From another post not on TRE, written by an adoptee, I was told:
We know that much of who we are today was created in the womb. We know that mother and child are a single entity, profoundly connected physiologically, emotionally and spiritually — even through early infancy. A baby does not understand that he or she is an individual until at least 9 months after birth.
Through their research, authorities have determined that, when the mother/child entity is split, it causes an acute and lasting trauma in both mother and child. The repercussions are ominous and tenacious. Though they become buried deep inside, the repercussions follow both mother and child throughout the remainder of their lives.
Whatever the writer’s motivations, I’m not sure how helpful the tack here is. After all, if the problem of adoption is the trauma to the mother and child, then ameliorate that trauma somehow, and the basis for objecting to adoption disappears.
The point also has incoherences in it. If a baby does not understand he or she is an individual until 18 months into its existence, then to whom does the initial trauma of separation occur? Obviously, to no one, because one doesn’t exist yet. A river (to mix and anthropomorphize a metaphor) that is somehow blocked or diverted at its origin, so that the whole subsequent wind and meander of its flowing is changed by that initial blockage never stands up and objects that it’s not a river because of some “essential wound” at its source. By the writer’s argument, the child who is born blind should be pitied, but the blind child does not experience the loss claimed for her, unless someone forces it upon her somewhere (i.e., by pitying her). The fact that the adoption wound is inflicted on the child by human beings does not change this argument. As someone adopted when I was five days old, people have tried to tell me I have a prelingual wound, but I’m not convinced and I’ve yet to find a reason to convince myself it’s so. Rather, what I /do/ see as the problem (for me) is that people are trafficking in children.
Precisely what I don’t have in my psyche, if you want to argue this way, is that “fundamental bond” with some mother. Consequently, I have a very unsentimental view of the matter, which I find the original poster’s article to be reeking of. Trying to make a newborn into an object of pity because of how it was treated–before it was even an individual–obviously has immense problems in terms of women’s rights, but it also wallows in the deepest bathos of mother idolization, which is by far the singlemost powerful force keeping women “in their place” under the rigors of patriarchy.
This author is providing an argument against abortion, but also in favor of it. The phrase, “Through their research, authorities have determined that, when the mother/child entity is split,” with its eerie invocation of “authorities,” suggests that birth itself could only affect some kind of mother/child entity split. Or that every departure of the mother out of the newborn’s sense perception would be a traumatic split, one (ironically) repeated over and over and over on a daily basis in our culture. Or later on, when the child is finally an individual, or at adolescence, does the mother/child entity split then to traumatic effect? It’s clear, the disaster hardly seems avoidable so, maybe it would be better to spare the child such trauma entirely and abort it? Or, perversely, is this another argument in favor of adoption because we adoptees may have been fortunate to have had this terrible separation only once and early, before we were even individuals?
Doubtless the author is not trying to say any of this, but it is a consequence of a misdirected emphasis. I can hardly read the above and not be struck by how stuck on the teat it is, that the whole thing is wrapped up in a very old-fashioned insistence on the ultimate amazingness of the mother which takes no account whatsoever of the vast effort women are told they must do to raise children and instead focuses on the involuntary biological labor of being the source of a life. As a feminist, I find that revolting. If I owe anyone any gratitude, it is not for making me; it is for the work they did caring for me, eveni f that was disastrously inadequate.
Whatever good one can get by constructing a primary wound of adoption psychologically and then working through it, that is the business of individuals, and may all beings find peace. But as a matter of social life, to focus on the individuals of the triad only is misdirected, except perhaps to keep clearly in focus the primary beneficiary, the trafficker, who maintains the institution of adoption as a matter of social policy, which is where the real source of the primary wound resides.
I intend all of this as implicating to the United States, though I realize there are other places these points can stick to as well. I am saying, yes, that the fundamental fact of childhood itself is already slavery, and how can one have a circumstance of slavery that does not include both the newly arrived slaves and the ones already established (in a given plantation/family). And like in any hierarchy, there are favored slaves and otherwise. And to say all of this denies nothing in the experience of adoption, but rather widens the context where the enslaved class of children are treated in the first place.
So we could say there are natural slaves and trafficked slaves, or trafficked slaves and nontrafficked slaves. Part of what I’m objecting to in the author’s article, then, is the unhelpful, if not disingenuous, valorization of natural slavery to critique trafficked slavery. The alternative that seems to lie behind her objection to adoption is not one I want to advocate for. A more desirable circumstance would be one where no one would ever say “my child”. Perhaps “our child” would be better–a circumstance where the growth and health of the child is dependent upon the growth and health of the whole environment in which she grows up. A world where he is decidedly not property, whether bought outright of home-made.