Blog Response: “But We Thought She Was Ours”

So, although they are often irrelevant to my adoption situation, I have the blogs from in my RSS reader, and today there was a post I wanted to react to about this international kidnapping case. You should read the whole thing here, but I quote the bit I want to talk about below:

After reading stories about Baby Richard and birth mothers changing their minds and wanting their children back, my husband and I decided to adopt internationally.  We assumed that once the adoptions were final…they were final, and we needn’t worry that one day, someone would come back and demand the return of our daughters.

First of all, I want to say I understand and respect this mother’s fear. Similar fears I have are one of the reasons that I feel totally unsuited to being a foster parent. But it seems that this couple, like so many people, chose international adoption out of fear of birth mothers.

You hear people talk about how domestic adoption used to be easier in the old days. Easier and less expensive, and while I wish this process was easier and less expensive (boy howdy, do I wish it was less expensive!), the reasons for this ease are not ones that I could ever support or knowingly benefit from. Abortion was illegal in most states. Single motherhood, and especially teen motherhood, was severely stigmatized. Women often had no choice about placing their children for adoption, and even if they did, once they placed they had no rights or agency. Adopted children also didn’t have any agency with regards to tracing their biological heritage.

And although there are still aspects of all these problems in America, things are getting better in domestic adoption. There are coercive and unethical agencies, but there’s also an understanding of the rights of a birthmother. There have been cultural changes that make it easier for women to parent their children if they want to. It seems like the reason this author chose international adoption is out of a desire for an easy adoption like the domestic ones of the past, but doesn’t recognize the reason for that security is the possible exploitation of the women who are the first mothers of her children. Either doesn’t recognize, or doesn’t care.

Not every international adoption is fraudulent, coercive, or based on kidnapping. Not even most. The story of this 6-year-old girl is heartbreaking (as is the similar story covered in The Red Market, which I recommend everyone read). I don’t know if reunification is the best thing for this child, or the most just for any of her parents. But I know I’m not willing to have a more classically certain adoption process on the back of a woman without agency.

I know that my process isn’t perfect. I’ve seen how close to falling off the edge BMA and her family are. If she weren’t poor, would she even be pregnant? Would she be willing to place a child with me? with anyone? There’s economic injustice that is an integral part of adoption, and I want to recognize that, but I hope that I’m making the best possible choices in a broken world.

I’m definitely still afraid that my eventual child will want nothing to do with me, will feel such a connection to zer biological heritage that I don’t seem like family. I’m afraid that BMA will have a change of heart and petition for custody. But I don’t think that’s likely. These are the nightmares of insecurity. And although I haven’t met her in person yet, I already feel such love and caring for BMA that I wouldn’t give this up for personal security.


One thought on “Blog Response: “But We Thought She Was Ours”

  1. “But it seems that this couple, like so many people, chose international adoption out of fear of birth mothers.”

    Amen, brother. This post is so right on. As a foster/foster-adoptive parent I am extra aware of the ways in which other forms of adoption (both domestic and international) are often chosen out of fear of first families and fear of being part of a complicated messy extended family that includes more than one set of parents. I think international adoption is particularly fraught with fraud, coercion and injustice. Love you tons.

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