Unfair Standards

Sharon Stone married journalist and editor Phil Bronstein in 1998. After multiple miscarriages, they adopted their son Roan in 2000. That is a common reason I’ve seen many times for adoption. Bronstein filed for divorce in 2003. Stone requested full custody but was denied in 2004 and she has good reason to believe it was because of starring in the movie Basic Instinct. She says, “The judge asked my child, my tiny little, tiny boy, ‘Do you know your mother makes sex movies?’ ” Actors are sometimes unfairly conflated with the people they portray.

Stone was allowed visitation. The judge reportedly found that Stone had a tendency to “overreact” to Roan’s various health issues, and that Bronstein was better able to provide consistent care. She describes this line of questioning by the judge as an abuse of the legal system. Because of this, she believes, “I lost custody of my child … It broke my heart. It literally broke. I ended up in the Mayo Clinic with extra heartbeats in my upper and lower chamber of my heart.”

She writes about that custody loss in her 2021 memoir, “The Beauty of Living Twice,” that she was “punished for changing the rules of how we see women,” and that she “slept every afternoon” and “couldn’t function” for years. In a podcast interview, Table for Two with Bruce Bozzi, she notes Basic Instinct “… ended my dating world. I think that men didn’t want to date a woman that other men thought of like that. And that’s also a failure of the male reality. I can’t wade through that.” 

Roan legally changed his name in 2019 from Roan Bronstein to Roan Joseph Bronstein Stone. Stone had apparently worked hard to keep a close relationship with Roan, even through the turbulent times. She adopted two more times – another son, Laird, in 2005, and then Quinn in 2006. Stone has been a single mother of three for over 10 years. “I find that it creates such an incredible meaning and such a compelling sense of intimacy and understanding that it’s hard to relate to people that don’t have children.”

Ending Intercountry Adoption

The more I’ve learned about this, including from now adult adoptees brought to the US from another country, the more it has troubled me. Today, I came across a document about – The Legal Mandate for Ending the Modern Era of Intercountry Adoption by David M Smolin.

After describing all the high level discussions and reports – from the United Nations to The Hague, which included defining the sale of child as human trafficking. He say that these international instruments have been an important success, changing fundamentally and positively the way these subjects are understood. Unfortunately, the project of bringing intercountry adoption practice into conformity with these standards has largely been a failure. Also that applying these developing standards to the approximately 70 year history of modern intercountry adoption nets one overall conclusion: the system as a whole has failed to implement its own principles and standards.

Even within the context of most of the more positive efforts are extensive histories of systemic abuses, usually with little or no governmental provision of remedies or assistance to the persons and families deeply hurt by those abuses. Far too little, far too late. He notes that if systemic intercountry adoption is to continue, there would need to be a large-scale revision as to the implementation of norms and the provision of remedies, when norm violations occur. Trying to do intercountry adoption the same way will end up with the same un-remedied harms to children and families that we have seen over the last 70 years.

The author states his “conclusion does not mean that every international adoption has been illegal in the modern era of intercountry adoption. Some individual adoptions most likely have met international standards. Further, some nations during certain periods of time may have had practices in conformity with, or close to conformity with, international standards. However, these exceptional circumstances cannot justify the maintenance of a system of intercountry adoption which pervasively and systematically violates international standards.”

I am in favor of family preservation and decidedly not in favor of strangers taking children out of their culture and away from their native language – ever. His entire document is 23 pages long. You can read it at the link above.

The Shift

Adoption shifted the focus of charitable organizations from providing homes for truly homeless and orphaned children to the profit motivated supply of infants to childless couples with the financial resources to afford it.

A number of reasons were used to justify separating mothers and their infants.  Not because it was profitable – of course.

Punishing unmarried mothers, preventing a reliance on public assistance which might raise the cost to taxpayers – the planned removal of white infants from white unmarried mothers who were  deemed unfit for whatever reason – including a perception the mother was neurotic for wanting to keep her baby – was perpetrated by adoption social workers.

Unmarried mothers were sometimes viewed as breeding machines when the demand for these infants exceeded supply.  A high demand coupled with low supply increased the pressure on unmarried mothers to surrender their babies.

It isn’t difficult to see how this created serious abuses around a mother’s relinquishment of her child.  Georgia Tann opportunistically profited from the shift.