Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How is it different?

Let me ask you something. And to cut any bullshit off at the pass, this is not an anti-Japanese post or any such nonsense. I'm just picking Japan because it's a rich county on the other side of the world, OK?

You're out shopping one day in KMart with your child. Let's say your child is about 2 or 3. You turn around for a second, and your child is gone. It happens, right? Everyone who has a toddler has gone though this. You know how it grips at your heart? That crazy fear? But usually in under 20 seconds you locate them, even though those 20 seconds feel like an eternity.

Now suppose you never find them. Ever. Your child has completely disappeared off the face of the earth. There's a huge bruhaha. It's all over the news. Missing child cards are printed with your baby on them. An Amber Alert goes off. You are plastered all over the news. But your child is never found.

Eventually the news dies down, replaced by other news. The case remains open with the FBI, but it gets low priority. Still, occasionally there are leads, and they follow them. For five years.

And one day the lead pans out. Your child was kidnapped, and taken to Japan to be adopted. And she (because when we're talking about imaginary adoptees, they are always she's) is living an amazing life. True, she's been renamed. Yes, she's changed religions. But her adoptive family is richer than you could ever imagine. And when the news breaks out, they are horrified beyond belief to learn that this precious little girl they love so much was stolen.

She was in foster care; her father had disappeared; and her mother had a household of children she could scarcely afford to feed. The child had been abused and faced a bleak future as an illegitimate, impoverished child. That's what they had been told.

To find out she was the beloved child of two working class individuals was beyond horror for them. "It was devastating. As much as we love her and can't imagine life without her, we never would have taken a child away from a family that wanted to raise her," said the mother, who lives in Tokyo.

The mother spoke on the condition their names are not used. The stay-at-home mom has six kids; five were adopted. Her American child is the latest addition. "We just wanted to increase our family. It's not like we were trying to save the world," she said. "I hope the courts get to the bottom of this."

Her daughter fondly remembers being rocked by her birth mother and talks nostalgically about climbing trees and playing in the rain, "but she's happy here," she said. Her daughter aspires to become a doctor or engineer, but struggles with feelings of abandonment, said her mother. "She'll do great things. I just want to see her succeed and have the opportunity to do that and have all this other stuff go away."

You notice what your name has become, right? You're a birth mother. Welcome to the land of invisibility and irrelevancy. Now go away and shut up.

"During the investigation we all kind of rationalized within ourselves that, yes, the adoption agency probably did something unethical. But when the indictment came down, it was like a whole other horror for all of us."

Now, are you telling me you wouldn't want your child returned? Let's say this adoptive couple has a Trump-quality net worth, but you and your husband both have to work. You two rent a small ranch house while in Tokyo, the adoptive parents live in palatial luxury. You'd be lucky if you could send your child to community college, but her adoptive parents can write a check from the household account to pay for a Master's Degree. Your husband works a menial office job. Her husband is a Vice President of Sony.

Do they have the right to your kidnapped child, simply because they are richer with a better quality of life? Do they have the right to your child simply because your child loves them? You're going to walk away from this?

How is it different?

Why is it when these scandals are revealed, talk of returning the child to their parents is never mentioned?

7 complaints from ingrates:

suz June 19, 2007 at 12:48 PM  

due to the unethical circumstances under which my own daughter was taken from me, i find it hard to comment here. real hard.

MomEtc. June 19, 2007 at 6:00 PM  

Well, I would probably commit suicide before the case resolved and the child was even found. But let's say I lived....

....I'd certainly feel entitled to contact with my kid. I would need to know how close my child was with the new family. I would want to do what benefitted the child most and that may mean contact with both families. If I were to just try and succeed in pulling the child away from them, I may find that I'd hurt my child yet again.

abebech June 19, 2007 at 6:07 PM  

Theresa, does this hypothetical respond to a particular story I've missed, or to adoption loss in general?

The money wouldn't factor into my decision, though in rl it would factor into a court's, I'm sure. The time passed, however, might. I need to think about it.

3rd generation adoption June 19, 2007 at 6:54 PM  


It's almost like the Solomon story where two moms are swearing the newborn is theirs. Solomon tells his servant to cut the baby in half and then the real mother relinquishes her rights for the baby's well being. There are no answers, just grief.

I say find the person who took her, the agency that "sold" her and the lawyers involved and ruin their lives. Do what they did to the a**hole who lied about the Duke Lacrosse team. Take away their livelihood, remove them from the bar and make sure they never have a decent life again.

Ungrateful Little Bastard June 19, 2007 at 10:32 PM  

It's responding to a conglo of several upsetting news stories, past and present. And the future too, I'm afraid.

abebech June 20, 2007 at 11:04 PM  

I've read the story it's most closely associated with, and I just can't subtract out my privilege. My first response is the one I can't shake -- that I'd find a way to move to Tokyo to be with my child in the culture s/he was being raised in. It's also impossible, I know, for the Samoan parents involved, which means it's on the US parents to find a way. Depending on how much time had passed, I'd like to see them find a way to share custody.

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