Aspie with Attitude

Sure, I'm just another Southern Recovering Alcoholic NPR- and Sweet-Tea Addicted Comic Mom with Asperger's in the SFV, but I can tell you now that I don't necessarily fit the stereotype.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Nomenclature: Oh, So Very Important!

A kind and gentle reader left this comment on a previous post:

I was curious about your input on the following situation.

I know a family who adopted a little girl about a year ago now.

The child's natural parents are both white-collar professionals. They have two other children, both early school age. Stable jobs, stable home, stable life. And yet they decided not to parent their third child.


The child has Down syndrome, and they did not want to parent a special-needs child.


I certainly do have some thoughts about this situation. Evidently, this kind of thing, in which parents disregard a child who is less than perfect, is becoming quite the trend among upper-middle-class white professionals. A friend that I grew up with is raising a child who has severe autism because his parents did not want to deal with him. I realize also that I am coming from a perspective in which I have three very healthy children, for which I am extremely thankful. So, I haven't had to face the decision of whether or not to keep a less than perfect child or give him or her to someone else to raise. Still, I can't help but wonder why parents would give away this or any other special-needs child. It seems quite crazy to me. An important part of this post, however, seems to be the nomenclature itself, i.e., "they did not want to parent a special-needs child." (emphasis mine) Here's a news flash for those parents: You've already parented this child! And thus, I am thrust, once again, into the ugly world of adoption nomenclature.

Adoption nomenclature, decried by many as unimportant, shapes the way our brains think about adoption. Many people think that calling natural parents "birthparents" or using parent as a verb, i.e., She has chosen not to parent her child, is not a big deal. Hey, I was an English teacher for five years; I know the power of words. Why did the United States government change, for instance, the Department of War to the Department of Defense? It was, of course, so that we could have perpetual war and feel good about it. We're defending the country, of course, not making war. Yeah, right.

Nonetheless, the social wreckers who seek to separate natural families find it absolutely essential to talk to young-moms-to-be and tell them that they can decide whether or not to "parent" their child. No, you're wrong, social wreckers. If a mom-to-be is pregnant, then she and the father have already parented, whether or not they are ready to raise the child. Indeed, adoption would be tons more honest were it stated that yes, you are already a parent when you contribute to the child's DNA. No, you cannot decide to "parent" or not because that decision has already been made. You can, however, decide to let someone else raise your child. And if you decide to allow someone else to raise your child, the child is still yours, no matter what the legal documents may say. After delving into this adoption industry mess, I've discovered that legal documents are often a bunch of pure crap. After all, my fabricated birth certificate says that I was born to two people who never had a child. If you can believe the government after realizing what it does to birth certificates in this country, you are much more tolerant of lies than I.

Is there something strange about parents who don't want to raise their special-needs child? I think so. Then again, I've yet to walk in those particular shoes. Does giving your child away make those who take the child into parents? No, sadly, it does not, even though the adopters may well do many things that are parent-like.

If we were all only honest about adoption, realizing that each child has two and only two natural parents and that the natural parent-child relationship should be respected--ah, then the world would be a much more honest and less adoption-friendly place. And that kind of world would be just fine with me.