Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Favorite things, couples, and adoption

For some reason I am in a good mood today even though I don't know how I will possibly get all my work done.

I think right now my favorite thing in life is walking down the street with B holding my hand. N may not believe this with the way B and I struggle all the time, but it's true. I was trying to think what in the world I could give that up for, and it's hard to come up with something.

I'd also like to say that I really like vanilla coke, chicken and dumplins and a really good Thai curry. I think that is an equivalent level of importance. How about you?

I also saw some article last night about Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher getting married. This may seem silly. Ok, it is silly. But that makes me happy too. I always like it when people who aren't supposed to be together are together and are happy. I feel this way whenever I see couples that don't fit the stereotype, and I wish them well. See love conquers all.

Nice if that were true.

Makes me think of an episode of CSI that was out in the last few weeks. The main cop, not a CSI investigator, but a cop (don't know character name), went to visit his estranged daughter because her friend had been murdered. His daughter had become addicted to drugs and a prostitute. So there was this little scene where he drives to her place but doesn't go up because he hasn't called and she doesn't know he is there. He calls up to her from his cell phone and she starts to tell him some lies about how well her life is going, while he can see her lean out the window and her also black boyfriend leans out, offers her a crack pipe or something, and kisses her. OK, some of this I get. Becoming an addict, selling herself, lying to her parents, etc. Actual bad things that parents should worry about. But I had to think that they deliberately threw in her boyfriend being black as well to tap into a hidden white fear, as if that somehow makes it even worse. That was a really bad idea on the writer's or casting director's part. It's possible that the actor was just the best they could find to play the boyfriend, and maybe later in the episode it was important what race he was. I don't know. I didn't watch the rest of it. If either is true, they get a pass. But my guess is those weren't the reasons, and it's depressing to think that your white daughter dating a black man is still something to fear in the minds of much of their audience.

I also got reminded recently how different my views about adoption are than many. Maybe it's because I am male, so feel free to set me straight. Anyway, there was some NPR news account of Connecticut now having their health coverage cover fertility treatments, but there is an age cap of 40. They spoke with a woman who is now 42 who has been undergoing treatment for years and will continue to do so. They've spent over $100,000 on this and have no plans to stop. The whole time I am thinking that there are thousands of children in foster homes and tens of thousands more, young babies, in other nations just sitting and waiting for a mother. Why can't the two of them team up? I know I don't get it. Is it because I'm a guy, so that I don't get the drive? I think N understands better than I do. Are my views on adoption abnormal still in the US? Is it because I have a biological child that I don't feel the pressure to produce anymore, and I would feel like her if I was in the same boat? I don't know.

In other news, I have three more phonological reviews due by the end of the semester, so I picked up some books yesterday. I have to do 3 of these 4: Manchu (spoken in northeastern China, which was Manchuria. It's always a mistake to conquer China; you just end up Chinese; ask the Mongols.), Vietnamese, Kabardian (language in the Caucasus mountains; think Georgia, Armenia, Chechnya, etc.), and Karao (language in the Phillipines).

Today's projects: Prep John Searle's argument against Artificial Intelligence for debate tomorrow and prep the first couple statistical learning articles for discussion leading tomorrow. Dang, already 2:30. I'm out.


kristybox said...

On adoption -

I'm pregnant, despite being told that conceiving would probably be difficult, if not impossible. (Apparently, by difficult, they meant "anytime you do it more than once in a month and don't use birth control, you get knocked up." :)) Anyway, I was not willing to take fertility treatments, so adoption would have been our only option. (By the way, since you mentioned race, we would be open to a baby of any race. I think it might shake my family up a bit to have someone "nonwhite" in it, and that would be a good thing.) I was nostly not willing to take fertility treatments because of the increased risk of multiple births. I don't believe abortion is morally right (although I do think that this is a personal, religious choice and that the state should allow safe and legal abortions). I just couldn't see putting a baby at risk when adoptions are so readily available.

At the same time, adoption may have meant that we could never afford to have children. While the woman that you mentioned had quite expensive fertility treatments, more minor treatments cost much less than an adoption. And I'm a lawyer, so I could have done my own legal work. Still, it would have costs tens of thousands. And our apartment would probably not have been approved, even though it's bigger than many houses, so we would have had to buy a house. The problems with adoption are societal, but they are enough to push some woman towards fertility treatments.

pacatrue said...

I remember hearing a report on foster care once that showed how many needless barriers some states put in place to essentially sabotage their own programs. A couple examples were 1) instead of gathering information on an interested couple, providing information to them, and encouraging them to investigate all the issues seriously, the very first phone call was almost accusatory, wanting to know why exactly they wanted to be in foster care and treating them by default as possible criminals; 2) similarly, another state before they said hello in the first meeting lined all the potential foster parents up to fingerprint them. If the goal is to scare people away, these are two good methods. Of course, there must be an investigative process to insure safety for the children, but the research showed that these messed up states had no lower rates of abuse and the like than the ones who in the researcher's terms "screened people in, instead of screening them out."

The point? Yeah, there are lots of societal problems preventing the creation of simple, productive adoption and fostercare procedures.

katze said...

My sister and I are both adopted. My real (adoptive) parents are far from rich-- in fact, we were barely lower middle class. My adoption cost $375. I know, because I've seen the paperwork. I was adopted through a state agency in the mid-1970's. While I am aware that privately arranged adoptions are extremely expensive, it is possible to arrange adoption through far more affordable public agencies, especially if you are willing to adopt an older child or a child with an illness or disability (as I was classified, given that I was born at 31 weeks gestation and spent the first two months of my life in the hospital). My sister, by the way, came to our family because the birthmother specifically requested that she be placed with me-- we're also biological sisters.

Having said that, I identify very strongly with your viewpoint, Pacatrue. In fact, I have a fairly intolerant view of couples who pump tens of thousands of dollars into fertility treatments in the quest to have a "child of their own". I know, from my own life, that an adopted child is just as much a child of your own as a child that happens to share your genetic material. My parents are the people who raised me. When I'm sick or hurt, I don't wish for my birthmother, I want my mom.

I've written about all of this on my blog before, so maybe this is all a re-run for you, but... I've always got something to say about this topic.

Trixie said...

I love that all 3 comments were on the adoption portion of your post. This really strikes a cord. We have been unsuccessful at conceiving but it may be due to a lack of consist attempts. Who knows. We agreed not to place blame, to skip the tests, and move straight to adoption. Domestic was our first choice and although it was less expensive, the process was riddled with difficulties. We wanted a healthy sibling group up to 5 children under 12 years of age (we are to young to have teenagers) and would adopt from any state. No go. There is no such thing as healthy children in State care apparently. The system classifies them with a wide range of emotional, mental or physical health problems. The States we worked with for three years all had these frightening histories and when we asked about support following the adoption (we have NO experience parenting - even with healthy kids) it was a joke. There was NO follow-up support. Yikes. As much as we wanted children, we couldn't see ourselves going it alone with the issues the State had identified. So we decided on international adoption where we can get the children younger and work more quickly to correct medical and mental health issues. {Side note: Can you believe that Florida actually expected us to keep in touch with the biological mother who neglected her kids so badly that they needed more than just TLC ? It was a condition of adoption. I said no way.} The cost is higher but the fact is that we get very strong support with our agency in return. So yes we agree with you - adoption over fertility treatments any day but really I know lots of women who absolutely had to do the fertility treatments. Adoption was just not an option for them. I don't get it but I respect it.

pacatrue said...

First, welcome into the blog, Trixie. How did you find me?

I too spent a little time researching adoption a couple years back. For me, I looked at the adoption and foster care materials for the state of Tennessee. It was fascinating and bizarre and scary and exciting all at once. Tennessee is a state that has profiles of all the children online who are looking for homes, including pictures. The big plus side to this is that you get to see them and know that they are real people not just names on a list somewhere, and you want to take them under your wing. The bizarre side was that I felt like I was window-shopping for a child - a very unsettling notion. Then, yes, every single child has some mental issue mentioned, but it was often hard to tell how to take those reports. Is the behavior problem mentioned something truly unusual or was it "I'm 7 and I've been taken away from my mother." The latter I think we could handle; the former, I don't know and you'd have to think about it before making a leap. There was the very odd opposite side of adoption as well, which is the parents who are looking to adopt. You can go to web sites (I assume they were legit adoption sites, I've forgotten) and put up a profile where you try to persuade a mother who is having to put her child up that you are the couple she wants to have raising her baby. The profiles would be filled with smiling couples telling the mother how they knew this was the most difficult thing she had ever done and promising to take care of her child and give it everything she could dream of. What can you ever really say in these situations? How can you ever prove your worth to raise someone's child?

It's just a whole amazing world and it makes me respect the people who make it work even more.