Monday, August 3, 2015

Here's a thought... my family planning efforts are none of your business...

So I just read an article by Meghan Walsh about family planning.  I first encountered her article on Yahoo!, but I was so intrigued by it that I decided to follow it to its original source.  Walsh's article, "Ignore Your Selfish Genes, and Just Adopt", originally appeared on a site called OZY.  OZY is supposedly a news site.  Ms. Walsh's article is an editorial that, I can see from reading many comments, has struck a nerve, including one of mine.

Walsh maintains that instead of getting expensive fertility treatments, infertile people should adopt their children.  She says that it's selfish to want to perpetuate one's genes when there are so many foster kids who need homes.  On the surface, Walsh is right.  There are a lot of kids in the "system" that want and need families to adopt them.  However, the decision to adopt over any other family planning decision is personal.  Moreover, it's not so simple to adopt a child.  Walsh makes it sound like one can just trot down to the nearest orphanage or child welfare center and pick out a kid to take home today.

I always hoped and expected I'd be a mother someday.  It didn't turn out that way for me.  I can't tell you how many people have suggested adoption to me as if it never crossed my mind.  For many reasons, I never considered adopting a child.  I think I have good reasons for not wanting to adopt, but even if I didn't, my reasons are personal.  And frankly, I don't think they're anyone else's business.

Of course, while I never considered adoption, I also never considered fertility treatments.  I don't have a problem with people who opt for fertility treatments in order to start a family, just like I don't have a problem with those who prefer to adopt.  It just wasn't a decision I was comfortable with.  And even if I had been comfortable with it, Bill and I couldn't afford fertility treatments when I was at an age that they would be most likely to succeed.  I wasn't willing to risk financial disaster for the chance to become someone's mother, especially when parenthood can be such a crap shoot.

I think it's very offensive when people glibly offer "solutions" to other peoples' fertility issues.  Trust me.  The average person who wants to be a parent has considered adoption, fertility treatments, surrogacy, and even just being a mentor.  It's not necessary for you or anyone else to offer suggestions to them, especially if you don't know them personally.  And Meghan Walsh's editorial, while clearly offering her opinion, basically comes across as an arrogant obvious and overly simplistic solution to a complicated problem.

Adoption can be very expensive.  If it's done through the foster care system, it may not be expensive in terms of legal fees, but in the long run, it could be costly in other ways.  While plenty of foster kids are good kids who had the misfortune of having bad or absent parents, there are other foster kids that have serious problems that may be difficult or impossible to overcome.  Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) are just two potentially devastating issues that prospective adoptive parents may face.  That's not to say that those kids don't need or deserve homes, but rather a statement that adoptive parents may face hardships for which they aren't prepared.

When you have your own baby, you have knowledge and control over the environment that child is exposed to in the womb and as an infant.  When you adopt a child, you may be dealing with a child whose past is unknown.  And that could lead to serious and very real consequences for prospective adoptive parents and other kids who might be in the home.

Besides that, many people want to adopt and end up losing out when a biological parent decides not to give up their child.  I can't even imagine how heartbreaking it must be for adoptive parents who think they are going to be able to adopt and then suddenly can't.  Those folks then have to decide whether or not to continue trying to adopt or giving up on the process.

Some people might say that if you're unwilling to go through anything to be a parent, maybe you shouldn't be one.  I'd say that if that's really your attitude and it actually became the rule, you may find even fewer people willing to adopt foster kids.  Because if you made it imperative that prospective parents accept any problem that comes to them from an adopted child, those folks might sit and think about all the things that could go wrong and decide not to take the risk.

Infertility is emotionally damaging for so many people.  Fortunately, I was never so invested in the idea of motherhood that I was devastated by not having kids of my own.  However, I do know a lot of people who were dying to be parents.  How they become parents should be entirely up to them.

I look at Meghan Walsh's photo and I can't help but think she has little experience with adoption... and certainly not with adoption of children with problems like RAD or FAS.  She looks young, as if she's been in an ivory tower for awhile.  When Meghan Walsh has taken it upon herself to adopt a bunch of kids with medical or psychiatric problems from the local child welfare department, maybe then I'd pay more attention to her opinions about family planning.  Until then, here's a thought.  I think she should STFU and MHOB.








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