Overpopulation, Baby Commodification and Foster Care
It's Easter. I went to church. But, was too distracted by the overwhelming number of babies to focus on hearing about Jesus' resurrection - even though the pastor was screaming and yelling the whole time. Babies were everywhere. Most of them dressed in pastel pink or blue to denote girl or boy, as the blonde-ish peach fuzz atop their head was not enough to give away the sex of the baby. The babies were propped up against their dad's stomach, hoisted in the air playing some sort of cute, show-offy kind of game, or sleeping soundly not realizing that they were triggering me in some way that probably has to do with adoption. Sometimes my mind turned the baby's head into a dollar sign, because the couples had told me about their IVF trials, and how they were going to try that before possibly considering adoption. [Side note: I'm amazed at how many people feel that it's necessary to inform me, "The Closure Girl," about their possible plans of adopting someday after they've tried IVF for a bit longer. I'd never ask strangers about their family planning!]. I wonder how many adoptive parents think about how adult adoptees assimilate the idea of procreation/child-rearing...this is a blog for another day.
Tonight, I watched the Dateline NBC special called "Hopes and Heartbreak," which followed the stories of prospective adoptive parents who were scammed by expectant mothers. These prospective parents spoke of how they had already "named and claimed" their new baby, only to learn that the expectant parent was faking her pregnancy while committing larceny by pilfering money. Having worked at an adoption agency, I have counseled hopeful adoptive parents through the difficult reality of expectant parents choosing to parent their baby instead of place for adoption. I certainly empathize with these prospective parents, and the true depths of pain experienced during a time like this - especially when coupled with previous bouts with infertility. I do not intend to diminish this fact. All of the featured parents on this episode had a laser focus on getting an unborn baby and being heartbroken and disappointed when this didn't happen. I wonder what would've happened if the host had inquired about their thoughts on adopting a child already born? Obviously this route of adoption would've lessened their likelihood of being duped. They'd be able to actually meet the child in foster care, ridding them of their fears that they are giving money to someone who may or may not have this precious baby they want so much. Foster kids would also benefit from all of the selling points they'd so proudly boasted - money for enjoyable toys, an empty room ready to be filled with consumerist trinkets, enough love to fill their swimming pool in the backyard. But, who am I kidding? Foster kids are human beings, and human beings are scary and uncontrollable, with the capability of being sweet. Babies are cuddly and malleable with a dash of inconsolability (although that's where the ego boosting, 100% dependent part comes in - and anything that makes us feel needed is just adorable). Foster kids have feelings, hurts, scars, sass and attitude. These traits don't work well in a world where parents repeatedly gush in to their pre-verbal babies ear "Don't grow up, sweet little one. I'll protect you forever. I will never let you get hurt."
Having been adopted through foster care, I welcomed the knowledge that my parents' motivation to adopt was not centered around infertility or simply coveting a baby. I have enjoyed learning about my parents' views and ideals which prompted their adoptions - the ZPG (Zero Population Growth Group, now known as Population Connection). It makes sense to me that the three R's: "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" are not limited to apple cores, banana peels and plastic, but that these environmental ideals also apply to humans and our carbon footprint.
To all those who continue to ask when Bryan and I are going to start trying for a biological baby - please know that we will not oblige to this hedonistic call as we do not equate having babies with virility and strength. Believing that success, marital individuation, a sense of fulfillment, a rite-of-passage into adulthood etc., is obtained by exercising one of the functions of our body (baby making), makes about as much sense as all sales of double wide triplet strollers going to a foundation for the planting of trees.
I'm doubtful that my snarky, rant of a blog post will positively help the efforts to decrease overpopulation and encourage adopting older children from foster care but it may stimulate conversations. I know that Americans will continue to procreate while simultaneously building bigger SUV's for carpooling.