Sunday, November 22, 2009

More on Feminism & Adoption

At the Wellesley Centers for Women, from Ellen Herman, author of Kinship By Design: A History of Adoption in the Modern United States, and creator of the Adoption History Project website, a post entitled Why Adoption Makes Feminists Uncomfortable:
Feminists have long been divided over adoption, reflecting this larger dilemma.
If adoption exemplifies voluntary kinship—and it does—it stands to reason that adoption would be attractive for women, who have historically been defined and confined by their consignment to mandatory motherhood. On the other hand, if adoption is premised on gross inequalities that result in the transfer of children from poorer parents, communities, and countries to richer ones—and it is—how can feminists ever defend it as a model of family formation?
At Baby Love Child, Adoption as a modern Feminist institutional blindspot:
For Feminism to genuinely begin to grapple with its legacy of and current entwinement with adoption as an institution and the corrupt industry itself, Feminists would need to move beyond listening to adoptive mothers and begin to genuinely listen to Mothers and Bastards ourselves, all while coming to terms with the many ways by which Feminist individuals and institutions, as well as institutions supported by Feminists (NARAL, as but one of many such examples) have enabled the industry and participated personally, a tall order indeed when for decades now adoption has been sold to womyn as another “reproductive choice.”

The fact that those critical of adoption tactics and the industry remain ghettoized, never added to the pantheon of “Feminist Issues” says a very great deal about the internal blind spot modern many Feminists have perpetuated. Turning a blind eye to the conditions under which children are procured undermines the authenticity of other aspects of the modern Feminist critique.

How can one speak to the conditions of working womyn in India, for example, without ALSO acknowledging that one aspect of the work some number of Indian womyn are forced into is that of bearing children for American would-be adopters?
From the Daily Bastardette, Adoption Is a Feminist Issue:

Unfortunately organized mainstream feminist talk about adoption hasn't moved beyond the 1970s's consumerist/choice nobody-held-a-gun-to-your-head blather
that blames a specific group of de-priviledged women for their own de-priviledging--that privileged feminists have been all too happy exploit without a care to get their hooks into babies. But as Dawn pointed out, adoption IS about privilege. I would add that adoption is mainly a middle class issue as well, since today the rich and poor are seldom on the giving end of the "adoption option." (Of course, that can always change with the economy)

There is little feminist critique of adoption outside of academia, and even there it is top-heavy with adopter discourse--some of it spot-on., and I don't want to dimiss it. But, Feminist Bastard and Feminist First Mother voices are generally limited to blogs, forums, and obscure conference workshops. I don't know why.
Great stuff! Be sure to click through to read both pieces, and the interesting comments, too.


AdoptAuthor said...

Great stuff. Thank you so much for this invaluable research!!

AdoptAuthor said...

You might want to check out some opposing views at:

Lorraine Dusky said...

Once I was at Princeton (where my husband graduated), and we were able to sit in on classes. I chose some feminist-sounding class, and popped into an hour-long discussion of adoption talk from the viewpoint of lesbian adoption, adoption is a great way for feminists to have a family. Yeah yeah yeah, was the buzzword, adoption is a great way to build a family.

I was going nuts because of the inane things being said by the prof, by the kids in the class--the class was small and finally the teacher noticed and asked if I had a comment. To establish my creds, I told them I was a birth mother who had written a great deal about adoption, and was involved in opening up the records for adoptees. Then I spoke out about how adoption was devastating to the natural mother, how the class was not considering adoption from any point of view except that of the adopters, how society pressures women into giving up their kids and how feminism looked the other way, in order to supply kids for the educated feminists, (like the professor), etc.


I later sent the woman prof a packet of material about sealed records, etc. but never got even so much as an acknowledgment back.

Feminists and adoption? Except for a few, they are all for it, without asking any of the hard questions.
lorraine from