Monday, August 23, 2010

Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other and other fallacies of adopting internationally

A lively debate is going on in the comments over at the NPR site over NPR weekend host Scott Simon's new book: Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other. When I first got wind of the title a couple of weeks ago, I gagged. It's more of the same that we hear from adoptive parents all the time: this child was "meant" for me, totally subverting the catastrophe in someone's life that led to that child's being available to be adopted.


And that would be the situation and heartache of the child's natural mother, and possibly, father. 

If that baby was meant for you, then I, the natural mother, was meant to be the carrier of that baby and well, you know the rest. How nice for you. I left a comment about the insensitive title a few days ago and Simon seems to address that in his last comment at the site.

A few points of debate over at NPR: Simon talks about how a child's ethnicity is of no great matter, and tells an amusing story about the late Senator Paul Simon's son who was brought up believing he was at least part Native American, only to learn when he connected to his birth/natural/first mother, that she (and possibly the father) were of Swedish origin. She had written down "All American" on the form, and that got translated into "Native" American. This he uses as proof that ethnicity is of little concern. Well...that did not go over so well with several adoptees and some adoptive parents, including Margie over at Third Mom and Malinda at adoptiontalk. Their perspectives are worth reading, as are the comments at the NPR site.

While I decry how Simon downplays the native background and cultural heritage of his children (two from China), in the interview he discusses honestly that the older child, a girl, now seven, is already asking why her mother gave her up, and how that no matter how the question is answered, understanding the reality of how she came to be "meant" for someone else will always remain painful.  I give him credit for thinking this through honestly.

Simon also makes this blanket statement: "It is difficult, time-consuming and expensive to adopt a child in this country," he says. Hmm. And it's not "difficult, time-consuming and expensive" to adopt from China? I think the going rate for the whole package--flights to China, accommodations and food, numerous fees--runs into five figures. If I have that  wrong, please inform us.

And the story--not Simon himself, the writer of the NPR piece--goes on to mention the "natural beauty of adoption." You can understand why I am enjoying using the phrase "natural mother" here today. [Even if for this blog to find readers through a search engine I am instructed to use key words such as "birth mother." Done.] Not having read the book I cannot tell if he and his wife also liked the idea that any ties to, or knowledge of, the natural family of the children's birth was pretty much impossible, as is the case in other adopter memoirs.

Simon, gray-haired and with a receding hairline, and his wife, who is probably now well into her 40s--most likely did not try to have children until they were past the age when it came easy. Like the decade when they were both at their reproductive peak, 20 to 30--hell, even beyond that most women don't have much of a problem for a couple of years. It's after 35 when fertility plummets for females and when the older fathers start producing children with higher chances of being autistic, or having bipolar issues, among other problems. Simon does mention that is the case of most of the people they encountered on their journey to international adoption: couples who faced infertility, fertility treatments, years of hope and expense and despair. I wish some of these well educated, middle class folks who find they must adopt to have a family would study a little biology--reproductive biology--in their teens and put it to use in their twenties.

Yeah, I guess I am sounding cranky today. About this subject, I am a crank. I was reading more about the situation again in Nepal (over at Baby Love Child's blog) and why adoption was closed there, and I got even crankier. Now I know that some children will languish in orphanages in poor nations of the world unless they are adopted; I don't like that, but it is a fact. But the incredible pressure put upon these countries to supply children also leads to there being those children to adopt. Unfortunately today, the market for babies remains strong, and for in many of these countries, corruption is rife and adoption of their homegrown product--the children--is a cash cow.

Many adoptee comments counteract Simon's thesis; if you scroll down through them, you'll come to mine and I wouldn't mind if you hit Recommend. Actually, I'd be downright pleased. You have to register to leave a comment, but it only takes a second and doesn't ask for your bank account number.--lorraine
___________________________
The fact that the green of my shirt in the pix above is nearly a perfect match with the color I chose for the blog two years ago is not quite coincidental. I just happen to have that shirt--it's one of my fave's--and I did not realize until today how closely the two shades matched. Lime green is one of my favorite colors. It's always looked good with my hair color and hazel-green eyes. And it simply appeals to me. Another secret: I'm desperate to lose five pounds. Okay, ten would be better. Those silk pants would fit!

22 comments:

Kim C said...

The title turns me off too. Even if I might otherwise be interested, as an adoptee from Korea, no thanks!

mamamargie said...

I'm an adoptive mother of five kids and I have a problem with this title. All of my children were adopted from foster care here in the US, ONLY after the lengthy reunification plans with their birth parents failed. I understand the loss and grief the child goes through when they cannot be reunited with their birth-parent. We have tried our best to continue contact with their birth families (as long as the birth-parents are sober and clean) and have found that to "lessen" (not sure what the right word is here) the feelings of loss and abandonment.

I realized long ago (after a pretty intense personal struggle with my heart) that these kids would never be MY kids. I am the second mom. But true love always seeks the best for those we love. Now I am thrilled to see them secure and thriving.

As far as it being cheaper and easier to adopt from a foreign country than from America, he is probably referring to infant adoptions. There are plenty of teens, sibling sets, and older kids in the foster care system who are waiting (and really wanting) to be adopted. The process is not hard, nor is it expensive.

Robin said...

His title and comments is also being discussed over at Yahoo Answers. He has said nothing new...it is the same, trite apologists' argument for adoption and disregard for the impact on natural mothers and those who were adopted. Like Nancy Verrier, he does acknowledge the effect on the 7-year-old girl, but, like Verrier, thinks that he and his wife can "fix" it.


And you are right that the demand for infants has created a corrupt industry across the water. I wonder if PAPs ever stop to think that many children are being made to suffer because of their wants and desires? Just a thought, there.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Where, Robin? Can you send link? I just tried to find it and can't.
thanx

Lorraine Dusky said...

Thanks mamamargie for the reaction of an adoptive parent who is raising kids who really needed homes! It's pretty clear that the Simons wanted a blank slate, ie, infants. Who were "meant for them."

No matter that he has defended his use of the title as a "romantic" illusion (at the NPR site), it reeks of insensitivity and a total lack of awareness (or any research into) a point of view that isn't purely pro-adoption for those men and women who delayed marriage and then wanted the reproductive abilities of people in their twenties. Of course, his book is designed to make others of his peer group and proclivity feel good about going overseas to collect multiple blank slates. As I said at NPR comments, I do not doubt that he and his wife love their children--but they and their ilk create the booming worldwide market for such babies. And the market will be satisfied.

CullyRay said...

"If that baby was meant for you, then I, the natural mother, was meant to be the carrier of that baby and well, you know the rest."
The only thing you say that I find misguided is "you know the rest" - they (arrogant, self-righteos, Entitled adoptive parents) DON'T know "the rest" and they don't care to know it. I Thank the Gods that there are not more of these fools... and I really Thank the Gods for Mamas like "mamamargie"!!
hugz and Blessings!

Lorraine Dusky said...

from a review at amazon:

"Scott and his wife married later in life, found that they were unable to have a baby the traditional way. They tried all of the various methods of conception and nothing seemed to work. They looked at each other one day and said "'there are so many babies looking for parents, let's go find ours.'"

So.,...yes Scott Simon and his wife decided to have a family when it was too late for them and so...let's go buy a baby elsewhere. I'm sorry I'm so worked up about this but the title is so offensive I cannot see past it.

Anonymous said...

As it turns out, "meant" is one of those words that often connotes a higher power's involvement. So the use of "meant" or its synonym "destined" might be a little difficult for some. So how about moving from the higher power evoking "meant" to the purely human "needed" as Lorraine used?

Is it possible then that a family of some sort needed to be together? In spite of things not being for the child or either set of parents the way that we think they should be?

I'll confess to being a very poor idealist on the criteria of "needed" adoption as I've been to several international orphanages. The kids were physically healthy with just a few sores, bugs, and rashes. The staff was attentive with a strict schedule for feedings, changings and bathing. Unfortunately there was no prospect of domestic adoption for the children and most would have careers either working in the orphanage or doing hard physical labor. The girls would be poor prospects for marriage.

The orphanages I visited were not created by market pressure from adults who, as Lorraine suggested, should have had kids when they were younger. One can simply do the math - 14-15M abandoned children each year in Simon's country of adoption, but with only 5-7 thousand adopted out internationally each year and with a current 52 month waiting period.

Markets are far far more efficient than that.

Heck, even counterfeit Ping golf clubs, with the latest design and materials, are on the market in that country less than a week after they're released in the states.

These children in these orphanages are the unintended results of people doing what they thought best at the time: Sons taking care of their older parents for thousands of years. A government push to create more Communists for two generations. A one child policy for another. The sum of these actions has resulted in millions of baby girls abandoned on street-corners, killed at birth, or aborted (sometimes forcefully) after their sex was determined by medical ultrasound. This is simply not a market reaction to people of Scott Simon's "ilk" wanting babies too late in life.

But it is a situation of supply and demand. There are simply more children then there are domestic homes that can support them.

The kids I saw just needed to have a home even if they are "blank slates" and even if that meant adoption by someone who we might think should have stopped using birth control earlier.

There are kids of all ages and physical capabilities in all countries who need a home. And, unfortunately, there are already millions who needed one and didn't get it.

Anonymous said...

I'll confess to being a very poor idealist on the criteria of Lorraine's "needed" adoption as I've been to several international orphanages. The kids were physically healthy with just a few sores, bugs, and rashes. The staff was attentive with a strict schedule for feedings, changings and bathing. Unfortunately there was no prospect of domestic adoption for the children and most would have careers either working in the orphanage or doing hard physical labor. The girls would be poor prospects for marriage.

The orphanages I visited were not created by market pressure from adults who, as Lorraine suggested, should have had kids when they were younger. One can simply do the math - 14-15M abandoned children each year in Simon's country of adoption, but with only 5-7 thousand adopted out internationally each year and with a current 52 month waiting period.

Markets are far far more efficient than that.

These children in these orphanages are the unintended results of people doing what they thought best at the time: Sons taking care of their older parents for thousands of years. A government push to create more Communists for two generations. A one child policy for another. The sum of these actions has resulted in millions of baby girls abandoned on street-corners, killed at birth, or aborted (sometimes forcefully) after their sex was determined by medical ultrasound.

This is simply not a market reaction to people of Scott Simon's "ilk" wanting babies too late in life.

maryanne said...

That is a nasty and pompous book title. Ugh. I'd have a hard time getting past that title too.

Lo, the new picture in green is much better than the one in the aqua shirt. Good choice.

Amanda said...

Not only is his title ignorant and dismissive of the adoptee, Original Family, and Original Country's experience (just because a country's government may not cherish their impoverished children does not mean the individuals within the country and families do not). Because they had a positive end for the journey that they were on, it's pressumptive and a priviledge for them to say they were "meant" for each other.

But the child and family whose suffering brough them to a place where a baby was placed in an orphanage?....was that "meant to be too?" I don't think so.

Not only was it an irresponsible sentiment paraded in front of the eyes of a society that generally and obliviously supports adoption, it was full of falacies about China and adoption as many commentors pointed out on the NPR page.

Too expensive to adopt? Yes, if you want an infant. And to some infant adoption makes up all of the only adoption anyone is interested in. Meanwhile there are adoptable children on our own soil in foster who need homes.

I'm as frustrated about this as you Robin.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Dear Anonymous and all others who find fault with my mention of the market for babies and how that affects international adoption:

Click on the two links where indicated in the blog, and that will take you to other stories and sites with further links about the huge abuses that go on to provide babies to willing parents. I know in some cases a true need does exist but the demand for babies far exceeds the supply today, and that creates the market.

You might start with this link


Pound Pup Legacy

And Anonymous, do you have a name? Or do you just hide and not have the nerve to stand behind your comments?

Robin said...

To deny that adoption is a business, a market-place, is to deny reality. It is a $1.6 biilion-a-year PLUS industry. Does anyone really think that the $10K and
$20K or more that they put into adopting and infant really just go into "expenses?"

Children in 3rd world countried are often taken from parents who are unschooled and too poor to fight. Since when did it become wrong for those who are poor to raise their own children?

The evidence is everywhere if you choose to look for it.

Amanda said...

What anon is describing is a reaction to the problem that gives a few children homes and perpetuates the current systems in many countries.

What Lorraine presents, is proactive to solve the problem to keep adoption from being necessary.

Domestic adoption not available? DEMAND that it be.

Orphanages used to manage dependency instead of social welfare programs to keep families together? DEMAND support!

Perfectly capable women surrendering babies because of the extreme stigmas in many countries of singlemotherhood? DEMAND better treatment of women!

What reason does a country's government have to preserve its families if people keep paying $20,000-$70,000 per child to relieve their dependency for them???

No one wants a child left in an orphanage or to go without parents. Let's stop reacting to it and KEEP these children from needing to enter into orphanaged in the first place.

Adoption is a bandaid...and a flimsy one at that.

When only 2% of the demand for young children is able to be met within the U.S. 90% of children who are adopted internationally are under the age of 5 and those who are older receive less interest and go without homes---that's not the market???

unsignedmasterpiece said...

As Scott goes on the book tour promoting his book, I'd like to see someone with the opposite point of view there at every interview. NPR is his home turf I gather so I guess they weren't about to kill his buzz but a real journalistic approach should involve both sides - or in the case of adoption - all three sides of the story. Not just the adoptive parent fairytale.

First said...

The adoption industry does exist. Babies and children are routinely stolen, bought and sold both internationally and domestically. The adoption industry is a 5 Bil unregulated industry in the US where babies are seen as a commodity to think anything else is ignorant of the facts.

http://poundpuplegacy.org/

Tamara Whitmore said...

As an adult adoptee, I am infuriated by this continuing and relentless "marketing" of the unnatural. I was NOT destined nor meant to complete anyone's family, nor was my mother put here to solve the infertility of my adoptive parents. I am always incredulous at the rampant insensitivity exhibited by PAP's and the adoption industry. Truly, we are relegated to merchandise once again, and our mothers cast into the role of livestock, here to breed for the infertile.

Mamamargie, bless you, for getting it, I'm happy for your kids and for you.

Anonymous... no matter how you spin it, it's still "marketing", and marketing usually involves selling a product and providing a service. Sound familiar adoptees and firstmoms?

Tamara Whitmore

maryanne said...

anon wrote:Is it possible then that a family of some sort needed to be together? In spite of things not being for the child or either set of parents the way that we think they should be? "

Short answer is NO. Replacing the word "meant" with the word "need" in this context does nothing to correct the insult. While children in orphanages need families, no one child either needs or is meant for a specific adoptive family. It is the luck of the draw and the attractiveness of the child. Some are adopted, some left behind. Some go to families tragically unsuited for them, resulting in disrupted adoptions, abuse, and in a few cases murder. Were those "meant to be" or what the child "needed" as well?

Even if all the people who wanted to adopt from other countries were able to just walk in and get a child, that would still be a drop in the bucket for child welfare in troubled and impoverished countries. As Amanda said, just a bandaid on a serious wound.

Changing the words around does not make this book or its title any less arrogant and repulsive. I do not think all international adoption is wrong or corrupt, but this book does nothing to tell any truth but that of entitled prospective adoptive parents. It leaves a bad taste.

lukesmama said...

One only has to watch a number of the documentaries that are out there (such as one I saw recently on Dateline) to see that babies are a HUGE market in other countries, never mind in the United States.

The Dateline show was about Guatemalan adoptions and it shows the undercover reporter asking an "adoption facilitator" what to do if a prospective parent had a charge of sexual abuse on their record. He didn't even BLINK! Told the woman to "take it off" the homestudy, i.e. doctor the records. All he saw was dollar signs. He'd been sanctioned by the United Nations and yet U.S. agencies were STILL using him!

Closer to home I have seen up close and personal how adoption is most definitely a business. I was asked to be in the delivery room of a young woman who had made an adoption plan with an agency. At one point I was walking down a hallway with the woman's boyfriend and the agency representative (not sure that she was an actual social worker). Anyway the agency rep asked how I thought the woman was doing. I replied that she was very nervous. The rep replied "About what?" with a look of genuine (or ignorant!) surprise on her face. I said "About losing her baby!" DUH. YOU MORON.

Next thing I knew, the rep was in the labor room. She stepped out and I asked the young woman if she had invited the rep to be present. She said "No" and I said "Do you want her here?" And she said "No, but..."

In other words she was too intimidated to ask the woman to leave. So I had a nurse do it.

The point of the story is that the agency rep was inserting herself where she was not wanted or invited. So she could be ready to guilt the pregnant woman in whatever way possible. Heck, her paycheck depended on it!

I knew they'd already coaxed or brainwashed her into a certain way of thinking because at one point she was crying and saying that she "only had 48 hours" with her baby. I said "he's your baby - take him home before you decide anything". Know what her reply was? "Is that legal?"

Legal?? To take your OWN baby home from the hospital?? Where do you think she got an idea like that if it wasn't from the agency?

And why would the agency be pushing an agenda like that if their livelihoods didn't depend on it?

And people think there's not truly a "market" out there for babies?

Let's get real people.

Angelle said...

I heard him talking about his book on Fresh Air on WNYC and thought I might have to pull the car over and throw up. I am thinking about NEVER contributing to public radio again in my life. Better than stalking him to give his entitled a$$ a piece of my mind!

Mirah Riben said...

Same topic - another blog post:

http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2010/08/adoption-fantasy-fulfillment-at-price.html

walker said...

I just stumbled upon this blog. When I saw a review of "Baby..." I was silently enraged at the title and the assumptions it holds. But didn't realize that others would be. Almost 40 years ago I lost my daughter to adoption, and even though we have found each other, and have a very strong relationship, we both continue to suffer emotionally from the wrenching loss, the confusion, and feeling at odds with the way society normally portrays adoption. Suddenly I am stumbling upon all sorts of blogs and such that confirm my inner knowing that adoption is deeply damaging, except perhaps in situations where it is truly a 'rescue'. Perhaps. I am just 'coming out' as it were about how really it feels, tired of being given a hard time for not getting over it, and until now keeping my mouth shut about how horrified I am about the sickening rise in international adoption of babies. Thank you for being here.