Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Meant to Be" III

It is NOT MY FAULT! There I am, perusing Adoptive Families magazine online, not thinking about destiny, not planning yet another argument-inducing post about God/fate/karma/destiny, and there it was -- a piece entitled, Was It Destiny That Matched Me With My Child?

The article starts with a compelling anecdote:
Recently, my six-year-old daughter snuggled up against me and returned to our ongoing discussion about how we became a family. I was hoping I’d answered all her questions clearly, when she suddenly implored, “Oh Mommy, let’s not talk about that terrible thing!” I was amazed that she could look upon one of my happiest memories as “that terrible thing.” Then she blurted out, “What if someone else got me? What if you weren’t my mom?”Now I understood. Patiently, I told her how she is the only child for me and reiterated how we were meant to be together.

OK, I can see an answer to the child's concern that emphasized how perfectly matched we are. It's that comforting answer about belonging that I mentioned in "Meant to Be" II. The answer here is heavy on the destiny theme for me, and I'd be happier if she'd stopped at the "only child for me" point -- that "meant to be together" thing is too close to the "meant to be abandoned" thing I've posted about.

But then we read further, and discover why the author is so convinced she and her child were meant to be together, that her daughter was not meant to be with her birth parents:

Years ago, when I first began the process of adopting, I spoke with some of my philosophy professors about the theme of adoption and destiny. One said that international adoption may be a new kind of conception, in which “a being may be going through whatever body they can” to arrive in the family and culture where they belong. In other words, destiny will bring them to a new kind of family not based on biology.

I have never forgotten this image and was surprised when I found it echoed in a story from The Lost Daughters of China, by Karin Evans. This time, however, it was one of the Chinese facilitators of the author’s travel group who was voicing this belief. “We have a saying in China,” he declared. “We say that maybe these babies grew in the wrong stomachs, but now they have found the right parents.”

Great, even philosophy professors and Chinese adoption facilitators buy into "destiny!" But how disturbing is that argument? Birth mother as a pass-through body -- the baby "going through whatever body they can" to reach the family and culture they really belong in? I can't imagine a more morally bankrupt philosophy to justify adoption. And how about the suggestion that this somehow works only in international adoption? Apparently these foreign birth mothers qualify as nothing more than incubators. The "exotic Other," anyone?


Mei-Ling said...

[“We have a saying in China,” he declared. “We say that maybe these babies grew in the wrong stomachs, but now they have found the right parents.”]

I flinched while reading that. Both when I read Karin's book and at your blog post. It was like a slap across the face.

I think I'll just say this in response to the article:

"You only got her because she was abandoned."

holly said...

Humans have loved fairytales for thousands of years. Especially when they coincide with things that make us feel uncomfortable.

I don't buy into the destiny thing, personally - but prefer reality. Even if it's unpleasant or painful.
I will never tell my daughter she was "meant" to be w/us. How unfair. Nor was I "meant to be" with my adoptive parents.

Mei-Ling in right. Ouch.

Wendy said...

Quite disturbing!

Jeff and Madeline said...

Sadly, I have had one of M's good friend's mother(who immigrated from China) say something very similar and who has also sad some REALLY negative things about birth parents (not M's specifically) in general from China. I gringe each time.
The hardest thing is to reconcile what she is saying (and there is some truth) with what we know and what believe is positive and healthy adoption language. She lived it--and yes, there was an abandonment and worse, infanticide in her immediate family--so you cannot deny her family's experience either.
Truth is essential, and difficult. For me it is in the wording.

Cassi said...

**these babies grew in the wrong stomachs, but now they have found the right parents.**

Every time I hear these statements, it's like taking a punch to the gut.

My oldest son grew up being told he came from the "wrong" tummy to the "right" loving arms. He said he always hated hearing that and would get so mad at his amom when she happily told him that but as he said, "how can you disagree with such a statement without the fear of hurting somebody?"

As a first/natural mom hearing and reading these kind of statements have been some of the hardest and most painful times to deal with.

Thanks Malinda for shedding light on the other side of the beliefs!

Mei-Ling said...

["how can you disagree with such a statement without the fear of hurting somebody?"]