Written by Joanne Bamberger for Babble.com
As a mother by adoption, nothing gets my ire up more than sensational and judgmental stories about families formed by adoption. When it comes to having children, our society -- mostly goaded on by many in the media -- often criticize or question families who decide not to use assisted reproductive technology, suggesting that we are somehow less altruistic than families with biological children. The underlying and unspoken suggestion is that our families are too different from everyone else's to be "real." And that children who are born to families the old fashioned way are more coveted.
Yes, that is an over-generalization, but there is a whole heck of a lot of truth in it. The latest adoption sensation is about a couple who's been described as "desperate" by one major news outlet because they turned to Craigslist in a search for a birth mother. When I read about it, my first thought was, "Don't get me started again!" And here's why.
While at first blush that sounds extreme, it really isn't given our social media age. When my husband and I realized we weren't going to go too far down the fertility path, there was no Facebook or Twitter or Craigslist. Heck, there was hardly even E-mail! But one of the common, and recommended, methods for searching for birth mothers who wanted to make an adoption plan for their child was to place ads in local newspapers.
You heard me. And that's what we did for a while, as we navigated adoption agencies and whether domestic adoption was possible for us. Ultimately, for a variety of personal reasons, we chose international adoption and decided China was the best place for us to pursue adding a child to our family.
So it is not shocking to me in the least that in our time of social media inter-connectedness, some couples would use the 2012 version of a classified to search for a birth mother.
I hate to break it to those who are judging, but this has been going on since children have been placed for adoption -- Craigslist is just a new avenue. And, I have to add, it's a whole lot better than the placement story of our daughter who we adopted from China -- she was found lying on the sidewalk outside a bus station and across the street from a hospital, probably not far from the fruit vendor we saw on that same street when we took our first trip back with our daughter when she was in fourth grade.
The reports surrounding this story suggest that there is too much of a risk in using online tools to pursue adoption. And of course there are risks, but the adoption process is full of risks. Just as giving birth to a child is, as well. Adoptions fall through all the time because a birth mother changes her mind, because criteria evolve depending on whether an adoption is domestic or international, and, yes, even before the days of the internet, adoptions fell through because some people weren't honest in their dealings.
But none of that has anything to do with people searching for each other through Craigslist or Facebook or through a classified ad in a newspaper. There is nothing sensational in this story other than the fact that the topic of adoption, yet again, is being portrayed as something bizarre and unnatural.
And as you can probably guess, I don't find anything unnatural about my family.
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