Feminist lens on adoption

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3 thoughts on “Feminist lens on adoption

  1. I disagree that adoption is a feminist issue. When you say “how might an individual woman’s right to choose adoption actually exploit another woman’s lack of rights?” you’re ignoring something pretty big. Most of the time, it’s not just a woman’s choice, and it’s not just a woman’s lack of rights. Putting parenthood in the “female” column, I think, is pretty questionable from a feminist standpoint.

    Also, why is it a zero sum game? I grant that adoption in some cases can be morally questionable, as when the birth parents are still around and would keep the child if financially able to do so. In that case, they deserve that right. But what about an orphan, an abused or abandoned child? (Full disclosure: my adopted sisters fit one or more of these categories). The adopting family (NOT NECESSARILY just “woman”) isn’t exploting another family’s lack of rights. They’re giving a child a home who didn’t have one. Is the existence of the first family the reason for the second family’s poverty?

    The following: “feminists should work to remove the obstacles that render women around the globe so powerless, rather than using their situations as a reason to take their children from them” is oversimplified and in many cases inaccurate. Some adoptive parents do take children from poorer birth families. Others adopt orphans from orphanages. Nobody solves the problems of the lack of rights and resources of the birth parents by choosing not to adopt children who, if not adopted, will not magically be welcomed back into happy homes.

    I agree that feminists should work to remove obstacles that render women around the globe powerless. That’s what feminism is all about. Making feel-good, inaccurate judgments about how wealthy women are directly exploting poor ones, which conveniently absolve the men from blame?

    Not so much.

  2. Over the past year I’ve spoken with a number of Korean adult adoptees, some of whom are grateful to their adoptive parents, others who are regretful about losing their heritage because they were raised by Caucasian parents. Most experience a combination of these two emotions.

    What I find very sad is that here is a woman who understands the loss these children have experienced, and is in a position to be able to intervene in the life of a child who looks like her, and who (to some degree) shares her cultural heritage. Best of all, who understands from personal experience the loss her child has experienced. Yet she refuses to adopt, and once again it is the child who will lose.

    These children are not being stolen in the dead of night from beside their sleeping parents. They are being left at these institutions primarily by women who do not want their children to share their shame and desperation. The fact that WE do not see anything shameful about unwed motherhood does not give us the right to project those values (which have caused so much damage in our own culture) on to other countries.

    By removing fathers from the equation, as equal partners in parenthood, and denying the right of society to protect the family unit by insisting on the intrinsic link between sex and marriage, feminists are perpetuating INTERNATIONALLY the same poisonous myth that has destroyed American culture and taken the lives of 1.3 MILLION American children in the past year.

    Yes, many of these women are being exploited sexually, and are even victims of violence. These facts need to be addressed, and yet forcing children to a lifetime of institutionalized poverty is not the answer.

  3. Katie,
    Thank you for this truly excellent piece. I had never considered the feminist ramifications of adoption via this lens. The argument about this as a form of modern colonization is fascinating.
    As per the above person’s complaint that “forcing children to a lifetime of institutionalized poverty is not the answer” – well, how typical, the life of the woman/mother does not even come into the equation. Why is the refrain always “save the children” — what about the mothers of these children – it’s ok to “condemn them to poverty”?
    I am so glad to have found this fascinating article that links in intriguing ways to a piece I am working on about reproductive justice and what I call “the woman as womb paradigm.”
    Angela Davis has a great piece on reproductive justice that I think you might find interesting.
    Thanks again for the great read.

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