November 11, 2015 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I had no idea this is existed as A Thing and now I wish I hadn't found out. Holy cats.
posted by Kitteh at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2015 [20 favorites]

I'd never heard of this before, but by the time I got to this:
Crowdfunding campaigns ask donors to endorse parenthood for people they might not even know, and to do so with their money — the very thing that many people think is what makes one a responsible, “worthy” parent of children in the first place.
...I was nodding my head in agreement and shivering from being creeped out.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:37 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

My fiancé received an email from someone at his workplace with their "Adoption Journey" that included details on their courtship, fertility struggles, financial obstacles, religion (and being "called on" to adopt), and a link to their crowdfunding site. He has never met this person before--the email was sent to the entire staff. It was such a weird and inappropriate thing to send through work email, but I guess it's A Thing now.
posted by almostmanda at 10:44 AM on November 11, 2015 [15 favorites]

But thinking of adoption, any adoption, as a charity or Good Work is far too simple a portrayal.

I think adopted people are pressured to express gratitude for having parents, which doesn't seem fair. They shouldn't have to be any more or less grateful than anyone else raised by parents, and we should recognize that their feelings about their parents are just as complicated (if not more so) than anyone else's.

I'm also creeped out by the crowdfunding, but I suppose one way to look at it is that it is a mechanism that can make adoption more a viable option for people who don't have much money.
posted by Area Man at 10:47 AM on November 11, 2015 [18 favorites]

Wait... this isn't a joke?
posted by widdershins at 10:56 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

i feel like the money = worthiness/ability to adopt was well discussed by nicole chung in this post. i also think if the crowdfunding was a woman who isn't white and/or american/western and/or well off and/or partnered asking for money so she didn't have to give her baby up for adoption that the reaction in the adoption community would roundly be that she should give her baby to a "better" home. i theoretically support private adoptions but too often i think it's a consequence of not giving every woman who wants to keep her child the resources and opportunities to do so.
posted by nadawi at 10:57 AM on November 11, 2015 [73 favorites]

Yeah. My friends who recently got married asked the wedding guests to contribute to their adoption fund instead of more traditional gifts. This really didn't sit well with me (I ultimately gave no gift), and I'm glad to see people here spelling out the exact things that were making me uncomfortable.
posted by schmod at 10:58 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Umm... eww.

I've always been bothered by the seeming rise of the white uber-christian mega-adopter, but still had the thought "well, at least kids are getting into possibly better situation" - this, though adds a whole extra layer of unease
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:03 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I got a request like this some years ago; I did not know how to respond, I did not know how to feel, so I just...let it go.

I get all the points being made, and I basically agree with them. I did feel uncomfortable for mostly the same reasons.

On the other hand, the system is set up now so that mostly only people with a lot of money can adopt (as far as I know; I'm not an expert). If there were a way to level that system so that people who, for example, prioritize family and community over business/work -- maybe even married-to-each-other teachers or nurses -- that would be great. Contributing money seems like one way to do it. I'm pretty sure I still won't feel comfortable doing so, though.

Maybe it's the impersonal feel of the whole Facebook fundraiser thing. Maybe it's the "being asked" somehow. It's an interesting problem, but also heartbreaking in several ways.
posted by amtho at 11:06 AM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

For people who talk a lot about how all babies are special, the adoption-loving Christian crowd sure seems to want me to think kids needing adoption are basically garbage until some white folks with money deign to save them from a lifetime of horror.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:06 AM on November 11, 2015 [38 favorites]

That was snarky and harsh. I could have said that a lot better. I hope someone else does.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:08 AM on November 11, 2015 [10 favorites]

I was adopted, but unfortunately by parents that didn't work out. Sure they did their best, but they weren't as economically blessed as they should have been. I mean, I wasn't hungry, had clothes and all that, but money was tight and I didn't get many new toys, and I wasn't encouraged to pursue music because instruments were too expensive. I had to work my way through college with multiple jobs, the military, and student loans.

I still see my father at the holidays and whenever we feel like getting together, but I am sure my economic situation is only a constant reminder of his failure as a parent. I mean, while I do own my car outright, and I am gainfully employed, I still have a mortgage and that will be hanging over my head until near retirement!

Won't you please help out? I promise to put any excess funds raised toward music lessons and this keyboard.

Just don't tell my dad, ok? I'm sure he already feels bad enough about adopting me when we couldn't even afford cable or Star Wars figures like normal kids.

Finally, something I can make fun of because I am in the group!
posted by cjorgensen at 11:08 AM on November 11, 2015 [24 favorites]

I had no idea this was a thing. This is a terrible thing. ive kicked in probably $500 in crowdfunding this year for friends who had a fire, and another friend who had a stroke, because unexpected things happen, and I had extra resources I wasn't using, but crowdfunding an adoption? That feels wrong on so many levels.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:11 AM on November 11, 2015

On the other hand, the system is set up now so that mostly only people with a lot of money can adopt...

My nieces were adopted and my sister had to pay $20,000+ each for the process. You have to have home inspections, background checks, agency fees, medical fees, physicals, etc. Now theirs were international adoptions, but it's not cheaper to do it domestically as far as I know.

You can foster first, then convert the foster kid into an adoption for much less, but good luck on getting the infants that everyone wants.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:11 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are there perks given in accordance with my donation level? Hundred bucks gets me an emailed picture of the kid in a Hallowe'en costume, two hundred gets me a Christmas card, and five hundred gets me an invite to their kindergarten dance recital?
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:12 AM on November 11, 2015 [16 favorites]

Listen; if people are out there straight buyin' kids, we can make a deal. Send me a memail. I take all major credit cards.
posted by selfnoise at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2015 [18 favorites]

My friends who recently got married asked the wedding guests to contribute to their adoption fund instead of more traditional gifts.

I don't see anything wrong with this. This is sort of the point to traditional marriage presents. Set the couple up to be able to start a family.

Now the one that is starting to irk me is funerals. Plan ahead people!

I had a friend send me a crowdfund link for his father that passed away and it had a family photo in it with like 15 people. Pass the damn hat amongst yourselves. It's not that expensive to plant someone.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

Is there contraception crowdfunding too?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:18 AM on November 11, 2015 [29 favorites]

I'm thinking of a story I read recently about a woman who killed her son and herself in a hospital room. Her son was disabled, and so was her father, and she tried crowdfunding to get an accessible vehicle for them so that they could get around. She raised $5. Helping those who are here, who are messy and difficult, will always get less traction than saving a blank slate of grateful infant adoration.

Now the one that is starting to irk me is funerals. Plan ahead people!

To be fair, I mostly see crowdfunding funeral links for unexpected deaths, like children's.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2015 [11 favorites]

Last year, a couple in Florida – presumably hoping to distinguish their $45,000 adoption crowdfunding campaign from others like it – came up with a gimmick they referred to as the “Baby Draft”: If you donated, you could vote for your favorite football team, and the adopted child would be raised as a fan of whichever team got the most votes.

Jesus. Can I get my donation refunded if the person ends up being, you know, a person and decides they don't like my favorite football team?
posted by kpraslowicz at 11:20 AM on November 11, 2015 [16 favorites]

It also creeps me out because it's my understanding that a lot of this price differential is driven by people who are trying to adopt babies or otherwise very young children, especially overseas babies where the expectation is that the birth mother won't be a part of the child's life. Children, if you will, with no "baggage" complicating the adoptive family's vision of their new family. Which just doesn't sit well with me, either on behalf of the adoptive kid or the family the kid came from. IIRC, adoptions from foster care, which are much more likely to be open adoptions, are much much less expensive--and also more likely to be kids who really need parents. But those kids have a history, and they're therefore less attractive to parents who haven't really thought about it but who want to start a family that's just their own, with no one else having claim to 'their' kid, and 'their' kid not really remembering much beyond them.

Of course, it's not as if exploitative commodification of adoptive children is exactly new, either. And that was a situation where adoptions were being driven by the demand of adoptive parents who wanted children to adopt, too, not the supply of unwanted children. I have some sympathy for people who desperately want to be parents and can't achieve that on their own, but I really wish it was not as acceptable as it seems to be for so many of them to be well-meaning but oblivious about the negative consequences of some of these very expensive adoptions.
posted by sciatrix at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2015 [28 favorites]

It's not that expensive to plant someone.

Especially if you go with a very modestly priced receptacle.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:25 AM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Slightly off topic, but I basically ended up taking today off to gulp down Mary Gaitskill's new book, The Mare, which is basically about the vast emotional messiness of trans-racial adoption (not quite - a couple in their late forties takes in a twelve year old for the summer through the Fresh Air Fund.) I'm about halfway through it and I don't know what I'll think about it by the end but HOLY GOD as a mid-thirties lady who is right at the point of feeling like her life at a crossroads of two streets running in different directions, one called Art and one called Kids, I don't feel like I've come across a book that's gotten in my face quite as powerfully in years and years. Is anyone else reading it? I think I might need to start a Fanfare book club post once I'm done to help me process it ...
posted by pretentious illiterate at 11:27 AM on November 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

The Evangelical angle is particularly icky, since there's often a stated goal to win more hearts for the Lord, etc., by adopting and raising them. Quiverfull and all that. This viral thing is a particularly egregious example. And of course: what about the birth mom? Is there any (true) compassion and kindness shown towards her? Or is she sent packing, having sinned and paid proper penance via carrying and delivering twins to a rich family?
posted by witchen at 11:36 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

The very fact that there is exchange of a large amount of money, and a market, involved in adoption within the USA (I'm in the UK - I'm not sure the extent to which things are different here, but would be interested to find out more), makes me feel very uneasy indeed. The sliding scales of value placed on human lives (age, ethnicity etc) seems a horribly inhuman place to start the process of building a family from.
posted by iotic at 11:36 AM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Especially if you go with a very modestly priced receptacle.

I've heard Folgers pays good money for high quality bodies that they can roast and turn into coffee.
posted by Talez at 11:37 AM on November 11, 2015

I've donated money for a friend trying to adopt (there were special circumstances that meant that the money they had been saving was no longer available). They're truly wonderful people wanting to do an open domestic adoption and already have one adopted child. It didn't seem creepy at all.

I wouldn't donate to strangers because how the heck do I know whether they'd be good parents or are even telling the truth, but for friends whose only barrier to a child is coming up with lawyer fees? I'm happy to help.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:38 AM on November 11, 2015 [16 favorites]

OK, I just figured out one reason this makes me uncomfortable.

The huge fees to adopt babies are partly for logistics, partly for salaries of needed professionals, but... there's no way to be 100% sure that such a large bunch of money isn't being diverted to essentially criminal, or unethical, ends. I've read horrible stories of babies being stolen/sold/whatever, and making this much money available is only going to _increase_ the tendency for adoptions to devolve into essentially criminal activity, which will probably victimize families (and women) disproportionately.

It's just _so_ _much_ money. Money and family shouldn't be confounded like this. I realize they are already, and that adoption, especially overseas adoption, is necessarily expensive; but increasing the supply of money through crowdfunding is going to make it into even more of a "trade", and that's not going to lead to good things.
posted by amtho at 11:39 AM on November 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think the main thing that bothers me about this, is that crowdfunding is not a reliable source of income. Or, to put it another way - if you can't afford to adopt, are you really financially secure enough to raise a child?
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:40 AM on November 11, 2015 [12 favorites]

I am uncomfortable trying to tell other people's stories*, but I have a friend who was illegally adopted as a child, born to a very poor family and adopted by a less poor evangelical family who kept her very much in the dark about her origins. It almost sounds as though they viewed her, from day one, less as their child than as some sort of rehabilitation project where they'd take this baby and turn it into some specific type of person.

It was only after she was an adult, after some long drawn out attempts to open her records, that she learned that her birth parents did not even willingly give her up. They were just poor and disenfranchised and didn't have anyone on their side who could help. And when her adoptive parents discovered that she was a full-fledged human being with agency who had sought out information about her origins, they lost interest.

* She speaks about her experiences publicly to raise awareness, so I'm pretty sure she'd want me to mention her story. I hope I told it OK.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2015 [27 favorites]

I think the main thing that bothers me about this, is that crowdfunding is not a reliable source of income. Or, to put it another way - if you can't afford to adopt, are you really financially secure enough to raise a child?

I dunno. Children aren't cheap, sure, but I think there's probably a good margin of people who are able to stretch their budget and save where they can to be able to support a child, but who can't realistically throw down $45,000 all at once right now.
posted by kafziel at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2015 [26 favorites]

Were it possible, this is a church where I would be tempted to steal from the collection plate.
posted by ackptui at 11:48 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gross and disgusting. If any of these people actually care about helping a child, not buying prime A 1 merchandise in the form of a healthy white newborn, they could adopt from foster care like my son and his wife are doing. It is not costing them much, they are even getting a subsidy, and they can spend their money on actually helping siblings who need a home, not buying a baby they can pretend they gave birth to.

Begging for money on the internet for personal needs is a creepy thing in and of itself, but begging for money to buy a child verges on pornographic. There are huge abuses in infant and international adoption, and raising money this way just fuels and justifies the adoption industry abuses.
posted by mermayd at 11:53 AM on November 11, 2015 [11 favorites]

I want to be OK with this, just because, well, it's a one time cost and not like they're asking for diaper money or something. And all in all I'm fine with the idea of crowdfunding personal stuff when you're genuinely in need; it's just the 21st century tech way of asking for help from loved ones.

But then the whole thing just reeks of buying a baby.

I'm in the UK - I'm not sure the extent to which things are different here, but would be interested to find out more

Not a contemporary (or unbiased) source, but the British TV series Call The Midwife has dealt a lot with the topic of adoption in postwar England, especially in the most recent season.
posted by Sara C. at 11:59 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

My friends who recently got married asked the wedding guests to contribute to their adoption fund instead of more traditional gifts.

See, this is at least a traditional gift-giving occasion, and one that's gotten difficult because all the traditional gifts are things that a lot of people now already own by the time they get married. Etiquette still says not to ask for cash, but, like, if someone was pregnant when they got married, it wouldn't deeply bother me to see them asking for baby stuff instead of dishes. It wouldn't be "normal" but it wouldn't seem outright gross. Asking total strangers to help fund your adoption, in particular when you're adopting an infant who isn't special needs in any fashion, is weird. YMMV, but at least where I am, you don't invite total strangers or near-strangers to your baby shower.

I don't consider having kids to be a luxury, but I don't consider having cats to be a luxury, either. If you're spending a lot of money because you want to be fussy about exactly which kind you get? I think that's a bit icky but mostly it feels like you're not raising money to adopt, you're raising money to get to dictate that the circumstances of you going forward with the adoption are exactly how you want them to be. That isn't something you should be asking strangers to help with at all, and that's probably not something you should be asking friends and family for unless you know they've got money to burn or it's already something considered an appropriate gift-giving occasion. I'm pretty easygoing if you want me to throw $20 into your adoption fund for your birthday instead of buying you a gift you won't use or just putting cash in a card. But if it's okay for you to ask me at random to contribute to that, then I'm liable to decide it's okay to start asking you for $20 towards the purchase of cat toys.
posted by Sequence at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Couple comments removed, and maybe just in general let's cool it a little with either the HA HA BABY JOEK stuff or the sarcastic rebukes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:17 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can we crowd fund $45,000 to the birth family instead?
posted by crazycanuck at 12:27 PM on November 11, 2015 [46 favorites]

Those of us who have had our own (biological) children raise them from infancy without any third party having a present or future legal or emotional claim upon them. While I won't say that it is superior to, it certainly qualitatively different from, adopting a child who is older or whose biological parent(s) are currently or potentially involved.

It is certainly strange to make a moral claim that someone ought to be denied that experience because of inability to have biological children. We certainly don't like to deny people other things that their age, health, gender or sexual orientation would ordinarily deny them.

If someone is entitled to seek something, as I would argue that they are entitled to seek this version of parenting, they are entitled to seek to fund it.
posted by MattD at 12:28 PM on November 11, 2015 [12 favorites]

are you really financially secure enough to raise a child?

I find crowdfunding for adoption quite disturbing - but I find equally disturbing the idea that the right to have children should be reserved for the financially secure. I know that's probably not really what you mean to be saying, but it seems to sail a bit close to the "welfare recipients shouldn't have kids!" nutters.
posted by Jimbob at 12:28 PM on November 11, 2015 [7 favorites]

Why should it cost so much? Who is getting rich off of this?
posted by oceanjesse at 12:29 PM on November 11, 2015 [12 favorites]

It is certainly strange to make a moral claim that someone ought to be denied that experience because of inability to have biological children.

How is it any stranger than denying the birth parents of the adoptee that right because of lack of money/resources? Why isn't "wealth" in that list of things you don't want to deny people things because of?
posted by Jimbob at 12:31 PM on November 11, 2015 [10 favorites]

If someone is entitled to seek something, as I would argue that they are entitled to seek this version of parenting, they are entitled to seek to fund it.

Only...if we want to see adoption as a means to have a family as well as an act of altruism for the greater good (which seems to be something both religious and non-religious folks agree on: give a good home to kids whose birth parents can't or won't), it should be heavily subsidized so it's more affordable. I know human children aren't dogs, but there's a reason most adoption fees are so cheap at shelters. The surplus of those beings waiting to be adopted, and the suffering they face while waiting, is awful to contemplate.

That could also be a great way to grow the ranks of the middle class.
posted by witchen at 12:35 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

if we want to see adoption as a means to have a family as well as an act of altruism for the greater good (which seems to be something both religious and non-religious folks agree on: give a good home to kids whose birth parents can't or won't), it should be heavily subsidized so it's more affordable

My parents adopted as did my grandparents and some of aunts and uncles so I personally know some loving adopted parents and I generally think getting kids out of foster homes or orphanages is something society should promote, perhaps through some combination of greater support for birth families (so more of them can keep their kids) and economic support to make adoption affordable, but I'm uneasy with too much emphasis on the idea that adoption is altruistic. I think people mostly adopt because they want to have kids to raise. It's a basic impulse for many (including me, I'm a parent) and it is a much more personal motivation than some general desire to empty out the orphanages. Sure, altruism is also in the mix, but we shouldn't make too much of it as it promotes unhealthy ideas about adoptees needing to be especially grateful or adoptive parents as being especially heroic.
posted by Area Man at 12:44 PM on November 11, 2015 [20 favorites]

As far as I know, adoption fees from reputable domestic adoptions go towards legal services and social workers (there are home checks, background checks, visits to the birth parent(s) from social workers, visits to the adoptive parents, follow-up visits etc...). There's an awful lot of broad-brush painting in here about adoptive parents (and also about birth parents--sometimes lack of money is not the thing leading a birth mother to not want to parent). I've watched several friends go through several adoptions (many of them in the end do not go through for whatever reason, so a prospective adoptive family may go through this--and pay the fees for it--several times). When it's done on the up-and-up, it's a really complicated process.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:44 PM on November 11, 2015 [14 favorites]

It takes a village to raise a child…at a hundred bucks a head, apparently.

I know a few families with children they adopted. The one thing that always hit me hard was the notion of having to pay for several round-trip flights to, e.g., Korea, in order to "meet" an infant. I mean, I know there are fees and stuff, but this seems to be similar to a means test or some kind of "show us how serious you are" thing. (I'm glad they did it, though: it seems to have worked out for all of them so far. Yay for families!)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm an adoptee and this rubs me the wrong way. I'm not sure when I realized that my folks paid for me instead of me just, uh, conceiving me. It was a weird feeling to realize that they had to PAY for me. And then I wondered if my parents got their money's worth. I didn't turn out to be the angelic daughter that they wanted - maybe they wished that they'd spent the five-figures-worth of money on a beach house or something. I always knew that I was adopted, but it didn't get strange until I realized that there was money involved.

I feel like this article revealed that dirty little secret about adoption: it could be seen as a marketplace, one step ahead of a pet store. My folks wanted a baby girl, infant, white, healthy, no physical handicaps, and no connection to the bio-family. They paid to get it, and I was lucky enough to fit their parameters. They are loving, attentive parents and I feel lucky to have been raised by them. Hooray, stroke of luck for me!

And, without getting too into it: Money wasn't the reason why my biological family did not keep me. Lack of funds isn't the only reason why people might not be able to keep a child (either in their own estimation or by some outside agency). So while some adoptive families are willing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for children, there isn't always an impoverished woman with no choice on the other side.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2015 [39 favorites]

But that's the thing, Witchin, if one goes through the foster care system, adoption is not a huge financial burden. Where it gets expensive is people who want white Eastern European and Russian infants. One of my neighbors fostered 3 kids, aged baby to middle school, all siblings, and she adopted all of them. She's not wealthy by any metric, outside of being an adorable tiny white blonde. All of the kids she adopted were children of another race, a few of them had significant therapy needs, and outside of friends and family kicking in toys and clothes and stuff, she was able to afford all of it on her husbands manager salary.

Private adoption, where you pick a baby like you customize a car; must be infant, blonde, blue eyed, non problematic, with no contact with birth family, that is expensive. (Edit to add that I wrote this before I saw Ellys comment, and this was in no way a response to her story.)
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2015

SecretAgentSockpuppet, no worries. That's basically my Origin Story, but I'm cool with it.
(although my parents struck out on the non-problematic thing)
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:56 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

i feel like the money = worthiness/ability to adopt was well discussed by nicole chung in this post. i also think if the crowdfunding was a woman who isn't white and/or american/western and/or well off and/or partnered asking for money so she didn't have to give her baby up for adoption that the reaction in the adoption community would roundly be that she should give her baby to a "better" home.

Let's not kid ourselves. Adoption as currently practiced is a means of moving children from people with little power (the young, the poor, the incarcerated, the unmarried, the addicted, the mentally ill, the Third World) to people with more power (older, married, at least financially stable, First World). Our ideas of "worthy parents" have always had elements of social construction--for example it's now much less unthinkable for unmarried American women to keep and raise their children.

And yes, sometimes moving these children can honestly be in the best interests of the child. But if you consider children as a resource--and I know the word "resource" doesn't encompass a child's humanity and individual dignity--it's a racket. I think particularly so as we have moved into a "choice" rhetoric of having children, where it is no longer acceptable among the educated middle classes to say "Oh yeah, we didn't really think about it, we just had children because that's what you're supposed to do, everyone does it", and instead it has to be about Enriching Your Life and Finding Meaning Through the Joy of Parenthood (aside from the particular squickiness of some adoption rhetoric ("We're saving this child, we're giving it a better home")--so this Enriching Life Experience is not something poor people are supposed to have.

Then too, with the lessening of the particular stigma of adopting children (I mean the old stigma on infertile couples of "get one that looks like you, keep it hush hush, never say it was adopted"), we are hearing a lot more about the public "Demand Side" of adoption, where prospective adoptive parents are moving more and more publicly with rhetoric of "We want an adoptive child, we deserve an adoptive child, we can provide a better home for a child"... and I think the previous public discourse* was more "Supply Side" as in "Here are these orphans! Here are these children! They require homes! Can you help?"

*Obviously adopted children and adult adoptees have entered and are shaping the public discourse. I realize that my argument treats adoptive children as resources/commodities/experiences instead of, you know, people, but it's because I'm trying to describe a worldview that treats them this way. Adoptees in the public sphere can tell their own story better than I can; and the tiny infants at the center of "Baby Drafts" are not actors...
posted by Hypatia at 12:57 PM on November 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

The goal of the child welfare system is to keep families together and many of the children in foster care will go back and forth between foster homes and their birth families many times. The foster system is not a adoption pipeline for especially altruistic people, it's a way to keep vulnerable children safe while social services tries to solve whatever problems are putting them in danger. Sometimes those problems aren't soluble and parental rights are terminated. Sometimes not. Foster parents have to always be prepared for the children they've been caring for to go back to their birth families until such time as parental rites are terminated and adoption is finalized--which can take years.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:57 PM on November 11, 2015 [17 favorites]

i didn't mean to suggest that money is the only reason birth mothers give their children up for adoption - i know that's not true - but that until we find a way to eliminate that as a reason, i'm always going to feel uneasy about adoption. for instance, religious charities that front like they're there to help pregnant women in tough spots, but they really exist to convince the women to give up their babies, make me deeply uncomfortable.
posted by nadawi at 1:01 PM on November 11, 2015 [12 favorites]

Well, my feelings as an adopted child are that the Evangelical side of this is icky, but the fact of it isn't. There are a lot of children that desperately need to be adopted, and poor parents who love you is better than being shunted from one agency and foster parent to another.

I mean, sure, if you don't know the person, or if it seems odd, or if you just don't want to, don't give. But the fees for adoption are prohibitive for most parents, and we wouldn't say, well, unless you make a certain amount of money, you can't have a baby; why do the same for adoptive parents? We don't say, my god, you can't afford a new china set, how can you even think about getting married, and I guarantee a new china set is much cheaper than adoption.

I know a couple who crowdfunded their adoption, and, as far as I can tell, they are lovely parents. They just weren't extremely wealthy, and that shouldn't be a requirement to having a child, or a lot of us would not be here.
posted by maxsparber at 1:03 PM on November 11, 2015 [9 favorites]

An acquaintance of mine did this. She appealed on Facebook, wasn't looking for such a large sum of money. I think a child became available sooner than they expected and they were shy of what they needed. (I also think that they were participating in an open adoption, and had cast a wide net for adoption - I feel gross saying it; I'm trying to say they weren't being picky.)

It was really uncomfortable. What was more uncomfortable was the fact they they didn't meet their goal. Clicking on the page to see how far they'd gotten was horrible. It was horrible that I was checking, horrible that I hadn't given, and kinda horrible that they were asking. Horrible all around.I unfollowed on Facebook, which is also horrible. But they did adopt! They must've gotten a loan or maybe a family member came through for them...
posted by vitabellosi at 1:05 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

As someone who was adopted through the foster care system at a late age, I share the commodity market observations others have expressed in-thread and find it similarly baffling and colonial.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:09 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Family member asked me to post this:
No one seems to be pointing out a problem I see as an adoptive parent, and it has to do with consent. In private adoption, consent is certainly burdened. As pointed out, children are moved from lower-power families (due to race, poverty, addiction, abuse and other factors) into more privileged families. Thus, the consent of the biological parents is certainly burdened.

But in foster-adopt there is no consent at all. Parental rights have been terminated through the legal power of the state; the child literally taken by force and placed with another family. The same dynamic - moving children from low-power families to more privileged families - still applies; but now it is backed by the compelling force of law. As a potential adoptive parent, this worried me because it's undoubtedly true that families of color and families in poverty are disproportionately represented in child welfare cases.

I can't find it now, but I read an article recently (I thought from MeFi) that talked about a woman of color whose young son was taken from her and placed with a white family. She was referred into the system for a good reason, but ultimately the article opined that factors not related to negligent parenting ultimately caused her to lose her parental rights. That she was not compliant enough to the caseworker, that the caseworker didn't accept certain seemingly reasonable cultural differences, that even though the mother went through the classes and did the reunification steps, the caseworker felt she was 'cold.'

Now I don't think this characterizes the majority of situations where parental rights are terminated, and by no means am I implying any misdeed or ethical failing in parents who adopt through foster care. But I also think there is a good place for private adoption, pending we see many reforms happen in the adoption 'industry' and our overall society to decrease the financial or societal coercion involved.

And of course - none of this addresses the consent of the adoptee at all. But since we can't work with the consent of an unborn child (as most private adoptions are done through pre-birth matching), IMO we have a greater obligation to work toward open adoption and to facilitate adoptee-biological parent relationships when both of those people want them.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:41 PM on November 11, 2015 [22 favorites]

I'm in the UK - I'm not sure the extent to which things are different here, but would be interested to find out more

Not a contemporary (or unbiased) source, but the British TV series Call The Midwife has dealt a lot with the topic of adoption in postwar England, especially in the most recent season.

It's changed a lot since then, though!

The UK differs in that we don't have private adoptions where adoptive parents can pay adoption agencies. All adoptions go through the same state system. Adoptive parents do pay some fees (court fees to finalise the adoption, fees for medical check-ups, and if you are adopting from abroad then there's a means-tested fee for that, up to something like £1500) but these are nothing like the $45,000 amounts that private adoption agencies in the US can charge.

It is fairly uncommon in the UK for newborns to be given up for adoption voluntarily - the vast, vast majority of children available for adoption are from the foster care system. Birth parents who do decide to give their child up for adoption before giving birth also can't sign the papers days after birth, the way they can in (some?) US states; you can't legally agree to that until 6 weeks after the birth, and even then it will be months before the adoption is finalised. So adopting young babies is really unusual here, although does happen sometimes under concurrent planning (foster-to-adopt).

I really don't like the idea of children as purchasable commodities. Also, though, I don't think it's entirely fair to suggest that people who don't adopt from foster care just don't want the less desirable children. Children adopted out of foster care typically have significant needs as a result of their early lives - lots of them are traumatised, grew up in pretty awful circumstances, were neglected or abused and will be dealing with the effects of that for a long, long time. It's not a moral failing to acknowledge that you aren't capable of providing the kind of parenting they might well need.

(I am not an adoptive parent, but I have looked into this a bit as a potential path for the future.)
posted by Catseye at 2:12 PM on November 11, 2015 [14 favorites]

the system is set up now so that mostly only people with a lot of money can adopt

As of last month, there were 9723 children awaiting adoption in Texas, including 179 in my county alone. The cost to adopt is minimal, and there is state assistance available, as well as federal tax credits.
posted by bradf at 2:23 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

There may be a lot of kids available on paper, but people looking to create a family generally want younger children that they can bond with and get to experience raising themselves. First words, first steps...parenthood is emotionally laden with these expectations and adopting older children means giving up those things, which (I think understandably) hopeful would-be parents don't want to do.

Bradf, when I searched the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange for children aged 6 years old or less with no physical special needs, there were two results. Add in the qualifier 'no medical special needs' and it goes down to one kid. People looking into adoption may not feel ready to walk into a parenting situation with older kids that come with complicated family histories, let alone a child that comes with developmental or medical issues they're not equipped to deal with. It's hard enough to find enough resources to deal with children with special needs, but to add the emotional challenge of adoption of an older child and that's a big responsibility for anyone to voluntarily take on.

Evangelicals may see themselves as saving 'those poor kids', but many good people are adopting to build their families, not to 'rescue' a child. Not to say there aren't major issues with the adoption system, but I think it's unfair to expect adoptive parents to be willing to take high-needs children from the foster system when biological parents aren't expected to do the same, or faced with the same moral questioning of daring to want an infant and not a 6 year old.
posted by ghost dance beat at 2:55 PM on November 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

bradf: “As of last month, there were 9723 children awaiting adoption in Texas, including 179 in my county alone. The cost to adopt is minimal, and there is state assistance available, as well as federal tax credits.”

Cost is "minimal"? Huh. I wonder what "minimal" is?
posted by koeselitz at 3:07 PM on November 11, 2015

I'm adopting from foster care in Colorado, and "minimal" here means that in many cases, you pay court fees and that's it if the adoption is being done through a county system.

I will speak to the number of kids available. Apparently things have been changing in child welfare and though there are plenty of kids whose parental rights have been terminated, not all of them are listed on adoption exchanges, which exist to draw attention to kids with the biggest needs. In addition, many judges waver at the point of parental rights termination until an adoptive family has been found, since they don't want to be "creating orphans." I personally am adopting through an agency, not only because it's less expensive than adopting a baby (around $5,000 for one more more non-baby children), but because there are better post-adoption resources and they act as my advocates with the counties, who are rightfully in the foster care business and focus their resources on that as opposed to carefully matching kids with families.

In Colorado, at least, there is an aspect of consent. I believe if a child is 12 years old or older, they must give their consent before an adoption can be finalized.
posted by mynameisluka at 3:14 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

That said, ghost dance beat, in the classes I am taking we are reminded that EVERY kid in the foster care system has special needs. If they've been removed from the care of their biological parent or parents, they have experienced trauma, period. That trauma can affect development mildly or severely, but yeah, being In The System means you've experienced something traumatic, and having parental rights terminated means that you've really been through some horrible shit.
posted by mynameisluka at 3:16 PM on November 11, 2015 [9 favorites]

Children adopted out of foster care typically have significant needs as a result of their early lives - lots of them are traumatised, grew up in pretty awful circumstances, were neglected or abused and will be dealing with the effects of that for a long, long time.

Well, right, and dealing with these needs is also quite costly. Dealing with the foster care system can be very costly in terms of time and effort. It's not really correct to say that it's free/cheap to adopt through the foster care system.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:22 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cost is "minimal"? Huh. I wonder what "minimal" is?

On the order of $3-5000, with $1-2000 reimbursed depending on income. Significantly less than the cost of giving birth in a US hospital.

Bradf, when I searched the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange for children aged 6 years old or less with no physical special needs, there were two results.

That site doesn't list all of the children in foster care awaiting adoption.

It's not really correct to say that it's free/cheap to adopt through the foster care system

I didn't say it was free or cheap. I said the cost was minimal. Which it is, compared to the $20+k cost of privately adopting an infant.
posted by bradf at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

That's true mynameisluka, and that's what I meant by the emotional challenge of adoption (especially with older children). Reactive Attachment Disorder, a history of trauma or abuse, and other emotional issues are why people can be hesitant to adopt from the foster system. Medical and physical special needs especially can be extremely costly and can limit the type of future a child has - a shorter lifespan, an independent adult life, etc. may all be off the cards. Obviously it would be great if prospective parents could take these children out of foster care and give them the best life possible, but I don't think it's fair to expect adoptive parents to be willing to step up and care for children with significant issues any more than other parents do, just because they're planning to adopt rather procreate.
posted by ghost dance beat at 3:30 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

We saw this growing as we prepared to adopt, and were skeeved about it at the time. Our travel group even included someone who had crowdfunded part of the costs in a campaign that was one of the first we'd noticed. It took a little bit of selective memory to stay friendly during the trip.

That the practice is only growing makes it feel even worse.
posted by Quasirandom at 3:37 PM on November 11, 2015

Even if there a good amount of parents giving up children are financially secure, I really wish people supported governmental child care measures and funding instead of using crowdfunding to make themselves feel better. Get money to those ignored and in need, as so many painful stories other commenters have shared.
posted by halifix at 3:55 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have to say, as someone who has some interest in the whole thing, I agree that it's horrible. Private adoption ought to be illegal in the United States except in very, very narrow cases – cases which by law ought to involve no money or exchange of goods whatsoever.
posted by koeselitz at 3:56 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

First words, first steps...parenthood is emotionally laden with these expectations and adopting older children means giving up those things, which (I think understandably) hopeful would-be parents don't want to do.

Well, yes. That said, no one--biological-capable adults or no--is entitled to a child. Furthermore, no one is entitled to a child who meets those expectations. I get that parents and parents to be build castles in the air of their aspirations and desires for their children. That's normal. But those expectations are not a guarantee, and easy, able bodied babies are not a right. I empathize with the desire of adoptive parents to have the picture perfect family they imagine, just as I empathize with the desire of (say) parents of autism spectrum children to have the picture perfect family they envisioned. But that's not life, and that perfectly normal human desire can lead to truly horrifying places if it's blindly encouraged without thinking about existing children and the places they come from. That's what I object to.
posted by sciatrix at 4:20 PM on November 11, 2015 [17 favorites]

In unwanted pregnancies, though, a private adoption can let the birth parents choose the family the child goes to, which is an ideal solution for a lot of people. I know there can be problems with a system like that, but I'd hate to see that choice taken from all the people who need it.

I think that someone who carries a pregnancy to term knowing that they won't be able to raise the child themselves deserves some measure of control over who raises the child, and what sort of relationship they have with them.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:23 PM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Bio parents can sometimes choose where their kids go in the foster system, too, though. Or at least that's what happened with fosterhood's baby Clementine.
posted by chaiminda at 4:45 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

On the other hand, that same blogger later found out that she *would* have been the adoptive parent of another child if the bio mom had gotten her way, but the foster system prevented that for no particular reason. So I agree that needs to be a standard. Would love to see some of that crowdfunding go toward the foster system in general.
posted by chaiminda at 5:03 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's amazing how our culture so often defaults to potential adoptive parent experience. Many of us went through hell losing very wanted children to adoption due to poverty and lack of resources.

While our families, communities, and counselors "educated" us about how terrible we would be for trying to raise our children in poverty and how we are not as good as these wealthy people who want to buy our babies.

Welfare moms are still shamed and judged for needing resources by liberals and conservatives alike-- let alone daring to openly beg so that we can keep our children. While I have met of the hundreds of birthmothers I've known in real life and online a number under 10 of birthmothers who were really relieved to place and really just didn't want to do it even if they had financial security just felt relieved not to become a mom. That exists.

It DOES happens, all the more reason we need to decouple money from placing children in homes so that money is neither an obstacle for biological OR adoptive parents. If money is one of the bigger reasons for infant adoption placements (and last I read it was one of the leading reasons women stated for placements) then the fact people are delighted to give money to one set of parents who is not related to this baby and doesn't even know this baby, feel SAD for them about wanting a hypothetical baby, but can't even relate to the horror an actual mom is going through not being able to provide for her child financial is part of the way birthparents are dehumanized and erased- a bit part of how easy it is for everyone to take their children and ignore the thousands of sad birthmother blogs they create and live in afterwards claiming the ones who are sad are just choosing to be sad. (I can't even describe the number of insults I and so many other powerful voices of women harmed by adoption got for daring to speak about the pain and failing to be "grateful"). Most of us go silent because it's so excruciate to hear the ongoing insults people have for you if you aren't delighted your child was taken by the rich people. What a courageous choice! I live in hell and my child gets money!

Devil's bargain. Paid for in the flesh and blood of my own body and the screams that haunt my inside's still. Nothing but the best for my kids. But clearly when it's a poor women hoping and dreaming desperate for someone to rescue her from a horrible fate of losing her child, it isn't nearly such a fun or celebrated cause to donate to.

And this article discusses the ways that adoptive parents (and likely society at large) tend to see birthparents as responsible for their poverty or having made "Choices" in a way they don't think of themselves when they need money.

"Women who placed children for adoption in the U.S. “were characterized as less moral, less enterprising, and less deserving of compassion than poor mothers in other countries”
posted by xarnop at 5:50 PM on November 11, 2015 [40 favorites]

Thanks for reminding me of Fosterhood. I tend to forget about her blog, but when I find it, it breaks my heart about poor little Jacket all over again.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:51 PM on November 11, 2015

Xarnop, I'm so sorry.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:11 PM on November 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Jimbob: Why isn't "wealth" in that list of things you don't want to deny people things because of?

If you accept the idea that some people should be wealthier than others, you have to also accept the idea that people without wealth are denied things that wealthier people have access to. Otherwise, the whole idea of wealth is pretty meaningless.
posted by shponglespore at 6:24 PM on November 11, 2015

Bradf, when I searched the Texas Adoption Resource Exchange for children aged 6 years old or less with no physical special needs, there were two results. Add in the qualifier 'no medical special needs' and it goes down to one kid.

The casual ableism of this comment is breathtaking. Bio parents don't get to select out children with disabilities or special needs, and the easy assumption that adoptive parents should be able to only contributes to the idea that people are buying babies in a marketplace.
posted by Mavri at 7:17 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Bio parents don't get to select out children with disabilities or special needs

Yes they do. When more safe tests for more disabilities become available, this is only going to increase.

Another thing to keep in mind is that often an adoptive parent will already have experienced a major health issue with either themselves or their babies or both, it's not easy to ask them to take on a higher risk of more issues.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:33 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Honestly, though, do we really want people who don't want to adopt a child because of that child's special need(s) to be adopting them? What if the would-be parent has trauma and they can't handle a child with similar trauma, or a child who acts out in a certain way? What if both of the would-be parents need to work and they can't afford to have a child who needs round-the-clock care? It's a very real concern. When a child needs more than their biological parents can give, it is tragic. It is a weakness of biological parenting, not a strength.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:43 PM on November 11, 2015 [8 favorites]

Biological parents absolutely get to select out children with disabilities or special needs, to an increasing point. Every parent wants to minimize the suffering and constrictions that their children face in the world. Adoptive parents being cognizant that they are not physically/emotionally/financially able or willing to take on a level of needs required by such conditions is no more ableist than people choosing to reproduce biologically and having CVS and/or amnios to ensure the health of their child, and arguably more informed since they can be aware of exactly what the requirements are for the child that's available for adoption, and whether it's a fit for their family.
posted by ghost dance beat at 7:50 PM on November 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Drinky Die, as soon as I commented I thought about genetic testing. While that's similar (and problematic), it doesn't prevent having a child with disabilities the way being able to eliminate children with disabilities from an adoption search does.

Your second point is just baffling. Biological parents don't have health issues?

I'm not arguing that people who don't want children with disabilities should be forced to adopt them, just that it's disturbing to me that people so easily dismiss those children (or people with disabilities in general). In the context of an article about paying for babies, it's relevant that people don't just want a child, they want to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a particular kind of child.
posted by Mavri at 7:52 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

The thing that strikes me about all this is that for people who are adopting children who look like them and will fit into their family that way, telling everyone you even vaguely know about it would seem to be counter to the goal of seamlessly bringing a child into the family. Even if everyone you know is down with the subterfuge, or perhaps you're going to tell the child early on and everyone knows that, it seems irresponsible to open your child up to that sort of second-guessing about how his or her birth circumstances might have been an influence.

Also, maybe practices have evolved around this, and more people are being honest with their children about being adopted at earlier ages, but wouldn't it just be strange for everyone but the child to know the child was adopted, before the child is old enough to know what that means? How could one possibly police their entire circles of friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for inappropriate or confusing references to the adoption throughout their kids' lives? And wouldn't it be weird for a colleague or friend of a friend to meet your child and say something about how happy they were to meet you and see what that $200 went toward?

This just seems so fraught with potential peril, even for people who believe, like those in The Circle, that radical transparency about all aspects of one's life is a desirable thing.
posted by limeonaire at 8:36 PM on November 11, 2015

(Obviously couples who adopt interracially deal with all this and more. But for anyone who is adopting but specifically wants children who look somewhat like themselves, these all seem like ethical issues that would come into play.)
posted by limeonaire at 8:42 PM on November 11, 2015

Your second point is just baffling. Biological parents don't have health issues?

I think we have to separate out the things that we ask of biological parents because it is right and the things that are part of biological parenthood because of fate. If we can (via ethical means) reduce the risk that parents who dealt with losing a child will have another child that will have significant health issues, I would support that whether the parent is adoptive or original. Biology/technological limitation is often what takes that element of choice away, not the idea that the mother doesn't have a right to choose. You don't have those limitations as much with adoption, so people make the choices that they see as best for themselves.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:48 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

The older my kids get and the more I see international and trans racial adoption up close and work with families losing kids, the more I think prospective adoptive parents, and to some degree, including parents who cannot adopt due to infertility because of gay couples, trans, etc., have to accept that their grief and loss at not being able to parent an infant or a healthy infant cannot be held higher than the loss of adoptees or first families.

There aren't enough healthy infants. There are more older and special need children and not enough resources for the people to parent them well.

Eventually, we will do machine womb surrogacy, and this will be a different argument, but right now it's infertility pain plus class and wealth, causing a huge swell of pain in adoptees and first families that gets ignored because they don't have the same wealth or power.

I know ethical infant adoptions, I have them in my life, but they are outnumbered vastly by terrible stories and by sad stories.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:01 PM on November 11, 2015 [5 favorites]

Can we not go into the evangelical pedophile angle when there have already been fpps on that and this is more about money and disproportionate power in the adoption industry?

My current favorite horrible number on adoption is this one: "In Korea, single mothers receive a mere $59 a month for each child while group homes and orphanages receive $900 a month for each child."
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:11 PM on November 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've been involved in the process and I strongly feel that anything I could say would be awkward, because my experience is obviously not something I can build upon to force representations onto anyone. That being said, I also feel that the issues adoptees and parents have to struggle with are to be discussed much more in the public space, because that would benefit both to the practices and to adoptees themselves, who often have to deal with a crushing burden. My two cents is that consideration of each aspect of that question needs a lot of nuance.
posted by nicolin at 2:27 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Speaking of adoptee voices, many have been speaking about these things for a long time but get very little media attention even when they want it.

Amanda writes at Declassified Adoptee:
"According to my mother's narrative, at the time she stepped off of the plane in her sister's home state where she would birth me, she owned just one change of clothes. It seems irreverent for the wealthy to exchange money for inspirational adoption t-shirts among themselves, too expensive for my own mother to have worn herself, to raise money to adopt her baby."
"Hierarchies of power and privilege push impoverished children into orphanages and care and trap them there with their families on the outside looking in, the empty arms of biological families aching. One adoption fee could vaccinate tens of thousands of children or fund an entire medical center for a village. The average cost to adopt a newborn from a struggling parent could pay the TANF allowance of a family of four for three years."

"Aselefech discovered just how difficult it is to garner support for family preservation fundraisers.
I thought $5000 would be an easy amount to raise, and I was wrong. It’s been a struggle, and a reminder that family preservation is far less popular than adoption, at least in terms of fundraising."

And this piece written for Huffpo but deleted for being to edgy. Our voices are so routinely silenced and shot down by people who "don't think this aspect of adoption is the appointing thing to talk about right now".... there is never a right time to talk about it because it will never be a comfortable conversation.

"Adoption fundraising reinforces traditional hierarchies of power and privilege by giving money to the already-wealthy to receive a child into their home, rather than placing vital resources with the original families and original communities that would prevent children from being placed in orphanage and for adoption in the first place… When poverty is the underlying factor in an adoption, those in the position to receive a child into their home, as opposed to surrendering a child from their home, are on the privileged side of the equation. I do not say this to criticize those parents, but because those of us with privilege have a duty to be aware of how privilege impacts marginalized people and communities. Not just be aware of it, but to take action to secure social justice.”

And when those of us who are fighting passionately to save women from forced adoption due to poverty try to do fundraisers we hear EVEN FROM ADOPTEES:

"I don't think it's the responsibility of the government to subsidize this. If there are private groups out there that are willing and able to support mothers like this, that is who we should lean on. But it's not society's responsibility to help when we have budget deficits and so many others in need of help.

There are times when people need to help themselves rather than always leaning on others to help them."

"I agree with Anon and I am an adult adoptee. My heart goes out to this young woman but her support should come from the father who is equally responsible, her family, private charities and the public support networks already in place. Resources should be spent forcing the young man equally responsible for this pregnancy to assist in support for that child.

Nothing disgraceful about common sense or pragmatism. Lashing out at others will not assist this young woman but pointing out that current programs do exist to aid her and her unborn child will.

Jade NOT wanting to help herself to someone elses' child but also not responsible to paying for another's mistake"

We have been trying to create a safety network for these moms for like 8 years, but the only people who were help us are often women who have already lost their children and have serious PTSD trying to approach this issue and financial limitations as well. We have such a hard time garnering ANY interest in generating public support of funding vulnerable moms at risk of being preyed on by the adoption industry because NO ONE CARES... not enough to donate money like they suddenly find when it's something they really believe in like helping a nice worthy couple who deserves some other woman's baby more than she does bring "their" baby home.

I get outright deleted all the time for talking about this when "it's not the right time" or speaking too passionately or not representing a balanced perspective of adoptive parents in equal parts despite the fact that we are NOT equal members of a pretty triangle of love, we as women who have lost our children are survivors of a trauma deliberately taken out on us for someone else's benefit with social approval of the community as a whole that we deserve this loss and this trauma. No one will EVER want to look at that because horrific pain and the fact that our communities are perpetuating it is never something one wants to look at.
posted by xarnop at 4:30 AM on November 12, 2015 [18 favorites]

An organization that struggles to come up with resources is Saving Our Sisters, a grassroots organization created for women in need of resource to parent their children. They have recently been taken under the wing of CUB so that they will have non-profit status to do their work.

After being set up by adoption counselors to plan absolutely zero resources in case they change their minds, women who change their minds after the birth are extremely vulnerable to having no choice at all, sometimes not having a car seat or a place to go; when they could have been planning these resources all along if not encouraged by adoption professionals to commit to their plan (and reminded they might want to change their minds after to birth so stick to your reasons!!! Don't let your love of your child and desire to keep them cause you to make a BAD selfish choice for them!)

I will add that on metafilter there have been a great deal more people willing to discuss and learn about this than many places on the internet, even feminist organizations I asked for help with this, although as the work of women of color to put forth the goal of reproductive justice as being about more than just abortion I think more feminists are talking about the idea of access resources and support to parent in a healthy way being part of human and women's rights. Sometimes when you've been screaming for anyone anywhere to hear and no one is listening, when you get that tiny window people want to give you there is so much to say and so many emotions that it leaves me shaking to even speak of it, it would be great if their were people without PTSD and anguish and pain that comes out when they try to speak about it to do advocacy work for us, but so far there has essentially been one woman outside the adoption world who has taken up the cause; a sociologist who did a research paper on women's trauma after losing children to adoption that was refused publication because it didn't have enough adoptive parent perspective. That's how deeply rooted this conversation is rigged.

Another positive is that there is a research project to explore what kind of resources expectant parents who seek support are receiving and what they are being told about adoption with the goal of implementing policy changes that will protect and serve vulnerable women. Let's hope this research actually makes the light of day!

I appreciate all who have listened, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
posted by xarnop at 5:29 AM on November 12, 2015 [18 favorites]

Saving Our Sisters Facebook page is a really good resource if you want to start learning more about adoption from outside the mainstream industry perspective. They post a fairly regular stream of updates about cases in the U.S. and are must be good at moderating their comments because it's been largely supportive discussions for the mums and links to first parent articles.

Other good places to add to your regular reading feeds: The Lost Daughters is an amazing and beautiful anthology, with many adoptees writing there. Track, the Korea adoptee organisation has good articles often too. John Raible writes about transracial adoption uncomfortably and hard in a way that is difficult and enormously helpful to read.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:39 AM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

From the comments:

"I'm now picturing two GoFundMe pages side by side and the comments each would generate: 1) Hello, I'm an unmarried woman in China who has just given birth to a beautiful baby girl. I desperately want to keep her. If we raise $10,000 she can grow up here with her loving family. 2) Hello, we're a married white American couple who want to adopt a baby girl from China. It will cost $10,000."
posted by naoko at 7:26 AM on November 12, 2015 [14 favorites]

This is probably going to be too much information, or too much honesty, but the wildly conflicting emotions that swirl around this topic for me are overwhelming at times, and being able to listen and hear and read and talk about it is incredibly (selfishly) important to me.

Firstly, thank you for posting this and, more importantly, thank you to everyone bringing their actual experiences to the thread. As someone who has been actively seeking out voices and stories from the (unjustly) non-mainstream sides of the adoption industry, I am (again, admittedly selfishly) grateful for your honesty. Thank-you for speaking out. Thank-you for fighting against the overwhelming narrative of adoption that is being sold by the people who benefit from it, and by those who find the other sides of the story uncomfortable. I admit to finding myself too often (and disappointingly) in the latter group.

I am someone who is considering adoption because I cannot have a biological child. Every time that I think that I've educated myself "enough" about the issues and power structures and abuses and violence of this system, and every time I think (foolishly, wishfully, self-deceivingly) that I've found an agency that is actually committed to the concept of ethical adoption, I learn something new about the ways in which the system is irreparably broken, and the ways in which the truths of that system are consciously, maniputively, insidiously hidden from potential adoptive parents (most of whom consciously or unconsciously welcome the obfuscation), and I just want to give up.

And the thing is, nope-ing out of the for-profit, private adoption system is probably the right thing to do. But holy hell is it a hard fight to abandon that dream of having a baby. I know that desire is selfish, I know that it is born of privilege and entitlement, I know that it is unreasonable, and (worse) I know that pursuing it in this way is harmful on both individual and broader societal levels.....
I know all this, and still the desire is there. The narrative of adoption as a universal good - even the somewhat more nuanced version of that narrative which (self-congratulatingly) acknowledges the complexity of the issue - is SO SEDUCTIVE, and SO PERVASIVE, and so LUCRATIVE, that people like me who are already emotionally overwhelmed by whatever led them to consider adoption in the first place (and here I'm giving potential adoptive parents the benefit of the doubt and not assuming the only thing driving them to consider adoption is some sort of evangelical zeal) often end up perilously close to the side of an ethical line that we would never have imagined ourselves crossing.

All this is emphatically not meant as an apologia for adoptive parents, potential or otherwise, nor a condemnation of them (which is the general tone of the thread so far, at least in my probably hyper-sensitive reading) but an acknowledgement of how complicit we are in a terrible system, how willfully blind we can be to that system's abuses (even when we think we've got our eyes wide open), and how desperately we (or maybe just I....I don't know why I keep using that distancing "we") need to hear/seek out/listen to stories that are not financially committed to painting the adoption narrative a rosy hue.

Yeah. So that was maybe a too-personal rant that doesn't need to be in this thread? But I just wanted to offer a perspective of someone who is in the thick of this mud at this very moment, and who is trying to figure out a way out, or through, or around....
posted by Dorinda at 9:36 AM on November 12, 2015 [17 favorites]

I think it's worth noting, for those who are asking why pay so much money, that I don't think I've even heard of a place that does infant or small child adoptions for less than 20k, except for in-house religious adoptions. That's what's been driving some of the foreign adoptions, as I recall anecdotally - it is less expensive to adopt overseas, even counting plane flights, than it is in the US.

The foster adoption alternative is really kind of a horrible mess. Most of us acknowledge that foster care is deeply broken, which is why people want children in foster care to get adopted as quickly as possible. But an excellent point was made above - that foster care, is not, at its roots, designed as a quick adoption platform. Most people enter foster care before, not after, parental rights are terminated. Many are striving to reunite with their family, and often have siblings. It's not just about "oh man, these kids have issues", it's also about "this person has an actively violent parent that they have a complicated relationship with." Because the people whose parents are willing to work on parenting leave foster care for reunification.
posted by corb at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't really see the babyselling arguments or dangers of deciding "who gets to be a parent" with dollars, because geez, people have kids for free all the time and no one judged them worthy.

Also, the author's concerns about the self marketing the parents do don't seem to go away with or without the crowdfunding.

That said, I definitely agree with the issues on the kid's whole life story laid out on some site, and appreciate this author's perspective, especially this:

I’ve explained why, as an adopted person, adoption fundraisers give me a shifty, sinking feeling when I see them pop up in my social feeds. I don’t believe they represent the greatest challenge in adoption. I don’t think it’s necessarily terrible to donate to one. I don’t think we need to spearhead a campaign to eliminate them. What we do need is a lot more education and nuanced discussion about adoption, who it is supposed to benefit, and how it might need to change. We need to skip the easy platitudes and consider the institution in all its complexity — that’s something everyone deserves if we are going to be asked to give our money to support individual private adoptions.

Personally I don't see a moral issue with crowdfunding adoption fees, but think it's definitely worthwhile to consider the issues she's raised in this piece.
posted by sweetkid at 1:01 PM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also what maxsparber said:

I mean, sure, if you don't know the person, or if it seems odd, or if you just don't want to, don't give. But the fees for adoption are prohibitive for most parents, and we wouldn't say, well, unless you make a certain amount of money, you can't have a baby; why do the same for adoptive parents? We don't say, my god, you can't afford a new china set, how can you even think about getting married, and I guarantee a new china set is much cheaper than adoption.

I know a couple who crowdfunded their adoption, and, as far as I can tell, they are lovely parents. They just weren't extremely wealthy, and that shouldn't be a requirement to having a child, or a lot of us would not be here.

I think some people seem to be saying that if someone can't afford those fees or have family give to them then they wouldn't be fit parents or they're doing something inherently gross. Which doesn't even seem to be what the article is saying.
posted by sweetkid at 1:24 PM on November 12, 2015

The problem is birthparents on the losing end of this are to often being told EXACTLY that if they can't afford to give a baby the life it deserves they should hand the baby over to others who have the resources. So the fact society is not judging potential adoptive parents by this metric needs to be examined. What dehumanizing excuses do we use to tell ourselves the poor who are told their children deserve better lives don't deserve this money but potential adoptive parents wanting to raise the same children do?
posted by xarnop at 1:33 PM on November 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

I agree with that but it seems off that prospective parents who can afford the fees aren't getting the moral blame that parents who can't, but are looking for crowdfunding are.
posted by sweetkid at 1:35 PM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

And too often the reason stated above, that no one should have to help these women with their "mistake", is used. Which is especially heinous when you consider that abuse, age disparate relationships, reproductive coercion and rape often play role in the pregnancies of the young and vulnerable.

"I agree with that but it seems off that prospective parents who can afford the fees aren't getting the moral blame that parents who can't, but are looking for crowdfunding are."

I would say that I do actually think there is culpability in both, and in the societal narrative that feeds this. Biological parents are told to buck up and endure the horror of losing their own children because they don't have enough money, and if they REALLY love their kids they will make the ultimate sacrifice for them. Society acts like there isn't enough money to help when it's actually a willful choice to not help. If you just got 10,000 donation money, it wasn't even yours, you didn't even earn it. Why not just sponsor a family/families?

I can understand that potential adoptive parents may be too emotional from their own issues and from society narratives that innately tend to match up the suffering of infertile as equal or even greater than the horror of watching people walk away with your child while your nipples still drip with milk for them, while your body screams to bring them back to you. Many stories on adoption shows these two forms of suffering as equal or even that the sadness potential adoptive might feel if they are unable to adopt a particular child they had their sights on.

Pre-birth matching is considered exploitative by many in the adoption reform movement, and it's favored by agencies because it more often secures a placement, ensuring the pregnant mom sees how much better and more resourced these people are then her, forms a bond with them, and feel indebted for relieving their "suffering" that she would cause by keeping her own child.

I still think human rights are wack when we are fighting as communities to help get money to people who want to take other people's kids before we will fight to get that money to the families themselves. Taking part in using the charity of others when the original mothers are not allowed to in order to take their babies really is an additional level of disregard for the power being used to harm another for personal gain. I think it's very hard to stop ones self from participating in unjust systems which is part of why I like laws and protections put in place for the vulnerable rather than asking people to behave better because for one many just don't care, and for another even those who care can struggle with denying themselves things they want very very badly the market is all to happy to sell them at someone else's expense.

I understand that very well as it's how many heinous human rights abuses that many of us have a hard time separating from.

I think if we fixed the ethics of the system itself, it would benefit the potential adoptive parents who actually do want adopt ethically because these abuses are certainly not on them alone. Anyone with privilege should examine their role in an abusive system and work to not participate if possible, but since that will always have limitations, policy changes and regulations can have even bigger impacts.

When society is really quick to say that adoptive parents have no obligation to support some random family, it should also be noted that despite the fact that pregnant women in a crisis should have no obligation to alleviate some random families desires for a child- yet only one person in this equation is being asked to do a horrific sacrifice for the other.

And it's not the adoptive parents we're asking to suffer for the benefit of others.
posted by xarnop at 2:06 PM on November 12, 2015 [7 favorites]

Taking part in using the charity of others when the original mothers are not allowed to in order to take their babies really is an additional level of disregard for the power being used to harm another for personal gain.

I really don't think that's true. Is it wrong to use crowdfunded resources to treat an illness if someone else can't somehow get that crowdfunding, because of lack of access to platforms, language barriers etc?

I just feel like there's this extra layer of shaming to potential adoptive parents/people getting fertility treatments that people who just get lucky the old fashioned way and who have so called "adequate" financial and family systems never have to deal with, and I feel like that seems doubled by people in this thread against those who lack the funds for a huge outlay of money for adoption fees.

I think it's possible to care about the idea that women are not being supported in single motherhood unless they have the so called right resources or home life etc, and also don't feel like those who want to adopt a child but can't afford fees should "just" foster a family because they "didn't even earn" the money. What if they don't have an extended family network to get the money from, like apparently respectable people who also didn't earn the money do?
posted by sweetkid at 2:26 PM on November 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

When it comes down to it, I think my discomfort with crowdfunding for things like this is that it serves almost as a gamified version of social services. We're privatizing public interests, which always ends in horrifying, miserable failure. As a culture, we should be 'crowdfunding' adoptions through our taxes, and not distributing funds based on who is willing and able to ask, who can tell the most compelling story, or who has friends with money to spare.

When a child is born, we should all have a societal interest in doing what is right for that child. If that child is born to a parent who wants them but simply can't afford to raise them the way a child deserves to be raised, we should be 'crowdfunding' that family. When a birth parent doesn't want to or isn't able to raise the child for non-monetary reasons, then, we should be supporting whatever solution works best for those involved, and we should be doing it consistently and anonymously, rather than picking and choosing and trying to manufacture "happy endings" for individual manifestations of systemic problems.

It is awful that there are so many families who aren't able to adopt the child they want, but I don't see a way to give that to everyone that doesn't involve removing wanted children from their birth families. It sounds like there just aren't enough people who are able and willing to carry a pregnancy to term who don't have an interest in raising the child themselves. The only fair way I can think of to rectify that is through medical advancements.

I'm not totally against crowdfunding adoptions, I guess, but at best, I think it's just something people might need to do to work within the system we have now. But obviously, the system needs to change. We should never be having to crowdfund justice or fairness or social equity. That should be a given, and then we can go back to focusing our crowdfunding efforts on movies and wacky inventions and trying to send celebrities to the North Pole.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:36 PM on November 12, 2015 [9 favorites]

Just to note - there was a comment deleted earlier, I think incorrectly, that pointed to the purchasing of children for adoption as a way to allow the purchasing of children for abuse. The comment was specific on the evangelical rescue mission aspect and pedophiles, and I disagreed with that angle in my comment immediately following, but I've had a little back and forth with the deleted commenter and thought some more about it.

The larger child abusing adoptive parents group (not always evangelical - there are some lgbt parents, some single parents, foster parents - adoptive parents can be abusive in all kinds of ways too, although there's an interesting argument that adopting in order to religiously indoctrinate a child is a form of abuse in itself) gets way more complicated with money thrown into the mix because the money becomes a legitimising force. They have money, they put resources into and "paid" for the child, so they have a right to the child. They are turning the child into a commodity and the idea that the child is an item, reduced to a set of attributes that can be assigned a price and then marked up by middlemen agencies and sold from the original producer - it's literally dehumanising.

By participating in commercial legal adoption, even legal adoption, we turn humans into products for profit. We can disguise this with pretty soft-focus pictures and talk about best interest of the child, but at the end of the day, people are legally and openly purchasing children from pregnant women and reselling them. Even a non-profit agency still creates paid jobs for its staff as an incentive to keep operating.

And so that does open up a way for people who slip past the evaluations to be able to purchase a child. There is a sort of washing of the hands over who is responsible for that child who's lost their family of origin, been resold by the state or by an agency which collects the money, hands over the child and that's it. Then the new family who now have full control of this child's life - horrible people get to exploit that system which doesn't spend money on post-placement visits, and good intentioned parents trying don't get any help either.

And so if you do take part in adopting a child from a commercial legal agency, even with the best of intentions, then you are buying a baby. There's no nice gentle way to go around it.

Infertility is brutal. It's horrible, it's tragic. I have been there and am there.

But watching your adopted kids grieve over and over a loss they shouldn't have had to suffer because of a fucked-up system you blindly participated in? You would go through decades of infertility pain to somehow undo their pain and give them a good childhood, I promise you. Creating more pain in your future adopted children's lives by pursuing an unethical adoption because you can't afford it is a decision you will regret forever. And the need to crowdfund adoptions is the public showing of the high cost of private adoptions which is just gross and wrong and bad.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:19 PM on November 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

So many great comments here, as both a mother who lost a child to adoption in the 60s, an adoption reform activist, and a recent adoptive grandma of siblings from foster care, I really appreciate the spotlight this article has shed on questionable adoption practices, especially begging for money on the internet to purchase an infant. Adoption practice in the US has been described as "the Wild West" with very little real regulation, and much money to be made by adoption entrepreneurs setting up shop and looking for vulnerable pregnant women to provide the product, and "willing to pay" prospective adoptive parents to buy it. If prospective adopters stopped paying exorbitant prices, either out of their own savings or through crowdfunding, the market would soon fall apart. By the way no white newborn is "saved" by being adopted by any particular couple, religious or not ; there are many more in line behind them, and the baby goes to the one with the most bucks, the higher the price, the fewer questions asked. In my opinion, the ones who think that they have a direct line to the Almighty and that God "called" them to adopt or made a child parentless especially for them are most scary. Where is the line between religion and delusional thinking?

I would say to any pregnant woman considering surrender, adoption cannot guarantee your child a better life, just a different life that may be better or worse than what your family can provide in the long run. My child did not go to a better life, but to a mother and father with less education than myself and the birthfather or my subsequent husband, and mental illness and abuse by the adoptive mother who was supposed to be better for my child than me. That was hardly the case. Adoption, like life, is a crapshoot. when money talks, screening gets more and more lax and abuse of all sorts is more likely. I dealt with what was supposed to be a reputable agency, and things have gotten worse since then with anyone who wants to setting up shop as an adoption broker.

To those who say it is "unfair" to expect the infertile to adopt from foster care and excuse the practice of begging on the internet to buy a child, well, a lot of ethical ways of behavior seem less "fair" to the buyer than "any means necessary" to get what you want, and can even result in problems later on if you take on children that have been through trauma and really need a permanent home. I say welcome to being a parent, by any means, adoptive or biological. There are no guarantees of perfect children or a perfect life, but some people seem to think they can up their odds of perfection by paying for the top of the line product.

I pray every day for my grandchildren, I know they will have challenges to face, but my son and his wife and family and my family are all there for them now, no matter what. It should always be about the kids first and foremost, and their real needs which may or may not coincide with the needs of either the bio or adoptive parents.
posted by mermayd at 4:40 AM on November 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

In my case it turned out the adoptive parents were adopting to save the marriage from divorce, (as in actually later told me this) it failed they divorced by the time my daughter was two, it tuned out the adoptive mother was a smoker, a heavy drinker, earning just a few dollars more an hour than I was.

And she was on WIC and foodstamps and all the rest. All that suffering I was put through to give her the same obstacles I was told it was better for me to be destroyed than my daughter to face.

Now I don't actually think badly of the adoptive mother for these things. She's a human, she's fallible. Adoptive parents aren't and shouldn't be EXPECTED to be perfect. But neither should biological parents.

To push vulnerable women to believe their imperfections make them unworthy while people who can come up with the money for an adoption are assumed to be perfect is a really harmful societal narrative. And for society to discard it's obligation to help poor people with their poverty itself, based on the narrative that when poor people have children they need to be punished by being refused resources or forced to jump through degrading hoops to still receive too little resources to truly parent in a healthy way is criminal. The adoption markets create an illusion the problem is being addressed, provide a release valve that people can tell themselves at least some of the children are being "Saved" and divert money and resources from the most important solutions to help children and their families without expecting the mothers to subject themselves to a procedure known to cause lifelong trauma and PTSD in a large portion of women. (And of course getting research done on this and getting it published and heard is extremely hard to begin with due to adoption "Friendly" policies of people in power).
posted by xarnop at 5:33 AM on November 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

I think this is a really difficult and emotionally fraught topic. My sympathies go out to those who have given children up and felt pressured either at the time or later, and subsequently regretted the decision. It is clear that this is deeply, deeply painful.

But I'm not sure the right people to blame here are the parents looking to adopt. They have one of the most natural desires in the world - the desire for a healthy baby. It's what biological pregnant people with wanted children hope for, and it is totally natural and normal for adoptive parents to want that as well. To suggest that they should only be able to take physically or mentally unhealthy children and be happy for it, and how dare they look for what everyone else wants, not only seems uncharitable but also seems problematic, in that it reinforces that only women capable of biologically bearing children are worthy to be mothers, and that they will never be just regular mothers, capable of being complex and having needs and feelings, but literally living saints in order to compensate for their nonfunctional uterus. As if they didn't feel bad enough already.

It's not the parents pressuring the women, it's unethical adoption agencies. Why can't we focus our anger at the people knowingly doing wrong? Why focus on the people who are just trying to be parents?
posted by corb at 11:53 AM on November 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

It really is both. Just trying to be parents at someone else's expense really does suck as much as I am sympathetic that it's very easy to be windshield instead of the bug.

What I am suggesting is that they should only be able to take children that really need homes. Those are unfortunately the children that mostly need homes. There will be some infants who truly need homes, but there are far far more hopeful adoptive parents than there are these infants.

The fact that someone may be perfectly worthy of a child does not make it ok to take someone elses when they are in a crisis and being sold a toxic premise. If there are not enough babies for people with infertility issues to adopt it does not mean we start preying on vulnerable women and convincing them they aren't good enough for their babies.
posted by xarnop at 12:37 PM on November 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

I just watched the BBC's Our World: The Lost Daughter of Halabja in its debut on BBC America, about a woman finding her birth family in Iraq. It doesn't seem to be online yet unfortunately but here's the accompanying text (note: contains a photo of a fake bunch of dead bodies at a museum exhibit on the Halabja attack.)

Maryam Barootchian's biological mother was temporarily blinded in Saddam Hussein's chemical attack on the Kurdish town in 1988 and in the course of the Iranian military evacuating everyone to Iranian hospitals her daughter was (presumably accidentally) separated from her. Maryam was adopted by an Iranian family.

The small bit in the documentary about her relationship with her adoptive mother really brought home to me an example of how adoption might end up being not-so-great for the adoptee. They named her after their own recently-deceased biological daughter. There's a clip of Maryam going through photos with her adoptive mother and Maryam asks, "Was I pretty?" and the mother answers (in translation) "Not at all, you were dark-skinned." You can see a picture of them together in the second link above and their skin tones seem indistinguishable, not that it should matter anyways.
posted by XMLicious at 1:32 PM on November 13, 2015

Just trying to be parents at someone else's expense

But that's not what prospective adoptive parents are trying to do. That just isn't an accurate description. You may think that's the practical effect of what they are doing and that ignorance or a lack of bad intentions don't matter, but those are different points than claiming people adopt because they are trying to be parents at someone else's expense. Also, as even you seem to recognize, there really are circumstances where adoption is appropriate (my sister was abandoned as a baby), which makes the intention issue even more complicated. It isn't crazy for prospective adoptive parents to thin there might be a kid out there who really does need a home.
posted by Area Man at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

people understanding their role in a market that is plagued with bad ethics is important. what the potential parents/consumers want doesn't align with what's available and something has to break - sadly, it seems to mostly break on the birth mother's side. i don't think people should be discouraged from sharing that viewpoint.
posted by nadawi at 2:09 PM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am respectfully disagreeing with a statement made, which I believe is appropriate. I honestly don't think setting this up as birth parents vs. people who want to adopt is a healthy or productive way to discuss these issues or move toward a better system.
posted by Area Man at 2:20 PM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

and i am respectfully disagreeing with you.
posted by nadawi at 2:29 PM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

To get back to the original topic, no, there is nothing wrong with wanting to adopt, and in some cases adoption is the best solution to a bad situation for all involved. This article was not just about people wanting to become parents by adoption, but about those who expect strangers on the internet to send them thousands of dollars to enable them to do so, to buy the top of the line product of the adoption industry. That is unethical on so many levels. It leads to the exploitation of poor women, very young women, very naive women to provide newborn infants for those willing to pay, and there is a great deal of pressure on pregnant women who fall into the trap of these businesses to hand over the goods no matter what second thoughts they may have once they give birth. It is not "birthparents vs. people who want to adopt." It is those who know how the adoption industry works vs. those who exploit birthparents, adoptive parents, and most of all children who have no say in any of it for profit. There are sensitive, ethical adoptive parents and people who want to adopt ethically. My son is one and I am close friends with several others. But there are also the kinds of people who do things like promise to raise the kid to root for a certain football team, and who treat human beings like a commodity they deserve which others should help them pay for like a car or TV set. That is wrong, and it needs to be said.
posted by mermayd at 3:25 PM on November 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

the kinds of people who do things like promise to raise the kid to root for a certain football team

There are enough real issues here that I don't think we need to single out what I don't believe anyone thinks is a serious thing rather than tongue-in-cheek bit of rah rah. As non-football people we put the word out that we'd commit our boy to fandom for whatever team someone sent us clothing for first (with the exception of the not-in-Washington Racistnames) but it's not like we're going to insist that's all he wear till adulthood if he wants to stay housed and fed.
posted by phearlez at 7:30 PM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Adopting a child is a serious thing. Asking for money to pay to buy a child is a serious and morally questionable thing. "Tongue in cheek rah rah" trivializes something that will affect many lives, most of all the child involved who can read all this in future years. Nothing really ever goes away on the internet. That is what the adoptee who wrote the original article was objecting to in mentioning the football team promise.
posted by mermayd at 7:54 PM on November 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Buy a child to describe adoption ranks next to describing vietnam vets as baby killers. It's really gross and something you should consider dropping.
posted by phearlez at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

It is and isn't. Adoption can be the extension and creation of a family. It can also be the purchase of a child.

I did four adoptions, and two of them were purchases. Pretending they weren't is way more gross and disrespectful to the people involved.

I'm not touching the weirdness of the baby killer comment, except you say, yes the adoption industry, like war, is a sick machine, but unlike drafted soldiers, adoptive parents are the sole financial source. We have power. We just choose to use it to help ourselves first.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 2:55 PM on November 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

So you'd be comfortable telling another human being they had been bought? Or you're just cool with using the phrase so long as you don't have to say it where some people can hear it?

The industry is problematic as is the cultural imbalances that allow it to exist in the way it does. But using terminology that makes it akin to slavery is just disgusting. I ignored it once and even twice but the third time is my limit before I say something.
posted by phearlez at 6:53 PM on November 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seriously? To clarify before I go further - my kids have cleared what aspects of their story they are comfortable with having discussed in public by me when I talk about adoption, and what's private.

My kids were adopted as older children. Two of them have very clear memories of being sold for profit. One of them was too young to have that memory, but because of the siblings, grew up with that information gently being revealed to them as family history (we had a lot of therapists along the way). So I've had the conversations about this. I've met adult adoptees and other teen adoptees who think this stuff and don't talk about it with their parents, but because they know I work in adoption trafficking, ask me about it and talk about it and it's raw pain. They're silenced because the weight of "adoption is family LOVE LOVE BE GRATEFUL" is so heavy.

Some adoptees in my life will never have to think about being bought and sold for a profit because they were at the other end of the spectrum of ethical adoption-baby selling. Many, many adoptees will never have to deal with that. My kids are at one extreme of that spectrum of baby selling because it was straight out adoption trafficking.

It's not comfortable or cool. It's reality.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:55 PM on November 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

That's a lot of pretty words to amount up to "the ends justify the gross rhetorical means." It's a shit phrase to deploy whether you do so for noble means or not.
posted by phearlez at 9:27 AM on November 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, but the phrase was created by adoptees and birthmothers who have been exploited by adoption to describe their own stories. Call it what you will, but do not deny the real exploitation that is happening to human beings right in front of you. I disagree with attempts control the language of the oppressed in describing their experience to make it more comfortable for the oppressor.
posted by xarnop at 11:12 AM on November 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

I will put it another way, if I were to have a conversation with people who work in sweatshops and some are talking about how they feel injured, some are discussing they just feel grateful for work, the last thing the conversation needs is me, as someone who have profited from this injustice sweeping in to make sure the conversation never reflects badly on people who buy the clothes.

Do I understand that I can be at the intersect of harmful privilege at time and it's extremely hard not to? YES! I get it! It's so easy to do in a system that will feed all of our vice and prey on desires and harm others and tell us it's fine as long as we have money we deserve these things, we need these things!

I get it!

But my voice trying to explain that in a conversation about these workers expressing harms they been through would just not be the right time to point out the humanity and understandability of the people who buy these clothes despite the injustice. It takes away from hearing voices that very much need to be heard a lot more than focusing on people who have profited from the injustice who want to make sure the conversation doesn't tarnish their image.
posted by xarnop at 11:22 AM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

If we were talking about shirts I would be with you but we are talking about human beings like my nephew. Some adoptions may be more like purchases, but not all. You are pushing the purchase line too universally to make a rhetorical point and I feel like you aren't giving enough empathy to the other side of the equation here. I understand this is a deeply personal and important issue but I have to agree with phearlez that I wish you would try a different approach here.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:42 AM on November 15, 2015

That's a lot of pretty words to amount up to "the ends justify the gross rhetorical means." It's a shit phrase to deploy whether you do so for noble means or not.

Can you please acknowledge dorothyisunderwood's point, which is that it is not empty rhetoric, but what they see as the most apt description of an actual practice that they have personal experience with?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:44 AM on November 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

I used the term "buying babies" once in reference to those of us specifically who feel our babies were sold. You can decide if that includes the people you're worried it offends or not. If you know people who adopted without supporting an exploitive system or contributing to the break up of a loving family then it's not really about you, so it doesn't make sense to say I need to "Change my approach" so that it less offends you.

In general, people in power tend to not like the language of people who have historically been harmed by them. I get it, because I flinch when I'm in one of those groups or I think "but I am in that privileged group and I haven't done that, or I didn't mean to contribute to harm, and it sounds too general!"

I get where you're coming from I just think you are turning a conversation where people historically silenced need to jump through hoops to sound pleasant. I sympathize, but disagree at the same time, that this conversation needs to be pleasant for people who are afraid they might be part of these abuses (or who know they aren't and can decide not to take it personally because they know they were NOT part of the abuses being brought up).
posted by xarnop at 11:57 AM on November 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am not in power over you. I am intimately involved in the same issue and I'm asking you to make an extremely minor adjustment in how you talk about an issue in which we have a mutual interest. Please, stop it.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:21 PM on November 15, 2015

Um, no? Please stop asking me to use language you approve of to describe how I was exploited?
posted by xarnop at 1:36 PM on November 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

My kids were adopted as older children

I'm confused by this comment. Do you mean kids you were working with?
posted by sweetkid at 1:44 PM on November 15, 2015

You can talk about yourself however you want, stop comparing adoptive families to people who exploit sweatshop labor. It's a flagrantly offensive comparison that ignores how and why the process unfolds the way it does. These are not families making purchases of cheap disposable merchandise. You are discussing human lives.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:48 PM on November 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Then why do they make price lists by race and disability status? If you think selling babies is offensive you should target the people doing it not the people brave enough to say it. I agree it's wrong and children should not be treated that way.

Adoption should NOT be a process of providing people with money with the children they want, it should be about providing children without family with a family.

US infant adoption practice is a very specific thing with injustices occurring to families in need of real services and protection from people who make a living taking their babies.

I agree, children should not be commodities. Which is why there are some major problems with what is happening.
posted by xarnop at 1:55 PM on November 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

We agree on the system being fucked up, the extremely minor adjustment I'm asking of you is to stop casting the net in such a way as you cast aspersions on adoptive families who are victims of circumstance and that fucked up system as well. They aren't buying fucking clothes and it is offensive to imply that is all the thought process they bring to the table. I've never met an adoptive family who would oppose a system that could have met their needs without sucking tens of thousands of dollars out of their pockets.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:03 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes but would they be willing to accept that if the system were improved, they might not be able to adopt an infant at all? Adoptive parents don't MEAN to feed a system that is serving them for pay, but that is what is happening. I agree the people doing this bear a great deal of responsibility but I don't see adoptive parents as helpless victims here in the way you do. We can agree to disagree or simply to stop talking but I refuse your request to use language you approve of.
posted by xarnop at 2:06 PM on November 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Well I am unhappy we have not managed to see eye to eye but yeah it's agree to disagree time. Sorry if the conversation has caused you unneeded stress on an issue that is important to you.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:08 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Likewise. I honor you respectfully sharing your beliefs even if we have some disagreement.
posted by xarnop at 2:12 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sweetkid, my children who are adopted, three of them as older children and one as a toddler. I also work with families who have lost children to adoption trafficking, and families who are involved in trafficking, and I've helped arrange kinship adoptions and informal foster care and adoption plans.

Adoption is the raising of a non-biologically related child, a human tradition of love and family from children who have lost their family of origin for some reason that continues to this day in many families. Commercial adoption is legalised baby selling. There's a big overlap.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:55 PM on November 15, 2015

I'm still confused. You mean you adopted children yourself? But you're against adoption morally?
posted by sweetkid at 8:01 PM on November 15, 2015

Like who adopted "your kids", "your children"? I'm confused by the passive voice.
posted by sweetkid at 8:17 PM on November 15, 2015

Ah. I reflexively avoid adopted children as in my four adopted children and one biological children, because it's a linguistic quirk - it becomes their label. I'm the adoptive mother - but we actually use second mother in our household, a term which is starting to catch on a bit - to four children. And I'm not against adoption at all. I'm against commercial adoption hugely.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:38 PM on November 15, 2015

I'm not asking anyone to put labels on their children but there's been enough moralizing in this thread (adoption tourism is good as long as you can afford lump sum fees, otherwise ew!) that I am genuinely confused who the good guys are supposed to be and who's not.
posted by sweetkid at 8:52 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's partly a copyediting thing - you'll see a bio of a family where they write so-and so and his five children and two adopted children. It's annoying, because they're all his children in that respect, and people don't go and his five biological children and two adopted children. And it's like the "Gotcha" day celebrations which started from a nice idea of celebrating becoming a family to becoming something more gross. Language matters in adoption.

Enough adult adoptees said they didn't like being called adopted children vs being children who were adopted by their parents, and also - my oldest is 24. She's not an adopted child, she's an adult. She's an adoptee, but she's adopted by me, as an act that happened at a point in time, and now my daughter rather than always my adopted-daughter. So I use the passive term and second mom to reflect reality.

This isn't a good guy/bad guy thing. It's money and truth and families, and people figuring stuff out.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:03 PM on November 15, 2015

Mod note: This isn't an interrogation, folks, please move on.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:35 PM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

People who have adopted children have first-hand experience with adoption. This first-hand knowledge sometimes leads them to be critical of the process of adoption.

People who have gone through a given process might be critical of that process. They might, in fact, know more about that process than a random internet commenter who seems to think that they are exposing some deep hypocrisy or otherwise being clever.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:38 PM on November 15, 2015

Again, my comments were deleted
But I am not trying to expose hypocrisy. I'm trying to understand who's ok in this thread and who's not. I'm not anti crowdfunding fees and haven't adopted children (yet), so I'm on the bad side , fine. But I also won't walk away from this discussion with any understanding of how to act ethically. No fees? Foster only? Fees only if you can afford? Who knows.
posted by sweetkid at 9:53 PM on November 15, 2015

You're approaching this as a set of rules. The whole point is that this isn't a case of who is a Good or Bad person or what makes a Good or Bad adoption. Adoptions are inherently complicated because they involve the collapse of a family. Even the very best Junoesque adoption where there is next to no coercion and plenty of choice and support for the first family, there's still a huge loss of what could have been. There's still enormous change to go through, and very few adoptions are that minimal. Most of them are going to involve way less choice, older children and more trauma.

Add the incentive of money to the mix, as crowdfunding does with its weird pressure of publicity-pushing feelgood chase, and you have something toxic because the welfare of the child becomes secondary to profit.

Here's something that could be done if you're in the U.S.: sign on to the retroactive adoptee citizenship act.

Sweetkid, people have pointed out stuff to do - listen to adoptees. Research the adoption industry. Consider fostering and supporting first families. Consider not adopting at all over adopting unethically.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:30 PM on November 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Thanks to dorothyisunderwood for a clear explanation of what is wrong with the adoption system and with crowdfunding adoption. I feel perfectly justified in saying that paying twenty thousand dollars and up and up as high as the traffic will bear is indeed "buying a child", not matter how one tries to pretty it up with sentimental words and pictures. Not all adoption is child buying or exploitation, but some certainly is and deserves to be called what it is, ugly as that sounds. There is no reason for fees that high except somebody's profit.

Also special thanks for mentioning the retroactive adoptee citizenship act. Anyone who cares about adoptees should support that act, no matter what their other views on adoption issues. To see what can happen to internationally adopted adults whose parents failed to get them citizenship prior to 2000, google Adam Crapser, a Korean adoptee faced with deportation for minor offenses years ago. He is now a married man with children, speaks no Korean and has no known connections there, yet because of the neglect of his adopted parents, is faced with deportation, as are other adoptees, at least one of who was murdered in the country of his birth when deported there. This is an outrage that passing this act will fix for many international adoptees at risk, please go to the link and support it.
posted by mermayd at 4:00 AM on November 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another clue that adoption is a business, not a charity,and a racist one at that, is the sliding scale of fees for the product depending on race, age, health and gender. Look at a selection of sites offering children for adoption, and you will learn that the top of the line very expensive product is a healthy newborn white female, followed by healthy white newborn male, down the the line through Asian, Latino, mixed race, handicapped, and to the very bottom of the barrel, a Black male over the age of 5. Many of these bargain children just age out of a dreadful foster care system, because even with subsidies nobody wants them, doubly so if there is any sort of disability involved. Strangely enough Black children from exotic Ethiopia cost much more than Black children from Newark or Watts and are preferred. Children with severe problems from institutionalization and neglect from very white countries like Russia and Ukraine were preferred to domestic children of color until they started manifesting problems and some adopted families started "re-homing" them through an underground network of unsupervised group homes and informal re-adoptions.

Oh but it is not a market, it is all about Saving the Babies and Forever Families and dancing unicorns. Right.
posted by mermayd at 6:10 AM on November 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was annoyed with some postngo people earlier in the thread but clearly made it seem like I had a problem with dorothyisunderwood and mermayd instead and for that I apologize. Great information here, thank you.
posted by sweetkid at 6:30 AM on November 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

So I'm looking into "why are the fees higher for nonprofits for various situations?", and it looks like for newborns, at least part of the higher cost is that you are paying for the prospective biomother's medical care, including hospital birth - which can definitely cost upwards of 10k alone in the US. Mine was 6 or 7 K over ten years ago, so I can attest that these things definitely cost real money. So a newborn would thus always be at least 10K higher than a older child, because you don't have the medical expenses in the case of the latter child.
posted by corb at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Again, it's bizarre world where we willing to communally fundraise for someone else take a poor woman's baby for her so she can have medical care rather than just provide medical care to the mother in need. Give up your baby or you don't get medical care for the pregnancy and birth of your baby can hardly be considered freely consenting by my standards.
posted by xarnop at 8:25 AM on November 16, 2015 [6 favorites]

Xarnop, I think you're letting your personal experience color the entire world of adoption in a way that is not exactly fair. Women adopt out their babies for many reasons - as many reasons as women get abortions - and it is not always that they would desperately love to take care of a baby if only they could afford their hospital bill. I feel like the argument that every birth mother is taken advantage of is denying a lot of women their agency. It's terrible when women are pressured into decisions about reproduction that they would not otherwise choose, but women who want to make their own choices and are well informed enough to do so are not victims by sheer virtue of giving up a baby. To say that women all want children is to argue we are ruled by our uterus.
posted by corb at 8:49 AM on November 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think you're really strawmanning xarnop's point. Unless you think there are no poor women who give up their children because they can't afford them or feel strongly pressured--which seems really counter to everything I've read about the topic. Certainly, some women do feel like they're making an active an empowered choice. But that is not overwhelmingly the case, and it's important to consider the ironic way our society supports birth but doesn't support mothers who birth.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:31 AM on November 16, 2015 [9 favorites]

Is there a word for people who adoptsplain adoption to people who have been painstakingly researching and networking with thousand of adoptees and birthmothers for over ten years, listened to birthmothers tell stories that include the horror of powerlessness to give their children a good life and pride at choosing adoption because they knew they didn't have the same resources over, and over, and over....

Over and over they say "I wanted my child but I chose what was right even though it was the most painful thing I've ever done, I am happy because I know I gave them the live I couldn't through adoption".

POVERTY IS THE DOINANT NARRATIVE. It is not the only narrative but it is the dominant one. Have you watched videos of birthmothers describing their decisions on adoption agency websites? It's all "be selfless, think of your child first!" None of the advertising is marketed to women who don't want their babies. They exist but they do not drive the market.

Have you read any research at all about what goes into this that hasn't come straight from an adoption agency or social workers who literally design research to show "how birthmothers learn to embrace their decision"... loaded.... loaded research.

I do actually know women who didn't want to raise their children even with financial resources... I mentioned that. However given the climate of overwhelming coercion and no checks and balances in place to protect women, it's highly suspect that the amount of women delighted to carry their children for nine months, risk their lives, experience all the hormones and bonding feelings that can happen during the pregnancy and birth to hand the baby over to strangers....

Given that agencies started from an ideology of OUTRIGHT STEALING BABIES, and have worked backwards from that to openly embrace the "better life" narrative.

I want to go look up all the research. I want to SHOW you what I have spent years learning about these abuses, what people who won't even LISTEN to us who have been harmed are ignoring, but right now I am shaking and I am in pain, and I know what I didn't know when I lost my daughter, that I am not alone, that thousands of other women have been harmed this way, that no one is listening or working on it as a serious human rights issue and it because people prefer to listen to the narrative you provide right here.

Telling me I'm an isolated story. Making us birthmothers who have been harmed sound like isolated incidences until we shut up and go away..


Do know ANYTHING about the level of pain that is ROUTINE that adoption agencies workers KNOW these women are SAYING are their experiences? You're going to tell me my experience is unique?

"Do you enough for Justin or do you want BEST."

This is the narrative that adoption agencies sell to these women. Many of these women are knowingly destroying themselves and instead of thinking maybe we should help save these women from this destruction we celebrate it because we think they deserve it.

She says a big myth in adoption is that birthmothers don't want their children. Even among birthmothers who are "happy" with their adoption, overwhelmingly a narrative of loss, pain, tragedy, powerlessness to parent in a healthy way as they wished dominates their decision and experience, and the happiness they derive is in the fact their desperately wanted child is getting a better life.

Overwhelmingly birthmothers who are happy with their loving choice to place their children express they want people to know their children were very much wanted, that their decision to place was painful.

This is the narrative women who feel empowered for adoption often give:
"A birthmother doesn’t place her child for adoption because she doesn’t want him/her. I can assure you, all the birthmothers I know wanted their children. Just because they weren’t prepared at that moment with the resources and support needed to raise a child, doesn’t mean that child is unwanted or unloved."

Believe what you want but please actually read birthmother blogs and stories, even the ones happy with their decisions overall and tell you don't see an overwhelming narrative of pain, relieved only by the fact that these wanted children are getting a better life than the loving birthmother could give. That is not the only narrative, and other narratives are important, but when you're trying to deny this kind of exploitation is happening by acting like I'm just too emotional or damaged my experience to understand it as well as you do or to REALLY understand how empowering adoption is for most women, myself being a anomaly speaks to your lack of familiarity with birthmothers stories, reasons for placement, adoption culture or the narratives that drive it.
posted by xarnop at 9:50 AM on November 16, 2015 [7 favorites]

This is what it looks like.

And a funny quote from the adoption agency worker (they see these sobs all the time... and for the birthmother.... this is just the beginning of her painful ..beautiful?... adoption journey as they call it).

"Some could keep their children... and they are counseled with that option. The most cited reason for giving up to adoption is... they don't want to abort, but cannot care for the child... no money, home, or help. Undoubtedly some could tough it out and care for the child. The decision is always theirs."

Followed up by "This mother was listened to very carefully. She was given the opportunity up until the very last moment to keep the child. Nobody takes the babies away from the moms, and the economic situation is not an issue in the decision. In fact, the adoption agency gives the mothers money, and helps them after the birth."

Right so the most common reason is no money , home, or help but the economic situation has nothing to do with it? They offer money if she chooses to parent? How much? If they offer such great support for after the birth why is the most common reason no money, home, or help?
posted by xarnop at 3:24 AM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Our ideology about adoption, our narrative of adoption started in manipulative and forced child removal of infants to put the child with "worthy" people, called the baby scoop era, women were told outright they were unworthy of their children and they needed to be punished

Survivors of baby scoop era abuses tell their stories.

Many don't know, that women were held in these homes, some literally with barbed wire fences to keep them from leaving, their arms put into leather restraints so they couldn't hold their babies, often put to sleep right before the birth (and they would wait right up until the moment of the birth often giving women no pain medication so they would go through all the pain of labor, and then, like was done to my mother, black out and wake up in a room alone. The ideology was that these women outright needed to be punished. That baby removal was what they deserved.

That they didn't deserve help or resources, that having their children taken was the best solution.

These horrific abuses have not been addressed publicly as the crimes against humanity they are. And the ability of adoption agencies opening up supportive homes where they can... lovingly... help women understand the miracle of adoption and what a great thing they can do for their children remains in practice. And society still holds onto the idea that even if these women are being damaged, it really is better for the children, right? Because the high rates of difficulties children in single parent and low income homes CAN'T be addressed by addressing poverty itself... these women after all need to be taught a lesson and if we help women with their children they'll just keep making babies.

So poverty is deliberately applied to control women's reproductive choices. To keep them in shame and struggle, even if it hurts their children. These things are not happening by accident. These narratives are still part of our culture and they are still hurting people. And they need to get out in the open.

Places like Gladney, where I was taken from my mother, where she begged to keep me after the birth but they reminded her she had no money, she called her mom and her mom said she just couldn't deal with helping. She had no where to go with me.

That is not a choice. The choice narrative is what they use now to make women feel empowered about taking care of everyone's needs in this situation but hers. She is expected to feel joy and meaning by seeing how great her child's life is and how happy the adoptive parents are.

As a women's rights activist, this narrative fails to serve the needs of these women.

And when you introduce there is ANY extra money around, that could be helping these mothers of desperately wanted children when that is the case (and it is most often the case) the idea of society investing it in adoptive parents who they see as innately more worthy, it becomes more obvious that there is money that we as individuals, as communities could be investing in helping these moms. It's just so deeply rooted that we SHOULDN'T.

That keeping single moms poor is a deterrent... to punish women for failing to use birth control, or for their birth control failing, or for being raped or experiencing reproductive coercion or abuse where their requests for condoms or birth control use went unheeded.

We claim to be pro-sex now... but we are still very anti-babies that come from that sex and families formed from sex that doesn't conform to very restrictive morals we have about this. And as the human rights movement starts picking up on the fact that the adoption process discriminates against gay adoptive parents, or low income adoptive parents-- maybe it's time the human rights and social justice movements address the horrors that are being done to these women in order to make these children available for adoption in the first place. The narratives that are innately unjust in what is taking wanted children from loving non-abusive mothers in the first place.

Mothers of loss share their stories.
posted by xarnop at 4:21 AM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

This seems relevant:

My Son's Adoption Is Not My Story to Tell
posted by limeonaire at 9:35 PM on November 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

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