I’ve probably been guilty of this, to whatever extent, over the course of writing so many blogs here at WordPress but today, I was really made aware of how problematic this argument feels to some who have been in foster care and they have a valid point.
Someone posted that the pro-Choice argument that goes something like this is problematic.  it makes some former foster care youth feel like a rescue dog or a commodity.  It can be misinterpreted by some (it is a stretch but it has happened) that foster children should have been aborted. Former foster care youth object to the weaponizing of their trauma to support the pro-choice argument.
To be fair to my own intentions (and I don’t actually know if I was guilty or not but I could have been because nuance is tricky) – it’s a good argument. Pointing out the hypocrisy of a society that only wants to help a fetus and not actual children. Pointing out how social service systems are already underfunded. However, it also dehumanizes foster youth by lumping them into a monolith in need of rescue.
The recent overturn of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court will cause a flood of pregnant and parenting teens into the system. One pro-Choicer writes – I’m not comfortable weaponizing a trauma I haven’t experienced personally, but I believe the point they are trying to make (harmfully, to note) is that pro life people aren’t actually pro life, they just want to control women and people with uteruses. It’s not about life with them, it’s about control. They don’t actually put effort towards improving the quality of life of those struggling. I once read a post where a woman convinced a mother to keep her child, but when the mom needed financial support, the lady basically said “tough luck.” Meaning they only value what decisions that can control of a pregnant person, and they don’t care about the struggles of those already born and alive. Especially considering a lot of people forced to give birth or were given no other option might consider to put up for adoption because having a kid wasn’t something they wanted OR they might keep the kid and the child might be raised in an environment where they aren’t wanted or abused. But most pro lifers don’t care about providing resources or voting for increased accessibility to resources for those who need it.
I agree that it’s not right to use someone’s trauma as an argument. Instead of using that kind of argument, we should just argue it at face value – people claiming to be pro life don’t allow access to resources that living people need. Instead, they vote AGAINST accessibility and governmental help for those in need. Instead of focusing on current foster children, we should be asking questions such as – what they would do to help mothers who aren’t in a position to raise children, instead of them saying, “Well if you don’t want kids, just close your legs or put the baby up for adoption.” I believe the pro lifers make children more of a commodity than pro choicers do because they act like adoption is an easy solution and decision- “just adopt your baby out! Just give your kid up! But don’t you dare have an abortion!” And yes, not every foster child is the result of such a decision or dilemma but pro lifers act like adoption is easy for everyone involved, and it’s really not.
Neither side should be using the adoption community as a weapon, but one side brings it up and the other side fires back, and it’s making this whole situation ugly. They’re fighting with feelings instead of facts.
Only in America is the for-profit business industry of adoption disguised as non-profit god work, that saves babies and is the answer to abortion; greed, trafficking and coercion will now be standard practice. This isn’t about women or babies. It’s about money and control.
When things like this happen, there is no rest. Only exhaustion, heartache, devastation. I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-INFORMED choice, the one that every human should have the right to make themselves and have access to safely. This is about controlling women and making money off their offspring, calling it “saving babies”, “orphan care”, “better lives”. THIS is a war on families, particularly on family preservation. Giving children to people deemed more worthy than biological parents, then selling it to the masses as “creating families”…that had to be broken first.
Billions stand to be made by the adoption industry with this ruling; to an already billion dollar a year industry that disguises itself as the hands and feet of Jesus. Commodifying women and children in crisis could not be less of Jesus. Seeing posts claiming how the church will step up, pushing their congregations more to take these “unwanted” babies, feels so dehumanizing as a mother who was in crisis, not fully informed about the ramifications and traumas involved in choosing placement, and then used by the church as the poster child for adoption. It’s lifelong trauma being separated from your children. Even though I did the best I could with what I had to go on, I was still failed. Most of us are. Women will now be forced to endure pregnancies either dangerous physically or possibly detrimental emotionally and psychologically, in the name of domestic infant supply, for the demand required. And there is nothing in place for these women in the aftermath.
Money in hand, baby secured, they have no need for us anymore. Millions more of us will now suffer these traumas. This is a sisterhood I never wanted to be apart of. It is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone and yet, people are shouting from the rooftops, without any lived experience or knowledge of the traumas we live daily, they’ll take our babies, like they are a pair of shoes at a garage sale we are looking to get rid of. Nope.
I will share some excerpts from this link where you can read Ashley Rhodes-Courter‘s essay about something that actually happened – Babies Don’t Belong Under The Christmas Tree: AN Open Letter From An Adult Adoptee. My image here comes from a feature in People magazine about the same story – Sisters Overcome with Joy After Finding New Adopted Baby Brother Under Christmas Tree. The date line is actually from 2015 but no doubt some adoptive parents will think this is a very cute idea that will also make them famous at least momentarily.
An adoptee’s perspective – In what they described as “one of the most magical experiences,” a Texas family posted a video on social media of their three daughters seeing their new baby brother for the first time. Captions accompanying the viral announcement included: “Sisters find newly-adopted baby brother under the tree,” “Parents hide new son under the Christmas tree for daughters,” and “Sisters’ adoption surprise!”
The children and family seem thrilled, but as an adult adoptee, adoptive mother, and social worker, I cringed and wished this family had been given better counsel. Not wanting to be hasty or “overly sensitive,” I asked professional peers and child advocates for their opinion. Most agreed that this video sends a variety of disturbing message to those not familiar with the intricacies of adoption. It was also the general consensus that surprising family members with a human being is not advised under any circumstance.
Even if adoption had been discussed in the family prior, it was made clear that the older children in the family were told nothing about this baby, and they had no idea they were about to welcome a child into their lives. The adoptive mother writes, “We met them at the door and told them that we had been out Christmas shopping and got them a gift to share…and it was under the tree!” Without knowing the context of the clip, a viewer might assume the little girls’ moment of delight, laughter, and tears was being expressed for a puppy, vacation, or desired toy. Adults understand the metaphor that children are “gifts,” however young children see the world more literally. The idea that the parents went shopping and came home with a baby reduces the complicated adoption process to a mere credit card transaction, likening the young boy as nothing more than a commodity.
While we are not told where this baby came from—or his price tag—it is likely these parents paid tens of thousands of dollars in legal and other fees for the privilege of adopting an infant. People enthralled by this “enchanting” scene would be better served to learn that there are currently over 120,000 foster children of all ages, abilities, and races available for adoption in America. People who believe it costs a great deal of money to adopt, would be interested to know that adopting children from their state’s dependency system has little to no costs, and many children come with subsidies to help pay for their medical care, education, and other expenses.
Adoptive parents strive to teach their adopted kids, family, and community that children are not possessions or accessories. These are little people whose needs are immense and whose love is infinite. Mothers and fathers adopt children because they want to be parents— not to be presents for their existing children. Children are not playthings to be ignored or dismissed when they cry, disobey, or getting boring; they are humans requiring years of care and nurturing. When I was still in foster care, a family who was interested in adopting me, stated: “We gave our kids the choice of getting a dog or a new sibling. They chose a sibling.” Fortunately for me, those screening the family realized this was completely inappropriate and explained this to the family.
Adoption already suffers from many skewed preconceptions. To some, adoption is a way “rich” people “steal” babies from “poor” people. Others believe they are rescuing children and should be praised for their sacrifice. Even worse, sometimes parents believe they are taking children on a trial basis and can return them if they are defective or don’t fit into their family. As a child, I knew many who were adopted—and later returned when they proved “unsatisfactory.” Adoption was a terrifying prospect for me because I knew that if I messed up, I could end up like one of those boomerang kids. As an adopted person, I must object when I see a baby depicted as an object. Parents never “own” their children and no child should be brought into a family—by adoption or birth—to fix a relationship, entertain, amuse or belong to someone else. The family is the resource for the child—not the other way around. For those of us seeking homes for waiting children, we want to find “A family for every child” and not a child for every family.
I cannot help wonder how the adopted boy will perceive his arrival. At some point in their lives, most adoptees struggle with wondering why they were rejected by their birth mothers or families or origin in the first place. He may wonder if he did something wrong, if he wasn’t loved, if this family simply had more money or resources than his birth family. Many adoptees already feel different than birth, or previously adopted children. Because the posted arrival pictures and video clip don’t allow for any nuance or explanations, all he (and the world) will see is that he was presented as “surprise” for the other members of the family, instead of being innately a member himself. The celebration should have been about him, not how others react to him. It would have been more appropriate and equally compelling to have the parents tell the children that the family had been matched with a baby; or, as one family did, surprise their foster children with adoption papers.
*Adoption, meaning the current concept of it in the Western world. The complete legal severing of the natural relationship between child and parent(s), replacing the original family and (sometimes) culture with another, including changing the child’s identity and sealing the original records, keeping information from everyone involved.
If adoption is beautiful…
Why do people lie about it?
Why isn’t it the first choice for couples who want children?
Why has it been this way for less than one hundred years?
Why doesn’t everyone give up a baby to someone who can’t have one?
Why does rehoming not only happen but is completely legal?
Why does Biblical scripture have to be twisted in order to justify it?
Why does the Quran condemn it?
Why isn’t it done this way all over the world?
Why are people in other countries horrified when they learn what adoption means here?
Why have several “sending” countries banned international adoption?
Why are adoption agencies being sued or forcibly shut down?
Why do adoptees turn to DNA testing to avoid dating a sibling?
Why is family medical history still the first question asked at doctor appointments?
Why are records kept from the very people they pertain to?
Why is a court order needed to see the records?
Why are adoptees terrified to ask their adopted parents questions about it?
Why do adopted parents swear their families to secrecy?
Why did the Catholic church get rich off its corruption?
Why is coercion routinely employed to get “birth mothers” to relinquish?
Why are there consistently over 100,000 eligible children waiting years for “their forever families”?
Why do white children cost more than black children?
Why is it okay to think of children as commodities as in the above question?
Why do the American Adoption Congress, Adoptee’s Liberty Movement Association, Bastard Nation, Concerned United Birthparents, and numerous other organizations like them exist?
Why do so many adoptees search?
Why did the Australian government officially apologize for its role in it?
Why are adoptees who are murdered by their adopted parents still considered “lucky”?
Why were adoptees used for medical and psychological experiments?
Why are adoptees the punchline of jokes?
Why is it recognized as a childhood trauma?
Why are adoptees considered “as if born to” their adoptive family, yet are subject to conditional terms for incest?
Why in cases where the baby goes back to the natural mother is it called “failure”?
Why are teen adoptees overrepresented in mental health services?
Why do so many rely on it as an industry for their paycheck?
Why is it patterned after the system Georgia Tann – a known kidnapper, trafficker, child killer, and pedophile – developed?
Why is it used as a tool of war and cultural genocide?
Why can’t all adoptees get a passport? Why are others deported?
Why are adoptees four times more likely than the non-adopted to attempt suicide?
Why can’t we have this conversation?
And again, Why is it that we can’t have this conversation?