By Kimberly McKee
Adoption is a reproductive justice problem. Pretending in any other case ignores how adoption is used as a pink herring in anti-abortion arguments. A latest invocation of this defective logic occurred in Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s questions in the course of the November 2021 oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Girls’s Well being Group. Coney Barrett’s statements implied that the choice to relinquish infants vis-à-vis adoption rendered abortion availability pointless. This line of pondering is one with which I’m acquainted, as each a Korean worldwide, transracial adoptee, and a crucial adoption research scholar.
Folks like Justice Coney Barrett argue that I ought to be thankful for not having been aborted. Not solely that, however they dismiss critiques of adoption forwarded by adoptees, together with these of us who’re crucial adoption research students, as emanating from a presumably poor relationship with our adoptive dad and mom. It’s believed that adoptees like me must be joyful for our upbringings, as a result of adoption saved us from a far worse destiny — being raised by our delivery households. The realities that adoption methods are corrupt, that adoption relies on dissolving one set of household ties in favor of one other, and that adoption is traumatic for delivery moms are missed to promulgate narratives of joyful and deserving adoptive households. Adoption is a “present,” in spite of everything. These are the undertones that coursed by way of Justice Coney Barrett’s statements, alongside a perception that secure haven legal guidelines present an equitable, viable different to abortion.
Positioning adoption as a alternative to abortion elides pregnant and parenting individuals’s reproductive autonomy and their capability to be brokers over their very own reproductive destinies. Whereas the carceral state seeks to curtail the reproductive futures of Black and brown households by way of foster care and the criminalization of being poor, the helps for white, middle- to upper-middle class households are strengthened. These inequities about whose parenting rights are upheld and preserved is unsurprising, particularly when contemplating home and worldwide adoption. Such rhetoric is utilized by “baby rescue” applications that proceed to sever and disrupt the kinship ties of households of coloration and Indigenous households as a part of transracial home and worldwide adoptions.
It’s necessary to acknowledge how absurd Justice Coney Barrett’s argument sounds. Adoption and abortion aren’t interchangeable. To imagine so ignores the structural forces — usually tied to financial precarity — that render adoption as constrained selection, typically rooted in coercion and different occasions absolutely with out the consent of the delivery dad and mom. The notion of the heroic and selfless delivery mom erases the truths of being pregnant, and the way carrying a toddler to time period and relinquishing that baby with or with out consent must be seen as probably trauma-inducing. To fake in any other case is to be complicit with manufactured adoption narratives that current adoption as a fairytale, the place kids of coloration and Indigenous kids are saved by white households in suburbia. This narrative overlooks the racism, colonialism, and microaggressions adoptees of coloration and Indigenous adoptees encounter of their adoptive households and native communities.
When adoption is invoked as an anti-abortion speaking level, it ignores the racialized experiences of youngsters of coloration and Indigenous kids in home adoption and fostering practices. This additionally erases what it means when society deems these kids as beneficial whereas their natal dad and mom are deemed disposable. This discourse fails to know that fetishized infants develop up, and the cute adoptee of coloration or Indigenous adoptee enters maturity with adoptive dad and mom whose colorblindness and reliance on liberal multiculturalism fail to arrange their baby for what it means to navigate a white supremacist world, together with interactions with police and anti-Asian racism.
Adoptees’ lived experiences ought to inform adoption coverage and follow as frequent themes emerge from their reflections on questions of race, belonging, and household. Centering adoptees as consultants was on the core of the 2014 Twitter hashtag motion #FlipTheScript, which was began by Korean adoptee Rosita González at Misplaced Daughters, who took up the decision to “flip the script” issued by Amanda Transue-Woolston, the Declassified Adoptee. The purpose was to heart adoptees’ voices and views, and the rhetorical technique of #FlipTheScript underscored what it means to pay attention, amplify, and name consideration to adoptees as consultants on the adoption expertise.
There’s little help given to adoptees who disclose truths of hardship and abuse skilled inside their adoptive households. They’re pathologized, and their experiences are individualized. Nonetheless, Megan Twohey’s investigative report, “The Baby Trade,” makes seen the violent and unscrupulous practices of rehoming adopted kids. Requires retroactive citizenship for these worldwide adoptees whose dad and mom or guardians did not naturalize them as kids reveal the incongruities in adoption and immigration legal guidelines that allowed for 1000’s of youngsters to be susceptible to deportation in maturity. The deportation of adoptees additionally exposes the ways in which disrupted worldwide adoptions render these kids susceptible. “Without end households” are celebrated when infants and toddlers arrive in the US, or when infants and youngsters are adopted domestically by way of personal or public businesses. And but these households ought to include an asterisk, as not all adoptive households are perpetually. Nor are all of them secure.
When discussions of adoption are attentive to adoptee voices and transfer past tokenistic inclusion to significant dialogue, we will shift the conversations round what it means to help each household preservation and adoptees and adoptive households. It requires recognizing the methods racial hierarchies persist in adoption, with Black kids costing much less to undertake domestically than white kids, and the way racial bias informs the nations adoptive dad and mom select to undertake from internationally. This implies elevating questions on how white privilege masks abuse inside adoptive households and never marginalizing these adoptees who disclose trauma inside adoption.
To #FlipTheScript means to problem staid adoption narratives. It necessitates listening with intention to adoptees’ truths, irrespective of how uncomfortable. It requires attending to adoptees’ of coloration and Indigenous adoptees’ experiences with racism by relations and people of their neighborhood. Disrupting the narratives promulgated in regards to the happiness of adoption demonstrates adoption’s limitations. The act of adoption doesn’t finish upon adoption finalization. Adoption reverberates all through an adoptee’s life in ways in which run parallel to how relinquishing a toddler impacts delivery dad and mom, significantly delivery moms. A reproductive justice understanding acknowledges that whereas adoptive dad and mom could discover adoption offers happiness to them (and them alone), adoption is rife with contradictions, and it’s thus improper to assumptively hyperlink gratitude and happiness to the follow.
Kimberly McKee is an affiliate professor in integrative, spiritual, and intercultural research at Grand Valley State College. She is the writer of Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the US (College of Illinois Press, 2019) and co-editor of Levels of Distinction: Reflections of Girls of Coloration on Graduate Faculty (College of Illinois Press, 2020). McKee serves as a co-chair of the manager committee for the Alliance of the Research of Adoption and Tradition.