baby, baby January 23, 2012 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I am really surprised that this comment was allowed to stand. The question is not about adoption, at all, and I think this comment is a borderline solicitation.
posted by lalex to Etiquette/Policy at 7:16 PM (215 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Man, we talked about that a bunch in email today. We all had misgivings but basically felt like the bulk of the answer was reasonable under a "what are my options" rubric in the question and ended up leaning narrowly toward leaving it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:19 PM on January 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I think the question seemed more like feeling out options with pregnancy rather than just "please help decide between these two options and nothing else".
posted by LionIndex at 7:21 PM on January 23, 2012


We discussed it and I think after-the-fact I'd agree with you. A few people flagged it when it first went up, but then it was replied to in thread and people seemed to move on and I figured that would be the end of it. Someone asking about abortion/keep-baby options and someone mentions adoption. I didn't realize--possibly because of not having to weigh these options myself--how fraught the topic was and how not-okay people view this sort of comment. So while we decided to leave it [and sent email to some people including the commenter about our decision] I'm not sure if we'd do it again that way.

Historically we've removed "how about adoption" responses from people who are asking specific "give me details about getting an abortion" questions, but this seemed much more open-ended and we all talked about it and decided to leave it, but it wasn't a popular decision.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:21 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The question is not about adoption, at all

It felt pretty open-ended with OP asking for personal trials and tribulations in this situation; for some, the situation ended in adoption. I think the commenter phrased it in an entirely reasonable approach and I'd be surprised to see the comment nuked.

It's an option for someone weighing the options here, and not preachy enough to be useless, in my opinion.
posted by disillusioned at 7:24 PM on January 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's not really a borderline case. It's an outright solicitation.

I respect the fact that phearlez was delicate about it. I've been in his shoes (considering adoption/looking to adopt) and it's an emotionally difficult topic even under the best circumstances.

But at the same time he's asking someone who is considering abortion to also consider carrying their baby to term and giving it to him to adopt. Considering that there's already a policy on askme to delete comments pushing adoption in threads where people are asking about abortion (because pro-lifers were harassing posters) it seems a little weird that such a similar comment remains.
posted by zarq at 7:25 PM on January 23, 2012 [38 favorites]


i think the bringing up of adoption is problematic but understandable in that thread. i think the far worse part was the borderline solicitation. maybe the commenter didn't mean for it to come out like that, but i read it as "hey, adoption is an option and you can give your baby to us if you want." which is pretty icky to me.
posted by nadawi at 7:26 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I'm pregnant. Now what?" is pretty open-ended. I have seen both Jessamyn and Cortex say, in previous MeTa discussions about AskMe questions with apparent parameters, that there's an extent to which posters can realistically limit their threads and also an extent to which they sometimes just have to accept "drift." Given those comments by moderators about AskMe in general, and given how broad this particular above-the-fold question was, I think it would be conspicuous (i.e., "We treat abortion threads very differently") to have deleted that comment.
posted by red clover at 7:27 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Seeing as this thread came up, I'd like to flag as fantastic the people who came in and told their stories or offered memail conversations. I haven't spoken to anyone about my abortion (until this thread) because of fear of being condemned. I'm proud to be part of this community. You people rock.
posted by b33j at 7:27 PM on January 23, 2012 [23 favorites]


Given the framing of the question, I don't think a comment mentioning adoption is out of line. This particular comment is a little heavy-handed, but commenters addressed why pretty swiftly.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:29 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


i think the far worse part was the borderline solicitation. maybe the commenter didn't mean for it to come out like that, but i read it as "hey, adoption is an option and you can give your baby to us if you want." which is pretty icky to me.

Which was the primary source of not feeling great about it for me, yeah. But, like jessamyn, it may just not be a particularly sensitive spot for me since it's not something I've really dealt with directly either way myself, and we probably just plain underestimated just how resonant that problematic part of the comment was going to be, looking back on it now.

I think the rest of the comment was totally fine as a one-off "here's some info about adoption as an option/process", which is why it was an on-the-fence call in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:31 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


i will say that years ago i asked for abortion advice anonymously and you all were very kind and gentle and wonderful about it. it was so devoid of drama that i was honestly a little surprised. i think for the most part this is a great community to come to for pro-choice support.
posted by nadawi at 7:33 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I was probably feeling more positive towards the comment than most folks, but then, I was adopted, and with the openendedness of the question it seemed pretty reasonable to say "Here's some info about adoption and here's an example of the sort of people who are looking to adopt." If it had been framed more narrowly as a "tell me about your experience with abortion," I don't think there's any question at all that adoption-related answers would have been nixed.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:34 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


The solicitation was the only potential errr factor for me, and even that could have been handled with editing the comment and an invite to talk about it more via MeMail
posted by edgeways at 7:41 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


That comment was really...it obviously meant well. It was really naive, though, and not good advice.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:51 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Really? I just read it quickly and it seemed totally fine, sincere and actually well within the bounds of the question. I'm pregnant, now what, basically leaves you with three options...the commenter was just making a really heartfelt suggestion based on where he was coming from. (Or she). I think it would be skewed to have so many pro-abortion comments without at least one or two coming from a totally different view point. (pro-choice, I mean, I am obviously pro-whatever a woman wants to do with her body!).
posted by bquarters at 7:56 PM on January 23, 2012


But now that it's actually happening, abortion is seeming like the more logical, reasonable thing to do.

Please share your experiences with your decision and the aftermath of that decision, good or bad.


I read this as, "Please tell me about your experience with abortion," not "Please tell me about your experience with an unplanned pregnancy."

I'm a mother through adoption, though I'm also ridiculously pro-choice. But I don't think phearlez's answer meets the very basic requirement of answering the question, which he acknowledges, "unfortunately I don't have anything to point you to written by someone on your side of the arrangement."

His point wasn't to answer the question but to try to get a baby. His solicitation seems pretty icky to me. I respect the hard job you mods have, but I do think this was a bad call.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:06 PM on January 23, 2012 [22 favorites]


bluedaisy, I fully agree. It was not an answer to the question as I read it, and it should have been nixed.
posted by heyho at 8:11 PM on January 23, 2012


I can sorta live with tossing out adoption as an option, though it's an incredibly delicate, emotional situation, damn sure not, "Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris?," hope people are relatively quick to delete questionable things in when the questions/answers are in sensitive realms.

Dunno that anyone in the questioners shoes, who didn't ask about adoption, needs to be reminded that scads of couples would about cut off a limb to have the baby they're seriously considering aborting.

Too, an understanding that it's a time of huge emotions for those looking to adopt and encountering some upheaval, though the answer struck me as horrible--for the reason lalex related and because of a link to a blog that included a solicitation for money.
posted by ambient2 at 8:11 PM on January 23, 2012


I don't really get the impression that he's personally soliciting her to give them this baby, just generally encouraging her to consider adoption. I'm not saying he'd be all 'oh, my god, no, I can't take your baby, it would be an ethical breach to have used Ask Metafilter in that manner' if she actually approached them to offer them the baby, either, mind you, but my impression was that he was offering information, not soliciting a baby.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:12 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is always the mantra answer-the-question-only and in general that is very good advice. But there are also a whole plethora of questions in which there are, er, tangential, answers which are perfectly legitimate and sometimes even very valuable. Venturing into that territory is not something to take for granted as something that will stay, but it is not rare nor surprising when it happens.

I even think the OP left some wiggle room with using a passive voice "...seeming like the more logical, reasonable thing to do"

pro-choice, rah rah rah. But choice means choice and that also means adoption-option.

again bad part=solicitation
posted by edgeways at 8:14 PM on January 23, 2012


The thing about "share your experiences with your decision" includes the option of the decision being not to abort, so I don't read that as an abortion-as-only-option thread at all.

However, as someone very much in favour of adoption and pairing seeking parents with potential babies, I found the comment in question to be, well, questionable. I do see why the mods left it, and also wish it had remained informative with much less emphasis on that couple's search (because that isn't addressing someone's personal experiences with their personal decision to abort (or not) and, yes, it does read like open solicitation).

Still, though, do see why the mods left it and am sure phearlez meant well, despite the clumsiness all around.
posted by batmonkey at 8:16 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pregnant. Now what?

I'm 32, 6 weeks pregnant and I have no idea if I want to keep it or have an abortion.


That seems to invite all types of answers. I'm not sure why adoption-talk is frowned upon?
posted by gjc at 8:16 PM on January 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


FWIW, I read the question as "Please tell me about your experience with an unplanned pregnancy," not "Please tell me about your experience with abortion," which would put discussion of the adoption option in-bounds. The OP clearly states "I have no idea if I want to keep it or have an abortion," which leads me to believe she is interested in hearing more than just stories from those who chose to terminate their pregnancies. I agree that adoption solicitation is totally out-of-bounds.
posted by TheCavorter at 8:17 PM on January 23, 2012


His point wasn't to answer the question but to try to get a baby. His solicitation seems pretty icky to me. I respect the hard job you mods have, but I do think this was a bad call.

I agree with this. The solicitation of a baby made me uncomfortable. For a person in the OP's situation, the adoptive parent's perspective and the bulk of the comment was ok I guess. But the direct, person-to-person appeal for a service-- all the more so in the case of the transfer of a person-- goes against what Ask Metafilter is for.

The thread worked itself out, but I think the direct appeal for the child should have merited the comment's deletion.
posted by vincele at 8:17 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


"unfortunately I don't have anything to point you to written by someone on your side of the arrangement."

Yeah, wow. The complete ignorance of the voices and perspectives of birth mothers says it all...really wish they would take the time to inform themselves more before suggesting that someone do something life-changing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:18 PM on January 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think describing phearlez's comment as a solicitation is uncharitable. He's not personally lobbying for the baby, he's representing the experience of people like himself. Even the links to his personal adoption webpage (gone now) could be considered part of painting that picture.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:19 PM on January 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


That was absolutely my take on it. If we thought he was soliciting in that comment or in talking to him afterwards, the comment would have been immediately gone. He's a long-time user and that honestly didn't cross our minds as a realistic option. I get that other people see it that way, but we really didn't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:21 PM on January 23, 2012


really wish they would take the time to inform themselves more before suggesting that someone do something life-changing.j

The original poster is pregnant. She's going to do something life changing whether she wants to or not, even if she does nothing. It's not like any of the three options are something she can just do and then move on from.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:23 PM on January 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Actually, plenty of people have abortions and then move on, myself included.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:24 PM on January 23, 2012 [34 favorites]


And plenty of people give birth to babies they parent and plenty of people give birth to babies they place for adoption and plenty of people parent babies they adopt. I don't see why all of those viewpoints can't be represented in the thread.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:29 PM on January 23, 2012 [21 favorites]


Fine, it's more life changing than having an abortion and less life changing than raising a child. It's still not like it's way off the scale of things already being considered in the thread.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:32 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


They can, and I have no problem with that, but this is the equivalent of an abortion doctor coming into the thread and saying "hey, when people have abortions it benefits me, so you should think about it. I'm not really sure what it's like for the person having the abortion, and I can't link you to any of those stories because I know nothing about the experience, really, but here's a link to my webpage where I advertise abortion services." It's just completely useless as advice.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:33 PM on January 23, 2012 [24 favorites]


Even the links to his personal adoption webpage (gone now) could be considered part of painting that picture.

Yes, they could. But he could have done it without placing a link to his own page. He could have chosen any number of helpful links that didn't benefit him directly.

Without the personal link, it would not have been a solicitation. With the link, it really, really seemed like one.
posted by zarq at 8:35 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, it's the equivalent of an abortion doctor coming into the thread and saying, hey, I perform abortions, if you wanted to have one, here's what it might be like based on how I see things from my end and here's some websites to look at and you can talk to me about it if you want. I don't know why you nd others seem intent on misinterpreting phearlez's comment as GIVE ME YOUR BABY NOW, OP, but it creeps me out far more than his comment.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:36 PM on January 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


You know what, I have a personal axe to grind here because of a close friend who was involved in an open adoption that went really bad, and I'm being really uncharitable and kinda shitty.

My main point about that comment being shockingly naive advice stands, though, because the idea that birth parents are treated ethically and fairly is naive.

I'm going to step out of this thread now. Sorry.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


...misinterpreting phearlez's comment as GIVE ME YOUR BABY NOW, OP, but it creeps me out far more than his comment.

And for the record, this is not what I have said. phearlez handled the situation delicately, and I wholeheartedly respect that. But I believe the link did push the comment over the line.
posted by zarq at 8:41 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think phearlez was speaking with good intentions, but there are a number of reasons that adoptive parent voice can itself not be the best support for women in the emotional state of dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. This is attempt number two to write this because my hands are shaking and I apologize if I don't make sense because I quite literally have a horrible stress response to this topic. My key board keys are covered in sweat. I feel so defeated I don't know where to begin.


So briefly:
There is a history in America of FORCING women to place babies. See girls who went away. When that became illegal agencies who have become used to the high amounts of money couples would pay for babies and who were already insensitive and cut off to the screams and sobs of women when losing their infants and who were invested in believing adoption was "the right thing" began to learn counselling tactics to boost adoptions in the name of "the right thing" and conveniently sales as it were.

That has not really gone away from counselling. They literally did marketing research designed to determine how to boost adoption placement through "positive adoption language" in their counselling. Come on: seriously that is bullshit and not pro-choice.

Guttmacher has unearthed some unhealthy trends in this desire to spread the word of the greatness of infant adoption

Further more
posted by xarnop at 8:53 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Does it even work like that? I thought you had to go through a placement service. I didn't think someone could just donate their baby to you over the internet in any case.
posted by ctmf at 9:04 PM on January 23, 2012


Claud, a mother of adoption loss, gives a take down of subtle forms of coercion still in use and why they may NOT be in the interest of the pregnant woman at all the way they sound:
Subtle adoption coercion

She also describes her experiences of having lost her child to adoption and what adoption has been like for her.

And she has had a number of abortions, none of the women I have ever talked to that have done both have given any sort of equivalent in the effect of adoption vs abortion on women's health and emotional well being. They are NOT the equivalent of each other.

WHAT'S MORE: There is suppression of research into how adoption affects women. I was recently part of a research project on the effects of adoption on women and the project was rejected because it "did not have adoptive parent perspectives"

What?!
posted by xarnop at 9:05 PM on January 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


The part that twigs my radar for "solicitation" is (bolding is mine):

If you don't want to reach out to us you can simply google "adoption" and the top hits all go to an organization called American Adoptions. They are by no means the only way to go but they place over 300 children a year and are well equipped to answer your questions.

It is not "I'm a prospective adoptive parent and I am very grateful to the birth mothers who have considered us," it's not "I'm an adoptive parent with an open adoption arrangement and my child's birth parent expresses positive feelings about the process to us," and it's not even, "have you considered adoption?"

I'm totally willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the comment's poster, but it's still pretty gross. Stuff that wasn't meant to be mean/harmful/hateful/etc gets deleted pretty regularly it seems?

This is the first mod decision hashed out in Meta since I've joined that I've disagreed with, if that's worth anything. This comment seems icky enough to me to have gotten the ax, although I feel like that ship has really sailed and if the OP now feels like shit for having/considering an abortion and not carrying the pregnancy to term for the express benefit of the comment's poster or any other prospective adoptive parents then deleting the comment at this point is pretty much not going to undo that, so ultimately I just hope to God that this situation doesn't reoccur and if it does the mods make a different decision.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:07 PM on January 23, 2012 [25 favorites]


xarnop: There is a history in America of FORCING women to place babies. See girls who went away.

I think xarnop is referring to Ann Fessler's book The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women who Surrendered Children For Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade.

I've read the book, and it really changed my understanding of and my personal position on adoption. It includes many accounts from women who placed children for adoption under extreme duress and the painful emotional fallout they experienced after that decision. I think this would be a great book to read for anyone who is not familiar with the reserved/not positive positions on adoption that many people in this thread and the original AskMe question are expressing.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:23 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


If the concept of MetaFilter-as-community holds, then I would think that long-term good-faith participation in the site should earn somebody a healthy benefit of the doubt. More than is displayed in parts of this thread.
posted by red clover at 9:30 PM on January 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, "if you don't want to reach out to us" pushes it well over the line, and it should be deleted even though it was previously left to stand. It's like the asker asked about weight loss pills vs. gastric bypass and the responder came in to say "another option for weight loss is Jenny Craig. I'm a Jenny Craig vendor and would be happy to answer any questions for you, and here's my blog about the amazing weight loss people have had for Jenny Craig and how I could really use the commission because the economy is tough." They can really mean it, really believe in the product, and really stand to benefit from the asker choosing the option they proffer, all at once. It's the really stand to benefit thing that catches me up, because it's not just "consider adoption," but "consider adoption, and I'm looking to adopt, and here's how to contact me."

For an open-ended question like this it's fine to bring up adoption-- indeed, it's even appropriate and advisable, and there was a lot of good information in the answer as written. But this is too personal and the responder's answer too... imploring to be appropriate. The role of AskMe answers should be to provide personal anecdotes or objective data to respond to the question. The involvement of personal details adds a very personal, very emotionally powerful, and very self-interested element to the answer that makes me uncomfortable, because the asker already seems to feel pretty emotionally vulnerable.

I think that long-term good-faith participation in the site should earn healthy benefit of the doubt, as red clover says. But I also think the personal elements of the answer are inappropriate, and place the answerer in position to directly gain from the potential emotional vulnerability of the asker. The information about adoption is fine, but it's out of line to further offer unsolicited personal contact information in a position where you stand to benefit from someone else's tough situation. Even if you do it with the very best of intentions.

The answerer specified that it'd be okay to redact the links--that, and an editing of the personal connection, would take the answer from dubious to excellent.
posted by verbyournouns at 9:49 PM on January 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sorry, that first sentence should say "it should be edited even though it was previously left to stand."
posted by verbyournouns at 9:49 PM on January 23, 2012


This comment seems icky enough to me to have gotten the ax, although I feel like that ship has really sailed and if the OP now feels like shit for having/considering an abortion and not carrying the pregnancy to term for the express benefit of the comment's poster or any other prospective adoptive parents then deleting the comment at this point is pretty much not going to undo that, so ultimately I just hope to God that this situation doesn't reoccur and if it does the mods make a different decision.

Oh please. Can't you all just go ahead and say promoting adoption is equally as evil as banning abortion and people should feel bad for ever thinking it's a good thing, so we have it out in the open?
posted by jacalata at 9:50 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


That said, I did feel the overtone of solicitation was a bit much and would be a fan of redacting the personal url, although given the general 'we don't edit comments' position I'd rather see it stay as is than disappear.
posted by jacalata at 9:52 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes phearlez I want you to know that I really genuinely understand why you didn't see the potential ethical dilemma-- after all adoptive and preadoptive parent culture is not very aware of ethical issues regarding actual birthmothers other than those carefully hand selected as poster birthmothers by the adoption agencies.

I have a friend who was on gladney's (adoption agency)website for a few years. They posted her diary entry from days after the placement which was a repeat of all they had been pumping her full of about the greatness of adoption and the rightness of her decision. She sat before me, solemn, empty.

"I just drive. I just drive around. I don't even know what I feel. Tears. Emptiness. I kind of wonder, if I even needed to do this."

I read blogs of wome women who say they are happy with their choice. Best case scenario here's what you get (this is from a birthmother who promotes the positive choice for adoption)

"As a mother and a birth mother, I can tell you being a birth mother is MUCH more difficult. The emotions you feel far outweigh the stresses and struggles of parenthood. Choosing to be a birth mom is choosing the more difficult path and the "non-lazy" one. I hope not many people think this, but if you do, DON'T say it to a birth mom. Go talk to one so she can change your mind"

So adoption is harder on women than parenting, got it.

"100% of the birth moms that I have met all WANTED their children"

Ok, so... empowered choice much lacking? Why are people working with these women not trying to assist with making their stated first choice possible? Client centered counselling anyone?
posted by xarnop at 10:14 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Adoption versus abortion isn't the problem; it's the fact that phearlez isn't talking about his or experience with an unplanned pregnancy. That's what the question is about: "Please share your experiences with your decision and the aftermath of that decision, good or bad."

There are lots of times when answers at Ask expand to an unstated question behind the question, but I think this crosses a line. I would also think the answer was a bad fit if the OP had been asking for people's experiences as the biological parents in open or closed adoption - there's just no way that this is an answer to the question "Here is where I am with this unplanned pregnancy, tell me about how you dealt with your unplanned pregnancy."

And phearlez has a good-faith history of posting at MeFi without trying to buy anybody's baby. I think it's really clear that he and his wife want profoundly and passionately to complete their adoption process and move on with their family life, so passionately that it might sound like a solicitation, but he was very upfront about deleting the URL if necessary, and was very clear that he wasn't trying to impose his reproductive will on anyone. It's not about that.
posted by gingerest at 10:17 PM on January 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh please. Can't you all just go ahead and say promoting adoption is equally as evil as banning abortion and people should feel bad for ever thinking it's a good thing, so we have it out in the open?

I actually phrased that totally badly, and meant to convey the following. "If there was any emotional damage done to the OP, it's already done, so I think the best that can come from this is that if this odd situation ever happens to come up again, the mods will use this discussion to guide their decisions." Obviously I don't know if the comment was emotionally difficult for the OP.

If I didn't make this clear, I don't think phearlez was posting in bad faith, I think he genuinely wanted to offer help, but genuinely wanting to help comments get deleted all the time for legitimate reasons, and I think this was one that falls into that camp.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:27 PM on January 23, 2012


Oh please. Can't you all just go ahead and say promoting adoption is equally as evil as banning abortion and people should feel bad for ever thinking it's a good thing, so we have it out in the open?

"Please share your experiences with your decision and the aftermath of that decision, good or bad" doesn't mean "tell me how much you wish you had a kid, people who were never faced with this decision." It especially doesn't mean "hint to me (or other/future readers of this thread) that I could carry this weeks-old fetus to term and give it to you personally."

It's a touchy subject for a lot of people right now not even because of the long sad history of women actually being forced to bear the children (which will happen again in a lot of states as soon as the wrong president replaces the wrong justice), but because there are still groups that push adoption in a coercive way. Have you heard of "pregnancy crisis centers"? Women and teenagers will go to these places thinking they're going to get helpful, impartial advice from people who are concerned about them but in fact these places are run by anti-abortion activists who never reveal themselves as such but push their agenda accordingly, with plenty of guilt-tripping and terrorizing and straight-up lies. At any rate it's not off to think that people who want children and agencies that exist to and/or make money by placing children are not necessarily going to be the best people to advise someone on what it will be like to be subjected to the nine-month course of hormones and then give up the child and why she might or might not think it would be a good decision. The appropriate person to do that, for this thread, would be somebody who considered taking that course and did or didn't go through with it.
posted by Adventurer at 10:32 PM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


The comment was just so out of place in a thread full of women sharing their pregnancy experiences. And the thing is, it was there specifically to promote adoption whereas the rest of the comments (at least at the time I read the thread) were simply women talking about their experiences.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:33 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess it frustrated me because if the adoption comment was going to be left up I wanted to share my experience with unplanned pregnancy and adoption.

But she didn't even ask about adoption so unless that's something she's considering then there's no sense in sharing how motherfucking horrific and soul destroying and how I have never ever ever stopped griefing and I have never been the same--- you know cause that's all fairly intense if she's not even thinking about it.

But if you just posit this nice "Hey adoption could be great, I mean, I've never placed or anything, but my agency tells me they are really ethical"-- and no chance for someone whose been through to share what it was actually like or how "ethical" the counselling really was.

So I'm just putting it here so as not to derail the thread. Adoption completely fucked my shit up. I see my daughter and she talks and talks and talks andI can't even hear what she says because all I can see is here is my baby. My sweet baby and she is so big and she is so sweet and she talks so fast just like me. And everything is beautiful and broken all at the same. Everything hurts inside even the moments that are supposed to feel wonderful.

And I remember when they took her away and she was crying, I nursed my sweet baby, and she was beautiful, she felt like she was made of rainbows inside me. She was born and she was so beautiful, she was everything, I wanted to hold her forever and ever. Why do they want to take her away? Oh yeah, oh yeah, she needs to be placed with the nice two parent, college educated, homeowning people who are good enough for her. Of course. Of course. You could just rip my fucking organs out too while your at it, I mean why not?

Fuck adoption and the people who pretend to care about women while taking their fucking infants and SELLING them and knowing these women want their children with all their hearts and feel blocked from parenting for other reasons. What's blocking them? You're a social worker, they are telling you they want their children and sobbing hysterically and submitting to adoption anyway-- THIS IS YOUR JOB TO KNOW. Fuck that shit. Never lifting a finger to find out how they could improve the actual problems blocking the mother from parenting.


So I support any one who has placed a child sharing their positive neutral mixed negative whatever experience. That is mine.
posted by xarnop at 10:42 PM on January 23, 2012 [43 favorites]


I think your perspective on adoption would be perfectly in place in that thread, as I also read it as 'unplanned pregnancy' question, not 'abortion: tell me about your experience'.

knowing these women want their children with all their hearts and feel blocked from parenting for other reasons.

Serious questions: are these the same woman who thought about having an abortion first, because they didn't want a child? If it can be argued that a woman never seriously wants to give up a baby for adoption, how can you argue that they can ever seriously want to abort it? Is the thought here that both are awful choices that people never willingly make but one is less emotionally hard on the pregnant woman and is therefore better? If not, if it's possible for a woman to really not want to carry her fetus to term because she does not want a child, why is it not possible for her to be ok carrying it to term and then giving it away? (and yes, it is possible the pregnancy itself would be a hardship, but I am positing a case where that is not an insurmountable problem). Or is it that a fetus is completely different to a baby and doesn't engage the emotions the same way?
posted by jacalata at 10:57 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


OP clearly said not aborting was an option. Therefore abortion is on the table. The commenter was careful and thoughtful. I don't see why his comment was considered problematic.

Well actually I pretty sure why, but whatever. I'm happy the comment stands.
posted by falameufilho at 11:02 PM on January 23, 2012


"Or is it that a fetus is completely different to a baby and doesn't engage the emotions the same way?"

Yes. Have you given birth? It's different for many women but when a baby grows inside you and feel the first little bumps, and the movements and the presence of a little being inside you, PART of you, enmeshed with you-- growing the ability to sense and feel. So tiny and so precious. And you see the sonogram and there is your sweet baby.

And everything in you changes, everything is about this being. They are so beautiful. And you dream, of what they will be like, of sitting on a porch with them on a summer day while they get to see the beauty of the world. Of showing them bubbles and getting to see their first giggles. Of what their smile will be like, or what kinds of activities will be their favorites. What parts of life will be the most meaningful to them, what will they think about things? What will they feel? And want nothing to make everything wonderful for them.

And then you go through labor and then this little tiny person is there. There they are! Beautiful, amazing, like.. heaven. And they snuggle up to you and nurse and everything in the universe is right. Everything is as it should be, everything is beautiful. And you put your finger in their tiny little hand and they squuze because babies do that. And the smell like --- they smell like everything is ok. Their soft skin beside you, so warm and sweet.

And then it's time for people to walk away, their going to really walk away with your child, and you just scream and scream and you can stop you can't stop. "It's the right thing" they say, over the screams yes of course. Yes of course.
posted by xarnop at 11:06 PM on January 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


And yes many women are different. Just my experience and thoughts.
posted by xarnop at 11:10 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't see why his comment was considered problematic.
Well actually I pretty sure why, but whatever.


For all of the reasons that were already listed in the first 50 comments? Is that why?
posted by Adventurer at 11:10 PM on January 23, 2012


There are too many kids already waiting to be adopted.

Abortion deprives no one of the opportunity to adopt a child.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:12 PM on January 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


I don't doubt that phearlez posted in good faith, but the only reason I'm ok with the comment not being deleted is the other commenters coming into the thread to balance the perspective of 'rah-rah adoption is always awesome!'

Fraught for everyone, and I hope the OP is ok.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:47 PM on January 23, 2012


I read the question as one of looking for options. While phearlez was very openly solicitous in the answer, the answer also provided a lot of links for organizations and what have you.

I'm super pro-choice, but I don't like the idea that providing adoption information somehow limits that choice.

Particularly, information on open adoption situations which might be available in the asker's area can be helpful, for a potential mother considering her options.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:48 PM on January 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't object to adoption being brought up, because the question was so open-ended, but phearlez crossed the line in 2 ways, it seems to me.

- As discussed extensively already, the comment read as a solicitation to either contact phearlez directly about adoption or to contact an agency phearlez is directly involved with as a birthparent. It was a clear invitation to the OP to make her baby available to phearlez, directly or indirectly, as others have pointed out in more detail. Other options were given as 'well, if you don't want to do this, then you could contact these other people...'

- No one's really mentioned that, unlike all of the people giving info about counseling options, who went out of their way to find unbiased sources, phearlez went out of his/her way to steer the OP to a source of counseling which was biased toward one option and likely to pressure her into a particular choice. This is the equivalent of sending a pregnant woman to a 'crisis pregnancy center' - it's not offering help to figure out what she wants, it's trying to trick her into getting 'advice' which is really pressure in one direction. (Actually, it's an exact equivalent, since some CPC's are connected to church-sponsored adoption agencies, and serve as a pipeline to those agencies.)

I am totally pro-choice, and also pro-adoption, and I don't think bringing up adoption in the thread was out of line. I also don't think that bringing up negative experiences - with abortion (as marie mon dieu did in the thread) and with adoption - as Xarnop has done here - is inappropriate at all....but phearlez's comment should have been removed for other reasons.
posted by Wylla at 12:21 AM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


The thread was asking for experiences of people who have been in that situation -- of having an unplanned pregnancy. Phearlez has not been in that situation. His experience is not relevant to the OP's question.
Meanwhile, a comment from a woman who has placed her child for adoption, or considered it, would have been relevant.
(And xarnop, my heart goes out to you.)
posted by OLechat at 12:43 AM on January 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


My personal opinion is that phearlez was offering the adoption information in the event that the OP made the decision to go the adoption route, not as a way to steer her away from the alternatives. I think phearlez must be feeling like shit now. This is a pretty harsh reading of that comment.

(xarnop, hugs)
posted by h00py at 12:57 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I also don't think that bringing up negative experiences - with abortion (as marie mon dieu did in the thread) and with adoption - as Xarnop has done here - is inappropriate at all...."

No, because the poster was asking for people's experiences doing these things. That necessarily includes negative experiences.

What does bother me, in both the cases of abortion and adoption, is generalizing about everyone else's experiences on the basis of one's own. This most bothers me with regard to abortion, and that and my own experience being involved with an unplanned pregnancy and an abortion is what led me to comment in that thread. I don't know how many times I've heard women assert, on the basis of their personal experience, that all women necessarily think in terms of a child inside them from the beginning of their awareness of pregnancy and, if and when aborted, a profound sense of loss. I have family who have been pregnant and had abortions who have asserted this, and have known numerous other women who have.

And it's just not true.

And it's also not true with regard to similar feelings in the case of adoption. It is certainly true in numerous individual experiences. But every woman's? No.

This matters for many reasons, not the least because these generalizations are made as normative and therefore every woman who has accepted them and then doesn't experience them is made to feel abnormal. And it's bothersome because it's all tied up in the general cultural mythologizing about motherhood where it's all instant love and hugs and puppies and so every pregnant woman is thought/expected to desperately want to have the child and every mother who puts a child up for adoption is thought/expected to find this a deeply unnatural and difficult and trauamatic experience and every sleep-deprived mother with a newborn is thought/expected to be deliriously happy and thrilled and deeply in love with their child and whenever and wherever a woman fails to live up to these expectations, her very worth as a woman is questioned in response. That's part of what comes of making essentialist claims about what it means to be a woman and to be pregnant and to have a child.

Now, it's awesome that xarnop is very aware and qualifies her comments with "and yes many women are different. Just my experience and thoughts." But so often this isn't the case.

So I think it's very important for someone in the poster's position to hear about diverse experiences so as to counter the various normative implications she otherwise would be getting.

Specifically with regard to the issue brought up in this MetaTalk post, it's clear that the poster was asking about both abortion and adoption experiences. Personally, I think it's relevant that she says that she had heretofore never thought she would ever do anything other than have a child if she got pregnant—that is, I think she's emotionally biased against abortion and, to the degree to which that's the case, it's likely especially relevant that she hear about experiences of having an unexpected child and keeping it and having an unexpected child and giving it for adoption. It's also of course relevant that she hear that it's not necessarily the case that an abortion would be something she'd regret, which she may well suspect will be the case.

As to the solicitation issue...I find that I'm uncharacteristically unable to work through it dispassionately. I'm not someone who is looking to adopt, but that's only because I'm currently a single male. More generally, I'm a single middle-aged male who is unlikely to have a child biologically, both because of age and because of my genetic condition, and I find that I'm inherently sympathetic to anyone who wishes to adopt because I'm very, very sad that I'm childless. A part of me thinks, well, anyone posting an answer on AskMe has self-selected themselves into a pretty good group of potential adoptive parents, by my values. But then, I'm very biased, right? And I recognize intuitively that putting oneself even implicitly in the situation of being an adoptive parent to a possible child of someone who has just asked for advice and the experiences of someone who's in her situation...well, that doesn't seem right. It does seem to cross a line.

But, even so, and while I understand why someone would have their buttons pushed because of how both historically and presently by pseudo-counseling pro-life fronts women are pressured into carrying to term and giving children up for adoption, it doesn't seem to me to be the case that any and every discussion of adoption in this context is necessarily that kind of thing. I think we can tell a lot by reading the comment and seeing from what perspective it was written, and I think it was written in good-faith, if as others have said, somewhat naively.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:17 AM on January 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


I am pro choice, btw. Did ask many people advice and my sister, who had had a surprise pregnancy and got married and had the baby, told me she might have done differently if she'd known how hard it was. My dad said he didn't favor abortion but he believed in a woman's right to choose.

My grandmother was always saying how much she admired me and sending me pin money. Later found out she'd had a baby girl out of wedlock and had given it up for adoption (whom my dad and sister met on a trip out East). None of this was revealed until she was close to dying.

I never once considered adoption and someone suggesting it to me would have had zero influence on my decision. I think the pro choice counselor had a tremendous impact on me, however, as I was a teenager (18) and it just ticked me off. So I don't really have any good or bad feeling on the comment, it's not like someone waving a sign in your face and saying "abortion is wrong!" etc.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:32 AM on January 24, 2012


... he could have done it without placing a link to his own page.

Didn't that link violate the no-self-linking policy?
posted by jgirl at 4:57 AM on January 24, 2012


Didn't that link violate the no-self-linking policy?

That policy is for front page posts, not for comments where a germane self-link might be appropriate.

I thought the adoption content was fine, I was uncomfortable with what I took to be the solicitation, although I think it was tenderly expressed. I also know phearlez to be a long time good contributor.
posted by OmieWise at 5:03 AM on January 24, 2012


I've recently been reading about the Fessler book (The Girls Who Went Away), and I do think it's one-sided to associate phearlez's comment with what happened there.

For one thing, Fessler's narrative stops when abortion is legalized, but adoption is still one of the options, only now it's abort, adopt, or keep; that seems much better than adopt or keep.

For another thing, the OP is old enough and smart enough to make decisions autonomously (even consulting with others in order to make an informed choice) so the threats of subtle coercion seem well-mitigated.

What's more, I think there's a lot of misinformation about adoption out there, especially the assumption that there are tons of kids in need of adoption just waiting around in some Korean orphanage. International adoptions are by far the most fraught with market relations, real coercion, and generally high levels of evil-doing.

Finally, contemporary adoption could be a source of solidarity between women if it weren't for the history of coercion and the contemporary rhetoric coming out of pro-life circles. There are a lot of women who are suffering because they are childless (including several friends of mine who are working slowly through the adoption process) and it doesn't seem unreasonable to offer contemporary, domestic, non-coercive adoption as a kind of feminist solidarity.

I say all this as a pro-choice anti-natalist who considers himself a feminist. If I'm tarnishing that self-identification, I'd like to know why.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:35 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I flagged the comment, but mainly because of the personal links, which pushed it over the line to me. It seems within guidelines as it stands now, although honestly does still get a bit of a squicky reaction from me.

I was also a little disquieted by the comment that described a health-care person aggressively pushing abortion as "very pro-choice", which, no. That's not pro-choice, that's someone with an agenda. (Speaking as someone who wants everyone to have every choice, even if it's not what I would do.)
posted by gaspode at 5:40 AM on January 24, 2012


If we thought he was soliciting in that comment or in talking to him afterwards, the comment would have been immediately gone. He's a long-time user and that honestly didn't cross our minds as a realistic option. I get that other people see it that way, but we really didn't.

I'm really surprised by this, and the decision to not delete the comment. It reads to me as a blatant (and oddly naive) solicitation, very uncomfortably so. I think the decision to leave it was wrong, and I hope that it can be reconsidered. I am sure it was meant good-heartedly, and along with the solicitation there was helpful advice; a revised version minus the solicitation elements wouldn't bother me at all.
posted by Forktine at 6:04 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hope that it can be reconsidered

Next time we'll do something different, yes. By the time we'd realized that our general feelings about this comment were not in line with the feelings of the community, people had responded to it in-thread and this MeTa thread was up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:32 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Next time we'll do something different, yes.

What would that be? Editing comments has always been verboten. That would be a major change. And as I noted upthread, both you and Cortex have commented in the past that even when an AskMe poster tries really, really hard to limit the parameters of a question, there is only so much pruning you're willing to do versus telling the OP that some degree of offtopic drift is unavoidable on a site this size. That's when the OP tries really hard to limit his question, and I don't think you can reasonably describe this question in those terms.

So I'm curious what you would have done differently, and to what extent you think it would reflect either a change in policy or treating questions of this nature/topic differently.

By the time we'd realized that our general feelings about this comment were not in line with the feelings of the community

I'm not sure this is exactly what you meant, but that's the sort of comment that indicates you (pl.) give more weight to flagging than just an "alert" system or a call button.
posted by red clover at 8:33 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait. You guys really got "I want to buy your baby" from that comment?

I think the perspective of an prospective adoptive parent is completely appropriate for an open-ended question like that one, especially when they fully acknowledge and disclose that fact up front. For all we know, the OP might be envisioning her child being sent to a 1920s orphanage if she carries the pregnancy to term; adding the perspective of "There are a lot of couples wanting to adopt, and I happen to be one of them" could be potentially useful advice to the OP, especially considering the open-ended nature of the question.

Phearlez is familiar with, and has had good luck one particular agency, and openly referred the OP to that agency, with the specific addendum addressing the fact that there are many others out there, and told her where to find them. I'm honestly agog that this was interpreted as "Sell me your baby."

This thread might be the first time I've veered toward "Disable my account and never come back here."

Traditionally, Metafilter hasn't deleted AskMe responses because the response was potentially offensive to a portion of the community, or because others thought it was bad advice. People are free to debate others' answers in-thread, or over here at MetaTalk.

However, the demand for outright censorship and redaction of answers about a fairly common (but apparently controversial) topic that begin with "This is my side of the story; others are free to chime in; I'm potentially biased, and here's why..." strikes me as draconian, heavyhanded, and ideologically-guided.

If we start editing or redacting (respectful and conscientious) answers to controversial topics to only reflect the viewpoint represented by "the feelings of the community," please feel free to disable my account.
posted by schmod at 8:45 AM on January 24, 2012 [16 favorites]


What would that be? Editing comments has always been verboten.

Why would you leap to the idea of (presumably unilaterally) editing comments? We've been really, really consistently clear that that's a non-starter. That policy isn't changing.

Next time we'd probably lean to the other side of the fence and remove it instead of leaving it up, and leave it to the answerer to consider a rewrite if they wanted to give it another shot but without the problematic personalized side of it. This is mostly a crystal ball issue: with the benefit of one, we'd have nixed it this time when it went up instead of opting to leave it.

I'm not sure this is exactly what you meant, but that's the sort of comment that indicates you (pl.) give more weight to flagging than just an "alert" system or a call button.

The comment got a surprising-to-us number of flags. That's a case where beyond just the "hey take a look at this" function of typical flagging on an askme comment it starts to read as a "people really, really have an issue with this". It's an outlier level of flagging that indicates something pretty unusual going on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:45 AM on January 24, 2012


What would that be?

We'd email the OP and say "Hey this isn't going to fly, can you please repost your comment so it's 100% clear that you're not saying 'hey we'll adopt your baby?' Thanks." This isn't a change in policy of any sort, just a morning-after quarterbacking of our own decisionmaking process. We felt the comment was okay and it seemed like an imposition to make the OP rewrite their comment, but with the benefit of hindsight, that would have made the hot button aspect of that comment no longer a problem and in something that is not that time sensitive, is probably what we should have done.

that's the sort of comment that indicates you (pl.) give more weight to flagging than just an "alert" system or a call button.

Generally speaking the flags alert us to something and then we use our best judgment to determine what to do about that thing. In rarer cases, flags point out that whatever we might personally feel is the right thing to do is at odds with how strongly the community is reacting to a thing [i.e. we'd leave a post or comment but the sheer number or speed of the flags makes us question our judgement which is an okay thing in my opinion]. Obviously, once something is in MeTa there are a bunch more eyes on it and so we expect the flag count to go up on a day-old comment whereas normally it wouldn't, but yeah the flags serve a few related purposes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Finally, contemporary adoption could be a source of solidarity between women if it weren't for the history of coercion and the contemporary rhetoric coming out of pro-life circles. There are a lot of women who are suffering because they are childless (including several friends of mine who are working slowly through the adoption process) and it doesn't seem unreasonable to offer contemporary, domestic, non-coercive adoption as a kind of feminist solidarity.

I think something that your comment and Ivan F's seem to overlook is that asking someone who has never been pregnant for what's kind of being framed as a simple good deed, I have what you need/you have what I need kind of thing that's good for everyone, should really acknowledge somewhere, if she wants to know what the experience might be like for her, that the feelings xarnop describes are not atypical. Not only is nine months of pregnancy itself so potentially hard on the body and mind (for a lot of people) that it is often itself (for some people) a good reason to have an abortion, but by the end of the term the person is dealing with a set of hormones -- there's typically a huge surge of oxytocin during labor, for instance -- that can leave her feeling bereft and despondent for who knows how long even when she never wanted the child in the first place and, were she somehow able to divest herself of that you-are-in-love-now hormonal influence, might have continued to not want it. (Of course this doesn't always happen even to women who want the baby, but it is what the oxytocin is "for": immediate bonding.) This is how women who agree to act as surrogates sometimes end up fighting to keep the child even though they only put themselves through it in the first place because they needed the money they won't be getting if they keep the kid.

And of course the OP is an adult and can presumably cut through the online propaganda (although she really shouldn't have to deal with googlebombing activists who think they're doing God's work by lying about this stuff while she's working with an RU-486 deadline) to get to some real, not-necessarily-intuitive information about what carrying a child to term for somebody else might or might not cost her, but she's specifically asking women here to tell her about how the choices they made affected them personally, and that's something the adoption comment can tell her nothing about and the agency it directed her to will tell her nothing about. It's a little perverse that way. I'm not accusing Phearlez of knowing how hard it could be or how much it might hurt (although of course it wouldn't necessarily hurt) and asking anyway without mentioning it. I would guess that he and a lot of adoptive parents aren't really aware. But not meaning to be insensitive doesn't make the comment not-insensitive or an appropriate answer to a request for anecdotes from women who had to decide what to do.
posted by Adventurer at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2012 [24 favorites]


Why would you leap to the idea of (presumably unilaterally) editing comments?

Editing that comment and deleting it were the two possibilities discussed above in this thread.
posted by red clover at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2012


jessamyn: ""Hey this isn't going to fly, can you please repost your comment so it's 100% clear that you're not saying 'hey we'll adopt your baby?' Thanks.""

Ah. Better clarification. I'm fine with that.
posted by schmod at 9:05 AM on January 24, 2012


Huh. I learn so much from MeFi, and especially the issues that come up in MeTa...I had no idea that there was so much controversy about adoption and that there were so many birth mothers who regretted their decisions. Very interesting conversation, thanks to everyone for the enlightenment.
posted by radioamy at 9:08 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Editing that comment and deleting it were the two possibilities discussed above in this thread.

Editing it wasn't suggested by any of the mods, as far as I recall or can tell skimming back through. edgeways mentioned the idea in passing, and verbyournouns did so as well, but that's it it looks like.

This was a "delete or not" decision, like basically all of these decisions. In hindsight, we'd have gone with "delete".

There's the specific possibility of some sort of edit to a comment after a discussion with, and explicit permission from, the user who made the comment, but that's an unusual thing itself and even at that is something we're not real hot on after there's been any sort of discussion of or reaction to a comment since it tends to make the continuity of things really confusing to figure out after the fact.

The fact that even that very specific situation tends to muddy somewhat the otherwise really bright-line "stuff doesn't get edited" position we take is part of why we tend not to even bring it up in conversation unless there's a specific reason to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on January 24, 2012


Wait. You guys really got "I want to buy your baby" from that comment?

I don't think people read it as "buy your baby" as much as "You may wish to carry to term and we're looking to adopt. Seems like a good match."

I can see how it could be read that way. It could have used some rephrasing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:50 AM on January 24, 2012


Hi everyone! Controversy creator here.

Right off, let me say this: I don't want to convince anyone that their response to my answer in that question was wrong. If it put you off, if you loathe it, so be it, I'm not going to invalidate your opinion on the matter. I'll also tell you that while I feel bad that anyone was put off by it - and in particular I feel bad at how much awful this has dredged up for xarnop - I don't feel I was wrong to answer. I'm happy to talk about why and I value the input so far. But if you need a sackcloth and ashes mea culpa I cannot help you.

I answered and brought up adoption because the OP said "For a long time, I always thought if I accidently got pregnant, I'd keep it. No matter what. But now that it's actually happening, abortion is seeming like the more logical, reasonable thing to do." Not because I want her to pick any of those three options but because, in my experience, people don't really understand the reality of adoption in America today. How it works, who pays what, whether you must or must not have future contact with the child and adoptive parents, etc. I also think the idea of someone keeping a child they don't want is horribly sad for all involved; it's part of why I am so stridently pro-choice.

I tried to be clear that nothing I was saying should be taken as a criticism or discouragement of abortion. I didn't elaborate much because I don't have a womb; it's not for me to talk about how easy and comfortable a decision I think it should be. From here in my head, as someone without any ability or risk of pregnancy, I think that in her shoes I'd be at the clinic and taking that option with no more sense of trouble or guilt than I would have when getting a mole removed. But I don't have any place telling someone that since I can't be in their shoes and there was no shortage of other people coming in and supporting her on that front.

Similarly I'd never tell someone it would necessarily be easy to place a child for adoption. I'm comfortable saying people do it and are okay with it. I'm sad that xarnop has had such a horrible experience, and I can't claim to understand. It's honestly beyond my ability to understand and it's antithetical to every way I think about family; to me the ties are almost entirely about choice and that every-day interaction, not about DNA.

Obviously xarnop feels a tie there and I think that answer belongs in the original question; if the poster feels like she'd have a hard time with abortion she might be just as prone to that sense of trauma from separating from a child she brought to term. If I could wave a magic wand and make sure that nobody ever has that experience xarnop has gone through again I would do it in a heartbeat, even if it meant there was never another infant adoption ever again.

However I will say that I firmly do not believe that's the case. I simply do not believe that there aren't many women who have a successful and satisfying experience placing their child. I find the suggestion that it is inherently impossible to place a child without serious mental trauma as unbelievable as I do the suggestion that abortion is inherently traumatic.

I think the reality is that there's a wide gamut of experiences, no different than abortion. I'm sorry that xarnop experienced a horrible one and that the young rope rider knows someone who was involved in an open adoption that went bad. I've met numerous people who placed children and were perfectly fine with it; start talking about how you're looking to adopt and suddenly folks tell you these things about themselves you'd never have had any idea about.

I think, just like abortion, that there's a number of these horrible experiences that come about because of external societal pressures that create problems. Some folks have a horrible experience not because of anything intrinsic to themselves but because they've absorbed cultural messages. Just like abortion. I cannot wave a magic wand and make it all right. The best I can do is try not to dump shit on anyone else, support people in their decisions, be an honest player in my dealings, and live in the world I'm in.

A lot of people respond so negatively to any mention of adoption when there's a discussion of abortion because it's been used so disingenuously by people opposed to abortion. I get that. I told Jessamyn I'd be completely supportive of deleting my answer if she thought it would be for the best. I don't know how I could have been any more even-handed in my answer; I tried to say "this is an option and hey, look, this is the sort of person who's out there and willing to adopt."

As far as the solicitation in and of itself? Flat out: I am not capable of fully impartial reasoning about the matter. As a prospective adoptive parent I have had to accept being in this self-promoting space of opening up my life to scrutiny. For whatever it's worth, this is not a system we feel entirely comfortable with. The role of money in the adoption world makes us hugely uncomfortable. The things it reveals about our society's priorities is sometimes so crushingly depressing that we have to stop thinking and talking about our process for the night and go watch a sitcom.

But to be perfectly blunt and hard-hearted about it, I feel the same way about the American system of health care. Yet I carry insurance, see my doctor, pay my copay, buy drugs made by companies I loathe. I have to live within the system as it is and do the best I can.

And honestly, putting that link out there to our "hey pick us!" card in a way that could be tied by to my actual identity? That represented a bit of a leap for me. You can decide that means something or not, but providing anyone who clicked it with a way to see who we really are opens us up to fraud and dishonest actors.

I did it because yes, we want a child. But also because I thought - this is a community I am a part of and which I value. This person asking this question, from the little bit I know based on what she put up there, might be a person who we could have an arrangement with that would make everyone happy. So I took chance, opened myself up to risk while acknowledging that the self-link might make someone uncomfortable and saying I'd understand (and would be, on some level, relieved) if it was removed.

If you are someone who firmly believes that adoption is inherently flawed and leads to misery then we're never going to see eye to eye. Okay. I think you're wrong but you think I'm wrong and we'll just have to leave it at that.

If you think that soliciting someone for a child is inherently wrong... Look, if you believe in the viability of adoption then my suggestion to you (as someone who is admittedly biased but probably has spent a lot more time soaking in this life than you have) is to question how else anyone comes to get matched up. I'd suggest to you that two parties finding each other and reaching an agreement is a lot more possible if more people find each other.

I believe that the more people are able to find each other the less often we'll have these horrible experiences that folks talk about. Some of them will happen; the world is imperfect and some folks just suck. But if someone's options are larger I think they'll have a better chance of finding one that suits then.

A big way people find each other is American Adoptions, the place I mentioned and linked in the answer. As I implied there, the linking is almost superfluous. They spend a tremendous amount of money on SEO and Google ads so they're the top of the stack when you search about adoption. It's one of many aspects of this big money in the world that we are so very not comfortable with. I offered up our link partly because yes, as I said, we want a child. But also because if someone wanted to talk about adoption and the big business aspect freaked them out then we're able to talk to someone about a direct placement.

No, I'm not a neutral actor in this world. I don't think I pretended to be. I don't think there's anything wrong with that either. Someone above compared it to being a provider of abortions who said hey, you can contact me. Honestly I don't think that's at all inappropriate. Maybe that's because of what I think about this community, but if I posted a question asking about a medical issue and someone said hey, I'm a doctor whose practice is near you and this is my specialty - you can come in and be my patient. For me that's a positive value, an opportunity to work with someone who is active here, whose answer/question/participation history I can look at.

I can't prove to you that I'd have happily talked to her without pushing her to place with us. I think my history here would support that I try to be as neutral as I can, honestly when I can't be, and like helping people using the things I've learned in my life. I think that anyone using Ask has to accept that you just have to take answers to some extent at face value and apply some skepticism to the rest.

Lastly, as far as suggesting talking to adoption agencies? Again, yeah, biased. But I am biased in part because I have spent a lot of time in the last few years talking to agencies and doing research on others. And in my experience the majority are professionals who want to do what's best for everyone. Clearly the young rope rider does not agree with this assessment based on his/her own experiences. I disagree based on my experiences and based on my belief that, as a whole, people act in basically moral ways.

I think I tried to give a sense that yes, people in the adoption business are going to be more likely to be folks who believe in adoption as a good choice to make. I don't know how to avoid the truism that a barber always believes you need a haircut. The poster is clearly a sufficiently motivated person to be able to ask for help, do research, and make a choice. If this was a non-anonymous question and she was in my area I'da pointed her to one specific agency that I know and which I have reason to believe is a good-faith actor. Lacking that, I did the best I could as someone who believes in the value of adoption as a choice.

I hate the non-apology apology of "I'm sorry you're upset" and I know this is really firmly in that territory but I don't know how else to respond to some of the concerns expressed. I know this trod on delicate territory and talking adoption near abortion bears a lot of resemblance to past crappy behavior.

But I'm not sorry for thinking abortion and adoption can peaceably co-exist and that sometimes one is right for someone and the other isn't. I'm comfortable believing in people's capacity to be presented with options and make the right choice for them. I think there's miles of distance between "hey, adoption this exists and could be right for you" and the anti-choice nutters and their obnoxious interventions and invasive efforts to make abortion unnecessarily traumatic.

As a pro-choice prospective adoptive parent I am in this very odd middle ground; some of the women who place their babies do it because they have a problem with abortion. It's not an outlook I share or even fully can comprehend, having grown up as a heathen. But I am not going to make an apology for being willing to find a solution where my goals and theirs can both be satisfied.

Personally I'd prefer to find a birth mother who doesn't feel that way. Like the role of money in adoption, I accept it as a reality but am not thrilled about it. I'd rather live in a world where everyone accepts abortion as a simple medical procedure. But I don't, and I can't solve that problem for someone who has made it 18+ years into life and been exposed to anti-abortion propaganda all that time. If you think that offering up adoption as a possibility to someone necessarily contributes to that culture no matter how it's phrased, I disagree.

I don't know that my typing any of this made anyone but me feel better, but there you go.
posted by phearlez at 9:55 AM on January 24, 2012 [27 favorites]


Snarl Furillo: "It is not "I'm a prospective adoptive parent and I am very grateful to the birth mothers who have considered us," it's not "I'm an adoptive parent with an open adoption arrangement and my child's birth parent expresses positive feelings about the process to us," and it's not even, "have you considered adoption?""

Sounds like they're still looking for a baby. So they didn't say the first two things because those first two things have not happened yet.

Actually, what they wrote sounds a lot like "Have you considered adoption? There are a lot of people out there, including us, who are looking for a baby, and here's where to go to pursue that option."

I agree that the personal link was a bit out of line, the poster acknowledged it in the comment and agreed it could be removed if inappropriate, and it was.

All in all, sounds like a win to me. In a thread where someone is asking, "tell me what abortion is like", adoption is not a useful subject. But a thread that says, "Huh. I got pregnant and didn't plan it, what do I do now?" adoption seems like a totally viable answer. Not to mention she actually says that she always intended to keep it but abortion seems like the right thing to do. To me that reads, "I'm not crazy about the idea of not going through with the pregnancy, but on the other hand I don't think I'm in the right place to raise a child right now" which is totally cool.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:03 AM on January 24, 2012


Phearlez, I'm one of the people who flagged the comment. For me at least, the only part of the comment that was inappropriate was the part where you linked to your adoption page in the context of how much you want to adopt a baby. That absolutely came across as solicitation to me, and it left a really ugly and coercive taste in my mouth. Everything else you said was "hey, adoption exists and could be right for you," but that link took it to a "noooo don't abort! Give me your baby instead!" place.

Someone above compared it to being a provider of abortions who said hey, you can contact me.

The thing is, MeMail exists. You didn't have to create a way for her to get in touch with you; she already has one. If you'd presented your experience of the adoption system in America and your perspectives as a potential adoptive parent, she would have been *just* as able to contact you, without the leading and inappropriate framework.
posted by KathrynT at 10:12 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


But also because I thought - this is a community I am a part of and which I value. This person asking this question, from the little bit I know based on what she put up there, might be a person who we could have an arrangement with that would make everyone happy.

Wow, you sure made a fool out of me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:19 AM on January 24, 2012 [18 favorites]


KathrynT: "The thing is, MeMail exists. You didn't have to create a way for her to get in touch with you; she already has one."

But it's not anonymous, which is a big deal in this instance.
posted by schmod at 10:24 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's honestly beyond my ability to understand and it's antithetical to every way I think about family; to me the ties are almost entirely about choice and that every-day interaction, not about DNA.

You say this like it's a choice, but there's a lot of intense biology going on there for women. Plus, they have had every-day interaction with the fetus since quickening and they have little personalities that are evident even before they're born.

I personally wasn't super in love with my baby right when he came out (some women are, some women take a while), but I was intensely protective of him in a really insane and illogical way. I still feel bad for the CNA who dared to give him his first bath, because I almost ripped her head off. It's not a logical thing.

I would also like to see honest-to-god research about the after-effects of abortion and adoption, because my gut feeling disagrees with yours and says that giving a baby up for adoption is much more likely to end in ongoing psychological issues than a first-trimester abortion (of course our gut feelings are both somewhat worthless in a discussion like this, although having had an abortion and a baby I feel a bit more experienced in the physical realities of both).
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:26 AM on January 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


KathrynT - I didn't suggest MeMail because I presumed the posted didn't want to connect her metafilter identity to her pregnancy. The contact information on the card provides ways for someone to get in touch with us and completely hide who they are. I see your point and how perhaps offering up an email address might have avoided that sense; I used the card because we've created it and it exists already to solve that problem.

I offered up the other adoption resources in an effort to not seem like I was offering up only ourselves as a possible match.

I'm sure I could have done it better. But as I said, this endeavor requires me to put myself out there in a way I do not love and am not entirely comfortable with.

on preview - ThePinkSuperhero, I'm sorry you feel that way. I honestly felt like placing that link was both: here's us as an example and if we happen to be people you think you want to talk to more and see if we're a match, also great.

I don't know if a negative view of this is based on an accurate image of how this works. If someone contacts us through that method we'd chat with them a bit, perhaps exchange some more information about ourselves and what we want out of everything. Then we'd put them in touch with our adoption attorney who'd help us work out the appropriate representation for everyone, advise us on the legalities of what we can and cannot help the birth mother with based on her location, find counseling for her, etc etc.

Again, if you're really inclined to think that the system treats birth mothers poorly and doesn't get them what they need - I am not equipped to argue that with you down to the lowest detail. I'm sure crappy adoption agency operations exist. But I really believe most people in the business of adoption have everyone's best interests at heart.

But I assure you, someone who contacts us isn't going to go through the whole process through birth and completion of the adoption without opportunities to talk to people about her needs and, for that matter, lots of chances to back out.
posted by phearlez at 10:30 AM on January 24, 2012


This seems out of date, but relevant. What phearlez did isn't illegal, it isn't unethical (such a label begs the question), and the mods have addressed it under the site's rules.

No problem. Sorry if people don't like adoption for one reason or another (bad experience, its pro-life associations, etc.). But don't take it out on phearlez, who is a long-time contributor to this site.
posted by resurrexit at 10:38 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


it left a really ugly and coercive taste in my mouth.

Making an offer of information and assistance is not coercive, nor is suggesting mutual aid.

Adoption is not inherently wrong or ugly.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:39 AM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I honestly felt like placing that link was both: here's us as an example and if we happen to be people you think you want to talk to more and see if we're a match, also great.

Yeah, but you didn't say the latter- of course you didn't, you knew that would for sure get your answer deleted. You crafted an airtight answer that could be defended as informational only and hoped privately the OP would get your secret "wink, wink". Until you come in here and tell all of us, just kidding, I did have an ulterior motive! Disappointing. And why did you even comment in this thread? A lot of us were giving you the benefit of the doubt, but I can't really do that anymore.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:40 AM on January 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


TPS: if phearlez had offered to drive the OP to an abortion clinic should she choose that route, would you be offended?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:42 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


But also because I thought - this is a community I am a part of and which I value. This person asking this question, from the little bit I know based on what she put up there, might be a person who we could have an arrangement with that would make everyone happy.

To me, this falls outside of the Metafilter community guidelines-ethos. People generally aren't allowed to use AskMe for person-to-person requests for things. To see a post requesting a possible transfer of a baby seems really out of place-- especially in the context of a question about "what should I do about an unwanted pregnancy."

It wouldn't seem as jarring if you worked for an adoption agency, or had adopted in the past, it's the proposition that is wrong. What if the arrangements fell through, or satisfied her but not you? What if she wanted to proceed but you didn't because something about her circumstances? What if she didn't live up to the standards of this agency you're promoting?

The point is, your invitation to talk about arrangements to adopt the baby could lead to a situation that does great harm to this person.

My objection had more to do with the community here and with protecting the asker than with reproductive politics and their history.
posted by vincele at 10:45 AM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


The young rope rider:

I'm not going to pretend that I flat-out don't want to believe what you do, so let's just stipulate that, shall we? Both because of my own self-interests but also just because of how sad and depressing the whole concept is on so many levels.

I'm not going to assert there's no biological imperative going on that may make placing a child hard. But I'll say that I also am really uncomfortable as a pro-choicer any sort of idea of biological determinism. For me it's much easier to believe that yes, there's hormones at work. But that's true for humans in a lot of circumstances. Sometimes they're easy to disregard, sometimes they're not.

What I see - and I am sure the fact that I don't have a womb plays into what I do and don't see - is a lot more complications and issues people have from societal junk than from biology. The people who avoid abortion because of their moral beliefs. The difficulties that immediate family resistance to placing a child create, like grandparents who feel they're being cheated out of that relationship.

If you want to assert that from a purely biological standpoint that it's less traumatic to abort at 6 weeks than carry a child to term - I'm not going to argue with you. As I said, I'd choose that path myself. I don't in the slightest way think less of you for promoting it.

But I'm not everyone. I'm not going to presume to tell someone they must feel a certain way about pregnancy and childbirth. Sometimes that's a challenge for me, from my perspective; earlier this year we had friends get pregnant and we were one of the few couples who were privy to knowing before the 16th week. And my thoughts, even while they were SO twitchy and scared of a spontaneous miscarriage, was that I couldn't imagine being upset at that point. To me that is not a child, it's a bundle of cells that might end up being a child. If the body aborts it there's probably a good reason for that. If the parent aborts it we are no more deprived of a human being than we are when a woman ovulates in a month without having sex.

What can I do other than respect other people's choices and opinions even if I don't share them? Is it really ethically wrong to be prepared to work with these people whose values I do not share to find an arrangement that still honors both side's values?
posted by phearlez at 10:46 AM on January 24, 2012


TPS: if phearlez had offered to drive the OP to an abortion clinic should she choose that route, would you be offended?

I'll answer this one. I would flag it. If people want to get for relationships, or offer services, it shouldn't be done in the thread.
posted by vincele at 10:47 AM on January 24, 2012


phearlez, I agree with you that the majority of people in the adoption industry mean well. Unfortunately, the balance of power is so stacked against pregnant women who are considering adoption (as well as birth parents after the fact) that ethical issues abound. It's one more shitty effect of the imbalances of power and money that corrode our society. Responding to ethical concerns with "everyone means well" and concerns of birth parents by saying that DNA doesn't matter to you inadvertently silences people who want to talk about those very real issues by pointing them back to the dominant cultural narrative, which is that adoption is always good (and happy) for everyone involved. That is not the case.

Good luck to you and your partner.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:49 AM on January 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


TPS: if phearlez had offered to drive the OP to an abortion clinic should she choose that route, would you be offended?

Probably not- haven't we seen that before, even? If not that exact situation, lots of situations like it. I suppose what it comes down is that I assume that when members offer advice or help to other members on the site, they are doing it purely out of the goodness of their heart and not in any way that will profit themselves (or if there is something in it for them, they'll disclose it). Although even just writing it down like that makes it sound pretty naive and surely members have crossed that line before, so who knows. Very grey.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:49 AM on January 24, 2012


Sorry, phearlez, I cross posted with you and didn't read your most recent comment yet. I will get to it!
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:50 AM on January 24, 2012


This person asking this question, from the little bit I know based on what she put up there, might be a person who we could have an arrangement with that would make everyone happy

I'm sorry, but this crosses the line into seriously not ok in my view of how this site is meant to work. I feel dirty just reading it.
posted by Forktine at 10:52 AM on January 24, 2012 [20 favorites]


TPS: I think I understand, then. Is it fair to say that your objection is that phearlez used AskMe to advertise?

That's a much more limited critique than the claims of coercion, but in a sense it's much more powerful because it points to the fact that what phearlez did wasn't inherently wrong, just a misuse of that part of the site. I can get behind that.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:54 AM on January 24, 2012


phearlez: I didn't suggest MeMail because I presumed the posted didn't want to connect her metafilter identity to her pregnancy.

If you wanted to make it possible for her to contact you anonymously, then you can put an email address in your profile and leave it to her to decide to write you. I understand that this process forces you to operate outside your comfort zone, but that doesn't mean that you should be unwilling to listen to feedback from other people.

anotherpanacea: Making an offer of information and assistance is not coercive, nor is suggesting mutual aid. Adoption is not inherently wrong or ugly.

Adoption is absolutely not inherently wrong or ugly; it can be a wonderful, joyful, ethical way to build a family. Like I said, I don't object at all to offering information and assistance; I do object to suggesting that an anonymous site member contact another member to discuss adoption proceedings. The comment has been edited since it was originally posted and I have many fewer qualms about it in its current state.
posted by KathrynT at 11:00 AM on January 24, 2012


That's a much more limited critique than the claims of coercion, but in a sense it's much more powerful because it points to the fact that what phearlez did wasn't inherently wrong, just a misuse of that part of the site. I can get behind that.

Yeah, phearlez's response felt pretty strange, and it's probably more "out there" than is socially polite, but it doesn't rise to the level of moral outrage. There's nothing wrong with making an offer to adopt a baby. Nothing at all. You might argue that it wasn't a sensitive thing to say in the circumstance, but if that's the case, the crime of insensitivity has been pretty disproportionately related to the level of outrage expressed (although I am very sympathetic to how difficult this is for many people, from personal experience regarding how abuse of power in the adoption/foster system is used against those who are most vulnerable.) However, I would agree, as well, that this isn't how the site should be used.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:01 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, I think that is a fair summary, anotherpanacea.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:01 AM on January 24, 2012


TPS: if phearlez had offered to drive the OP to an abortion clinic should she choose that route, would you be offended?

Not TPS, but one of my objections to the comment was that I read the original question as "I am trying to decide whether I should keep the baby or have an abortion" with no mention of adoption, so I saw phearlez' comment as a non sequitur combined with a solicitation.

If the question had instead been "should I keep my baby or put it up for adoption" and phearlez had come in saying "Hey, here's tons of info about abortion! By the way, I am an abortion provider and you should consider using my services; here is my website" I would have flagged that too.
posted by lalex at 11:13 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


This person asking this question, from the little bit I know based on what she put up there, might be a person who we could have an arrangement with that would make everyone happy.

That smells of desperation and obsession, seems somewhere between disturbing and unconscionable.

That plus "Here's our blog, where you can give us money," it is sad.
posted by ambient2 at 11:14 AM on January 24, 2012


And my thoughts, even while they were SO twitchy and scared of a spontaneous miscarriage, was that I couldn't imagine being upset at that point. To me that is not a child, it's a bundle of cells that might end up being a child. If the body aborts it there's probably a good reason for that. If the parent aborts it we are no more deprived of a human being than we are when a woman ovulates in a month without having sex.

Miscarriage is incredibly traumatic for many women. Physically, my understanding is that it's often quite painful and sometimes dangerous. Emotionally, it's an experience that many people take years to recover from. You can understand, rationally, that miscarriages often happen for very good biological reasons. But our reactions to events in our lives aren't based on dispassionate calculation.

You've stated multiple times that you don't have a womb and so you probably don't understand. I'm telling you, with nothing but the kindest and friendliest of intentions, that you don't understand.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:16 AM on January 24, 2012 [18 favorites]



I'm sorry, but this crosses the line into seriously not ok in my view of how this site is meant to work. I feel dirty just reading it.


I have several times, offered to help Askers who were local to me.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:18 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


So it's ok to use AskMe to solicit help in saving women from prostitution but not ok to comment that you're a potential adoptee family in unexpected pregnancy threads?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:22 AM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes.
posted by rtha at 11:23 AM on January 24, 2012 [34 favorites]


if phearlez had offered to drive the OP to an abortion clinic should she choose that route, would you be offended?

Not really comparable. There aren't a lot of cases where an offer of a ride to an abortion clinic personally benefits the person offering the ride. If the comment indicated that was the case, then that would absolutely be problematic.
posted by kagredon at 11:24 AM on January 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Because fake's question was not "Hey internet, please go save my friends." It was "Hey internet, friends in a weird situation, what should I do?"

Whereas "Oh hey you're pregnant and don't want to be and we just happen to be looking to adopt. Here's my contact info!"

Those are a little different, don't you think?
posted by rtha at 11:25 AM on January 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


So it's ok to use AskMe to solicit help in saving women from prostitution but not ok to comment that you're a potential adoptee family in unexpected pregnancy threads?

I think the key difference is that the first is entirely about helping someone else; the latter is about providing the commenter with something that benefits them.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:26 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not going to pretend that I flat-out don't want to believe what you do, so let's just stipulate that, shall we? Both because of my own self-interests but also just because of how sad and depressing the whole concept is on so many levels.


Even great adoptions can be sad. I have a niece and a nephew who came to the family via adoption, and although it was necessary and they're very loved, the situation is really tragic.

This is the major issue I have with your comment, and again, I think you are acting in good faith and with everyone's best interests in mind, but you seem to be really naive about what adoption consists of for expectant mothers and birth parents, from the experience of loss to the pressure placed on them by agencies and potential adoptive parents. For you to suggest it to someone who wasn't already thinking about it as a response to a question about personal experiences--really bothered me.

I don't know what you're supposed to do with that, maybe do more research? I'm not sure that I would if I were in your position. You're already carrying a heavy burden, and I hope I haven't added to it unjustly.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:28 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


At some level, the simple act of answering a question benefits the asker, or else they would not answer. There are reasons why the analogy is a bad one, but "benefits" is probably not the way to go.
posted by gauche at 11:28 AM on January 24, 2012


So it's ok to use AskMe to solicit help in saving women from prostitution but not ok to comment that you're a potential adoptee family in unexpected pregnancy threads?

I don't say this to be insensitive, so I'm hoping that it doesn't come across this way. But I think what happens is that issues that hit personal sore spots for people are more likely to be framed as ethical issues. The question isn't so much whether it's ethical to do such and such, but ethical to suggest such and such, in light of peoples' history with a particular issue.

Those are a little different, don't you think?

Perhaps, but the parsing of appropriate behavior is now getting so exacting that it probably freaks some people out to even participate in the discussion anymore. A bit more grace seasoned in the discussion process would serve everyone well, I think.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:29 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


In this thread, a question about wanting to get a snake resulted in another MeFi user with snakes to rehome getting in touch and the eventual snake adoption was lauded by all. In this thread, someone says to get in touch because they're hiring in the area. What makes this such a different situation? User A expresses a need. User B offers a way to fill that need which can help them out as well. There's no obligation, there's no coercion, it's just an option. It's entirely up to the OP to decide if it's an option that's worth pursuing. It may not be what AskMe was designed to do, but it isn't without precedent.
posted by Dojie at 11:30 AM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Those are a little different, don't you think?

Yes, one is asking members to use their resources to solve a problem, while the other is offering a solution to a problem.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:31 AM on January 24, 2012


The difference is that this country doesn't have a long, sordid, unethical, deeply tragic and fucked up history of coercing vulnerable women out of their snakes.
posted by KathrynT at 11:33 AM on January 24, 2012 [59 favorites]


But I'll say that I also am really uncomfortable as a pro-choicer any sort of idea of biological determinism. For me it's much easier to believe that yes, there's hormones at work. But that's true for humans in a lot of circumstances. Sometimes they're easy to disregard, sometimes they're not.

These things, thinking the woman should be free to choose whether to be pregnant at any point in the pregnancy and the fact that a woman's body produces hormones after nine months of that pregnancy and especially upon delivery that if everything goes right (and of course there are mothers who end up with post-partum depression and mothers who wonder "what's wrong with me that I don't love my baby yet" and mothers who are just worn out) can have the effect of bonding mother and child as intensely as new lovers, they are not incompatible in any way. I don't understand the disconnect here. Biology says that fertile women get pregnant when they have sex; that doesn't mean there's something suspect about the premise of birth control.

And the question wasn't "what should I do about my pregnancy." It was "what did you do about your pregnancy."
posted by Adventurer at 11:34 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm just glad my mom, Rhea, gave my dad, Cronus, a rock wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he swallowed instead of me.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 11:35 AM on January 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


This was the OP's question:
"Please share your experiences with your decision and the aftermath of that decision, good or bad. I could really use your personal trials and tribulations in this particular situation."


Since phearlez's answer had nothing to do with that question, it shouldn't have been posted.

Benefit of the doubt credit was applied by the mods and several supportive users, and it turns out it should never have been extended, as it really was the tacit solicitation it seemed it could be.

UGH.
posted by batmonkey at 11:36 AM on January 24, 2012 [21 favorites]


That's not a question, that's a request. The question asked was "I'm pregnant. Now what?"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:38 AM on January 24, 2012


I think phearlez's answer was both within the bounds of AskMe guidelines given the nature of the question, and within ethical and moral guidelines as well.
posted by bove at 11:40 AM on January 24, 2012


I think it is really, really overstating things to describe the post in question as coercive.

The fact that it reminds one of other historically coercive things is interesting, but that is not the same thing, and it is in my opinion disrespectful of the stated ethics of this community, and of phearlez, to assume this kind of bad faith.
posted by gauche at 11:42 AM on January 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


If we thought he was soliciting in that comment or in talking to him afterwards, the comment would have been immediately gone.

I did it because yes, we want a child. But also because I thought - this is a community I am a part of and which I value. This person asking this question, from the little bit I know based on what she put up there, might be a person who we could have an arrangement with that would make everyone happy.

now it seems pretty cut and dried that a solicitation was happening. i wish phearlez had been more upfront about that in the emails. for everyone saying there's nothing wrong with him soliciting a baby in that thread, the mods said if they thought it was a solicitation they would have deleted it - so it seems they think it's out of place/over the line.
posted by nadawi at 11:45 AM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


This was the OP's question:

"Please share your experiences with your decision and the aftermath of that decision, good or bad. I could really use your personal trials and tribulations in this particular situation."

Since phearlez's answer had nothing to do with that question, it shouldn't have been posted.

I think what's happened, though, is that people aren't sure what the antecedent is for that decision. Does it refer to the OP leaning towards abortion in the previous sentence: But now that it's actually happening, abortion is seeming like the more logical, reasonable thing to do.

Or does it refer to the first sentence, where the OP states, I have no idea if I want to keep it or have an abortion?

I think that phearlez answered in response to the first sentence. He was sharing his experience regarding a particular decision possibility. Others assume, I think, that he interjected it inappropriately when the OP was leaning towards the alternative.

I think the benefit of the doubt to phearlez was okay here.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:48 AM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think it is really, really overstating things to describe the post in question as coercive.

I agree that it's not definitionally 'coercive,' but that's not the only reason a comment can leave a bad taste in one's mouth. I definitely agree that it's inappropriate, especially after he admitted, here in Metatalk, that he wrote the comment with the thought, "Hey, maybe this person who was not at all asking about adoption would consider giving us her baby!"

I think phearlez was posting 'in good faith,' but I also know that he was posting completely blind to the personal and political meaning of that faith. The number of baby-aged adoptions in this country is vanishingly small, mostly due to the destigmatization of single motherhood. In other words, mothers who want to give up a baby are a 'hot commodity.'

He was sharing his experience regarding a particular decision possibility.

(Noting that the comment has been edited to, I think, add a link to phearlez's blog rather than his personal adoption page) phearlez doesn't have any experience regarding a particular decision possibility. He hasn't every had an unwanted pregnancy. He hasn't given a baby up for adoption. And, so far, he hasn't adopted a child. He admits at the end, quite clearly, that he has no perspective as to what it means to give a baby up for adoption.
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on January 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Let me also make it clear that if the OP had said "I'm pregnant and leaning towards placing the baby for adoption, where do I go from here?" then I believe that every word of phearlez's answer would have been appropriate. The part that left me feeling not-great was the part where he implied "You should make a third choice, a choice you haven't referenced here, and you should do it in a way that fulfills my heart's desire." Maybe that's not a particularly charitable reading, but I don't think it's completely unfounded.

Phearlez, I have to ask: how would you have written your comment differently if the OP lived in another country, or if it was otherwise obvious that it would be difficult-to-impossible for you to adopt her baby if she chose to give birth?
posted by KathrynT at 11:53 AM on January 24, 2012


i think some are saying adoption had no place in the thread. i think others of us are saying, sure, talk about adoption, but how about you not solicite an anonymous woman in the middle of a hard decision who hasn't even indicated that adoption is on the table. it seems like a lot of effort is being spent arguing against the first point and everyone with a problem with the second point is being lumped in and told we're all against adoption.
posted by nadawi at 11:57 AM on January 24, 2012 [19 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher & Spaceman Stix (and those making similar points) don't get to be bummed about lack of reading comprehension in threads and questions anymore :D
posted by batmonkey at 11:59 AM on January 24, 2012


I think that phearlez answered in response to the first sentence. He was sharing his experience regarding a particular decision possibility. Others assume, I think, that he interjected it inappropriately when the OP was leaning towards the alternative.

I think the benefit of the doubt to phearlez was okay here.


To me, extending the benefit of the doubt means we assume phearlez was acting in good faith, so whatever misstep he made was an honest mistake and not an attempt to abuse the community. I think that's what happened, and I think the comment should have been deleted without prejudice, which happens to comments all the time. I don't think phearlez is some evil baby broker, but I also don't think the comment should have hung around just because he's a nice guy.

There are lots of subtle issues here and I do think wider political issues are relevant, but what really deeply bothers me, in terms of community guidelines, is that phearlez, a) doesn't actually have any personal experience regarding an unplanned pregnancy, and b) has a lot of skin in the game to get the OP to make a certain decision about possibly the most personal thing- your children and when and how to have them- that anyone makes decisions about. It might work out great for the OP, who knows, but we're working with limited info here and the best we can do is generalize from evidence, which is that the possibility he is offering is 100% great for him and IN MANY CASES it would be at BEST a sort of "best of bad options" for the OP.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:00 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree that it's not definitionally 'coercive,' but that's not the only reason a comment can leave a bad taste in one's mouth.

Absolutely. I'm just sort of concerned about how little daylight there seemed to be in this conversation between "this comment seems iffy to me" and "it's evident that the commenter is trying to persuade the OP by force!"
posted by gauche at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2012


"Iffy" was the wrong word. "out of place" or even "inappropriate" would be better.
posted by gauche at 12:02 PM on January 24, 2012


AskMeFi is clearly not designed for putting MeFites in contact with one another, but it sometimes plays out that way. The Russian sex trafficking thread has already been mentioned. Here is a thread where a MeFite ended up getting a ride to an abortion clinic and money to pay for it. And while it is true that there is a shameful history surrounding a woman's right to choose, we shouldn't make phearlez pay for that when he was clearly only acting in good faith.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:03 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


a car ride to an abortion is very different than offering to adopt someone's child. that doesn't seem like something that has to be stated, but apparently it does.
posted by nadawi at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2012 [20 favorites]


The question asked was "I'm pregnant. Now what?"

That's an incomplete-to-the-point-of-uselessness reading of the question:

I'm 32, 6 weeks pregnant and I have no idea if I want to keep it or have an abortion. I've only been with the potential father for just over two months. He doesn't want me to keep it, but knows it's ultimately my decision.

I've scheduled an abortion for Friday because I wanted to make sure I could still take RU486, versus going in for an actual procedure.

For a long time, I always thought if I accidently got pregnant, I'd keep it. No matter what. But now that it's actually happening, abortion is seeming like the more logical, reasonable thing to do.


Please show where the OP was asking for opinions that included offers to adopt her child.
posted by rtha at 12:13 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't want to be a threadsitter so I'll say this and piss off.

It's not up to me to decide what Ask is and is not for, and as I said I respected the decision to excise my link when the people who do get to decide... decided.

It makes me sad that someone who I'm long familiar with and whom I respect, ThePinkSuperhero, thinks less of me for my actions. I don't know if it makes it worse when I say that I had no intention of being disingenuous about why I was posting that link; I think the fact that it exists at all indicates that yes, I am interested in adopting a child and I'm not ruling anyone out. I didn't fail to elaborate more because I thought it would get me deleted - I said right up front, hey, maybe you want to delete this. I wasn't more elaborate because I felt it was plenty obvious. Maybe that makes it worse for you, TPS, I dunno.

I've always viewed Ask as a place people go when they're looking for a solution. I'm personally a lot more open to the idea of what gets called Chatfilter because I think sometimes that's what people need. The party line has always been, however, that Ask is about answerable & solvable problems.

My thinking is the same as gauche's: the very act of answering clearly gratifies the answerer in some way. Given that any answer is predicated on that sort of gratification I have never assumed that an answer can't provide some other gain to the answerer. I think it's sleazy and unethical not to reveal that when it's the case but I do not believe it's a zero-sum world - people manage to come to arrangements that mutually benefit them all the time.

Yes, people also come to arrangements that don't benefit both parties. But the extent of what I can do about that is to not participate in those arrangements and not contribute to creating them. I tried to provide some good links in that answer to some places to look around at the way adoption works. I cannot prove to anyone what is in my heart but I can say that I, as a pro-choice person who believes abortion is moral, would never ever try to discourage someone or make them feel bad about their selection.

I guess my perspective on Ask resulting in contact is colored by the fact that sometimes I point people asking for information on DC to a resource I participate in the running of. To suggest that I financially benefit from that is laughable, but certainly driving readers results in positive ego feelings for me if it helps the project succeed. I've also sent or loaned things to askers when it helped me get rid of stuff; I just met someone yesterday to loan them a piece of gear that mostly holds down a floor. I get a warm fuzzy from being useful and help justify the fact that the damned thing takes up space in my home the rest of the time.

KathrynT, I can't prove it to you either, but in your hypothetical I really would have endeavored, absent any ability to benefit myself, to say "You present this as just those two options you don't like, but the third option is adoption. I don't know what the laws are where you are but in the US it's possible for adoptive parents to shoulder the costs if you really feel like abortion is not the right choice for you."

The only reason I might not have done so would be if i felt I was so lacking in information that I couldn't even contribute that. If she'd identified herself as Russian, for example, I'd probably have expressed caution; my understanding of the conditions for Russian children waiting for adoption is very sad and I'm not sure how many children are successfully placed as infants - most of what I am aware of are the children who are not placed and have been in orphanages for near to a full year. I don't know if they represent a small or large percentage of children, but I do know the result for the ones who live in orphanages and don't get enough physical contact suffer for it.

Honestly, does it matter? The answer had value or did not. Clearly rtha doen't think it did under any reading; I've already explained my reasoning. If I only answered because of some way it might benefit me then I'm pretty dumb since the odds were so slim as to be less likely than my winning the lottery. Further, an answer which was only of value if one particular family was the one to adopt the child is a crap answer regardless. I can't prove to anyone what my motivations or feelings were so if they need to be exactly one thing or another for you not to think less of me... maybe you need to think less of me.

I'll live with that. I appreciate your statement about my burden, the young rope rider, but I feel like I have very little burden in this life. I'm fortunate in a multitude of ways and feel very lucky. I see people in the world and in Ask whose challenges are so much greater than mine that I sometimes feel like I don't deserve to want for anything at all. I hope you don't think that I say that I cannot understand someone's position that I'm dismissing any effort to try - I just try to be aware that some things I just cannot ever fully know, and act accordingly. I hope I'm making the choices that, at least, don't make the world any worse.
posted by phearlez at 12:23 PM on January 24, 2012


i think some are saying adoption had no place in the thread. i think others of us are saying, sure, talk about adoption, but how about you not solicite an anonymous woman in the middle of a hard decision who hasn't even indicated that adoption is on the table. it seems like a lot of effort is being spent arguing against the first point and everyone with a problem with the second point is being lumped in and told we're all against adoption.

I think there's a third way, and I'm not sure how many people here are saying this, that says the only issue with adoption talk is that it should be coming from somebody who had to make a decision and either considered the option or chose it. Even if the comment had been "I'm not looking to adopt, but other people really, really want to" with a link to an adoption agency, to me, that wouldn't be appropriate if it didn't address the basic "what might this experience be like" question.
posted by Adventurer at 12:24 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm 32, 6 weeks pregnant and I have no idea if I want to keep it or have an abortion.

I have to admit that I read into the "keep it" part to include adoption. Poor reading comprehension on my part; although I think that many people naturally include this possibility on the decision making spectrum if they are wondering whether to keep it. I'm not convinced that it wasn't on the OP's mind, but I do think it's probably inappropriate to assume that it was, if it wasn't explicitly stated.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:24 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's an incomplete-to-the-point-of-uselessness reading of the question:

Not at all, it's merely different than what you think it is. The OP is at a crossroads and doesn't which of the two roads to take. It's reasonable to point out that there's a third road, happens all the time in AskMe.

Phearlz throwing his name out a potential stop on that third road walks right up to "maybe you shouldn't do that" line, but frankly with everything else that has gone on in Metafilter (dating, marriage, kids) I see no reason that offering up adoption has to reflexively shut down.

Please show where the OP was asking for opinions that included offers to adopt her child.

Please show where AskMe only allows responses that specifically answer a specific question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:32 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Too much of this discussion is shot through with arguments that come from state regulation of abortion clinic policies, where there's real concern about so-called "positive adoption language." AskMe is not a clinic, and a member's comments in a thread do not have the same implications as a doctor's statutorily-obligated pre-procedure spiel.

It's perfectly reasonable to assume that someone who "always thought... [they'd] keep it. No matter what" might consider adoption.

I think it was problematic of phearlez to link to his own adoption site, but mentioning adoption in that context is hardly coercive or inappropriate. It's one of the three options, even though the OP only mentioned two of them. True, the "keep or abort" disjunct implies that the OP was not considering adoption, but if there's a third option it doesn't hurt her to hear it and often a good answer has to challenge the restrictive framing of the question.

What's coercive is to try to prevent women from recognizing the breadth their options, including all the potential costs and pains associated with them: in that sense, I think birthmothers are also warranted in sharing their experiences, especially when they're traumatic.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:33 PM on January 24, 2012


After being linked to this (I've never perused MetaTalk before, and even though I've posted questions before, consider myself a Metafilter newbie/neophyte), I felt l should just come forward.

I'm the original poster of the question.

I was anonymous because of previous posts I've made alluding to the relationship with the person who got me pregnant and I didn't want the responses to my question to be influenced by this prior information.

I did find the adoption comment very uncomfortable and not at all an option I was considering for myself. I realize perhaps I was unclear about what I was asking in terms of your experiences, and while it would have been fine to hear about your decisions to have it and give it up for adoption, that was never on the table for me. I think "keeping it" means keeping it, not simply deciding to continue with the pregnancy.

I am certainly ignorant on the topic of adoption and birthmothers, etc. I think adoption is a wonderful thing and know people who were adopted as children or have chosen adoption to start or continue a family.

However, this question really was looking for responses about women (and perhaps even men) who made a decision (keeping it or aborting it), how they came to that decision, what was going on in their lives, what the aftermath was, ANYthing pertaining to either one of those outcomes.

I know I didn't need to qualify my question by saying adoption was not an option for me, but since there seems to be debate as to the open ended-ness of the inquiry, I wanted to end that part of the speculation.

Lastly, I'm extremely grateful and frankly in awe at the response I received to my question. I want to thank all of you for your honesty and willingness to tell me your stories and help me through this. This has been by far, my best experience with Metafilter to date.
posted by patientpatient at 12:39 PM on January 24, 2012 [57 favorites]


This has been by far, my best experience with Metafilter to date.

In light of the direction that this took, it was good (and a pleasant surprise) to hear you say this. Thanks for sharing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:44 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Patientpatient, good luck and good thoughts with whatever direction you choose.
posted by superfluousm at 12:48 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a lot of concern among birthparent rights groups about pre-adoption contact with potential adoptive parents, and about privately arranged adoption situations, and there are a lot of valid reasons to be concerned about this. Potential adoptive parents have an interest in the baby. They can try their very best to put thier WHOLE HEARTS towards being completely unbiased but let's face it, the aren't just walking around in the world finding troubled pregnant women and offering no strings attached love and assistance. Saying that you are really unbiased in your dealins with a pregnant woman whose child you would like to adopt is like saying you're standing in the bar buying pretty ladies drinks simply because you care from the bottom of your heart. The ACT of offering warm attention and caring is part of attempting to groom the woman for her baby. And it works, really well. I can't say how many times I've heard a pregnant woman profess "This is so painful I don't want to do this I don't think I can bear this, but I won't back down now, I know the adoptive parents are so hopeful!" It's understandable that adoptive parents are not trained to see the extant of how their actions effect the situation. It's very understandable! Hoping to be a parent is a very emotional time! That is why it's necessary to see these kinds of interactions as vulnerable and why in general going through a reputable agency would be the ideal. The existance of reputable agencies is itself problematic.
From Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute:
"About half of all infant adoptions are carried out by independent practitioners, who facilitate birthparents' placing their children directly with potential adoptive parents.

The high costs associated with infant adoptions (typically $20,000 to $35,000 for all the services involved), the deep yearning of some prospective parents to adopt a baby, and the low level of legal regulation of adoptions make the process vulnerable to unscrupulous and unethical practices. Such practices threaten the interests of all parties, particularly birthparents. Because practitioners are paid by adoptive parents, who typically have higher social status and income, their needs and desires often supersede those of the other participants. Laws regulating adoptions vary greatly from state to state, and generally fall short of adequate protections of birthparent rights in the adoption process.

Overt coercive tactics should be barred in law and practice; furthermore, ethical practitioners need to be alert to even unintended, subtle forms of pressure - so, for instance, they need to help an expectant mother understand explicitly that accepting financial aid or developing bonds with the potential adoptive parents does not obligate her to go through with the placement if she decides it isn't right for her or her child. "

"Pre-birth meetings are probably the major manipulation technique used in the many semi-open, long distance adoptions that are happening every day in the U.S. There are adoption practitioners who train people how to counsel toward adoption--and the forming of an attachment with an adopting family is one of the approaches they train people in."
-Bill Betzen LMSW
From adoption.com
posted by xarnop at 12:51 PM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


patientpatient, I am so happy you've gotten support and had a wonderful experience with this, and I send you more good thoughts as well. : )
posted by xarnop at 12:52 PM on January 24, 2012


Please show where AskMe only allows responses that specifically answer a specific question.

Fair enough. But in response to a question as fraught with...everything as this one, a brief "If you're open to considering adoption, here is a link" would likely fly without notice, but that's not why we're here - the response we're talking about was not just a short sentence and a link.

And, the OP did ask specifically for advice from people who had experienced what she's going through, and phearlez didn't have any of that. I know it's SOP to dive into askmes with answers like "Well, I don't speak Latin, but from googling, it looks like your tattoo means..." but it's really a terrible SOP and should be discouraged.
posted by rtha at 12:52 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The thing I most disliked that you're doing in your presentation of adoption is disregarding my experience as a minority when there is a lot of evidence that adoption loss IS in fact very different in it's long term affect to women than the effect of abortion.

Adoptive parents and people who "know someone somewhere" do this all the time. The reason I'm skeptical of that is that very few people, even close to me, have any grasp on the trauma I've been through with adoption-- and I've certainly told people the expected "Oh yes open adoption is sweet and wonderful" story they are hoping to hear particularly early on when I was too vulnerable to deal with the inevatable response when you tell the truth.

That inevitable response is the right off followed by "Well I know someone somewhere who is happy being a birthmother and not affected. I refuse to change my positive ideas about how adoption affects borthparents"

Queu why women like me feel so isolated and can not in general get support from the community that clings to the positive image of adoption that offers a feel good message. I literally DO NOT believe that adoption and abortion have anywhere near the same affects on women's health but we don't have any research on that because the only people researching adoption are people looking for "women's positive experiences finding resolution with their adoption decision"-- and no research from trained professionals assessing trauma, stress, and physiological responses to having placed a child-- which has been extensively done with abortion and very few findings of long term harm to women's long term health.
posted by xarnop at 12:59 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


if there's a third option it doesn't hurt her to hear it

Oh, but it can. So many people say it this way that it's easy to hear it like this even when the tone isn't intentional: "If you're thinking about having the baby for yourself, and you're thinking about not having the baby, why don't you think about having the baby for somebody else? You have this thing people want. You could make them happy. ["You could do the right thing" is often implied here too, even by people who are more pro-choice than not.] Why wouldn't you do it?" And there's no acknowledgment that it might not be good for her personally to do this, or indeed how it might be for her to choose this. How could there be when even adoptive parents don't know? It's all about what's good for other people and the unborn child, sometimes with an implication that she might feel guilty if she doesn't. This is pushed so hard in our culture that you could have Bea Arthur choose abortion on network TV in the 1970s while today: well, Juno.

Maybe I'm getting far afield here. This is the thing that I think is being overlooked when you suggest "the third option" to a woman considering abortion: she knows that there is such a thing as completing the pregnancy and giving the baby up for adoption. You're not telling her anything she doesn't already know. The only new information you can bring to the table without telling her what it's like to do it is to tell her just how much people want to adopt. I don't see how there's anything but emotional pressure in that.
posted by Adventurer at 1:13 PM on January 24, 2012 [22 favorites]


xarnop: Have you read Adoption and Loss? (Disclosure: the author is my friend's birth mother.) There is a vocal community of birth parents who acknowledge and help each other deal with the loss that many experience after giving a child up for adoption.

On the other side of things, I have been met with derision from other birth mothers when I say I had a positive experience with adoption, so not everyone is on the "all adoption is happy happy" bandwagon. It certainly can feel like it, depending on what you're reading.

if there's a third option it doesn't hurt her to hear it

In some cases, possibly. "I'm considering buying a Whirlpool or a Maytag appliance" and someone chiming in with "have you considered Electrolux?" is one thing. Something as emotional and personal as an unplanned pregnancy is completely different. The OP did not ask about adoption. She asked for personal experiences with abortion or keeping a baby from an unplanned pregnancy. The comment did pretty much the opposite of what she asked for.

In any case: though it sounds like the OP has had a good experience with this situation, phearlez's comment was not only not answering the question, it was, as he clarified, a solicitation to get in touch with him about potentially adopting the OP's child. I initially gave him the benefit of the doubt, but am disappointed to know that was unfounded.
posted by bedhead at 1:25 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Adventurer, xarnop and KathrynT have really gotten to the root of this issue.

Bringing up adoption in and of itself isn't wrong in response to a question like this. The issue (outside the squicky "we'll totally take that kid off your hands for ya" which phearlez pretty much admitted to) is that phearlez's comment did not at all address the OP's question, which was what people's decisions were and the aftermath of those decisions.

Phearlez was writing from the perspective, and ONLY from the perspective, of someone who wants a baby. He admitted he's not objective, and WANTS to believe that every birth mother is ecstatic to have given her baby to a wonderful, loving couple like his. His multiple paragraph response talked almost exclusively about the mechanics of giving up one's baby and the happiness of the adoptive family. That is not a personal experience about adoption from a birth mother, which is what the OP was looking for.

IMO, it's offensive to try to influence someone who's in an emotionally difficult situation to make their decision in such a way that it will benefit other people. Helping the OP would have been to give her feedback about what it was like to carry a child to term and then give it up for adoption, so that she had an idea of what that experience would be like, not how wonderful it could be to spend nine active months being an incubator and who knows how many passive months dealing with the aftereffects ... for a child for someone else.

OTOH, if Phearlez had shown up and said "I was in your position five years ago, I/my SO chose to become a birth mother, and here's why I think it was the right decision" it would have been totally appropriate. Xarnop's heart-wrenching story of the loss and emotional damage of giving up a child is also appropriate. Someone coming in and talking about how the decision to adopt out their child or not affected them would be appropriate.

Talking about how the OP could subsume what was best for her and do something nice for someone else -- ideally, him -- was not.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 2:15 PM on January 24, 2012 [26 favorites]


Dunno if I'm getting too deep in semantics, but the justifications feel... slippery? Lacking self-awareness?


I guess my perspective on Ask resulting in contact is colored by the fact that sometimes I point people asking for information on DC to a resource I participate in the running of.


As people have said, gargantuan difference 'tween that and this.

Not because I want her to pick any of those three options

Acknowledging your potential interest in adopting her baby suggests otherwise.

I did it because yes, we want a child.

Bingo.

As a prospective adoptive parent I have had to accept being in this self-promoting space of opening up my life to scrutiny. For whatever it's worth, this is not a system we feel entirely comfortable with. The role of money in the adoption world makes us hugely uncomfortable.

"We're not comfortable with this, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut we're gonna do it," is thin. If someone's comfortable enough to do something, prefacing it with statements of discomfort is spin.

This is all quite unfortunate, but with that many words written, presumably thought put into them, ever more a sense that the original answerer doesn't begin to grasp how this has come across.
posted by ambient2 at 2:23 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now that phearlez has pretty much negated the charitable interpretation of his comment are any of the mods going to weigh in? I doubt that phearlez is a bad dude but this seems pretty far over the line.
posted by supercrayon at 2:56 PM on January 24, 2012


Yeah, honestly, where we are on this is that "yes, I was thinking maybe this would be a way to end up adopting your baby" is not an okay outcome and this really basically needs to never happen again. It's not the read we had on the comment when we made the decision to let it stand, and pretty seriously reinforces the hindsight feeling that we should have gone with a delete.

Coming from a well-meaning place or not, any kind of "I'm injecting this into the discussion because I'm hoping there's something in it for me" stuff is very borderline on askme at best, regardless of the specific subject domain, and is generally at odds with what we see as being the threshold of acceptable behavior for askers and answerers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:08 PM on January 24, 2012 [24 favorites]


Original comment, kinda gross, explanation/justification is grosser. Good luck with your decision, patientpatient.
posted by maxwelton at 3:15 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm really sad an anonymous Asker felt she needed to out heself because of a MeTa about an answer to her question. Especially but not only because a pregnancy decision should be a woman's personal, private business.
posted by gingerest at 4:05 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


patientpatient did not seem like she felt pressured to "out" herself. She seemed to feel comfortable (what's better than that?) after the experience she had in reading the comments, and wanted to acknowledge the community, of her own volition, and I admire her for doing so!
posted by thinkpiece at 5:13 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I simply do not believe that there aren't many women who have a successful and satisfying experience placing their child.

I always assumed that there were - there is at least one in this thread. My spouse was an adopted child, I have several relatives who were adopted too. Then I read the book that has been referred to upthread, and it completely changed my perspective on adoption.
posted by pinky at 5:38 PM on January 24, 2012


I find myself pretty darn disgusted that people are more disgusted with a mention of adoption than they are the idea of abortion, to such a strong degree.

Even if you are one who feels that women have the right to terminate their pregnancies, do you even give a second of thought to the fact that we are talking about the beginning of a human life? Is adoption so heinous that getting rid of the baby is far better? Can we not have a modicum of respect for the baby?

I'm not saying that those birth mothers who suffered after adoption don't have a point. They assuredly do. But adoption is not the second coming of Hitler, either.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:39 PM on January 24, 2012


Alia, with all due respect, nobody is disgusted with "a mention of adoption." They are bothered by the solicitation of a baby for adoption, which is a very different thing.
posted by KathrynT at 5:41 PM on January 24, 2012 [20 favorites]


i don't think a collection of cells that will never become a baby deserve respect. i certainly don't think they deserve more respect than the woman who is making the decision of whether or not she will be a mother. she didn't ask about adoption. even so, a neutral comment on adoption would have been far more ok in that thread - but that's not what happened.
posted by nadawi at 5:46 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I wondered if this was going to happen.
posted by rtha at 5:47 PM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


Wow, Alia, I didn't get that impression at all from the discussion that ensued. It seemed to me a more nuanced, complex picture of adoption as -- rightly so -- requires a commitment to understanding the realities, and making sure that your motives, no matter your role in the event, are best for the BABY.
posted by thinkpiece at 5:49 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find myself pretty darn disgusted that people are more disgusted with a mention of adoption than they are the idea of abortion, to such a strong degree.

They aren't. You are misunderstanding.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [28 favorites]


Can we not have a modicum of respect for the baby?

I love babies. Every baby has the right to a loving home where it is wanted. Abortion helps make that possible by ensuring that unwanted pregnancies do not turn into unwanted babies. It also allows women who already have children to continue to be physically, emotionally, and financially present for the babies they've already had, instead of undergoing a potentially debilitating or disabling pregnancy.

Abortion is good for babies. That is one of many reasons why I support it wholeheartedly.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:57 PM on January 24, 2012 [39 favorites]


I find myself pretty darn disgusted that people are more disgusted with a mention of adoption than they are the idea of abortion, to such a strong degree.

This coming from someone who has shown up in similar threads trying to refer posters to specific families for posters to give their babies to, if only they please please please don't have that abortion, please. Which is so disgusting and desperate and manipulative that I'm surprised your own filth sensors can even function.
posted by hermitosis at 6:49 PM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


"I wondered if this was going to happen."

Yeah, it's unfortunate that it did. Still.

Alia, we've been net-friends for a long time and you know I respect both your views and your sensibilities. And, although I'm sure that it's not apparent here lately where I've been pretty ostentatiously pro-choice, you may recall that I have a long history of what you might call "outreach" to the pro-life point-of-view and community.

And, I totally respect your belief that a "baby" is being discussed. I disagree with your belief about the truth of the matter, but I do accept as valid your belief that a first-term fetus is a human life.

But you've hung out on MetaFilter for a long time and I know that you know that a lot of people don't share that belief. For that matter, some of the people here who do, nevertheless don't share your associated belief that this moves the discussion beyond the realm of an individual woman's decision about having a child.

Surely it's not too much to ask that you don't stack the deck when discussing this here by using language like,"...we are talking about the beginning of a human life"? A lot of us don't accept your assumption that this discussion involves a human life. I accept that you don't accept my assumption that it doesn't. Were our roles reversed, I wouldn't stack the deck by asking, rhetorically and provocatively, why in the world people are forgetting that what we're talking about is a woman's inviolable right to control her own body. It's what I believe, but I don't assume that you share that belief and so I wouldn't begin a discussion involving abortion with you by begging the question of your acceptance of a belief that I happen to know you don't hold.

With regard to the specific objection, as others have said, it wasn't for most that the mere mention of adoption provoked objection. That's the case as attested by a few, but certainly not most. Many people have made it abundantly clear that discussion of adoption was not, by itself, objectionable. For them, it was the solicitation for an adoptable baby.

Also, while I can well understand why you would find it topsy-turvy that abortion is discussed as if it were the most right thing in the world while adoption is wrong, and I share a little bit your surprise at objections to adoption, I think this is a good learning opportunity. Because, as was heartbreakingly attested above, adoption can be under the very best circumstances a terrible and enduringly painful experience, and under the worst experiences it is exploitative and deeply hurtful. It behooves us to understand why any woman would find herself strongly provoked by the promotion of adoption in this context. You don't have to be pro-choice to be sensitive to the issues surrounding adoption that xarnop describes anymore than you have to be pro-life to be sensitive to the issues surrounding abortion that people who found it traumatic can describe.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:55 PM on January 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


I find myself pretty darn disgusted that people are more disgusted with a mention of adoption than they are the idea of abortion, to such a strong degree.

Well, that's not what happened. But you know that already.

I hadn't seen your trademarked brand of willful disingenuousness and faux outrage flare up for a while; you are almost making me feel a bit nostalgic.
posted by lalex at 7:15 PM on January 24, 2012


Abortion is good for babies.

I......have no words.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:32 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's just fine. We have, in the past, had to employ more stringent "Please do not talk about adoption in every single abortion thread in AskMe" guidelines because some people could not be trusted to go hobby-horsing there. More recently, that has not been the case. The fact that we may have relaxed them too far--and my apologies folks--does not mean that this is a great time to pick up that argument, in this thread. Please.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:34 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


St. Alia of the Bunnies: I......have no words.

Sometimes I wish that were true. How bout an apology for that earlier idiocy?
posted by gman at 7:40 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


If phearlez had never made the comment (or had it been immediately deleted) I would have never been educated on some of the counterpoints.
posted by forforf at 8:11 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Abortion is good for babies.

I......have no words
.

That's too bad, because I was hoping you could scrounge up some words to address the rest of the young rope rider's comment, because taking that one bit out of context isn't adding anything to the conversation.
posted by sweetkid at 8:13 PM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: might be a person who we could have an arrangement with that would make everyone happy.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 8:22 PM on January 24, 2012


Hadn't been following this for awhile, given the recent direction it's time to remove it from my recent activities
posted by edgeways at 8:26 PM on January 24, 2012


"A big way people find each other is American Adoptions, the place I mentioned and linked in the answer. As I implied there, the linking is almost superfluous. They spend a tremendous amount of money on SEO and Google ads so they're the top of the stack when you search about adoption."

Aaaaaand, that's my problem with here. They (American Adoptions and others like them) have lots of money from this enterprise of preying on the desperation or greed of some, and the hope and greed of others.

Dirty business, that.

(Foster care in this country is easily worse. I would love new systems in place. Just don't think you should spend $$ supporting a broken system part of the adoption system which is strictly voluntary and for profit.)

The comment was OK except for leaving out any reference regarding the nasty underbelly of "gray market adoptions." And the solicitation part.
posted by jbenben at 9:23 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm injecting this into the discussion because I'm hoping there's something in it for me" stuff

That is either a really uncharitable reading of what I have said or I have expressed myself poorly. I felt like I tried to provide some information to someone who made a statement about being conflicted about her choices. Saying it's not okay to include information that relates to my own endeavors, fine, but I don't see how you look at that answer - within which I made sure to include other links that had nothing to do with me and ways to find pertinent information appropriate to her area - and claim it was all motivated by self-interest... I don't believe that's supported.

They (American Adoptions and others like them) have lots of money from this enterprise of preying on the desperation or greed of some, and the hope and greed of others.

What an excessively cynical interpretation. American Adoptions is a non-profit organization that happens to have become the 800 lb gorilla in the area of adoption advertising. The Red Cross and Habitat similarly spend sizable funds on internet adversiting.
posted by phearlez at 9:47 PM on January 24, 2012


but I don't see how you look at that answer - within which I made sure to include other links that had nothing to do with me and ways to find pertinent information appropriate to her area - and claim it was all motivated by self-interest

I don't believe the answer was all motivated by self-interest. The problem, as simply as I can state it, is that the answer needs to be not at all motivated by self-interest.

Your clarification in here seems to be that, yes, in fact, you were partly motivated by the possibility that in putting forth your take on adoption in this way and your personal situation you were setting in motion a path leading to the asker placing a child in your adoptive care. That's a problem, and it's only our mistaken reading that that was not an explicit element of your reasoning that led to the answer not being deleted in the first place.

The general adoption background stuff was fine as far as that goes. Most of the comment was unobjectionable as far as I'm concerned. But most isn't all, and it's the remainder that's the crux here and sounds by what you've been saying in here like something that should have been a showstopper for you where you closed the browser window and did something else.

Which, again, I don't believe you're coming at this from a bad place, I can understand to whatever degree that I can sympathize with the position you're in that this must be something very important and very close to you. But it's something that needs not to happen in askme answers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:33 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Phearlez, given what you said about "biological determinism" upthread, I want to make this case to you in case you end up having a relationship with a birth mother who ends up having a hard time: these natal and post-natal hormones are not something you can choose your way out of or bad-attitude your way into, any more than you can choose your way out of PMS or post-partum depression or feeling good after an orgasm. If it makes her feel bad, she can't just be talked out of feeling bad. And you might not want to assume that the adoption agency is going to look after her. They may be a non-profit, but unlike an organization like, say, Planned Parenthood, which does 90+ percent of its business in contraception and cancer screenings and STI testing, they exist only to secure adoptions. If they can't produce a certain number of babies, people will go elsewhere, their jobs will cease to exist, their own kids won't get fed. There is no incentive anywhere to tell the mother anything that will scare her away, and as xarnop pointed out, there's no research to show her anyway, and once her work is done, how much money is that non-profit going to spend on, say, therapy for the birth mother? I have trouble believing that there are enough altruistic, birth-mother-prioritizing people at the money-handling, policy-setting levels of the organization, not working in the field, on hand at all times to keep it from sliding out of convenience into treating the mother as a service provider rather than someone who might need continuing care (let alone as someone who needs to know beforehand that she might end up needing it). If they believe what you came into this thread believing, they won't even think it's possible. It would after all be the easiest thing for them to think. And, as xarnop pointed out, there's really no research for anybody to refer them to, or for them to refer prospective birth mothers to. If they were really looking out for these people, you'd think they might want a study, so they could at least know what needs they should be addressing.
posted by Adventurer at 11:23 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was initially put off by what I took, and what's been confirmed here, as phearlez's solicitation in that thread. However, that was a small part of the comment, and I felt that the rest of the comment, with it's introduction of adoption as an option along with some information about it, was firmly within the bounds of acceptable answers to AskMe questions phrased as this one was. Not even patientpatient's comment in this thread has changed that. AskMe has a long tradition of reasonably expanding the discussion beyond the bounds of what the poster directly asked, and that's one of the most useful things about the site, as far as I'm concerned. It seemed clear to me in that thread, and in this, that phearlez was participating in good faith, insofar as his interest was primarily within the bounds of expanding the set of choices for the questioner rather than removing some from the table.

I've been incredibly put off by the response to him in this thread, and by the strident, universalizing, and uncompromising tone of those who think adoption is horrible. I'm really sympathetic to the (primarily) women here who have shared painful stories of their own bad experiences. However, I know A LOT of people who have been involved in A LOT of different types of adoption, as the birth parents and as the adoptive parents, and I know that the position presented here is a narrow one not shared by many (most?) of the women who go through adoption. I certainly don't object to strongly worded dissents to the idea that adoption is a good option, but I do object to the idea that suggesting adoption in a favorable light is somehow akin to coercing birth mother's into a life of recriminations and regret. That rhetoric, freely used throughout this thread, is very close to the rhetoric chosen by anti-abortion folks, who also claim to have the best interests (founded on personal experience) of women at heart. Of the two rhetorical strategies, one that presents adoption as a viable and good option, and one that condemns even the suggestion of adoption as (almost) a plot to ruin the lives of susceptible young women, the former seems markedly less coercive and more pro-choice. One can make a strong anti-adoption argument on the merits, and there is certainly room to do that, without the overlays of conspiracy that make it hard to evaluate the merits per se because the focus has been shifted to evil adoption purveyors. Frankly, the rhetoric here: "People who suggest adoption are lying to birth mothers, all of whom are severely damaged by the process, because they don't care about women at all and are just pursuing their own agenda," would be roundly castigated (and rightly so) were it used to describe abortion instead. I suspect it would be castigated by most of those using it here.
posted by OmieWise at 5:14 AM on January 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Adoption can be very horrible. What's the point in denying it? So can having an abortion and so can raising a child when you're absolutely unprepared. No harm is done in bringing up all sides of the issue. In fact, that was what the question was about.
posted by h00py at 5:27 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


But, as I said in my answer to the question, you're not guaranteed a lifetime of regret whatever you choose. It is such a personal thing, absolutely aligned with how you feel about all kinds of things. Information and anecdotes can offer different viewpoints but ultimately, how you feel will depend on you and only you.
posted by h00py at 5:32 AM on January 25, 2012


I think there's a difference between saying, "Adoption can be horrible," and the kind of rhetoric used here, which makes it seem like not only is adoption a horrible choice, those who suggest it are part of a nefarious plot to harm women.
posted by OmieWise at 5:37 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think you're over-reacting. The use of the word nefarious gives it away.
posted by h00py at 5:40 AM on January 25, 2012


Which is not to say that I'm not sympathetic to the fear that "adoption, adoption, adoption," is used by anti-abortion concern trolls to derail conversations about abortion. I just think it's clear that that is not what was happening here.

I also think that anyone who has been anywhere near the issue of difficult pregnancies and pregnancy loss (of any sort) should know enough to give the benefit of the doubt to others who have been similarly affected. It's a VERY difficult thing to deal with, from whatever side, and those with experience with it should recognize that it does not always bring out the best in people. That isn't an excuse for bad behavior, but it should temper the more vociferous condemnations.
posted by OmieWise at 5:41 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


those who suggest it are part of a nefarious plot to harm women.

I haven't read them this way. And as far as I can tell, none of the people advocating against adoption (that's an overly simplistic reduction of what they're doing, but I need a shorthand here) are doing so from an anti-abortion/concern-troll place. They're doing it because many, many people are ignorant about many aspects of adopting - the message we get culturally is that it's a wonderful choice and giving your baby up for adoption makes you a generous and excellent person and don't you want to be a generous and excellent person? And there's pretty much never any discussion - nor, apparently, is there any research - about the repercussions of that decision for the birth mother.
posted by rtha at 6:26 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've talked here before about having been involved in a custody dispute with our daughter's biological father after we adopted her. Had we never gone through that, I would probably have gone merrily on my way, convinced we'd had a good adoption facilitated by an ethical and professional agency with the birthparerents' needs at the forefront of their concerns. Through the custody dispute, though, I learned things about our agency that made me very uncomfortable. It also motivated me to read more widely about adoption, including books and blogs by parents who had surrendered children to adoption, and adult adoptees. I have come to be very troubled by the ways adoption, in all its forms, is practiced, and by the emphasis on adoptive parents' wishes, and the emphasis on telling their (our) stories over telling the stories of birth parents and adoptees. A couple of years ago, I blogged quite extensively about this, and this is an entry about facing up to my fears that our highly-regarded agency was possibly--probably?--unethical in its dealings with our daughter's birthmother.

My two favorite books on adoption are Barbara Katz Rothmann's Weaving a Family: Untangling Race and Adoption, and Christine Ward Gailey's Blue Ribbon Babies and Labors of Love: Race, Class and Gender in US Adoption Practices. Gailey's book in particular is very troubling, but it also the one book I've read that best addresses issues of social class in questions of who adopts what kinds of babies and children, and what resources are available to them.
posted by not that girl at 7:24 AM on January 25, 2012 [26 favorites]


Phearlez it frustrates me that at the blog you linked there was a post specifically about a professional attempting to educate you about birthparent grief and how it made you uncomfortable and couldn't possibly be true and your wifes feelings of being an adoptee and not wanting to believe it's true.

I am an adoptee so I understand your wifes discomfort. I am also close with my first mother and know of her pain and trauma and diagnosed PTSD after relinquishment. Of course this is very unpleasant.

She went through much of her life telling everyone that adoption was wonderful even while knowing her own suffering, even while having periods of yearning for death to escape it. Still to the world "Adoption is wonderful!"

It's important to remember that people process trauma in different ways and holding on to a purpose of the suffering can be what carries people through. But you must not use words birthmothers use to COPE WITH trauma as an excuse to tell women placing children for adoption can be a win win for everyone.

And birthmothers do this, there were two birthmothers who told me while Iw as sobbing and wanting my child back "Adoption is the right thing!" They chant. Unsuprised by my pain, my sobs because they still sob like that sometimes but it's for the best. They have to hold on to the idea that the whole experience brought so much joy to the child that it's all worth it and it makes everything beautiful and wonderful.

It has to be the right thing.
Otherwise none of the pain makes sense.
I do completely support women who never cried, felt loss, or mourned after placing to share their voices. I just think the general public needs to uderstand the majority of women who claim a positive experience do cry, do mourn, and do feel loss. Sometimes very deep. And I hope that any birthmother who wants to share her story in order to help the world understand adoption will allow herself to speak honestly about the full spectrum of the experience even if she believes the adoption was necessary or that she has found beauty and peace within the experience.

Once again, while I know that everyone is pretty afraid of trumped up claims of trauma in adoption being used to manipulate women's choice the same as has happened in abortion

Yet no one minds that phearlez sat through an entire lecture from a professional about birthparent lifelong grief and suffering and still turned around and told a woman adoption could be a win/win option for her and further describes here how he doesn't think birthparent grief is that bad- because SEE some women say they had a positive experience!

-- I think that better research will help us get a more accurate picture. There is a lot of research indicating lifelong trauma in birthmothers however usually adoption agencies add "but now things are different. Now there is no trauma because open adoption" So we need much more, and from people with better accuracy at measureing and diagnosing PTSD and stress physiology and after effects of trauma--- not just surveys and interviews.

I will add it's perfectly acceptable to push for such research in abortion as well, women deserve to have accurate information on after affects. It's just that has and is currently being done for abortion. Adoption needs such research as well before we can tell a woman in a pregnancy "Hey this could be a great thing for you"

I am not anti-adoption. I think that sometimes the child needs a better home and the mothers suffering is necessary for the child. I think when this happens it is a tragedy and we should work to prevent this from needing to happen.

Has anyone watched the teen mom adoption show? Do Catelynn and Tyler really seem happy about losing their daughter? Sure, everyone thinks they would make despicable parents because they are poor and young and so their humanity kind of gets removed and all the suffering that goes with losing your own child becomes collateral damage in the plight of making sure babies get raised by people with middle class values. Because you know that in three years Catelynn will still have been raised by an addict? She will still have many of the same problems? Her instintual parenting will still be problematic? It's not that she was young, it's that she was young AND poor and raised by a dysfunctional mother.

Since as a society we love nothing better than finding parents who are worse than us (relief) there is no amount of suffering we don't feel ok with hurling at "inadequate parents". We say it's for the children- but Catelynn was a young impressionable teenager who looked up to the agency workers and counselors. If the reason for the adoption was "Your baby needs to be raised middle class" then how about offer some fancy parent enrichinment training so she could learn some of those skills and values that seem to be good for kids? How about be on her side and see if the kind of quality parenting she wants for her child could be possible with her? Help her work through her parents behavior and establish positive patterns in their place.

The adoption counselors AREN'T looking out for women who really need help. Their role is to help a mother find out if she's good enough, NOT actually help her become the kind of mother she wants her child to have. Not good enough=adoption.

And their role in NOT helping when mothers clearly want their children but feel inadequate is simply not ethical from a position of social worker ethics and client best interest.
posted by xarnop at 8:16 AM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


And as far as I can tell, none of the people advocating against adoption (that's an overly simplistic reduction of what they're doing, but I need a shorthand here) are doing so from an anti-abortion/concern-troll place.

I should drink more coffee before I hit post. This should read "are doing so from an pro-abortion/concern-troll place."
posted by rtha at 8:23 AM on January 25, 2012


Yet no one minds that phearlez sat through an entire lecture from a professional about birthparent lifelong grief and suffering and still turned around and told a woman adoption could be a win/win option for her

I think you may need to wind this down a little at this point, I feel like you've made your case clearly and plainly. I think a lot of people mind a lot of things about this entire situation, but I don't think it's okay to make this a referendum on any one person's failure to get in line with other people's feelings and opinions on this. You can MeMail phearlez or anyone else directly if you want to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:34 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


without the overlays of conspiracy that make it hard to evaluate the merits per se because the focus has been shifted to evil adoption purveyors.

Overlays of conspiracy? Where? Is your assertion that adoption agencies are always ethical in every way and anyone who claims that that might not be the case (or that they might have an underlying bias towards adoption) is a conspiracy theorist?

One doesn't have to be evil to be unethical or to do unethical things.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:24 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Veering toward disabling my account and walking away again. A lot of the (very angry) things that have been said/assumed in this thread make me very uncomfortable to be a part of this community [and none of them were actually related to the topics of adoption/abortion].

Might be time for me to step back and take a few weeks off. *Hugs* to all.
posted by schmod at 11:12 AM on January 25, 2012


I'm not against adoption. Nobody's against adoption. I'm against telling a person who, if you think about it, is in a pretty perfect position to already be having doubts about whether she's being selfish and struggling against feeling guilty that she should consider the most selfless thing, without acknowledging -- which does not happen when people advise for/against abortion or having the baby -- that she herself will be having a subjective experience of some sort if she does this. I guess I don't understand why you wouldn't assume that when you ask "did you consider adoption?" the person is not going to make ir has not already made the connection that if she could go either way on carrying the baby to term, she should really be able to carry that baby to term and give it a good life with somebody else and make those people happy. I'm sure lots of women are plenty self-possessed and self-assured enough to dismiss that argument and not feel bad if they don't agree with it, but in my experience feeling stressed and vulnerable and already doubting yourself and your values and wondering whether you're about to make the biggest mistake of your life can leave a person -- maybe this is extra true for women on account of socialization, I don't know -- really opens you up to misplaced guilt and extra self-doubt like nothing else short of depression. And I suspect that women who are already somewhat vulnerable or compromised in this way mught be disproportionately represented in the set of women who find themselves faced with this decision. Perhaps not. But it doesn't hurt to assume the person you're talking to might not be able to dismiss the inplications so easily.

I might feel differently if I thought there were non-pregnant teenage women who would be getting useful new information from someone who says "there are people who would love to adopt your baby." But I'm really kind of puzzled by anybody who thinks they don't already know this. It seems like a pretty major failure if imagination/empathy. And I feel very strongly that if you're going to tell somebody who's struggling to make a potentially life-altering decision, especially when there's a large faction with four justices on the Supreme Court that would like to put her in jail but will settle for telling her she's going to hell if she makes the decision that feels like it might be easiest on her personally, that she should consider doing the most selfless thing, something other people desperately want her to do, you have a special responsibility to make note of the fact that she has needs herself and will be affected in some way. I don't think there's anything nefarious about this. I think that while the consequences are only ("only") emotional and not nearly as potentially dire, I think the same attitude that informs doctors telling women they won't perform necessary operations that would leave them infertile is at work in this odd obliviousness to the notion that the birth mother would also be having an experience of the process and that the single most important thing she needs to know is how it might effect her (all the possible ways, not just bad ones, but with some information about frequency) rather than how much hundreds of thousands of people who would love to be in her position would love to have her baby. If this is overcorrection, I think it's warranted.
posted by Adventurer at 11:31 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


schmod- for you and anyone else feeling emotional overwhelmed by this conversation-- it's an emotional and sensitive issue and while I believe a great deal of reform is needed, I do not believe there are any bad people here. Just people trying to make sense of an issue that is difficult to make sense of and look at ethical dilemmas that are very complex. Working for change in the blief system and culture and practices around adoption- and support of women in unplanned pregnancy- does not mean thinking badly of people who are invested in things the way they are.

We are human, our naturally tendency is to see things the way they are as genuinely ok unless they hurt us or someone close to us directly.

Which is why these kinds of conversations can be so hard, but I think good. I apologize for generalizing my statement meant to address omiewise specifically, generalizations as such are damaging to make.

While I personally think phearlez made a mistake here, I think it's a very understandable one and I do not think in any way reflects on him as a bad person or a person unwilling to try to understand a backlash, or the thoughts behind it, that he genuinely did not know was a perspective out there. I wish every who has participated in and read this conversation a lot of love and support.
posted by xarnop at 11:43 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't think threatening to disable one's account multiple times is such a great way of participating here.
posted by grouse at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's not a threat. It's something I'm openly contemplating.

First I was upset by the moderators' initial terse response that seemed to imply censorship; then I was satisfied when Jessamyn clarified that they'd work with the answerer to reframe the question; finally, I was once again upset by the subsequent pile-on, general tone of nastiness, and irrelevant abortion/adoption debate that sprung up (everyone's entitled to their own opinion, and I think that it would have been perfectly acceptable to respectfully provide alternate viewpoints in-thread; no good ever comes from debating controversial issues on MetaTalk).

People have been unusually nasty in this thread, and I'm not talking about the fact that we're dealing with a controversial issue. No, I'm upset because of the myriad of accusations, demands for censorship, the assumption that everyone is acting in bad faith, and that the OP is apparently incapable of reasoning through different viewpoints herself, or ignoring a mildly offtopic comment.

A threat would imply that I'm demanding something of the community, or that the community would gravely suffer by my departure; that's not the case, and I'm well aware of the fact that my opinions on this subject (which I've mostly kept quiet about) are in the minority. I'm simply saying that this thread has been somewhat upsetting to me for reasons that I can't quite articulate, and that it might be a good idea for me to step back for a little while.
posted by schmod at 7:06 AM on January 26, 2012


demands for censorship,

What does this mean, please?
posted by rtha at 7:08 AM on January 26, 2012


schmod: It's not a threat. It's something I'm openly contemplating.

Now you're just getting caught up in semantics. Basically what grouse was saying is that two days ago you publicly talked about disabling your account and then came back again yesterday to say the same thing. It's the "openly contemplating" part that's annoying. Air your grievances as much as you'd like, but with regard to disabling your account, shit or get off the pot, and don't call attention to it if you do.
posted by gman at 7:13 AM on January 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wait, schmod's still here? Is there a sort of countdown or something that I ought to be staying tuned to?
posted by hermitosis at 7:58 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, I wasn't calling for censorship. I was calling for self-censorship. Or more accurately "a little consideration for somebody you might not know well enough to know how easily she's handling a stressful situation that would be much less stressful if more of the people who want to tell her what she should do were motivated by her welfare instead of a potential baby's."

This is not an anti-adoption or anti-pro-life thing to say: if people want to tell a pregnant person she should think about adoption, that is their right as American citizens if they're American citizens (but possibly not their right as Mefites, depends on the thread), but because the chances that the woman was unaware that other people want to adopt babies are extremely slim, if the advice-giver doesn't have anything to say about why it would be an at-least-ok experience, he or she is trying to convince her solely via the application of pressure. That does not mean that adoption itself is not or cannot be great for people who want to go through with it. It means that providing advice that consists entirely of the information that her baby is valuable to other people patronizes her (she knows), does not address her needs, and is rude and possibly stressful, depending on the recipient. (The degree to which it does this might vary wildly depending on recipient, but I would add here that even if your one instance might not amount to much of anything by itself, consider how many other people might also want to make sure she knows that somebody would love to have her baby.)

If your belief system says it's still more important to tell her about how much people want to adopt even if you don't have anything to say about what it might be like for her to make the decision you want her to make, OK, but please be aware of what you're choosing to do. Even if you don't think you're doing very much of it, even if you're doing it as pleasantly as you can, even if it never occurred to you that it could hurt at all. If what I'm saying still sounds mean/uncalled for/upsetting, then you know that emotional pressure can hurt even if the speaker only wants to convince you to do something important and good for other people and doesn't think she's saying anything untrue or cruel or telling you you're a bad person. I don't know how else to say "if you don't want to treat a woman in this position like she's more of a potential-baby-producer than a person, think about what you would and wouldn't already know if you were her, and what might seem important to know." About how it will be for her, not for other people she can do something for.

All that of course refers to offering unsolicited advice. If her question is not "how did you experience your keeping vs. aborting decision and its consequences" but simply "what should I do," sure, sounds like she's up for anything that doesn't say "or you'll go to hell" at the end of it. If your take on this is still that I'm saying it's rude or coercive to even mention adoption, please accept this final rephrase: it's rude to suggest adoption and then describe its good points only in terms of how it will affect other people.
posted by Adventurer at 5:23 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are a lot of opinions and points of view not welcomed by this community. Technically there's no censorship but practically this site functions as if there were.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:05 AM on January 27, 2012


Sure, St. Alia. Misogynistic, logically and factually unfounded, religiously driven opinions and viewpoints are not welcomed by this community. I don't see a problem with that.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:45 AM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


You just made an opinion based value judgement. That other people could either agree or disagree with on various levels. Which yes most here agree with but that does not change its status as opinion. The rest of us extent tolerance as the price of enjoying the site.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:11 PM on January 27, 2012


Technically there's no censorship but practically this site functions as if there were.

You personally have been asked to not talk about specific topics in specific circumstances as an alternative to being banned from the site entirely which is what we would do to other non-long-term members if they were making the same statements as you had been making.

If you'd like to talk about this here, I am happy to do it. I have generally been trying to respect your own Brand New Day here. The choice is yours.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:43 PM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am not so concerned here with my own status as that is a bit more involved. Here I am more interested in generalities as they would relate to any controversial topic. Metafilter does ad a group have certain core values. We could use cat declawing for our example if that would be less inflammable for the sake of discussion.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:07 PM on January 27, 2012


Oh and I don't necessarily think what I refer to is mod driven except in that you do try to keep things more peaceful.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:10 PM on January 27, 2012


I think when it comes to stuff like that, you just have to decide how much you care. If you want to give an opinion you know will be controversial, you may have to put up with a lot of blowback from other members. Or you can decide to just skip it. Metafilter doesn't need to hear my opinion on every little thing, I'm willing to stay out of discussions where I know I could start a fight because I just don't care to.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:11 PM on January 27, 2012


We could use cat declawing for our example if that would be less inflammable for the sake of discussion.

Okay, fine. Our stated position is

- You can talk about any topic you want as long as you do it in a way that isn't axe-grinding, doesn't seem like you are trolling, and isn't fight starting. Sometimes people don't know what will be fight starting, so we are lenient with new users, less so with older users.
- Some topics don't go well here and so if you are going to make a post on that topic, you have to do so with care and attention to that fact.
- Some threads are about a certain thing and if you want to make them about an entirely other thing, you may have limited success with that. If you consistently do this [up to and including "making the thread all about you and your opinions on the subject at the expense of the community being able to talk about things"] we will ask you not to, or ask you to find another way to express yourselves.

And it's tough because yes, people who have beliefs and opinions that run counter to the sort of mainstream values the site holds often get into situations where conversation can be difficult, strained or otherwise problematic. That said, you said "Technically there's no censorship but practically this site functions as if there were." and I don't understand where you are coming from with that. It's a heavy accusation. If people say "This is a thread about X and you are trying to make it about Y" that's not censorship. If people say "If you want to have a discussion about your particular views on this subject, you have to come to the table with something to say and not just make drive-by accusations" that is likewise not censorship. If people say "You don't seem to know what you are talking about, maybe come back when you have read some of the articles or the sites that have been linked to" that is not censorship. If people say "We are not really interested in discussing that particular angle on that particular topic because we are talking about this other thing" that is also not censorship.

This community is a self-selected bunch of people who like discussing a subset of general topics. People who show up here and want to talk about topics that are either not the topics that we talk about here or with different perspectives on the topics we talk about here are still welcome to talk about them, but if there's no uptake for that conversation, then there's no uptake. And answers in Askme need to answer the question. And that's about all we actively moderate. People in the community not wanting to talk about what you want to talk about isn't censorship, at all. People not liking what you have to say isn't censorship. Moderators requiring that people be decent to one another isn't censorship.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:26 PM on January 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


In actual practice it is going to be impossible to have a declawing post go well here. That is really pretty much all I meant. Theoretically it could but I wouldn't take the bet.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:37 PM on January 27, 2012


There's a still-active thread about a topic that is not without controversy, but that most mefites seem to be on Side A of. A mefite in that thread said something that was basically on Side B. They were not snarky or trolling-like or obnoxious, just pretty matter-of-fact. As far as I know, this mefite is not That Guy on the topic.

And no one got out the torches and pitchforks. No one told the mefite to fuck off or shut up. The mefite did not get shouty. People engaged their argument, but not them personally. It's possible to do this, and people do it a fair amount, but because it doesn't need meTas to get sorted out, threads about difficult topics that do go well go under-recognized, because all we remember are the ones that spawn 1000-comment meTas.
posted by rtha at 1:43 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree 100% with what jessamyn just wrote and I strongly think that this is just how communities work. But I also feel like one thing that bugs me, here or elsewhere, is when people claim that this community (here or elsewhere) just isn't like that and is tolerant and accepting of all sorts of diverse points-of-view and it's only those awful communities over there who silent the right-thinking dissenters.

That comes up from time-to-time here, this sense that it's just another example of how horrible conservatives are when dissenting voices at conservative web communities are effectively silenced while, at the same time, arguing that any silencing of conservative voices here is only the result of the fact that those voices are crazy and self-evidently objectionable.

Communities have norms of behavior and, well, they're generally made up of like-minded people who want to be around like-minded people. There's elasticity in this, as there ought to be, and some of us argue that there's more elasticity in this to the political left (but not the extreme political left), and that there should be more elasticity, and it's worth making an effort to tolerate dissenting views such as Alia's. Even so, there are practical limits and there should be limits. And, honestly, I've always had a huge amount of trouble understanding, or frankly in not being deeply suspicious of, why someone would participate in a community that doesn't share their values and repeatedly be a dissenting voice and be continually outraged about how their view isn't shared or respected by others.

This is why, however, I like Alia and generally think well of her. Outside of topics that involve her politics, where she's a dissenting voice here, my observation is that she fits in pretty well and enjoys the community and participation on its own terms. So that "deep suspicion" I just mentioned isn't really the case in her example. And, given that, I find I'm more sympathetic than I would otherwise be with regard to her always needing to bite her tongue when those problematic issues come up. I mean, I'm extremely sympathetic to people expressing and defending their beliefs, as long as it's sincere and productive.

Bottom line, though, is that participating in a community requires some degree of conformance. That's simply the way it is. It's not censorship; and to their credit, I believe that the admins here are far more tolerant and give dissenters the benefit of the doubt than does the community in general. So, in that sense, I don't think any charges of censorship are warranted at all. But that dissenting voices of strongly disliked views are suppressed, not infrequently unkindly, by members of the community? Sure.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:52 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread might be the first time I've veered toward "Disable my account and never come back here."

Schmod, I love you man, but you've been here before. And I remember that because I bothered to try to talk you out of it.
posted by naoko at 4:52 PM on January 27, 2012


It's honestly beyond my ability to understand and it's antithetical to every way I think about family; to me the ties are almost entirely about choice and that every-day interaction, not about DNA. -Phearlez

Plus, they have had every-day interaction with the fetus since quickening and they have little personalities that are evident even before they're born. -The young rope rider

Phearlez - the young rope rider's point here is so good. To imply that a woman who is pregnant isn't having every-day interaction with the fetus is kind of mind blowing. She doesn't only live with it, it lives inside her, 24 hours a day, nonstop. Even if you want to start 'counting' from quickening (and a woman experiences the physical effects of pregnancy long before then) that's still 4-5 months. When an adoptive family has a baby for 4-5 months and the birth mother or father seeks to take the baby back, generally the adoptive family does not find that simple or easy, and they have successfully lobbied for the mother's chance to change her mind to be much shorter than that.

There *is* a subset of women who choose to experience pregnancy specifically with the intention of giving up the baby - surrogate mothers. Sometimes they are even genetically related to the baby.

Countries that regulate surrogacy and even the well-respected companies that facilitate it have strict requirements for these women. Many require that they have already had at least one healthy and successful pregnancy and have at least one child of their own. They do and get full psychological screenings, and tend to be provided with ongoing psychological support. People are suspicious when large financial incentives become involved, and many countries only permit 'altruistic' surrogacy. Especially women who do 'traditional surrogacy', where they are the genetic mother of the child, are often greeted with shock and sometimes judgment - 'how could you bear to give up your child?' 'what kind of woman does that?' One (very small) study recently conducted specifically looked for information on the effects of surrogacy not just on the woman but on her family and existing kids. Nobody takes it for granted that this is a straightforward interaction.

And there are women that do it and do it happily and consider it meaningful and fulfilling, or at least, not traumatic and difficult. These are generally a small group of self-selected women. They tend to come from backgrounds that are economically stable, even if not well-to-do. And even they talk about the strategies that they employed - from day one of the pregnancy - to prevent too much parental bonding with the child. One traditional surrogate mother whom I heard discuss her experience - one who was very happy with it and chose to repeat it multiple times - said that even with all that, the time of the birth is still incredibly emotional, and even as she was positive about wanting to hand over the baby, she was still trying to hold in her sobs to not make the intended parents feel bad.

There is a wide range of personal responses even to things that are more purely DNA, like sperm donation, embryo donation, and egg donation (although egg donation is a much more physiologically involved procedure). Some people wouldn't think twice about it, others feel very strongly - just try to get a law passed mandating that 'extra' frozen embryos must be donated to couples seeking them, it's hard enough to even get them voluntarily donated. There is a great deal of personal variation even when it comes to DNA, and it is shocking to me that you you would consider this "beyond my ability to understand" and "antithetical to every way I think about family." How much sperm have you donated?

I don't think that mutually beneficial, mutually psychologically healthy adoption is impossible. But I do think that adoption in our culture is built around a rotten core, and will probably have to be changed inside and out to get to that healthy place - from things like financial and educational support for birth mothers and single parents that comes from the state rather than prospective parents, to things like preserving some of the legal rights and parental status of the birthmother even after the adoption process goes through. I hope we will get there.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:39 PM on January 28, 2012 [10 favorites]


Sometimes I forget that there's a strong tendency to read gender-neutral usernames as male. I do it too. If you object to my speculation on the grounds that the OP was obviously, from her question, strong and capable enough to shrug off suggestions that she do something selfless and not feel bad about it if it wasn't right for her, well, there are times when it would have gotten to me, even if I would have defended somebody else against it. Because when I was depressed I would take anything anybody hit me with and hit myself with it harder, even if it was something I would have hated seeing used against anything else. You could flash the butt of it and I'd grab it and hold on to it for a while, just to keep myself in line.

And growing up in Oklahoma, home of the law against sharia law, I saw otherwise vibrant girls with no obvious reasons to be especially vulnerable driven into bad worry by pressure from practically everybody, including the people who were supposed to be looking out for them, to consider their own needs last, lest they do the Wrong Thing.

And I've been afraid I was pregnant. I was in a position to be afraid not because of one of those relatively rare birth control failures, but because I was young and drinking a lot and otherwise generally not looking out for myself on account of being in a bad emotional spot. I'm under the impression that this story is not underrepresented in the set of people who find themselves not just afraid of being but actually pregnant. So on behalf of myself ten years ago, please, know what and whom you're asking before you do it.
posted by Adventurer at 3:47 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, iphone. That comment probably would have been a little less work to make sense of had I mentioned my username and exactly what my potentially objectionable speculation was before launching into it. Account paused for the day on account of graphomania and unmanageably tiny device.
posted by Adventurer at 4:00 PM on January 28, 2012


« Older Looking for an old post: a big, big site with...   |   Copyright infringement is not legal Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments