All the Cards

To show how long some items have been hanging around in draft form, this post started as a response to a post from Another Version of Mother from May 2012.

When did the families looking to adopt become the victims of the system, the ones who get all the sympathy, the attention, the ability to speak their voices?

They hold all the cards.

The same sentiment was recently echoed on a Facebook group I frequent, so I dug out this draft and decided to finish it.

Adoptive parents do not hold all of the cards. Before the baby is born, the expectant mother does. The agencies and lawyers do. Prospective adoptive parents don’t have any control over the process, other than which professionals they choose to work with and how quickly they fill out their paperwork.

Why are there entire groups devoted to outing adoption scammers? Because, pre-adoption, the expectant mother has the power. The expectant mother has something PAPs cannot – a baby inside her uterus. There are some PAPs who will do, say, or pay anything to get that baby, it’s true. There are some PAPs who realize that is unethical and unhealthy, and do everything they can to ensure that adoption is the best choice for the expectant mother (or parents) and baby. Unfortunately, the way the system works today, there is far too much room for a lack of ethical behavior, on the parts of all parties.

Adoptive parents are also told not to criticize the system. When we do, we’re “ungrateful” or “hypocrites.” It’s not easy for us to point out that reforms are necessary, that ethics violations exist, or that the system needs to be fixed. After all, we benefitted from it, so we should just shut up and let the professionals sort it out. Never mind that the professionals are the ones who created the unethical system to begin with.

If we have problems with our children after adoption, well, we asked to become parents, so we shouldn’t complain. If we ask for help, too often, it’s not available. With all of the recent stories about “re-homing” adopted children, the adoptive parents are painted as the villains. However, it’s just as likely that agencies, orphanages, and social workers were not upfront about the challenges these families might face, and, when the parents looked for help, were unable to find any. Post-adoption services are sorely lacking. The professionals want our money, and there’s no money in helping families after adoption.

I’d also like to add that, to many people in society, adoptive parents will never be “as good as” biological parents. I’ve seen this sentiment quite often lately, and it is patently false. However, it’s still the perception. Adoption isn’t as good as having biological children, so adoptive parents aren’t as good as a child’s biological parents. We face that stereotype everyday.

Adoptive parents don’t hold all the cards. Before adoption happens, it’s all about the expectant parents and agencies (private adoption) and social workers, judges, and biological families (foster adopt). After the adoption, we can no more speak our minds without being judged than any other part of the triad. It would be so lovely if we could all just listen to one another, without judging or labeling. I fear that will never happen.

9 thoughts on “All the Cards

  1. I so agree with this and though the rehoming cases are awful and I feel for the children, I do somewhat understand. We pursued an international adoption before adopting domestically and when we met the children, we didn’t feel we could complete the adoption because we couldn’t handle the specific situation. We had the agency telling us we were selfish, that we should adopt anyway and then have them readopted in the US, that it would be fine once they were home, etc. We didn’t do it even though it was heart-breaking and very very expensive. Our social worker (who didn’t work with the agency) and also the children’s division workers in the country we were in, were the only people who supported us. I am very glad we didn’t complete the adoption. the kids were later adopted by a family really equipped to handle the situation and I really feel like it wouldn’t have been a good situation for the kids or us if we had completed the adoption. But how many people, when told they are selfish and it will get better, just do it and then it actually ends up being awful and something they can’t handle? Or how many countries don’t require the process of living with the kids in-country for a bit, being interviewed by social workers, etc before making an adoption final. This is why even though I hate those situations, I always can imagine how desperate and full of despair those adoptive parents do feel in those situations and have at least some sympathy for them.

    • It’s terrible that your agency told you that. I’m glad that the children were adopted by a family who was more prepared for their needs. The same type of pressure does happen in domestic infant adoption as well. An expectant mother will be using drugs, for example, and the family will pass, only to be pressured with statements like, “Most expectant mothers use some drugs” or “You wouldn’t get to choose if you were having a child.” Both statements are false.

  2. Pingback: All the Cards | The Chittister Family | Child Adoption Process

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