Now! Before I start this I would like to add a disclaimer because the internet is a fickle place: I in no way intend to insult/misrepresent/or cause any negative emotions in this post. If you have any major problems relating to this post, please contact me here. It might take a while for me to respond, but I will get back to you. Okay? Okay.
Now, before I get to the main point of this post, let me tell you a story. My cousins are adopted. My aunt and uncle dealt with fertility issues, and instead of spending thousands of dollars on IVF for it to potentially not work, they decided to adopt. They do not hide this. It’s not a secret. If someone asks, they’ll answer. Which is why for so long I figured everyone knew. I think that might be why I remember this so clearly. My cousin, who’s three years younger than me, is friends with my friend’s little sister. The little sister comes up to me, looking extremely shocked, and asks me “is it true that [my cousins] are adopted?” I nodded, and she had the follow up question of “Do they even know their real mom and dad?”
I still remember the feeling of total and utter shock. My aunt and uncle are my cousin’s real mom and dad. They have biological parents out there, sure. But it was my aunt and uncle who raised my cousins since they were newborns. And the idea that other people didn’t understand this was such a crazy feeling. The idea that so many people didn’t understand was a crazy feeling.
This is one of the reasons why I think adoption should be featured more in YA. For so long, it’s been a taboo subject, something that people whisper about behind people’s backs instead of actually talking about it. The same goes for foster care. It needs to be talked about more, and one of the ways to get it talked about more is through books and media.
But I also feel like when adoption or foster care is used, the adoptive/foster parents tend to be abusive or just straight up uncaring. I feel as if they’re used to say “look, these people took in a kid who isn’t biologically theirs and they’re not as good a parent as the kid’s biological ones!” which is extremely, extremely frustrating, and extremely wrong. There’s a reason why the kid was put up for adoption.
Here are some examples:
TIGER’S CURSE BY COLLEEN HOUCK: Kelsey is in the foster care system, and, as far as I can tell, the only reason she has foster parents is because they won’t care for her enough yet to actually say she can’t go to India with a tiger.
RUNAWAY BY WENDELIN VAN DRAANAN: Holly is in foster care at the beginning of the novel, and her foster parents lock her in the basement, strip-search her for drugs for no reason other than she was a little late getting home from school, and refuse to give her food.
CINDER BY MARISSA MEYER: Cinder is adopted from Europe, and her adoptive parent/stepmother forces her to act as a glorified handyman, and make all the money for the family.
HARRY POTTER BY J.K. ROWLING: Harry is taken in by his mother’s sister and her husband, where he’s forced to live under the stairs for the first eleven years of his life, denied food, and basically treated as mud on the bottom of someone’s shoe.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love some of these books (coughCinder andHarryPottercough), but they portray adoption and foster care in a very negative way. And there are books that do portray adoption and foster care in a positive light: Lola and the Boy Next Door, for example, or How to Save a Life. And I’m also not saying that the system is perfect, because it in no way is, but if we only get books about adoption and foster care where it’s portrayed as awful, that’s what people are going to assume that all cases are.
What are your feelings on this? Tell me, oh blogglings!