15 April 2007

Evelyn Bennett

Updated to add:This post is part of a wider effort to raise awareness about Evelyn and Stephanie Bennett. See this post for a collection of links to writing on the subject, from writers who have all different kinds of connection to adoption. If you read any of these posts and are moved by the stories, please, talk about this case.


Next fall I'll be on a conference panel with Dawn, Shannon, and Jenna, about adoption and blogging. I'm excited to meet such smart women in person.

Both Jenna's last few posts and Dawn's current post are spot-on discussions of the need for more ethical adoption practices (internationally and domestically, although the posts I'm referencing here concern domestic adoptions). The adoption controvery regarding Evelyn Bennett, an Ohio baby whose adoption is being contested by her maternal grandparents, deserves wide press.

I love being an adoptive mother. It was my first, really my only, choice for how to become a parent. Adoption is, however, a complicated subject. People approach adoption for all sorts of reasons, and some of them are downright vile. I think that adoption should be an option for people who need it--but the people who might need adoption are parents who cannot see a way to raise a child. Adoptive parents don't need adoption. We don't have a right to other people's children.

Don't get me wrong: I am fiercely attached to Curious Girl, and I am her mother. One of her mothers: she has three, one of whom I know little about, one of whom couldn't parent her. We're all real, and as I've said before, Curious Girl will make her own relationships with all of us over time. We're not in competition with each other.

When Curious Girl is older, and she needs help, I hope that she will have a network around her. Stephanie Bennett, a young mother in Ohio who placed her child for adoption, didn't have a good network. The people she turned to for help didn't act in her best interests. School officials acting as recruiters for an adoption agency; an adoption agency failing to provide counseling and acting to isolate her from those who might have other views: this is appalling. No matter what anyone reading thinks about adoption reform, it's clear that in this case, things went wrong. Very wrong. And I'd like to think that anyone reading this would hope for a world in which teenagers who need help can get it (not that all teenaged mothers need help! but all teenagers will need help at something; it's the nature of teenagerdom, right?).

Dawn has some excellent suggestions for what we can do (this list from her post I linked to above:

  1. Read the original article.
  2. Read the follow-up.
  3. Listen to the radio show with interviews with the Bennets.
  4. Sign the petition.
  5. Send a letter.
  6. Blog about it (even if you don’t agree — let’s get a discussion going).

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