot things instead of people is what inspired this post. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear.

And Dolphin, I get what you're saying and I admire you for trying to offer the benefit of the doubt to the situation. But in the cases whereof I speak there is definitely little concern for the needs of the child. Or that's how it's appeared to me.

Dan, I've been in your basement. I don't want any of the sloppy used up kids you keep down there.

 
At 11:00 AM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous nm said...

There actually is an answer to that question. (1) Decision by most gov't social services organizations in this country to ban trans-racial adoptions, if possible, led to (2) incredibly long waiting lists for white babies, which (3) led many perfectly qualified parents to go for international adoptions. And that (4) established international adoptions in the consciousness of potential adoptive parents as a possibility. Thus, (5) potential adoptive parents who found themselves prohibited from adopting in this country (for being homosexual, or deaf, or whatever) started to go for international adoptions automatically. Originally the trend was to adopt European children, mostly from former Soviet-block countries. But as people in those countries got better access to birth control, the number of children up for adoption there decreased, so (6) the out-group adopters started going other places, and became associated with adoption of non-white babies. Then (7) people (like, say, Madonna) who fetishize certain out-groups and find them hip and edgy choose to adopt non-white babies themselves, to establish their own hip/edgy credit.

According to my deaf cousin, who adopted a deaf baby from China, China is going to replace Africa as the cool place for Americans to adopt from any day now.

 
At 11:45 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

Say that reminds me, how'd you get that kid so darn fast? Me and Dot went in to adopt on account a' somethin' went wrong with my semen, and they said we had to wait five years for a healthy white baby. I said, "Healthy white baby? Five years? What else you got?" Said they got two Koreans and a negra born with his heart on the outside. It's a crazy world.

Wasn't that book too slim to be The Stand?

Wouldn't The Tommyknockers be just as appropriate?

 
At 11:50 AM, October 05, 2006, Blogger Sarcastro said...

According to Lostpedia, Juliet was reading 'Carrie'.

http://www.lostpedia.com/wiki/Juliet

 
At 12:24 PM, October 05, 2006, Blogger saraclark said...

I appreciate your phrasing of "crafting a person" that is really what it is all about.You are totally on about adopting these children as fashion accessories. I look forward to the next generation of "Mommie Dearest" tell all books to come out about these people.

One of my early questions when Nicole Kidman started hanging out in Nashville was, "Where are the kids?" She and Tom adopted kids, but then got divorced, where did they go? Who do they live with? There will be lots more of those situations as the little accessories grow up.

Soon there will be competition for the coolest and rarest ethnic baby to be found and then also for the sickest/most in need of rescue baby to be adopted and paraded for the paparazzi.

Foster children are still left behind and uncool because they've gotten too big for cuddling.

 
At 1:12 PM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Sista said...

The baby phase is SO brief. They are only babies for a few minutes. Then, they turn into kids. Then, they become teenagers and you begin to question why you ever thought sex might be a good thing. I kid, but, it's true. The baby thing is romantic. A 12 year old boy going through puberty ain't. People don't think about that when they dream of having a "baby."

 
At 3:11 PM, October 05, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Jason, I'd argue that his 99.9% estimation may be generous at best and naive at worst. While Mr. & Mrs. Humanitarian may believe wholeheartedly that they're motivated by the best interest of a needy child, its easy and far too common for some couples to substitute "justification" for "reason".

We can all think of people who are dishonest, unkind, unpleasant, lazy or greedy, but how many of those people will actuall own up to those characteristics? Not many. Rather, people are quick to ascribe only the best motivations to their own behaviors. Adoption is no exception. Ditto for a lot of couples who undergo fertility treatments. For every couple that pursues either course for valid, legitimate reasons, there seem to be two others who do so because they're simply unwilling to take "no" for an answer when it comes to children.

Reality check:

#1. If you're a person who jumped through every hoop in the book to obtain a child and are now having someone else (a grandparent, nanny, daycare, whatever) raise that child for you while you're off adding another tick to your "Am I Being Fulfilled?" checklist, chances are your "I did it for the good of the baby" argument isn't going to hold much water.

#2. If you believe that you need a (or another) baby in order for your family to be complete or to fill some kind of void in your life, you're not doing it for the kid - you're doing it for you.

#3. If you haven't considered the possibility that God simply may not want you to be a parent and you aren't willing to accept that you may never have a child, then there's a slight chance that your pursuit of parenthood is more about you than it is about the child.

Am I cynical? Probably. But I've seen too many people who treat their adopted/test tube children like a status symbol or a ticket to a particular social group/strata to think that I'm entirely wrong.

 
At 9:40 PM, October 05, 2006, Blogger -d said...

hey Sarcastro,

Man I hope you didn't get ripped off, I sold all them the babies fer $150 delivered (I cut a break at 3). Them chinese ones was fussy. Liked to bite knees they did. heh.

In our screwed up would we would be lucky to not have a "celebrity" ruining a child life. I think that's how they make celebrities. but then what the hell do I know, we aren't planning to have kids. Just to damn easy to buy.

Wal-mart is ruining your world-yup

 

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