Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Parenting a Girl is Not a Constitutional Right

The time has come for another gender preference post from the least able to speak on the subject with authority (a woman who requested a daughter):

I've recently made a couple people very mad, and while I hate having people mad at me, I hate the way they are behaving, so maybe we're even.

On the message board for families adopting from Ethiopia, the discussion regarding whether one should have a gender preference or not has returned. A single mother posted wanting to know -it seems - if she could request a girl even if she's a first time mother (and hence not permitted to, according to our agency's new policy) and if not, if she could decline the referral of a boy. To do the latter, she would have to effectively lie on her homestudy and in her application, which I don't think she had fully considered.

Someone else posted about her "God given right to prefer a girl."

I have no idea what the hell that means. Of course you have - I suppose we believe in the United States - the God-given right to prefer anything over anything else. It's a free freaking market. Let alone the big decisions and that whole big thing about the pursuit of happiness. But you DO NOT have a constitutional, God-given, or in any way or under any other authority have a right to a baby of any kind.

That's hard. I had to face this before. Didn't I deserve a healthy pregnancy as much as anyone else did? Didn't I deserve to be as healthy as anyone else? Didn't I deserve a pregnancy when (and here you've heard this all before) other people can thoughtlessly get pregnant and carry a baby they can't even parent?

I'm a good(ish) person. But in any real way, did I have a right to or deserve a child? No.

Had I gone into adoption still beating on that entitlement drum, the whole process would have been so much more daunting and I would have missed out. Instead, I got a referral for a beautiful little girl, and I don't deserve this happiness. I really don't. That's the beauty - not that we all get what we deserve, but that sometimes, we get better than we deserve. The appropriate response to that is gratitude.

When a mother of little boys posted that she found it offensive to read that a potential mother "deserved a baby girl" and demanded "nothing less," other mothers seemed to defend what they believed to be the "right to a preference," when I think the mother of boys was just trying to say that how you conduct such a discussion has consequences. If someone demands "nothing less than" a baby girl, is my toddler girl less than? My boy too difficult to parent by virtue of being a boy? Outrageous.

Of course everyone wants some element of control over the process, and maybe choosing gender gives you just that little bit of control. I'm not going to lie. It did - just a little - for us. But then what happens? It turns out that your baby girl isn't healthy, or that parenting a girl isn't all that it's cracked up to be, or that what happens to your children and in your family isn't in your control.

People, of course we all make choices about the process of adoption based on what we believe we can and cannot handle. But "at least getting to choose the gender of the child you will nurture for the rest of your life" (a quote) is not a compensation for infertility, medical illness, pregnancy loss, or single status.

It's one thing to say you are more prepared to parent a girl, and to find a program/agency/country to accomodate that, and another to insist it's your RIGHT to do so, and that the policy of this agency is "silly and needs to be revisited."

Great. Now I'm madder than I was when I started posting.


sster said...

Sing it! I HATE the attitude of entitlement I see in some adopters. Children are gifts and treasures. And you know what? They're not ours anyway. They are on loan to us. Our job is to nurture and protect them, not to own them as chattel. We have no right to them. We have a right not to be prevented from having them (unless we are abusive), but certainly not to have them in a particular way, shape or form. Geez. Now I'm madder, too. I know that's not a real word, but dammit, it fits.

jana said...

Oooooh I DESPISE the term "God-given right." NEVER in the Bible does God talk about our RIGHTS. The Bill of Rights is part of the CONSTITUTION, NOT THE BIBLE. The "R" word God seems to prefer is RESPONSIBILITIES, not RIGHTS.

Heh, guess the hopping-mad thing is contagious!

abebech said...

That's how I read it, too.
Thanks for the affirmation - though sorry about the mad thing.

lola said...

I can understand the preference of having a girl over a boy- if you are a single female. I really do feel that young boys benefit by having a strong male role-model in their life- and girls- a woman... I believe single parents can raise children of the opposite sex. But myself as a single female am worried about raising a young boy-- let's face it- I don't know much about men (they are completely different then women in a lot of ways), and I think it would be more beneficial to the child to be with a same sex parent. I agree about entitlement- no one is entitled anything- although when you work and live and try hard in life, it is sometimes frustrating to miss out on things you would like to share in.