Adoption is 90% marketing and 10% substance
As a marketing professional, I look at life a lot differently than most. An example might be the "American Dream" and how it influences our society. I consider "The American Dream" nothing but a great way for commodity brokers, who control all of the distribution and products to the masses, to get richer. Whether or not anyone planned it out as one great big conspiracy isn't relevant. Think what you want on that one.
In short, The American Dream is a joke for almost everyone that buys into it. It's simply marketing. It's a way to get you to commit the rest of your life's earnings to building something that most likely will end up in the tax accounts of the state and federal governments or insurance companies to pay for your long term health care. It starts with buying and owning a home. It continues with a pretty little picket fence and a dog and cat and 2.2 kids. And then there's the insurance, the upkeep and the improvements. The cleaners, the homecare products, the baby products, the lawncare products, the carcare products and so on and so on. Then there's the property taxes to pay for the (mostly subpar public) school systems, the overpriced police and fire services. Add to this the high cost of utilities. And I haven't even mentioned the big push for sending your kids to the "best" colleges. If one has any fiscal responsibility whatsoever, they step back and gasp at how much it costs to maintain this lifestyle. If you have any accounting aptitude, you know that the only way to get there is dual incomes and lots of credit! Now let's say your parents are fairly wealthy and did a good job and they have a fair amount of wealth and own their home. Do you think you'll ever see anything - NOT! The tax laws (capital gains) keep us from liquidating any of the investments we make in the home until we're 65+. If you're a kid, you'll be 50 years old when your parents move on when and if you ever see anything. You've already raised your family and kids and looking to retire. With the high cost of care once one reaches 65, the chances of any of this going to an inheritance are slim to none as most of it will go to care for your parents in their old age, especially if they have no pension or retirement (of which the majority today do not).
Adoption is much the same way. It's a big one-time sale and then everyone disappears. They don't tell you about the fallout. The social worker moves on (the average life of a social worker in a state system is 6 months). The lawyer retires, there is little to no support from the agency as they have no reason to talk to you any more because they've already got all your money. One home visit after all is consummated and you're on your own as an adoptive parent and the children are on their own. The whole system is about placing children and that's it! Yes there are some service providers such as counselors and therapists who do their best to serve the adoption community, but that's only of recent. No one warns parents of the extra time and effort above and beyond your investment in living the American Dream that adoption requires.
The public is ignorant and the marketers take advantage of it. Adoption is marketed and the naiive are burned. The marketing is all about money but is disguised as "humanitarianism, charity, last chance parenting (infertility usually first), pity, sympathy, etc. Some of the targets are the barren couple, the humanitarian or the wealthy do-gooder that's going to make the life of a "needy" child a dream. The public knows almost nothing about the cause and effect of adoption to our society. One of those is the fact that there are over 500,000 kids in the foster care system all locked up in foster homes and group homes. There are millions of kids who are touched by adoption either by private, state or international means. The number of children adopted who live a "normal" life in my estimation is 0. That's right - ZERO!
Some of the fallout goes like this. Let's say you're an adoptive parent and someone notices that your kids must be adopted. Most people just smile or stare and turn away. But for those who attempt to be friendly, the naivete comes out ugly. The inquiries that come from the public range from the naiive to utterly stupid. The responses of the ignorant with a humanitarian view of adoption go something like this:
"Your kids are so lucky to have you"
"You're so lucky you have such great parents"
The responses of the naiive go something like this:
"What it must be like to be chosen"
"Are those your kids?"
As an adoptive parent, I hear all of the responses. (But don't forget, I was an adoptee.) My twin 4 year olds are not the same ethnicity as my wife and I, and therefore adoption is conspicuous and obvious.
When I took my boys to see my Afather for the first time - he was nearly 80 years old and not in the greatest of shape. But he had his wits. His wife, (not my Amom as my Adad left when I was 10, only 5 years after the adoption) on the other hand is one of the dumbest blondes I have ever known. The first words out of her mouth were "They're darker than I expected". If you have a response to that, please comment, I'd love to hear! I was speechless. This is clearly the case of someone wanting to try and say something applicable and making an absolute ass of themselves.
The "lucky" response is the ignorant thinking that adoption is all about privilege being granted to the "needy".
The "chosen" word is simply a marketing ploy used in the 50s and 60s and sets people up to be ridiculed and separated and isolated by their peers, parents and adoptees. The agencies and the social services proliferate the words without having to pay for the backlash themselves. My parents told me how I was "chosen" and that other parents were simply "stuck" with what they had. Think about the backdraft when a 4 year old repeats these words amongst their peers in kindergarten. Even if they don't know how to respond, the peers take this home and tell their parents and separation sweeps through the Aparents peer groups.
In the Boston area, there's a program referred to as "Wednesday's Child" sponsored by a TV station and an anchor named Jack Williams. I appreciate his intent but his method is abominable. For 25 years, he has paraded "hard-to-place" children on the evening news in an effort to find someone who will adopt them. Parading children, adoption parties and the like simply drives kids to perform to be accepted. The damage is irreparable. The hurt can be irreversible. One never hears about the "placements gone bad" from a program such as Wednesday's Child. But trust me, there are more bad situations than there are good ones in adoption.
Adoption cannot be treated with money as the motive. Adoption needs attention after the placement, far more than the placement itself. You cannot market people. It's a form of slavery. As an adoptee, you know that you're a person and not a commodity. As adoptees, we need to continue to speak up to make known what needs to change. Parents need to be screened by competent counselors and not by social workers who are quitting their jobs tomorrow. Agencies need to be regulated and held at bay as they simply love the unregulated manner in which they can take advantage of rich barren couples who want a family to put on their mantle. As Bill Cosby says "If you know a young woman who wants a baby to love her back - duct tape her to the door and buy her a puppy!". We need to do this with some of the people who are adopting. As for the agencies, especially those who deal in domestic infant adoptions and international infant adoptions, they need a governing body with some teeth. There isn't anything in place and the slimiest of people hide inside these agencies. They are no better than con men. Adoptees need to rally together and teach adoptive parents what it's like to be rejected and then thrown into a completely foreign culture and expected to adapt overnight without any fallout. Adoptees need to become the counselors. When you're the recipient of the abuse, you know the cure. When you're looking in from the outside, you haven't a clue. Adoptees need to band together and go to the legislatures in force and tell their stories. The representatives and senators are there to serve us. I know that seems ludicrous, but trust me, you walk into their face, they have to listen. Walk into their face with a band of adoptees and they'll make change happen. Every state's records should be open. As an adoptee and an adoptive parent having experienced reunion and been adopted by an adoptee who experienced reunion, I don't believe in protecting the birth parent in anonymity. We deserve the right to seek them out and have our piece of the puzzle filled in! If they want to be left alone after that, then that's totally understandable and should be honored.
As adoptees, we have all the harnessed power of a nuclear revolution to bring adoption out of a place of shame and naiivete and into the light where people can see it for the positive thing we can make of it. We harness the power, so let's make things better for those who will follow. Adoption has touched us, now let's touch it back!
There is a charity committed to educating people on the many issues around adoption - the Evan B. Donaldson Institute on Adoption. I am well acquainted with the executive director, Adam Pertman. Adam has devoted his life to simply educating the community on adoption. He's an adoptive parent and a sweet individual. He is a Pulitzer Prize nominee on his writings on adoption. Adam comes from the adoptive parent side and sees the many injustices close up and personal as a father of two adopted children. Adam is an example of people standing up an doing something about adoption!