Magnolia – Again

Magnolia – 2020 Gerber Baby

I previously wrote about Magnolia in this blog.  She is recently back in the news.  On September 7, 2020, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) announced that it had named a baby called Magnolia as one of their 2020 “Angels in Adoption” honorees. Magnolia, from the San Francisco Bay Area, rose to fame in May 2020 when Gerber announced that she was the first (known) adopted Spokesbaby.

Infant adoption is not a simple story of adorable angels, even when they are cute enough to be a Gerber Baby.  The Angel award is meant to celebrate “the extraordinary efforts of individuals, couples, families, and organizations who work tirelessly to advocate for children in need of a family.”

Creating a connection between this apparently worthy, child-centered mission and adopted infants like Magnolia creates a false narrative. The truth is that there are approximately 30 waiting families for every infant voluntarily placed for adoption. It is unlikely that anyone needs to be convinced to adopt these babies. Also, these children already have a family — the family they were born to — who don’t have the resources to be able to parent their child in the way they would like.

It is true that there are approximately 100,000 youth in need of permanency in the US foster care system — but they are almost entirely older children who have experienced trauma, and there are fewer families interested in adopting them. In other words, domestic infant adoption doesn’t need a Spokesbaby — but families in poverty and foster youth without permanency do.

Obviously, it is not actually possible for Magnolia to have made extraordinary efforts to advocate for children in need of a family. It is the choices of adults (her adoptive parents, Gerber, CCAI) to cast her in this role. This highlights how the narrative is already being written and spoken for her, by individuals and organizations that want to promote infant adoption as an unqualified good. And it is deeply concerning that Magnolia, who has no voice and choice in the matter, has twice been made the literal poster child for adoption, before she can even speak in complete sentences, much less articulate her thoughts on what it means to her to be adopted.

Thanks to a Medium article from which the thoughts above were taken (because I do AGREE with every word I’ve shared as though it came from my very heart), I learned about PACT – An Adoption Alliance focused on children of color who end up adopted.

Here is their overview statement –

Pact is a non-profit organization whose mission is to serve adopted children of color. In every case, the child is always our primary client. In order to best serve children’s needs, we provide not only adoptive placement but lifelong education, support, and community for adoptees and their families on issues of adoption and race. Our goal is for every child to feel wanted honored and loved, a cherished member of a strong family with proud connections to the rich cultural heritage that is his or her birthright. We advocate for honesty and authenticity in matters of race and adoption. We strongly believe that adopted children’s and adults’ connections to birth family and birth heritage should be respected and maintained. We also strive to identify and counteract “adoptism,” an unfortunately common social prejudice that challenges the legitimacy of the choice to place a child for adoption or to build a family by adoption. Finally, as an organization committed to children of color, we feel it is essential to educate ourselves and others about the pervasive power of race and racism as they affect our children, our families, ourselves and our society.

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