Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Adoption in the Air
Not in today's world.
Two Sundays ago I read the New York Times's Modern Love in the Style section (To Nurture Again, With Courage), and discover early on that it is the story of how a woman feels when her two-year-old daughter adopted from China is ill, as this girl is a replacement for her natural daughter who died a year or so earlier. Okay, I'm thinking, that's got to be weird, growing up knowing that you only ended up in that family because--somebody else died. I think about writing a letter, but you know, sometimes I am just tired of it all.
That night, or the next, I watch Criminal Minds and come upon a story about a nutjob and his just-as-sick dying wife who pay someone to abduct blonde, blue-eyed girls of child-bearing age whom they lock up in the basement, impregnate and hope for a boy to replace the boy-child who died several years earlier. If a girl is born, she is left at a church and put up for adoption. (Shades of China, right?) The nutcase couple have already given away a couple of girls, the guy has killed the teenagers who were unfortunate to give birth to girls, but the investigators can amazingly enough trace one of those kids (through DNA left on the corpse which has been dug up, yes, it's icky but that's modern science) to the real grandparents. (Real, I said, real, yes I did.)
You, dear reader, can already see where this is going. Do we have another Baby Anna Schmidt/Jessica DeBoer/Anna Mae He case on our screens? Will the grandparents sue for custody, ripping the child from the loving arms of the strangers who have given her the only home she knows? The script contains a bit discussion about the grandparents' legal right to their offspring, and what's in the best interest of the child, should not the child stay in her stable home? Someone says that the grandparents would probably not have any trouble getting the kid back, as they are her biological grandparents, and I'm thinking, What planet do you live on, scriptwriter? No problem? And the kid is....what six or seven? Have you read about these kinds of cases in the last twenty years? Now I'm hooked, for sure. No changing channels til I see how this plays out.
Of course, by the hour's end, the secret basement jail is found, the young mother who just gave birth to a boy still there is happily reunited with her child immediately, but the darling blond boy found upstairs watching television when the cops came in? Who is currently being raised by the nutjob parents? Mom is dying (stage four breast cancer), dad is clearly going to prison. Is the boy going to go "into the system?" No, we have a tidy ending to make everybody happy. Fortunately, he is also the offspring of the aforementioned grandparents, sharing their DNA, and the fade out shows them meeting him while a voice over informs us that the adoptive parents of their other grandchild has agreed to some sketchy idea of visitation. Whew!
Yesterday afternoon a friend who is the health honcho at Consumer Reports sent me a press release from the University of North Carolina informing me that children adopted from overseas have no greater disabilities than children adopted domestically:
For immediate use: Monday, Oct. 26, 2009
UNC study: Disability rates similar for internationally, domestically
CHAPEL HILL - Children adopted from overseas have disability rates similar to those adopted from within the United States, according to new research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Results of the first national study of disabilities among internationally adopted children appear in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics. The study's authors are Philip N. Cohen, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Carolina Population Center, and Rose M. Kreider, Ph.D. of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Cohen and Kreider examined data from the 2000 U.S. Census for about 82,220 internationally and 972,200 domestically adopted children with sensory, physical, mental and self-care disabilities. They found that disability rates for internationally adopted children (11.7 percent) and domestically adopted children (12.2 percent) were more than twice the rate for all children aged 5 to 15 (5.8 percent).
Other findings related to international adoptees' gender, age at
adoption and country of origin included:
* Girls (10.2 percent, compared to 13.7 percent of boys) and infants (7.2 percent, vs. 15.2 percent of children adopted at ages 2 to 4, and 9.9 percent of children adopted at ages 5 to 9) were less likely to have
* Disability rates for Chinese and Korean adoptees were noticeably lower than that of domestic adoptees (3.7 percent and 7.1 percent vs. 12.2 percent); however, the rate was close to twice as high among children
adopted from Romania (21.1 percent).
* Internationally adopted children were significantly more likely to have sensory disabilities (2 percent vs. 1.4 percent), but less likely to have mental disabilities (9.7 vs. 10.9) than children adopted from within the U.S.
* Internationally adopted boys; children aged 8 to 13; those who lived with single parents; and children with non-Hispanic white parents were most likely to have a disability.
Cohen, the parent of two daughters adopted from China, said he hoped the finding that international adoption by itself does not constitute a greater risk for disability than domestic adoption would dispel some
stereotypes about international adoption.
(Okay, a comment--What stereotypes about adoption? We are pelted with pictures of adorable girls from China, cute boys from Ethiopia, sweet girls from Guatemala.)
"I hope it will help prevent alarmism about international adoption," he said. "The information is important for health, education and social services professionals as well as adoptive parents, and it may help policymakers assess the risks and challenges these children face and identify the resources necessary to address them."
Cohen said all adopted children face risks, but parents and service providers can prevent and respond to those challenges. "Children in need of families are our youngest, most vulnerable citizens," he said.
Last night on the Wendy Williams Show, the Times said that The Locator, Troy Dunn, would be a guest. But I could not even find the "Wendy Williams Show" on the tube so I missed that. But give me a few hours. I'm sure I'll run into an adoption connection before the day is out. I'm going to see Capitalism in a few hours, but I'm sure something will come along.
But I think I'll avoid having a burger afterward at the Corner Bar where a paper placemat in the past featured an 800 number for women with babies to relinquish to call.--lorraine