Slavery and Adoption

by Luanne

Our society has a storyline for adoption to which all involved are expected to adhere. Adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, friends, neighbors, extended families, teachers, and passersby have been taught these points (among others):

  • Adoption “is a positive, one-time occurrence in a child’s life”
  • Adoptees who don’t believe in that viewpoint are ungrateful or angry
  • Adoption is an incidental fact about an adoptee, NOT “who you are at the very core of your being”
  • Adoption fees are a necessary evil to pay for the costs of the paperwork, hospital bills, etc.
  • Adoption is orphan rescue
  • Adoption saves children from living in institutions
  • Pointing out the flaws in (and helping to improve) the institution of adoption is tantamount to being against all adoption

These points are part of a credo of adoption that our society has swallowed completely. In “Question Everything, Including Adoption,” by Laura Dennis and published in Perpetual Child: Dismantling the Stereotype (Adult Adoptee Anthology), Dennis touches upon each of these misconceptions and argues that we’ve got it all wrong.

In this essay, Dennis covers all the bases of the adoption credo and presents her own arguments against each. The essay is engaging and personal.

At the center of her argument is a comparison between adoption and slavery. Because of her writing style (maybe), her case didn’t feel airtight to me. And it could have.

There are a lot of commonalities between adoption and slavery. The exchange of money for a human being, for one. A contract involving the fate of a human being that is not even signed by that person, but by others, for another feature in common.

For me, one of the great commonalities is that adoptees have been ripped from their backgrounds, origins, and genetic histories. This also happened with slaves forcibly taken from Africa and brought to the “New World.” Many adoptees and slaves/descendents of slaves have been unable to track down their own pasts.

Dennis approaches the subject in many ways and makes a lot of valid points, using concrete imagery and compelling logic. Then, just when I want her to hammer home the point, she sidesteps it. Maybe her reasoning is this: she’s stirred up so much in this essay that the reader is bound to consider the slavery-type aspects of adoption and begin to ponder the issue–and yet, by not bringing home her point, Dennis doesn’t risk comparing the wholesale atrocities of slavery perpetuated on a race of people with the plight of adoptees.

This essay covers a lot of ground and gets the reader thinking about the fundamental nature of adoption as it is practiced today in our society.

Dennis blogs at http://www.laura-dennis.com/

Governor Christie, Can You Read 3 Little Pages, Please?

by Luanne

Julie Stromberg’s story “Let’s Pretend,” in Perpetual Child: Dismantling the Stereotype (Adult Adoptee Anthology), takes the reader inside the experience of an adoptee who learns that her birth certificate is a lie. Her adoptive parents are listed as her  birth parents. With that lie in place, how can she trust the rest of the information on the document? What if everything else about it is a lie?

Although Stromberg is now an adult adoptee in reunion, with a family and a successful career, she still feels as if she is stuck in a game of “Let’s Pretend.”

Like many of the pieces in this anthology, Stromberg’s is short. Like the others, it hits me hard and takes me time to absorb all the thoughts and feelings it conjures up.

To think that adults are being deprived of knowledge about themselves is medieval.

Maybe Governor Christie should read Stromberg’s story. He has until April 28 to decide on the New Jersey Adoptees’ Birthright Bill that would give adopted adults over 18 access to their full original birth certificates. He vetoed a version in 2011, and he’s been dragging his heels on a decision on this one.

So far, only seven states –Alabama, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Ohio, Oregon, and Illinois –have passed access legislation for adopted adults since 1999. I hope that Governor Christie will allow New Jersey to be the eighth. Then we need 42 more states!

Adoptee rights advocates have stiff opposition in this fight.  You know what groups are against adoptees having access to their own records? New Jersey Right to Life, the state Catholic Conference, the New Jersey State Bar Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union New Jersey chapter.

That’s pretty bad when the ACLU doesn’t think adoptees should have rights. And how does giving adoptees the rights to which they have a right! affect abortion? Do you really think in this “day and age” that the stigma of illegitimate births is a big deal? Do you know what the statistics are for births occurring outside of marriage today? More than half of babies are born to unmarried women.

The whole thing is ridiculous. It’s 2014. Why are adoptees being left back in the days of repression and secrecy?

 

 

 

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