I’m now finally getting to some of the comments (there’s still a huge backlog there–sorry) but I also have some things I’ve been meaning to post about. This is from last week’s Modern Love column.
It’s not a case and in many ways it’s not about law at all. It’s a another view of adoption and I think it is worth a read. I won’t try to summarize it because it’s as much about tone as it is facts, but I did want to offer a few comments.
First, the initial (failed) adoption made me think a bit about some of what we’ve written about ways in which people apart from the pregnant woman can invest in the expected child. Clearly the women in Seattle were deeply invested in the first prospective child. That’s what makes it so wrenching. Further, I think we want prospective adoptive parents (and all other sorts of prospective parents) to be invested in just this way. If they weren’t invested in this way then I wouldn’t feel comfortable having them step into the job.
But the investment they made gave them no rights to the child nor should it have. That means it is terribly risky. You put your heart into it and you may find–as was the case in the first (failed) adoption here–that you get nothing. (To be clear, I do not mean to limit investment to monetary investment. The main investment here is psychological.) In any event, investment alone cannot make you a parent, in my view.
Then there is the happier story of the second (successful) adoption. What strikes me here is the relationship between the birth mother and the prospective adoptive parents. It seems so clearly a good thing for all concerned–including the anticipated child. These women come to have a substantial and respectful relationship, one that will benefit everyone if it endures. Given that it is both substantial and respectful, it seems like it has the best possible chance of enduring, too. This, it seems to me, is perhaps the ideal we can hope for with open adoption. The adoption creates and enduring relationship not only between adoptive parents and child but also between adoptive parents and birth mother.
Finally, I see no mention here of the genetic/birth father. That’s not the point of the essay so there’s no reason why the author should have included it, but it’s something we’ve been talking about here quite a bit recently. Perhaps I should amend my earlier note about the ideal we can hope for in open adoption. Maybe the ideal would mean enduring relationships not only with the birth mother but also with the birth father. But this story seems to me to highlight one of those essential differences between men and women. He could walk away from the pregnancy, she could not. As I say, I have no facts. I don’t know why he wasn’t there. But surely this scenario–with a present and engaged birth mother but not a present and engaged birth father–does occur.