A reader writes:
I feel for your reader who has endured so many miscarriages, but with respect to her struggle and frustration, I think it's her understanding of the purpose of adoption that is "broken." Adoption does not exist to find children for parents like her (or like me, who also hopes to build a family through adoption.). Adoption exists to find families for children. Her post drips with a sense of being entitled to the child she wants, free of risks, complications, and "burdens", but no such entitlement exists.
On the other hand, every child, no matter how "broken" he or she is, is entitled to the love and security of a forever family. If the adoption system is broken, the evidence of that is the children languishing in foster care or in orphanages around the world, not that it can't serve up perfect newborns on demand to infertile couples.
Your reader wants to know why infertile couples are asked to take on risks that fertile couples aren't? Because life isn't fair. But she isn't the one who got the short end of the stick. You know who has a much harder go of it? All those children in foster care with parents who "refuse to give up their kid until they've broken them." First they were born to parents ill-equipped to deal with them; then, one way or another, they ended up in the hands of the state; and now some woman on the Dish is calling them broken. And we're supposed to feel sorry for her?
You have really waded into some fraught emotional stuff with the adoption topic.
While I feel great sympathy for the couple with 11 miscarriages, I have to say that the writer is completely confused about the relative risks of adoption. Let's be clear here: they subjected themselves to eleven miscarriages and yet they believe "adoptive parents are forced to assume significant risks"? Unbelievable.
I am an adoptive parent. I won't deny that there are risks. We went to China to adopt our 6-year-old daughter with severe scoliosis, understanding she might exhibit severe disorders, and that our lives might become incredibly difficult. Fortunately, the experience has been fantastic. She is spunky, joyful, brave, and beautiful.
No matter how you become a parent, there is risk. Autism, retardation, injury, learning disorders, addiction, or maybe your biological kid is just a perpetual dumb-ass who disappoints you on many levels throughout your life. For your reader to assert that adoption is somehow profoundly risky, while biological parenthood is not (therefore motivating their umpteenth attempt ending in miscarriage) is tragic and disappointing. But I suppose that is just the biological drive we all have to propagate our lines. We believe deep down in our DNA that our biological children will be perfected versions of ourselves, while strange children are a threat.
We have to move beyond that. Go adopt. Everyone. You will find wonderful children. Sometimes they will be broken, just like our own biological children, and you will make your lives harder than they need be. But it will be worth it.
Having adopted two children as newborns, I completely agree that the adoption system is broken. Still, I find myself offended at the idea that in some rosy past nice healthy white teenagers relinquished their babies to nice healthy white infertile couples and everything was perfect.
Adoption is not for sissies. My partner and I did experience enormous financial losses (but nothing compared to the infertility treatments). We experienced having an adoption fall through due to a last-minute change of heart. We adopted two kids who don't racially match us or each other. They both have learning disorders, both have been diagnosed with ADHD and one with mental health problems.
However, giving birth to kids is not for sissies either. My nice white middle class friends have given birth to: a kid who developed leukemia, a kid with a cancerous brain tumor, a kid who developed juvenile diabetes and three kids who were diagnosed as bipolar. Raising children is not for sissies. Anything, and everything can and does go wrong. If the evil truth about adoption today is too scary for you, then think twice about your desire to have children.
P.S. While I have never experienced so many challenges, I would do it all again in a second. My kids are awesome.
(Photo: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty)