Using “Rare” and “Most” in adoption to calm the fears…
I have tried to read all the responses, and rebuttals, to articles published about Kathryn Joyce’s new book The Child Catchers, Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption. They happened fast and furious with words like shameful, attack, hatchet job, and it was obvious that the book caused great consternation.
Consternation is a good thing if it is the impetus for awareness, dialogue, change, to do better, require better, to admit failures, and help those that were failed.
The book didn’t have to be written about current day adoptions, because the lessons should have already been learned. The adoption industry and agencies should police itself, want to police itself. Is there ever an excuse for wrongful adoptions, or abuse of the child adopted by the family? Realistically, we all know there will some that fall through the cracks – no process is perfect, but striving for continual improvement, lessens the numbers. Transparency lessens the numbers. They have the historical reality that bad things can happen when large sums of money are in play in adoption, or when red flags are ignored.
But what I really want to talk about today are the word RARE and MOST. Those words (or similar words) have also been thrown around a lot this week. They have been used to allay the concerns, and fears, raised in the book. That wrongful adoptions are rare. That most adoptions are done correctly. That abuse in an adoptive home is rare. That most adoptive parents are good. That is the message being used to counter the book, the warning, and I don’t disagree, but without an understanding of most, or rare, is it good enough when speaking about children? Without transparency that question can’t be answered.
Lets talk about rare – it’s a misleading word because nothing in the word actually defines what the percentage (or number) makes something rare – is it 1%, 10%, 20%, 30%? What is the accepted percentage to classify that wrongful adoptions, or abuse in adoptive homes, is actually rare? When would it become a problem to be addressed?
I have a rare disease. There are an estimated 25 million Americans living with a rare disease. Roughly, one in twelve have a rare disease, some rare diseases have more people affected (up to 200,000), other rare diseases have far fewer numbers and some even less than ten. Viewing rare in this context works for adoption – in some countries wrongful adoptions will happen more often that other countries. But we have no number to apply to wrongful adoptions, and then compare to ethical adoptions and come up with a ratio, or percentage to draw a collective conclusion that it is the best it can be. What is the percentage of wrongful adoptions in the current go-to countries or in the US? What is the number of adoptive families that pass homestudies that have red flags that end in abuse of the child that come to the attention of child protective services? I don’t think those questions are being asked, or answered, or able to be answered, yet transparency is the best defense.
I have read that most people with my disease do just fine – some never have an event, or have symptoms of the disease, rather it is found during a routine investigation for another problem. Most live a normal lifespan. It isn’t a reassuring in the least to me because I don’t fall into the most category. The word most is used in adoption, most adoptive parents don’t abuse their children, most adoptions are ethical, most adoptions truly needed to happen. What is the percentage of most in these statements? It apparently can’t be answered with anything more definitive than it’s most, and the opposite is rare, which of course has no percentage assigned to qualify it either.
So how many rare cases (wrongful adoptions, or abuse in the adoptive family to the child) have to happen before it isn’t okay? Why is the message that although wrongful adoptions are rare – that the prospective adoptive parents need to do their research, and make sure everything their adoption agency does is right? Have you ever seen a spokesman for a car manufacturer get up and say: we know this is a problem, but death or accident by this problem is rare, and most people driving our cars do okay, so not to worry, just be diligent and watch for any anomalies in how your car performs? I haven’t, and doubt it would be acceptable to any car owner – why is it acceptable for adoption of children?
To understand why this bothers me so much – I will leave you with one example, this article about the sentencing of the Schatzes, and statement by the older sibling of Lydia – who died a horrible, tragic death that didn’t have to happen. I doubt she is comforted to know that her sister’s death is rare in adoption, and that most adoptee’s aren’t abused, or die from the abuse – it doesn’t work that way when you are talking about human beings.
“The sentences were largely known in advance because of a plea bargain April 8. The couple had faced charges of first-degree murder and torture and two possible life sentences. Before the sentence was handed down a surviving adopted daughter, 12, addressed the court. With a soft-spoken voice that was often punctuated with tearful sobs, she said her 7-year-old sister, Lydia, meant the world to her and Lydia’s death really hurt.
“Why did you adopt her? To kill her?” the daughter asked.”
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”
― Walt Whitman
Oct 2014: You may speak freely, but please try to use words that everyone can hear about your individual story or view. If you don't, those who can actually benefit won't hear it, I want to see change in my lifetime. I may refuse to approve certain comments.
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