Adoption and women.

Arline’s comment (“here is a shout that will stand up for millions of women and freedom for adoptees”) set me to thinking about the role of women on both sides of the adoption event/divide, in the sense that it maps on to a support for adoption from the so-called “progressive” end of the political spectrum which allows a class-based privilege to trump any empathetic activism for those affected most by the adoption industry.

I think the same can be said of those who otherwise speak of women’s rights, feminisms, anti-patriarchal stances, etc. or who seem themselves as “progressives” in the realm of reproductive health, a woman’s control of her own body, etc.

I won’t add links or post my thoughts just as yet; I’m curious to see where this fits in to our lives as adoptees, as daughters, as mothers, as supporters of progressive social activism, and so I open it up to you all: Can we talk of women’s rights and adoption? Is there a misogyny, an anti-feminist stance/discourse inherent in adoption as we know it?

10 thoughts on “Adoption and women.

  1. I’m going to be brief, really. Two quick points, as inputs to Daniel’s question:

    1. Suicide among female adoptees is higher than non-adoptees. Since females in general attempt suicide far more often than males, the higher rate of female adoptee suicide suggests something above-average dire.
    2. I assume there is a preference for adopting boys, but I don’t know the numbers. If this assumption is correct, I would surely file this under misogyny.
  2. Actually with regards to adoption, there is a girl preference; this is factual in both domestic and International adoptions. Initially the statistics show a 70% preference for a baby girl, with that number/breakdown hovering closer to 60% (seeking girls) by the end of most adoptions and actual placements..

    Just wanted to share.


  3. What might the reasons for this be? I don’t see it as a positive, if it includes, for example, notions of “docility”, or trainability, that map directly onto other near-traffickings, such as Asian brides, or the like.

  4. I do believe that there is an inherent anti-feminist stance in adoption. Originally women were encouraged by their churches and social workers to keep their children, it was believed that the child would heal the woman and that separating the mother and child would be detrimental. With adoption the woman is painted as sinful and her child a bastard who will only suffer in her care. Adoption condemns the woman and shames her for daring to enjoy sex out of marriage and then having the audacity to create a child.

    I think the preference for a girl may reside in the fact that some men may have trouble raising another’s man son especially one who may or may not resemble him and will not be carrying on his family line. Also I think some people think they could guilt a girl more easily.

  5. In most studies, a dominant girl preference is more indicative of women actually fueling the adoptive process over their more reticent or ambivilent male spouse. Interestingly though, studies of gay men/adoption have born out the same preference but with a smaller margin.

    Another contributing factor might be that many agencies tell PAP’s the bleak outcome for girls who age out of orphanages and face a life with no social ties, life skills or support. By and large the instance of suicide among orphanage girls who age out is greater than that of males.

    I think its complicated but even among youth not adopted overseas it would seem women fair worse.


    • Laura:

      Excuse my late reply, but are you saying that gay males prefer to adopt girls as well?

      i can think of lots of semi-logical/irrational reasons why that might be. For those who identified as Queens, a daughter might be the little girl they never were (I only list this first coincidentally, not because it’s most like). It seems easy to imagine that there might be less friction about sexual identity in both directions for gay men raising a girl: less embarrassment for the girl that she has “faggots” for for fathers (unlike for a boy) and less “disappoint” for the fathers when their child turns out straight. If I were to adopt a girl, it’d be very easy for me to be excited that my daughter was coming of age gay, straight, or otherwise. As a matter of social policy, the radically lowered chances for molestation seems to make it a good idea as well.

      If lesbians adopt girls more often, I’d be inclined to look more at supply-side factors o the type you list.

  6. I found this quote in an article at Counter Punch [link]:

    Look at the fact that the poorest of the poor are women and children. Wherever you go, the least fed, the least literate, the most underemployed, and overworked are always women and children. As long as you have men in power who don’t see females as human beings, and the pornography business plays into this, and the problem with this is that we must get men to start seeing women and children as human beings who have a right to a life of dignity. When do you see women and children discussed in Presidential debates? It’s as if women and children don’t even exist.

    I’m struck here by the sheer patriarchy of adoption, and how little it has to do with women per se, except in terms of how their image of themselves as women is formed by men. Can adoption get any more regressive?

    • I was listening to an extended, if badly posted, presentation on Youtube about the Kemetic sources of stories in the bible (more precisely, how they were plagiarized, stolen, misappropriated, and repeated in ignorant ways), and more than once the (male) presenter emphasized how it was the magic of women who restored me: particularly when Isis reconstructs Osiris after he is dismembered but also when Osiris sits on the block of wisdom seeking guidance about how to rule wisely and Isis presents him with the fruit of knowledge.

      And the whole presentation was by a male who allowed female participation only at one spot: to read off-camera passages from the bible or the Husia, which he intercut with his commentary.

      He also had no trouble describing the impregnation of the Virgin Mary by the Holy ghost (in the form of a dove) as “sick” and even referred to bird droppings, but then immediately switched to the Egyptian story, where Isis transforms into a bird over the dead body of Osiris and induces ejaculation from him so she becomes impregnated. (He didn’t mention that Isis fashions a golden phallus first, so I don’t know if his scholarship was lacking, whether he just wanted to avoid that detail, or if there are different versions of the same story)–but he waxed beatific about this second story.

      He also referred to James I of England as a “faggot” a “sadist’ and someone who “raped little boys”–ironically, it was James I who would have been “raped” by modern standards, since his first male sexual contact was when he was 14; the man was 37. This “faggot” also fathered 7 children.

      He didn’t bother to refer to the story where Set sexually seduces Horus, and Horus cleverly catches Set’s semen in his hand than than (euphemistically) “between his thighs”, and then himself ejaculates on some lettuce (which is Set’s favorite vegetable) so that Set ingests Horus’ semen instead. In this way, the dispute of rulership of Upper and Lower Egypt gets settled. Nor did he mention Khepera, who masturbates into his own mouth in order to create the entire cosmos (“Khepera” the presenter assured me means “beginning” parallel with genesis). I think these are great stories, and they hardly square with the kind of infantile revulsion a grown man might feel he has to exhibit by calling another man a “faggot”.

      But this also goes to your point of women and adoption. That Horus and Set engage in sex, that Khepera masturbates, obviously shows matters being taken care of without recourse to women. I submit that these are not original (root) stories but themselves already revisions that exclude the female principle, but in the wall carvings and hieroglyphics, the presence can’t be completely obliterated. Who is the superior power if Set can dismember Osiris, while Isis not only can reassemble him but even induce fertilization? Who is the superior power if Osiris ponders on the block of Wisdom but it is Isis who brings him the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Clearly, the Goddess herself is the ultimate Power, so it’s no wonder a typically conventional adn rhetorical preacher-type would be up in front of people acting the enlightened fool and howling about “a man ain’t nothing without a good woman at his side.” That’s not wisdom–that’s the patriarchy that made women subordinate figures in the first place (after children).

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

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