Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Stigmatize Adoption, Not Adoptees

Adoption stigma, like racism, is alive and well.

For the past 40 years that I have been actively involved in the world of adoption...the only time we heard about adoption being stigmatized was from adoptive parents. They felt that others - often family members - looked at their choice as second best and did not embrace their adopted child as part of the family as they would have a child born into the family - a child who might look familiar, share familial traits or coloring of hair, skin and eyes.

But isn't it also because so many adopters now publically share their adoption "journey's" and how they begin that journey only after years of trying and failing to have a child of their own? No, not ALL adoptions are entered into by those who cannot have children of their own, but MOST are. How is the public to think of adoption as anything but a second best booby prize as long people share the fact that it is IS a consolation prize for them, something they "accepted" as their lot in life after much time, money and emotional agony was spent to avoid it, and many tears were shed.

Adoptive parents also complained that their children have a hard time in school. Some got teased, while other shad difficulty with specific school tasks such as family trees and adopters have worked to change that aspect of school curriculum to "normalize" the status of adoption for their kids. They report negative comments from strangers asking how much their kid cost - again, as a result of so many discussing facts like costs publically. They also dislike being out in public with a child that obviously is a different race and being asked about the child's "real" or natural family.

Now, adults who were adopted are sharing the pain the endured growing up adopted. Authors like Jane Jeong Trenka have addressed eloquently the effects of teasing and taunting they endure especially when raised in lily-white middle-America.

And now a white adoptee shares her feelings of being stigmatized by the fact of having been adopted. Kathy Bright, for instance, writes:

For example, I go to a new doctor and I'm handed a two-page form full of medical history questions. Did my mother or grandmother have a history of breast cancer? Any diabetics in the family? High blood pressure? Heart conditions? Thyroid?

Well, I don't know because I'm a-d-o-p-t-e-d. Where's the checkbox that says "Adopted" or "Don't Know" or "No Family History"? Because I've never seen one. The forms get updated with HIPAA and every other thing, but that part never changes. Why not? On a side note, I have gotten over not having a genetic medical history. (OK, not totally. You get a warranty when you get an appliance, but you can't even get a medical history with a kid? Really?)

But at least give me a real-world option on your forms, especially if we're going to talk about modern families and how we define them. If you can change "mother" and "father" to "first parent" and "second parent," you can certainly add "No Family History" or just "Don't Know."

And what about the plain simple fact that adoptees are treated unequal LEGALLY in most states? Is not inequality the ultimate indication of stigma? As was the case when I grew up, with segregated schools, drinking fountains, etc. that kept Blacks in a separate legal class of their own, so too do current laws that deny adopted persons the same right to their own birth certificates segregate out and discriminate against a portion of the population based on nothing more than a transfer of their custodial rights - a decision had no choice in!

When an adopted woman named Jenessa took to Facebook with a photographic plea for help in locating her family or origins, the story went viral. While she received support, some also felt the need to share their desire to keep this woman imprisoned and disallowed the same rights all other - not adopted - take for granted: the rights to geology, the right to know who you look like and where you get your talents and quirks from...the right as someone recently said to know when your mother began and ended menses...and the right to ask why you were placed for adoption.

She was met with all the stereotypical rhetoric including that she should be GRATEFUL and that it's a "slap in the face" of her adoptive parents for her, as an adult, to have a natural, human curiosity.

Yes, adoption stigma is alive and well, especially toward parents who relinquish - or even consider it.

This comment is typical of many I receive to blog posts at here at

"My name is Fabi. Im a mother of two beautiful daughters. Just like cara, i was in a horrible situation, a horrible relationship, and didn't have a job. I was pressured into adopting, aborting, ect. No matter how much pressure was put on me i still said f&@@ the world im keeping my baby, i was only 18. Compared to a 28 year old...she made a mistake you dont have a receipt god doesn't have lay away. Cara shouldnt have given her up in the first place. Now she made innocent people pay more her mistake."

Eliminate ALL Stigma?
While we work toward eradicating stigmas that hurts those who have been adopted or have lost a child to adoption, and work towards equality for adoptees…is our goal to eliminate all stigmas surrounding adoption?
NO.  First we need to examine the fact that not all adoptions are equal. Some are altruistic – or truly attempt to be.  Most are a second-best choice.  Far too many adoptions are not in the child’s best interest but rather to meet a demand and thus far too many involve exploitation and coercion. We certainly want all those kinds of adoption to continue to be stigmatized.
In fact, we as a society need to increase the stigma on unnecessary adoptions such as those that export babies from the US or involve openly paying bribes, or those in which adopters turn a blind eye to obvious abuses, inconsistencies, lies and unethical practices. We need in fact to increase  the stigma on practices such as pre-birth matching that puts pressure and feelings of obligation on mothers and false expectations on would-be adopters.  
We need to stigmatize the practice of relinquishing parents relying on those vying for their child to pay their expenses and provide them with an attorney. We need to stigmatize moving expectant mother out-of-state, isolating them and telling them to lie about the father of the child, denying him his rights.
In other words, stigmatize all that is wrong with adoption. Stigmatize the hell out of adopters who abuse or abandon children they have sought out and been entrusted with. And stigmatize like witches  those who hang on to and fight mothers and fathers who are able to parent their own child, or take any child knowing he or she has family that want him, or keep children who are known to have been kidnapped, as the Monahans are doing. Stigmatize all that is EVIL in adoption! 
And let women considering relinquishment read what will be thought and said about them after the fact!  The public WILL stigmatize you for acting against nature and giving away your own flesh and blood no how well thought out and open your adoption. So think well before casting yourself in the lifelong role of pariah, and asking your child to suffer the sting as well. 
Adoption IS second best and it IS unnatural and it should be avoided whenever possible.

Stigmatize adoption, not adoptees or their natural parents.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


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RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

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