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Sunday, 22 May 2011

In the News: Eastenders does Adoption

Yep another In the News post, mainly so I can focus on other things rather than my own situation right now. In the UK we have a soap called Eastenders, depicting the gritty reality in a small community in East London. Now, it wouldn't be the twenty-first century without a couple of gay characters, and this week, Christian and Syed had a meeting with an adoption agency to look into obtaining a child.

I just spent five minutes watching and rewatching the scene with the adoption agency rep because it struck me when I first watched it earlier...:

"Have you got experience of looking after children?...I can see that you love each other. But you know it's not just about that? Adopting is a long, tough process. It's like the Grand National: you get over one fence and there's another one straight ahead of you. We'll be looking into your home, your relationships, finances, we'll do police checks, employment checks, medical checks, we'll look into your hospital records, we will look at everything! By the time we're finished I'll know you better than you know yourselves! We need to know that you've got a strong, stable support network. See that's why we like couples to have known each other for at least 3 years. Ooh and of course we'll need to speak to both your families..."

I think they are trying to make the point, for the sake of a good story, that gay couples face a lot of hurdles when trying to adopt. They've already dealt with adoption once recently, when Jane adopted her husband's son from a previous marriage - and this was portrayed as being as easy as signing a contract. But what I fear viewers will miss is the fact that this is what adoption is like for all couples. Gay or straight. 

Makes me wonder how people can just casually suggest adoption like it's the easier, obvious option for those with fertility problems. I for one resent the fact that my life would require such intrusion, that my right to privacy would be cast to one side, that I would have to prove myself in so many ways to people who are complete strangers. Yet anyone can get pregnant without proving a thing. People who are destined to abuse their children; people who can't care for themselves, let alone a child; people who don't have enough money to look after a family. People can churn out their 8th baby even though they support the rest through welfare alone. They can all just go ahead, for the most part unchallenged.

There seems to me to be something very wrong in a world where the irresponsible get (largely) overlooked when it comes to parenting, yet the infertiles, or people who just want to do good, get scrutinised to within an inch of their lives for daring to try to help the situation. I have always considered adoption to be a real possibility for us, whether or not I conceive myself, but the more I find out about it, the more I feel I just wouldn't have the energy.

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