Thursday, August 05, 2010

Yes, it's all really funny till someone gets hurt

Smart ass anti-baby comedy sketches inc.
So we were talking about it this evening, in that part of the evening when we stand in the kitchen after work drinking tea and telling each other what really just friggin' sucked about the day.

What really sucked about my day (and it was a sucky day) was that my friends got turned down for adoption after YEARS of filling out stupid forms and undergoing stupid tests.

None of us could believe it.

Himself couldn't believe it.  And he doesn't even know them.

When you think of all the babies in the world that are hurtin' and starvin' and lonely and scared and your friends want to raise one, and there's some asshole somewhere says they can't.... that sucks, man.


Me, I had spent an hour or so last night looking at footage of George Carlin and Bill Hicks on YouTube, including their 'why would you bring a child into the world' sketches (see the link under the picture), which always make me laugh because it's exactly how I feel about the whole children business.  But last night, while I was watching the video I happened to think of those same friends and how determined they were to have a child despite all the hurdles.  And I felt a little surge of happiness because finally it seemed they were on the back straight to their dream.

And then they get SHAFTED by some bureaucrat today.

This is a trip down the rabbit hole on so many levels.

On the first level, there is the macro argument.  There are millions of children in the world who need love and parenting.  There are people who want to parent.  It should be possible to match them up.

Except it seems to be nigh on impossible, such are the levels of perfection that prospective adopters must reach.  Not just in Ireland.  I have friends here in Canada jumping through  similar hoops. But at least you can be a bit eccentric and still have a chance.

In Ireland, you have to be perfect.  Heterosexual.  Married.  Conformist.  Boring.  


But that is necessary, they say, in order for children to be safe.  We must make sure that the people in charge of them are not psychopathic or perverted or dangerous to the child in any way.

R.E.S.I.D.E.N.T.I.A.L. S.C.H.O.O.L.S.

....yes, old schtick... it's because of that that the rules are so strict now.

Hmm.  Tell that to the Nigerian children who are accused of witchcraft and abandoned by their communities, usually on the authority of the caring US and Canadian Pentacostal missionaries working in those villages.  I don't see the combined adoption personnel of the world working themselves up into a frenzy of tongues about that issue.

Yes I know hard cases make bad law.  I don't friggin care.

But let's pull the lens in a bit.
Ireland's Health Service Executive.  Responsible for adoption procedures and for looking after children in care.

Here's a snippet I found on the Internet:

The Health Service Executive now believes that approximately 200 children have died in state care in the last ten years.  The figures are emerging as part of a nationwide probe and are ten times greater than the previously admitted number of deaths - the HSE had said that 23 children had died in care.... A senior figure in the HSE told The Sunday Business Post that it still did not know the precise number of children that had died while in care, but it was feared that the true tally could be in the order of 200. - Sunday Business Post, May 2010
Actually, the final audited figure was less than 200.  But that's not the point.  
There are two points of immediate relevance:
1. Children died in the care of the HSE, which proves they are not perfect.
2. The HSE did not know (until a month ago) how many children had died in its care in the last decade, which proves they are incompetent.
But that imperfection and incompetence doesn't stop them acting as judge and jury on honest, hard-working people who just want to have a kid and be a family.  That doesn't stop them defining what it is to be a good parent.

Let's pull the lens in a bit more.

If you are lucky enough to have all the right bits in place and find a man who has all the right bits and bobs in place and functioning efficiently, you can lie back or sit up or whatever, and have a bit of fun and slap and tickle as they say and then, bob's your father's brother, if the day's right, baby magic happens.

If you are lucky enough to have that gift of life, you can be a sociopathic liar, a thieving whore, a child-beating egomaniac. It doesn't matter.  You can just pop one out whenever you want.  Or pair up with someone who can pop one out for you.

If you are not lucky and try to adopt, you will fail.

If you are lucky enough to have that gift of life, and you are a good person but you have struggles in life, say... a brief period of mental health instability ... you can stay home with baby and try to get better and get some limited support from the state. Then, if you fight real hard, you can get some help to go to school or get yourself back into the workforce.

If you are not lucky, forget about adopting.  You are not normal enough to be a parent.
If you are lucky enough to have that gift of life, and the father/ mother of said child runs away and leaves you and your child in the lurch financially, you can get the government to track him/ her down and make him/ her pay you for up to 22 years, at no cost to yourself.

If you are not lucky, and you did any of those things ever, you would not be allowed to adopt.
If you are lucky enough to have that gift of life, you can injure your child severely and more than once before anyone will even investigate.  And even then, it would be a long time before your child was taken away from you.
If you are not lucky, you are prejudged on your disposition and ability 'to keep a child safe'.

Speaking of prejudged, let's pull the lens in a bit more.

If you are childless, you are prejudged automatically.  Unconsciously.  That little grimace when they ask you about your children.

Poor woman.


Selfish bitch.


One or the other.

You can tell by the grimace.
Either way, you are not really whole.  
Not normal.

A cause for amusement or horror on the part of the ignorant of those who can just pop one out whenever.
Some of us can't and spend our lives mourning and trying.

Some of us won't and spend our lives just mourning.

Some of us won't and don't give a shit until the grimace happens.

None of it is fair.  You're prejudged if you try and you're prejudged if you don't try.

This week I was amused and a little angry that the now pregnant ongoing carbuncle on my otherwise deliriously happy existence felt yet again that my childlessness was a stick which which I could be beaten relentlessly.  
See, according to her, my childlessness is proof that I am a bad parent.  That I must be kept away from her children at all costs.  Lest I infect them with my selfishness.
The social worker's report on her 'incident' is sealed, so I can't prove that she is a bad parent. Nor am I interested in pursuing such malevolent thoughts.  Life being too precious and her children too fond of her and all that.

But after today, I am not amused and very angry because the thought has struck me that her outburst is really just the sociopath's verbalisation of what all those child-bearing people think of us barren wans.

Really think of us, deep down inside, near their brimming with life wombs.

I can think of no other explanation that makes sense.

In the meantime, she can pop one out whenever she wants, without a licence or a psych. report.

And my friends can't.
So how do we fix this?

Do we prejudge everyone?

Or do we take a benchmark of real parents and apply those standards to prospective ones?

I don't know.  Any argument on this will be battered with the child protection argument.

I just don't understand how an organization that doesn't even know how many kids died in its care can even begin to use that one.

Maybe we should start with the word compassion.  In all its imperfections.

Compassion for bad parents.

Compassion for non-parents.

Compassion for would-be parents.

Compassion for parents that are a little different to us in whatever way.

Compassion for non-parents that are wildly different in every way.

Compassion for fantastic parents having a bad day.

Compassion for children who need parents.


accentmonkey said...

The cynic in me suggests that the HSE doesn't care what you do with your own kids, because your kids are unlikely to grow up and sue the HSE for negligence. However, if they allow these supposedly unfit people (with their house, their steady jobs, their stream of supportive friends and family, their organic garden, their very public history of caring about people other than themselves) to adopt a child and something goes wrong, they are afraid that they can be sued by that child in the future. I worry that it's all about the money and yet another institution doing what it feels it needs to do to protect itself, rather than thinking about the needs of the people it supposedly serves.

mylescorcoran said...

Thank you for summing it up so well. And thanks to Accentmonkey (Hi Mrs. Monkey!) for putting a finger on the problem at the centre of it.

I'm heartsick for our friends.

Anonymous said...

Well written. As one of the selfish ones, I encounter the grimaces regularly. I still think that people should have to have a license to have kids... I don't know how you would go about implementing it or how effective or scary that could be. Perhaps your idea of compassion is better.

thenewcomer said...

This is EXACTLY what I've been thinking for so long... Compassion, yes. Why are people so damn judgmental and heartless to each other, about their baby choices?

(And it doesn't just stop with having a baby, you know- have one baby, and you're criticized for not having two, have two, and your criticized for playing favourites, you're criticized for having a c-section, for not breastfeeding, for stopping to breastfeed when you did, for everything and anything. before I had kids, I had a private life. After I had kids, my life became everybody's public property, up for non-stop comment and inquiry.
Yes, even halifax isn't far enough, some days...