Just as surely as Tuesday follows Monday, any time infertility is mentioned in an article on the Internet, a “why don’t people just adopt? JEEZ.” comment (or a dozen such comments) will appear.
I am capital-I-Infertile. I don’t have a uterus. I would like to explain why these comments make me, and those like me, a combination of furious and hurt. Contrary to popular media representation, adoption is not as easy as dropping by the local cabbage patch for a free orphan.
First, the assumption that infertile individuals should be solely responsible for scooping up all the world’s unwanted children is offensive to both infertiles and the children you want us to adopt, because you’re treating both groups like leftovers.
Second, you’re not taking into account all the barriers between prospective parents and kids who need homes. We’ve come a long way, but if you think it’s simple for someone who is gay, transgender, an atheist (or even just non-Christian), single, poor, disabled, or, in some cases, fat, to adopt in the heartland, you are mistaken.
Third, the assumption that all it takes to “fix” a troubled kid is love and lentils is just wrong. Love can’t undo the effects of abuse and neglect, any more than it can cure cancer. Not every person is equipped to parent a child with intensive needs, the system isn’t set up to provide the kind of education and life-long support said families need, and adopting a kid with special needs for the wrong (as in, self-serving) reasons is crueler by far than not adopting at all.
Fourth, adoption is much more complicated, for both adoptive families and adoptees, than is portrayed in our pop culture. International and interracial adoptions require a lot of cultural fluency on the part of parents to help adopted children remain connected to their culture/race. Domestic U.S. adoption has come a long way since the days when all records were sealed and young moms were giving birth in maternity homes, but treating it as though it’s always positive for everyone involved erases the voices of adoptees, birth moms, and adoptive families who don’t see it that way.
I understand the instinct to jump on the adoption bandwagon. Before I was one of The Infertiles (be sure to catch our next single “I Am Not Ma Ingalls”!) I had no idea how much this kind of comment could hurt. Privilege is invisible. I don’t want to start a fight with anyone who’s made these comments in the past. (Unless it’s with marshmallow guns. Marshmallows are delicious.) I just wanted to point out some tidbits that might not immediately jump to your mind if you’re not on this side of the fence.