La La How The Life Goes On

Don’t Go Fund Me

Posted on: October 7, 2015

I’m feeling ranty today. Well, extra-ranty, I suppose. Here’s why. I have now been invited to view and support three separate gofundme-type pages for adoptions, and my answer to those and to all like them is a giant, fat, unequivocal NO. (Be sure you’re sitting down before I tell you that one of them has a goal of $36,000).

I have been trying to think of how to say this nicely but I cannot be bothered. Here is the bottom line:

You should not fund your adoption by seeking donations.

You should not publish your waiting child’s name and/or photo to encourage donations.

You should not provide the general public with private details of your child’s life in order to encourage donations.

Above all, you should not tell me that God Has Called Us to adopt to encourage donations. If God has called you, why has He not also sent you some cash?

If you cannot afford to adopt a child, you should not adopt a child.

Are these the rantings of a nasty, mean snobby adoptive parent? Well, for perspective, let’s flip this discussion to childbirth. What if you had friends with two kids who said that God has called them to have more children. Only, they can’t afford to have more children. They don’t have insurance and so will need your financial assistance to pay for the prenatal care and childbirth.  Maybe they are lovely people who would be great parents to many, many babies. But wouldn’t such a request give you pause on behalf of the potential child-to-be? “We have no money to do this, but we are determined to get pregnant regardless. Won’t you please donate? Also, because God says we should.” You would likely–rightfully–have a moment of pause at the wisdom of such a choice.

So why do we not feel that collective sense of caution when it comes to fundraising for adoptions? Why is it considered elitist assholery to express the same trepidation at supporting such a venture for a family created through adoption?

One argument in favor of fundraising is that adoptions have no insurance to help, whereas couples with health insurance will have pregnancy and childbirth covered. Fair enough. But not all adoptions need be international with all of the visa and paperwork and travel expenses they entail.

Another argument in favor of fundraising is that it raises awareness of adoption in the community.  I submit that there are other, better ways to achieve this goal that don’t involve people writing you a check.

Another argument in favor of fundraising is that it offers caring friends and family a concrete way to assist you in building your family. To counter this belief I would simply ask that you consider the dynamic you are creating by having people close to your future child feel like they “chipped in” to bring that child home. I ask that you identify the relative or friend’s kid who will waste no time in mentioning to your adolescent child how her family totally helped make his life here in the US possible with their generous donation to his fund.

In short, I am asking you to think and act like a parent.  A person who seeks to protect your child from shame or harm. Who advocates for your child. Who ensures your child’s privacy and dignity. Who recognizes your child’s basic fundamental right to own his or her life story. Above all, a person who takes the long view of your child’s life. Who thinks ahead and sees the peaks and valleys that await your child. Who does not act in a manner that would compromise your child’s well-being even 5 or 10 or 15 years from now.

So is adoption only for the upper middle class people with disposable income? Of course not. Like all couples planning to create a family, it is entirely okay, and advisable, to start saving. To start that nest egg. To take extra shifts at work. To make and sell crafts. To offer services that will provide extra cash for your adoption plans. To cut back on cable and restaurants and trips so you can sock that money away in your Family Fund without telling the world who and what it’s for.

The proliferation of adoption fundraising sites illustrates the essential bias in favor of adoptive parents in the adoption process. The bias that implies that adoptive parents are owed a baby. From public pleas for funds to build a family, to outrage at countries’ restrictions on who can or cannot adopt, to anger at birth mothers who “change their minds.” These all spring from a deep-seated belief that adoptive parents are owed a child. That people without financial resources are entitled to a child simply because they believe God has told them so, or because they so fervently desire to have a family. That countries like China or Haiti are in the business of providing children to waiting families rather than providing families for waiting children. That a birth mother does not have the right to decide to parent her child at any time during an adoptive process. That the needs of the adoptive parents should be paramount over those of the child. the birth family or the birth culture.

A compassionate and ethical adoption system recognizes all members of the “adoption triad:” the birth family, the child and the adoptive family. It privileges the woman who is bringing the child into the world. It respects her rights. It protects the safety and well-being of the child by any means necessary. It absolutely offers a place of respect for the adoptive parents, but it should never center its concerns on them alone.

So of course there is nothing at all wrong with earning and saving funds for your adoption.

But there IS everything wrong with fundraising.

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1 Response to "Don’t Go Fund Me"

I unequivocally agree with you, big Mama! Act like a parent. Act responsively. If you can’t afford to have adopt a child now, what makes you think you can afford to feed, clothe, educate, take time off work to care for, and provide a responsible upbringing for a child in the days and years ahead? Adoption is not a right, but rather a gift that must be responsibly accepted and accounted for. Additionally, there are lots of ways to adopt children, outside of the most expensive “adopt an infant” option. There may be other more financially-manageable options that also work for a family or individual. I don’t want to come off as elitist either, but I completely agree that parents need to be responsible in significant ways if they are going to take on the important role of caring for another human being. Thank you for your rantings!

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