I feel so differently about adoption, biological reproduction--assisted or accidental or somewhere in between--and parenting in general than I did before we adopted.
We never had the "gotta hava babee!" fever, but we did just sort of think "baby? huh, sure that would be fun (for us)." Now I find my skin crawling at anyone who thinks of baby procurement as being about the parents almost at all. It just really bugs me when people want children because children will meet some need of theirs. But where the heck is the line behind being overjoyed at the idea of a child in your life and wanting a child to meet some need of yours? It's a fine, fine, fine line. It's not like only grim, unemotional people should be parents. Obviously not.
And it seems that babies always start by somebody just wanting one. And I am pretty convinced that wanting a baby is always a selfish thing. It's never about the baby. Especially when the baby isn't born yet. And that's obviously okay. We don't look kindly on the "rescue" model of adoption either, do we? Besides, that really turns out to be all about the parents too--how heroic and sacrificing they are, right? (If you are wondering who "we" is, I guess it's self-defining.)
I mean, I definitely start feeling this way after getting into it with people about various ART things. I am starting to really chaff at the notion that questioning the ethics of certain reproductive decisions, based on how a child born of those decisions--and the adult she will someday become--will experience them, is automatically judgmental of the person making the decisions and therefore, de facto bad. (Sorry, long sentence. I don't even know what I just said. You're getting unadulterated stream-of-consciousness, here.)
But it's not just ART stuff. It's more the attitude that ART accentuates that underlies so much reproduction, whether you conceived on the first try or you had medical interventions for 4 years and finally went to Khazakstan. It's the attitude that babies--however you get them--are commodities to be "gotten" at all.
I'm also annoyed at the attitude of entitlement from straight people, that babies are somehow a natural right and if they don't come easily, equipped with the best parts of each partner, the would-be parents are being denied a part of themselves they ought to have been able to take for granted, like tehy take their very bodies for granted. Why would anyone ever take the ability to make a baby for granted? That is so far outside of my worldview I am breathless in the presence of that entitlement. Yet I know it's really common. It just is what people expect.
And this Madonna thing? Talk about entitlement! You know, if she wants that child so badly; if she really is bonded with her; feels like her mother, then why doesn't she set up house in Malawi for 18 months? That's all they wanted from her when they denied the initial request. Now the bio-dad is involved which complicates it, I know, but initially, it was 18 months of residence. I mean, how many residences does Madonna have, anyway? How much skin off her nose would it be to add a hut in Malawi?
But this stuff just has nothing to do with the people who are minors (or embryos, for that matter) when it all goes down. It's all about the adults and what possession of these minors will mean for them. And I'm just getting fed up with that.
I don't want to give embryos rights. That's not my point. My point is that we ought to be thinking of what these people will be facing when they aren't our little doll-babies anymore, but are live, grown, human beings who want to know who they got torn from in Khazakstan or Malawi or the south side of Chicago. Or to meet their gestational surrogate. Or dealing with "existential debt" as some donor-conceived adults are now calling the burden of having to be grateful for their very lives to a protocol they now want to challenge and change. (Found this term in "Voices of Donor Conception: Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame" ed. Mikki Morrissette.)
I guess listening to a lot of adult adoptees at the conference last month got me headed down this path. But it's also a parenting preoccupation of mine to worry about making sure I always think of my children as future adults with their own agency and their own questions and their own values, which will in all likelihood, overlap, but not completely match mine. I want to be able to look those adults--equals--in the eye and know I did everything I could to make it as right as I could for who they would become, not just to please myself or gratify my craving for a baby.
Anyway, this probably makes very little sense, but I'll publish it and you let me know.