Friday, April 16, 2010

OA Roundtable #15 - the money question.

This is my response to the Open Adoption Roundtable topic #15. Here's the topic this time around:

Does money have an impact on your open adoption? If so, how? (Could be issues pre- or post-placement, expectations, assumptions, costs of visit activities, travel, gifts--you name it.)

To see other responses or learn more about the Open Adoption Roundtable, check in here.

The money question is always a difficult one. And when you are speaking about adoption the answer to "does money have an impact?" is always yes. But this roundtable is about how money and finances impact my adoption. Let me count the ways.

1. The adoption itself cost money. When we first investigated adoption, Andrew and I were prepared for it to be expensive. We were also incredibly lucky, and received a grant that covered a little less than half of the costs minus travel. We aren't at a place in our lives where we had a lot of cash lying around, but we were able by means of a no-interest loan through our agency, the grant, scrimping and saving and working a lot, and the generous help of our family and friends to come out the other side of our adoption without major debt. The fact that we afforded it at all is indicative of both what we can accomplish when we focus and the immense privileges (many unearned) that we enjoy as a heterosexual white middle class married couple situated within a web of similarly raced and classed (and therefore privileged) family and friends.

2. Money is a big reason that Z placed J for adoption. Our daughter's first mother absolutely couldn't provide for her. While there are many dynamics to this, lack of money is a big one. And just as our ability to come up with the money to facilitate our adoption is revealing not just of our own admirable strengths but also our unearned privileges I have to assume that the reverse is true for Z. I don't know her story well enough to write about it here. I'm not entirely sure that what I think I know about Z is the truth, or the truth as she would tell it. But I do know that the position she found herself in, the position of needing to relinquish a beloved child to adoption, was not only a result of choices she had made in her life. It was also a result of unearned disadvantage, of being a black unmarried economically disadvantaged woman situated within a web of similarly raced and classed family and friends, who despite perhaps having care for her did not have the resources to help her keep and care for her daughter. It may not be the only dynamic, but it is certainly a real one.

So, going forward, how will money continue to affect our adoption? It's hard to say, because I don't know how open our adoption may become. Andrew and I are middle class, but we're not wealthy. We have to plan carefully with our money and while it won't always be this way at the moment we're both students and live a bit paycheck-to-paycheck. We'd love to plan a trip to see Z regularly, but that would mean once a year tops. Her situation and relationship to money will also affect us - whether or not she has access to technology, for example, or a stable mailing address, will directly affect the options we have for being in touch.

Money permeates everything. This is something that is sort of awesome if you have it. And it completely sucks if you don't. Wherever I am on the continuum, and the middle seems to be where I end up, I hope that I can maintain some intentionality about that position, and some awareness about the whole range of reasons why I'm here and others are not.

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