Sunday, July 27, 2008

A hint of more good news

When we were making the decision about having a third child, I very seriously considered adopting. I looked into all the NSW laws and regulations and discovered that it was very expensive, had insane eligibility criteria and made me feel like a selfish awful person for wanting to rip a poor child out of her own culture just for privilege of raising her to meet my own selfish needs.

There seemed to be no consideration of the concept that perhaps it might make more sense for us to provide a loving home for a child who has none, regardless of where she was born than to leave her there to be brought up in an institution in poverty of love and material needs in her own culture (at best). I have no doubt that if I needed to leave my kids to be raised by someone else, I would choose a loving family in an alien culture over a poverty stricken institution in Australia. That loving family's motivations might well be selfish, but it still works best for the kids.

I don't understand the massive fuss around adoption. By that, I don't mean it isn't a huge deal to give up a baby, but I don't understand why the unique issues that adopted children face are regarded as huge problems that they should never have to go through. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Adopted children have a genuinely different experience, but the issues don't seem that dramatically different in scale to those experienced by most teenagers. Questions of identity, not fitting in, feeling isolated. Clearly not looking like your family is an obvious cause for angst. As is being fat. Or being short. Or coming from the city when you live in the country. Or vice versa. But adopted children seem to be given the right to feel that angst, whereas everyone else is told it is part of growing up, you'll get over it.

I also don't get why it is expected that adopted children will be angry at their birth mothers for giving them up. Anger at the universe for landing you in a situation where you are not the same as everyone else - that I get. But anger at the woman who either made a very selfless decision to give her child a chance at a better life than she could manage, or was forced into the decision by someone else seems insane and really unfair. There is a portrayal of women who give babies up for adoption as heartless, betraying their infants and denying them their rightful mothers. If there are any such women among those who give up babies, they must be few and far between.

My experience with adoption (through family and friends) doesn't bear out that it is inevitably a huge issue for the kids. It doesn't seem to be too big an ask to recognise the genuine issues and provide help working through them without allowing their adopted status to define them entirely.

And so, back to the news article that started this rant (I wasn't actually intending a rant, but there you go). The federal government has made an agreement with the states to start to sort out international adoption, making it easier and cheaper. I really hope this actually comes about, and isn't just a heap of political speak. Not that I'd ever trade in my Miss Elissa, but I still feel that I didn't quite do the right thing there, that I should have adopted a baby girl.

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