More on the blame and entitlement stuff

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!


14 Responses to “More on the blame and entitlement stuff”

  1. Brad – I understand your point and always did. I also enjoyed the Anon banter as it is individuals like Anon that provide the measuring stick/baseline to show family preservationists/activists like myself how far we have come and how far we have to go.

    I am not convinced, despite what you may say, that you were so voluntary in your own situation. I say this as one who has a sibling that was s drug addict at the time her twins were born. She was given the chance to put them into temporary foster care, get clean, see them regularly, etc. The focus was always on her getting clean AND keeping her children with her. She was never pressured or told it would be better for her to surrender her child. I am happy to report those two amazing children are part of our family today.

    What if you had been given the same chance? Would you still have given up your child?

    I dont mean to challenge your situation or be disrespectful but merely to point out that drug addicts, like you were, deserve to be helped and support just as much as single, unwed, poor, whatever mothers.

    (And I had a graco for my sons).

  2. OK, in my case the “voluntary” is a little muddied because there were two of us making the decision and the one actually carrying the baby had most of the say. So it was a slightly more complex dynamic, but the upshot was there was no coercion from adoption professionals or adoptive parents at play.

  3. Was there some from society? Were you conditioned to believe that your child deserved better than you or the mother were and as such you voluntarily pursued adoption? (Again, dont mean to tread into your personal biz using you as an example). Imagine if we lived in a world where naturals parents were preferred over strangers regardless of the natural parent status? What if we helped mothers and fathers be better parents versus convincing them to give away their child to a more deserving, stable couple?

    Furthermore, if a child’s mother does not want the child and wishes to surrender, why cannot she surrender the child to the natural father? Doesn’t he have a say too? Why should carrying the child trump the right of the father? Because society says so?

    Guh. I should get my soapbox off your blog. I know you know my position. Sorry for carrying on.

    I see in you a good guy that loves his child that could have been a very good dad had he been given the chance to do so. My sibling, despite her past problems (and even present) is a very good mother and she has amazingly great children that could have been taken/given from/by her to strangers.

  4. I just found your blog. Im very interested in reading more.

    I am not a birth mother yet but I will be in a few months so it is interesting to see the male perspective.


  5. This one is even more stupid than the car crash comparison.

  6. Why the hate lately Kim?

    Rebekah : Thank you for reading. Of course, the male perspective is best gained from your baby’s father, but I realize the circumstances there may not be conducive to conversation. I have looked at your blog a little and will try to comment there when I get my thoughts together.

    Suz, I did think about single parenting, but only briefly because I did not want to lose my relationship. An actual, tangible relationship with a person I could see trumped a relationship with the son I could not quite fathom as being real at the time. Ironically, we broke up anyways, but by then I was so drug-fucked that sole parenting would have been out of the question.

  7. I don’t hate you! I will be a bit more gentle with my words in the future.

    • Was not really looking for gentle. More like constructive. Your comment was not helpful, just spiteful. If you think my post is stupid, tell me why so that I can learn. The only thing I learn from spiteful comments is that I have less reason to respect the poster than I originally thought.

  8. I read this post again and find it to be right on. I can not relate to the agency stuff because today is the first day I will actually have my own agency. I actually never talked to anybody about adoption until I told my friends and family I was going to relinquish (which shocked the hell out of most of them). LOL So I was never made to do this, it was my choice. Anyway, I loved the post, and I think it is very insiteful.

    Thank you Brad for the comment on my blog. I was more mad at the negative commenters for being a bit snippy, but I did recognize there message behind the obvious wounded hearts.

    Have you written your adoption story out? I would love to read it and know a bit more about your situation. I get lost in peoples blogs.


  9. Thanks Rebekah.

    On the right hand side of my main blog page there is a pull-down menu that has a heading “adoption story”. I have not written out all of the story, but what I have written is there. Read from the bottom up, makes more sense that way because the oldest posts are last.

  10. in my case the “voluntary” is a little muddied because there were two of us making the decision and the one actually carrying the baby had most of the say. So it was a slightly more complex dynamic, but the upshot was there was no coercion from adoption professionals or adoptive parents at play.

    You never experienced coercion Brad? Is that true? I am wondering why you are making these posts about coercion as though you experienced it and understand what it is? If you did not experience that then why do you want to tell mothers how they should view it? And what on earth makes you think it’s not insulting to compare what happened to mothers who were coerced to buying something in a shop?

  11. And the comment above mine, I really don’t understand writing LOL after saying that someone’s family was shocked that she plans to relinquish their family member.

    Is there something wrong with me?

    Perhaps I should be laughing out loud at the idea of giving my child away and ought I compare how it felt to have my confidence undermined and to be pressured to give my daughter up to buying a stroller? No perhaps not.

    I am not a wounded heart. I am living a fabulously vibrant life, I am a happy person, happy all things considered. I am not writing this from pain or because there is something at fault with me. (just to clarify)

    I also am aware that giving away my daughter must have caused her hurt and pain. The years wondering where I was and why I didn’t keep her. I am deeply sorry that she experienced that. I really don’t think that is something to say LOL about. I never want to trivialize this Brad.

    Being coerced to give up your child is NOTHING like being talked into buying something more expensive in a shop.

    It’s NOTHING like driving a car. You do not feel like you even have a car let alone any choice in direction.

    You think you can speak for mothers but I disagree. You can speak for fathers yes. You can speak for addicts who relapse and now have a little solid clean time yes. You can speak for someone who is raising a daughter, yes but you do not have the experience to speak for mothers. Please stick to what you know.

  12. Brad,

    I am a birth mother. I gave up my son almost 16 years ago. Thank you for writing such an honest blog.

    The adoption that we entered into was an open one. I never felt coerced, but after speaking to the birth father a few weeks ago I think that maybe I just did not want to see it that way. For me, your comparison made perfect sense.

    Thank you for helping me see it through his eyes.

    Good luck,

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