Adoption is the social, emotional, and legal process in which children who will not be raised by their parents become full and permanent legal members of another family. In our society, it is a life-changing option that allows people who are unable to conceive naturally to have children and expand their families. It also offers a child who may not have a stable and secure environment an opportunity to get one. There are many problems with how we approach adoption. Here are just a few of the ones that really cook my goose.
The adoption industry is a $13-billion dollar industry. It is so profitable, it has been termed the adoption industrial complex. It is a term used to describe the network of individuals, organizations, and businesses involved in the adoption process. It includes adoption agencies, lawyers, social workers, and other professionals who facilitate adoptions. Like any other business, it prioritizes the interests of those who stand to profit from it over the children and families. The children are merely the commodities that they trade in. They are not seen as full human beings with inherent dignity and rights.
The adoption industry is one that is highly intertwined with our entrenched class discrimination. One of the primary narratives woven by beneficiaries of the industry portrays birth parents as ‘unfit’ or ‘unwilling’ to parent. This ignores systemic factors like poverty which can make it almost impossible for a poor person to raise a baby. Rich people who can afford to raise their children usually don’t put them up for adoption. Poor people do and then they are shamed and judged. Rich people who can afford all those fees then adopt poor people’s children.
In multi-racial societies where minorities are disproportionately represented among the poor, you have the children of black and brown people being adopted by white people who know nothing about their ethnicity. It’s even worse when it comes to international adoption and the white-industrial complex from stories of children being snatched from disaster zones to children being returned to their home countries with notes attached to their clothes.
Also when it comes to class, all the costs associated with the adoption process lockout poor people. This process that was supposed to help people who couldn’t naturally have children grow their families is now something that’s exclusive to the wealthy. No.
Not about the children
One major problem with the way we approach the adoption process is we put everyone’s needs above that of the children. From the actors in the adoption industrial complex to the families that want children, everyone’s interests supersede that of the children. Adoption should be about meeting the needs of children, about putting them in safe and healthy environments where they can grow. It shouldn’t be about making sure people achieve this one could argue selfish desire to have their own child. It should be about making sure the children who currently exist in the world live well and are cared for and protected. It’s not about you. It’s about the kids. Only the kids. Everyone else comes after that.
Our obsession with having children of our own who belong to us is why most people who adopt choose infants. If you want a child, what does it matter if they’re 5 days old or 5 years old? The baby will grow and you’ll still end up with a 10-year-old, why not speed up the process? Jokes aside though, if what you want is to give a child a home, then it shouldn’t matter how old they are. The problem is people don’t necessarily want children, they want babies. It’s not about helping the children, it’s about what they want.
Only straights allowed
In a society that favours heteronormativity and patriarchal ideals, non-traditional family structures are marginalized. A single woman seeking to adopt a child is unlikely to be allowed to if she is not part of a heterosexual couple and they are not officially married to boot.
The adoption industry is susceptible to corruption and fraud, including the sale of babies and the falsification of paperwork. The power dynamic as a result of class can also lead to coercion and exploitation of low-income birth parents.
Adoption has to go back to being about the children. Just the children.
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