I haven’t written about adoption in general in a while here, mostly because I feel like I’ve said it all, and I’d just be repeating myself. I figure, it’s all under that “Adoption” category tab and anyone who wants to can read it there. But I do realize that blogs don’t necessarily work that way, and repeating oneself happens when a person has been blogging as long as I have.I found myself motivated to perhaps repeat myself, but perhaps in different words this week, when I read Jenna’s recent post about yet another scumbag in adoption.
This is some kind of “service” prospective adoptive parents can get to “screen” a prospective first mother and somehow supposedly prove she isn’t working with any other couples, etc. weird etc. or something. It paints pregnant women considering adoption as potential scam artists just looking to take your money and break your heart by–perish the thought–not giving their babies away to strangers (or maybe giving them to different strangers) after they are born.
Jenna muses quite eloquently on what bothers her about the whole thing from a birth mother perspective. I added a bit from my perspective in her comments, but wanted to expand on it here.
Pregnant women are not used cars that can be certified safe bets by a dealer. And so, for one thing this is probably a bad deal for prospective adopters who are not really getting any value from this “service” (you know, because human beings, being what they are and having human rights and human brains and all, may just come to a decision that is different from what you’d prefer them to decide, regardless of their “pre-certification.”) No doubt, submitting to this “service” will add pressure to the decision-making process of some pregnant women and some may give away their babies when they feel wrong about that because they feel they owe something to the prospective adopters for whom they were “certified.” And frankly, as an adoptive parent, that would be my worst nightmare.
The worst thing that could happen, folks, is not that a women decides to parent after her child is born, rather than giving that child to you. That is disappointing, yes, grief-inducing, even, when you have attached a lot of hope and even love to that baby. But the worst thing that could happen is that a woman who didn’t have to and didn’t want to, gave her baby away because someone–or some process–convinced her that she owed that baby in return for kindness, financial help during pregnancy, promises made or friendships developed before the birth. Knowing you have taken a child away from its mother without that mother making a clear and fully-informed and emotionally sound decision must be the most insomnia-inducing condition an adoptive parent could ever find herself in. It’s the worst one I can imagine for myself. I’m a mother now, and I can’t fathom the pain of losing my child–even if that child was going somewhere wonderful. Losing my child when I wasn’t so sure that where she was going was all that much more wonderful than staying with me would be even worse. (And yes, I know that’s the understatement of all time.)
So, I put this in Jenna’s comments, but here it is again. My advice to prospective adoptive parents:
Treat every pregnant woman considering adoption the way you would want your own daughter to be treated, were she to find herself in the same situation. Pregnant women considering adoption are not impossibly foreign Others. They are women like you, prospective adoptive mom, women like the daughter you may someday have. And if you do adopt her baby, that woman will be flesh of your child’s flesh and just as dear, because without her, your precious child would never have been. Treat her–and all prospective birth mothers with the kind of respect you would treat your own child.
Many adoptive parents don’t go into adoption understanding these feelings, but once parental love kicks in, they are suddenly “converted” to the realization that a respectful attitude towards first families is best for their children. So trust me, whatever you think you feel now, you will regret it later if you look back and realize that you thought of, spoke of or treated your child’s mother with anything less than the profoundest respect–not just putting her on a pedestal for the “gift” you think she will give you, but respecting her whole self as fully human in all ways, not just reproductive ones.
The fact is, we are all in this together, and every member of the adoption triad is better off if her humanity and rights are respected by every other member. Most of the time, prospective adopters have a lot more power than prospective first parents, and the respect they deserve requires setting that power aside to meet them on equal terms. Treating them like potential cheats is not a good foot to get off on.