Friday, April 13, 2012

Is it (Ever) OK to Complain About the Expense of Adoption?

One of the comments on my previous post (Open Letter to Prospective Adoptive Parents [PAPs]) was this, from :

I have to defend the talking about expense discussions. It is a common complaint for most everything related to infertility. Most of the expense complaints I hear and my personal expense complaint have everything to do with how unfair it is that infertiles typically have to spend crazy amounts of money to become parents and it is a bitter pill to swallow. It is unfair and deserves to be acknowledged whether it be the expense of IVF or the expense of adoption.

I've been thinking about her comments and asking myself, "Is it OK to complain about the expense of adoption?" I still say no. For the most part. And here are my Top 10 reasons why (in random order):

1. It's insensitive. A parent who places a child for adoption faces incomprehensible losses for the rest of their life. You can make more money. They can't re-make the child they lose.

2. It's crass. 'Nuff said.

3. It positions your child as a commodity. There are plenty of people in the business of adoption who see your child as a commodity. You shouldn't be one of them.

4. It's not anyone else's problem. It's not. Life is hard. Infertility is devastating. The costs of adoption are prohibitive and ridiculous. I get it. I do. But it's not anyone else's problem.

5. It smacks of entitlement. Any complaint about the cost of adoption implies that it should cost less or be free. Why? Because you want it? Because you need to save your money for something else? Because you'd be a great parent, but you can't afford to adopt? Again, I get it. But we're not entitled to anything.

6. It breeds resentment. Between expectant mothers and potential adoptive parents, between adoptive parents and first parents, between friends, etc.

7. It's not anyone else's problem. See #4.

8. It's a waste of time. When women started fighting back against the barbarism of the Baby Scoop Era, someone figured out other ways to exploit adoption and make it profitable. Unless and until large numbers of adoptive parents and PAPs seriously join the fight to reform adoption, complaining about the costs is a waste of time.

9. Someday your child may read your words. Can you imagine how they would feel?

10. It's a distraction. When you're a PAP, the wait is bone-deep agonizing. Every baby shower invitation and announcement of a friend's pregnancy is like a telephone pole being driven through your gut. I remember. Money is a convenient lightning rod for anguish, anxiety, fear, and frustration. But complaining about money is a distraction from more important things like getting to know some first parents, adoptive parents and adoptees and talking to them and reading their blogs to learn how adoption has impacted them (both positively and negatively) throughout their lives. Like researching the history of adoption and getting involved with adoption reform. Like volunteering with organizations that offer support to expectant mothers and mothers who need help to be able to raise their child/ren.

All that being said, it is financially expensive to adopt a child, and of course, PAPs need to talk about the cost. But those conversations should be kept private. Complain and fret to each other over breakfast. Unload your financial frustrations to your social worker or attorney. For crying out loud, keep it out of cyberspace. Please. It diminishes everyone.

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
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Litha Jameson said...

You need a like button for this post. :)

I'll be tweeting you!

Linda said...

Yup. Love this post. Sincerely, an adoptee who knows exactly how much she cost and really didin't need to know. (damn, I was expensive, lol) xoxox

Lolo @ The Lyons Din said...

While I understand all of the points you made, I'm going to have to disagree. I can't tell you how many people told us "Just adopt" while we were trying to conceive. Those people -- and us at the time - -had no idea how much adoption costs. I was shocked. Catholic Charities wanted $40,000. I think the general population -- the "fertile" population -- needs to know this. Yes it is unfair that those of us with a defective womb have to pay so much. My husband and I would might have adopted more children if it were not so cost-prohibitive. People I know would have. There is no shame in talking about it. And, just so you know, our adoption didn't cost that much because we didn't use an agency or a fancy high-priced lawyer and we searched on our own (11 years ago, BEFORE Facebook etc.). We got lucky. Many times over.

Myst said...

Great post Sally!! I think you need a love button for this post!

Great points! Whilst I understand there are huge costs involved in adoption, money is NOTHING compared to the lifelong loss and trauma many suffer as a result of the seaparation - be it through choice or coercion. Thank you, thank you , thank you for getting this!! It is an often missed concept.

Amanda said...

Fantastic post.

I complain about the expense but not for the same reason most people do. It's because it is not necessary. Money is a barrier. If a child needs a home, they should get one. It should not take $20,000 for a child in need to be helped--that is simply ludicrous. Adoption should cost nothing and focus on putting the most in-need of children in homes first and foremost.

The problem, IMHO, with complaining about the cost of adoption in comparison to birth costing relatively nothing is that adoption is not an avenue for adoptive couples to be "the same as" families who gave birth. Adoption is about pairing kids with families; period. It should cost nothing based on the ethical fact that money in adoption causes corruption--not because it's "unfair" that people can give birth for free.

shannon said...

I completely agree - especially with #3!

Margie said...

Well said!

LeMira said...

I have two children: one biological, one adopted. When you come down to brass tacks, BOTH cost money (one was severely premature and those costs are astronomical). I find it completely tacky, crass, and inappropriate to make the money part of having a child an issue -- as if they owe their parents something for their parents' choice have them in our family.

No one wants their worth monetized, it's very dehumanizing, as if we're a commodity. My mother never told me how much my hospital bills were -- how much I cost. Why should children need to know their adoption costs? Really? There are too many other costs in a adoption that are FAR more important.

I never got to say goodbye said...

As an adoptee I really like this post- thank you for posting it. There is no point in complaining- if you are mad about it fight for reform but don't whine about it- money is money- a life of separation from your family what dollar amount would we put on that pain? The adoptee and first mothers pain? Thank you for posting this.

Reagan and Trevor's Mommy said...

I think a missing thought here is that the cost complaints are independent from the people involved in the actual adoption and have nothing to do with worth or value. The same as IVF - a child who finds out how much the IVF procedure cost is not likely to feel that dollar amount is his/her "worth". If adoption cost nothing or $40,000, the pain of the birth family doesn't change. A "free" fully insured biological birth does not make that child worth less. The "worth" of a child is far higher a price than anyone could ever afford. Cost is but one of the not-so-good realities of adoption today and doesn't minimize anyone else's experience or feelings. We all have our collective life burdens to bear and it is okay to recognize that something may feel one way to some and another way to others but silencing one over another isn't the answer. I'm not afraid for my children to find out the cost of the act of adoption because they will have known our love and the love of their birth family all along (we have a very open adoption).

Susan said...

I'm an adoptive mom who is raising funds to publish a picture e-book on the spiritual connection between adoptive parents and children. I've written the book but need to hire an artist to produce the illustrations. I have a campaign on Indiegogo at, and I would appreicate anything you can do to help me publicize this campaign. I have to get to a certain level of activity on the site before Indiegogo will promote it. Like it on FB, tweet it, or blog about it--anything helps. Please leave a comment on the site if you have questions--thank you, Susan

Cweathersby said...

Because of the cost, I will never get to have a child. We both have jobs and would provide a comfortable and loving home, but we can't have them naturally, or with ART, and can't afford adoption.
Why can't I complain about that when there are so many kiddos that need a home?

Lorraine Dusky said...

As a first mother (whose granddaughter from "adopted out" daughter is visiting...) thanks for this post. It is lovely and hits the nail on the head.

I think I'll post your blog at my blog as a permanent link; don't need to read more. :)

Anonymous said...

I think it is absolutely, positively inappropriate and just plain icky to complain about the cost of adoption or IVF, and especially to beg strangers for the cash to do either.

What kills me is that the folks who cannot be bothered to save up the $$ to adopt/IVF have saved up $25+k for something they really truly wanted like a down payment or new car. So they're capable of it but simply are choosing not to.

Honestly? The PLANNING part of saving up to adopt is so important.