Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Heal Us, Fill Us, Make Us Happy

Where to start, where to start? It's a simple heartwarming article about a person who started a program, "Bringing Little Hearts Home," to help prospective adoptive families raise money for adoption. Why did he do it? He explains:

Meade learned first hand the cost of adoption when he and his wife began the process several years ago. Meade’s wife got pregnant 18 months into the process, but not before the Meades had spent about $10,000.
Excuse me? Meade's wife got pregnant -- what a shame they'd already wasted all that money on an adoption they no longer cared about?! They ended their quest to adopt after she became pregnant. Adoption as second best, anyone? What a heartwarming tale . . . .

And then there's the family who is benefiting from this year's fundraiser:

The Morrises are still early in the process to adopt. A home study will be completed this week and more paper work will follow. But, for Kaywood and Debbie, meeting their daughter for the first time will make it worth the wait and the work to bring her here.

Kaywood and Debbie said they’ve decided to adopt a little girl from China, a little girl that Kaywood says already has an identity. Their daughter will be named Mya Grace, and she could range anywhere from 12 to 24 months old.

“She’s going to help heal us,” Kaywood said. “She’ll fill a void.” The Morrises say they’ve always wanted a little girl, and their 9-year-old son, Dalton Morris, is also ready to have a little sister.
How wrong-headed is this? Let me count the ways . . . .

1. The prospective adoptee from China "already has an identity." Well, not exactly. She's not born yet, if you expect her to be no older than 24 months and there are 3+ years wait time and you haven't even finished your homestudy yet. But when she is born, they're right -- she will have an identity. One unrelated to adoption. I don't mind so much that they've already named her, but to act like giving her that name is the beginning of her identity is wrong, wrong, wrong.

2. "She's going to help heal us." Who's sick? What are they being healed from? Infertility? Hate to break it to you, but after you adopt, you'll still be infertile. If they are seeing the child as a bandaid, this adoption will fail. They need to heal themselves before even contemplating adoption. And wouldn't it be nice to actually think of the child's needs, instead of what she can do for you?!

3. "She'll fill a void." So far, this adoption is all about what YOU want, what YOU need, and how she'll give it to you. A child is not a peg to pound into your empty hole. What an enormous amount of pressure to put on a child -- heal us, fill us, make us happy. And if at any point after the adoption they feel sick, empty, unhappy, who will get the blame, do you think? Poor kid.

I'm not so much picking on this poor, ignorant family. They are just representative of some of the attitudes we hear from many prospective adoptive parents. Here's hoping their social worker does some more educating before that homestudy gets finished. Maybe those long wait times for China are a good thing here -- they have YEARS to learn, if they are of a mind to. Let's hope they are.


Wendy said...

I so agree with your post Malinda. The truly sad part is that the long waiting periods are not bringing about more educated parents--look to any adoption story blogs (where blogs are compiled for easy viewing), it is the same attitudes prevailing into the travel process and beyond. All is see from longer wait times is more complaining about longer wait times--the heads in the sand are just more restless. There also seems to be a different type of AP taking over the ranks of the long waiters--the savers, albeit savers that don't see waiting children as an option. I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Eww, wow, thank you for linking to this. I don't know what to say that you didn't except that I'm so bothered that this is the mainstream view of how adoption does AND SHOULD work.

travelmom and more said...

Although I also see a lot of what is wrong with this post, I do think a lot of us come to adoption with pre-conceived ideas of what it will be like, why we are adopting and how we are going to "mold" a child. I am not sure this is so different from expectant biological parents, but through the process of the homestudy, hopefully a LOT of reading (which I think should be required), talking to adoptive parents, parenting classes, and also the act of parenting we grow and realize our original ideas and perceptions were naive.

Wendy said...

In regards to travelmom's post, most all of us coming to the table naive--or at least not in a place we should be before our child comes to us--but as it is currently the system is failing. The reading and parenting classes are not sufficient, and with some non-existent or optional. There are guidelines in place and people who should never pass a homestudy but they do--the reason privatization in adoption has to end. Many agencies have an agenda--"saving" kids and they will do what they do in order to push that agenda.
When group's push for speed (money) over education we end up with these attitudes continuing beyond the early stages when yes, we come unprepared and with preconviced notions.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of sounding terribly insensitive, people who need a child to heal them, fill their voids, etc. really shouldn't adopt--or give birth. Parenthood is supposed to be about raising a child, not looking for a solution to one's psychological pain. How often do we tut-tut about inner city teenage girls having children "so someone will love me." Is this really so different?

Courtney (AP to a TRA)

holly said...

Let's hope the social worker is also educated on a higher level as well, in regards to who should/why should they adopt.
Courtney, you are spot on.

Holly - an adoptee and AP

Hazel said...

Hi, I have been lurking around here for a bit of a time already, I found your site via Salsa In China.

I could not agree with you more, adoption is not a recourse or a step towards self-gratification. Adoption is a mission started out even before the foundation of the world, by our Creator Himself. Adoption is about selfless love.

Our son already has a name, we call him Tommy, but that is not because we want a new identity for him when he gets home to us, we just want to change his name to our preference, not because he doesn't have an identity yet and that he needs one.

I am in the Philippines, and currently writing a book on adoption and how taboo the whole idea of adoption is in my country... My own adoption journey is teaching me and blessing me in many ways and I could not help but join advocates to at least alleviate the plight of millions of displaced children.

Mei-Ling said...

"Adoption is about selfless love"

I disagree. Why?
Because love means a child should not need to be surrendered in the first place.

"The reading and parenting classes are not sufficient"

What IS sufficient to understand a child whose mother has left her and is probably never going to 'come back'?

kantmakm said...

OK. Adoption, for me at least, is certainly not about "selfless love", nor is it about bringing a child into my family to "heal me, make me whole, blah, blah". It is about parenting a child whose parents are not able to do so. No judgment, no thought of heavenly recompense. But a lot of love. A whole lot - and some sadness.

Mei-ling, respectfully, I think that you have miscalculated about love - I'm sure that any mother and any father that had to relinquish their child did so with a very heavy heart and a very empty wallet and a social system that does not provide enough support to enable them to nurture their child. Their love was, for survival sake, secondary to their reality. And that is sad. But we live in a very imperfect world. And all we can do is to try and do the right thing.

Blogger chose my "word verification" as "pater" - how ghost-in-the-machine appropriate.

Zhey Chua said...

@Mei-Ling, I'm speaking on the context of being the adoptive parent. While it is not easy for other adopted children to accept that he/she was given up for adoption by her birth family, it is also not that simple for adoptive families to adopt children not related to them. I was merely stressing a point that adoption on the part of the adoptive parents requires a great amount of love and selflessness. It was in response to the blogger's post actually because really, so many couples adopt for the wrong reasons.

"Because love means a child should not need to be surrendered in the first place." - I agree. But again, that is not included or considered in the context of my statement.

Anonymous said...

I found it very simple to adopt a child not related to me. Only as we went on together did I realize that it was not so simple for my daughter.

Malinda, 73Adoptee found a doozy like this several weeks ago where the child was specifically adopted to replace a dead child. In case you missed it, here 'tis:

Mei-Ling said...

"it is also not that simple for adoptive families to adopt children not related to them"

On the many adoptive blogs out there, they talk about saying how their child just 'seemed' to fit right in as if their child had always meant to be in the adoptive family. That would be contradicting what you say above.

Unless you meant the political process itself and not the adjustment period?

Zhey Chua said...

@Mei-Ling, yes I meant the political process itself.

I don't doubt for a minute that my son's transition will be smooth. I just doubt it if some people around us would be able to cope with the fact that we have adopted.

I envy people in the States and other neighboring American and European countries because they celebrate adoption just as they would celebrate birth.

Here in my country, people like me who are in the process of adopting receive weird looks from people, even our (my and hubby's) own families and extended families think it's a desperate call on our part. We hate to think that our son will grow up in such an environment, it's just as good we live a bit far from both sets of families and we have a church that is supportive of our decision.

In a country where "blood is thicker than water" and where family ties are so fundamental, adopting a child requires unwavering love, the kind of love that would stand oppositions and pressures from the very people and family that you value the most.