(relative) choices

I thought it was incredibly brave for all the people who contributed to the Relative Choices blog to share their stories in such a public space, and especially to endure the slew of comments (many of which were incredibly insensitive or downright stupid). Although I disagreed with the sentiments of several of the articles, in a way I’m pleased that the blog was created, however flawed the execution and management.

As presented by the New York Times editor who created the blog, the
title "Relative Choices" comes across to me as particularly
pro-American, pro-neo-liberal, very pro-adoptive parent and
pro-international Asian adoption.I hated the title, "Relative Choices." From my own perspective and bias I agreed with the others who commented on how misleading the name "Relative Choices" was for those of us who had little or no true "choice." In re-constructing the title of the blog in a new frame, however, I think it ended up being accidentally perfect.

Many others asked the questions I had – where were the adult African American adoptees? The adoptive parents who chose domestic foster care? The adults or youth who were adopted from foster care? The adults who were adopted through a domestic infant program? I was surprised at the "relative" lack of diversity represented in the choice of contributors. Of the 11 contributors,

  • 3 are adoptive parents and all had adopted children from Asia
  • 5 of the 6 "adoptee" contributors are Asian
  • 1 birth mother

So, I don’t see this series as being about the kinds of choices adoptive parents make about creating their families and choosing their relatives; that is, "relative" defined as a noun as being "a person connected to another by blood or marriage (or adoption)". 

I see the series as one in which "relative" is an adjective, as in "something dependent on something else; comparative; proportional." As in, for those of us with a connection to adoption our choices are "relative." As in, some of us had relatively few choices. While some of us had no choices at all.

I think the term "choice" is also misleading. And one of the arguments that is often presented to adoptees is that biological children don’t have a choice about who their parents are either. That’s true. But biological children don’t have to question their futures in terms of "would they be better off lingering in foster care/languishing in an orphanage" as if we had a choice about it. Biological children do not have a choice in being born but their position in a family is not necessarily dependent upon alternative options.

I wish that the blog series had more diversity in their contributors, rather than looking for people with high profile names (several were authors or "experts") and I think it would have clarified for all us readers if the editor(s) had written an introduction of the purpose of the blog and perhaps explained how they chose their contributors. All said, I was disappointed in the series. I’m disappointed in the New York Times and I’m very disappointed by the editors of the series.

I am all the more grateful that free blog hosting services are available, and that a whole variety of voices are out there – not just those cherry picked by some neo-liberal editor who can’t quite seem to admit that his own bias as an adoptive parent prejudiced the tone of a high profile opinion series.

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One thought on “(relative) choices

  1. Bravo, JR:
    I see the series as one in which “relative” is an adjective, as in “something dependent on something else; comparative; proportional.” As in, for those of us with a connection to adoption our choices are “relative.” As in, some of us had relatively few choices. While some of us had no choices at all.

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