Considering Adoption

I saw this postcard "ad" on a park bench the other day. I snapped a photo of it, but little did I know that my brain would be watching "Juno" a few days later. Seeing the photo reminded me again about how much the movie "Juno" annoyed me. I know, I know, it came out last year sometime so I'm waay behind the times. But there's no way I would've paid $13 to see it at a theater. Actually, I probably wouldn't have even rented it. But, my sister had it through her Netflix subscription so I sucked it up and settled myself on the floor.

Everything that I thought would annoy me, did. First of all, if Juno was black or Latina, would we think she's so damn smart and witty? Knowing the names of obscure punk bands does not mean someone's frickin' smart. The movie tries so hard to prove to us that Juno's a super cool teenager, but, uh, her hamburger phone and dialogue were all a little too witty for me. If she's so witty, she sh0uld've paid attention to condom-putting-on lessons in health class. Or, better yet, kept the panties on and decided play Scrabble. Just think, Juno could've wowed us by putting "forshiz" down on the board.

Then there's the whole scene where she tells her folks she's preggo -- maybe almost everyone I know just has a buckwild abusive family, but Juno's parents took it a little too well.

No cussing her out.
No telling her she's a whore.
No telling her what an embarrassment she is.
No telling her that she has no choice, she's getting an abortion.
No beating her or throwing things at her.

Not only that, ask yourself, would Jennifer Garner's character who was "born to be a mommy" be sooo excited to be a mommy to a little black girl with nappy hair?

I don't think so.

Anyway, I'll spare you all the details about why I don't care for "Juno". I'm just not feeling it. I didn't even care about her character at all. Burn me at the stake, but I actually kept wanting bad things to happen to her.

As for the adoption flyer, I found it on a bench in Millennium Park in Chicago. What do you think? Would you call?


Anonymous said…
I didn't much care for the movie either, the dialogue was awkwardly too-fluid in that Gilmore Girls way. Never saw a notice like that, but adoptions work differently over here. Re. nappy baby - note that many AA children are adopted by Canadians, while your Millennium park couple resort to desperate measures. Sure, I don't know their preferences, just guessing.
Liz Dwyer said…
And thank God for those Canadians adopting those children. In my late teens/early twenties I visited an orphanage and was so surprised by the fact that most of the kids there were black. One teenager bluntly said that it was because no one wanted a black baby. :(
Unknown said…
Incredible perspective. The idea that no one wants us, but pop-culture emulates us, sometimes by brain goes into a shell to ignore it all. This post is so, so true.
thailandchani said…
I wouldn't call the ad. Here's the reason: I have an inherent objection to commoditizing everything, including children. The idea of placing an ad for a child the way someone would place an ad for a car is disgusting.

Even in this culture, some things should be handled with more dignity.

I haven't "Juno" and probably won't. As you said, it's a bit too "hip" and I'm concerned that the message it sends to young girls.. that getting pregnant is "cool".

(I wonder if there's any relationship to the so-called 'pregnancy pact' that took place at a high school recently.)

Anyway.. my dos centavos for a Sunday morning. :)

Anonymous said…
As you know, I haven't seen Juno and I probably won't. Teen pregnancy is not an issue that I think should be trivalized - especially when it's linked to every measure of crime and hopelessness. Anyway... if I start ranting I'll get around to torture again and no one wants that! ;)
Anonymous said…
THANK YOU! I absolutely hated the movie and was thinking similar things while watching it. For me my thoughts revolved around how the media makes something more acceptable or tolerable when whites are the main characters. They took something that is heartwrenching for many young girls, trivialized it and made tenn pregnancy seem almost "cool". But the underlying message that I was left with was if you are white there is always a silver lining, there will always be someone there to support you and help you through your messes. Media rarely show minorities with networks of support, mostly dysfuntions. In addition, media never show African Americans and Latinos in similar circumstances with a happy and quirky ending.
Jen said…
Actually, this is interesting in terms of the comment you received during your visit to the orphanage because in Michigan, it's almost impossible for a non-AA family to adopt AA babies or children of any age. It's considered damaging to heritage, etc. We have many couples dying to adopt and many kids who desperately need placements and the bureaucracy keeps them totally apart. It's not that I don't see that point, but I guess as a teacher who's seen many children over the years whose parents have lost parental rights or who've been bounced from one foster home to another, I'd be all for allowing them a permanent home with loving parents who want them, no matter what the skin colors/heritage issues are.
Anonymous said…
OK for all the problems I have with the movie I thought it was so cool when Diablo won the Oscar with her leopard print dress and tats, because it was sooo kewl man! Part of the reason there are so many children of color available is the effort to thwart trans-racial adoption on the basis it's harmful for the [Black] child to be raised by a White family. It's equally as harmful to just let children deteriorate in the system and get kicked out with no skill set. As for the parents who placed that ad - they are desperate and ripe for being swindled. Or there's something shady going on and the police should be called.
Jameil said…
i kind of liked the movie. the music was most distracting to me. i thought it was awful! i def. thought some of the more unrealistic parts were ridiculous but i was very detached from it. i guess b/c i wasn't thinking of it from a mother's perspective or the perspective of anyone w/children. if i was i def. wouldn't have even seen it based on the plot line and probably would've said something like, "hey kids, guess what, being a teen mom= not hot!!" as for the adoption ad, never seen one that big, but i don't they're that uncommon. i always think of the pain that person's in wanting a child and hope they get one hassle-free.
Liz Dwyer said…
Pop culture can be kept at a distance, shut off when you want to go on with your "real" life. An actual person can't be shut off and must be dealt with.

I really feel for those who try to adopt these days because it does seem (from an outsider's perspective) like there's a great deal of commoditizing children. The "pricing" of kids and the fees involved seem pretty out of control.

Teen pregnancy definitely shouldn't be trivialized at all. I mean, maybe I'm missing something profound, but there was such a nonchalance in the film regarding her pregnancy. In an odd sense, it was almost like it was the least important thing happening to her.

Yes,that silver lining just sort of manages to make it all be ok. No matter what, Juno's still gonna have an awesome life, strumming that guitar and singing the stupid song at the end. I wanted to snatch that guitar out of her hand and break it over her head.

I wonder if it's not as big a deal in Illinois and Indiana because I personally know three white families who've adopted black babies. However, good point I don't know how many have tried to adopt them. I also think a loving home is important, but, sadly enough, the parents often don't get that they need to diversify their circle of friends, which should happen whether or not they choose to adopt a black child.

I liked the dress and the skull earrings too. Having seen it, I can't believe it won best Oscar though. I think it could be harmful to a black child to be raised by a white family if that family doesn't want to acknowledge the blackness of their child. Otherwise, why not? I'm wondering how many parents would really be willing to adopt a black child, not a biracial-looking child, but a black child. That visit to that orphanage really was something. One, I had no idea orphanages still existed, but in Illinois at least, they do. They may not call it that, but that's what they are. :(

I hated the music. It was like being trapped in a string of terrible coffeehouse performances. I wonder if the ads worked for whoever taped them to the benches. I'm sure whatever happens it won't be hassle-free.
Anonymous said…
Los Angelista,
Jeez, wonder now what in the world you think of me, whitey-dad tryin' to raise his "black" kids by himself (don't say bi-racial; if you got any color, you're co-opted anyway, lol. Hey if friggin' Mariah Carey can be considered "black"...)...
Single White Daddy
Mango Mama said…
I don't think the question is would you answer the ad, because the demographic for which the ad is targeted is not in their "right" or rational mind if they are considering the proposition. This ad will speak to a frightened, confused, shocked girl/woman and it's preying on these emotions.

I've always been bummed that Black babies are priced lower than White babies in the U.S. adoption process, so this begs to question--- Do White families choose to adopt Black children simply due to economic constraints and if they had more money when going through the adoption process, would they have chosen to adopt a White child? HMMMM!
Natasha said…
I finally saw Juno--and had *lots* of issues with it, but overall it was not nearly as bad as I had been cringe-ingly (is that a word?) imagining. On the transracial adoption stuff--that's my field, so here goes.

Infant domestic agency adoptions are racially stratified, mostly because the majority of adopting parents are White middle and upper class infertile couple. And they want White babies. Infant adoption is expensive (think, at least $20,000), so the cost rules out a lot of potential adoptive parents. That all being said, healthy babies of any race in the U.S. are not 'waiting' for families; there are simply many fewer (or only one) adoptive family for a mom with a Black baby to choose from--especially for a Black baby boy (that gender thing in adoption is a whole other post). And I am *sure* the couple that placed that public ad was looking for a White baby; those ads are in newspapers all over the country, and also online.

As for race and adoption out of foster care, there certainly is a much higher percentage of children of color in the foster care system then there are POC in the U.S. population. There are many theories about why this is; two of the most prevalent being (1) the institutionalized racism and classism in the social service system that decides which children to take into (and keep in) state custody, and (2) the racism in the U.S. culture that allows thousands of Black and Latino children to wait (and wait and wait) in foster care for adoptive families who can adequately care for all these children's needs--including their racial self-knowledge and self-esteem. Any old White foster family is not necessarily able to meet all the needs of a Black pre-teen boy (for example)--no matter how good their intentions. (Some White adoptive parents certainly can successfully parent kids of color, but it's not a given.)

And don't get me started on international adoption. In that system there are the same racial (and gender) hierarchies. Over the years, I have come to a much better understanding of the mindset of most (not all) potential adoptive parents. It's usually related to infertility and the overwhelming desire to become a parent (or a parent again). Unfortunately, this is a difficult place to have empathy for pregnant women and birthparents who are/were in crisis, or to think ahead to what raising a teen of color in an all-White community will be like for the child.

I could go on about the intersection of race and adoption all day (and sometimes I do :)
Liz Dwyer said…
Mariah... that woman needs to cover up! So, what do I think of a white dad like you with black kids? Well, my white dad couldn't do my hair to save his life, but he was alright otherwise with me. He only had to do it a couple of times when my mom was out of town. I think you're probably just fine because you know you need to be thinking about race and racism.

Mango Mama,
The targeted demographic of the ad is a crucial question. The economic constraints of adoption need to be seriously changed. The thought of someone only wanting a black baby because it's cheaper is makes me want to throw up.

Loved your comment and all the insight it gave me. "Any old White foster family is not necessarily able to meet all the needs of a Black pre-teen boy (for example)--no matter how good their intentions."
That's a deep statement right there. So true and thanks again for sharing all that you did.
Jen said…
Hi Liz,
I just came back and read your comments to my comments. I couldn't agree more! I think that whenever anyone adopts "out of culture" so to speak, that they have an obligation to make sure (as far as they can) to help their child grow up in an environment that includes people who share their heritage and/or background. Hopefully, that commitment would come out during the vetting process for adoption, but certainly it doesn't always.
It sounds like a scam to me. Nobody who legitimately wants to adopt and raise a child advertises on park benches. I certainly hope that nobody decides to unload her unwanted child to these people, whoever they are. They are either selling babies or raising them as slaves/prostitutes/lesser beings.

I haven't seen the movie but on the basis of your review, don't want to.

I have white friends who adopted two black children and had two biological ones as well. The mom was once approached by two black women who were scandalized by the condition of little Pam's hair and offered to teach her how to take care of it. She was grateful for the lessons and I think it made her realize that many aspects of interracial adoption must be considered beyond providing love, care and a good education.

The recent hot celebrity trend of adopting non-white kids seems a bit like acquiring exotic pets, but I hope I'm doing them an injustice because those children deserve so much more than symbolizing the charity of famous people.
Anonymous said…
We adopted our daughter through an agency. We are a biracial couple and our daughter is biracial. Our agency has subsidies that cover some of the fees for the black/biracial program so that it is a lesser, but not insubstantial amount than the white program.

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