Imagine the dominant social narrative surrounding adoption was flipped – that it was viewed negatively by society (media, public, social policy, etc) with no saviorism or birth mom/adoptive parent platitudes like brave or selfless.
Imagine it was considered a socially unacceptable way to build a family or to fulfill a deep wish or right to experience parenting and people seeking to adopt were viewed as selfish.
This radical change came about as the catastrophic effect on children caused by relinquishment, and subsequent adoption became common knowledge. And that clear understanding developed societal beliefs that deliberately perpetrating adoption was as unpalatable as the current “anti” adoption movement is viewed by proponents.
Instead, society truly became child-centered – where the child’s needs are put first. One that does not permit ownership, name you as parents nor replace the birth certificates, allow name changes, or any family severance. It is also socially unacceptable to brag about your adopted child, or even share their story. It is instead as embarrassing as it is to admit you are not raising your own birthed child (I know that one way too intimately).
Then other options (like guardianship) would be the default route for permanence when strangers are needed to care for children who are not able to live with their natural family for safety reasons. We can and should imagine “better”. That is why adoptees and original mothers are speaking out about the deep wounds that giving up children for adoption has caused for them.
There are worse things than being adopted. Foster care seems to be that from most of the stories I’ve heard. Currently, Netflix has a series titled Unbelievable, based on the true story of a serial rapist.
The central character is Marie. Her newfound independence in an apartment of her own after years in foster homes seemed like a dream come true until he entered her apartment. Even her foster parents doubted her assertion.
She does not know if she attended kindergarten. She remembers being hungry and eating dog food. She reports entering foster care at age 6 or 7. She met her biological father only once. She reports not knowing much about her biological mother, who she said would often leave her in the care of boyfriends. She was sexually and physically abused.
“I moved a lot when I was younger,” Marie says in an interview. “I was in group homes, too. About two of those and probably 10 or 11 foster homes. I was on like seven different drugs. And Zoloft is an adult drug — I was on that at 8.”
Marie got her apartment through a program called Project Ladder designed to help young adults who had grown up in foster care transition to living on their own. Case managers would show participants the dos and don’ts of shopping for groceries, handling a credit card, buying insurance. “The rules about life,” Marie says. Best of all, Project Ladder provided subsidized housing, with each member getting a one-bedroom apartment.
Police pressured her to recant her rape report and then charged her with filing a false report which could have landed her a year long sentence. Eventually, the truth that she had been raped was revealed. Marie’s case led to changes in practices and culture. Detectives receive additional training about rape victims. Rape victims get immediate assistance from advocates at a local healthcare center. Investigators must have “definitive proof” of lying before doubting a rape report, and a charge of false reporting must now be reviewed with higher-ups.
The full story is available at ProPublica.