Adopting the "right" children?

Mon, January 8, 2007


“Don’t stop with just the Clomid. You’ve GOT to keep going and try the IVF!”

It seemed more like a comment that would be made by a pusher on an inner city street corner, rather than by an acquaintance at the surburban bridal shower of a mutual friend. The comments of this woman, who was trying for child number three through fertility methods herself, were shocking to me at the time, especially as I was sitting there sweating it out through my own Clomid-induced hot flashes. But I’ve come to learn that attitudes like these are just part of a large ‘Better-Bio-Than-Adopted’ contingent that’s out there.

This incident came to mind after a session on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now last week that represented a related group that feels it also has a right to weigh in on personal family-making decisions — the ‘How-Dare-You-Adopt-A-Child-From-Another-Country-When-There-Are-Children-In-America-Who-Need-Homes?’ club.

CNN and Zahn are doing a great job of perpetuating the theory that American parents, if they want to adopt, ought to be adopting children from the U.S. and nowhere else. Can’t find an American birthmother willing to place an infant with you? Then, according to Zahn’s guests, hopeful parents should adopt from our foster care system, instead, and shame on you if you don’t and you adopt internationally.

One guest even went so far as to suggest that the reason American families, like mine, who choose to adopt children from China, and don’t adopt African-American children from the foster care system, just want to get a really smart, polite “porcelain doll” as a child.

My questions to him are, “And exactly how many children have you adopted and from where? And could you please share with us the details of how you made your private and personal decisions to form a family, since you’re so interested in mine?”

When D. and I chose China as the country from which we wanted to adopt a child, it was after a long process of analyzing what was going to be the best for all of as a family.

What did we have to offer a child? How would we be able to support a child of a different race or culture? What were the chances of adopting a healthy child? It was a difficult task to face one’s inner demons and be honest about what we could provide in light of all the other factors in our lives — jobs, varying religions, stepchildren, community, family receptivity (or lack thereof).

I can guarantee Paula Zahn’s guests that if I had wanted a porcelain doll, that’s what I would have purchased from a toy store. To suggest that any parents chose a particular child to adopt or country to adopt from with the thought that, ‘Hey, I bet I can get a smart one!,’ is not only insensitive, but ignorant, in the true sense of the word.

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11 Responses to “Adopting the "right" children?”

  1. Lawyer Mama Says:

    I really just want to smack people like that! Seriously.

    T and I also had fertility problems. Fortunately, I had a doctor who sat us down before we started treatment and told us to discuss how far we wanted to go before we headed down the slippery slope of fertility treatments. We decided up front that we would not try IVF, if it came to that, but would adopt and probably from outside the U.S.

    Those who sit in judgment of adopted parents’ decisions make me so angry. Clearly, few of them have ever been placed in such a situation, have ever educated themselved about foreign adoption, or have ever looked into adopting through the foster care system. And as you pointed out, few of them have actually ever adopted.

    As far as I’m concerned, there is no “right way” to adopt and there are no “right” children. Whatever works best for you and your family is right for you!

  2. Mamma Says:

    As an adoptee I am often discouraged by what I feel is the manic obsession to have a “biological” child by any means necessary. I’ve had family members tell me that they just can’t face starting “all those adoption processes” at this point in time. Well yeah, if you weren’t doping yourself up with so many drugs you might not be so stressed. Not that I’m not sympathetic to families who make that choice–it’s just that I get frustrated when they seem to see repeated, failed fertility treatments as the only option.

    But then again, I’m probably a bit biased.

  3. Flybunny Says:

    I am an adoptee as well (as are BOTH)my brothers and once when my MIL was in a snit over some transgression I had committed (actually having a life and not sitting around home waiting for her to visit)she made the comment that I was depriving my daughter of visiting with her only blood grandmother. I think I spit nails and steam came out of my ears and I didn’t speak to her for over a month.

    Anyway, enough is enough. It is a personal choice as are most parenting decisions. I live under the umbrella that says that all babies need families whether they live in the US or in timbuk2.

    I am really enjoying reading your blog – thanks pundit mom!!!

  4. Momish Says:

    “Ignorance in the true sense of the word” – BRAVO PunditMom!

    Any parent that chooses to adopt, for any reason, should be applauded. I cannot for the life of me understand why judgemental statements come into play when someone wants to love a child for the rest of their lives. It makes no sense.

  5. Franki Says:

    Thanks for writing this. We have 2 daughters–1 adopted and 1 biological. Infertility did not play a part in our decision to adopt and I am always appalled by these comments by people like the ones you mentioned. A family is a family. To decide what is right for others seems be be quite a common thing these days. A great post!

  6. Oh, The Joys Says:

    Bravo, indeed. What a great post.

  7. Mom101 Says:

    It’s so interesting to hear your perspective on this. I love when you get personal!

    I’ve always thought that when people ask stupid questions like that–including “why should we give money to Africa when people are hungry here?”–that the answer has to do with how you perceive boundaries. Are we all citizens of the world? Just the US? Just our state? Just our blocks? Do we have a responsibility to anyone outside of our own families even, and if not… well then how does one determine where the concentric circles end and begin?

    Good food for thought as always. Thanks.

  8. jen Says:

    right on, sister, right on.

    having gone through it, you can speak very articulately and passionately about it. and you should.

  9. CrankMama Says:

    Right on!! I’ve learned so much about adoption through reading your posts.

    People are SO ignorant (I include myself here) and if they only understood what it was like to stand in your shoes, they’d realize a mama is a mama is a mama.

  10. bethiclaus Says:

    Well said.

    I generally avoid celebrity opinions about anything at all costs, but I thought it was interesting that Diane Sawyer asked Angelina Jolie about this issue.

    I thought it was an opportunity for Jolie to really speak up for adoptive parents. “It’s my decision how I choose to build my family,” was what I desperately wanted her to say.

    Instead: “I don’t see countries.” Whu? I get where she was going, but all I could think of was Stephen Colbert going: “Do you play a black man in this movie? Because I don’t see race.”

  11. Mitch Mcdad Says:

    First of all, I’m adopted, as are my brother and sister. I happened to have two kids biologically (because if you sneeze next to anyone in my wife’s family they get knocked up). I’d adopt kids, but the two I have are more than I can deal with. I have a friend that adopted two girls from China and I really respect the special love they have for each other, not to mention the challenges they went through to adopt the girls. Way harder than pregnancy. Though, as I told my mother every time I gave her another grey hair, “at least you didn’t have to give birth to me.”

    Second of all……….how can I say this??? F— those ass—-s.

    That reminds me. When a friend of mine proposed to his girlfriend, his future mother-in-law freakedbecause they were going to move to where he was from. She offered him 50 grand not to marry her. She told him that since he was adopted, he had no idea the pain he was causing by taking away their daughter. Of course, we all told him to take the cash. And turns out he should have, but that’s another story.

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