I was shocked by Tuesday’s discussion following the guest essay posted at On Balance, the Washington Post blog by Mommy Wars author Leslie Morgan Steiner. I guess I should not have been, since the sentiments several commenters expressed are ones I’ve heard before.
I know we have a long way to go toward erasing prejudice in this country, but the response the author Shari Strong got to her very honest discussion of possibly adopting a 14-year-old Russian orphan was over-the-top.
The initial commenters were upset that Strong would even think about adopting internationally — “I guess American orphans don’t need a family?” was the first comment.
Then came, “Every time I hear about people adopting babies from China, Russia, Guatamala, etc., I wonder the same thing.” Not to mention the unasked for “advice” about how irresponsible it could be to bring a child of that age (read: possible adjustment problems) into a family with three other children.
As a mother of a daughter adopted from China, to say I was appalled is an understatement. I still have a hard time understanding those who believe that American children who need families are more deserving than children in other countries. If a family wants to give a child a home, what does it matter where the child was born? And, more to the point, why is it anyone else’s business? Why do such commenters feel free to lecture to families like mine about how we formed our families? I think it’s a safe bet that those same people would be mighty ticked off if I asked them questions or made comments about their bio family, like, “Did you have to use in vitro to get pregnant? I sure hope you didn’t consider using a surrogate mother. You know, it’s better to use Clomid than one of those other drugs. I hope those fertility drugs came from an American manufacturer, and not from abroad.” Silly, yes, but you get my point.
However we choose to form our families, it’s a private matter for each family to decide. Only a particular family can know what parenthood challenges they are equipped to handle, whether it’s a child who has special physical needs or emotional needs, dealing with social issues that come from raising a child of another race, or handling the inevitable questions about a child’s birth family situation, let alone where that child happened to be born.
For those inclined to do so, please stop lecturing me (and other parents like me) about the decisions we made about how we added children to our families. If you really have so much energy to worry about my family, I’ve got a lot more productive things you could to do help, like cleaning out my basement or refinishing the hardwood floors. And, if you’re so sure that adopting a child from the U.S. foster care system is right for you, I say file the paperwork now, because there are over 125,000 kids waiting who would love to have permanent homes.