This is in response to the “call for replies” to a recent article in The Atlantic. This type of “false equality” in terms of discussion leaves out certain basic premises that cannot be so easily overlooked.
There are some huge glaring problems inherent to the discussion on adoption as you are positing it. Primary among them is the mythology dating only from the 1950s that adoption is about family creation. The history of adoption is one of social engineering, deracination, extirpation, dispossession, displacement, and disinheritance. In this light, to speak of the adoptee as having “issues” is to gloss over what is truly being manifested: A healthy resistance against an alien and alienating society that has seen fit to destroy not only the adoptee, but her family and community as well. Because the audience of The Atlantic is made up of those in the adoptive class, reading between the lines of this story gives us a different take that might go as follows: “You, the adopting parents, are not responsible for the failure of your children.”
That this maps on to every loathsome trope of “feral children”, failed blank slates, reverting to form, degenerate DNA, “bad seeds”, etc. ad infinitum and then some should give us great pause. It was Charles Loring Brace who, as the founder of the Children’s Aid Society, and describing the children who would be sold as chattel into indentured servitude via the Orphan Trains, referred to these “orphans” as “street Arabs” of “the dangerous classes”. The vestigial aspects of adoption practice thus carry forward and taint anything done in its name. It’s time for the adoptive classes to right the societal inequalities that allowed them to adopt in the first place. Anything else is just so much pyromaniac firefighting. Adoptees, as well as our original families and communities, are growing increasingly tired of listening to discussions that so willfully and balefully miss the point.
See also: NPR’s “smiling foxes”: On the inherent racism and classism of adoption.