The Tunnel of Love

“They get some of the best babies there!”

–Doris Day, The Tunnel of Love

I imagine—because I can only imagine—that choosing an adoption agency is is difficult. I’ve seen some unbelievably aggressive marketing (“Bring me home today!” over a picture of a baby, and similarly nauseating ads), and know that most people find their options limited by their religion, their sexual orientation, their location, and/or their ethics.

There’s this Doris Day adoption movie I saw awhile back, and it’s pretty ghastly (I say this as someone who likes Pillow Talk and The Glass Bottom Boat, albeit from a feminist/cultural anthropologist perspective); Doris and her husband can’t have a baby, so they decide that adopting will help them get pregnant. (Spoiler alert: it does.) Most of the film’s plot revolves around Doris’s husband, Richard Widmark, believing that he has slept with their social worker and is in fact the natural father of the baby they adopt. Hilarious! The movie is pretty hideous, if you’re a triad member or sympathizer, and I watched it with the same grim interest that I felt when watching Penny Serenade or The Bigamist.

Obviously, Doris and Richard weren’t too worked up about adoption ethics; they have the excuse of (1) living in a bygone age and (2) being fictional characters. But for real people in the here and now—oh, let me just spit it out.

When I was matched with Ruth and Nora, they were working with Agency A (for Adequate) and I was working with Agency B (for Bad). Agency A was not licensed in my state, so they worked with both agencies while I was stuck with Agency B. We’ve talked over the past couple of years about Agency B’s ethical shortcomings: they lied to me and to Ruth and Nora; they wanted me not to put Mr. Book on the birth certificate; they told Ruth and Nora that I was receiving counseling, when in truth I was not. With all of this sort of vaguely in mind, I asked Ruth and Nora whether they would be open to working with another agency in the same way in this time around. They said yes, absolutely; I heard, “Getting another baby is more important to us than ethics.”

I am sure that Ruth and Nora are thinking about their conclusion differently than I am, but I’m upset. Would they still feel the same way if I told them about regretting the adoption? I think that they would, but of course I can’t  know. They couched it in fairly sweet terms: “That process brought us Cricket, and we would never wish that he hadn’t come to us!” but I know adoptive parents who feel that way about their kids and are able to hope for a better process the second time around, stipulating that there could never in the world be a better child. Ruth mentioned that they hope to adopt exclusively through Agency A, but framed this in terms of convenience. I had no idea of what to say.

“It’s a perfectly natural thing to want your own child.”

Richard Widmark, The Tunnel of Love

Nora told me earlier this year that they think of the money they pay to the agency as a charitable donation. I don’t. I don’t think that they have an obligation to take their $30,000 and give it to women who would otherwise have placed for adoption—they want to parent, they are paying for the privilege, and I think I understand that. But it isn’t a charitable donation any more than adopting a child is a charitable act. You adopt a child (I hope to God) because you want to parent that child; you pay the fees because you want parent that child.

We seem very much at odds recently, my son’s moms and I.

Smash the Machine, Win a Prize

This is an angry post; I emailed a friend ranting about this, because I didn’t know whether it was appropriate to talk about it on the blog, but it’s my blog and I don’t want to have places I’m afraid to go herein. In my mind, that’s just a short distance from putting up ads for adoption agencies, and then the inevitable blog death.

There are some obvious problems with the adoption forum I read; recently they’ve started advertising for Sixteen and Pregnant (which I’m comfortable dismissing as exploitative and awful without ever having seen it) in the birthparent sections, for one. And then there was a thread titled “Birthmom is pg again…don’t know what to think,” and I read that and felt rage.  The OP’s child’s birthmother is experiencing a crisis pregnancy six months after the birth of the placed child, and called the adoption attorney who handled that adoption, asking the attorney for options and also asking her not to tell the OP. The attorney’s next call was to the OP, to let her know about the pregnancy/opportunity. Some birth/first mothers did jump in to point at that, wow, this wasn’t the most ethical of moves, and to her credit, the OP agreed (even if she then continued to work with the attorney and benefit from those unethical actions). And then most of the thread just made me want to pick up a hammer and go smash things. Here is my very favorite reply (I’ve cleaned up the grammar but otherwise left it intact):

I haven’t been through this, but I would feel the same as you. I mean, why has she not asked you?? Seriously, wouldn’t she want her bio children being raised together?? I assume my DS’s bmom would ask us first. I would probably say no. I hope to God I am never put in that position but still.

This one charms me at every turn. “How could she not ask me so that I could turn her down and then complain about the position she’d put me in?! God, how selfish of her to not make her crisis pregnancy about me.” —That last, in fact, was an uncomfortably common sentiment. And if this expectant mom who’s made an adoption plan in the past thought that biological ties were the most important thing, you, adoptive mother, wouldn’t be parenting her child, so maybe ease off a little on that particular self-interested point.

One poster mentioned that she’d been in a similar situation, and that she’d gone ahead and asked for the baby, and although her child’s birthmother is now unfortunately parenting this baby, amom has made it clear (to the parenting biological mother) that she’d be happy to take the baby at any time. But don’t worry, this thread has a happy ending: the OP decided to ask for the baby, and the expectant mom has agreed to place with her! Everyone The adoptive parent wins!

You know me, I have nothing against adoptive parents; I know some lovely ones, groovy and ethical people. But they aren’t the adoptive parents on these forums, saying “Wow, I hope she changes her mind and lets you adopt this baby.” It makes total sense to me that the OP would want to adopt the upcoming child under these circumstances, but the sense of entitlement they display makes me want to reach through the screen and shake people. Of course this is all more intense for me because I am in a position similar to that of the birthmom in the original post, and the wicked birthmother who parented—but I don’t think that Ruth and Nora get a vote as to what happens to this child, whether I were to parent, place him or her with another adoptive family, have an abortion,  let my family raise him or her, or send the kid to space to be parented by invisible lizards. They don’t have any claim on the little bird, and the fact that some adoptive parents seem to feel such a claim enrages me.