On Scandal (TV show set in Washington DC among politicos) last week I come upon a gay Older Man who believes his younger lover and partner is cheating on him. Older Man checks the record of his lover's calls on his cellphone, and has him followed. When he learns Younger Man is not cheating, Older Man decides to do something that he knows Younger Man wants: acquire a baby. Younger Man comes home for dinner to a beautifully set table, candles in silver candelabra, etc., catered gourmet dinner. What's the occasion, asks Younger Man, now befuddled. What are they celebrating?
A WHITE NEWBORN IS THE GIFT
Older Man then pulls out a picture of a baby and says they can bring her home in a week, and isn't that what you wanted? YES AND YES AND YES. Much enthusiasm over the prize: a newborn! A white newborn! A girl! Younger Man will quit his job and stay home with the baby...(yeah, right)...and when he asks Older Man how he was able to get the head of the line, Older Man says because he is a "Republican overlord," a moniker I kinda like.
Later in program, cut to scene of Younger Man in baby store, meeting clandestinely with another guy. He hands him a flash drive. What is this? Younger Man is playing the Older Man in order to get information on what the Republican Overlord is doing illegally. Uh oh.
Stay tuned. I will now definitely have to catch more Scandal to find out what happens. Thank god a real baby isn't involved.
Babies as barter to keep a lover....
Just before New Year's Eve I had my hair high lighted; my colorist has been doing my hair, off and on, for a couple of decades. She knew my daughter; she cut my daughter's hair; I remember when my stylist became engaged, when she got divorced, and now her oldest is a freshman in college. So we go back. She has a small cottage in the back of her house which she rents out, usually only during the summer, but she tells me she has it rented for these two weeks to a gay couple who came out to "get a baby" from Southampton Hospital. She is not quite saying, isn't that great! but she is implying how...er, interesting and cool this is. I do not react. My mind reaches to the mother somewhere, wondering if she has already had the baby, if she might change her mind. I say nothing. I am too stunned, and besides, what would I say? Start a tirade about how terrible adoption is, for the mother, for the adopted? There's more....
PITY THE POOR WHO ARE NOT REPUBLICAN OVERLORDS
Last Sunday's New York Times Modern Love column by Jennifer Hauseman was about two lesbians and the heartache and difficulty they have getting a baby who was born to someone else. First, oh, the heartbreak when a mother decides to keep her baby: "The next day we spent the morning in tears, telling only our immediate family that the grandchild they were so excited for was not coming. We told other friends via e-mail and asked them to tell anyone we had missed, as each time we said it out loud it felt like pushing on a deep, spreading bruise."
There is not a scintilla of understanding that maybe it was best for the baby to stay with her mother and the mother's extended family, as I have actually heard come from the mouths of some celebrities who adopt. (At least, I have read it). Nothing. But this, instead: "In the car, I gasped out loud, breaking the heavy silence. I remembered that our automatic e-mail replies for work were on, telling colleagues we had started maternity leave." Then there is the noxious problem that the agency is lax in returning the "small amount of the thousands we paid that we were entitled to as a refund." Because they are not a legally recognized couple, the writer's partner was the only one who had the burden of chasing down the refund due them. Poor woman, the writer is saying--so unfair! A baby gets to grow up with his natural family! Poor us, my partner had to do this alone while the writer had to stand idly by!
We hear more of their sad travail: As unmarried lesbians, there is no country from which an openly gay couple can legally adopt. Most states are against them too. While the couple is wallowing in pain over not getting someone else's baby, they have no clue of the pain the mother would have suffered, how long it will last. This baby is unique to the mother and cannot be replaced, but to adoptive parents, no matter how they write about how "god meant them to be together," they do move on, to the next baby. Babies are fungible to prospective adoptive parents; the baby not adopted can be replaced by the baby adopted. They are not concerned that the baby will not look like them, or have similar traits because neither baby would. The likelihood of similarities between the adopted individual and their adopted parents is statistically no greater than chance. Yes, nurture will create a bond, and common familiarities, but sharing the likelihood of having, say, flat feet, or an appreciation of playing with makeup and dressing up, is no greater than sharing those characteristics with a stranger on the street.
Our disappointed lesbian couple, the writer says, at least could comfort themselves with the thought that they had the resources to try again for someone else's baby. This time, they sensibly opt for an adoption that will be completely open: not only will they be out as a gay couple, but the adoption will be open. But again, the poor-me attitude: the average wait for a straight couple is 13 months. For gays: 16! While the writer Hauseman is going for outrage over the discrimination gays and lesbians face in the adoption process, she betrays a complete lack of sensitivity about what adoption means to the mother who has just given birth. There is no understanding or acknowledgement of the lifelong sorrow and distress, the cost to her self-esteem, the devastating blow to her ego as she now faces life without her baby. Furthermore, there is no recognition that being adopted is emotionally wrenching for an individual's lifetime; all she would have to do would be to read some blogs, or even just look at the comments at FMF left by adoptees in a recent blog musing why adoptees are not en masse demanding their rights. And I know this story has a "happy" ending for the writer, it's in the headline: "Three Mothers, One Bond."
Eventually they are chosen by "the kind of 20-year-old that worked the cash register at a trendy hair salon." Cool, right? They romance her with sushi, she likes them, they love her. "She said she had picked us, in part, because she had read that lesbians have the longest wait for adoptions of all, and she wanted to right that wrong. How could we not love her?" [Emphasis added.] They love her because she is giving them what they so desperately want--her product! Her baby. She is their glorious handmaid, the vessel who will deliver. A baby.
WASHINGTON LAW TITLED TO FAVOR ADOPTERS
The couple tell her of their previous failed adoption (from our point of view, a success story) and by doing so amp up the pressure to get her baby. "She knew our story, and our deep sadness. 'I won’t do that to you,' she would say. 'I won’t change my mind.'" She does not disappoint. In Washington State, birth parents have 48 hours after birth to change their minds, but because "our daughter" was born on a Thursday morning and courts are closed on weekends, they had to wait four whole days for the mother's rights to be terminated. Washington has one of the most "adoption-friendly" consent laws in the country. Mothers sign surrenders before the birth, and have only 48 hours after birth or the next business day after 48 hours to revoke the surrender.
Of course they are fearful that a mother's love and all those hormones to shelter and protect one's own baby would not take hold over the weekend, and if that happens they will have to "burn" their lives down. Sleep is uneasy, they are distressed that they cannot get the word Monday morning, because judges don't like it when lawyers rush into terminate parental rights. At 10:15 p.m. Monday night, they do get word; the baby is theirs for keeps, a mere four days after she was born. Four days is an unreasonable amount of time for the birth mother to have after birth, when her body is flooded with hormones and milk, before she signs an irrevocable termination of her parental rights. Some states allow up to 30 days for her to withdraw her consent to termination. That at least is humane policy.
The writer texts the birth mother that they would like to see her soon; she texts back that they will. That first visit has to be the hardest of them all. One wonders how soon she will actually be able to visit.
I know the open adoption here is supposed to make this story better, but coming on the heels of these other examples of baby hunger for other people's babies, it was just too much. After all that we know about the unhappy effects of adoption on first mothers, and the adopted, and what the whole process does to the will and soul of the adopted--I am terminally sad. I am beyond being angry. It really is an era where young fertile handmaids are supplying babies to those who can afford them.--lorraine
OBC-ACCESS Petition fails while protest on Russian adoption ban flourishes
The Handmaid's Tale In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. A book by the brilliant and honored writer, Margaret Atwood. It was made into a 1990 film.
Son "They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel (mother) at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product (a child) at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.
Son thrusts readers once again into the chilling world of the Newbery Medal winning book, The Giver, as well as Gathering Blue and Messenger where a new hero emerges. In this thrilling series finale, the startling and long-awaited conclusion to Lois Lowry’s epic tale culminates in a final clash between good and evil."--Amazon. Oddly enough, I came across this at a local place where people leave books they no longer want and picked it up not knowing anything about it. It is a Handmaid's Tale for the young adult reader, but beautifully written and with an absorbing story on its own. I'd never heard of the series, but the cover and title intrigued me. I'm reading it now. It needs to be in the hands of more young women before they are seduced into giving up their babies. Those who do don't realize what adoption does to the mother, to the individual handed over to others. They just don't know, they don't want to know. Says The New York Times Book Review:
"A quiet, sorrowful, deeply moving exploration of the powers of empathy and the obligations of love."