Sunday, July 12, 2009

Is Adoption Indenture?

Recently, I posed a question in a blog post asking in what ways adoption was similar to or different from kidnapping: the definition of which is to take another's child, and is sometimes committed without any overt violence and not for monetary gain.

Some adoptions do involve out-and-out violent kidnapping, and others varying degrees of coercion, deceit and deception, such a smothers in parts of the world being told their children are coming to the US for an education and will be returned...or American expectant mothers being "matched" and enmeshed with perspective adopters who pay their expenses and are than made to feel emotionally, or even financially and legally INDEBTED to hand over their child.

Of course, in the and, the adoption are legal...but are the MEANS not a fine line from abductions?

Others, speaking out on behalf of the rights - or lack thereof - of adoptees, have form time to time made another shocking comparison. One that like the use of the word kidnapping, raises eyebrows and causes knees to automatically jerk in a most defensive manner...while mouths are heard to scream NO WAY! That is comparing adoption to slavery.

Slavery is the buying and selling of human beings to perform unpaid labor. Again, then end - the performing of labor - is non-existent in adoption...but the MEANS...the means of acquisition. Are not almost all adoptees (with the exception of those adopted from foster care) "bought" in some sense or another? To one degree or another? Are not the recipients paying for them?

And more importantly, do not the recipient adopters receive a certificate of OWNERSHIP: A falsified birth certificate erasing the truth and inserting them as the ONLY parents.

I was reading 73Adoptee's recent blog post about yet another denied a passport because her papers were not accurate and t In pondering the great injustice done in the name of adoption (with its overlay of altruism and gratitude) I thought about indentured servants and turned to the dictionary for a definition of this term that has always been linked to slavery.

Read the definition and you decide:


1. a deed or agreement executed in two or more copies with edges correspondingly indented as a means of identification.
2. any deed, written contract, or sealed agreement.
3. a contract by which a person, as an apprentice, is bound to service.
4. any official or formal list, certificate, etc., authenticated for use as a voucher or the like.
5. the formal agreement between a group of bondholders and the debtor as to the terms of the debt.
6. indentation.
–verb (used with object)
7. to bind by indenture, as an apprentice.
8. Archaic. to make a depression in; indent; wrinkle; furrow.


triona said...

It's not politically correct to say so, but it certainly feels like indentured servitude to me.

*Peach* said...

"a sealed agreement" sounds alot like adoption to me. I think you've hit the nail on the head here.

AdoptAuthor said...

I think we need to change political correctness in the area of adoption. It has been politically correct to consider adoption an act of altruism that rescues "unwanted kids. We need to change those paradigms and change societal attitudes and get people thinking more realistically IMO...even if it is shocking to some..or MANY!

Think of other is not longer PC to call gay people fagot, which was once fairly acceptable or at least tolerated.

It was once very "correct" to disallow people of color to drink from the same water fountains as white - IN MY LIFETIME!! And bofre that speaking out AGAINST slavery was considery un partriotic.

Things change and we need to stir the pot to create those changes.

AdoptAuthor said...

Peach - and best of all is that the relinquishment agreement... in MOST (many?) cases, the mother never gets a copy of! What kind of legal agreement or contract is that?? The other changes a person's name without their knowledge or approval. It's all too screwy to believe.

maryanne said...

No, adoption is not indenture. Nor is it slavery or kidnapping. But you have made it clear you believe it is all of those things.

I don't understand your fascination with comparing adoption to other "shocking" things and deciding they are the same, because some pieces of dictionary definitions can be made to fit. "Stirring the pot" in this way does not create change. It is more likely to stop people from looking at what is really wrong with adoption; to dismiss the whole argument because it is too extreme and easily dismissed.

Adoption is its own thing, it has its own problems and abuses, many of which you and others have pointed out clearly without resulting to extreme and loose analogies that some people do find insulting, off-putting, and exaggerated.

It is not a matter of political correctness, but of equating a bad thing with a much worse thing, or with something that is only tangentially similar. It is not a good way to argue for your cause because it leaves gaping holes in your argument. The analogies don't work, except to the like-minded choir you are preaching to.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... Sealing birth certificates and keeping a person's true identity a secret. Purchasing and owning the "copyright" to a child's identity in order to be a FOREVER parent. Issuing an amended "birth" certificate to a child who was only born ONCE. Treating people like they should be grateful for the second-class citizenship bestowed upon them. "Now be a good little adoptee and don't complain anymore. You must have had a bad childhood." -Ignorart AP's say this kind of sh*t to adult adoptees all the time, Maryanne.

There is nothing BEAUTIFUL about being taken away from your parents and being handed over to strangers. Adoption in the U.S. has become all about supply and demand for MONEY. We've been turned into commodities with you AP's as the buyers!!!!

Adoption is the selling of children for the enjoyment and fulfillment of needy, self-centered childless adults who think they know EVERYTHING.

My name was changed when I was adopted. I can't even hold the REAL document with my REAL name on it. This is the way chattle is treated, not human beings with civil rights guaranteed to them by the United States Constitution.

maryanne said...

You missed the point, anon. First of all I am not an adoptive parent. I am a mother who surrendered a child, and no, it did not turn out well for me or for him. There was nothing beautiful about my situation or my son's. Adoptive parents do indeed say many awful things to their kids, the worst relating to being forever grateful. Much of the suffering in bad adoptions is because there is presumed to be love and emotional attachment in families, not just a commercial or criminal situation.

Some adoptive parents are indeed greedy and self-centered. Others are not. None of us can generalize our own situation to include all adoptees, all adoptive parents, or all surrendering mothers. The money to be made in adoption is certainly a huge corrupting factor, and is the major abuse that needs to be changed. You get no argument from me on that one!

Adoption is indeed horrid in many cases in the ways you mentioned, especially in your not being able to get your original birth certificate. But it is not the same as indenture, kidnapping or slavery. In fact in indenture you could work off your indebtedness and then were free, which adoptees cannot do:-)

My original post was about why these analogies are flawed and don't work, not saying there is nothing wrong or bad about adoption as it now exists in our society.

AdoptAuthor said...

If it looks like it, smells like it, tastes and FEELS like it...

Yes, some slave owners were good to their slavs, and comparatively few adoptive parents overtly mistreat their children. Yet, even if all were well treated, the principle of slave owning is still abhorrent...NOW. It wasn't always so. It was once considered an economic necessity and Blacks wee considered lesser anyhow, so why not?

Currently, we believe that some children are unwanted and ned rescuing and that justifies obtaining them by any means - coercion, or paying high "fees" to middle men. It also justifies falsifying their ID permanently and disallowing them to know the truth of their origins.

Some people kidnap children and treat them well, or at least cause them no physical harm, especially in cases of parental kidnappings. In these cases there is no justification allowable and children, when found, are returned to their original families with no questions about the amount of time spent with their abductors and the bod formed. Yet in adoptions proven to be fraudulent, it can years - at best - to ever return children to their families...IF those families can afford the legal fees (see post just a day or so ago about a family spending in excess of $200k).

And, as MaryAnne reminded us: indenture can end.

So, in many way adoption is the worse of all of these evils.

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.” Dante Alighieri

I prefer to be an alarmist. To "dare" to compare adoption to other atrocities against our fellow human beings. I do believe a shake up is necessary. Far to many in our nation are worse than complacent about predatory adoption practices...they do not know they exits and believe adoption to be a won-win.

That is why our government gives and continue to increase each year - tax benefits to those who adopt in order to ENCOURAGE MORE family separations and more redistribution of the world's children. We promote and encourage as good. We need to put the brakes on and in order to do that we need to bring some very harsh realities to light about the ugliness of the entire process.

Extremes are vitally important in all social change movements. The gays need their gay pride parades with people dressed outlandishly just as much as they need public figures and celebs to come out. Cicil rights needed the Black Panthers every bit as much as they needed MLK. It is the extremes that make the public wake up and realize the moderates are really not asking for that much after all!

So since we all agree that predatory adoption practices, corruption, exploitation, child trafficking etc. need to be stopped - we need to stir and shake...

We have a long rod ahead. We need a federal department to oversee all adoption business - to set regulations and enforce them. We need a department of Family Preservation to help families in crisis avoid losing children and receive the resources they need to remain together.- programs that have been proven more cost efficient and ore successful than foster care.

A log, long way to go...we are still sitting in the backs of buses and not allowed to drink from the same water fountains yet...

More of us need to cream, yell and get out into the streets and demonstrate. Make noise. make outrageous comparisons. Do all we can to bring attention to these problems and demand solutions.

Trying to b "good girls" and do at we were told was "right" is what got us into this to begin with...

"There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women." Madeleine K. Albright

maryanne said...

Reserving my "special place in hell" per your many quotes:-)I thought NOT being good girls was what got us into this to begin with! Good girls didn't "do it."

There are ways to communicate without screaming. When someone screams all the time, it is like the boy who cried wolf. Diminishing returns of anyone listening.

AdoptAuthor said...

"No, adoption is not indenture. Nor is it slavery or kidnapping. But you have made it clear you believe it is all of those things."

Please note that both the posts in question were posited as QUESTIONS not dogmatic affirmative position statements. I believe that opening the doors of provocative discussion is always healthy, as is allowing for disagreements in positions and presentations. I believe that is one of the major purposes of blogging - to be provocative and elicit discussion. This is not a news media that just puts out news...or an organization with official positions.

Please read the blog description under the heading on my newly formatted page here...

maryanne said...

You wrote "So, in many ways, adoption is the worst of all these evils." (kidnapping, slavery, indenture). That is not a question, it is an unambigous statement. You have made it clear which answer you would give to your own questions in all these discussions, and how much you disagree with my ideas on this subject.

You have gotten your "provacative discussion" What you have not gotten is 100% agreement with your point of view, although several posters have agreed with you as is often the case.

I never thought this was a newspaper or an organization. As the song says, "its just you and me and we just disagree." So what is the problem?

AdoptAuthor said...

Disagree problem!

Anonymous said...

'Indenture' at its simplest means an agreement declaring the benefits and obligations of two or more parties.
'Sealed contract' in its modern sense means a contract that has been authenticated by a notary, as in 'signed and sealed', the seal being the stamp of legal authority.
Indentured servitude is a labor contract.

As I'm sure you'd expect, I don't think adoption is like indentured servitude at all, just as I don't think it's like slavery - though, when adoption doesn't conform to best practice, there are parallels that can be drawn to both.
But, as Maryanne says, adoption is its own thing. Adoption is open to abuse, whereas indentured servitude and slavery are abuse per se. In adoption, one such abuse is the financial/commercial/commodification aspect. Another is the closed record system, which denies adopted people fundamental information that is accorded to the rest of the citizenry.

An vital difference is that unlike adoptees, indentured servants, like slaves, were unable to vote. They were not acknowledged as persons under the law.
But, for that matter, neither can children, adopted or not, vote - at least not until they reach the age of majority, when they achieve full citizenship. To that extent, even non-adopted children are essentially the property of their parents.
Adoption, when done right, with no financial exchange, with proper justification (such as abuse or abandonment), without coercion, and with equal access to OBCs and all personal information without conditions (such as disclosure or contact vetoes) is not, by any stretch of the imagination, purchase.
It is a transfer of legal status so a child can be raised securely in a family, with all the legal rights that that affords.

"And, as MaryAnne reminded us: indenture can end. So, in many way adoption is the worse of all of these evils."
Try telling that to the descendants of slaves. Try telling it to Kara Walker.
Adoption does so end. It ends when an adoptee reaches the age of majority. At that point, adopted people may even, if they so wish, re-establish as themselves as legal members of their original family. It's a complicated solution but do-able. We know it's do-able because it has been done. And the adoptive parents have no say in the matter whatsoever.
Of course, the adopted people in question would first need to locate and contact their original family. Which only goes to underscore the importance of access to records.

AdoptAuthor said...

"Adoption, when done right, with no financial exchange, with proper justification (such as abuse or abandonment), without coercion, and with equal access to OBCs and all personal information without conditions (such as disclosure or contact vetoes) is not, by any stretch of the imagination, purchase.
It is a transfer of legal status so a child can be raised securely in a family, with all the legal rights that that affords."

Yes! Indeed! And ya know what? It's the way it USED to be in this country. But it is FAR form that now!

I think you've confused me and MaryAnne. MaryAnne said indenture ends. It was I who said that in SOME WAYS it is worse than adoption, as MaryAnne pointed out.

What I mean by in some ays it is worse is the fact that - as said - if a child is kidnapped, he is returned. Not always so if that child was taken fraudulently and adopted. Also, slavery has ended and is outlawed but the buying and selling of babies for adoption continues and is promoted and encouraged.

Anonymous said...

No, I didn't confuse you with Maryanne. I know that Maryanne said indenture ends. But I was quoting correctly.

AdoptAuthor said...

Kippa said o=f adoption: "It is a transfer of legal status so a child can be raised securely in a family, with all the legal rights that that affords."

The problem with this statement is that the 'right" are all for the adoptive parents.

I agree fully with anon who said: "My name was changed when I was adopted. I can't even hold the REAL document with my REAL name on it. This is the way chattle is treated, not human beings with civil rights guaranteed to them by the United States Constitution."

Adoptees are being denied Passports!! Where are their rights?? How are they being treated as equal US citizens and human beings?? Are any other citizens denied the moist basic simple truths of their lives?

I recently told some people about my upcoming trip to Guatemala and why I was going and the only one in the group who totally GOT IT about the horrors of taking children from their families was a Black woman...because as Blacks they have experienced a history of family separations through slavery. She had no trouble drawing that connection!

maryanne said...

Kippa wrote:"Adoption does so end. It ends when the adoptee reaches the age of majority"

Good point, Kippa, one I missed! Adoption as a way for children to be raised within the legal framework of a family is inherently different from slavery, kidnapping, or indenture, and parental rights over children, adopted or not, end when the child becomes an adult. Adoptees are not slaves nor indentured servants nor kidnap victims. The can choose to opt out of their "forever families" if that is their wish as adults, just as any adult can.

Of course there is one area where adoptees are denied rights and treated as children forever.
Here is where the perversion of sealed adoption records is a grievous wrong, as in that one instance it makes the adoptee legally a child forever. The addition of contact vetoes and requirement of natural mother permission to give adoptees their own records adds another layer of parental permission over adult choices. This is an abuse in adoption that needs to be corrected, as well as the financial profit-making abuses.

Anonymous said...

Since the State of California sealed my birth records, I want the State of California to pay the big bucks for attorney fees for me to "opt out of my FOREVER family".

Of course, that will NEVER happen.

AdoptAuthor said...

Yes, MaryAnne - the injustices of adoption never end for the majority of adoptees. The are denied equality to other US citizens - what does that sound like?

And it begins when children are removed UNNECESSARILY from their families...for social pressures or profit.

maryanne said...

It sounds like adoptee's original birth certificates need to be available to them like those of any other citizen. It does not have to be "like" anything else to be an injustice that needs fixing.

Birth certificates are sealed whether adoptees are "removed unnessarily" or really need homes. That is a whole other issue.

AdoptAuthor said...

"It sounds like"??? Not sure what you mean by that. No it does not "need" any comparisons, but comparisons sometimes help others to see how and why it is injustice.

You are right. Children who are removed to protect them from harm are likewise denied their rights, but the vast majority adoption are not because children are orphaned or in harms way and yet we as a nation encourage and promote family separations for adoption...and that is where it all begins.

Anonymous said...

I was removed from my family and "put in harms way" by social services. I was adopted by an abusive child molestor. The state of California took away ALL my rights. No one came to check on my like they told my natural mother. They lied to her.

The State of California allowed me to suffer at the hands of my adoptive father. I was in my "FOREVER FAMILY". (BARF)

I earned by birth certificate through the agony of adoption. I want it NOW. I paid the price for my freedom.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Of course there are differences between indenture, kidnapping, slavery, but there are also similarities (not having ownership of one's original identity and the concomitant problems) and to say, Oh we can't say that because people get too upset is simply shutting down one's intellect for fear of offending someone else. And that kind of lax thinking led to closed anonymous adoptions in the first place.

AdoptAuthor said...

AMEN! Have not feminists drawn a comparison between marriage and slavery for decades?? People describe their jobs as feeling like slaves to their bosses.

There ARE similarities in the definition and in the way some adoptees FEEL! That is why,subsequent to my two posts on the subject, it is being discussed on Facebook and on FirstMother blogs and O Solo Mama's blog.

The Jaycee kidnap headlnes brought up feelings I adoptees. One with any curious intelligence asks why.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget