Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Children's Rights

Below is a comment I made on a thread about homosexual marriage.  Someone else had raised the issue of children.  Being an adoptive mother, I have always held this issue close to my heart.  Having adopted around 1990, we were involved with a private agency that promoted open adoption.  At time, open adoption was still somewhat new and certainly broke the molds of my thinking and feeling.  But now, truly, I have to say that this is the humane option.  

Children become – and have already become – objects which others have the right to as opposed to subjects with rights themselves.  (Andrew)
This is really the most weighty point of all. What about the children?
The moment some raises the point that children ideally are raised in a home with their own biological mothers and fathers, the cry goes up that this hardly ever happens. There is so much divorce, etc. Yes, we know there is divorce and we know divorce is traumatic for children. But this goes way beyond the difficulties involved in changing your living arrangements. A person needs to know where he or she comes from. This is not trivial. A person needs to know her mother and her father. In Germany, the supreme court just ruled that someone conceived via insemination has the right to know the father, the sperm-donor.
Why does is always matter so much to people? Why are their lives consumed with finding a birth mother or a birthfather? Why are these teary stories always in the media? Because we need to know. We need to know so that we can know ourselves. A part of a person is incomplete when the relationship with the biological parent is missing. It is a human right to know your parents. And if you cannot live with your parent, you need to have a good reason to feel satisfied. Why did my mother place me for adoption… ? What were the reasons? Does it make sense? Did she care about me? Or I am I just trivia. People become obsessed with this.
Yes, yes, there are reasons why some of these relationships are not wise or feasible or sustainable… but again, the undesirable results don’t allow us to abandon all efforts at reaching the best outcomes. In Australia, just last week, the prime minister apologized to a conference center full of women for the decades of pressure put on single moms to release their children for adoption. A child is not a puppy. I don’t want or get a child just to complete the picture of a nice, little home. A child is a brand-new human person, created out of the love of a man and a woman. This is the bed-rock of existence.
Adoptees are the only party to an adoption without a voice. While adults make (and are expected to make) many decisions on behalf of their children, adoption is the only decision made for children that displaces them permanently. This isn’t to say that adoptive placements can’t be positive, growth-enhancing, and give adoptees a loving, supportive environment, but it can never negate the fact that there is another family out there with whom the adoptee is intimately connected. How adoptees acknowledge (or don’t) and come to terms (or don’t) with this dual ‘belonging’ is a question each adoptee has to answer for her/himself.
The adoptee or the child of sperm-donation has no choice in the matter. The impact of this needs to be fully considered, but one rarely hears about it.

In former times, when adoptions occurred they would involve orphans or extended family looking after children.  Or else the father would remarry and there would be a step-mother, which, after learning all of Grimm's fairy tales, was also not always an excellent solution.  But, no doubt, a step-mother can be easily demonized, no matter what she does.  The human heart will always cry self-pity and neglect.  Such, we are.  Anyhow.  And now, society is such, that hardly a family has the means to keep anyone at home for childrearing.  It has become a matter of funds even when there are two parents.  Who can take on an additional child?  Still, where ever possible and where ever reasonable, a child needs to have sufficient closeness to his or her natural family, mother and father. 
A terrible mistake was also made when various church charities came to this country and removed the aboriginal children to residential schools.  The well-known end of this story is most tragic. Anything that can be learned from this nightmare should be learned from this. 
Another mistake is being made in Africa where well-meaning charities set up orphanages when instead funds should be channeled to the surviving grand-mothers and older siblings to raise those who have not died of HIV/AIDS.  The orphanage strategy is very bad and we've discussed this previously (I'm not sure of the thread right now;  maybe I can link to it later.)

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