Thursday, September 13, 2007

Turning Away a Boy

Today's Rumor Queen post discussed (again) an apparently new phenomenon with the China adoption process: people who have requested healthy children with no known medical conditions have recently been referred children with repaired medical conditions. So, if a child is born with an extra digit, and that extra digit has been removed, the child is no longer considered a child with special needs, and she may be referred to a family requesting a healthy child. Some families have opted to decline these referrals, and it appears that they received a new referral-- for a healthier child-- in the next batch.

Of course, I have an opinion about this, but that's not what I'm going to write about today. What caught my eye was this one line in Rumor Queen's post:

Also, the families who turned down boy referrals have been given a referral
for a girl.

What this sentence tells me is that there were families who requested girls and were referred boys who declined the referral. Now, it's true that I don't know the individual circumstances-- like perhaps it was that they requested a healthy girl and were matched with a boy with a repaired special need. But, taking the sentence at its face, I am . . . well . . . appalled.

Here we have a situation in which a government has created a predominantly one-child-only rule (though if both parents are only children, they are permitted to have two children without paying a penalty for the second child). And that rule has led to the abandonment of thousands of girls for social and cultural reasons. The desire to have a boy is so strong in China, that people were, at one point, opting for sonograms to determine gender and then terminating the pregnancy if it was a girl. I remember reading back in 2005 that China was no longer permitting ultrasound technicians to reveal the gender of a child for that very reason.

So along come Americans, and people from other countries, too, who are interested in building their families through adoptions from China. And we all go into the process recognizing that there is an abundance of girls and thinking that we will probably be adding a girl to our families through this process. The thing is, though, that the one-child rule doesn't just apply to parents who have no children. It applies to everyone. So if a family has a boy or a girl who they decide to raise, and then discover they are pregnant again, it's quite plausible that child will end up in an orphanage regardless of the gender. That means there are boys in China's orphanages, not just girls.

And so it leaves me to wonder how we can on the one hand cluck our tongues in disapproval at the abandonment of girls, and more specifically at the cultural preference for one gender over another, only to later demonstrate the same preference. I just don't get it. It seems incredibly hypocritical; and more than that, it seems wrong.

I mean, say you were pregnant and really, really wanted a girl. And you discovered you were going to be having a boy, would you seriously decide to terminate the pregnancy? Place the child for adoption? I've never even heard of such a thing happening in the U.S. But, by analogy, isn't that what families who turn down a referral for a gender other than the one they requested are doing?

Yeah. I'm being judgmental. But boy or girl, all children need loving homes. And if you only have a heart for one gender or another, I can't help but question the motives. And yes, I realize some families opt to adopt from China because they have three boys at home and would like a little girl. But, you know what? Too bad. That's just the crap shoot you take, I say. I think it's wrong to decline a referral because of gender. And I don't think anything would convince me otherwise. Shame on those families. Shame on us for thinking it's okay to have that attitude with adoption when we would never condone it for biological children.

That said, of course I would much prefer those families decline the perfectly healthy boy to wait for a girl than adopt a child who they will never really love. But it's so sad that they don't have unconditional love to offer in the first place. . .


Johnny said...

I agree with your take!

There are a few bloggers out there, when this subject came up about a year ago (there were some rejected referrals because the gender wasn't the one they wanted), who said that they would politely ask for another referral.

I respect these bloggers, but I had to bite my tongue at that statement. On one hand, you DO want a set of parents who want to be parents to that child......on the other hand, I thought of the same EXACT scenario you proposed.

But in the end, it came down to.......
"It's their lives and their adoption."

Glen and Andrea said...

I love reading your writing and this post possibly is the best. It is excellent writing of course, and I completely agree with you. There definately are some major issues of concern in the adoption world, refusing to be open to gender is one of them. I believe we should not be able to choose gender when adopting. It seems to me that there truly are people in the world that think of and use adoption as a way to order a child i.e sex, age and health.

Despite the many bloggers that stand up and claim this view, there seem to be many more that have choosen to select female gender and are very defensive about it. I have been following a series of posts on this topic at a blog called 'Pho for Four', the author Laurie has received a lot of comments and attention for it. I have found that a lot of commenters are indignant that someone question the fact that they are only open to adopting a girl and that the stats show that 85% of adoptive parents select girls only. Interestingly, in every case I read, the prospective parent claimed that their reasons were private and they therefore wouldn't identify why they choose 'girl'. Apparently some secret they can't share that makes them justified.

Selecting gender in pregnancy is not acceptable to most people. China rejecting many girls is seen by everyone as shocking but in the same breath they will then accept only a girl.

You're more succinct than I am but hopefully you follow my point. I think I'll pop over to Laurie's blog and send her over here.

Sarah & Eric said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I really enjoyed reading your post, of course because I am in complete agreement with you! I really do not understand a-parents who would *rather* be parents of a girl than parents, period.

Julie said...

Excellent post! I sent you an email about it.