Tag Archives: adoption and Haitian orphans

The Miriam Project

Moses in the Bullrushes
by Paul Delaroche

The Miriam Project is an idea I have. A birthmother fantasy.

It’s how I wish adoptions would work in the case where the child has a birth parent who is still alive. I would call this sort of “adoption” The Miriam Project.

The adoptive parents would adopt the parent(s) and the child. They would also sponsor some major life-changing intervention in the birthparent’s life. Like education, or job training, or provide an upgrade in healthcare and living conditions so that the birthparent could take the child back after a year or two of mitigating whatever sad thing had pushed the parent to the inevitable-seeming breaking point. That breaking point where parting with one’s child seems the only answer.

In many households, both the wife and the husband work. They need child care; they need the general support and love that all families need to survive. The birthparent(s) could be part of that support network and be supported as well. Blended families are the norm now. Why not blend in a  birthparent or two? Like Miriam taking care of her baby brother after she poses as a nanny in the pharaoh’s palace.

I think reading the news about the Russian boy being sent back nearly did me in. The ruckus over Artyom has mostly settled, but I can’t stop thinking about foreign adoption, and how the child loses so much.

I met a woman once–a writer. We were at a writer’s conference. I was deeply involved in working on my birthmother memoir, and she was writing a book about the the adoption of her two children from Guatemala. We treated each other delicately when we spoke. I assumed her children were orphans. Well, okay, I thought. With so much poverty in Guatemala, maybe the only way was to come north.

Then came the conversation when she told me that she wanted me to know how much she appreciated birthmothers in general. “I’ve gone back to Guatemala to see my children’s birthmother,” she said. Then I think she told me that she gave her some money and that the birthmother was very poor and had other children. I couldn’t quite organize anything articulate to say while both my heart and my head were exploding. I mumbled something. I’m not sure what.

I know someone else who has a child from a foreign adoption. I like him very, very much. He’s honest and brave. He’s sweet and smart and has had way more than his share of hurt in this life. I think he told me his child’s father is still alive. I’m almost positive that’s what he said, but there’s something that happens to my brain during conversations like this. I can’t think or hear or begin to hope to say anything smart.

Of course there are the true orphans. But how do we know if there are really no family members who want them. Remember Haiti?

And it turns out things weren’t really on the up and up in Guatemala either.

The Dunce Hat Again

I haven’t posted for ages, and maybe that’s because I’ve been trying to get comfortable in this hat again. My special adoption dunce hat.

In my previous post I exclaimed that I wished I was young enough to adopt a Haitian orphan. That was ridiculously naive. And I’m probably drinking way too much wine. It’s a post divorce thing. Commenters pointed out the foreign adoption scam angle. And 24 hours later the news story broke about the kidnapping of the Haitian children under the guise of adoption. Since then there have been other unsavory stories in the news about foreign adoptions.

I want to believe that if there are children (orphans) who need adopting, that there are decent people who will love them. I want to believe that because I am a birthmother. Unfortunately, in many, many cases the adopters are unscrupulous, and the children are victims.

For years I’ve had this scenario in my head that adoption should include the birthmother (and father) if at all possible. Why not foster a teen-ager and a baby?

Meanwhile, while on the subject of bad adoption news, I was struck by an article in the L.A. Times a few days ago by Marilyn Elias about  depression  The article isn’t about adoption per se–it’s about parents who suffer from depression and the effect that has on their children. “Evidence is mounting that growing up with a depressed parent increases a child’s risk for mental health problems, cognitive difficulties and troubled social relationships.”

Another ripple in the adoption pond, I thought as I read on. The interminable sadness that is the legacy of giving up a child goes on to effect subsequent children. Well, that’s depressing. And the depression could go on to effect the children’s children. And so on. Adoption. Big ripples in a deep, deep pond.