Friday, January 18, 2008

Treating Kids like Commodities

The Calgary Herald's Naomi Lakritz says we'll be sorry for treating kids like commodities. She starts with the recent story of a pair of siblings who were adopted separately married each other without knowing they were biological siblings. She moves to the story of aboriginal Canandian children who were adopted by white American families:
Adoption has thankfully come a long way from the days when an adopted child's origins were hushed up and treated as shameful. That's because adoptees have stood up and demanded access to information to help them answer that most basic of human questions: Who am I?

Everyone is entitled to that kind of information; it is necessary for the development of a healthy sense of self and of roots, of culture and heritage, and of one's place in the world.

We treat children as a commodity at our own peril. That is why the Manitoba government's '60s initiative to sweep thousands of aboriginal children off reserves and into the arms of white adoptive parents was a disaster.

These kids were given away to American parents who thought it was really exotic to have a cute Cree baby in the family, but when the children grew up and understood what had been done to them, the repercussions for their emotional health were devastating. Forty years later, some have successfully reunited with their families; others still wander between two worlds, suffering from all the social ills inherent in such a crisis of the soul.

She moves on to the potential of similar marriages among the much more frequent cases of children who were conceived with the genetic material of anonymous donors. These children will not know their biological origins.

No thought is being given to what happens when these children who are born from a dizzying array of egg and sperm concoctions reach adulthood and ask themselves those perennial human questions. Unlike the aboriginal children of 40 years ago, these babies will have even more to grapple with. That's because, for all Dr. Laura's insistence that a child's parents are the people who raise him or her, the fact remains that sperm and egg donors and a variety of surrogates are creating vast networks of biological half-siblings who run the risk of potentially marrying each other....There seems to be an attitude that if technology can mix eggs and sperm in ever weirder ways, it should just be done with no consideration for the child being created or for the thinking, feeling adult he or she will become. We constantly talk about how precious children are. Funny -- we sure don't treat them that way.

I have to agree.

1 comment:

Barry Deutsch said...

She starts with the recent story of a pair of siblings who were adopted separately married each other without knowing they were biological siblings.

This is an urban myth. A British peer claimed to know of such a case, but that's the one and only source for it; and when asked, he admitted it was a "friend of a friend" sort of story. The head of the British family court system has denied ever hearing of such a case.