Photo of Emily Yoffe from Slate
One of my favorite guilty pleasures is the Dear Prudence column at Slate, written by Emily Yoffe. I'm continually amazed at how many people write in seeking advice on adoption-related issues. Yoffe also holds weekly live chats with readers, and this week, a mother asked for help in responding to an attack from someone who doesn't approve of adoption:
Q. Absolutely Insane Adoption Confrontation: Anne and I have daughters enrolled in the same dance classes. We both often stay at the lessons and chat with other moms. But I've always gotten the impression that Anne doesn't like me. She never returns my greetings and often turns away from the conversation when I'm talking. Last week we were both walking to our cars, so I asked, "Anne, have I done something to offend you? I hope not, because I'd really enjoy getting to know you better." Anne turned to me and said, "I'm sorry, but I am against adoption. I believe buying children is ethically deplorable." She got in her car and drove off. I should now explain that I am white and my husband is black, so our daughter has darker skin than me. Since she's never met my husband, Anne assumed I adopted my daughter from Africa: I found her assumption to be DEEPLY offensive, because although my daughter is not adopted, I am. I'm pretty grossed out by Anne's judgment, but I don't know how to respond, or if I should even bother engaging such a narrow-minded person.
A random participant in the live chat suggested that the questioner tell Anne that her daughter is actually biracial. Prudence disagreed, calling Anne a "worm" who should be avoided. You can read her complete response here.
Later on in the same live chat, a different reader posed a heartbreaking adoption question:
Q. Sharing Bad News: I have just returned from a trip to China to adopt a 9-month-old baby girl. Because we had a failed domestic adoption three years ago (birth parents changed their mind) we chose not to tell anyone except a few until we had her in our arms. We couldn't wait to tell our friends and co-workers. But when we arrived there, we were told our baby was hospitalized with what doctors initially thought was a trivial illness. Then she passed away four days later in the intensive care unit after we barely got to hug her. What kills me is that except for us and a few close family members, nobody even knows of our daughter's existence. I would like to tell everybody that we had a daughter, even for a few days, and that she was loved and cherished. Since we've never been in this situation before I am not quite sure how to spread the news. Should I write an email? Tell everyone in person? How should I do this and what can I say? Would it be appropriate to share a photo?
Prudence helpfully provided suggested wording for an email to friends. She also directed the reader to Share, an organization for pregnancy and infant loss support. While I'm sure the nice people at Share would try to help, there are no resources specific to adoption loss listed on their site. Though these situations are relatively rare, I have heard of several families who've suffered the death of a child just days after adoption. Unfortunately, it may be hard for some friends and family to grasp that the death of a newly adopted child is a significant loss, in the same way that some people tend to minimize loss through miscarriage. If any readers out there know of specific resources to support grieving adoptive families, please leave a comment below so we can help others in need find help.