It’s a week into November, and on several of the online communities I am a part of, #nationaladoptionmonth has been trending. I remember learning about this month several years ago under the Obama Administration, and now I am reminded it again under the Trump Administration. This is the first year I have ever read the proclamation from the Executive Branch, and I take issue with several statements that have been made.
First, I would like to discuss how Trump views Adoption.
“My Administration recognizes the profound importance of adoption for the American family. Adoption is a life-changing and life-affirming act that signals that no child in America — born or unborn — is unwanted or unloved.”
Adoption is indeed a life-changing commitment. However, I am unsure if it is particularly life-affirming. In the past few months alone, there have been reports of children that have been killed or severely neglected by their adoptive parents. Adoption does not always promise a better life, but it promises a different life. I recognize that I use international adoption as an example, and I recognize that I am an international adoptee. My experiences do not apply to “no child in America,” yet here I am due to the (un)fortunate experiences of globalization and the adoption industry. This removal provides me a particular insight on adoption in how Trump discusses that no child is unwanted or unloved.
Earlier this year, Trump decisively declared a crackdown on immigration and the deportation of anyone who came to the United States undocumented. However, it is incredibly important to note that most of the undocumented immigrants that are residing in the United States were here legally at one point. Some were seeking asylum, refugees from wars that the United States participated in, or simply students. Language barriers, lack of support and opportunity, and just general hassle of complicated bureaucratic systems can prevent individuals from attaining legal status.
Many children that are in the system are not unloved or unwanted. They are part of families that are systematically discriminated against and oppressed. Yes, there are circumstances in which biological families relinquish children or horrendous parenting misdeeds, but those are not the only reasons how a child ends up in in the System. For example, before the sudden complete repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, Tump stated that DREAMers could stay, but their parents had to go. This is at the core root of how to separate a child from their family. These children are not unwanted or unloved, but they would be placed in a system
Trump later states in the proclamation:
“We must continue to remove barriers to adoption whenever we can so that the love and care of prospective adoptive parents can be directed to children waiting for their permanent homes. This year’s National Adoption Month, we focus on our commitment to helping older youth experience the transformative value of permanency and love.”
He’s right. Adopting older youth and providing the care and value of permanency of love is great if that was the only thing that mattered in an adoption. Speaking as someone who was adopted as an infant and has no history of my past, I still struggle with the value of permanency. If you add documentation into the mix, legal separation from a family you’ve known your entire life, and more…I can only imagine the trauma that may come from it. Older children that are waiting on permeant homes are not always orphans or in desperate need of loving supportive parental figures. They’re in desperate need of the family that was just deported.
The irony of this all is that Adoption is usually celebrated in a way that brings people together. It’s supposed to build families and have happy endings. But adoption does not always end like that. Adoption, more often than not, means the breaking of another family. There are several policies across the Trump administration that contributes to this. Cutting of family planning resources like planned parenthood, the deportation of undocumented immigrants, and so much more tears apart families more often than bring them together. The stigma of adoption still lingers. The prioritization of biological families still reigns supreme. It is not so simple to just say, let us adopt more youth. There is a shame if you cannot take care of the family you create.
Look, I’m not sure what the right answers are when it comes to a lot of these things. I do not have the educational background or the experience to say what is wrong and what is right. Nor do I think that this is an attack on Trump. Under President Obama, there were more deportations than any other President of the United States in modern history. There is a failure to address the deportation of international adoptees under both administrations. Adoption is a particularly hard subject for a lot of people. I am not pro-adoption nor am I particularly anti-adoption. I just think we need to begin to have an honest conversation about adoption in this country and around the world. Adoption ties into so many other factors and is the result of many poorly planned policies that do not always have the desired impact. We need to support young parents who decide to keep children; we need to be able to have realistic sex education for everything (inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community), we need to have better school systems, we need to acknowledge that adoption is not a solution.
I’m not an expert by any means, but I do come from the perspective of an international Chinese adoptee who has had both an incredibly positive and negative experience with adoption. I know I cannot separate my personal feelings when speaking on this topic, but I do not see that as any less deserving of consideration. I urge us to dive deeper into this topic and recognize that yes, adoption can be an amazing and beautiful thing, but it is also an indication of things that are much more insidious going on within a country.