Adoption and Altruism

I've been thinking about the many ways in which adoption gets sold to the public, and one of my favorite misleading paths adoption advocates like to take is the one that teaches newcomers adoption is an altruistic decision, made by people who really care about the lives of children.

While there are various formal social studies/essays written about the stigma of Adoptive Parent and Birth Mother status, I found an excellent blurb that explained, very clearly, why adoption is altruistic from an evolutionary perspective. 

Adoption is a form of altruism because it increases the fitness of a conspecific at some cost to self. It is costly to the adoptive parent because parental investment given to someone else's offspring is investment that cannot be given to one's own offspring. It benefits others because it increases their fitness in terms of offspring survival.

[From:  Study Questions, ]

If I understand this concept correctly, investing one's time and money can be seen as altruistic endeavours, especially if those investments help preserve and improve the longevity and function of another object, life-form, or person.  In addition, to be truly altruistic, the person investing time, money and effort must also experience a loss... a pain... that would be gladly felt and endured if that sacrifice can benefit someone else.

An altruistic adoption means a sacrifice would have to be made, a loss, or sense of personal discomfort would have to be felt, and all of this would be done so the small child would not have to suffer.  I suppose the theory to better living is very simple -- if a child does not suffer the consequences of sustained damage and pain, that child will grow to become a happy, healthy, productive, contributing member of society... benefiting many.

I can see how this altruistic approach can and does work for those children adopted by truly good decent people who would, and do, give-up all sorts of creature-comforts, so the child living with them can feel valued, loved, and safe.

It's a very nice thing.  Very nice.

Wish I was adopted by altruistic people.

But enough about me.

My thoughts are on today's adopted child.  My thoughts are on those who are considering adoption, as I type.

My thoughts are on an article that was posted on June 16, 2009.  The article in-mind shares the story of a young unmarried woman, a poorly timed pregnancy, and the decision she needs to make.  Will she keep the baby, abort the pregnancy, or choose adoption - for herself, her baby, and a couple that's waiting to get busy with their future plans?

As I was reading Choosing Not to Keep the Baby, I was moved by the not-so-subtle way in which people are wooed into this fantasy/belief that adoption is an altruistic choice/decision, made by caring, loving, altruistic people.  It's captivating when you take the time to read what daughters are being told by their parents... mothers, especially, when a surprise pregnancy smacks them in the face.

My parents have also been reading through the comments and they’ve gained a new insight too. Sure, a baby would be wonderful to have at the Thanksgiving table, but what about the rest of the year? Even though they would love a grandchild, I think they’re starting to understand how hard this will be for me. I talked to my mom yesterday and, even though she isn’t a very tender person, she said something that really stuck with me. I could tell she was really upset when she said, “Honey, this isn’t what I imagined for you. Being pregnant is such a wonderful experience and I wanted you to be surrounded by family and friends. Not like this.” I don’t think my mom has ever really told me what kind of life she’s envisioned for me, she’s always let me wander along. Of all the conversations I’ve had lately, that statement really hit me hard.

Those of us who were blessed with, given toselected for, obtained by dysfunctional (and abusive) people know, there is no altruism, there is no selflessness, there are no strong silent heroes making hard personal sacrifices for children traded in Adoptionland.  Instead, these so-called brave life-saving heroes are weak; they are driven by selfishness and greed, and this selfishness and greed is not single-partied, either.  In every aspect, from the moment sex gets started and conception takes place, to the finalized legal transfer, there is always at least one adult person thinking about his or her own personal wants, needs and comfort before the physical and emotional needs of the newborn.  There is always at least one 'big' person forcing another 'smaller' person to do what's asked to be done, because there are certain social mores and expectations that need to be maintained, (and certain reputations that need to be preserved because some reputations are more likable and preferred than others).  

While I can really empathize with the statements written by a young woman, facing a fast-changing life as a pregnant school-girl, (the mom-to-be chose to pursue a Master's degree for herself, as she most likely understands what it means to be a female American, facing an economy and job market that feels mighty grim, bleak and unstable), I'd like readers to focus on the way in which a scared, seemingly smart and healthy pregnant female - with a seemingly supportive family - is addressed by the director of an adoption agency.  Keep in mind, the following exampled sales-job tactic can be used by an adoption recruiter.... a recruiter who may or may not be salaried by the private (often non-profit) adoption agency.  In addition, readers ought to remember the financial compensation given to highly successful adoption agency executives.  Of the 176 names listed on that linked page, not one made less that $95,000/yr.  The general rule goes:  the more popular an agency becomes... the more interest it can receive via private and corporate donations... the more people use the services provided, the more likely an agency executive will make a salary that needs to be reported to the IRS.]

With future well-being and salary in-mind, please read how a pro-life adoption advocate operates, and treats a PBM (Potential Birth Mom):

For my first trip out and about since learning I was pregnant, I went to meet with the director of an adoption agency. He was so supportive and sweet that I walked away choked up but not in tears — it was the first day I didn’t cry. Even though the adoption agency can pay my medical costs and set me up with adoptive parents for maternity shopping, grocery shopping, birthing classes and all kinds of programs, it didn’t feel like enough. I told the director how scared and lonely I’ve been and he just said, “I know. I can tell. We’ll take this one step at a time.” So many of the comments urged me to consider adoption but I already feel so attached to the little zygote inside of me (my friend named it Ziggy) that I don’t think I could carry a baby to term just to give it away. The mere thought of handing my child to someone else, as altruistic as it is, breaks me.

What breaks me is knowing how many adoptees (who have been abused in-care and/or abused by an adoptive family member) have attempted suicide.  I still can't find any formally conducted (spelled:  funded) studies that produce the number of adoptees who have been abused/killed in a year;  I still can't find any formal studies that show the number of adoptees who have attempted or committed suicide in any given year, but for all those pro-lifers who believe adoption prevents the killing of a precious life, please remember us at PPL, and remember, as long as people insist "adoptee" is the less acceptable term for 'adopted person',  very little professional interest will go into the long-terms study of an adopted child's well-being and experience with child abuse, post adoption placement.

This seems very odd to me, especially when I consider the pro-life stance on adoption, itself.  While pro-lifers claim abortion kills an innocent life, rabid pro-life adoption advocates seem to forget child abuse in an adoptive home can not only take away an innocent life, but in far too many cases, abuse inflicted by a child abuser can kill.  In my mind, it seems almost stupid pro-lifers pumped-up on altruism don't insist adoptees adopted persons should be monitored and studied far more than they actually are monitored and studied, simply because such long-term studies would prove, statistically speaking, adoption is the wonderful choice-gift so many proclaim it to be.  [Those comprehensive studies would make a good selling-point, wouldn't they?]

Ah, but here's the glitch.  Extensive long-term monitoring costs a lot of money.  It would require man-hours that would have to be paid.  It would require active participation and compliance with adopters and adoptees.  An enormous amount of time and energy would have to be invested in the tedious task of collecting, checking and cross-checking facts,  confirming or denying the validity of a claim.  It would require many agencies working together to prove adoption is the route young uncertain mothers should take for their born and unborn.  Who has that sort of money to spend on adoptees  adopted persons?

<heavy sigh>

Adoption, as a legal practice, needs to be seen as what it truly is --  a very ambitious salary-providing business entity... one that connects to and preys upon the desperate and the weak, one that uses 'a child's needs' as a perfect reason/excuse to do a lot of things that would otherwise be seen as unethical, immoral, and illegal.  Last but not least, pro-adoption supporters need to understand adoption agencies that team-up with birth-centers and orphanages, directly and indirectly put young lives at risk.  How?  Consider the way in which a maternity home or orphanage is staffed, and consider the demand for young healthy babies/young children (under the age of 5).  Consider the way in which donated money, or forced adoption fees (including 'intake' fees), can be used or spent.  Remember, that money can go towards direct care, or it can be hoarded, or spent on that new fur, that new car, that new second home... and/or bribes.  Consider, too, the way some babies and children are obtained by 'baby recruiters, supported by those who promote adoption as a loving option.   I'm not talking about baby-brokers from an era gone-by.  I'm referring to recent works.  The following relates to the Marshall Islands, circa 2003... and so called 'adoption angels' doing God's Work.

Neji Johnny was an easy target for a recruiter for Adoption Choices, an American agency that scours the poverty-scarred streets of this remote Western Pacific atoll on the lookout for mothers willing to give up their babies.

In return for $300 in spending money, Johnny said she agreed to fly to Hawaii. As a resident of a former U.S. trust territory, she could travel without a visa. The adoption agency put her up at the rambling Moanalua Hillside Apartments in Honolulu with about 20 other expectant mothers from the Marshalls. Less than a month later she was taken to Queens Medical Center, where she gave birth to a healthy child Dec. 5.

Four days after that, Johnny signed legal documents written in English - a language she neither reads nor speaks - giving custody of her child to Adoption Choices. The transaction was approved by a judge, who was told in a court filing that she was a resident of Hawaii.

[From:  Island adoption market delivers pain and profit, Walter F. Roche Jr, November 2, 2003]

Meanwhile, PAP's were charged $25,000 to cover legal and 'other' costs.  According to Roche's findings, adoption lawyers could earn $13,500 for each child, and recruiters who find and deliver pregnant women to Hawaii can take a cut up to $2,500 for delivering them to Hawaii. "Referral companies retained by anxious American couples charge as much as $2,500 to find a suitable child. Adoption agencies coordinate the process and rake in the rest."

That's not the worst.

Interestingly enough, it's the following information (from the same article) that should raise the small hairs on the back of reader's necks:

the Marshall Islands had adopted a law drawn from a global treaty that prohibits the soliciting of pregnant women by offering them money, gifts and other benefits and transporting them out of the country to give birth for purposes of adoption. But the law is openly flouted in the small, impoverished country with a sky-high birthrate that increasingly serves as a breeding ground for American agencies fiercely competing with one another to provide babies to parents in the United States.

It's not just the little islands falling into corrupt hands, hungry for more.  Big senders, like Vietnam, blame corrupt adoption practices on American adoption agencies.

despite the fact that Vietnam had created an agency, the Department of International Adoptions (DIA), intended to combat corrupt adoption practices. Embassy officials say in internal memos that its director, Vu Duc Long, repeatedly explained that he could do nothing -- and that he saw nothing wrong. According to one U.S. Embassy cable, when asked directly about his agency's role in combating corruption, Long answered "that DIA will check to see who committed fraud, but that in his experience there has 'never been a case where DIA found problems with an adoption in Vietnam'."

In the same conversation, according to one cable, Long told U.S. officials that he had no authority to issue a binding schedule of fees and that he believed the real problem was that American agencies' contracts with the provincial authorities for "humanitarian donations" were really advance deposits on adoptable "orphans" -- and were thus putting pressure on the orphanages to "find" more adoptable babies. Long explained: "If the orphanage accepted a donation equal to 10 children, for example, but the orphanage only had 4 children to deliver, then the orphanage had to find additional children to meet its obligation." 

[From:  Anatomy of an Adoption Crisis ]

Back to my rant....

Adopters, and those who stand pro-adoption, should never underestimate the lengths and depths some shady characters are willing to go to get that young small child that can be sold as an orphan.... kidnapping, coercion, abduction, even murder.... are the horrible acts, done against others, so the demand for more (young children) can be met.  This should be a growing concern, especially when one considers the strong media attention given to street-children and orphans, and the many successful people (celebrities and politicians) who have adopted, or claim they want to adopt.

While I don't criticize and condemn all who choose adoption as an ideal solution or 'calling', I will always be on the look-out for those who pretend to play the altruistic-humanitarian card, the one that reveals the sacrifice and pain that was most severe and strong was not endured by an adult, but inflicted upon a child, chosen to be an adoptee.  These players, posing as they do, are the self-serving, attention-seeking fakes and frauds that need to be removed from the adoption community.  These are the people Adoptionland does not need.... does not want.... especially if you are an adopted person adoptee.


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