Yesterday, on one of my favorite Yahoo! Groups, a fellow adoptive mom posted a link to a rather disturbing article (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribunereview/search/s_573477.html). It irritated me enough to write the following article in response. I sent it to numerous papers across the country. Hopefully someone will pick it up. But, just in case they don't I'm publishing it here:
Adoption as a fad?
By Manette Stanley
On June 19, 2008, the Tribune-Review published an article entitled “Adopting Asian kids becoming latest fad” written by Mike Seale. He comes across as a male-chauvinist, as he constantly demeans the female-based movies that his supposedly beloved wife chose while allowing his mind to wander to things of far less importance: Like the lint in his pockets and the popcorn that was stuck between the razor sharp teeth he bared further down in the article.
Like a kitten that is lured into trouble by a length of string wiggling in the breeze, Mike Seale leaped at the first opportunity to berate and belittle an entire group of American’s regarding their choice of family, causing a stir of resentment within the adoption community that has since grown to a relatively large proportion.
The shocking attitude and unfounded arguments that Mr. Seale presented in his article rippled through Yahoo! adoption groups like an ocean wave crashing into a reef, with instant anger rousing families to send emails in direct contradiction to Mr. Seale’s stunted view.
Rather than taking the time to send an email to a man who would simply push the delete button before giving anyone, in particular a woman, the opportunity to voice an opposing opinion, I chose to sound off to Mr. Seale’s erroneous thoughts through an article of my own.
My husband and I have two beautiful children, both of whom are adopted. Our son was adopted through foster care while our daughter was adopted internationally from China; neither child could be loved or cherished more than they are. More importantly, neither child was adopted out of some deep seated need to be included in the prestigious club of international adoption, which includes such renowned persons like Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Meg Ryan, as if it was some 1980’s fad like parachute pants and the mullet!
Having experienced the two types of adoptions that Mr. Seale has presented in his article, I feel informed enough to make a few arguments:
Adopting from foster care generally means that you are adopting older and/or special needs children. Since most of these kids have been abused sexually, physically and/or emotionally, have often been severely neglected and/or are victims of prenatal drug and alcohol abuse they bring with them special behaviors and emotions that the average family has never seen.
I’ve experienced these special needs first hand; our son is a drug-baby. I’ve experienced the withdrawals an infant goes through. I’ve held my son as he screamed with mortal fear during the night as the terrors of drug inspired dreams enveloped him. People who have babysat him have told me, with tears streaming down their cheeks, “I love your son, but I didn’t understand you when you explained his behaviors. They are beyond what I can handle.” And I continue to help him overcome the severe speech/language and behavior delays that his birth-mother gifted to him with her use of ICE, marijuana, and alcohol (though I always bear in mind that she must have loved him tremendously to give him a better life with a forever family through adoption).
So, trust me when I tell you that most average families do not have the ability or emotional fortitude to adopt one of these precious kiddos. I could never blame or criticize anyone for the route they chose to travel during their adoption journey and they have every right to feel passionately wronged by anyone who does. In addition, adoptive families tend to be parents who want to experience parenthood from the youngest age possible. It is excessively rare to be gifted with a child from foster care who meets these needs. These are sad facts, but true none-the-less.
It is a reality when adopting within the United States that more than 30% of families loose their adoptive children to the birth families. The biological family has rights that are singularly denied adoptive families giving them the ability to control our lives of in a way that is extremely frightening. This is the primary concern on the part of adoptive parents when making their decision to adopt a child internationally. The idea of loving a child only to loose her just three months later is unbearable and the actual act is simply devastating (which is how we felt when we lost our two beautiful and loving black sons whom we had been trying to adopt through foster care. They had been with our family for nine months). So, to help protect their sanity families find the safest and most direct route when adopting a child. Though adoption is never guaranteed, China is a very predictable program. This alone gives families the security they need when adopting their child.
Whether a family adopts from foster care or China, they need to be honest about their needs, even if it doesn’t sit well with someone else’s views. An unhappy or uncomfortable family makes for an unhappy or uncomfortable child, which will ruin not only the family’s life but, more importantly, the child’s life. This is a child who has experienced more during their short existence than most average adults experience in their entire lifetime, no matter where they are adopted from. It is hardly fair to a child to expect them to live within a family dynamic that is hostile.
Though for most people race is not an issue, it can still be a concern (my husband’s paternal family has disowned us for adopting Asian children, though they were utterly thrilled with our black sons). The idea of disrupting the life of a child and placing them in yet another disheartening situation simply to appease the black, Latino, and other minorities’ sense of righteousness is beyond ridiculous. Adoption is not an Equal Opportunity Employer and should not be used as a way to forward racial acceptance.
Until people experience the emotions, obstacles, and tribulations that come with adoption for themselves it is extremely difficult to speak with any form of authority, especially when one is going to criticize families for not adopting a black (or other minority) child from foster care. A person who is unwilling to step out onto that limb themselves while passing judgment on others is a hypocrite.
So, I hereby challenge you, Mr. Seale, to take a leaf from your own book and adopt a black child from foster care. Even further, I challenge you to adopt a white child from foster care (children adopted into loving families should not dictated by the color of their skin)!
For a more detailed account of what it is like to adopt, try reading my book “Adopting An Angel”, which can be purchased at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/223926.
[I realize that siting my own book is a bit cheesey... But, hey, why not? ;)]
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