I understand that economics is a fundamental part of adoption. I’ve understood this from the very beginning when we started contemplating adoption. But honestly, after our most recent visit, I’m actually starting to really understand just how financial disparity is critical to adoption.
Let me be frank and make an over-reaching statement (something I typically tend to avoid doing): In almost all adoptions, financial disparity is likely to exist. One family has the money to adopt (i.e. adoptive parents) and one family does not have the money to raise a child (i.e. birth parents).
I know this isn’t true in all circumstances, and this is an oversimplification of adoption, but I do believe financial disparity is a factor in almost adoptions.
Realistically, the financial differences in my adoption story means that in any other circumstance my path would not have crossed with my son’s birth mother. But our shared love of one child, means our lives are forever intertwined.
When Little MPB was born until his adoption was finalized, there were a lot of government restrictions on what we could spend and how – no cash could change hands, we could pay for group meals when we were there and Little MPB was born, we could give a small gift to her at the hospital and send small birthday/Christmas gifts but no gift cards. Once the adoption was finalized, there were no longer any rules and as such we’ve continued to send gifts, just as we would for anyone else in our family. We also send Little MPB’s clothing and smaller toys when he outgrows them (I always ask if they want them as to not force these things on them). With our most recent visit, we also offered to pay for meals, admission fees, etc. These are things we can afford without any real worry so it just makes sense in our minds.
But one thing that happened on this particular visit was that the financial disparity was very apparent. I wont go into details, but I will say, we likely saw the disparity more on this visit then when Little MPB was born because we spent more time with each other without an infant or adoption agency worries consuming our every sleep-deprived moment. Which meant we had time to talk about life – jobs, how we met each other, daycare, clothing, food, extended family, medical care, etc. We learned a lot about real life. Things that one cannot read in a textbook and truly appreciate.
So, here’s the thing that Mr. MPB and I have been trying to wrap our brains around ever since we got home. What is our role in providing help/assistance. Do we always send Little MPB’s clothing that he outgrows, even when he’s 10 years old? Do we always offer to pay for things when we visit? Should we be sending clothing and paying for things? When we buy something for Little MPB at a museum, do we buy something for her child (we did, but is it the right thing to do)? And, if they need money to help meet their basic needs due to unforeseen circumstances like medical bills, do we give it?
Our role as adoptive parents is to care for Little MPB, our child. Heck, we literally signed contracts to this end. And no matter what, Little MPB will always come first. Thus, we know that we are in no-way responsible for his birth-mother and birth-sibling, and yet, we see them as an extension of our family. And, so this begs the question, what is our role as decent human beings?
What I do know is that this all comes back to the fact that open adoption has no rule-book. We have no idea what is right or what is wrong, so we are just doing what feels right to us, while trying to speculate what would also feel right to Little MPB’s birth-mother (hence, why we ask before we send things). As I said to Mr. MPB, if any other member of our family needed clothing for their kids, we’d offer help in an instant. So, for me, it’s a simple decision so long as they want it and we aren’t forcing it on them. But, do we draw a line somewhere? And if so, what is that line?
I don’t necessarily have the right answer to any of this, but it sure is taking up a lot of my brain power right now. Heck, I’m not sure that there is a right answer to be found.
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