Zora recently published this heart-breaking look at the adoption industry through the eyes of author and journalist Farai Chideya. In it, Chideya chronicles the pain of her three failed private infant adoptions. But she focuses more on the struggle she felt being witness to the desperate circumstances of each of the three birth mothers leading up to their decisions to parent. A couple of things struck us as we read the piece.
Her concerns, or “red flags” as she called them, are detailed both here in the essay and each case as they occurred, with her social workers. With each parent’s choice to revoke adoption proceedings, it’s evident that Chideya’s concerns about adoption as an industry were deepening.
She speaks candidly of the pain of poverty, including the lack of opportunity and resource for parents struggling to take care of their kids. The financial and moral incongruity of an agency caring both for the needs of expectant parents and hopeful adoptive parents was a growing struggle for her.
Newborn-placement agencies often represent two sets of clients with different immediate needs: expectant mothers and waiting families. There are so many morally inconsistent practices, like agencies using supermarket and neighborhood penny flyers to post fatherhood notices that are then used to vacate parental rights in cases where the father is not known. How many young men do you know who read the ads section in penny flyers?
At the end of her journey with private domestic infant adoption, after cutting ties with her agency, Chideya is resolute about the need to change her path:
My thoughts keep returning to those three women and to all the women who face economic uncertainty while they are bearing life. This experience has scarred me, but it’s also made me step up. It’s time for me to fight for their American dream as well as for me to further my own.
If I am able to adopt through a lead from an informal network — in some ways, turning things over to the universe; in other ways, reaching out human to human as I always have — it will be in a spirit of loving informed consent. A baby or child will always be kin to its blood family when that bond is acknowledged with love, understanding, and respect.
Head over to Zora and read Excuse Me, May I Raise Your Child? There’s so much more to unpack in this essay. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!