Health of Children Adopted . . .

alec ramsdell a_ramsdell at
Wed Jul 15 15:58:34 PDT 1998

>alec ramsdell wrote:
>> At the risk of "reading too much into it": talk about politically,
>> ideologically, economically fraught. All those prospective adopters
>> better shop around. And steer clear of East Orphans.
>This statement is so ablist it makes me want to puke. Are you such a
>perfect specimen Ramsdell? I doubt it.
>Try substituting race and then insinuate we'd better shop around for
>another kind of kid to adopt - what would people have to say to that?
>Marta Russell

I'm just getting used to email correspondence, and am finding that sometimes I'm not explicit enough. I was being a bit too sarcastic, and too freely compressing a lot of material. I was not sensitive to the mixed ideological registers of what I wrote. In some ways my irony and my polemic mixed to a big mess.

I was drawing from those two details prior to the lines above, which seem to me to smack of retro-phrenology. I seriously question the value behind a direct correspondence between living in the environs of an orphanage and developing certain measurable physical characteristics, and the correspondence of these characteristics, sort of elided in the AMA abstract, to "character" or "mental capacity", and being fit to adopt. One would have to know more about life in an Eastern European or Russian orphanage.

Let me make clear that I think orphans from Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union are as fit for adoption by caring parents as much as any other children, of any race, class, gender, and nationality. I was trying to indicate their embattled ideological situation-- how these children, these bodies, are traversed by various judging authorities, like that of the AMA, and how these judgments contruct the orphans, just as race or gender or age gets constructed. How these judgements take children no more nor less fit for adoption than any other children, and (re)produce them as "damaged" orphans. How these judges flatter themselves, consciously or not, by presuming to know and be able to qualify the fitness of these children for adoption.

Since the study was a study of children up for adoption, what I was implying with my impacted rhetoric was that such medical evaluations make tacit and hazardous comment on the worth of the child, on the "irregular" or "inferior" quality of the yet-to-be adopted child.

In reality perhaps some of these children would require certain routes of education and treatment that some parents may not be able to accomodate, for whatever reasons. And of course prospective adopters should know all information related to children up for adoption. My concern is that the tacit ideological operation of the AMA, along with countless other dreaded forecasts some parents might have of complications of raising certain children in capitalism's rather merciless demands for certain body types and productive abilities, will contribute to prejudice with some parents. It is of course an indictment of capitalism that these prejudices are produced and reproduced.

That last line of mine (and now it makes me want to puke so I won't repeat it) was the misfired coup de grace against the non-disinterestd evaluation of the AMA.

The AMA abstract is perhaps to limited a source to justify the implications I outline. And what I outline is only part of the picture.

My previous post tells me I'm getting swamped in looking at medical discourse from a particular ideological vantage. It is a supremely delicate and complicated area. Your comments on this matter would be really valuable to me--on the Health of Children Adopted thread, on my comments here, which hopefully clarify my previous post, and on the situation of the children up for adoption.


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