Teasing it all apart

Heather.PNR used this phrase - "tease it apart" - recently in a comment to one of Paula’s excellent posts, and I’m stealing it because it captures something I’ve been thinking about perfectly.

I find it interesting, when I’m blog surfing, to see how divergent other transnational adoptive parents’ thoughts are about their adoptions. Some approach adoption with respect for their children and their first families and heritage. Others view it as fate, and meant to be. Some see a religious angle – God wants me to have this child (which must mean they believe he intended all the bad things to happen to the first family, too.)

Edited to add: A mom I respect a lot pointed out something to me that I must clarify. The attitude I describe above is a particular one that I see all too frequently. It's one in which the (prospective) adoptive parent sees God's hand in placing a child in their home, but doesn't question why and doesn't think about the impact of their joy on their children's first families. There is a world of difference between that attitude, and one that sees God's presence everywhere in life, including adoption. The latter brings you to a different place, I think - one of humility and respect toward our children's families, heritage, and countries, and as Gwen said, of responsibility for our actions as adoptive parents.

Where, I wonder, do all these different points of view come from?

If you’re an adoptive parent, stop for a moment and think about how you first opened your mind to adoption. Was it at a RESOLVE meeting when you were working through infertility? From friends or family members who adopted before you? Maybe at your church? Or even the internet? Somewhere else?

Now think about the attitudes you might carry into the future from each of these starting points. You might, as I did, see adoption first in medical terms, as a solution to your infertility, an alternative to giving birth. Or you might think of adoption as an act of charity. The cynical among you might even see adoption as a moral duty, the necessary response to an unmarried pregnant woman’s “dilemma."

Adoption is really none of these, yet for many people they define it. Now, if that were so only at the personal level, we might be able to deal with it. But these perceptions are deeply embedded in our national psyche and influence our laws - and like they say, perception is reality. Sealed records, adoption leave, adoption tax credits and stipends – even seemingly benign regulations come with negative fallout that trace back to misunderstanding the adoption experience. In our blindness, we futilely continue trying to patch it up. Managing this broken system keeps our eye off the real ball: changing attitudes and correcting the social and economic inequalities that lead single and poor women and families to adoption in the first place, and unethical adoption practitioners to them.

We have to tease it all apart.

I’m not a social worker, public policymaker, or legislator, so I haven’t a clue how to begin to look at adoption from their points of view. But I wonder if unraveling our tangled ball of adoption yarn from their point of view might not lead us right back to where we are. No, we need a new approach, one that strips everything about adoption back to its foundation, and judges every step of the adoption process by its respect for human and civil rights.

Daunting, no? There's good news, though. Every inequity found, every skewed skewed point of view corrected, every word spoken on behalf of first parent and adoptee rights contributes to success. We will get there.


Gwen said…
I do believe God had a part in my adoptions. The difference in my opinion is that I don't believe it started that way. I do not believe God intended for all the bad things to happen to my children's first families. ntrol. I do feel he used my children's bad situations and created a loving family. That is my take on how God most definitely had a hand in my adoptions.

I also feel God holds us responsible and accountable when it comes to how we handle our adoption situations.
Margie said…
Hi, Gwen!

You raise an important clarification. People of faith - I know you have deep faith, and I believe I do too - will see God's work everywhere in their lives. When God is a part of your life in that way, you will ask the question "Why?" And I think there's a world of difference between look at the presence of our children in our lives with that question our lips and the sense that God intended it for us alone.

It's that point of view that disturbs me, and I see it too often, sadly.

Hope all is well in your world!
My mom is very very religious. When I first met her after 21 years of separation she rejoiced that God held true to his promise of bringing me back to her. But I can't for even a minute believe that God intentionally inflicted so much pain on us from our loss of eachother so that my aparents could have a child they prayed for.
Michelle said…
I am a Christian and have heard all too often that Angelica was a 'gift' from God and this BUGS the living sh*t out of me. I do not believe God played a part in my daughter losing her first parents. I do not think God set out for my daughter to feel pain, loss, abandoned all for the fortune of my husband and I...what so we could be parents? God did this all for US? I do not think so. Great points as always Margie.
Karen said…
I am still chewing on this thought but I tend to see adoption as a form of redemption...God´s way of redeeming things that we have lost. For the child that has lost parents and a family, he gets a new one. In the case of infertility, parents who have lost their dream of parenting, get that opportunity to parent. It´s really interesting to follow the theme of adoption throughout the Bible too...Jesus was adopted by Joseph. Moses was adopted by the Pharaoh´s daughter. Esther was adopted by Mordecai. Samuel was, in a way, adopted by Eli...we (as non-jewish believers) are adopted into the family of Christ... I think that God definitely has had a purpose for adoption throughout history but I also agree that he doesn´t cause the circumstances that bring about adoption, rather he offers adoption as a way to redeem these difficult situations.
Michelle said…
And there those of who are not Christians or do not subscribe to any God-like doctrine and don't see any religious intervention with adoption or anything else!
Paula O. said…
Thanks for the mention, Margie, and thank you for the thought-provoking questions throughout your post.

Karen, I think understand where you're coming from. . .and to be sure, there are a great deal of children who literally have lost their parents because of famine, poverty, disease, war and other fatal tragedies. But for many of the other children whose first parents are still living (yes, absolultely - they have still lost one another), it's difficult for me to ascribe to the belief that they "needed" a new family when in reality, they could have stayed with their original families if not for lack of options available to the parents.

Admmittedly, my opinion is based on personal experiences and thoughts of my own Korean parents as well as our son's parents, but when I think of first parents who had little to absolutely no choice to parent their own child, it is hard for me to find any redemptive qualities in those and similar situations.
Margie said…
Karen, I have to respectfully disagree with the point of view you share - but please understand that I'm looking at it from the point of view of adoption, not faith :) The challenge I see with this line of thinking is that it presumes adoption is fundamentally GOOD. Perhaps in the biblical examples you share, it was. But as it is practiced today, it is not. I worry that those who believe as you do will close their eyes to the very real injustices that exist in adoption today.

Michelle, you bring up a huge challenge. It's one thing for someone to see the presence of God in their life and adoption (which is a very private thing), another to base laws on religious beliefs. My opinion: Adoption regulations, laws, and practices should be founded in human and civil rights, not religious tenets or judgments. Teasing religion out of adoption when so many see it only through that prism will very, very hard.

Paula, hi - you explain the complexity exactly :)
Karen said…
It´s true that my eyes have been opened a lot recently by reading different blogs and I admit that I am on a learning curve here. I think I understand that in essence you (this is directed mostly to Paula´s comment) are saying that we as a society should put more of an emphasis on helping the birth families to be able to keep their children. I agree. I have had (am having) a change of heart in regards to this based on my own observations and experiences over the last few years. Without going into detail, I have come to understand that no matter how poor or disadvantaged a family might be THEY are still better for their children than someone else. There is nothing wrong with growing up poor. How does that apply to me though as a PAP (I think that´s the right abrev...I am trying to figure those out as I read). The child that I adopt has been given up and if we don´t adopt him either someone else will or else he will grow up in the foster child system or else in an orphanage. Are you saying that we should be more proactive in creating this awareness worldwide in order to make things better in the future? That we should all do our part to stop perpetuating the myth that adoption is the cure-all for families that find themselves in these situations to even consider adoption in the first place? Can I do that and still be an AP? I think the idea here (correct me if I am wrong) is to get adoption back to what it was originally meant to be which was for children who are actually orphans and without any family whatsoever. Am I on the right track?

In regards to the faith issue...yes I admit that my view of that is based on my faith and even though that will not change for me, I also understand that not everyone will come to it from that perspective. I also recognize that in a world such as ours today the legal end of adoption needs to be separated from the church. I´m not offended by that thought.

Thanks for the respectful constructive criticism, it is helpful!
Cavatica said…
As usual, I need to allow time to read your posts - I do love that. There's so much to think about and you're right, there is so much to tease apart! I don't have anything to add, but wanted say, I'm reading.
Heza Hekele said…
Interesting read. Thank you for your point of view.

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