adoption, reunion, Reform, reality**
I’m back but before I start, I want to thank Suz Bednarz of WritingMyWrongs for guest non-blogging/posting yesterday. Great post!
Now back to our words. We are on the first letter of word three.
R is for the Right to…
The first time I heard the words I was at theatre festival meet and greet. A play that I wrote had been accepted for production and the playwrights, directors and producers were introducing their work to the other participants. One of the directors got my attention when she got up and said “This play is about who has the right to raise a child.”
To me, that was self-evident. The only people with the “right” to raise any child are its parents. In some cases, sadly, these rights are terminated and someone else may become involved. In the case of adoption, the mother signs something to say she is relinquishing her rights. To me, parents rights came first, end of discussion.
The play was a two hander: An infertile woman and a somewhat clued-out child/woman who was pregnant. The play was about who was better for this unborn child. It’s own slightly clued-out child/woman mother or the extremely accomplished (slightly high-strung) infertile woman.
Poor C-O’d child/woman! The deck was really stacked against her. She was young, she was poor, she came from a troubled family. I think she’d even dropped out of school. She road her bike aimlessly in circles on the stage. An outward manifestation, no doubt, of her general aimlessness. She hadn’t really thought too much about what she was going to do with this baby once it arrived. SHS infertile woman, on the other hand, had had the nursery planned and the furniture bought for years.
I mean really. Whose side would you be on?
When I tell people my adoption story many people say I should write a book. I’ve never done that. I don’t think a book with a neon MESSAGE! MESSAGE! sign all over it is a very good book. And I think it would be hard to write any other kind. You have to be very careful to make your point without having the reader feel they have been beaten over the head with a polo mallet. (Okay – I see all you people out there rubbing your heads right now where the polo mallet hit you but it’s NaBloPoMo! It’s Take Back Adoptember! Cut me some slack.)
I have only officially written a fiction piece about adoption once. I was sitting at my second home. I had just bought some new sheets for the bedroom and as I frequently do I bought an extra sheet to have some matching material – in this case to make a bed skirt. As I was dismantling the sheet I came across the tag. Any of you who are familiar with HomeSense know the tag said “Made in China”.
Sitting there ripping the sheet apart, I started to think about the woman who worked in the factory in China where the sheets were made. And I thought about China’s one child policy and how the person who made the sheets and I just might have something, one really big thing, in common. We had both lost children to adoption.
And so I wrote ta story called “Made in China – The World is Red. I don’t think it was preachy. At least I hope it wasn’t preachy. It just kind of flowed out of me. I’ve learned to trust that. I entered it in a contest and it won second prize. When I went to collect the prize (money) one of the judges told me he expected to meet a Chinese lady. I was flattered.
But back to the play. It was preachy. It was written in such a way that no one was supposed to leave the theatre thinking that child would be better off with child/woman than infertile woman.
Some people believe the test for adoption should be “the best interests of the child”. Not everyone agrees. Here is what one judge said:
If … the best interests of the child is to be the determining factor in child custody cases … persons seeking babies to adopt might profitably frequent grocery stores and snatch babies from carts when the parent is looking the other way. Then, if custody proceedings can be delayed long enough, they can assert that they have a nicer home, a superior education, a better job or whatever, and that the best interests of the child are with the baby snatchers. Children of parents living in public housing or other conditions deemed less affluent and children of single parents might be considered particularly fair game.”Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court, The “Baby Richard” case.
It’s interesting when people start dressing things up in a mantle of rights. Sometimes, they start to believe their own publicity. Sometimes they start to think of the world in terms of how hard done by they are because their “right” is being hampered. Sometimes a want gets so big that it wants to turn itself into a right.
Because the play was always on right after mine, I spent a lot of time in the green room talking to the two actors involved. I liked them. I thought, within the limits of the material, they did a good job.
I’ll never forget them. Those two actors performing that play were, in a very big way, responsible for one aspect of my waking up about adoption and the forces that were and are at work.
** For new readers, I am working through the letters in these words as my writing prompts during NaBloPoMo 2011.