Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Three Views: Adoption & the U.S. Census

Here are three blog posts about how the U.S. Census asks questions about adoption, one from an adoptive mom and two from birth moms:

From an adoptive mom, The Census & Civil Disobedience: No Check Box for My Kidlet:

You see, I've just learned that the government decided to get curious about adoption during the 2000 census and as such, for each child listed, you must indicate whether this child is your biological child or your adopted child. Upon learning this a few nights ago, my first through 12th thoughts were, are they demented? to are they on crack? Why would any parent want to distinguish how his/her child joined the family? Aren't there enough traumas inherent in adoption as it stands as to avoid adding more insult to injury by looking to distinguish adopted from biological children.
From Jenna, a birth mom, the Census and Adoption:

I’m sorry. What? Separate check boxes for biological and adopted children? Really?
As a birth mother, I am offended not only for myself and my daughter’s mom but for my daughter. I’m offended for us all, everyone living within the world of adoption. I understand that the world, adoption included, has changed a lot since the last Census was conducted. But for pity’s sake, you’d think that the language and attitudes toward adoption back then would have made this differentiation even more deplorable. Why are adoptive parents forced to differentiate between their children?

From Claudia, a birth mom, Are Adoptees Really Different?

And I have to admit, that I want to say Yes.

How can they really be the same? While I know that all adoptees are not the same and it is not right to generalize and that all will have unique experiences and feelings regarding adoption depending on their own personal stories, their own internal makeup and where they are in life.. still, as a whole, it's NOT the same as being born into a family!

* * *

So aside from the fact that I LIKE that someone is FINIALLY is trying to keep some stats of adoption and I DO hope that the census information might possibly show our governments that adoptee legislation is important, I can't feel that indignation that they have NO right labeling adoptees as different than biological children.

I feel relief that they are seeing it; that the government is not pretending that they adoptees are the same. I can only hope that the rest of society can follow the lead and acknowledge that adoption comes with a whole set of things ( I don't want to call them issues because that sounds bad, so we'll just say things) that make adoption different.
So what's your viewpoint on adoption questions on the Census?


Bukimom said...

Personally, the question did not bother me. It's not about the government wanting me to make an emotional distinction among my children (both bio and adopted). It's about recognizing the prevalence of adoption in our society. And no, being adopted into a family isn't the same as being born into it. If you don't think so, you haven't been paying attention to what adoptees have been telling us for a long time.

Even though we may love our adopted children with the same fierce mother-love as any mother, let's remember that adoption happens because something went wrong. If we can identify the scope of the problems, maybe more can be done to correct those problems that lead to a child needing to be adopted in the first place. Maybe the government will finally wake up to the importance of granting adoptees' rights to their own original birth certificates. I'm glad that the government is seeing the importance of collecting data on adoption.

Anonymous said...

Why IS your gov't collecting this info? Does anyone know?

Kris said...

As a mother with both an adopted child and bio children, the question did not bother me. I love all my children, that goes without saying. However, the way they came into our family is different. I'm not sure WHY they want to know, but maybe it is something as simple as wanting to know how many children (on average) women are giving birth to? Anyway, I wasn't offended.

Nora Jane said...

I have bio and adopted children as well, and the question DID give me pause. I was tempted to write in, "None of your business". I was, however, delighted that I was given to check more than one box for race.

Anonymous said...

As an adoptive mother, I'm surprised anyone had an issue with it. I agree with Bukimom saying it's not "about an emotional distinction." It's a statistic, just like race is a statistic. I, for one, would like to see adoption-related statistics for our country. I've heard a stat that upwards of 60% of people are touched by adoption (an adoptee, have adopted, have siblings who were adopted, are birth siblings, are birth parents, are birth grandparents, etc). I'd like to know how accurate that statistic really is and this is a step forward in gaining that sort of information.

Von said...

As an outsider and an adoptee I have no problem with it and see it as a useful way for the Government to keep some stats on how many children are being adopted into/in the country.It may be a very useful tool in the push for opening of birth records and perhaps some Federal Legislation to give adoptees the same rights as everyone else.
Adoption does not always happen because something "went wrong" it happens because there is a market and a large profitable industry with many eager consumers who are willing to be exploited for large sums of money.

Sheri said...

I haven't filled out the lastest questionnaire I received from the Census, and the first one I got, back in Dec - I honestly don't remember it asking about adopted/not-adopted. I'm just royally annoyed at having to do TWO Census surveys!!

Malinda - I've emailed you twice this week - are you still getting your yahoo mail?? Thanks!!

bytheriver said...

Not wild about labeling my child as adopted - but thankful that in 1880 my ggfather was listed as adopted son, and his sister as adopted daughter in a different familiy, giving a clue as to his history.

Sandy said...


The census collects facts - see above link to what they learned asking this question in the 2000 Census. They use the facts collected to hopefully provide specific services to the areas that can benefit from them.

Communities with different demographics benefit from the information - it may come in the form of recognising that there is a large demographic area with adopted children from China and they offer a Chinese language class in the school system instead of Spanish or another language.

It may come in reviewing adoption laws, tax credits etc when they realize the number of adopted children etc.

Remaining ignornant of the countries demograhics does no one a favor and specific personal census info is not released for 72 years to the general public.

And yes - being adopted makes you different that being a bio.

Mirah Riben said...

As a researcher, collection of data is ESSENTIAL! We need to know far MORE about adoption, no less. We need to know how may children are adopted internationally, not just by guessing base don visas. We need to know how many children are adopted domestically from agencies and how many privately.

We need to know hoe much people are paying for adoptions.

We need to know accurate adoption termination rates.

While I understand and appreciate mothers not wanting to distinguish in their love for their children based on how they entered their families, to deny the reality of adoption is quite frankly scary. It concerns me and makes me wonder if such parents are being honest with their adopted children or trying to keep their status a secret from them.

Adoption must be an open fact for the health of the entire family. Those who adopt need to accept and embrace that their children have other families. it is their reality.

The government has every right to know this, just as they have a right to know one's marital status which is asked all the time.

Raina said...

I'm just offended that they didn't have an option for adopted parent. Not adoptive, adopted :). I was particularly offended by the classification of "races" they listed. I did write a letter and included it with my survey. (I posted the letter on my blog, I can't believe I'm the only person who actually wrote TO the Census Bureau and not just about them). Good perspective from you though, I hadn't thought of that.

Chinazhoumom said...

and this blog - wonderful writing!!!