Monday, October 5, 2009

Is Adoption Natural?

An interesting subject is being blogged about by adoptees and aps...and you'll never guess where they stand on the subject!

Issycat, who calls herself an "ambivalent adoptee" asked: "Are all potential adoptive parents so desperate for a kid that they lose IQ points?"

Apparently, I’m not supposed to call the woman who gave birth to me my natural mother. I’m not supposed to call her that because it implies that adoption is unnatural.....

You know what is natural? Babies going home and being cared for by the mothers who carried them in their bodies. That is natural. Anything else is just a little sad.

I’m not saying I hate adoption. I don’t. I’m not saying that adoption isn’t necessary in some cases. It is.

But there is no way in hell I would ever call it natural.

The discussion continues over at AdoptionTalk by an ap who says:

The "natural" thing is another one of those "givens" in adoption language -- adoptive parents are supposed to be upset about adopt-a-whatever programs, we're supposed to say we're the real parents, not those pesky birth parents, and we're supposed to say that adoption is natural, just another way to add to your family.

I was brainwashed to believe it, weren't you? I completely bought into the "same as" narrative, that raising an adopted child was the same as raising a biological child, nothing less and certainly nothing more.

It's not the same.

There are a growing number of aps who "get it" - mainly because they have to. It's pretty hard to pretend a child of another race or ethnicity is "the same as" the one who might have been born to you! Most have changed that to the "rescue" myth and how these kids would be starving in the streets or languishing in orphanages of not for their saving graces! Too bad the kids in orphanages are still there, left behind, as orders are filled - via kidnapping, stealing, or coercing - by human traffickers for younger tots.

Is Adoption Natural?

An argument I had seen put forth many years (decades?) ago for this position is the animal kingdom in which we hear anomalies of dogs adopting kittens etc. Cross breed nursing and nurturing.

THAT is natural, albeit very unusual. But it is natural because the animals are operating on survival instinct. The infants will latch on and nurse from ANY teat and the mothers that are lactating are feeling very maternal and will not push the babies away.

It is also natural because it only happen when the baby animals are truly ORPHANED - as in their mother abandoned them or died.

THEY DID NOT SEEK OUT these orphans nd pay large amounts of kibble for them! They did not do it to meet any NEED of their own to be a parent because they were barren, or even out of altruism to save the babies from death. They just did what comes naturally - a baby suckles.

It is also natural because the kitten, while it may act like a dog and have some learned behaviors - is still a kitten. No one rewrites its past history and renames it a dog.

Following this example, in-family adoptions are - to some extent -natural. A grandmother or sister raising her nieces or grandkids because the mother is deceased or incapable is a very natural thing. Raising them and caring for them is natural - changing their names and pretending the grandchild is the child of the grandmother is NOT!

For me the line between natural and unnatural is two-fold:

1. Motivation. Is the child being cared for first and foremost for the sake of the child regardless of the caretakers ability to have children of "their own" or not and regardless of their desire to be a parent. The dog did not NEEDm want or seek to have a kitten. The grandmother likewise did not pursue having a baby to raised at this time in her life. They filled a need of the child and did what had to be done.

2. Pretense and name changing. This again comes down to best interest of the child. Long before adoption got all tangled up in laws when a child needed care someone in the community or parish stepped up and provided that care. But because the motivation was as stated above, there was no need to pretend the child was 'theirs' or to change the child's name. It was perfectly acceptable to know that the Jone's were raising the Smith's boy...or that my Aunt Sally was being like a mother and caring for me.

It is the reversal of the natural order that makes adoption unnatural. It si the u=turning it upside down and putting the needs of those adopting before those of the children. It is seeking out often through devious means children to fill a demand that is very unnatural and unsavory and immoral. It is PAYING for them that is unnatural. Buying them. Owning name. Renaming them to make the ownership complete. Eradicating their past. That is what is unnatural.

Perhaps that is what Issycat means in her ambivalence? She, like most adoptees, does not resent having been provided good care - when that is the case - but they resent - and rightly so - the trade off, what was taken form them in exchange for tht care - their kin, hertige and identity.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Saying that adoption exists in nature is not to claim it isn't an anomaly. All kinds of anomalies exist in nature. Natural and normal are not the same thing.

Otherwise, ITA.
However, from an AP POV, I rather hope I've been able to "provide" something beyond just "good care". I know I feel that I have.
It seems to me that "good care" is something an institution could deliver equally well.
I'm sure I'm not the only AP who feels this way.

AdoptAuthor said...

And I totally agree with you (after having to look up ITA) :-)

I think the comparisons to the animal kingdom were (are?) made by aps who needed to find ways to normalize or make natural an inherently unnatural thing.

As for providing more than care - I believe that is what you sign on for when you adopt a child in need. If you fall in love with that child or learn to love that child or feel great affection for the child, that's a bonus for the child. But care is what kids without parents to care for them needs. Not institutional care. They need and deserve one-on-one "normalized" family setting care.

More like an arranged marriage than a romantic one.

However, it is hard to be with a baby or young child for any period of time and not feel an attachment - simply because they are needy creatures and require our care to survive. People do feel that love and attachment to their pets.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Accepting adoption as deviating from the norm doesn't make it inherently unnatural. Besides, nature isn't always benign.

"As for providing more than care - I believe that is what you sign on for when you adopt a child in need."
I think so too. And while I can't speak for her, I get the sense that Issy got a whole lot more from her adoptive parents than mere "good care".

"More like an arranged marriage than a romantic one".
I'll buy that. Up to a point.

"People do feel that love and attachment to their pets."
Are you equating the love of an adoptive parent for his or her adopted child with the love and affection pet owners feel for their pets?
Because that's what it sounds like.

I doubt if most decent adoptive parent would expect or want plaudits. In fact, I think any sane person would be turned off by them.
However, your "good care" comment reminds me of Pope's couplet,
"Damn with faint praise, sneer with civil leer,
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer."

AdoptAuthor said...

Apparently I was not clear when I said: ""As for providing more than care - I believe that is what you sign on for when you adopt a child in need."

I meant that caring for a child IS what you sign on. If you love the child that's a bonus.

As for comparing love or attachment some people feel for their pets to that which parents feel for theIr children - it is something many pet owners claim!

I used it to say that needy creatures, who are helpless And depend on us for their care, MAKE US FEEL THAT ATTACHMENT...OR IF WE ARE DEFECTIVE IN SOME WAY, WE THEN FEEL GREAT RESENTMENT FOR ITS NEEDINESS. (oops on the caps)

We need to be careful here about generalizations. Many aps write that they do not feel a bond with their adopted child - at least not one they expected to feel. Some abuse their kids - as do some natural parents.

So too does it vary among those who adopt as to how much "credit" they want or expect for having "rescued" a child. MANY wear it on their sleeve when it is convenient for them to be considered noble or charitable (such as celebs and politicians...and others who blog) and yet expect some privacy too.

If I had a nickel for every time I had it shoved in my face how superior an adopter - who CHOSE to parent and was SCREENED - was to a lowly birth mother such as myself, I'd have quite a few bucks! yes, there are those with superiority complexes about having adopted. In fact, I dare say some do it for that very reason - to feel good about themselves and to show the world how very liberal they are when they trot in their child of another race.

It takes all kinds...

AdoptAuthor said...


"Accepting adoption as deviating from the norm doesn't make it inherently unnatural."

I was very clear about what I think makes adoption unnatural.

Anonymous said...

"I meant that caring for a child IS what you sign on for." If you love the child that's a bonus."
It's what nannies (who get paid for their services) sign on for.

"If you love the child that's a bonus."
Bonus? I think there should be an expectation, or at least a hope, of love. IMO people shouldn't go into adoption with the expectation of being nothing more than caregivers. That's 'savior' mentality and then some..
As for those aps and paps who *don't* attach to their adopted children, sadly that sometimes that happens. Abuse too. And when it does it compounds the tragedy.

Where a child *does* need a home and love (And yes, I think *all* people/children need and deserve love. Not that they always get it, either in adoptive or natural families. Care alone is not enough, and personally I don't think paps should go into adoption with such a low lever of expectation of themselves. Of course everything possible should be done to screen out the ones who have unrealistic or romantic notions about rearing someone else's child and forcing that child to conform to their expectations of how he or she should be. Not that screening always delivers.

"It is something many pet owners claim!"
So? Are we now expected to take the word of crazy pet owners, like those nutters who 'adopt' chimps and treat them like people?

"shoved in my face . . . who CHOSE to parent and was SCREENED - was to a lowly birth mother such as myself"
Then they are abhorrent and deserve to be wretched.

AdoptAuthor said...

I disagree. I see expectations as set ups for failure.

Isn't it "expectations" that cause some aps to feel like failures because they don't "instantly bond" and feel the same love they might hav for "their own" child? Isn't that what Anita whats-her-name just said??

Nannies, babysitters, teachers have no self expectation nor societal expectation to "love" the kids in their charge.

I am singing "What's Love Got to Do With it?"

It's not as if you fall in love with a child and then decide to adopt that child. It's not like you take vows to love...honor? and whatever...

Adoption is a signing up to CARE for a child who needs care - as if your "own." Period.

Love is very subjective. Who makes the call? The mother may sincerely believe that she loves her child yet the child may feel totally unloved. Who is "right"? Still singing...

And again -- it takes all kinds...and a variety of opins.

maryanne said...

Adoption is a human, social construct, like legal marriage, inheritance, all of human law and human culture...religion, the arts, etc.

None of those things are "natural" in the sense that animals do them. Many things that human beings do are not natural, but does that make them wrong or suspect or inferior? Is human love, for a child or a lover, really the same thing as the instict to mate or care for young of a snake or a pig?

Many things that are "natural" are not nice, "nature red in tooth and claw" is not just a metaphor. There are many horrid things and behaviors that are "natural". I really do not
see "is adoption natural?" as asking the right question.

The things that are wrong with our present adoption system have nothing to do with adoption being natural or not. Just as in medicine, "natural" does not equate with better, harmless, or even non-toxic! Adoption is different than raising biological children, but I do not see it any more "unnatural" for human beings than legal marriage or any other legal or social arrangement of family life.

I do not agree with some adoptive parent's objection to the term "natural mother", as long as the term does not glorify the concept of "natural" as somehow superior to adoptive. Both are valid in their own way.

Human emotions are more complex than basic instincts. Human society, for good or ill, is not "natural" in the sense that animal life is, and has not been for thousands of years since established society began.

Anonymous said...

*Unrealistic* expectations set up for failure.
Realistic expectations (Or, dare I say it, hope? For, without hope, we have nothing) allow for some leeway, because they include a variety of possibilities and/or considerations.

Osolomama said...

What do adopted kids want? Do adopted kids want parents when it has been established that their parents can't or won't raise them? Or do they want people who care for them but call themselves guardians because it satisfies some adoption ideology. I think most kids want families. Having an adoptive family need not negate or supplant the original family, or memory of them, if that is all their is. Or it can, if the kids wish it. You know as well as I do there are foster kids who wish to forget their abusive first parents and just want to be adopted.

This in no way undermines our effort to rid adoption of its sillier and more sinister ideas.

I don't think what's natural in the animal kingdom is a good barometer for human behaviour.

AdoptAuthor said...

What some adopted kids want is to be related to those who are raising them -- because that's the natural oder of things. Being raised by non-related people is unnatural.

What many adopted people want is to have safe care and to know their heritage. I don't think they care much if it is called guardianship or adoption, as long as it provides continuity of their natural heritage. I think what it is called is something adopters care far more about than adoptees. Just my opin. No idea why you think guardians cannot be family - in many cases they are one and the same.

What SOME adoptees want is to never have been adopted, and others - as you have said - want nothing to do with their natural families....but they still deserve the RIGHt to make that decsion for themselves.

All of this is aside form the issue: adoption is unnatural. Giving birth is natural. Adoption is not. It is, as MaryAnne reminded us and as we all know, a social and legal procedure. Period.
None of that has anything to with what adoptees want or abuse or guardianship.

Seems the adoptee who began this discussion wants to be able to call her natural mother her natural mother - without feeling it offensive in any way to the legality of her adoption or any emotional attachment to her adoptive family.

maryanne said...

I still fail to see what "natural or unnatural" has to do with what adoptees want, adoptee rights, or what is wrong with adoption. When I said that adoption was a social and legal procedure, I did not mean to imply that was ALL it was, or that no caring, bonding, or love was involved. I think it insulting to say that adoptive parents are just caretakers, and that love is optional.

I do not see being raised by one's natural family as a gaurantee of love, decent care, or connection. Look at all the abuse that exists in all kinds of families. Kids can get a rough deal with natural or adoptive parents.

"Natural or unnatural" has nothing to do with adoptees knowing their heritage, searching, reuniting, liking their natural or adoptive parents or what the choose to call them.

Giving birth does not gaurantee affection or decent parenting. It may be natural, but there is a lot more to raising a child for at least 18 years to function in a comlex society than a mother dog raising puppy to be a funtional adult dog in about a year.

AdoptAuthor said...

"I still fail to see what "natural or unnatural" has to do with what adoptees want, adoptee rights, or what is wrong with adoption."

Other than it being unnatural, unequal, unfair and unnecessary to deny someone their true heritage, neither do I! I DO see that as unnatural and unnecessary in order to care for children who needs care and who DESERVES to be loved - as we all do.

All else being equal and "normal" (whatever that is)...I dare say it is easier to feel attachment to a baby that is related and who might even resemble someone you know, than to feel attachment for a stranger. That is my opinion and belief. I'll duck now as I'm attacked for saying that.

But why is it that adoption is most often a last option for those who adopt? Why will they go to every extreme they can afford to try to have a biologically connected child, unless they didn't know that it would be easier to love that child? Why do some couples even question between themselves if they could love an adopted child?

Mei-Ling said...

"Look at all the abuse that exists in all kinds of families."

I know what you're getting at here - no family is perfect.

However, we are designed to procreate, to continue our own bloodlines. That's not to say an adoptive family can't be as loving or caring as a biological family.

I believe that biological families are geared to love their own. It doesn't always *happen*, but that's what *should* happen. There's a lot of developmental research which states that a child is best raised by those biologically-related to him/her - of course, given that there is no abuse or neglect.

But biological mothers aren't "geared" to abuse or neglect their children. Neither are adoptive mothers, obviously, but biological mothers by definition are *supposed* to take care of their own.

Myst said...

Adoption is not natural. Just because it has worked in a few instances, just because the ANIMAL world has possible scenarios that APPEAR to be adoption related doe not make those scenarios normal OR Natural.

The FACT of the matter is children were not born to be taken away from their mothers or placed in an alien family.

And the whole comparing animals to humans just doesn't make any sense. Animals do not have the same genetical make up as a human being no matter what science wants to prove (lets face it, they change their minds all the freaking time... including good old darwin himself who recanted his whole theory before he died) so that argument holds no weight either.

At the end of the day, adoption is not natural and nothing will ever make it natural. It is a human engineered law that strips a human being of their basic right to the life they are born too including name, family and their own birth certificate.

Michelle said...

Maryanne wrote: "Natural or unnatural" has nothing to do with adoptees knowing their heritage, searching, reuniting, liking their natural or adoptive parents or what the choose to call them."

Yes, I think it does have something to do with unnatural. When I was searching for my family I wanted to have a connection to people with whom I shareed genetic similarities and belonged to the same ancestral lines. Not having it seemed to counterbalance my human nature.

After 13 years of building relationships with family and relatives it feels very natural to be with them and to know where I come from.

Not knowing, guessing, begging people for information and making up stories to figure out where I fit in the crowd always felt unnatural and awkward.

Although the common thought in society was/is that I should be able to replace one family/identity for the other based on love, a home, and a family, I was not able to do that -it felt unnatural.

maryanne said...

What "should" happen, what mothers are "supposed to" do and what people are supposedly "geared" to do is not borne out by what actually happens in real life. In a perfect world there would be no surrenders, no infertility, and no child abuse in any kind of family. But the world we live in is not perfect.

I am not disputing at all that a lot is rotten in adoption, or that many surrenders are not necessary, that everyone should have free access to their history and heritage,or that the adoption industry is driven by greed. I just think we are on shaky grounds with glorifying the "natural" over the supposedly "unnatural" when it comes to human actions and society.

Maybe what bothers me is the context in which "unnatural" is used as a perjorative against a group or practice that another group wants to condemn. The opponents of gay rights say that to be gay is "unnatural". The Pope says birth control is "unnaturaL" so it is better that millions die of AIDS in Africa than use condoms. Opponents of vaccination say that is "unnatural", and leave their children vulnerable to a natural death in the next epidemic. I am deeply suspicious of the "natural=superior" mindset.

Unjust, unfair, and unnatural are not the same things. I think we can criticize what is wrong with adoption without calling it unnatural.

As to the supposed true love of blood relatives, does that mean "incest is best" and we should pick our mates among our cousins? After all, it that is the highest form of love.......:-)

Anonymous said...

Like I said, just because they don't conform to the 'norm', anomalies are not necessarily inherently unnatural.
There are many deviations in nature. Nevertheless, they are 'natural' in that they exist within nature.

Raising an unrelated child is not unnatural per se - provided, as you have already pointed out, Mirah, that that child hasn't been deliberately cut off from his/her original family, history and genetic heritage solely for the purpose of creating a facsimile of the genetic ('natural') family in order to to appease the desires of the a-parents -- that the child hasn't been commodified through financial exhange -- and that the original parent(s) weren't coerced into relinquishing their legal rights. And that the child retains the right to recover his/her original identity, surname and all if wanted - which is something I believe should be an option -- at the age of majority.
IMO the issue really isn't whether adoption as it is practiced in America and Canada today is 'natural' or not. It's whether it is done right and justly. And it too often isn't.
You wrote "Other than it being unnatural, unequal, unfair and unnecessary to deny someone their true heritage, neither do I! I DO see that as unnatural and unnecessary in order to care for children who needs care and who DESERVES to be loved - as we all do."
I'm a bit confused by some of the above Mirah, but if you mean what I think you mean (Please correct me if I'm wrong) then we are in agreement over this, and I think these issues override the endless argument about whether adoption is 'natural' or not.
I am glad too that you have managed to include the word love here, without actually being disparaging about it. No "La la la" for a change.

You also said, "All else being equal and "normal" (whatever that is)...I dare say it is easier to feel attachment to a baby that is related and who might even resemble someone you know, than to feel attachment for a stranger. That is my opinion and belief. I'll duck now as I'm attacked for saying that."
I dare say you would think that, and there's no need to jump the gun, as I don't think anyone here is going to attack you for saying it. Not me, anyway. Though I do feel entitled to say that it hasn't been my experience. Has it been yours?

As far as Issy calling the woman who gave birth to her her natural mother, why ever should she not? It's a time-honored term and succinct.
I often use it in reference to myself and others. I also use first mother, biological mother and just plain mother (the ideal, of course). I think that adopters who think that the term "natural mother" implies that adoption itself is always unnatural are vastly oversensitive and missing the point.

Osolomama said...

Every time someone says we're designed for procreation, I want to find a good drag queen and share a noisemaker.

AdoptAuthor said...

Kippa - Yes I agree!

Look - the act of becoming pregnant via sexual intercourse is an act of NATURE - it is NATURAL. As is nine months later - give or take - a baby coming out of its mothers' vagina. Natural.

The act of raising another's child is - as we have all agreed here - an anomaly. Whether the mother loves the child she is raising is an aside. It may or may not happen, but does not change the fact that original arrangement is socially constructed and does not occur in nature except as an anomaly (and as I pointed out - for totally life-saving instinctual reasons when it does). Baby animals do not adopt to fill their own need and baby kittens do not become dogs because they are adopted by dogs. That's not just unnatural - it's damn CRAZY!

We have all heard adoptees say: I was LOVED and well cared for but I still long to know who I look like etc.! That is why I have said love has nothing to do with any of this -- not even natural conception! Only movie stars can lay claim to: "I adopted him or her BECAUSE I fell in love with him or her" In the real world that doesn't happen! Adoptive parents HOPE to love the children they commit to CARE FOR. But the commitment is to provide care regardless - that is why many have condemned Anita T. She was supposed to care for that child regardless because that is what she committed being his "forever family" (excuse me while I barf).

Adoption, practiced as it currently is in the US & Canada is extremely UNNATURAL in the legal severing of the original familial ties.

Incest? My God - I cannot even respond to something so totally off subject. Ask Mackenzie Phillips about that one! Oh, no wait...there IS a connection! Because adoption - as it is practiced etc., etc., is so damn UNNATURAL in separating blood kin, it can lead to accidental incest or to genetic sexual attraction upon reunion. All very ICHY (sorry for the technical terminology there) and very UNNATURAL things resulting from the unnatural separation of kin - especially when done in secret! There is also a higher rate of incest in foster families and - although no statistics are available - I'd bet my bottom dollar greater among siblings in adoption than in naturally, biologically connected families. It's called absence of kinship taboo.

maryanne said...

Agreeing with everything Kippa said above. Whether adoption is natural or not can be debated endlessly, but like the comparisons of adoption to slavery, indenture, and kidnapping that have also been proposed here, where does that discussion go and who does it convince that adoption has real abuses and wrongs that need correcting?

Myst, Darwin did not "recant his whole theory before he died", evolution is a proven theory, and we do share a great deal of DNA with other species. I think you have been reading too many right-wing woo woo sites. Take a decent biology class!

What the human brain has that animals do not, except in the most rudimentary sense, is the ability to create social and legal constructs like adoption, marriage, divorce, proptery ownsership etc. We do have a lot in common with the "natural" world, and we are part of it, but that is not all we are.

Mei-Ling said...

I don't understand Osolomama's comment.

I don't disagree or agree with that - I actually do not understand what it's referring to, although I think it's supposed to be a sarcastic response to my comment. Kinda like the comment Margie made: "If I had a nickel for every time someone said 'well not all birth families stay together', I'd be rolling in nickels."

Or whatever the original quote was. It was along those lines.

AdoptAuthor said...

Mary Anne,

You said yourself it's not natural is a legal construct. How is stating that fact condemning anyone?

If anyone has been condemned here it is natural mothers who have acquiesced for decades and not used that term because it was "offensive" to adopters.

I posted this because I found it very interesting that a topic that had been discussed a great deal back 40 years ago is new to some, or still worthy of discussion on at least two other blogs.

I posted it and opened the discussion because to me it is very interesting that in 2009 an adoptee felt offended by those who felt she should not call her mother her natural mother, and her mother and at least one other adoptive parent agreed! That was news worthy to me - and made for an interesting topic to be discussed. Sorry you disagree as is your prerogative.

No topic is off limit on my blog.

You ask: "who does it convince that adoption has real abuses and wrongs that need correcting?"

Actually, I think in some small way it does. It helps to demystify adoption as "the same as" if born to you to recognize that it is NOT the same as a child being born naturally to you! It helps give the natural family bond the credit it is due and validates the rights of adoptees to that natural connection, and hopefully would make all think twice about terminating ones parental right too easily.

And even if it didn't,no topic is off limits here.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad we agree, but why the focus on cross-species adoption?
Of course kittens raised by dogs don't grow up to become dogs.
Whoever suggested they did?

The trouble as I see it is that adoption as practiced today is a product, one which is marketed as an acceptable facsimile for the traditional family. I would prefer to call that a falsification rather than 'unnatural'. 'Unnatural', IMO misses the point.

If adoption were not pimped this way, but used as I believe it should be, to raise children without willing or able family with loving care and to maintain their original vital connections, something very much needed in an increasingly complex and fragmented world, it would be nothing if not 'natural'.
It is not wrong or 'unnatural' to want to raise, care for and love children who need home and family because they'd otherwise be without.

It's the *artificial creation of an appearance of that need* by often ideology driven but also sometimes simply greedy marketeers, as well as particular interventions by the state to control 'society' that causes the problems, IMO. The state and the market work hand in glove, while they pretend to be about free enterprise and 'choice'.

Anonymous said...

Maryanne suggested to Myst that she take a decent biology class!

Or she could check out Richard Dawkin's latest book. Here's his website:

Mei-Ling said...

"I would prefer to call that a falsification rather than 'unnatural'."

People are still gonna be offended that there is any implied suggestion of an adoptive family being "false." :P

Osolomama said...

I agree with Kippa's points about adoption here 100%.

Mei Ling, my comment was directed at people who criticize homosexuality as being "unnatural" because human beings were designed to procreate. What is natural for humans includes the things they choose to give meaning to, can make meaning about, not just the things that exist as biological facts. "Natural" is not a good litmus test for "human" in its full capacity, IMHO.

AdoptAuthor said...

Again - the discussion began on others' blogs and was framed that way: natural and unnatural.

As for dogs and cats - I think of that when I see Asian kids in a Jewish synagogue named Josh Goldstein. To me, that's calling a dog a cat - not allowing it to be what is is NATURALLY!

I hvae always been hyper aware of children who do not "match" their parents. Always look around hoping to see the other parent and hoping it is their child by birth and not a displaced child. Since becoming aware of the children kidnapped for adoption, my heart actually breaks every time I see such families, wondering...

Last week I was at an outdoor concert in the park and saw a blond mom with two very central/South American looking children and I was near tears thinking of their mothers...

To my eyes it always looks unnatural when the child is obviously of a different race or ethnicity than both his parents. That's not a condemnation or meant to offend anyone. It is my true feelings that occur involuntarily but as a result of my education on the subject. Others may look at it and feel warm and cozy that "unwanted" "orphans" have been "rescued." I do not. Others may look upon the parents as wonderful people. I see people who are more often than not clueless or in denial about the true origins of their child....or enlightened and share my sadness.

maryanne said...

I was not suggesting that this topic or any be off limits on your blog where you can discuss any topic that appeals to you. Everyone's blog is their own little kingdom and the author makes the rules.

The circular nature this discussion has taken, though, illustrates that some topics go nowhere but around and around. I wonder what your definition of the word "unnatural" is? It does not seem to be simply "not occurring in nature", but more like "perverse" or "fake" or otherwise just bad. How is guardianship, which does involve children being raised by those not biologically related, more "natural" than adoption? Not more honest, or more fair, or more open, which it certainly would be, but more "natural" since that is the term being used.

Which brings us back to adoption being in and of itself an evil to be eliminated from the world rather than an institution to be reformed.Isn't it easier to just say it should be wiped out than go around and around about what is natural and what is not and using that a rationale?

As to your take on seeing families with mixed-race adoptions, you certainly make a lot of assumptions without knowing the people involved at all. It makes some people sad or mad to see mixed-race couples as well, or even to hear of religiously mixed marriages. Is that any business of anyone but the families or couples involved?

Osolomama said...

Just wanted to add as well, Mirah, because you referenced the original blog, that I am perfectly Ok with someone referring to his or her "natural" mother and "adoptive" mother, especially when one is trying to make clear who's who. I'm just not certain if those situations translate into a larger question of whether or not something is natural. Many people decry things as not natural (hence my DQ comment) because they just want to reject them outright. Not saying you're doing that; just a general observation on how that word is thrown around.

Anonymous said...

"As for dogs and cats - I think of that when I see Asian kids in a Jewish synagogue named Josh Goldstein. To me, that's calling a dog a cat - not allowing it to be what is is NATURALLY!"

I got your drift the first time, but I must say I find the analogy to be a long stretch, as well as somewhat disquieting.

AdoptAuthor said...

Is linear thinking and discussing always preferable to circular? I don't know. Is it more "natural"? :-))

I have enjoyed many a political and religious discussion/debate that went round and round and resolved nothing - certainly never changed anyone's mind. But that didn't make any less "productive" or interesting.

I don't disagree with any of you (except the notion that discussing this is demeaning to anyone in any way). I am well aware that many poisons are "natural" and so is a dog licking its ass. Doesn't mean I want to do or ingest either. I never thought about it before but I don;t think I put any "right" or "wrong" connotation on what's natural. Some things just are and others just aint. My cotton shirt is natural, my polyester pants are not. Those are just facts. Not judgements.

In that vain pregnancy and birth are natural. Do we all agree?

Adoption as we know it a legal construct. Not necessarily good or bad (that's another blog post) but NOT natural. Mother by birth: natural mother. Yes she may have abused or neglected her child, not cared for about or loved her child. She is STILL the natural mother.

Mei-Lang - I totally agree that "false" would not be taken to kindly! But adoptive parents are SUBSTITUTE parents - a phrase I am sure most would not like wither. For many families the substitute parent is the only parent the child knows and the substitute child the only child the parent has. They may have a very strong, loving relationship. That does not make polyester pants into a cotton shirt, anymore than than a father who is the primary care-giver is a mother.

Michelle said...

Maryanne wrote: "How is guardianship, which does involve children being raised by those not biologically related, more "natural" than adoption?"

Because guardianship doesn't legally seal a person's birth certificate. IMO it is not a natural process to create new families by legally changing and sealing identities. If you haven't been raised by people unrelated to you and not known your parents, family members or relatives, then it's probably quite difficult to grasp what that feels like and if it is unnatural or not.

Osolomama said...

No, the two things—objecting out of racism or objecting out of a negative view of adoption—are not the same thing. I don't think Maryanne implied they were; I think she said that people react in different ways to things. Unfortunately, our ideas, inevitably based on our own biases, prove not to capture what may be the reality for that couple, family, or whatever. You gave only negative examples of ideas that might be opposed to yours. M said don't make assumptions since you don't know the people.

AdoptAuthor said...

Thanks., Michelle. Well said.

MaryAnne can speak for herself and I'm sure will, but I think she knows that very well and I presume her argument is more semantic ???

To MaryAnne who once was as upset as I to see kids in obviously non-related families ...the sadness I feel for their original families torn apart, for the tragedy upon which every adoption relies, is hardly comparable to how a racist feels!! Now that's a STRETCH. You are anything but ignorant, MaryAnne, and I know that you know that.

AdoptAuthor said...

I make no assumptions. My feelings are my feelings. They happen viscerally and I shared them here. I find adoption sad, not joyous. A tragedy despite the outcome or the happiness it may bring some. I am well aware that it is a joy to many individuals. It is not for me, never has been and never will be. And my feelings come from far more then my own personal experiences. As I said...I feel for the mothers all over the world who have been exploited, coerced or victimized by criminal who stole their babies. That is what I see and feel when the word is mentioned or I am faced with it in any way.

maryanne said...

Sorry for the "meanspiritedness". The reason I no longer look askance at seeing a child of another race with adoptive parents is because I have gotten to know some of those parents, like Osolo. like one of the women from my water exercise class, others I have met at adoption reform events. Some kids are better off adopted, some better off with natural parents. I don't see it as one way, "bad", the other "good" and i don't feel qualified to make those judgements any more about strangers I see somewhere.

I don't think Michelle or others here have any idea what I am saying, so I give up. Yes, it is semantic, but semantics are about meaning, and I do not see too much agreement on what "Unnatural" actually means in this context.

OK, adoption is unnatural. Giving birth is natural. So where do we go from there? Mirah claims there is no value judgement. Adoption law, where the problems lie, is not about being natural or unnatural, nor is any law, unless you are a follower of Thomas Aquinas and other medieval theologians with their "natural law" which was really Church law.

AdoptAuthor said...

You and I have both known good, loving open adoptive parents back to the 70s when we knew the mother of Adoptive Parents for Open Records.

As I said, those who are enlightened, know and feel the sadness and the pain of the loss upon which their jou is built.

That adoption provides a "better life" - especially more material advantages for many adoptees is indisputable. It also does not justify or negate the means....the very UNNATURAL means with which children wind up being separated from their families. Even id it for their safety - that is also unnatural that any child would be harmed by their own parents. It is sad and unpleasant and a tragedy.

Where do we go from recognizing that birth is natural and adoption not? We work harder to help support mothers and families in crisis and prevent unwarranted separations, providing the needed resources. We work to eliminate the greed that steals children from perfectly capable and loving mothers worldwide top meet a demand.We increase sec ed and access to birth control to avoid unintended pregnancies. We add education on prevention of infertility to that curriculum to decrease the demand. We limit tax benefits to special needs adoptions.

That's what we do when we recognize that birth is natural and that motherhood is a natural RIGHT and adoption is not. AND we work to reinstate the rights of those adopted in the past.

AdoptAuthor said...

ALSO...we help prospective adopters understand that it is NOT "the same as" if they gave birth, that they are parenting children who have two sets of parents.

Osolomama said...

On your last point, and on that para starting "Where do we go. . ." I agree. Totally--with each of your worthy objectives--support for mothers in crisis, eliminating greed, improving access to contraception, preventing infertility and. . .in general, I agree that a-parents do not need any tax credits (though I used to). Many are raising money through their churches for int'l and other adoption. They simply aren't needed and are an inducement to corruption. to that list I would add universal health care for your country.

I do not accept the idea that harming a child, whether biological parent or a-parent is a subject for "natural". It just is. Some people who give birth make hideous parents. Don't you get that? My lifelong friend of 20 years just finished ordering the last Children's Aid report on her family. An important last document because her mother died a year ago and CA was finally willing to put this lady in the hot seat and try her for being the childish, cruel, self-centred, teflon-coated (when it came to responsibility and accountability) shrew that she was. And this has nothing to do with the fact that she is my friend's biological mother. She was a nasty character who shouldn't have had kids. The biological connection meant nothing. It was not relevant. It irks the hell out of me when people suggest that with a little love and kindness this kind of cruelty can be put right. It can't. My friend suffered terribly as a result. She lives with the scars to this day. And btw, CA gave that family a zillion chances. She was fostered, but never adopted, and those parents never gave up their rights.

AdoptAuthor said...

Yes O Solo I totally "Get it" that abuse exists among biological parents too.

See my comment 10/6 2:36

"Mother by birth: natural mother. Yes she may have abused or neglected her child, not cared for about or loved her child. She is STILL the natural mother."

Mei-Ling said...

Osolomama, have you heard about the story of David Pelzer?

His mother was an abusive alcoholic from the 1960s-1970s. She dehumanized her own son for nine years straight. Back then, abuse was a hush-hush thing.

David was eventually removed at the age of 12 years. I was reading this entire book wondering, "Why wasn't he removed earlier? Why didn't someone step in sooner?"

And then the next question, once we move past the "What a bitch to do that to her own son", the LAST question presented in the book is:

"Why did she harm her own son?"

No one has made an argument that kids should stay with abusive parents. Because they should not. It causes them personal harm.

And the base argument is to say, "Who cares why she harmed her own child? The point is, David was in danger. He actually had to survive *death* on a day-to-day basis; ammonia, Clorox, being stabbed, and so on. Who cares why she started doing it? The point is, she started DOING IT and he needed to be removed."

The general audience may not care much for semantics, but the KID will care.

Some mothers may not feel driven to care for their own, but they sure as hell aren't geared to abuse them.

AdoptAuthor said...

"No one has made an argument that kids should stay with abusive parents. Because they should not."


Osolomama said...

Mirah, I was responding specifically to your comment that:

"Even if it [is] for their safety - that is also unnatural that any child would be harmed by their own parents."

I say again--natural has nothing to do with it. There are enthusiastic natural mother abusers out there. Natural in the sense that their kids are their natural kids and natural in the sense that this is the natural thing for them to do--turn on their kids--because of their own human traits.

Mei-Ling, you said:

"Some mothers may not feel driven to care for their own, but they sure as hell aren't geared to abuse them."

What do you mean by "geared to"? I was trying to say that my friend's mother was as close to being *geared* to abuse as you can possibly get. The abuse, in the form of neglect in the early years, started almost immediately.

AdoptAuthor said...

I believe that severe abuse and sexual abuse are deviant aberrant behaviors. Certainly outside normal and I suggest also outside of any natural maternal behavior. All beings are "geared" or wired to care for their young - survival of the species. A baby's cry is geared to create discomfort and cause adults to tend to the child's needs.

Having said that, I am also extremely cognizant, as no doubt we all are, that social services sways back and forth with being too lenient or over zealous in investigating claims of child abuse.

Mothers have lost custody for breastfeeding a child considered by some social worker to be "too old" to be nursing. Mothers have lost custody for practicing family bed. And in other cases, kids are left in violent homes until one is killed.

"Child abuse" needs to be more clearly defined.

Myst said...

Actually maryanne, HE DID, take an evolution class... and science is so back and forth on everything... I have a sister who is a physicist so I am used to this science crap. I go by what I can feel, not theories of possibilities that cannot be proven. I have not seen science PROVE that I am an animal... so what we share similar DNA profiles to some anumals, that doesn't make me an animal! There are just too many holes in the theory for my liking. As for reading right wing sites, I don't read many websites unrelated to adoption so you can stick your woo woo somewhere else. Cheers!

Myst said...

Kippa, Why would I want to read anything that moron wrote? Gees, you gals need to get a life! And yes, I have done biology. It didn't prove to me evolution existed, it proved to me that life really is a miracle. Miracles don't just come out of millions of particles floating around.

Can I suggest to you two to go and really LIVE... you know, that thing people do OUTSIDE of classrooms and lecture rooms. Its the best lesson you'll ever get. Education is not just academic... but then only those who have lived both would truly know that.

maryanne said...

Mirah, I basically agree with your goals in the paragraph starting with "We work harder..." but do not see how these goals stem from the belief "adoption is unnatural, birth is natural." Unless of course what you mean is actually "adoption is bad, birth is good", which in context is pretty clearly what you are saying.

But you atated earlier that you did not mean any value judgement but were just stating "fact". Lots of horrible things are "natural". I do not think it is a clear synonym for "good". And I have never seen the word "unnatural" used in any but a perjorative sense. It is a loaded word.

Anonymous said...

I still finding it VERY interesting CASA's (court appointed special advocates) are there to "represent the child's best interests in court" yet the court does not allow an adopted child to divorce his/her abusive a-parents. Why is it that only flaky self-absorbed a-parents can "disrupt"? Oh, ya...I almost forgot...THEY were the ones who payed GOOD MONEY for adoptee OWNERSHIP.

AdoptAuthor said...

Myst - The rules of this blog are the Internet standard. Everyone's opinions are welcome. We can disagree with one another, respectfully. But NO flaming. NO PERSONAL ATTACKS!

Perhaps we have beaten this subject to death. I am exhausted and I think we've exhausted the topic and are just spinning our wheels going round and round repeating ourselves and points already made and playing more semantic games etc,, let's all move on...

I will accept any new comments that respectfully add to the topic only. All others take deep relaxing breaths, I am doing likewise...

Mei-Ling said...

"What do you mean by "geared to"?"

That the hormones during pregnancy are wired for the mother to care for her own.

(Note: I did admit it doesn't always happen. But it is supposed to - which is why the abuse argument bewilders me.)

Anonymous said...

I know i'm a bit later to the party, but I just wanted to comment on the original topic of whether or not adoption is natural.

IMHO, it is entirely unnatural.

Child adoption laws were essentially created in Massachusetts in 1851, and spread from there. They don’t exist in Nature. Fostering does, as we see of mother animals fostering the offspring of other animals.

But adoption goes beyond fostering. It is the legal severing of all legally-recognized filiation (who is related to whom) between natural parent and child, and the transfer of all those relationships to a new set of parents who may or may not be related to that child in any manner. In most jurisdictions, it involves the creation of new birth records and the sealing of the originals away from view of even the adult adoptee. The adoptee’s name is changed. The adoptee’s right to know their original parents is eliminated. They can no longer automatically inherit from them. This does not happen in Nature or in other forms of substitute care such as fostering.

It is not natural for a mother to be forced by social expectations (such as youth, being unmarried, or “the loving option”) or legal strictures to surrender her baby. Mothers in nature don’t do it. That, on the surrendering side, is another reason why I do not see adoption as being natural, but instead as socially-created, a modern social invention.

Anonymous said...

To those who haven't yet read it, I heartily recommend Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's learned, nuanced and wonderful book, "Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species".

Oslomama said...

Mei-ling, "supposed to" is a moral construct. Mother nature is not moral. She just is.

As the new and wonderful Tampax ads prove, she can also be an ass.

Myst said...

Sorry, got off track there... wasn't trying to rude so I apologise. And yes, you are right, personal attcks don't do anything to help... taking breaths... :)

I agree, I think the topic is going around in circles now. I think there wll always be those who believe adoption is natural, they have to in order to justify it and everything that comes with the effects of adoption. The fact remains it is not natural because regardless of whether you believe in evolution or the existence of a deity, humans were NEVER engineered to part with their babies. Without going into a biology debate, women ARE wired to care for their own offspring. Sometimes things go wrong but the FACT is still there we were just not made to handle separatin; you only have to look at the cortisol levels in babies who show a rise in their stress reactions when their mothers are taken out of the room or they are sent to day care. Or at the mass of research done on how badly mental health is affected. If it was so natural, we WOULD NOT experience the amount of pain and emotional heartache or physical trauma symptoms from being separated from our families.

Our bodies prove adoption is not natural.

maryanne said...

Just for the hell of it...a few last thoughts and an anology that may or may not work. Breastfeeing is natural. Bottle feeding is not. It is preferable whenever possible to breastfeed, given the choice of breast or bottle. It is preferable for children to be raised by natural parents, whenever possible.

However, before safe and nutritious infant formulas were invented, babies whose mothers could not breastfeed them for whatever reason usually died, unless a caring wet nurse could be found which was not always the case. The dismal records of infant mortality in 18th century "baby farms" speak for themselves.

Today, I have heard that mothers who are HIV postive should not breastfeed nor should those who have to take certain drugs. In these cases of nessesity, infant formula is a life-saver, as it can be for any infant when the mother cannot breastfeed or is absent.

The formula industry, like the adoption industry, has pushed hard to sell its product where it is not needed and causes harm by discouraging breastfeeding in third world countries as well as in developed nations.

Both these industries are pushing an unnatural solution where there is not necesarily a need or a problem and they are exploiting and harming mothers and babies. But does that make formula or adoption inherently bad in and of themselves?

Both are over-sold and over-used, but both have their place in cases of need, alonside the "natural" way. Both can be made to work. Not as a first choice, but as the lesser evil in situations where it is truely warranted.

Mei-Ling said...

"Supposed to" is a moral construct.

Um, I was under the impression (as Myst has also stated) that the hormones in the body become wired for pregnancy and instinctively provide the nutrients that an infant needs.

This could quite possibly be a bit off-base, but I was watching an older episode of House where he asks the family about their medical history.

House: You lied.
Dad: We did no such thing. We gave you everything he had.
House: You aren't the real parents.
Dad: Ok, fine, he's adopted. But it's irrelevant, we are just as much of a real family as anyone else!
House: When I asked you for your genetic history, I wasn't under the impression that it was to declare whose love is greatest in the whole wide world.
Dad: We gave you everything! None of it was a lie!
House: Do you know if the biological mother had her immunizations done?
Dad: ...
House: Do you know WHY I am asking if the biological mother had her immunizations done?
Dad: ...
House: Because the biological mother's immune system is the only system which is designed to supply the infant with the proper nutrients from bacteria.

(Or something like that)

Mothers are geared to take care of their kids. Joy-joy has said that if you take out the adoption aspect and research child development books, the scientific research indicates it is best if a mother can raise her own child. It doesn't always work, and sometimes a mother can't raise her own child. Sometimes adoption truly is the only solution.

But the implication is that it is BEST.

AdoptAuthor said...

Yes...and "breast is best" too.

I think we all agree that not everything "natural" is good, as in the case of arsenic.

I think we also all agree that birth is natural. No one can dispute that. Becoming pregnant via sexual intercourse and giving birth are all natural and for children to remain with those who birthed them is optimal for a multitude of reasons for both mother and child. (Giving birth vaginally natural - c-section not, but CAN be lifesaving is very much OVERUSED for docs to make more bucks. I have also read that infertility docs will omit telling patients simple they cn do themselves to increase their chances of conceiving, so they will need more expensive treatment.)

So we all agree on what's natural and optimal, right?

The only bone of contention then is how judicially substitute mothering is used and how HONEST we are that IT IS a substitute for the REAL, natural thing! No one pretends a bottle is a breast. No one tells their doctor they breastfed if they did not. If they did for x amount of a time: an house, a day, a week, they are - or should be - honest about that.

It is the PRETENSE that adoption makes one the "real" mother and or is the "same as" giving birth that is - for lack of a more articulate term: CREEPY!

I think that is what Issycat who started this whole discussion ws referring to, and I think against is something we can all agree on. ?

I further believe that we need to make this distinction between natural/good/best/optima clear to the public in all we do and say -- not fearing "offending" --so that people lose the false expectations and adoption gets less support and promotion...when we all also know that adoption TODAY - in the US, Canada &the UK - is not serving the best interests of children or families...but rather is leaving behind the kids who might benefit from it and seeking out infants to meet a demand. Nothing natural or good about THAT!

IN AN IDEAL WORLD every orphan and child who needed a family would be adopted if he couldn't be cared for by his parents. But that is NOT what adoption is doing - not even CLOSE! So, yes, I oppose adoption *as it is.* We don't live in an ideal world. We live here and now and here and now adoption is a travesty that serves far more to severe what is natural, real and good for something that is not. Orphans are CREATED to meet a demand while real ones are ignored. Nothing is good about that, even if the children adopted are loved and well cared for -- not if they would have been anyhow AND maintained kin ties!

Anonymous said...

If it's true, as Myst says, that we are going round in circles, it seems to me that it's because the barely concealed sub-text of the title of this particular blog post is that adoption of any sort is under all circumstances, inherently unnatural.
Sure the meaning is veiled, but it's there nonetheless. And no, I'm not being over-sensitive. Too many of the responses confirm that I am right.
Anyway, IMO it's a subtle way of begging the question.

It isn't someone raising a child that wasn't born to them that's unnatural. What's 'unnatural' (aka wrong) is babies being purposefully separated from powerless but otherwise capable mothers, and done so specifically so that they can be adopted and permanently cut off from their origins in order to give the illusion that they're 'the same' as biologically related children.
Over the recent centuries adoption has changed a lot. It has taken on a number of new socially constructed aspects, including the sealing of adoption records, the changing of surnames, etc, which have corrupted it beyond measure. The question we should be asking is, is it so broke it can't be mended? And if it is, what do we put in its place?
Sarah Blaffer Hrdy says that our ancestors practised allo-mothering, which involves kinship and localized care. They were co-operative in that respect. However, in our already complex mostly urban modern world things can't just be left to informal co-operation. Where the original (natural) parent can't cope alone, there is a need for someone to be the designated legal parent, although I do not think that in most cases (serious abuse excepted, perhaps) there should be any necessity for the original parent(s) to entirely relinquish their responsibility or rights.

Mei-Ling, *nobody* here has implied that it is BEST. I'm sure Maryanne doesn't think so. Nor Osolo either.
In fact, I'd put money down that they believe that, wherever possible, it is preferable for a mother to raise her own child. Father, too.

One more thing. With reference to Darwin's supposed recantation, I think this pretty much puts the lie to it.

This subject has LEGS!

AdoptAuthor said...

As far s I can see, you and I Kippa just said very much the same thing.

Though we are a diverse group here expressing our own personal and varied opinions, I do not see anyone claiming that ALL natural mothers are always fit mothers. I thin wke are all aware there are anomalies and abuses and times when kids need alternate care.

What I do not see either, however, is at least not on my part, is any condemnation of any individual adoptive parents who are doing their best to care for and LOVE the child entrusted to them. HOWEVER...even then, their acquisition of that child occurred within a flawed social experiment based on lies and secrecy. This is what I am haring loud and clear.

In the past, U.S. mothers were encouraged to relinquish simply because they were not married. Why is it perfectly "natural" and.or ok and acceptable today to do so? because social values change. Nature doesn't. So an "unnatural" standard, the requirement of marriage licensee created judgments of "fit" or unfit" to mother.

We continue to place value on material advantages as to who is more "deserving" to mother. These are all very artificial criteria that change over time and location.

One could argue that today things are moving toward more openness and I would counter that with the fact openness is an enforceable promise - so yet another LIE - and that more and adopters prefer to adopt internationally for the stated purpose of avoiding any possibility of contact with a mother who might have any ability whatsoever to come knocking at their door.

Yes, more progressive, more enlightened aps will initiate an international search and become their child's hero (again) knowing full well that they maintain all control of any relationship at lest until the child is a financially independent adult and can move back and forth between countries on her own. They know the mother and other family memebrs do not have the resources to do so and that provides a safety net between them and their child's NATURAL family. Even many domestic "open" adoptions - such as adam Pertmans involve thousands of miles between families and provide the same safety net and control.

These observations are based on research I did when writing The Stork Market and are footnoted therein.

Anonymous said...

"...even then, their acquisition of that child occurred within a flawed social experiment based on lies and secrecy."
Yes, we recognize that, Mirah.
And of course it would have been much better for them if all the children who really did need homes during that time had been institutionalized, wouldn't it? After all, we shouldn't expect anything but the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.

So what do you suggest needs to be done in the future?
Other than better sex ed.; free or at least subsidized contraception; better access to safe medical abortion; taking the big $$$ out of adoption; adoption only where truly necessary and then only though social services and dealt with by *educated* social workers more committed to keeping families together than to separating them; encouragement of special guardianship arrangements where suitable; educating mothers-to-be about the pitfalls and difficulties that come with adoption, whether open or closed, both for themselves and for their children; better allocation of funds (not that there's going to be much money flying around for a while, if ever again) to help support single mothers; closing greedy private agencies (and the so-called 'non-profits') and going after unscrupulous adoption laywers and facilitators.
And last *but not least*, obcs and open records for all adopted people, past present and future.

I'm sure there's more, but right now I have go and cook dinner.

Mei-Ling said...

General Note: Is anyone else having a hard time using the copy & paste function? Seriously. My mouse button will give me the copy option but not the paste one. Is it my mouse or the format of the blog? @_@

@ Kippa: In your paragraph where you address me, I'm confused. You say nobody is saying it's BEST (for a bio mother to raise her bio child) but then go on to indicate that both Maryanne and Osolomama would agree - hands down - that a biomother would be best raising her own child in preferable circumstances?...

Osolomama said...

I am definitely not my child's "hero" for searching. So far, she wants no part of my little hobby. At some point all the information will be hers. That is the same reason I kept her Chinese citizenship--not to be in control, but to give her choices as an adult.

AdoptAuthor said...

O - would you not agree that you more the exception than the "norm or average?

Kippa - I forgot to add to the list of dogmatics NOTS - that no one I know has EVER suggested that institutionalization is a better option.

As for the rest ...let's see...did you long, inclusive list include separate and impartial counseling and legal representation NOT paid for by aps??? Conflict of interest is a major issue I will addressing on the panel I'll be on at the NY law conf in NY in December on fees and ethics. Did it include infertility education included in sex ed?

Actually - I'd start very simply with removing the profiteering because I believe many of the other things would follow suit if adoption were less profitable.

Osolomama said...

Mei-Ling said to Kippa -

"You say nobody is saying it's BEST (for a bio mother to raise her bio child) but then go on to indicate that both Maryanne and Osolomama would agree - hands down - that a biomother would be best raising her own child in preferable circumstances?..."

Yes, I would agree it's preferable. My previous arguments here were about whether it's natural for some women to abuse their children. Mostly in this thread I was arguing with the namby-pamby use of the term "natural" (mostly to mean "good." Like I said, Mother Nature can be an ass). Oh, and we're not wired to love or care for anyone beyond self-interest. We learn how to do that.

Mirah, don't think I'm that huge of an exception. I just read another blog today that showed up in my Google Alerts from an a-parent goin' "What the heck?" (about China) the word is out there.

maryanne said...

Mei Ling,

I think it is better to for a child to be raised by natural parents than surrendered IF they are capable of raising that child, which not all natual parents are. And I am not talking about money or material things but about serious long-term problems like substance abuse, severe mental illness, chronic criminal behavior, or just not wanting to raise a child. All those things exist in some natural parents as well as some adoptive parents. What is supposed to happen to those unfortunate children while we wait for a perfect world?

Adoption, even in its flawed state, is preferable to being raised in an institution or long-term foster care. Every mother a fit mother is an ideal, but it is neither an attainable ideal nor a reality.

I don't think we need worry about what would happen in an ideal world, because there will never be such a place.

I do not think hormones play much of a role in making a mother a fit parent beyond the very early days after birth. Human life is extremely complex in modern society and becoming more so, and we do not function on a solely instinctive level. Even in some higher animals, parenting is learned behavior, not just instinctive.

I agree with many of the reforms that others here have mentioned need to be made to make adoption more humane and less corrupt, but I do not see as an intrinsically bad institution and I do not think that people who want to adopt or who have adopted are automatically participating in something evil. I am not against adoption, even as it exists today, but agains abuses in adoption.

There are no "perfect" mothers, natural or adoptive. Blood relationship makes bonding between mother and baby more likely, but does not gaurantee it, especially past infancy.

Mei-Ling said...

"Oh, and we're not wired to love or care for anyone beyond self-interest."

I'm not a mother, but I think some mothers in the blogosphere who have kept their own biologically-related children would disagree with that statement.

Mei-Ling said...

I don't think child abuse has anything to do with nature being an ass (excuse my language). I think it has to do with people viewing their children as objects and relying on alcohol to view that misdirected anger and depression from the subconscious issues that they never dealt with during their own childhoods.

AdoptAuthor said...

The quote read: "Oh, and we're not wired to love or care for anyone beyond self-interest. We learn how to do that."

If I was not "hard-wired, I would never have changed all the diapers I changed -- at least without gagging! I baby sat when my kids were young and my own kids' diapers were a "pleasure" compared to those of others' kids.

However, we do care for spouses and parents out of obligation, or love, or responsibility, or guilt, or because it is learned behavior. Whatever it is, it is not hard wired or instinct i.e. maternal.

Thus, I think it is not an either or. We are higher level creatures than other animals...under normal circumstances.

As for abuse - SOME is caused by substance abuse. Most I dare say is some defect of nature, an anomaly - or someone simply loses their temper just once and wacks a kid way too hard and they're dead.

Because I did mother three of my four children, I can tell you in the most brutal honesty that there is barely a mother alive who - if she is TOTALLY honest - who cannot understand what would make someone snap and hurt a child., or has not had an evil thought about harming their own kid at some point - even if when they were teenagers.

Of course the difference between sanity and insanity - or between a criminal and not - is the ability to not act on those momentarily evil thoughts but to posses and use self-control. There ARE defective humans and very ignorant people who shake babies, and many of these misfits procreate.

What does a society do? This is not a field I have done much research in but it sure would be interesting, because i know that Australia managed to reduce their adoptions to 2 a year. Is there level of child abuse that low and if so how do they achieve that? Or do they have a higher acceptance of corporal punishment and a lower report level?

I do know that in-home care where the whole fmaily is adied by social services; where parents receive drug or alcohol treatment and or anger management and parenting classes WORKS for many -- NOT ALL - families. It has a high rate of success and is preferable to removing children with the bath water.

Let's face a big fact here: Abuse and adoption have as little in common as adoption and abortion. Adoption does not prevent child abuse. Children removed because of abuse are the ones who by and large stay in foster care which is known to be high-risk, because they are generally older when they are removed and are more often than not, NOT adopted. So removing them from abusive parents is not much better than leaving them there (NOT THAT I AM SUGGESTING TURNING OUR BACKS ND LEAVING CHILDREN IN ABUSIVE OR DANGEROUS HOMES). But if we cared more about kids, our nation would prioritize exploring other options such as the in-home care which has proven to be more cost effective etc than traditional foster care.

But again - let's be clear. You have children removed because lets assume the charges against the parents are true (which thy sometimes are and sometimes are not). And then you have people using intermediaries and searching out young babies and paying high fees for the, rarely do the paths cross. They are two separate animals.

Thus the argument that we NEED to have adoption - as it currently exists - or even with some reforms - because there are mothers who are unfit is a very weak argument IMO. It's HOOEY, a crock. We need to a lot more than just REFORM adoption and all is honkey dorey!

I've heard that argument for 30+ years. If only the records were open and adults could get their records - adoption would be fine! NO it wouldn't be. Nor has open adoption been the panacea cure-all it was "advertised" to be. Forty years of adoption reform and where are we? Yacking, bitching and arguing with one another on blogs! As adoption has gotten far worse over the past 40years since adoption reform began in the US by Jean Paton - far more commercial, exploitive and coercive.

Osolomama said...

"Oh, and we're not wired to love or care for anyone beyond self-interest. We learn how to do that.

I'm not a mother, but I think some mothers in the blogosphere who have kept their own biologically-related children would disagree with that statement."

Learning how to love and care for people is no piddly feat. It is central to all civilizations. The BIG (though unrelated question in this context is): are those things inevitably tied to self-interest too? (I don't believe they are.)

Osolomama said...

Mei Ling, if one accepts the paradigm of heritable genetic characteristics as the basis of personality, then why can't there be a genetic propensity to abuse?

maryanne said...

The thing I hated most about raising kids was changing diapers, and the fact that they were my own kids did not help.Poop is poop. We cared for my elderly parents at home, and towards the end they were incontinent, which was not fun either.I did not feel "hard wired" to change my kids or my parents; it was a just a very unpleasant part of taking care of helpless people I loved. it was a choice I made, part of what goes with being a parent, and the child of old sick people. It certainly was not something I was "instictively" suited for.

Life is like that...lots of shit along with the good stuff. And human choices that have nothing to do with hard wiring or instinct.

Mei Ling, I get the feeling you are quite young and have a very romantic and unrealistic view of motherhood. It can be hard, lonely, frustrating, and thankless, and all mothers make mistakes, get mad, wish their kids would go away, at least for a few hours. It is not all perfect, hormonally induced and instinctive love and flowers for any mom or any kid. As an adoptee you have lost a lot, and your natual mother has lost a lot, but you have not lost the "perfect" mother that you feel natural mothers "should" be.

Mirah, the hard fact is that nobody cares what you or I think about adoption outside of these blogs. You enjoy being the crusader and taking a radical hard line stand against adoption, and I do not. But neither you nor I are really going to change anything drastically.

I do not think everything in adoption has gotten worse in the past 40 years, although some things have, the worst being the commercialism as noted by you and many here already. Adoption is not going to disappear. Adoption works for some people, even as it is today. it is about individual human lives as well as about broad policies and laws; it is complex, not a simple institution with simple solutions. Unlike you, I do not have all the answers for everybody. Maybe years ago I thought I did, but not any more.

For others, adoptiot does not work, and there are many injustices. Perhaps we can help fix some of them. I think we have a much better chance of that than of making adoption go away.

Anonymous said...

"Kippa - I forgot to add to the list of dogmatics NOTS - that no one I know has EVER suggested that institutionalization is a better option."
Well, what would you have suggested - particularly for those children whose families, for whatever reason, didn't want to maintain the connection? Guardianship wouldn't work. Foster care, perhaps?

"As for the rest ...let's see...did you long, inclusive list include, etc."
I believe I made it perfectly clear that my list was *not* inclusive.
It was written off the top of my head and while I was preparing a tagine for guests. Not that anyone needs to know that, but still . . .
And I entirely agree that separate and impartial counseling and legal representation NOT paid for by aps should be included.
"Did it include infertility education included in sex ed?"
Nope, but ditto.

Anonymous said...

Mei-Ling, either you misunderstood me, or I was unclear.
You wrote, " Sometimes adoption truly is the only solution. But the implication is that it is BEST."
What I was saying is that nobody here believes that adoption is BEST.

AdoptAuthor said...


Yes, you and I who were once on the same wave length now have different styles and opinions. You have found your niche in support of those who have been harmed by adoption loss. I have found mine in preventing future unnecessary losses. Both are important as long as things remain s they are, which I of course hope to change.

NOT by "chatting" here. You are absolutely right. If all we do is talk to each other on blogs or email lists we accomplish nothing - other than support.

But contrary to your views, I do believe I AM changing fact I KNOW I am. I have people listening and reacting. The changes O Solo mentioned. People ARE starting to "get it" and that is because some of us have dared to be "radical" enough to stand up and speak out. It is the ONLY way that the oppressed have ever made changes to their condition. I am proud to be a stand-up radical!

I am presenting to a feminists organization, Assoc. of Research on Mothering, at York University, Toronto later this month and again in Puerto Rico in February. Getting feminists to hear the pain of adoption loss and understand that adoption pits women against women: rich against poor - is bIG! And they ARE listening!

Every time I get an article published as I recently did in Conducive Magazine and one coming up in Mothering - it's getting the news out there to people who may never have thought of adoption as anything but a win-win.

Another article - based on my trip to Guatemala and the kidnapping of children there for adoption was just been accepted for publication in Adoption Today magazine (a very pro-adoption venue) for the Dec, issue.

I was also INVITED to presenting at the PLI Adoption Law Conference - presenting to attorneys and law students interested in adoption law. Addressing the issue of fees and ethics.

Yes, I am speaking out and SOME are listening. That's important, IMHO!

Kippa, I was actually teasing you about that list!! It was FABULOUS!! I had to really think hard to add to it, I wasn't criticizing!

I think the word "guardianship" gets a negative knee jerk reaction. I believe firmly, however, that some form of permanent legal guardianship / enforceable open adoption / prior to 1940s US adoptions / that does not begin with the termination of parental rights IS VIABLE and MUST be the goal. Children deserve nothing less than to have safe loving care AND to be allowed to have full knowledge of and contact with (safely) their family of origins and that right needs to be gUARANTEED. They have a right not to have their past erased and eradicated like it doesn't exist and wait until they are adults - after suffering through their terrible teens filled with identity questions. No child needs to suffer that loss in exhange for care - it is an unfair tradeoff.

Anonymous said...

"Kippa, I was actually teasing you about that list!"
Of course you were.

I'm sure that by now you will have read this,
which includes many good suggestions. Unfortunately. as it stands, the proposal does not allow for retroactivity for those who were adopted in the past. "Leave the past alone."
Plus, even though it would allow access for adoptees to whatever medical info. may be in their files, it would also give the biological parents the right to veto the disclosure of their identity.

Anonymous said...

Mirah, I wouldn't have a problem with some form of *permanent* legal guardianship, provided it really *was* permanent, and didn't restrict the guardians' freedom with regards to such things as, for instance, work related travel for long periods of time - perhaps even involving a move to another country. Such things are not to be anticipated in life.
Besides, there will always be some cases for which guardianship is not an option. And it's not going to help anybody to throw these babies out with the bath water.

I think all kids should be able to consider themselves free from obligation to parents (other than the kind of obligation that's based on earned love and respect) after they reach the age of majority anyway.
So be it with adoption. Or guardianship. Or whatever.

AdoptAuthor said...

Kippa - THANK YOU!!! That actually missed my radar and is very important (just posted it as a full blog post).

It is THE PERFECT model of what I am talking about. And I am in FULL AGREEMENT with you caveats on PLG.

"a "dual parenting" option, which comes from France, in which a child would be a full member of the adoptive family but continue to have contact with the birth family. The birth parents' names could even be included on the child's birth certificate along with those of the adoptive parents."

Dual parenting or co-parenting is a model borrowed from divorce in which joint custody and liberal visitation has become the accepted norm and anything less must be proven to be contrary to the child's well being.

As for moving - I see it just as it is in divorce custody. Some effort made to reserve such moves
that would crete a hardship for visitation unless absolutely necessary.

And I fully agree, however, openness and equality need to be retroactive. It's the BS of what we were allegedly "promised" that holds that up.

Mei-Ling said...

Maryanne: I do not believe that mothers are perfect. I am not sure why everyone thinks I believe that... it has nothing to do with believing motherhood is perfect.

I will quote this from my own blog for clarification:

I don't look at it as having the "perfect parents", nor the "perfect childhood." I don't believe growing up in Taiwan would have indicated the fairy-tale life. If that's what people get from my implications, they are very much mistaken.

"Everyone always thinks the grass is greener on the other side," people tell me. "This is no different. You only wish you had grown up there because you didn't grown up there, and thusly it's too easy for you to debate on the what-ifs because there is nothing of substance to detract from the idea that somehow growing up in your birth country would have been easier."

Actually, no. I don't think that. I don't believe my mother was a saint, or the perfect mother. I don't believe she would have parented much differently than any other mother.

My birth indicated I was supposed to grow up there. And on the debate of having a "better life" since to everyone else it seems I am merely arguing on the "grass is greener" side simply because I did NOT grow up there, I will inform you that no, I don't believe the grass is greener.

Canada is better than my birth country. If this is the admission people expect to hear from me, there it is. My adoptive life is better economically than my would-be original life.

It still doesn't change that I was born to my original mother. And it certainly doesn't add to the impression that life would have been a bed of roses.

How do I know this?

Because I went there. I saw where they lived, what they did, where their schools were, what the lifestyle was like. It's not a matter of believing that my mother would have been "perfect." It's the belief that I was not born just to be separated from her.

Osolomama: Abusing a child from birth has nothing to do with abuse occuring as a result of genetics. Abuse is not natural.

Mei-Ling said...

ETA: Maryanne, I did see your comment about how sometimes mothers wish their kids would just "go away."

Without revealing too much personal history, my (adoptive) mother's biological son (my adoptive older brother) sure tested my mother's limits. I grew up watching them fight all the time. I grew up witnessing my mother (in anger and hurt) sometimes say she wishes she never had children. She never meant it, of course, but between my brother and mom, the household was sometimes literal hell.

I am not naive. I have seen the strain of my brother's relationship with her when he went down the "wrong path" and things just got worse. I have witnessed her say shit about raising him in anger, in love, in hurt. I have heard them make threats to each other - always in emotional distress.

My mother does not hate her son. She just hates what he used to do. She has lived with this for over 25 years of raising him.

I'm not my brother. But I have witnessed the utter strains of mother-child relationship. Of course, to some, that still might not make my opinion valid on the basis that I am not a mother. But I really wish people here would take into consideration that I am not unintelligent. I know more about strained family relationships than most people online believe I do.

Anonymous said...

"As for moving - I see it just as it is in divorce custody."

I'm not so sure. I'd be reluctant to dismiss this a just wrinkle.
I doubt if many family lawyers have much experience in handling international child custody cases. Accordingly, I wonder upon which family would the legal obligation to maintain ties with the other family would fall?
I think that, in the UK, special guardianship requires the guardianship family to apply to the court for permission to leave the country for any period longer than three (or maybe it's six) months.
I don't know how long such an application would normally take to process. It could create serious problems for the family.
There may be other deterrents to people opting for PLG that I haven't considered yet.

maryanne said...

Mei Ling,

Thanks for the further clarification of the difficulties with your adoptive brother. I can see that you do know how hard motherhood can be from seeing what your mother had to deal with. I have a brother who broke our mother's heart by stealing all the money she and my Dad have saved in the last years of her life. I have friends with addicted kids, ongoing for years. I know what you are talking about.

Your story is especially tragic, and no, should not have happened that way. Your parents should not have had to surrender you to get you the medical care you needed as a newborn. The whole thing is criminal, and very hard to deal with why this had to happen to you.

I do not think any child is born to be surrendered. Mine was not, I thought I would be somehow rescued and keep him. But "shit happens" and then we are left to deal with it, to somehow make some sort of peace with what is, not what should have been. And that is not easy for any of us. I am sorry for having made presumptions about you, only knowing what you have written, not you as a person.

Mei-Ling said...

Maryanne, thanks for responding. I won't claim to fully understand motherhood - obviously I can't make such a claim. But I'm glad we have come to an understanding.

And your reference to your brother is very similar to my brother. I don't long how long your brother was like that, but it's been this way almost as long as I can remember. It wasn't always like that, but it's been that way ever since I was young enough to have conscious household memories.

Mei-Ling said...

In regards to your last sentence, thank you for understand what I've been trying to convey.

I agree with you: "shit happens."


Ron Morgan said...

I find myself impatient with discourses that attempt to redefine adoption as "natural" or "unnatural", because they rarely examine the terms and assume that there is some objective benchmark of "natural-ness" against which adoption can be measured. There isn't. The terms "natural" and "unnatural" are floating, unfixed.

The assumption that "natural" is a desirable state of human behavior is relatively modern. IT wasn't always so, in the not to distant past our society viewed nature as suspicious, our role as humans was to subjugate it. And although we may pay lip service to "natural" now, most of our societal behaviors still reflect our old suspicion of anything outside of our sphere of socialization.

So it is with this discussion. For those who view adoption negatively (for good reason, I may add), it makes sense to attempt to paint adoption negatively, and one discourse in which to do this deploys "natural" and "unnatural" suggestively. This discourse uses the terms of the dominant society against itself (I say against itself because the dominant societal attitude is positive). It stirs up the pot, people spend time and effort chewing on it. But, at the end of the day, it's a discourse that circles back on itself. And I guess that's what frustrates me about it.

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