GORDON: Readers, have a seat. I’ve got something to tell you and I’m not sure how to say it…
You were brought in by links on Reddit and Facebook.
EVAN: I mean, maybe. I actually know for a fact that we have a fair number of regular readers who actually tune in almost daily.
GORDON: And yes, we do love them more than you.
EVAN: Also, I’m not sure that being redirected really works within the context of the word’s definition.
GORDON: Adoption, in case you haven’t caught our subtle hints (you really gotta dig for ’em, you know?), is the subject of today’s post.
EVAN: The reason for that being this news article that Gordon linked me to about a half-Cherokee girl being handed over, which isn’t the sort of language I would have used, to her adoptive parents.
GORDON: To summarize the story:
Veronica, the little girl, was given up for adoption by her mother, after having become estranged from the biological father. This happened while she was still pregnant (the estrangement and the adoption offer). Veronica was adopted by a couple and lived with them for 27 months, after which her biological father won custody of her. However, having been not had custody of her before, the Supreme Court ruled that he didn’t have a right to the child, and Veronica was transferred back to her adoptive family.
Now this is significant largely because of the clash between US and Cherokee legal systems, but the core issue we want to flesh out today is adoption. Evan, having read the story yourself, what was your reaction to the Supreme Court decision?
EVAN: A more general question behind yours could be “What right a father has to his children?” I more or less think they made the right call, and this is due to the fact that Dusten Brown, the father, had stopped being a part of the mother’s life and, consequently, his daughter’s as well.
The article isn’t specific about how all of that went down, but it appears that he only began appealing to have his daughter “returned” to him after a significant amount of time had passed.
As it stands, the adoptive parents have promised that he will have access to his daughter and “be allowed to remain an important part of Veronica’s life,” so everything seems alright.
GORDON: True, though I’d probably cite the massive length of time it takes to get anything done in regards to adoption. Still, I gotta ask if it’s entirely the mother’s call. I mean, yeah, she was estranged from him (we don’t have the details on what that entails), but she was pregnant with his daughter. Obviously she calls the shots if she sees him or not, but ethically (since I’m not at all familiar with the laws on this) can she deny her daughter from interacting with her biological father?
EVAN: She wasn’t denying her daughter from interacting with her biological father, though. What she was doing was ensuring that her daughter had parents who could [and did] take care of her.
GORDON: Again, it would seem presumptuous to assume that the biological dad can’t take care of her- though that brings me to another question. Can we assume that a two-parent household is inherently more beneficial to the child than a one-parent household? Certainly in legal disputes custody might be affected by something like that.
EVAN: He literally cannot take care of her if he is absent from the time before, during, and directly after her birth.
To address your next question, yes. Having two parents in the household increases the assurance that there will be someone around to take care of the kids. A single parent who has to make a living will have a harder time of things.
GORDON: “So where do we draw the line?” would seem to be the next logical question. For example, in Francoist Spain, there was actually a pretty massive operation conducted where kids were taken away from “undesirable parents” (political dissidents, single mothers, etc.) and placed with two-parent families sanctioned by the state.
We could definitely argue that many of those kids benefited from being raised in a two-parent home rather than by a teen prostitute in Madrid- yet I think the immediate reaction of any sane person to hearing about this would be one of horror.
EVAN: We’re not talking about forced adoptions, though, that’s not particularly relevant to the discussion we’re having right now.
In our aforementioned case the father was not around and at the very least took a fair amount of time before choosing to be a part of his daughter’s life, at which point she was already being raised by others. He may have been entirely capable of raising her, but he wasn’t.
It’s not so much his status as an “undesirable parent” as it is of him wanting to be a parent at all. If this was a choice between who could raise the girl more effectively from the get-go and he was refused then we could be having a different conversation.
GORDON: I don’t mean any of this in reference to this case- I just mean in general. As you stated, two parents can usually take care of a kid better than one, but if we’re not promoting two-parent households (at least, not compared to Iran’s “stay-together-at-all-costs” divorce courts), it seems that the driving principle behind this isn’t the kid’s greatest benefit, y’know?
EVAN: Then what is the driving principle, exactly?
GORDON: No clue whatsoever.
It seems that everything done in the courts is done in the name of the child’s greatest possible benefit. That said, we’re not seeing Honey Boo Boo being put in a more responsible, beneficial environment.
EVAN: Considering you’ve never seen a full episode of the show, that may not be an example you want to bring into our discussion.
And I’m still not sure exactly what you’re getting at.
If anything, the fact that the government puts so much work into screening potential adoptive parents says a great volume about their desire to put children in the best homes possible.
GORDON: This is absolutely true- and at the same time, there’s a contingent of people in the US who would take that line of thought to such an extreme as to state that “simply being capable of having a child does not equate to being a qualified mother”- though exactly what their solution is, I have no idea.
EVAN: I mean, they’re not wrong, and neither are you in wondering how to address said fact.
In reference to what I just said a little while ago, though, do you think the current process takes too long? At the moment it is very difficult to adopt a child, and most people consider any orphan getting parents a decidedly positive thing.
What’s the maximum amount of time you think it should take?
GORDON: Working in the general field of social services, I get why there’s a waiting period. People are unbelievably easily-swayed- if the adoption process were short, we’d be seeing disaster after disaster.
A year, minimum, seems fair, y’know? Barring some extenuating circumstance, of course.
EVAN: That seems pretty reasonable.
We’re coming up on the end of our time, so here’s one more adoption discussion topic: Do parents have the responsibility to help their adopted children of different ethnicities explore and realize that aspect of themselves?
GORDON: Ooh- good question.
I’m gonna offer a resounding “no.”
I mean, the world being the way it is, your ethnicity is going to be brought up anyways. But if you spent all of five days in Cambodia when you were born, and 15 years in Charlotte, you’re not somehow magically connected to a square mile of dirt thousands of miles away because your DNA is a little different.
EVAN: I’m going to side with it being highly circumstantial.
If I adopted a Black Canadian kid then I don’t feel like I’d feel the need to fill them in on a whole lot of anything, really.
On the other hand, if I adopted a kid from Senegal or something along those lines I would probably be inclined to tell them about where they came from, where their birth parents live or other blood relatives live, all that sort of thing.
EVAN: Because it answers the inevitable question of “Where am I from?” that will undoubtedly arise once they reach the age when it dawns on them that my wife and I are not their birth parents.
GORDON: I was born in some hospital somewhere in Southern California- I don’t feel any connection to the place or desire to know about it.
EVAN: But you weren’t then taken from Southern California over to Calcutta, leaving the rest of your family behind to be raised by an Indian mother and father. Again, I think it’s circumstantial.
I likewise wouldn’t be asking my child to make a connection, I’d just be informing them of their origins and how it was that they became a part of my family.
GORDON: Hm. Fair enough.
And with that, we’re gonna be leaving you for the week- please, please, please comment with a suggestion for next week’s discussion. Don’t make Evan cry.
EVAN: I won’t be sad, just disappointed.