Everyone knows I’m a hard bitch – people who don’t know me well think that anyway. I’m deliberately barren for a start. No maternal instinct; must hate children. I even believe it myself sometimes.
But last night I watched a TV documentary and cried. That was after I’d practically had to be restrained from throwing something at the screen.
The programme was about the adoption of Ethiopian children by American families. I have severe concerns about international adoption anyway but that’s another story. I can understand that a loving family, anywhere in the world, is better than NO family. But the children in this story DID have families. They had mothers.
An American Christian “charity” goes to Ethiopia apparently to ask the local people whether they’d like their children to be sent to the USA for a better way of life and education. Ethiopian mothers, like their counterparts everywhere in the world, want the best for their children and when they’re at rock bottom, homeless and with little money for food they can see this as a way to give their children previously undreamed of opportunities.
One mother was deserted by her husband and homeless so she agreed to allow her 2 children to be adopted, assured by the agency that the children would be in regular contact. Two years later and not a word from them. She doesn’t even know where they are.
Another woman, a widow, was having difficulty bringing up 3 children. Along came Mr and Mrs Gooley, whose name caused the only light relief in this film as the presenter constantly referred to them as the Goolies (maybe that’s only funny in British English?). The Goolies are a middle-aged couple with grown-up children. So off they went to Ethiopia to fill their empty nest. Before they took the children off to America, they presented the mother with a framed photograph. She handed over 3 children and in return got a framed photo. When she came to say goodbye to her children, I couldn’t help but cry along with her.
I know nothing about bringing up children. But I DO know that mothers, or fathers, or at least a close member of the family, are the best people to do the job, other than in pretty exceptional circumstances. Poverty shouldn’t be a factor.
If the Goolies cared so much about children, why didn’t they offer financial help? I would have thought that just a few dollars a month would probably cover the food/education/healthcare of this family. If the Goolies cared so much about children, why didn’t they have any understanding that what they were doing was second only to killing someone’s child?
Maybe I’m imagining this but I also felt there were serious racist overtones to all this. We take kittens away from their mothers, fairly safe in the knowledge that in a short space of time, the mother forgets. The same belief once existed about American slaves. Maybe these selfish, stupid women still believe this.
If I, a hard-nosed barren woman, who really has no concept of maternal feelings, can cry over another woman’s children, how these mothers are going to get through the rest of their lives, I just can’t imagine.