Dear parents and soon to be parents in adoption…

08 Dec

The last couple of days have been hard in adoption for many of us.  Hard for no reason other than new parents decided to do something for whatever personal reason they had, likely without knowing how ill-suited it was.  There really is no excuse for even new adoptive parents not to have taken the time to understand adoption, the nuances, the history, what is proper, what’s not.  These parents clearly did not do so, and they were wrong.  Many other people in adoption also seem to not have any idea of why what these new parents chose to do was not in good taste.  I’m going to try to explain why I think it was the wrong decision to make.

Some ground rules first:  This is not about how an individual adoptee/adoptive parent/first parent may feel about the video that caused the ruckus and the media frenzy of trying to get rights to show it far and wide.  It doesn’t matter if someone thought it was cute, beautiful, joyful, whatever adjective used, or string of adjectives you want to attach.  Arguments about how this video promotes adoption are simply rhetoric used to justify bad behavior, or, being kind, poor choices made.

Adoption does not happen overnight.  It does not exist in a vacuum.  There is no dearth of information available at your fingertips to understand the history, the present, the people in adoption, the price paid for losing your family.

Nothing in life is perfect, adoption happens because a tragedy occurred.  It isn’t pretty; it’s a solution to a tragedy, it can be a good solution, but it comes at a steep price.

This is about adoption, the history, the people in it, the one at the center, that above all else, must be protected, the child.  The child matters most in adoption.  The child is the one who, for whatever reason, needs new parents, parents who take on the sacred duty of raising a child who has already lost so much.  Parents who are prepared, suited for, and comprehend that you don’t treat a brand new baby as a gimmick and broadcast a video to be picked up by news agencies looking for the latest shiny object to wow their readers with.  You don’t tell the world that you came home and told your children: “We met them at the door and told them that we had been out Christmas shopping and got them a gift to share…and it was under the tree.” and they see the baby.

How could anyone think it was acceptable to link Christmas shopping with an adopted baby? Even if they refused to learn the history of adoption that includes “baby selling”, surely, while they were waiting, they must have read a few of those annoying lists of what not to ask adoptive parents, here are the first three lists that came up from google.  The numbers below are the number it appeared in the list.

1. How much did she cost?

9. “How much did she cost?”

3. “How much did it cost to adopt?”

The history of adoption that includes “baby selling”?  Perhaps the best known is Georgia Tann, a person who was very powerful and did whatever she wanted.  She was not an aberration in adoption, it happened far more often than people want to believe.  To get the merest glimpse, everyone should read Barbara Bisantz Raymond’s book “The Baby Thief, the Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption“.

In the book she speaks of a file she’d labelled “Georgia’s Christmas Baby Ads”.  The file “contained some of the approximately 400 child advertisements Georgia ran between 1929 and the early 1940’s”.  In 1929, it started out as a series of articles that were really advertisements for an annual Christmas baby giveaway.

“Want a real, live Christmas present?” read an article introducing the campaign published on December 9, 1929.

“A present guaranteed to add two-fold to the joy of the holidays.”

“Georgia ran different ads, featuring different children, every day that December of 1929 and during each subsequent year until the early 1940’s, every day from, the beginning of November until January 1.”

They were captioned:

“Could YOU Use a Christmas Baby?”
“Which [of three infant boys] Will You Have for Christmas?”
“Living Dolls [three baby girls] for YOU.”
“Are You in the Market for a 14-Month-Old Boy?”
“Put Your Orders in Early.”
“Dan, Jimmy, Ray . . . Want One of Them?”

You can also read about Georgia Tann in the Kefauver sub-committee documents.  Included is a Report to Governor Gordon Browning.  Section 1 – by Robert L Taylor special counsel on the investigation of Tennessee Children’s Home Society.  Pages 219 – 229 I’d urge you to read Section 2 as well that concludes on page 235.  People did speak up. Doctors spoke up.  It took years before enough was enough.  Great harm was done and Georgia got rich.

Apparently, the scandal was extensively covered in the news media, yet the press also didn’t learn from history.  They continued to focus on heartwarming adoption stories, like my friend’s Christmas Story that I wrote about last year.  It didn’t matter that my friend had been home since the prior March, they wanted to do a Christmas story, snippets below of the actual newspaper text and headlines.

Live Doll

present under their tree  No better gift



However my friend felt throughout the intervening years, loved it, hated it, ambiguous about it – 50 years later, this story is triggered in her memories every Christmas.  The one in the middle is the one who the adoption story is about, everyone else is simply a bit player in the story, yet their actions impact the one the story is about.

Your actions set the course for your child’s view of being adopted, her family and her place within it.  Why would you chance tainting it for the proverbial 15 minutes of fame?  A child is not a gift to be given or received.  You don’t give humans as gifts, you can’t own or give away a person, and you certainly can’t buy one.

Dear parents and soon to be parents in adoption – please do better…

P.s. To any adoption professionals listening.  You have a duty to do better in educating those who you approve to adopt, or, work with.  If you don’t understand adoption history, or, why this is wrong, please do your homework.


Posted by on December 8, 2015 in Adoption, adoptive parents


Tags: , , ,

25 responses to “Dear parents and soon to be parents in adoption…

  1. mswenderful

    December 8, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Art of Being and commented:
    The marketing verbage may have changed but have the times?


    • TAO

      December 9, 2015 at 4:48 am

      Thank you.


  2. eagoodlife

    December 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Please do bbetter!! No excuses for not understanding that children are not ever gifts!!


    • TAO

      December 9, 2015 at 4:48 am

      Thanks Von…


  3. cathb1964

    December 9, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Beautifully said.


    • TAO

      December 9, 2015 at 4:49 am

      Thanks Cath…I was wound up…


  4. Kellie

    December 9, 2015 at 2:11 am

    It seems most people understand (or at least most women understand) objectification. The very offensive ad by “I Love Ugly” men’s clothing company garnered enough outrage to prove most believe objectification is “not ok”. In my opinion, the video you are referring to is just another example of objectification.


    • TAO

      December 9, 2015 at 4:50 am

      and/or commodity…hope you are doing well Kellie…


  5. anenomekym

    December 9, 2015 at 3:55 am

    It’s a shame this had to be said. Thank you for saying this.


    • TAO

      December 9, 2015 at 4:51 am

      You are right, it shouldn’t have had to be said because ‘adoption is so different now’, sure, it’s viral videos instead of newspapers…


  6. yan

    December 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Viral videos are worse — they will be easily searchable when this poor kid is older. Thank you for articulating the collective gasp of adoptee horror so eloquently.


    • Tia (S) Floberg

      December 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      yan, this is one of the things about this that made me so sad for Nathan. Still sad. I don’t think his parents are bad or unloving, but this is yet another example of how utterly misguided even loving parents can be about adoption if they don’t know the basics. And quite honestly, not treating an adoptee like an object whose role is to make everyone else’s Christmas joy is extremely basic.


      • TAO

        December 9, 2015 at 3:31 pm

        Thanks Tia


    • TAO

      December 9, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Thanks yan.


  7. pj

    December 9, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing and insightful thoughts.Just when I thought the commercialization of Christmas couldn’t get any worse. After reading some of the comments attached to this story almost feels surreal-like this is what it would’ve been like if social media existed in the 60ish era..Calgon take me away !!


    • TAO

      December 9, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Calgon…I remember the ads…oh my…


  8. L4R

    December 10, 2015 at 1:14 am

    “How could anyone think it was acceptable to link Christmas shopping with an adopted baby?”

    Easy! People adopt pets at Christmas . Why not adopt a kid?

    I don’t dislike the family. I think they meant well. But, yes, having the child under the tree implies he’s a gift to someone. And, filming it for all to see probably wasn’t a great choice.

    And, if they are religious, they may think it is the perfect time to adopt. Jesus was somewhat of an adoptee lite. The may see this as a celebration of Jesus’s birth.

    I highly doubt most who are not connected to adoption will see anything wrong with the


    • TAO

      December 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      I don’t get the pet at Christmas either – seems like the worst possible time to bring a pet into the family.

      Many don’t see what’s wrong with the video – but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the many who do – generally further out in their time in adoption.


    • beth62

      December 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      At christmas time, especially, I usually just want to ask questions to many. I typically don’t… have that burned at the stake phobia….

      What Would Jesus Do?

      What would “christmas” be if Jesus didn’t get to keep his Mother, or Father?

      What if Joseph didn’t step up and save Mary (and her baby) from being stoned, possibly to death, for being an unwed mother?

      What if the lawmakers and preachers and parents insisted Mary was too single, young, poor, uneducated to keep her child. What if adoption was seen as a better option for Jesus?

      What would the Madonna be today?

      Jesus loves all of the little children, and I love him. ♡


  9. beth62

    December 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Warning – Live Doll in da house 🙂

    How is it possible for Nathan to be “Adopted” already? For them to be an Adoptive family?

    I hope Nathan has many pictures with his new family under that tree. The one alone with the elf… whew, that’s cute, but ruff for me to see. I hope he doesn’t see it that way. Kinda scary to me. :-/
    Do elves become real boys like Pinocchio? I hope there is no elf story like that!!

    What can ya say. Christmas is a time of Joy.


    • TAO

      December 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      No, he isn’t adopted yet, court doesn’t happen that quickly – but people today like to forget about things like that. Our day, it would be called counting your chickens before they hatch.


  10. beth62

    December 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    HO HO HO
    I wonder what the reaction would have been if they stuck him in a stocking and hung him over the fireplace. 🙂
    Cute? I doubt it LOL

    Oh yes I am :)… going to see if our baby girl will fit…I’ll sew her a new one if not. Will make one for mama too, she’s a tiny little lady too. LOL
    Manger mama/swamp mama…. awfully close, that’s a Real christmas story.
    Glad Joe was there in the swamp with them, so our baby could keep her mama too. ♡


    • TAO

      December 10, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Beth, I love your ability to see what no one else can. I’d love to hear more of the story – of course – with baby in the stocking.


  11. almostproperly

    December 10, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you for speaking to the gravity of adoption’s reality. The blatant disregard for the life and experience of an individual throughout our country’s history are appalling.


    • TAO

      December 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Thank you…



Tell me your thoughts, but please be nice...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: