The Sort of Help We Don't Need
Adoptive parents like measured, positive stories about adoption. We like stories that promote the idea that adoption is an acceptable and normal way to build a family and that adoptive parents and adopted kids are not freaks. It's true that some of us have a regrettable preference for stories that hew strictly to the happy-happy joy-joy stance. But most of us like to see a balance — portrayals that recognize that adoption (like so many other social interactions) can involve very difficult issues, but that also recognize that adoptive families are "real families" in every meaningful sense of that term.
Unfortunately, the media likes to give us stories either in the form of insipid celebrity gossip or in the form of I-know-what's-best-for-everyone pontificating from douchebags like Mike Seate, who think that only certain family racial mixes are socially acceptable.
Part of the problem is people who think they are promoting adoption by tearing down other family choices — choices that are, to be blunt, none of their dammed business. But that doesn't promote adoption. Sneering at other paths to parenthood because they are unusual, or expensive, does not help convey the message that the unusual and often expensive choice of adoption is normal and socially acceptable. Rather, it promotes the default stance of being a judgmental asshole about other people's family choices.
Someone tell Andrea Peyser.
The New York Post pays Andrea Peyser to be an asshole, in print, to people who are famous for no good reason.** This week Peyser is employing her modest typing skills to be an asshole to Alexis Stewart, who is "famous" for the silly reason that she is the daughter of an ex-con housewares fetishist. Peyser, I believe, thinks that she is promoting adoption by savaging Stewart for pursuing various high-tech fertility methods in an attempt to have a child.
Now it's reported that Alexis (pictured right, with Mom) will get her bundle. After wasting hundreds of thousands on unsuccessful fertility treatments — and thumbing her nose at donor eggs and adoption — Alexis is going the Frankenstein route.
She's hired a surrogate, The Post first reported this week. She's picked a rural Pennsylvania woman as her rent-a-womb, wrote The National Enquirer.
A younger woman is just the trick to carrying Alexis' "dry, crusty eggs" — as she told Oprah in a nausea-provoking interview — combined with the sperm of an anonymous donor.
Martha, who nagged Alexis for grandkids to fill a void left by the death of her mother and a breakup with her longtime beau, is said to be thrilled. But at what cost?
Peyser is full of digs at Stewart both for being who she is, and for not choosing adoption:
Alexis, who takes the anti-depressant Zoloft twice a day and exercises thrice, according to the Web site of her Sirius satellite radio show, "Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer," never considered the message she sent to women: By draining all available medical resources, you, too, don't have to settle for a used kid.
Peyser wants us to think that she's promoting adoption and attributing, in what passes for irony, the "used kid" sentiment to Stewart. But Stewart hasn't said anything about adopted kids being inferior; that's Peyser's sentiment. Moreover, Peyser's mountains of scorn for Stewart demonstrate that she thinks that adopted kids really are second class: she thinks that Stewart is a freakish pill-popping narcissist, and that she ought to become a mother to a child through adoption. Huh?
Peyser offers a gesture towards quoting adoption professionals to say that there are kids out there who need homes — but does so only to savage women (not men, mind you) for pursuing biological motherhood over adoption:
People are out of work. Children are alone. But rich, neurotic women spend cash, work out mommy issues, and grab attention by having kids.
With training and therapy, Amanda Peyser could probably learn to simulate a decent human being.
I have no doubt that the various fertility and surrogacy methods that Stewart is pursuing are hideously expensive. But it's her money, and her family that she's building. Would Andrea Peyser be bashing Stewart if she spent the $27,000 per month on apartments and cars and dining out and travel and jewels? Well, probably. Because that's all Peyser knows how to do. But most of the judgmental "adoption proponent" twits who bash would-be parents for pursuing fertility treatments wouldn't care. They live in the sub-rational, my-way-or-no-way universe where it's narcissistic to spend $27,000 to have a biological kid but not narcissistic to spend $27,000 per month to live large. Would I be happy if Stewart spent $27,000 a month to buy a thousand copies of Firefly until Fox renews it? Yeah, sure. But I make an effort not to tell other people how to spend their own money. Being pro-adoption does not make me less of an asshole if I do so.
I recognize that it is silly to expect a New York Post gossiper to act decently. But Andrea Peyser's noisome column illuminates a too-frequent theme, albeit in an exaggerated way. Andrea Peyser – and her more obscure but equally judgmental imitators — are not pro-adoption. They aren't helping promote adoption. They're helping promote the social norm that there's one right way to build a family, and if you don't choose that way, everyone ought to judge you. That doesn't help adoptive parents or adopted kids at all.
** Conflict disclosure: Though Popehat writers receive no monetary remuneration, we are also tasked to be assholes in print to people who are famous for no good reason.
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