Adoption Oversimplified

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile but after a recent discussion of the topic and reading another blogger’s take, I decided to let it out. The discussion centered around birth mothers, the role they play in the lives of our children, and how we portray these women to our children.

Are they saints for making such a “brave, loving, selfless” decision? Are they uncaring for giving away part of themselves? Or was the decision even theirs to begin with? Did someone convince or coerce them into making this decision saying it would be best?

There seems to be two opposing sides when it comes to adoption. I’ve heard a lot of adult adoptees essentially say that if there weren’t white Americans wanting to adopt (and no poverty and there were social programs to assist families), there would be no need for adoption. It’s supply and demand they say, and adoption brings in huge amounts of money for the country sending its children away.

On the other hand, a large number of adoptive parents feel that adoption is a win-win situation for all involved–birth mother doesn’t want to parent her child, we want a child, child gets a home, it’s all good.

I feel that both sides have oversimplified the topic. Like everything about adoption, there just aren’t easy answers.

Even if there were no parents waiting for children, I believe there would be some women who would chose to place their children for adoption. Some women become pregnant and don’t want to have an abortion, yet don’t want to parent the child either. Even without coercion, I believe these women would exist and for them the best option would be to place their child for adoption.

Many anti-adoption advocates (for lack of a better term) seem to believe that every child is better off with his biological parents. But I don’t think that’s the case. If it were, why do we have children who are abused or neglected by their biological parents? The fact is sometimes mothers keep their children for selfish reasons. I’ve personally seen some instances where this is the case. Keeping the child is more about being a means to an end (getting financial support, for example) than it is about loving the child and wanting to parent him in a loving and nurturing home. Would that child be better off being placed for a adoption where he could grow up in a home where he is loved and nurtured? I would say probably.

Yet, on the flip side, adoption isn’t the perfect answer either. It’s not a win-win situation for everyone. It’s a solution that will have a lifetime of consequences for everyone involved. To believe otherwise is to live in the “adoption fantasy” I talked about in a previous post. Even if that child is loved and nurtured in his adoptive home, his birth family is part of him and he’ll likely wonder and question the decision that was made.

Each adoption story is different so generalities hardly apply. For some women in certain cultures making an adoption plan for their child might be a “brave and selfless” act of love. Given the attitudes and circumstances she and the child would face, maybe she feels like she’s making the most chose. In another instance, maybe placing the child is a selfish act meant to avoid the consequences and hard decisions that come with parenting a child.

And I know that sometimes there’s more involved than just the birth mother’s decision. Since becoming an adoptive parent, I’ve learned more about coercion, unethical practices, and even child trafficking that can be a part of adoption, especially international adoption.

I don’t believe we should turn a blind-eye to the situations that exist, especially in other countries, that lead to some adoption placements. In fact, it turns my stomach to see large religious agencies and churches proclaiming adoption to be the way we can help. I would rather see these large groups find an in-country association or ministry where money or other donations could be sent to keep families intact, instead of believing the children are better off with us.

But also don’t believe that there would be no children placed for adoption, even if we “cured” all the aliments that lead to placement. Even with all of its consequences, I believe that adoption is the best option for some birth mothers.

So I guess I’m saying that in general, birth mothers shouldn’t be either vilified or pronounced saints. Nor should adoption been seen as the cruelest option that’s out there or as the savior to kids who need homes. I feel that each family has to look at it’s story and be honest about what it entails. After all, we were never promised that issues in our lives would be simple.

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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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