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Moments with Mimi: Using adoptee stories to push pro-life agenda is insensitive, feeds into savior complex

Mimi Calhoun

Over the last few days, I’ve thought long and hard about the overturning of Roe V. Wade. It’s scary and difficult to process what this means for me as a woman and everyone else that this decision affects. Still, through brief scans of social media, I realized that there’s another angle that I’ve ignored this whole time: my identity as an adoptee.

I was adopted from China in 2004 due to the country’s one-child policy. Simply put, the policy was created in the 1980s to control population growth and didn’t end until about 2015. I was barely a year old when my adoptive family, whom I just refer to as my family, came to China and brought me back to the U.S. Although my DNA may be purely Chinese, I resonate with the Asian-American experience.

Growing up in a rich, white suburb of Columbus with an almost entirely white family, I have privileges that other adoptees aren’t as fortunate to have. My family has always been open about my adoption; they’ve allowed me to explore and celebrate my Chinese culture, and we took a trip back to China in 2017. However, I do know of adoptees who have been denied their culture and forced to be grateful for a life they didn’t choose. 

One thing that people don’t mention enough is the adoptive families that act as though adoptees owe them for their adoption. Adoption is a life-long trauma given to children before they’re sometimes even able to comprehend what trauma is. It’s a process of finding one’s place and identity. So when adoptive parents expect adoptees to forget all of that essentially, it feels that the parents are being selfish and don’t truly care about the child. Adoptive parents should recognize the hardships adoptees experience instead of berating them for not appreciating their new life in the way that they want them too.

I’ve heard it all: “Oh, you must be so grateful for your new and better life here,” or, “Imagine if your parents hadn’t adopted you, your life would have been really tough, huh?” Those sorts of comments have begun to stand out more in my life now that Roe V. Wade has been overturned.

Some pro-life adoptive parents have raved about what good adoption has done for their lives, and they preach about how abortion wouldn’t have brought their children to them. It comes off as performative salvation as if there was no other way for the child to make it if it wasn’t for them. I’ve also seen pro-lifers try to appeal to adoptees and argue, “If your mom would have an abortion, you wouldn’t be here right now.” And to that, I say, so what?

If my biological mother aborted me, I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t be here to find out and experience it, and that’s OK. Pro-lifers use adoptees and their stories as scapegoats to push the ideas that babies are meant to be saved. We’re seen as sob stories and tragedies. In reality, we don’t need that extra burden of someone else’s ideas and issues thrust upon us.

Mimi Calhoun is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Have something to say? Email Mimi at mc300120@ohio.edu or tweet her @mimi_calhoun.

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