Thursday, November 1, 2012

N. Korean adoption bill wins Demon in Adoption

Lorraine
As far as I can tell, the Demon in Adoption award goes to the U.S House of Representatives for "for fast-tracking H.R. 1464: North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2011, a measure that in effect by-passes the limited safe-guards in place in international adoption, to bring North Korean children to the U.S. for adoption." The House won the prestigious annual Pound Pup Legacy award by a margin of four votes, 71 to 67 over Oxygen Network. (One  reminder that everyone's vote counts. In every election. )

Oxygen, of course, was a close second for producing the "absolutely horrendous show "I'm Having Their Baby, a tasteless, manipulative, coercive, and intrusive" reality show that peeked into the lives of vulnerable women trying to cope with an unplanned pregnancy. Oxygen was my choice but I did not vote, due to not
having voted early, and then having no Internet connection in the aftermath of Stomin' Sandy. I have only seen one episode of I'm Having, but the title made me gag before I watched two minutes of it.

Downed phone poles near our house
Let me explain why Oxygen and the very idea of I'm Having a Kid for Someone Else makes me nauseous. What stuff like this in the popular media does is make it seem perfectly reasonable that a woman of 25 or a teen of 15 carry a child to term with the thought, Hey, I'm doing a good thing, I'm making someone happy, I'll have this baby and give it to them and won't that be great? More shows like this make adoption seem, well, normal. And they are everywhere: there is the sweet couple on Modern Family with an adopted Asian child shopping around for a second to adopt; the couple on The New Normal having a baby via surrogate with an egg from a woman off stage; plus countless episodes on series such as Law & Order, SVU, Grey's Anatomy, Harry's Law, In Plain Sight, and god-knows-what-else where adoption is likely to pop up. I tuned out on Grey's Anatomy when the very first time I watched the show (season one or two)  a nurse who turned out to a a first mother convinced a teenager to make the "right" decision and give up her baby. Adoption is the issue de jour it seems, everywhere. Normal.

Kinda like, you know, back when slavery was normal. And families were separated willy-nilly when someone died, or someone needed to settle their debts, or just because. I know this comparison makes some people crazy, and yes I know adoptive parents are not slavers, but bear with me for a moment.

Sag Harbor back street two days after Sandy
I'm reading a fantastic book right now, Help Me to Find My People, about the African American search for families broken apart because of slavery and everything it says about mothers and children and husbands and wives and siblings being separated can be said about modern adoption today. The author, Heather Andrea Williams, has collected letters and newspaper ads and stories about the separation and search that went on before and after emancipation and the quotes could be written by mothers (first mothers, birth mothers, any mother!) and adoptees today. I leave you with this quote by John Brown, a former slave: Brown said he was so "stupefied with grief and fright" when sold away from his mother than he could not shed a tear though his heart was bursting.

I will write more about this amazing book very soon.--lorraine
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From FMF:
'I'm Having Their Baby' turns into 'I'm keeping MY baby'

After the storm at the ocean
Personal update: Our house, on high ground for this area, withstood the fringe of the storm quite well, even though we are near the water at the end of Long Island. My village is called Sag Harbor, and the harbor itself is just down the block. Streets and low-lying parking lots were flooded. Though most of Sag Harbor lost power, we did not. Starbucks in a nearby town this morning was packed with folks using WiFi, plugging in their cell phones. (We kept a land line and so while others had no phone or only cells, we were fine.) Only Internet went dark, and that cut off any television or computer links until this morning. But having been without power for several days before, we were prepared with kerosene lamps, candles, batteries, and Scrabble. We used none of them, went to dinner at a neighbors one night, had friends over last night. Made a great coc au vin, I did.

Help Me to Find My People: The African American Search for Family Lost in Slavery
"Williams examines the historical fact of family separation and renders its emotional truth. She is the rare scholar who writes history with such tenderness that her words can bring a reader to tears. . . . [The book] has a propulsive narrative flow, and with each successive chapter the suppleness of Williams's prose grows."--New York Times Book Review



12 comments :

  1. "The New Normal" is perhaps even more fraught than you mention. The egg is a "donor" egg from a "Gwyneth Paltrow look-alike" that both partners fell in love with via video. In that first episode, as well, did you catch the line about the one partner wishing he were able to special order a skinny, blond child? All for laughs, of course. We children are here to please and amuse.

    One recent episode centered on the surrogate and her daughter realizing that they had no real role in the future of this family they were helping to create. The sorrow was neatly elided by having the gay couple ask the young daughter to be one of the baby-to-be's godparents. Even the person running the agency went so far as to call surrogate a "storage unit on legs" or something similar. I cannot remember the exact wording. The daughter was heartbroken to realize that the baby-to-be has no genetic relationship to her. The disposability and emotional vulnerability of both mother and daughter were underlined broadly and then half-heartedly fixed by the end of the episode.

    In real life, I bet the provincial mother and daughter would be chucked aside, but this is sitcom land. The show's creators and writers need conflict to drive the show, and make the racist, homophobic grandmother the "bad" red herring. The audience is supposed to be angry with/pity her, while not thinking too hard about the use of humans (egg donor, surrogate) before our eyes. It's all about *family building*, which is to be praised.

    I must say that when the show first went on the air, I read reviews that said some of the characters were unbelievable, especially the grandmother. I have more family members like the grandmother (as in who say similarly outrageously terrible things about certain groups of people), than I can count. So she's less of a caricature than the critics might think. Then again, those critics probably don't have as many relatives in the heartland as I do.

    "The New Normal" is a trainwreck of a show, for sure, as in I cannot avert my eyes from the destruction. I had respected the creator/writer, Ryan Murphy, who also did "Nip/Tuck." He has sharp wit and some great social insights, but too often, women end up subject to what seem to be his frustrations.

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  2. In Plain Sight had the main character single with an unplanned pregnancy and made sn adoption plan. But she changed her mind and brought her baby home. In another episode an an adoptee and his natural father were reunited and the primal wound a baby suffers were mentioned.

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  3. @Michele,

    Happy New Decade!

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  4. Right, Anon, I was watching In Plain Sight myself as the main character was considering adoption even though there was no real reason for her to go that route because she certainly was the modern woman who would have had an abortion, if she was not planning to keep. In Plain Sight is off the air though, right? They did do a fantastic job once with a homeless guy (with a high IQ who lived in the basement of a library) and the story line centered around finding his real family...and they did. As I recall, they only found his father. I remember weeping with joy when it had that ending.

    And Anon, I too cannot avert my eyes form The New Normal because it is funny... and I keep wondering what the are going to do next. I forgot that the egg was from someone else, but I do remember the truly smarmy and funny guy who ran the agency where they got the egg, now that you remind me. Of course they have to keep the likable surrogate mother in the show, so they will find a way. In the meantime I'll correct the post.

    Many thanks...Did you catch the episode is which the gay couple was having a fit over the fact that their surrogate was a Republican> and going to vote for Romney? But since it's not her egg...

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  5. Will somebody leave a comment? I have been told the comment box is not coming up. Just "Say Anything"...(that's one of my favorite movies) as a test.
    thanks/.

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  6. OK, I always have something to say:-)Those of us reading this have power now, please do something for those devastated by the storm. My town is collecting supplies to be distributed to the hard-hit areas as are many towns. Money is needed by the Red Cross and other groups, and some have skills they can volunteer if able to get gas and get out. Doing even a small thing for others makes you feel less helpless in the face of so much suffering.

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  7. Okay, test worked. I have no thoughts in my head for a new blog and so it may be a while...

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  8. Lorraine, did you see the Opinion piece in the Times on Sunday, "Making Babies, Just to Make Ends Meet," about serial surrogacy?

    Very sad to me. The woman had had three babies via surrogacy, for a total of $115,000. The last pregnancy, which started as a triplet pregnancy, ended up with only a singleton birth and preterm labor/delivery.

    The surrogate is now 39, thinking about having her own child with her husband, but still needing to pay the bills and probably going to have another baby via surrogacy. It's a business, and her health and the infant's future and identity are on the line.

    I Googled the essay and found that other folk, not just people in adoptoland, are unsettled by the variables at work in this morass. That at least was heartening. I am glad that the entitlement aspect is transparent to more people than just our little corner of the world.

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  9. Maryanne,

    I am on West coast. Trust me we know what's happening. It's all about donating money for those who need it and are hurting.
    Too bad our wealthy citizens Hollywood where are you?
    Sports teams where are they? Politicians where are you?
    Not just there for photo opps.
    ITS always middle America or lower America supporting any disaster. Even in other countries. We are here and we ARE donating. Just recently I received a bill for fire service it NOT a tax it's a fee. I didn't vote fir this and already pay fire service in my taxes. Double taxed for fire I need earthquake insurance but will donate to eastern part of United States because they need help.

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  10. Yep, anon (why anon, who not pick a name you would like to have, or your real first name?) I did see this piece and am mulling over writing about it. As I read your comment...

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  11. Since you are talking about these shows - here's a new one coming - I guess this fall - no idea it doesn't say! LOL!
    It's called "Giant Baby" - starring Rhea Perlman and Kirstie Alley. On the new comendy, Alley plays Madison "Maddie" Banks, a Broadway star whose life gets turned upside down when the son she put up for adoption 26 years earlier trackers her down to form a relationship. Perlman will portray Maddie's assistant & best friend, Thelma, who encourages Alley's character to let her nerdy son Arlo back into her life."

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