Natural and Unnatural Parents

Both adoption and donor conception practices produce children whose parents (or at least one of the parents) are social constructs. Nature is removed from the relationship and replaced with legal forms. For adoptees, the courts assign adults who in all respects are intended to become full and sole parents. They are creations of law. For donor conceived (and children of surrogacy relations), the parent is also legally defined. If married, parents are determined on the principle of marital presumption. The law is seen by society to be the active power responsible for sorting out parentage. Law is sufficient.

Adoptees and donor conceived offspring, then, are primed for a life of abstractions. They are children of a legal system which defines the kind of self-knowledge they may pursue. The tie with natural parents, with all the historical and biological transmissions of personal knowledge and insight – all the facts of one’s concrete and individual roots – are set at null value through juristic thinking.

In what ways is this loss of nature and the replacement of law at one’s root problematic?

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6 thoughts on “Natural and Unnatural Parents

  1. Mark, it’s obscene. To tell a person they belong to strangers and then expect them to live their entire life in “illusion” is, in my mind, criminal racism. As an adoptee, I was someone’s property. As an adult, I bypassed the laws and found my first family.

  2. The main (legal) problem is that in states with sealed OBC’s, the laws are based on lies. Adoptees are victims of state sanctioned discrimination.

    The loss of nature?? Well, I would take up far too much space on this blog to go into that! 😉 NOTHING about adoption natural, it is a man made legal procedure.

  3. This is at the heart of how adoption fits into other displacements and dispossessions, such as trafficking, migrant labor, immigration, gentrification, apartheid, etc. Especially because all of these rely on a nation-state to render “status” unto an individual. The constant striving to literally “identify” oneself forces an acceptance of the political definition of one’s existence, as a separate construct from how we might envision ourselves otherwise. This is inherently invalid morally and ethically speaking. This is critical in bridging out from adoption activism into an awareness of what has been done to us. In many ways, surrogate- and donor-conceived children are simply the more abstract version of us as adoptees.

  4. In my tribe’s traditional culture grandparents raised the children. Parents were considered too young (and since they didn’t have birth control then, they probably were too young). So in a way the grandparents were adopting the kids. However the parents weren’t separated from babies, the extended families all lived together. If somehow there were no immediate family members, another grandmother in that mother’s clan would have taken responsibility. It’s the mother-child separation that’s unnatural. The desire to care for, nurture and protect a baby or child that truly needs someone is natural.

  5. Expanding on this question: I have it stuck in my head that at some point, surrogacy will replace adoption as soon as its practice becomes economically competitive. What will then be said about adoption?

  6. This is already happening. I served on a work group of my state’s law commission earlier this year, redrafting the laws regarding records access. The private agency reps and attorneys were very candid about the shift in their businesses to ART facilitation, either surrogacy or embryo adoptions. This will leave “traditional” adoptions to the state, which will be the fall-back for dealing with surplus children.

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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