The piece makes the nod to the adoptive father as the lifelong, long suffering caregiver who provided food and shelter, but points out that he is not the father " in the sense that you [Zuckerberg] are his authentic, natural child." Okay, I admit I smiled at that--at the language, at the choice of non-PC words.
The "letter writer" dealt with the mother by saying she disappeared in a remote area of the upper Amazon, and was the kind of person who lived off the grid: No social security number, no tax returns, no credit cards, not utility bills, "no traceable means whatsoever, ever." The "letter" to Zuckerberg goes on:
Well, we were two scared kids — that is, now there was just one of us, me, and I was 38 years old, in a tough situation — and when I got back to the United States, I very reluctantly put you up for adoption. In this so-called blind adoption, the adoptive parents believe the child is their own. It’s complicated. Maybe we should keep the whole thing between ourselves. Why upset Ed and Karen, who are such terrific people?I'm sure the piece has hit all kinds of outrage buttons--and to judge from Facebook, it has--but it comes on the heels of the many pieces that Jobs's adoption that have been in the media. (Our posts about Jobs, incidentally, have been among our most popular because of the number of people searching the web for just such pieces.)
I WILL HATE JUNO UNTIL THE DAY I DIE
Me? I wasn't upset by the Times Op-Ed--in fact, I did find the piece humorous, in black humor kind of way. Yet of course I can see the objections. The fact that the satire was not written by an adoptee is what galled so many adoptees, to judge from the comments. African-Americans can familiarly use the N-word when talking about to and to each other, but from the mouth of a white person, it has a whole different meaning. If Collins is an adoptee, he ought to have made that known. As a non-adoptee, I did see the piece as absurd and satirical because it overstated everything (lung-heart-liver transplant?), and so could smile. But...
As a mother who relinquished a child, I hated just about everything in Juno, the Oscar-winning movie (for original script!) that made seem like giving up a child was a lark, with a momentary sad moment. I could see why people found it amusing, even though I was crying profusely and blowing my nose throughout the whole friggen two hours. And I can't even discuss it with anyone who isn't part of adoption.What galled me the most. perhaps, was that the script came out of the head of a young woman named Diablo Cody who said that she imagined what it would have been like if she had gotten pregnant in high school and...not had an abortion? Diablo, really? You are clueless.
Other than Juno, Perhaps I'm inured to the constant references to adoption in the media today, and as a plot device on just about any dramatic show: Unforgettable, a new drama on CBS recently had an adoptive father have the biological father murdered rather than share visitation (the natural dad had not signed any papers); NCIS (last week, apparently, this reference is thanks to Mark Plotczyk at Facebook); every fourth of fifth plot of Law and Order, SVU; I stopped watching Grey's Anatomy a zillion years ago when the character played by Katherine Heigl turned out to be a secret first mother and she convinces a young African-American mother to give up her child for the benefit of everyone; to judge from the promos Parenthood seems to have a running adoption story; a couple years ago Brothers and Sisters had a first mother as an African-American doctor who didn't want the updates on her child offered by the adopter, played by Calista Flockhart, a real adopter. The percentage of any black women giving up their babies is miniscule, less than one percent, so how was this related to reality? Really? A black doctor in her thirties gives up her kid? And of course there is the current Glee controversy. We'll get to that tomorrow.
But back to the Times. The newspaper of record, as it is called, has been so very slow to respond to the sealed-birth-records story that it has set it back. This history of ignoring what has consumed us for decades goes back decades, as E.Wayne Carp notes in Family Matters: "Between 1971 and 1975 the New York Times barely noticed the movement, publishing only one article, which appeared not in the news section but in the "Family, food, Fashions and Furnishings" section.
OPEN-RECORDS MOVEMENT GETS COLD SHOULDER
In the Eighties, when Charlotte Curtis ran the Op-Ed Page I was able to publish three pieces there about the drive to unseal original birth records; Charlotte, incidentally, had been the editor of the Family, Food...etc section during that time that Carp covers, and, in full disclosure, I knew Charlotte personally. She had been the editor who hired me during my brief tenure at the Times, and also the one who old me "it wasn't working out..." (I was assigned crazy stuff--for me--to cover and I was at a loss--what did I know about minor, very fringe, visiting royalty?)
But since Charlotte Curtis's reign, it's been nada for adoption reform on the Op-Ed Page, though not for lack of trying--including earlier this year when the push in New Jersey issue was hot on everyone's mind. I wrote two pieces, both rejected; I've written others over the years whenever I thought adoption reform was in the news enough to get space. Do I believe my writing has gone down hill and is no longer Times worthy? No. The late Betty Jean Lifton did manage to get a couple of pieces in the paper about loss and search and reunion, but they were decades ago. Even the last battle in New Jersey (that is a neighboring state to New York) got very little press (or any at all?) in the Times.
The last time I remember the Times ran an Op-Ed piece about sealed records it was from the point of view of an adoptee who doesn't want to search, Ellen Ullman.* That is what the Times Op-Ed wants to cover: the anti-open-records-adoptee crowd. That, and, of course, the humor of an absentee biological father trying to cadge money off his ridiculously wealthy--and adopted--son.--lorraine
You might also like: *Further thoughts on Ellen Ullman's life in the dark
and Maine Yes! But this fight ain't over yet;
Birth Mother's Lament: The Pain of Giving Away My Baby