Since everyone is so sad, should I just not adopt?

I can’t have children and have never wanted to have my own children. I have always wanted to save a child from a bad country where they would not have a good life. Why is that so bad? Would the people out there who were adopted prefer to have lived a bad life? Just curious not attacking anyone b/c I have not been in this situation.

6 thoughts on “Since everyone is so sad, should I just not adopt?

  1. You know, I find all your sentiments lovely and your exploration of a deeper understanding wonderful.

    However, the desire to save is often misguided. There is too much left to interpretation of what is a “good” and a “bad” life. There is too much cultural stereotyping that goes on about other nations and what is backwards or progressive. There is too much propaganda over what an adoption from one of these countries can accomplish, and there is too little acknowledgment that the person adopting might be gaining more than the person they’re adopting.

    Have you traveled much? Have you stayed in a rural setting and gotten to know people in a third world country? You will find incredibly intelligent people with amazing potential working to improve their communities, even if there is no sewer system and lack of reliable water. You will find huge extended families and parents breaking their backs to give their children the best they can possibly give them. Even in war torn countries, you will find siblings fighting to stay together and separated families achieving the impossible to find one another. You will find that when you are poor, sometimes all you’ve got in the world is your flesh and blood. You will see the rich heritage and the common traditions and the love among the strife. In many places these backwards places have a much richer life than our own. And in many places their lives are oppressed because big consuming world powers influence , fuel unrest, and capitalize on local weaknesses. Further destabilizing families and communities by introducing the hungry adoption market aids in undermining these cultures, not helping them.

    More than anyplace else, adoption in third world countries is often a permanent catastrophe based upon a temporary setback. Many orphanages are staging points while families pull their lives together, and when the parents accomplish this and return, they find their children are gone forever. And in other countries distracted by more pressing basic needs, children are stolen and placed in orphanages for profit to fill the huge western appetite. Until you investigate all the very real ethical violations that occur in these countries as adoption is being established as an institution and sometimes even after it is regulated, you will think of saving children from a horrible fate a wonderful option. But when you look closer, you will find grieving parents and extended families. Adoption often contributes to as much sadness and heartache over time as it does help. And to what end? For the price of one western adoption, that money could save several entire families in some countries. For the price of one adoption, whole communities could have clean drinking water and school supplies or the beginnings of a sewer system or…

    Being saved is what brought me to America. I have decent clothes and food and shelter. But I have been severed from my culture and isolated by the color of my skin. So on top of the impact of adoption in the source country, there is also the experience of being raised transracial, of being a minority in a different culture composed primarily of people you don’t resemble at all. Adoption is a very VERY complicated issue on its own. Then add on top of it being intercountry and transracial, and what you have left is an incredibly confusing path for a child to maneuver through. Yes it can be done. But is it really the best option? I don’t think so.

    Please read this previous Y!A I answered.

    I really do hope you and others explore DEEPLY what the impact of your decisions mean and choose to find more effective ways to “save” the planet. There are less radical ways to save children than to surgically remove them from their homelands and place them in an alien landscape, where people speak a different language, where they can not initially communicate or express themselves, and where they are entirely dependent on the very same people (strangers) who removed them from all they knew and loved.

    I hope I’ve been of some help.



    About this movie…


    There are far too many of these documentaries existing on trafficking and corruption and conditions of international adoption. China, Cambodia,different African countries, India… And, there aren’t enough of these documentaries getting airplay.

    • I don’t think one could emphasize enough: for all the desire to “save a child,” the money spent on adoption could radically alter the quality of life for EVERYONE in some villages.

  2. “Would the people out there who were adopted prefer to have lived a bad life?”

    This question is similar to the question “Would the people out there who were adopted prefer to have lived in an orphanage?” It is biased. Such question is usually asked to the adoptees in order to get only the answer “NO”. What normal person would want to have a bad life? What normal person wouldn’t imagine an awful orphanage on hearing the word orphanage? How can a person give a valid answer to such question from a hypothetical life versus the life he/she has lived, unless he/she is well informed about the issues of international adoption as the commenter above? However,
    I’ll set aside for a moment the child trafficking or corruption involved in international adoption.

    For many people, life of poverty means “bad life”, a poor country means “bad country”. If that’s what it means for you too, you would have wanted to adopt (save) me or one of the children from my neighbourhood.

    I was once a child living a poor country. The country was so poor then that most families lived in one multifunctional room houses, without the modern conveniences known in the western countries.

    Most people believe that happiness is not possible in poverty, and yet my fondest/happiest memories date back to that time. My universe was then my neighborhood and my family. There was everything a child needed to be happy: foods, cloths, a home, and family. Being the youngest of four, I was cherished by my family. I certainly didn’t need to be adopted.

    I also lived in an extreme poverty after my mother’s death. My family’s situation deteriorated to the point that we once searched in dumping ground for plastics to sell. Comparing other families to mine, every family seemed richer than mine. I even became envious of one girl whose family was the richest in the neighborhood, but my envy didn’t last long. When I learned that the rich girl was adopted, my heart ached for her. Thinking that she had lost her real parents, I tried to imagine my life without my family, with another rich family, and I hoped such thing would never happened to me.

    Poor or rich, children want to be with their parents. I wanted to stay with my family, but ironically, I was adopted two years later because people wanted to save me. I certainly needed to be “saved” from the poverty, but I certainly didn’t needed to be adopted.

    Also, once I got adopted (saved, according to people), I wasn’t happier for having a “good life” provided by my adoptive parents. There, in the “bad country”, I could be happy for hours and days after receiving one cookie. Here, in the “good country”, I became blasé as I could get as many cookies I wanted. There, living a “bad life”, I was content with many little things of life. Here, living a “good life”, I always wanted something else that was in fashion, and once I got that thing, I wasn’t content. There, in my “bad family”, I’ve never had a problem of self-esteem. Here, in my “good family”, I hated my whole body as I wanted to look like mommy and daddy…. Add to that, after I got adopted, the whole society expected me to be happy and grateful for being adopted (or saved). It’s not easy for a child to live as being “saved”, it’s too much a large debt for a child. And no matter how good is a new family, losing an original family, language and country are huge losses.

    So, your interpretation of the words “bad” and “good” can be different of someone’e else. What you qualify of bad isn’t necessarily bad for a child, and what you qualify as good isn’t necessarily good for a child either.

    Maybe, what you mean is that you want to adopt the true orphans, the abandoned children, those living in awful orphanages.

    I also lived in two orphanges. To be honest, I wouldn’t want anyone to live in an orphanage such as the first where I lived. But, it is possible to save them from such life, by helping their parents. All my fellow orphans were actually not orphans: most of them , abandoned or not, were there du to poverty; some were there because they were delinquent; some were lost; some parents were convinced to leave their children there (probably because it was a source of income for the orphanage).

    I also believe that building orphanages of hight quality is a good solution to “save” children, better than international adoption. My second orphanage was very good. If I hadn’t been missing my family, I would have been totally happy. But again, the best solution would have been helping their families. There too, all the children had living parents: many of them were placed temporarily (due to poverty or single parents working); some were lost.

    There were so many western couples wanting to adopt children (in the name of saving them), that every lost children were sent for adoption without trying to find their homes; some of those who were placed temporarily were also adopted. And because there were not enough children to adopt, they would go to the first orphanage where I came from to get more children or even convince single parents to leave there children to the orphanage. [Few years later, when the orphanage closed down, all the remaining children returned to their families.]

    Conclusion: if you absolutely want to adopt a child, then don’t justify the adoption with saving children.

    If you truly want to save children, ask yourself from what you want to save them. If you want to save them from poverty, then you can save them (and their whole families) without separating them from their countries, communities or families.

  3. What about the children?

    The half a million killed in Iraq from sanctions alone? The hundreds killed in Gaza? The hundreds killed in Lebanon in 2006? The endless economic and political wars of your country against the Third World—at what point will adoption supporters actually stand up for the children they pretend to be advocating for?

    On the domestic scene—why is there no safety net? No health care? No help for anyone to parent? Just blame, guilt, and innuendos having to do with class and race and Calvinist notions of people getting what they deserve in their own lifetime. Stand up for these children!

    How to explain this pathological need to see orphans as dusty-faced girls in Little Orphan Annie waiting for Daddy Warbucks to come and save them? And what better metaphor to prove my point?

    Change your governments imperialist foreign policy and millions of children will be saved as a result. This is your task.

  4. I want to turn this question around as well, and (rhetorically) ask: Why do adoptive parents recoil in the face of the Savior or Salvation retort? Especially when it is stated as historical fact, not necessarily as an epithet?

    • As someone with a tendency to want to rescue people, I have learned that expecting gratitude from those I would rush in to help belies if not my deeper motives, then at least the misguidedness often of the gesture. When I would become angry that they neither followed nor even seemed keen to take my advice, I would punish them by accusing them of self-destructive impulses or, at the very least, not being willing to help themselves. This permitted me to wash my hands of them.

      What took longer for me to see: this whole complex masked over my (not intentionally malign) unwillingness to ask the question, “Actually, what DO you need?” I had some variety of “help” I was willing to dish out, but I wasn’t necessarily prepared to do anything about the help actually needed,t he help they themselves might have identified (if at all). Hence the doubtlessly “lightning-bolt” clarity in the sentiment in both responses above, that if you really want to “save children” then help the parents, help the village they come from, &c. Given the expense of adoption, one can’t say “I don’t have the money.”

      So when people recoil against the question being turned around, I think part of the issue–maybe most of the issue–involves calling the bluff so to speak on the “desire to save” (or help). I don’t propose that saying this suddenly makes clear what had previously been sunk in murk, but the various consequences of this, the whole matrix of reactions (by would-be saviors), still warrants emphasis: (1) I’m here to offer the help I’m willing to give, but none other; (2) what do you mean you don’t want it? What’s wrong with you? If you won’t accept help, you don’t deserve it. (3) I leave you to yourself, and will go find someone else less backward, confused, etc. (4) i avoid having to realize my helplessness to fix actual situations (because I actually can’t do what’s necessary) or never have to make any real effort (by rising to the occasion that I might as the situation really demands). This seems true for individuals, NGOs, and other institutions alike, &c.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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