Archive for February, 2009

More on the blame and entitlement stuff

Posted in Adoption on February 6, 2009 by Brad

I wanted to clarify where I am coming at this whole adoption thing from, particularly in relation to my previous post about blame, entitlement and the adoption chasm.

I did not really include birth parents from the BSE and similar (for example Suz) who were clearly given no choice. I was speaking more from my own point of view as someone who participated in a so-called voluntary adoption. I say so-called because I am not convinced that they are entirely voluntary in all cases, although it was in mine.

Certainly, birth parents need to take responsibility for their actions in creating a baby. I think exploring all their options is a form of taking responsibility. Thing is, adoption agencies have some damn good sales people.

Ever gone shopping for something, and gotten led a little astray by the salesperson? For instance, when we went to buy a stroller for our unborn baby. Once again, a parenting decision – you know, you want to get the stroller which is going to be most safe and comfortable for your baby. Do you get a full size pram which is wonderfully comfortable for your bundle of joy, but a pain in the ass to fold and put in the car, and then only gets used for 3 months until baby wants to sit up and then you have to buy a stroller anyways. And of course you also need to think about your lifestyle – do you want a zippy little 4-wheeler that you can take into the city easily, or do you want to jog through country fields with your oversize pneumatic tires? Will it fit in your trunk along with your dogs? Is it light enough to fold and carry on a bus?

So you figure out all these things, and then you walk into the store pretty sure that you just want a layback stroller which can be used from newborn until age 4, and that should set you back maybe $70. And then the sales lady sidles up. And she is so sincere, and she reads you pretty well and snickers with you at those women over there checking out the $800 pram and tells you they’ll hate it in the end, and be back for this $250 layback stroller that is exactly what you are looking for (except 3 times the price). And you say “but wait, this one here does the same thing for only $70, why is that one so expensive?”  And she tells you it is better quality and will last you several children (except it will not, unless you have a 3-4 year age gap, because it only fits one child) and that crappy one you are looking at gets brought back to the store all the time because the wheels fall off. So you buy the $250 stroller, and you think you got a good deal because you did not walk away with the $800 pram. Why? Because some sales lady gave you (a vulnerable pregnant woman) a spiel that convinced you that your child would die while crossing the street if you bought the cheaper stroller. Reality? The $70 stroller is probably just fine.

And adoption professionals likewise convince vulnerable pregnant women that their children will have terrible lives if they are not raised by this fancy couple here. They are worth $250 to your $70, your family life is unstable, what happens when the wheels fall off? You are a terrible parent if you do not do the very best for your baby, and what good parent does not want the very best for their baby?

Coercion is subtle. That stroller? My wife and I walked out of the store with a layback stroller, suitable from newborn to age 4, exactly as we planned. We were OK with the $250 price tag, because we wanted the best for our baby without going overboard and forking out $800. And yet, 16 months later, it sometimes gets stuck when we fold or unfold it. And the frame is kind of buckled because we hung grocery bags from the handles even though it said not to (seriously, who doesn’t?). So now we are no longer drinking the Maclaren kool-aid, and we are wondering if we should have just bought the Graco…

And those expectant mothers who let their babies go because they were told it was the best thing they could do for their baby, suddenly find themselves wondering if perhaps they would have been just fine as parents and maybe they just needed someone to tell them so.

Maybe the best thing you can do for your baby is buy the $70 stroller and spend the other $180 on Gymboree.

Disclaimer: Stroller comparisons are for purposes of illustration only. I still love our Maclaren, and it is in fact the stroller I walked in there planning to buy. I just made the sales lady work for it. Zoooom!