March 08, 2016

Adoption Is A Feminist Issue

For International Women's Day, I'd like to focus on women and adoption, since it's close to my heart.

For obvious biological reasons, adoption tends to affect women more than men. Working from the understanding that feminism is about equality and inclusive (including transgender people), I am not saying it does not affect men, but physically the work is done by women. In the end, the choices before and after are often left to women alone.

To understand why adoption itself is a feminist issue, let's look at everything that leads up to that act.

A woman needs to have education about how her body works. She needs education about contraception and health issues, if she chooses. She needs education about sexual consent. She needs access to contraception and health care. If something happens, she needs access to unbiased education, health care, emergency contraceptives or abortion. If none of that happens, she needs access to health care and resources to help her learn and be supported caring for her baby.

If none of that happens, we, as a society, have failed her.

In Canada, we're failing huge parts of the population. There are not enough accessible health clinics or abortion clinics. Some provinces have none at all.
Let me repeat that. Some provinces have no abortion clinics. None. Not one. 

If you live in PEI, you would have to take time off work, make up some sort of excuse for your family/friends, have the available funds and travel to New Brunswick and stay in a hotel until you can get your abortion there, then travel back. You'd also most likely have to go through it all alone.

Adoption is not a solution. It's an option, but it's a bandaid solution for all the other ways we have failed women as a society. 

How can I say that when I've adopted a child? Don't get me wrong, I love my baby. I feel so very lucky to have had this option to expand my family. We are all very happy to have him with us. But I can acknowledge that and acknowledge the fact he should be with his first mother. I can acknowledge and accept that he would have not made the choice to be separated from her, and she would probably not have made the choice to be separated from him if other options had been available.

We have a tendency, as a society, to judge these women who "give up their babies" and demonize them - maybe that assuages people's guilt that they didn't do more to help. Maybe it makes them feel better somehow. But we can't fix problems we chose to ignore. It's not just a feminist issue, it's a class issue. It's an accessibility issue, it's a financial issue, it's a political issue. It's a fairness issue.

The fact is, she made the best choice she could with the limited options and services available to her. She simply wasn't given the same deck of cards to play with as others do. If there's anyone that should be demonized, it's the government and politics that lead to things being that way; the haves and havenots and that inequality. Because when it affects women and children, it affects us all. 

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