18 April 2012

The "Anti-adoption" label

A while ago now I blogged this post, What does it mean to you?  regarding what anti-adoption means to me and asking what it means to others. What came out of it was rather surprising (and encouraging) as it showed there is common ground out there between the various parties in adoption and also what damage labelling does.

Recently, with all the furore over the Circle of Moms fiasco, this term has again reared its ugly head.

Before writing this post, I did some Internet research on 'anti-adoption' and what it says to the majority of people out there.

It comes as a  shock to many that there is any such thing as "anti" adoption.  My reading led me to trawl through comment after comment regarding the so called "anti-adoptionists" and what they believe, what it makes them as people, how crazy they are etc.

Reading through pages of articles, comments, blogs etc has led me to realise it really is a matter of perspective.  My own perspective has changed a lot over the years of my life.

I was not raised in a home that was "anti-adoption".  In fact, at one point my mum and dad talked about adopting a baby boy from the Philippines whilst we were living there.  I am not sure why it never came about but it didn't happen.  I recall at the time (aged 10) being rather excited about it - that was until some family friends adopted a little girl and the first lot of questions about natural mothers started rearing their head.  What happened to the mothers? Where did these children really come from?

Fast forward several years and by now I was talking about adopting when I was married.  Watching story after story on orphanages, I wanted to go and adopt as many children as I could.  It was something my best friend and I, at age 15, had spoken about several  times as we walked along dusty roads in Cairo, Egypt.  Adoption.  We were going to save the world's orphans.

Again, fast forward further and I was introduced to the realities of adoption.  How adoption has become about finding a child for couples rather than finding a home for a needy child.  I discovered what happened to many mothers - the fact we just did not matter.  We were disposable.   How far this image of adoption was to the one I had learned growing up!  Indeed, it completely changed my perspective and challenged every view I had ever held about adoption.

Not only did I learn about the way mothers were and are treated, I also learned about adoption from the perspective of those who were supposed to be at the heart of the matter: the adopted children, now adults.  To be honest, in my previously held image, it was never something that crossed my mind.  It was all about the good I could be doing for these children; I never stopped to think of the possible damage that could be done and how it might affect those children I was hoping to 'save'. 

Through the years following my daughter's loss, I have learned much from the many adoptees who have had the courage and strength to speak out.  What it means to be adopted, the fact adoptive parents are not saviours and are just the same as any other human.  That adoption does not guarantee the perfect life, that adoption is not necessarily in the child's best interests and welfare.  And I have also learned that there is so much more to my adoption experience than my own story.  That my story is not necessarily my daughter's story.

So, back to the anti adoption label.  Yes, I have used this label to describe myself.  It was used in a forum once to attack me and I thought at the time, "if the shoe fits..." and yes, I have to say given my stance on adoption, I thought it apt.

However, what I have come to understand, is that labels are unhelpful.  They are used as divisive means and are black and white in their sentiments.  People use the term "anti-adoption" to label and box anyone who does not see adoption as a positive.  Today I have read post after post and comment after comment that not only speaks about anyone anti-adoption but goes further than that to attack lifestyle, personalities, mental health etc of anyone they term as "anti-adoption".  I don't see how this helps anyone.  A person may feel one way about a particular issue but then can agree with you on many other issues.  Boxing someone and labelling them as a whole means you can miss out on connecting with someone who can actually be quite awesome.  I have learned this over the last few years and it is a lesson I treasure.

Although I don't find it easy, I spend alot of my 'blog viewing' time reading the blogs authored by those who have very contrasting views to mine - trying to understand the way they view adoption from their perspective.  Although I don't agree with a lot of what I read, I can understand, at times where some are coming from.  Because for a fleeting moment, I was there, hoping to rescue children I deemed in need of my defintion of rescue and loving them in what I deemed as the way to love them.

Adoptive parents and adopters (yes there is a difference) are not always my favourite people - I don't deny that.  But I don't see them automatically as 'evil' or 'bad'.  People are just people at the end of the day.  What defines them is their actions and their words and even then, 'good' people can do some really terrible things.

Throughout this week, during the Circle of Mom's fiasco, a lot of walls came down and there has been healthy discussion between those who are 'positive' about adoption and those who see adoption a little (well a lot really) less positive.  But then there have been those who are still sitting there throwing out the labels and boxing those who speak out against the adoption industry.  Those who do not want to hear the views or thoughts from those who have been affected by adoption in a completely negative way.  Instead, like the blog I read today and the ensuing comments, they allow themselves to be horrified at the fact there are people against adoption but they refuse to learn and be open to the why.  Indeed many of the comments on this particular blog read today were some of the most closed minded I had read yet!

Speaking out against a system does not make a person anti adoption.  Although not wishing to speak for others, my own take is those who do speak out are actually pro-reform of the current adoption system, pro family preservation where possible, against unethical and immoral adoption practises and pro putting children first.  It is how I see myself.  Yes, I am pretty much against adoption in most forms but until there is something in its stead, it is something I am willing to accept where it is necessary albeit grudgingly. 

Labels do not help anyone.  They only put up more walls.  Create situations where hurtful statements are made which in turn creates more division and mistruths.  One of adoptions biggest problems is with how people treat each other.  In fact it is the root of the issue because adoption is all about people!  The more we open ourselves up to others, regardless of our own views, and learn to listen without boxing each other, the more we can work towards a healthier system where children will hopefully be placed back in the centre.

Not saying we will all agree with each other because in adoption, there is always going to be pain, controversy and anger because, regardless of anyone's view, the fact of the matter is, adoption is about loss.  But at the very least, we can learn to respect each other and quit the labels.  Especially the anti-adoption label as it appears to be the most used and most divisive one in adoption.


  1. Yes, I have had this label flung at me too many times to count. I always come back with the fact that I am also pro-family preservation. I cannot deny that I am anti-adoption, I just can't. I hate adoption in all its forms and think that it needs to be abolished in all but extreme circumstances. I think that kinship care and legal guardianship needs to be strengthened with legislation and that above all families need to be supported so that they can raise their children. But you know all that, lol.

    The main problem that we anti-adoptionists come across is the argument that because we hate adoption, we also hate orphans and we want them to languish and die in foreign orphanages - sure, right, I am an inhuman monster, obviously. What these people can't seem to wrap their heads around is the vast divide between developed and undeveloped countries has created those orphans and going in and taking out one or ten or even a thousand of those children and taking them home to live in the land of the free is not going to solve the overall problem. Instead, they are feeding a corrupt industry and a corrupt government who will do whatever they can to maintain the status quo. If every single pap decided to donate money to aid organisations who build wells and buy chickens and goats for communities and build schools, it sure would go a long way - much further then the money they would fork out for a private school education in the USA for one child.

    What astounds me is the feigned innocence of the blogger at the top of the list on the Circle of Moms competition debacle. She and her friends (supposedly) had no idea that there was anything but adoption positivity out there. Seriously, if the people who claim to care so much about their adoptlings, "their" birthmother (ie: the woman who is giving birth to a child that they are planning to take) or the orphans who have been rescued from languishing of orphanages, it would behoove them to pull their heads out of their arses and read anything and everything they can find about adoption, especially the downsides and problems that inevitably come from it.

    Sorry Myst, I kinda got carried away and wrote my own blog post there! Love you!xxx

    1. Hey Eri,

      No need to apologise :) Luv you too!

      Great points of course Eri - I wish more would listen rather than seeing the "anti" bit and shutting up shop. If I closed my mind to every opposing blog out there then... well I would be using a few more choice adjectives at the very least lol.

  2. It comes right back to guilty conscience. If these people were to look past their own entitled noses, they would perhaps...just maybe...a little bit understand your post and others who have been labeled "anti-adoptionists", Myst. Oh, who am I kidding? Narcissism prevents them from seeing past themselves.

    I do not know of any single adoptee or first Mother who believes that children should "rot in orphanages", "left in dumpsters" or live a life of abuse. Not one.

    If they are blind to the fact that adoption does not need to be reformed, I pity them. And I DO pity them. But mostly, I pity their children.

    And the comments left on that minivan tripe were horrible. One woman said, "She would 'cut a bitch' if she heard anyone saying anything negative about adoption. WHO. SAYS. THAT??? Oh, yeah...ignorant she-beasts who know nothing about the complexities of adoption. A friend of Miss Minivan. With friends like that....well, you know the rest.


    1. Oh Linda, that blog and its comments - wow! Kinda what inspired this post. And then I decided to do a whole lot more reading and you know? I found so many more comments like this and worse - and yeah more stuff like 'those who are against adoption don't care about children being sold as sex slaves in Cambodia' - WTF??

    2. Ha! According to those comments, we are all just a bunch of crazy loons who go around and advocate for children to remain in orphanages and foster care. It's about time somebody figured us out, huh?

      Should we let them know we also all have fangs and drink blood at our yearly sacrifices? ;)

    3. Lol Cassi :) Maybe we should ;)

      Yes those comments were so accurate; sheesh, some people really have no imagingation! Its the same stuff over and over - why couldn't they come up with something new for a change?

  3. I agree with you. I have just recently been able to view other peoples perspectives with more of an open mind. It was too hard when my pain of adoption was unresolved. I don't think I am so much "anti-adoption" vs. uneccessary adoption. But a few weeks ago I would have said anti-adoption.

    1. This: "I don't think I am so much "anti-adoption" vs. uneccessary adoption." EXACTLY.

      I can not say I am anti-adoption. I just cannot. I know there are a few people who absolutely are in fact 100% anti-adoption. BUT- they are in the minority, and I don't even think they blog, lol.

      Unfortunately, there will always be a need for some type of adoption- but I only believe that should be reserved for cases where the child has NO ONE in their natural family or country of origin to care for them. Even in those cases, every step should be taken to insure the child will not be stripped of their entire identity. Gosh, I am such a monster for thinking that way.

    2. Yes, totally - unnecessary adoption - that explains it so very well.

  4. Great post, Myst!

    I've been trying to work on one from the same kind of thoughts on the anti-adoption label.

    It is used to make us look like monsters. The image is either you love and embrace adoption and save all the children or you are some kind of evil monster who dares to talk "bad" about adoption and only want children to remain in terrible situations and suffer.

    The one I always love getting accused of is wanting children to remain in abusive homes. I used to take the time to explain just how ridiculous that one was to me considering my oldest son's experience, but nowadays I've learned that it isn't even worth my time since they aren't going to listen anyhow.

    I've never claimed I was anti-adoption but I get that label thrown at me constantly. They always seem to miss what I do say I am - a believer in adoption reform and family preservation and a firm supporter of adoptee rights.

    But those labels, of course, don't make me look like some evil monster and don't serve the purpose of those who just want our blogs to go away and our voices to be silenced.

    1. "It is used to make us look like monsters. The image is either you love and embrace adoption and save all the children or you are some kind of evil monster who dares to talk "bad" about adoption and only want children to remain in terrible situations and suffer."

      Word. And I think this is where the term has actually taken on new meanings. Anti-adoption really just means against adoption and yet in the world of turn-everything-inside-out-and-upside-down, the meaning is again twisted and manipulated into meaning so much more and thus becomes something it really isn't.

      If they can label people with this new inflated version of "anti" adoption, then they dismiss what we have to say and hey, if we are monsters, then that gives them the right to treat us an inhumanely as they do, right? It is all truly ridiculous.

      As you say you never claimed that label and yet have that thrown at you... well, that is why I claimed it in the end as a way to say, alright, so I am, what about it? No, it hasn't been helpful as I have learned however I kind of don't care how people label me because I have learned, the labels are about those doing the labelling - its not about us and our beliefs. It is so they can feel better about how they treat us and how they picture us in their mind so all the uncomfortable things we say can be ignored and thrown away.

      Why else would they accuse us of preposterous things like trying to keep children with abusers etc? So they can keep their bubble in tact - the whole them vs us. If they makes us out to be the evil we are in their heads, then they can dismiss and mock what we say without feeling bad.

      And yes, the truth of what we are about - adoption reform, supporter of adoptee rights etc, well, as you say, those things don't bring out the monsters we supposedly are and therefore they choose to be deaf to those things. Otherwise what we say is valid and they can't have truth and validity from us now can they!

  5. I remember the first time, you, Myst, commented on my family blog on an adoption post. I had remembered you from other blogs, and I was so nervous to read your comment because I was (at the time) a hopeful adoptive parent still in the adoption fog. You corrected some of my language, and I remember thinking "It's not as bad as it could have been." I realized you were trying to educate me, not put me down or my beliefs, although we differ on several points.

    "One of adoptions biggest problems is with how people treat each other. In fact it is the root of the issue because adoption is all about people!"

    When a person comments on our blog, we take it personally, we just do because it's our personal blog. The entire reason I've avoided commenting so much on adoption-based blogs is that so many people get too personal. Instead of respecting comments as viewpoints and opinions and sharing our opposing viewpoints respectfully, human decency flies out the window, and comments turn vicious.

  6. I also have to say that I got sucked into the "anti-adoption" labeling. Not that I was labeled that, but that I lumped a group of people there. I have since learned that while there is an anti-adoption group, most of those people who blog are pro-reform. Seriously, it has taken me a good five years on my adoption journey as a hopeful adoptive parent and then adoptive parent to figure it out. I just had to step outside of my own bubble and look. We see what we want.

    Thank you for writing your perspectives even with the labels because for some of us, it takes a long time to come around.

    1. Hi June Bug :),

      Thank you for your comment(s)

      I am so sorry, I don't recall my comment to you and I apologise if I was rather brash as I know over the years I have not been easy on adoptive parents and adopters.

      Yes, I agree with you, when people comment on our blogs or write posts which feel like an attack (in general, not meaning you have) it is easy to take things personally and then the response comes from defense perspective. I know because I am guilty of this.

      I also get what you mean by commenting on adoption blogs. They can be difficult... at times it can feel as if though one is wading into a lion's den... which in turn only makes one more defensive (well I know this about myself anyway).

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I do appreciate it because I know I have made it very hard for people to approach me based on my previous behaviour/comments around the blogosphere. I am learning.

  7. What would you like to see happen with adoption? I admit, I used to believe the "adoption is wonderful" spiel. I even used to volunteer at an "abortion alternative" clinic. While I don't believe I actively encouraged adoption, I know I mentioned it to some of the clients. I didn't realize the "soft coercion" that went on there. I never knew that when a child is adopted, they issue an altered birth certificate. Why can't they keep the obc, and issue an adoption certificate? Why don't kinship care
    families get reimbursed like other foster families? In
    cases of abuse, I can see taking a child from the
    parents, but why not place with other family members?
    (assuming they are safe people) What about international adoption? How do you know if a child is an orphan, and not trafficked? What can we do to encourage reform, or atone for our own involvement in the industry?

    1. Very good question Kristina.

      My own desire (because I can only speak for myself) would be to see adoption replaced by something more child centric. Adoption has always been about adults - its very foundation is built on the Roman and other ancient forms of adoption which were solely to benefit adults.

      There needs to be so much done to overhaul social services in all western cultures. Right now, there is a knee jerk reaction and kids are taken from homes they shouldn't be, left in homes where they should be removed and adoption is encouraged as the be all and end all of solutions.

      You raise some great points in your comment - regarding kinship care and encouraging family members to step in for cases of abuse... I have always wondered why this has not been encouraged more.

      If adoption is to stay, and in a few cases it is a good option, then it should be used for children who have no one and no chance of a family unless they are adopted. Having said that, it would still need to be reformed to include the child's past into their present situation.

      Thank you for your comment and questions - sorry if I haven't really answered them here - its late at night and I am half asleep but I saw your comment and wanted to answer! Thanks again :)

  8. I'm asking because I never really thought about the "other side" of adoption. I'm currently the legal guardian to my 8 year old nephew. My sister is very ill, and unable to care for him. Right now they both live with me (I'm a hospice nurse). The idea was that I would adopt joey when my sister passes away, but I don't want her to not be Joey's mother on his birth certificate. I'm auntie Kay who loves him, but not his mommy. But I want him to have all the same rights, inheritance and such (not that there's anything to inherit) as my daughter, even after he is 18. I hate to see anyone's rights trampled, but now it's personal! I have a huge house. Someday I'd love to have a home for young moms who just need a safe place to sort through their options with no pressure. Like the way "maternity homes" were supposed to be before the BSE, with parenting classes, and supportive, non biased counseling. Boy, do I live in a dream world!

    1. I don't think you live in a dream world Kristina, more a world which respects and upholds relationships as they should. We can all only hope for that.

      Right now, unfortunately, adoption is the only way to solidify all those things you want for Joey. But I am sure if you did adopt him, you would always be open and let him know who his mother was (if she passed away). Many of the laws adoption have were set up for orphans who had no one and when you look at it from that perspective, it holds much value. Its just in the way it is practised today where it abuses so many human rights and separates families that do not need to be separated that we have the issues we have with it.

      I like your ideas and can see you are a very compassionate and empathetic person. Thank you for your comments.

    2. What people don't realize is that a system like that benefits adoptive parents too. Any adoptive parent will tell you their biggest fear is that the first mother will change her mind. That's why they can feel threatened by a relationship between the child and their first parent, adoptions close, and people get hurt. The child most of all. I'm sure some women do wish to place their child for adoption. That's their choice. If the first mother made a true choice to place without coercion, she would be at peace with her decision, and she would be no threat. Then true openness could exist. This benefits everyone.

  9. I really think that unless you've been on EITHER side of adoption (obviously then this is not directed at the author of this blog), one should not HAVE a position on adoption because you have NO idea what it means until you're IN IT. My brother was adopted at 6 weeks old. His birth mother was 15 years old and had dreams of going to medical school someday. Is there anyone who's REALLY going to take a stance and say adoption was horrible and wrong in this case? My brother, now almost 27 with an MBA and one of the best men I know, says all the time that us adopting him was one of the greatest gifts he'll ever receive in his life because of the life my parents were able to provide for him, and how safe and loved he has felt all his life.

    There is no "screwed up" adult here in my brother, no "kid with issues." From the time he was 4, my parents were open about his adoption and how amazingly grateful they were to his birth mom for performing such a selfless act at such a young age. To this day, my parents both become very emotional when talking about the day they got "the call" that there was a little boy waiting for them, that they were going to be blessed with another child. My father, who I've seen cry all of 2 times in my entire 31 years, still can't talk about the day he held his son for the first time without choking up.

    Is adoption right in EVERY case? Cerainly not. Is it WRONG in every case? Again, certainly not.

    I begin the way I ended....unless you've been on either side of the adoption process, your OPINION really holds no weight, as you can't accurately and fully speak to something you've never been a part of.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your comment. Just wanted to ask if you are adopted? Have you lost your child to adoption?

      I ask because you frame your comment with a direction no one should have a position on adoption unless they have experienced it. I agree with that to a point but hey, we all have opinions about something whether we have experienced it or not. And if you are not adopted yourself, well then your comment applies to your own opinion does it not? Because your adopted brother's story is his and not anyone else's and no one can speak for him - even if what you are saying is true and I have no reason to think it isn't - it is still his and his alone.

  10. The reality is, that these days many women make the choice to give their baby away. Not all of them are teenagers, either. My friends adopted from a woman who was 36 years old and had three other children, and was married.Right or wrong, that was her choice. She also actively searched for adoptive parents for the child, and found them.

  11. Hello Ladies,

    My name is Wes and I guess I'm the face of your enemy. :) I find it remarkable that many of you "dislike adoption" for the alternative kinship process, yet dont mention that kinship is always the first option for any child care court and DHS. Its often the case that the problems that effect the Bio-mom also run deeper into her and the fathers families drugs, prison, mental issues, ect... thus making kinship just as bad as the bio-moms care for the children.

    I have both of my children from the DHS adoption process and I couldnt be more PRO-adoption. Our adoption is closed and honestly I had no contempt for bio-mom until my son and daughter began to speak about the severe lack of care and abuse they experianced by bio-mom and then the kinship placement.

    While I respect your veiws and support your right to have them, I feel its my duty to point out the echo chamber like futility of the anti-adoption argument and put forth this question; "Are you anti-adoption because of the recent growth of the adoptive father movement?"

    I look forward to any discussion.

    Thank you,

  12. Hi Wes,

    I am not sure you caught the gist of this post you are commenting on given your somewhat inflammatory comment.

    A couple of things; you are lumping all adoption into the small category where you have been involved and thus you remain uneducated about the realities of adoption as a whole and the exploitation and human rights abuses perpetuated by this system.

    Of course you are pro-adoption - you are an adopter. It takes courageous and brave adoptive parents to face the truth about adoption and I know only a handful - the rest just want they want at any expense. Very typical in adoption.

    Your last paragraph had me in stitches. One, there is no "anti-adoption" movement so not sure what you are on about and two, those involved in adoption reform couldn't really care less about the role of adoptive 'fathers' as opposed to adoptive 'mothers'. They are both tarred with the same brush. And I have noticed no recent 'adoptive' father 'movement' so again, I can't really comment on that as I would need to have seen some evidence. Not sure you will get much discussion here as this is an older post but thanks for the comment all the same.

  13. If by "Adoptive Father Movement" you mean men like Dr. John Raible and Dr. Bert Ballard, then I am the "Adoptive Father Movement's" biggest fan! ;-)


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