In art there is such a thing as a value scale. Here value refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a color. On some value scales there is a numeric value placed on the scale with 0 representing the darkest value and 10 representing the lightest value - white. I never thought I would see a correlation between the value scale in art and the value of children in adoption. There's a value scale in adoption? You betcha.
Recently I was reading about race and the cost of adoption. When I first heard of this I was surprised and the older I get the more I find myself saying "why am I surprised?" I'm also currently reading the book ETHICS IN AMERICAN ADOPTION by L. Anne Babb. To me the title is an oxymoron and I'm sure many would agree. There's not much ethical about adoption in this country. In the part I'm reading now the author talks about race in adoption during the BSE. She's referring to how single pregnant women were treated based on the color of their skin.
from page 44...
"The Caucasian single mother was expected to pay for violating norms against premarital sex and conception. Her pregnancy, according to experts, was a neurotic symptom. Experts also agreed that only the most seriously disturbed unwed mothers kept their babies rather than giving them up to middle-class Caucasian couples for adoption (Solinger, 1992). While 90 percent of African American single mothers kept their babies between 1945 and 1965, over 90 percent of Caucasian unwed mothers in maternity homes relinquished their babies for adoption. The view that giving up her infant for adoption was the only path to psychological redemption for the Caucasian single mother was promoted by officials and professionals employed by the United States Children's Bureau, Florence Crittenton Association of America, the Salvation Army, and Catholic Charities, as well as by psychologists, psychiatrists, and clergy.
The social mandate of giving up children for adoption paralleled an increase of infertility among Caucasian couples of childbearing age and an increased demand for adoptable healthy, Caucasian infants (Zelizer, 1985; Silber & Speedlin, 1983). At the same time, African American women received the mandate to keep and raise their illegitimate children, a mandate so strong that an African American unwed mother who tried to give her baby up for adoption could be charged with desertion. In a paper presented at the National Conference on Social Welfare in 1953, Caucasian, unmarried mothers were referred to as "breeding machines, a means to an end. As individuals... they are overlooked, and popular support tends to concentrate upon securing babies for quick adoptions" (Solinger, 1992, p. 28)."
Here she quotes Rickie Solinger again...
"[Black unwed mothers] were viewed as socially unproductive breeders, constrainable only by punitive, legal sanctions. Proponents of school segregation, restrictive public housing, exclusionary welfare policies, and enforced sterilization or birth control all used the issue of relatively high rates of Black illegitimacy to support their campaigns. White unwed mothers in contrast were viewed as socially productive breeders whose babies, unfortunately conceived out of wedlock, could offer infertile couples their only chance to construct proper families. (1992, p. 24)"
So what it boils down to is, the "product" of an African American woman's womb is not as valuable as the "product" of a White woman's womb and the means of control used on each woman was different based on her skin color. The way I was treated in 1979/80 was no different than the treatment of girls in the BSE. The BSE did not abruptly end in 1972. It gradually tapered off and it took many years for that to happen. That has me wondering about some things. Being of Latin descent, was I treated differently than other unwed pregnant women? Did my daughter's adoptive parents pay a lesser fee for her adoption? If they did pay a lesser fee, did they pay it because of the fact that the adoption was handled through Catholic Social Services or because of my heritage? Or both? Then throw this in the mix - I found out 6 years after losing my daughter that I was also an adoptee - although a half-adoptee/step-parent adoptee/adoptee-lite - whatever you want to call me. Upon finding out about my adoption I found that instead of being Puerto Rican/Cuban, I'm Puerto Rican/Irish! My natural father was blond and blue-eyed, the ideal adoptable combo and my daughter's father is also blue eyed and fair. Her Latin side suddenly got watered down a bit more. So, what does that mean? Does it mean that had my daughter's real heritage been known by the agency there would've been a different price attached to her? Where do I fall on the value scale - 6 or 7? Where does my daughter fall - 8 or 9 maybe?
One more minor ponder... why is it that spell check doesn't recognize the word 'adoptee'?