Monday, February 24, 2014

The Pain A Shortcut Can Cause

Honestly, I meant to start this whole 7-Posts-In-7-Days thing off on a light-hearted, fun note, so as not to scare off any new readers appearing. (If you're new: Hi! Thanks for dropping by! I promise that I'm not always so cranky. Really, come back tomorrow and check out my quirky sense of humor.) But then I read something that got my blood boiling; and if there's one thing you've probably figured out about me by now, it's that I tend to be rather opinionated. So instead of beginning this week with Party Planning 302: Hosting while TTC (which should be tomorrow's post), I'm writing about shortcuts.

What I'm talking about aren't physical shortcuts, but verbal shortcuts. In this case, the one that bothered me is essentially "adoption is a bad thing." In a longer form, it is said as "adoption begins out of loss and tragedy."  Here's the thing: what most people mean isn't that adoption itself is bad or that being adopted is tragedy. What they are really trying to say is that the circumstances that lead to a child being available for adoption are bad and a tragedy. Is it horrible when a child's parents die? Indubitably! Are addiction and child abuse horrible, terrible things? Unquestionably! Is it good when a woman conceives who for financial, emotional, or other reasons is unable to raise her child? Absolutely not! The "bad thing," the tragedy appears upstream of the adoption. It is the parents' death or other inability to raise their biological child that is a loss. That child loses little further, and may gain tremendously, if he or she is adopted instead of being raised in an orphanage or other institution. (If the adoption is kept hidden or the child is raised in ignorance of his or her cultural heritage, then yes, there is a loss. However, both of those are becoming increasingly rare amongst adoptive families.) Some research has suggested that the child can experience more harm being raised in an institution rather than a loving family; granted, with improvements in the care offered by orphanages, there is likely less harm. 

Is adoption perfect? No. Is adoption ideal? No. But people, please let's remember that we don't live in a perfect or ideal world. We live in a fallen, broken world, full of sin, disease, and suffering, and all we can do is to make the best of it. If we lived in an ideal world, there would be no divorce, no abortion, and everyone who was well prepared and wanted to be parents would be able to conceive.

I would argue that taking that verbal shortcut and saying "adoption is a bad thing" causes problems and pain itself. It easily begs the question "If adoption is a bad thing, why should I do it?" Don't most of us struggle to be good people and do good things? Many people who adopt do so both because they want to be parents and because they think they can offer a child a loving home. If you tell them that adoption is selfish, solely focused on meeting their desire to be parents, and that it is a tragedy, then they may become less likely to adopt. I'm quite sure that most prospective adoptive parents could come up with a long list of other things they could do with that $15,000 to $60,000. Deciding to and committing to adopting is hard enough without a shortcut making it more difficult and painful. So let's pay a little closer attention to why we're trying to say and be cautious taking (verbal) shortcuts!


  1. Agreed! There are way to many things that we say that have implications far beyond what we typically imagine and it matters.

  2. Have people actually said this to you?? I can't say I've ever heard it. What a bizarre and short-sighted thing to say.

    1. The first class we attended to be certified to adopt through Catholic Charities in Pittsburgh was all about how adoption come from tragedy and loss, and everyone involved should go through extensive counseling. It was so bad and frustrating that at the end I asked the social workers presenting "If adoption is such a bad thing, why do it?" It was interesting listen to them back peddle furiously.

  3. Amen! Thank you for saying this. And I can't believe someone said that to you!! Though I do think pressing them with that question and them making them back peddle was so awesomely sassy of you. Ha! Go you!!