The Perfect Storm

There has clearly been some heated discussion out here recently. Since some of the discussion occurred here, I think it's appropriate for me to share my thoughts. I didn't immediately respond because I wanted to get my arms around what happened. Please understand that I'm making no judgments here, just a few observations, offered gently and respectfully in the hope of providing another point of view.

I visited the blog in question, and have read through the post and the comments. I would like to say that from what I can tell, the blog's author is a woman who is deeply committed to finding solutions to world problems that keep children in poverty, illiteracy, and disease. And I tip my hat to her for that work.

The post that ignited this perfect adoption storm is one that I found difficult to read. It is clear to me that it was written by a mother who adores her children; I completely relate to that. But I'm challenged by it. What I can't tell, however, is if the opinions the words suggest are truly those of the author, or if the choice of words only gives the impression of those opinions. That's something only the author can clarify.

The post seems to suggest that providing a child with material advantages is an acceptable counterbalance to a family's loss of their child and that child's loss of family and homeland. There's s no question that a child brought from poverty to the U.S. will have material and educational opportunities. But the impression I received from the wording made me feel theauthor was saying that to become and American and to have these advantages was more desirable than living with a poor family. The suggestion that material benefit trumps poor family is troubling.

There is danger, too, in equating these advantages with "gifts from birth mothers," for that makes it possible for us to view a woman's relinquishment of her child as heroic act, one to be praised and repeated. Positively institutionalizing relinquishment makes it unnecessary to face the problems that led to it in the first place. It also makes the paradoxical hope that the children would go back to their country and make a difference somewhat ironic.

Speaking of material advantages is a good segue to an issue from the discussion on the forum. One of the comments in that discussion suggested that if an adoptive parent really wanted to help a child, they should send their dollars to that country instead. It's actually a comment I see fairly often, and aggravates me because it makes no sense. It seems to say that that the only people are responsible for helping the world's children are prospective adoptive parents. The obligation to help the world's children falls to ALL of us - and maybe if we all did a better job, adoption would be far less common. In fairness, the author of the blog under discussion appears to be doing a better job than most; the blog touched many initiatives that addressed a wide range of needs.

Last thought: When people with polarized perspectives share the same internet space, we are bound to collide. The subjects we choose and the way we write about them will determine if we spend our internet time communicating with people who think just like us, dialoging with people of many points of view, or going to the mat with others who take exception to our words. If we are honestly seeking dialog, it's up to us to look carefully at what we write and to think ahead to the reactions our words are likely to elicit from others, particularly those who know adoption loss.

Comments

kim.kim said…
I know who I want to employ as my goodwill ambassador.

Patience of a saint, Margie, and very diplomatic.

Thank you for being here.
Michelle said…
Hi Margie, I understand what you're saying about others telling PAPS to give money to families and how that may come across to readers.

I don't think, though, people are saying PAPS are responsible for improving world economies and the well being of children. What I hear often is that PAPS or adopters are rescuing children from presumed dismal lives....they are buying the child and taking it away from this (presumed) life.

So, if the child's welfare is the main concern, why not help the parents keep their child? I don't interpret this as adopters being responsible for the financial aid of developing countries, rather people wondering why the money spent on purchaing a baby would not be better spent helping a family who needs it. Not a exepectation, just an idea.

For example, when I was in Romania, I was working with a young mom with limited resources....when I returned home, I sent her money for a few months to help her get an apartment and to buy items for her and her daughter. With the currency difference, it was pennies, really, that I was sending her. I was not interested in adopting, so my focus was helping the mother.

Most of the children in orphanages who have been labelled "abandoned" have families, and as we have seen with the Madonna case, the father was in the boy's life - he did not "abandon" his son. Did this child need to be rescued? Or would helping father and son stay together have been a better option.

It's rare to find a child who has no parents, no relatives and no connection to anyone. I would support an organization that helps these children remain in their homeland, perhaps a foster home or adopted within their own country.

I think it's more about speaking the truth when claiming to do what's in the best interest of a child, when really, the motivating factor for many adoptions is people who want a baby/child, not helping a child whose parents were forced to, or only option was to surrender their child. This is tragic, and as an adoptee who lost her family to adoption, I would certainly appreciate it if more people (not just PAPS) offered support to mothers and fathers, instead of taking their children away from them.
Anonymous said…
Margie - I hope you know you are a very good bridge, an incredible link for this community, and your voice can help all of us listen better and think more on these issues. I learn everyday from reading Kim and other first parents and adoptees -- if I read only a-parents I would not "get" many of the issues I will face.
DS-L
Well said, Margie.

I had more but I think I'll refrain for now, except to say:

"One of the comments in that discussion suggested that if an adoptive parent really wanted to help a child, they should send their dollars to that country instead. It's actually a comment I see fairly often, and aggravates me because it makes no sense."


YES, and thank you for that. Maybe some of us do that also and choose not to broadcast it.
Anonymous said…
Adoptive parents should know better than to post any positive feelings about adoption on the internet. It's just not fair to first mothers and adult adoptees who are forced to read this stuff . Adoptive parents need to focus on the immediate concerns of the children they are raising and not be so overwhelmed by what other people think. Share your happy thoughts privately so know one can be offended.
BethGo said…
Margie-
Thank you so much for putting in your perspective on this. You have given me much to consider and I thank you.
My husband recommended I come back and read this post. It is beautifully written. You said that only I could answer some of the questions. I did. But it is too long for a comment, so I wrote a post.

Here it is: http://mothersfightingforothers.wordpress.com/2007/05/06/its-about-poverty/

Thank you for being the bridge.

Much Respect,

Rocky
So sorry, here is the link:

http://tinyurl.com/2bj6g6
justenjoyhim/judy said…
"Adoptive parents should know better than to post any positive feelings about adoption on the internet. It's just not fair to first mothers and adult adoptees who are forced to read this stuff ."

With all due respect -- I think balance is a good thing with this. Point of fact is that nobody is forced to read anybody else's words. I post both positive and negative aspects of adoption because adoption isn't made up of either all positive or all negative but a combination of the two.

As far as what people do post -- that's up to each individual poster/writer, and I wouldn't presume to tell anyone what to write (actually, I did that once and to this day regret it).

But honestly, nobody is forced to read anything. And adoptive parents are indeed able to attend to their children's needs and write things on the internet. As far as being offended -- we/they are humans like everyone else. I try to read things dispassionately and often I succeed. Sometimes I don't. It's the nature of how something is written sometimes. Sometimes it's who has written it and if I know that person.

Maybe if we all gave each other some breaks, some breathing room, there wouldn't be as much animosity. Saw every party as a hurting, imperfect human being who is just trying to communicate their life and their story, no one else's.
"Adoptive parents should know better than to post any positive feelings about adoption on the internet. It's just not fair to first mothers and adult adoptees who are forced to read this stuff . Adoptive parents need to focus on the immediate concerns of the children they are raising and not be so overwhelmed by what other people think. Share your happy thoughts privately so know one can be offended."

I sincerely hope, Anon, that this comment was made in jest rather than as a serious addition to the conversation. While I often feel this way to some extent, I think it's rather cynical to state that all firstparents and adult adoptees find fault in the happiness of adoptive parents. Also, the notion that anyone is forced to read anyone else's thoughts is ridiculous. You, as much as I, have the power to to hit the 'close' button if something you're reading is offending your sensibilities.

It sounds to me as if you're making a blanket statement towards firstparents and adult adoptees out of frustration and probably a measure of pain. I, too, have been at the brunt of a negative backlash, but I haven't let it jade me or keep me from trying to understand the perspective of others.

My happiness is painful for firstparents and adoptees sometimes. It's just the nature of the beast of adoption. Pointing this out in an inflammatory statement, however, does nothing to further the communication between us, as adoptive parents, and the other sides of the triad...especially when we're trying to foster a sense of understanding.

I hurt when others hurt; I have joy with others' joy. I sincerely believe that most in the blogworld feel the same way.
Margie said…
Thank you, everyone, for adding your thoughts.

Michelle, I do understand what you're saying, and I agree that we all should do as you did, and offer support to women to help them through the rough patches that often lead to separation. We can do it in many ways - in our communities, here through the connections we make online, through social services set up to do this kind of work, and more. The point I was trying to make, though, is that many times when I hear this, it's suggested as an alternative to adoption fees, which does draw the conclusion that it's something adopters should do. I simply want to widen that net to include everyone. We are all equally responsible for helping to preserve families.

Rocky, I hope you know that everything I said here is simply to offer another perspective. I'll be heading over to your posts next!
Third Mom,

I could just hug you for being so fantastically great at communicating your thoughts.

It is so rare to have a space where both adoptive parents, first mothers and adoptees feel comfortable but you have succeeded here.

I tend to shy away from talking about these topics on my blog for fear of sounding like a complete jackass, which happens quite frequently. But I always enjoy reading posts about this topic on other's blogs, especially when they are discussed respectfully and clearly like you have done here.

So, until I have all my thoughts together, I will continue to read your thoughts while loudly cheering "YA! WHAT SHE SAID!"

Thanks again!

Jamie
Tina said…
*Adoptive parents should know better than to post any positive feelings about adoption on the internet. It's just not fair to first mothers and adult adoptees who are forced to read this stuff . Adoptive parents need to focus on the immediate concerns of the children they are raising and not be so overwhelmed by what other people think. Share your happy thoughts privately so know one can be offended.*

How can this possibly make sense? I grew up an adoptee in the closed records, hush hush era. I would have eaten it up with a spoon had my mother gushed to anyone who would listen about me. If there had been blogs back then, and my mom had been someone like Margie or Judy, adoption would not have been so painful for me.

Can we please, in the adoption community, recognize that there are inherant grey areas and that the experience of adoption is layered and juxtaposed and some days it's one thing and some days it's another.

I'm adopting soon. I'm not an adoptee in denial or still in my 'adoptee haze'. I never had a pool OR a pony but I'm not bitter. I've been in reunion a long time and I've also been part of adoption reform for a long time. Yes, you can be in adoption reform and adopt at the same time. And you can give help and write about how to help the women of your child's country from having to resort to not raising their children. YES. And this adoptee can read positive things about adoption AND at the same time put my concerns for my daughter in raising her as my first priority. What can I say. I'm a girl. I multi-task like you wouldn't believe.

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