Friday, February 26, 2010

Siberian Adoption Story

Yesterday, I was flipping through the channels and found a 90 minute special on Discovery Health called “Siberian Adoption Story”.  It detailed the journeys of two families who had decided to travel to Siberia to adopt infants.  One was a single mom from Virginia who wanted to adopt a baby girl and she was slated to travel with a couple from, I presume, California who also wanted to adopt a baby girl.  I missed the first part of the show, so I’m not entirely sure that they are from California, but I dubbed them Malibu Ken and Barbie in my mind, so California it is.

Never in my life has an adoption show pissed me off more.  Honestly.  And it wasn’t the show, it was Ken and Barbie.  And mostly Barbie.  What an obnoxious BITCH. 

Again, since I missed out on the first part of the show, I’m not entirely sure what their motivation for adopting was, although during their rehearsals for the court proceeding Ken mentioned that Barbie had had 4 miscarriages, so that may have had something to do with it.  I came in where they were traveling to Siberia for the first time.

When they arrive at the orphanage, they are greeted by a translator and a social worker, and apparently Barbie is obsessed with the possibility that the baby has been exposed to alcohol in utero and might have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Consequently, she has hired Dr. Jane Aronson, who advises her of some pictures she would like to see of the baby so she can try to analyze if the baby was exposed to alcohol in the womb or not.  So they sit down with the social worker, and Barbie demands to know if the baby’s mother was a prostitute.  The social worker and the translator were like, “We cannot say, the baby was abandoned".  I mean, what the hell kind of question is that?  And why does it matter?  Is it going to affect your love of that baby?

So then they go in to meet the baby for the first time, what a sweet little thing she was, too!  They spent the entire time taking the pictures for Dr. Aronson and not really bonding with the baby.  Barbie kept saying, “This doesn’t feel the same as when I gave birth, this is much harder than I thought it would be, I don’t know how I feel about this”.  Then she comes out with the real kicker, “Well, maybe her hair will be blonder when she’s out in the sun.”  Apparently, they only wanted a blonde baby!  JEEZ!  I mean, it was clear that they had no intention of hiding from the baby that they had adopted her—they even talked about bringing her back to Siberia to visit someday—but somehow her hair color matters?  Cripes.

Meanwhile, the mom from Virginia decided that even if her baby was exposed to alcohol and had some issues, she didn’t care, she knew that baby needed her and was meant to be hers.  She fell in love instantly and she and her son were devastated when the hour was up and they had to leave baby Maddie behind.

Ken and Barbie hauled ass back to an internet cafe and sent pictures off to the doctor.  Single Mom asked them what they were going to do, and they said they didn’t know, they weren’t sure, everything was so unexpected and they didn’t know what to do about the whole thing.  Finally Dr. Aronson said that from the pictures the little girl appeared healthy and didn’t have any signs of FAS, so they decided to proceed with the adoption.

Single Mom meanwhile ponders if she would be able to find Maddie’s birthmother while she is there.  She would like to thank her and let her know that her little girl will be well taken care of and loved. Ken and Barbie are horror-stricken.  Their opinion?  “We don’t even want a picture.  That is opening a whole can of worms that when she is fifteen she will turn against us and say, “You’re not my real parents!” and decide to move back to Siberia.”  HELLO!!!!  You’re going to let your 15-year-old up and move to Siberia?  That’s one hell of a teenage rebellion and some kind of permissive parenting.  Not to mention, I’d be willing to bet that 99% of adopted kids try that “You’re not my real parents!” crap at least once.  I fully expect Leah will and we’re ready for it.  So prepare yourselves, Ken and Barbie.  Just because you don’t have a picture of this woman, who you’ve already decided is an alcoholic prostitute drug addict doesn’t mean your child won’t try the “you’re not my real parents!” routine at least once.  And just because you know the birthmother and can answer some totally normal questions we all have about “where we came from” for your daughter doesn’t mean she’s going “to turn against you”.  Ugh.

Fast forward, and we see Ken and Barbie preparing to return to Siberia.  While Single Mom and her son are having bake sales to fund their adoption, Ken and Barbie decide to sell off their extra house to pay for it.  BREAK MY HEART.

Then they get on a plane to go back to pick up the babies, and they are talking to other adoptive parents on the plane and what came out of Barbie’s mouth made me want to absolutely put my foot through my own TV set.  She said, “You can’t adopt babies who look American in America any more.  You have to go to Siberia to get babies who look American.”

Pardon my French, but: Fuck you, bitch.  Let me show you what an American baby looks like:


I was furious.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people going overseas to adopt, some of my best friends have done it.  But Barbie was clearly in it for some sort of designer baby that fit the mold of what precisely she wanted.  And considering that America is the great melting pot of the world, there isn’t a baby on Earth who doesn’t “look American.”  Oh, that really rubbed my fur wrong.  I grabbed Leah and I held her and I cried.  This is the kind of small-minded idiot Leah is going to have to deal with her entire life.  And I bet if you asked Barbie, she’d consider herself just as liberal and open-minded as they come.

So they get back to Siberia, they get baby Ava, they take her for her medical exam and the first thing out of Barbie’s mouth to the doctor is, “Has she been exposed to heroin? Can you tell?”  This woman is obsessed with this poor child’s medical history, which is UNKNOWN.  The birth mother is UNKNOWN.  You are taking your chances here to an extent.  What concerns me is that if little Ava displays any sort of behavior that is not in the Ken and Barbie mold, Barbie is going to be determined that it’s to do with her pre-natal experience and that she was surely addicted to something before she was born, and there will probably be all kinds of recriminations.

What also breaks my heart is that Ava, that unspoiled innocent little babe, is probably going to grow up to be a pretentious little snot like her mother.  Look at the example she’ll have to follow.

I don’t know if those two ever intend to adopt again, but I hope and pray to God there’s not a social worker in the world who would touch them with a 10 foot pole.  I hope there’s not an adoption agency or a country that would accept them again.  I feel terribly judgmental even writing or thinking that, but frankly, I have never been more offended by a person in my entire life (Ken was pretty much on the sidelines, I will say, much like the real Ken who got tired of Barbie and broke up with her a few years ago, his job appeared to be to look pretty, flash his veneers, and let Barbie run the show).  I watch Adoption Stories every single day—I could probably recite them by heart at this point, and every last one makes me cry ever single time I watch it.  No matter where the couple comes from, no matter what their story is, where their child/ren come from, every story is beautiful. 

Siberian Adoption Story absolutely infuriated me.  I hope Single Mom here in Virginia is doing well with baby Maddie, and I pray little Ava will grow up to tell her mother exactly where to stick it.


manda said...

She sounds lovely.

FAScinated said...

I hope the Discovery Channel will now consider airing a program with accurate information about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. I cringe when I hear things like what was presented in the program you watched.

I am the adoptive parent of two children who were both prenatally exposed to alcohol. One has ARND - Alcohol Related Neurolodevelopmental Disorder- a very invisible disorder on the FASD spectrum. The other has pFAS- partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome- where there are facial features but no growth deficiency. BOTH have permanent brain damage from their prenatal exposure to alcohol. BOTH have learning differences, difficulty regulating their mood and behaviors, impulse control problems, and both will need lifetime supports.

The brain forms every day of the pregnancy and is extremely vulnerable alcohol, especially early in development before mom may even be aware of the pregnancy. The face forms during one week of the pregnancy and if there is no drinking during that week the face will look completely normal. Most people with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders) look normal. Most actually have IQs in the average range as well.

I write a lot about our life with FASD on my blog-

I would adopt my kids again in a heartbeat. They are great kids. But raising them in an ignorant world where the response to their behaviors is often blame rather than support is heartbreaking.

Blessings to you on your journey. ~Kari