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!