09 October 2007

Please adopt.

This afternoon, I had a meeting at school to discuss how we faculty types might help our FYE students do better research and ask more interesting research questions. When I came home, Gram and Noel were hanging out in his room, investigating the window and carpet fuzz and exciting things like that. I should have kept that going.

Instead, when Gram left, I absentmindedly turned on the television and heard Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter) lamenting her 42-year-old infertility and gladly confessing to Oprah that she spends $28,000 every month feeding her idol of pregnancy.

My heart sank. It sinks again every time I think it. That's about as much as an international adoption costs, and she's been spending it every month for almost two years now. With the money Alexis Stewart has spent trying to make a mini-me, she could have adopted 44 American children.

Do billionaires have more right to children that look like them and act like them? They certainly have more ability to ensure that product. But the poor middle class suffers most from this idol, it seems; Oprah also featured a couple who has taken out second mortgages on their homes to accommodate their IVF bills, and another couple who traveled to India for a foreign surrogate mother because it cost less than half of an American surrogate. (Notably, again, the latter couple could have adopted an Indian child for the same cost as their surrogate experience.)

I shudder at the financial implications, for it seems unethical to spend money in this way. Infertility has become a multi-billion dollar industry while children yet live in orphanages all over the world.

Thankfully, current discussion on Oprah.com's discussion boards (which I only had time to momentarily skim) mentions the need for balance and some responders cry out for adoption. More, though, praise the information, glad to have company in the infertility wars.

God help us to not idolize our wombs. I am reminded of my own son, who stands (literally) at the precipice of walking and makes us marvel and rejoice every day. But I am also reminded of women I know who have recently carried their babies to full term, but not to life. And I am reminded, again, of the 200+ children conceived as a result of sexual assault, finding love and comfort now in a daycare in Congo.

Please, let us practice hospitality. Will the childless not welcome the motherless and fatherless into their homes? Let us welcome them all the more for having entered our families through a strange providence rather than a medical phenomenon.


Brent and Kat said...

An impassioned yet rational appeal... What do you think are the barriers to adoption for most people? Seems like cost is one, but also the fear of the unknown is another biggie. I think adoption involves a very strong faith that all things work together for the good... THX


Jen Strange said...

Indeed, Brent--cost is a huge factor, but fear is a bigger one. Of course, finances are not the issue for the folks featured on Oprah, who have all spent on infertility at least as much money as an adoption would cost; this is the main prod for my sadness.

But fear is absolutely huge, and not to be simply dismissed, so thanks for bringing it up. It's infinitely easier, no matter what the financial cost, to raise your own child, or so I hear. And raising children is never an easy thing, so I wouldn't begin to say that not adopting means you're some lesser person or whatever. Parenthood itself entails trials, and they are surely magnified when the child did not come from your own loins, as it were.

No doubt, it is hard to swallow a doctor's decree that you cannot have children of your own. I do not mean to minimize that, knowing personally the joy such birthing brings. And no doubt, it is difficult to raise a child that you did not conceive.

But we humans are called to many difficult things, and our Creator and Redeemer stand ready to equip us for them. I might be so bold to argue that a closed womb--and maybe an open womb too--is a divine invitation to another kind of parenthood. Not through IVF or other costly technologies, but through adoption.

My comment here is becoming lengthy enough to serve as another post, so I'll close by saying that I would not impose adoption on any couple, or think that anyone has an obligation to adopt. Rather, I want to implore us all with great urgency to love orphans (and others) with wide open hearts. I would urge us all to practice extreme hospitality, as described more broadly by Amy Laura Hall in "Making Prental Choices".

Thanks again, Brent, for your comment.

My Breathments Off said...
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My Breathments Off said...

I swear we must be on the same existential plane or something. I actually found out about that a few days ago when, absent-mindedly, I turned on Oprah to see her and her audience self-assuredly condemning parents for some interminable reason. That pissed me off, but then I saw the advert for the next Oprah, which was the one you saw, and I was heart-broken as well. It's hard to imagine that our culture is so perverse, but it truly is.

That being said, I can't even imagine what it is like to be a woman who can't conceive, I'm sure it must be devastating. I just think that whole oprah deal was insane.

Jen Strange said...

Nice balance there, Sic. Much more concisely put than my long bit.

Medical school leaves you enough time to watch Oprah, eh? Just the commercials, though :)

Shannon said...

I saw an article that she (Stewart) did in a magazine somewhere this week (can't remember which), and I was struck by her selfish, whiny attitude. We've been thinking a lot lately about what it looks like to live generously, and her pursuit seems such the opposite of generosity. Obviously she's not working from a Christian worldview, but it's still difficult to see in action, and to see heralded as a "way to stick to your convictions" kinda thing.

I hadn't seen that from Piper about his granddaugter...what a heartbreak. Love his thoughts, as usual.

rach said...

thank you for sharing...i am so sorry we missed seeing your family last week when we were in town...the kids were sick on sunday so we missed church...i hope we will be back soon

Jen Strange said...

Indeed, Shannon, it's perhaps more troubling that the ingenuity and determination are being praised so extremely. The claim is almost "if only we all had so much money, we could also do such heroic things"!

As for Piper, yes, beautiful and wonderful. He wrote some other bits about the loss of his granddaughter too--search around the DG website for more. Sobering and worshipful.

And Rachel, yes, I missed seeing you too. Dern kids :) Next time, eh? Make it soon!