(Please note: Wisely, the careless comments have now been edited out of the broadcast which is hugely encouraging to me. )
Pat Robertson's comments on adoption today made me sad but not mad. A few years ago I would have thrown a foot stomping hissy over his insensitive, unloving and hedonistic attitude toward adoption. Thankfully I have been given a little broader view of how Americans view adoption and understand (though I sure don't agree with) what he said. Adoption is cyclical. Much like fashion it revives old ideas every 20 years or so with only slight variations on basic themes.
The clearest book I have read on this cycle is called Strangers and Kin (by Barbara Melosh.) Strangers and Kin is a chronological narrative based on the extensive files and case notes of the Children's Bureau of Delaware (a child placing agency) from 1918 to 1990. Through it's 300 pages she carefully lays out the changing and often repeating psychological and social patterns within American adoptions.
As I read through this one agencies history I realized that the careless comments, social expectations, and arguments against adoption which I experienced in the early 2000's were nothing new. In fact, by reading the book I was much more prepared to hear things similar to what Pat Robertson said today because they were not a shock to me.
How many times have I heard "Other peoples problem kids," "you don't have to take them all," "why should you have to suffer because their mom drank?" "you are wreaking your own life," "you don't know what you are getting," and my all time favorite "what if she gets pregnant again...you wont take that one TOO will you?!" (I have wickedly thought about answering that last comment a few times with "I'm actually praying she will be pregnant with twins and ask us to parent them..." but I haven't given into that snarky comment yet. Though the specter of related twins did come up last year and we were willing to consider the situation - but that is another post entirely.)
So why didn't I freak over those careless words today? Because they are not original or even rare - they are just foolishness that comes straight out of our American culture and how we look at individuals, life and the American Dream. But that's not my life so I can giggle and think about what era each of his statements originated in and how little has changed since the last time that particular fashion can around.