Archive for January 1st, 2008

This post began as a reply to a comment from Gershom on yesterday’s post.

I didn’t mean to accuse Gershom of ignoring the suffering of children, but to point out this as one of the reasons for my strong advocacy.

Of course families can be “adopted”, and if everyone who could supported just one other than their own the world would be a better place. Millions of dollars are spent daily by organizations and governments who have been charged with the duty to care for the people they cover, and some actually do spend a portion of that money helping, yet every year the orphan numbers increase.

Adoption “as we know it today” is a very big umbrella, and to oppose everything under that umbrella seems simplistic and short-sighted to me … rather like that “throwing the baby out with the bath water” thing, especially with so many “babies” in the “bath”.

Changes to the various systems, reform, providing other options in addition … all are necessary and some are happening, albeit too slowly in many opinions. It seems arrogant, however, to demand immediate changes by developing nations when the foster system in the US is a train wreck that is ignored year after year. It’s real people lost in the lurch when programs close, and although some might consider them collateral damage, rest assured those taking the hits don’t look at it so cavalierly.

I also must add that not all bio families should be preserved, that biology does not a good parent guarantee, and that many more children than do would benefit from adoptive families. And contrary to some thought, not everyone who conceives wants to parent, and those that don’t deserve options.

I know this will rub many the wrong way, but in my view a world with more adoption, not less, would be a better world than the one we have now. If every child beaten, abused or neglected, every child victim orphaned by war, by AIDS, by famine or abandoned by need or greed could be placed in a safe and loving family … in my mind, the closer we get to this idea, the closer we are as a species to showing our worth.

Given the huge numbers of children in the circumstances described, however, reaching any more than a tiny fraction isn’t possible. It’s that tiny fraction I hold out hope for and argue in favor of.

World peace, an end to global hunger and grinding poverty, wiping out corruption and discouraging cupidity are all noble goals, and I support any and all efforts toward accomplishing these and more. Once again, however, holding out hope that any of this happens on a grand scale in my time rather disputes the lessons of history and ignores too much of the base nature of humans.

So, while striving to create a world that is fair and bountiful and loving, more than 200 million children suffer, and if a few thousand of those can be adopted by families who adore them hope lives and a few more resources are freed for others.

Adoption is so often an apples/oranges discussion … while I’m picturing five-year-old Cambodian sex slaves someone else has in mind a 20-something American woman being coerced into relinquishing. My favoring more adoption so fewer children are sniffing glue to keep warm under Romanian streets is interpreted as an encouragement to grab babies from loving mothers in crisis.

Conversely, when someone demands family preservation, what comes to my mind are children ending up dead because a bio family was given one more chance too many. Insistence that reform means governments take control of adoptions has me thinking of deeply imbedded corruption that has and will continue to blithely sacrifice children in favor of political milage and blatant greed.

Calls to end the option of adoption for the children of the world rarely come from the uninvolved, and usually sound very much as if they issue from those with an axe to grind. When such calls come from adoptees, and especially strident calls that sometimes go as far as to claim anyone is better off dead than adopted … this is not an unknown claim, although certainly not universal, as Gershom shows … it can appear as an attempt to capture some sort of higher ground that others aren’t entitled to. When it’s birth mothers making demands to end adoption, sour grapes are the most likely flavor suspected. The contingent of adoptive parents rallying forces to end adoption seem to many to be wandering around in those hair shirts I wrote about not long ago.

Although everyone is assuredly entitled to their opinions, attempts to impose those opinions on everyone else should not come under any perceived mandate, and a ban on adoption is one fell swoop of an imposition.

Those of us advocating for adoption would never presume to insist that everyone adopt a child or hint than any family who has yet to do so is intrinsically evil or stupid or selfish. We will never insist that every orphaned, abandoned or neglected child in the world be adopted, and that the failure to make this happen is a criminal act of global proportions, and it is difficult for us to understand the vociferousness of those for whom the opposite is a strong enough urge to create the sort of venom that is so often injected into what should be reasonable discussions about the welfare of children.

Once more, the apples/oranges conflict comes into play, and a conversation that begins in one mind as a levelheaded approach to serious social issues translates to an attack on all that is sacred in the American family.

It seems that the key to many of the closed doors that separate the adoption community from itself should be the children. Sounds simple enough, but when one take has it that the corrupt practice that tainted their adoption experience is reason enough to halt all adoptions while others point their focus toward the huge numbers of children for whom adoption has been or could be wonderful, the conversation tends to break down. Add voices of those considering themselves permanently damaged and others longing more than anything for a child to love and the resulting cacophony puts the kibosh on any but the loudest and least equitable confabulation.

So, where does all this leave us?

Unfortunately, for as long as we are here we’re stuck with the world we have; a world in which war and poverty and hunger and cruelty are facts of life for many, rather than few, where my view gets preeminence on my blog just as Gershom’s does on hers, because we are humans and humans are a contentious species that more often than not self-focuses to the exclusion of anything not within personal apertures.

At least those of us popping in and out of discussions on adoption are coming to the table … even when it all ends in messy food fights, still something has been exchanged … although I am as convinced of my rightness as others are of theirs, as conflicting as those may be.

Since this is the first day of a new year, I find myself wondering how 2008 will unfold regarding adoption. I’ll admit to being less than starry-eyed with optimism … after all, the 6th anniversary of the suspension on Cambodian adoption passed just a bit over a week ago … but concern for the present and future of children in the world will continue to bring me to this table. Preserving the option of adoption is one of my passions, as putting an end to it is for others.

As long as we continue to spin … and I’m talking about the planet here, not attempts to control information … some people will disagree with other people; some will take those disagreements far enough strap explosives to their bodies and blow themselves and anyone unlucky enough to be within shrapnel range to smithereens, or drop bombs, or commit genocide.

When all that is taken into account, the name-calling and snideness on adoption blogs seems pretty tame, and when the irrevelant, the fringe, the just-plain-nasty, is ignored … on those occasions where real dialogue does take place … hints of consensus do present. If that will ever lead to triad-wide warm fuzzies, I doubt, but that isn’t really the goal, is it?

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