Adopting A Child To Replace A Deceased One

In the WTF category, this article (Houston Chronicle: Family eases grief of lost child through adoption) makes me sick, sick, absolutely sick. I feel so sorry for this girl and the expectations that are going to be heaped on her, above and beyond those expected of most adoptees.

The adoptive parents are in mega-denial:

“I’m convinced Marin [the deceased child] and Sioban [the Chinese adoptee] met in passing,” Lori [the adoptive mother] said. “Marin told her, This is how you get to Daddy’s heart, and this is how you get to Mommy’s heart.'”

No, I bet the former was pissed off at missing out on her life, and the latter is… well, pissed off at missing out on her life. What is most telling to me is this paragraph:

So they settled on adoption. And they decided on China, because most of the infants there are healthy and, because of the one child policy and male bias, there is a preponderance of girls up for adoption.

Translation: International adoption is easier because it’s less likely those pesky birth families are gonna come searching. It’s also easier because the records are more readily obfuscated. I don’t suppose this family bothered to learn anything about the real state of international adoption, such as the number of children who are being kidnapped–yes, kidnapped–in China and elsewhere to fulfill Western desires to adopt:

More telling quotes from the article:

The adoption itself was a 21-month process. Flying to China, Lori cried and cried. Was their adopting a child really God’s will? Were they supposed to have just three children? What if she didn’t feel love for this new baby? “But that second they put her in my arms, it was instantaneous,” Lori said. “I was like, This is my baby.’ It was very clear cut that our daughter just happened to be born halfway across the world.”

This is NOT YOUR BABY. This child HAS a family IN CHINA. The fact that you used the coercive and corrupt American adoption system to purchase a child does NOT make it “God’s will”. It’s blatant delusion. It’s failure to process grief. Who the hell approved these people to adopt? They already have three kids, for crying out loud! These are not desperate infertiles. These are people who had their hearts set on four kids and dammit, they are gonna have four kids even if they have to swipe one from somebody else.

And the couple says she has helped make the family whole again. “I tell you, she’s got McGrath blood in her,” Lori said, cradling Sioban in her arms.

No, she DOESN’T, and she never will. Does anybody think this family is really going to encourage this girl to explore her origins when she is old enough to understand? I’m betting on Chinese fairytales and the occasional take-out dinner as the extent of it, if that.

The next time somebody gripes at me about mentioning an entitlement mentality among many prospective adopters, I’m showing them this article. And if that makes me “anti-adoption”, then you can bite my bastard ass.

Thanks to Amyadoptee for pointing out this article, I think. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to be violently ill.


  1. Denial? You are too kind, Triona These people are delusional.

    When I attended the ASAIK conference at Pitt a couple years ago, I woman did a paper on a study she’s doing on adopter…well, I don’t know what to call it. Delusions? I can’t say that because some of the people in her study were quite normal and same and understood what they were doing But an alarming number of adopters believed they were fulfilling God’s plan. Following God’s will. This baby was meant for us. God made the mother a channel to our hearts. God put her in the wrong tummy. You know the routine. BTW, this weekend I found a news story about a SH baybee in which the adopter woman talks about how God let the baybee be abandoned because it needed to be with her. OH, and she loves the biomom for being so generous,.

    Anyway, the study this woman at the conference was doing showed me this Godtalk was was worse than I ever imagined. My parents certainly didn’t talk like that. I think this mentality is all tied up with abortion and tha adoptio is talked about constantly now. Back when I was adopted, adoption only showed up in women’s magazines and movies–and I think that’s where it should have stayed. Otherwise, it feeds the egos of delusionals.

  2. Lorraine just had something up about the fundie adopter reaction to the movie Orphan. One reason I think the conversation has taken this sickening turn is that there is a widespread Christian mission to adopt now, sanctioned by Focus on the Family et al. These people don’t talk about adoption corruption–they don’t acknowledge it exists. But they do talk a lot about being intended to raise *this* child.

    Have to say that I never really thought that my daughter’s records were more obfuscated than most–in a way, they’re a shade more truthful, at least mentioning “her parents” (not me), though completely fudging the true circumstances of abandonment. At least we don’t have the damned ABC that claims I birthed this child.

  3. http://sfp says

    “She’s got McGrath blood in her”??? This is crazy. Who is so dumb they name a Chinese child with a Celtic name? How can that not drive identity confusion? What’s wrong with the name the nearly 2 year old girl already had and no doubt responded quite well to? Have these people NO brains at all?

  4. BD–From my perspective “God’s will” is a cop-out, an excuse to justify many of the atrocities in adoption.

    osolomama–I read that on Lorraine’s blog too. As for obfuscation I guess it’s a case by case thing. I have heard from some internationally-adopted adoptees whose records are a complete sham. The problem is, when you have two countries involved it’s that much harder to ferret out the truth (especially if that truth is locked in some file cabinet half a continent away and written in a language you don’t understand). Also I have heard that China’s “baby economy” simply makes up the info, marking kids as “abandoned” when they know full well what their origins are.

    sfp–Excellent questions. I think it’s abhorrent. Identity confusion, indeed!

  5. At the Pitt Conference…I remember reading from Birthmark at the opening session (which included a bit about my daughter’s natural family waiting for her return) and seeing a stricken look on so many of the people in the audience who turned out to be adoptive parents…and of course, being a numbskull about these academic conferences, I was surprised no one talked to me afterward except one brave adoptive mom who said that she and so many others felt that the child in question (IE, the one they had adopted) was “meant for her/them” and that what I said stuck them where they live. They were about as ready to greet me with open arms as they would a leper. Birth mothers were really in short supply at the ASAIK confab. She was at least open to the idea that maybe we natural (first/birth/whatever) moms didn’t see it that way and was one of the nicer adoptive mothers I met that weekend. A survey would have probably revealed that 74.2 percent of the people who attended were academics who had adopted.

    My fave session (maybe the one you are talking about, BD) is the one given by the big Dutch lady with all kinds of accolades and awards and grants who presented her paper about the process she called “kinning.” By which the adopted person “kins” itself to the new family (and supposedly “unkins” herself from her real DNA heritage blood relationship. I walked with her to a session once and she was a cool cucumber. She was also one of the I-have-more-degrees-than-you types that populated that conference. I wanted to smack her.

    I think that must be what this delusional family means about the Chinese girl having “Mcgrath” blood. Can we all throw up now?

    Thanks Triona for posting this BS that passed as a story through the eyes of a writer and editor who are likewise delusional.

  6. If ever there was a grand case of self-entitlement/self-delusion, this is it. This whole thing does a terrible injustice to the memory of the deceased child and places a burden on the adoptee that NO child should have to bear.

    More and more, I see the fundies going over the top in all areas, including the myth of adoption. Scary!

  7. Sometimes Chinese girls do end up with names you might not expect. For example, there was a Chinese woman who started volunteering at an orphanage. . .she took to one little girl, paid for her surgery, adopted her and named her Portia, after the character in the Merchant of Venice. However, there was a Chinese version of this name too.

    The naming thing has never bothered me much as there are much bigger issues to worry about. It seems like the naming argument is the same one used to claim that if people don’t have a mommy and a daddy, they won’t know how to be a man or a woman. This is just fundamentalism of another ilk. Of course, I named my kid after a French philosopher, so there is little defence for me!

    Nonetheless, since Sim had kept her citizenship and her first name is on her Chinese passport, she is very much acquainted with it.

  8. osolomama–For me, the renaming thing sometimes feels like an attempt to re-mold the adoptee’s personality to the adoptive parents’ preference. At least that’s how it was in my case. I think it’s important to maintain an adoptee’s identity wherever possible. Of course if the adoptee knows their name of origin but chooses to use an adoptive name that’s one thing. I guess what bothers me is renaming combined with concealing the original identity.

  9. Triona, I can definitely see how that would bother you, and in your case your father deliberately withheld documents from you he had access to (if I am recounting your story correctly), which would make me well, crazy with anger.

    There are probably a-parents who select names with a view to molding personality. Any attempt to do so is wrong, of course. The child needs to be who she is on every level. On the other hand, there are those who select names the way most people do–because they like them–and who also incorporate the child’s original name. (Bear in mind that my kid’s first name wasn’t given to her by original parents, but by the Chinese gov’t and her foster parents.) Still, this name is an important piece of her history. I suppose there might be a time in her life where, if we were to clash mightily over her adoption, she might revert to it. That would be her right. Moreover, when a child is old enough to have a sense of her name or to be using it regularly, renaming becomes a much iffier issue. Bottom line, though. Greek people do not have to be called Athena to understand their identity, right? Ditto for anyone else.

    Identity is such a complex thing too.

  10. http://maryanne says

    What an awful adoption story. I always worry about adoptees who are a replacement for a child who died. That is too heavy a burden to place on a child, and the comment about having their blood is just creepy and yes, delusional.

    As to the name thing, I don’t think a child’s first name should be changed if he knows his name, which a two year old would. I was very glad that my son’s adoptive parents kept the name I gave him, but then Michael is a pretty generic boy’s name.

    In this case I think the very ethnic Irish name for a Chinese child is another sympton of deeper denial and connection to the dead kid, but in another situation it might just be a name the adoptive parents liked.

  11. Maryanne, in this particular situation, the name does sound like wishful thinking. And you are right, if a child knows his name, renaming shouldn’t be done.

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  13. It is untrue that there is automatic forced abortion for a second child in China. Please back up your facts with documentation. Exceptions to the second-child rule have been allowed for years for certain groups; moreover, lots of couples, especially in the rural areas, do follow through with second or third pregnancies in the hopes of obtaining a son–often pressured by the father’s parents–but if a girl results, the parents usually can’t pay the hefty fine. Many babies are also abandoned with special needs, including what we would consider fairly minor ones, because parents can’t afford the surgery. There is definitely trafficking, confiscation, and corruption in the China system but it is inaccurate to state that every child who is adopted has been kidnapped off the street. Such charges do nothing to address the very real problems the country faces in controlling its population size or helping families stay together.

  14. I’m reading a book right now called “Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son: Abandonment, Adoption, and Orphanage Care in China” by Kay Ann Johnson. I’d highly recommend it for anyone interesting in learning about the adoption situation in China.

  15. It’s a great book, Triona. Thanks for recommending it. Kay Johnson has done some terrific research and she is also an a-parent (China) and wrote the book in part to be able to answer her daughter’s questions.

  16. “This baby was meant for us. God made the mother a channel to our hearts. God put her in the wrong tummy.”

    Because God forbid someone actually confess that although the mother can be MEANT to parent her own child, the adoptive parents just happened to step in.

  17. oslomama-I have my information FROM A RESIDENT OF CHINA-a woman who IS Chinese-born and raised there and only living in this country two years. I think she knows alot more about how her government and country works then you and Adoption Agencies do.

  18. osolomama and Improper–Having finished “Wanting A Daughter, Needing A Son”–to the best of my knowledge you’re both right. There is some forced sterilization, there is snatching of kids off the street, but not all the time nor everywhere. There are big differences between the various provinces, between rural and urban environments, and between eras in Chinese history. Sounds a lot like domestic adoption, come to think of it.

  19. The Improper Adoptee said:

    “. . .she told me that if a woman gets pregnant there after she has already had a child the government MAKES her abort.”

    Your statement is incorrect. Forced abortion of a second pregnancy in China is not the law.

    I never said there wasn’t coercion, including family planning coercion–there is. But there isn’t automatic abortion of the second pregnancy. Indeed, if you are not in one of the “exception” categories, once your child is born, provided you can pay the fine, the Chinese government is going to be quite happy to take your money and leave you alone.

    I have no association with any adoption agency.

  20. “adopting a child to replace a deceased one” – isn’t that what infertile couples are doing too? Adopting to replace the loss of a pregnancy (death of an ideal child, etc.)? Funny how most people can see the absurdity of trying to replace a deceased child but adopting due to infertility is seen as a “right.” Thanks for your thought-provoking blog. By the way, I am not anti-adoption – in fact after being adopted from an orphanage I chose to adopt special needs/hard to place children from foster care and private adoption as my own version of adoption reform. But I am frustrated by many -most- adoptive parents and most adoption agencies. I must say I find some of the comments a bit harsh. I feel everyone has their own experience and a right to interpret their own experience without being termed dilusional.

  21. The Improper Adoptee said:

    “. . .she told me that if a woman gets pregnant there after she has already had a child the government MAKES her abort.”

    Your statement is incorrect. Forced abortion of a second pregnancy in China is not the law.

    YES it is. Maybe you should go there and find out for yourself as again I was told buy a resident of China that is the way her country works. I don’t understand why you argue with me on this-it is kind of like a Canadian saying they know more about American law and culture then some one born and living in the US..

  22. Improper, I’m arguing with you because you provide only hearsay and not documentation. Your neighbour’s opinion is not documentation. Again, there is no law mandating forced abortion in China. You can read about the one-child policy and its *EXEMPTIONS* here:

    There have been instances of coerced abortion by local officials to make their family planning quotas. This does occur, and it is not the law. Such officials have even been punished by the Chinese government–sometimes, when they feel like it. This does not equate with a law in China mandating abortions of second pregnancies.

  23. http://Anonymous says

    Sorry for responding to a posting that’s almost two months old, especially because I don’t think I can add to the excellent points that have already been made. But there’s another thing bothersome about little Siobhan’s Irish name … the parents are pronouncing it “Sho-bin.” The actual pronunciation is “Shivawn.” Just another layer of stupidity/lack of research

  24. Hi Anonymous–You’re welcome to comment no matter how old the posts are. 🙂 The pronunciation bothered me too. The whole thing bugs me. It seems like they are really trying to turn this little girl into what they want instead of allowing her to be herself.