Warning; The following rant may be offensive to adoptees or some of my wonderful adoptive parent friends.
There are legal and semantic terms that differentiate between acts along the continuum of baby buying and selling, baby brokering, stealing, kidnapping, child trafficking, child laundering and adoption, not unlike - in my simple, non-legal mind (forgive me, please) - the differentiations between murder and man slaughter, or first and second degree murder (which I believe even vary from state to state). Fact is, whatever it is deemed by law and whatever punishment is metered out to the perpetrator based on the viciousness and intent of the crime, the victim is no less dead and his family mourning his loss no less.
I am reminded of the words of Dr. Bathelot -- she who also said that heritage is overrated -- when she asked those attending the Law Center conference to use the term baby selling, not child trafficking. I was like, HUH? Baby selling is better than and preferred to child trafficking? Why? Because trafficking of children is also perpetrated for the purposes of obtaining child soldiers and prostitutes and those are far lowlier than the higher end "use" of a child for export to a foreign adoption agency? Does the end ever justify the means?
Well...it seems I am not the only one pondering the connection between adoption and kidnapping (despite having been grossly misunderstood on previous blogs on the subject). The widely publicized Jaycee Dugard has brought up feelings and comparisons for a couple of adoptees and mothers on Facebook. Lorraine at FirstMotherForum has blogged about it, asking: Why the Jaycee Duggard Kidnapping Reminds Me of Adoption.
I see, as I said, a continuum. One one end you have ideal adoption: an orphan or a mother and father who absolutely cannot raise a child after being offered resources to do so and no member of their extended families can either. A loving, caring couple who steps up to the plate.
Then you have the subtle coercions by society, family, finances...etc, etc. Pressures and lies by adoption agencies and practitioners; promises of openness...no time to decide or revoke...lack of legal counsel...lots of pressure and duress...
At the other end of the spectrum are out and out fraudulent coercive adoptions taking place after a child has been kidnapped or stolen (what the difference is, if there is one, I still don't know).
I also see that at the root of the issue is that adoption - by definition - is the "taking of another's child to raise as one's own." Is not kidnapping "the taking of another's child"? Did not the kidnapper of Shawn Hornbeck and many other kidnappers identify their captive child as their child? Yes, they were sexually abused - but we are also aware that those who adopt perfectly legally also sexually abuse their children, and some adopt for that sole specific purpose. The only difference between Shawn Hornbeck's kidnapper and William Peckenpaugh, Matthew Mancusco, or Frank Lombard. the Duke University social work professor who more recently adopted and abused a boy? The answer: One was done without the sanction of the law: like cohabiting versus getting legally hitched.
The Stickiest Part
The part that is the most difficult to get into is the question of whether there is any emotional similarity between being kidnapped and adopted. Before you start writing your comment blasting me - I am were there are degrees and physical conditions and abuse are a major part. Also memory of a former life and family.
So, for sake of argument let's compare apples to apples: To kids, aged two years of age. Old enough to have memory of their original family, young enough to have it almost entirely wiped out. One is taken by the state or voluntarily placed for adoption, the other is snatched by someone who is desperate to be a parent. A third is snatched in a parental kidnapping.
All three are either well cared, or all three are abused in similar ways: emotionally, physically and or sexually.
Do adoptees feel more of a sense of gratitude than non-adoptees? Are they subtly "made" to feel indebted for having been "saved" (by society as a whole and in some cases their families in particular)? Grateful for not having been aborted? Grateful to be cared for in the most basic ways - not left starving?
Are those feelings not similar to Stockholm Syndrome felt by captives who become bonded and ingratiated to their captors for every morsel of food and ounce of freedom and also fear the consequences of not remaining obedient? No one needs to threaten to kill their original family - they just tell them they are already dead! No one needs to tell them their family doesn't care and isn't coming to save them - they know that intuitively, and society reinforces it, or they are too far away.
Adoption done right can be a beautiful, noble, altruistic way of reaching out and helping a child in dire need. We see far too few of those.
Instead, today we accept adoption despite it being baby buying as a way to take a child as one's own for the sake of the taker, with the child merely a sought-after object.
What is difference for the child who is taken?
What is the difference in the heart and soul of one who adopts TODAY out of that mind-set and a kidnapper, expect that one has crooked lawyers and other middlemen to do his dirty work for him...or, is TODAY caught up in the myths and believes he is actually saving a child and ignores the hefty price tag while also ignoring the kids right here in US foster care who COULD be adopted?