Is it selfish to keep your child who has disabilities, when you can't afford...

(26 Posts)
ClairityVerity Fri 14-Mar-14 18:19:30

...to look after them?

I heard this yesterday from the Russian American Paralympian woman who won silver and invited her biological mother to witness her receiving the award. It was such a sweet moment - she said her mother had given her up for adoption because she could not afford to keep her, which allowed her to be adopted by a North American family. She praised her mother for making such a momentous decision rather than (her choice of word) "selfishly" keeping her like some people would.

I found this astonishing - horrifying, actually. I mean, kudos ad infinitum to any parent who could bear to part with their beloved child under such circumstances. That takes extraordinary power, I think. But does that mean people who don't do this are just being selfish? Surely selfishness shouldn't come into the matter - it's rock and a hard place territory, not a question of morality.

Maybe she was overwhelmed by the press attention and not thinking clearly, but if she genuinely thinks that, I'd be appalled.

What does anyone else think?

HPparent Fri 14-Mar-14 19:14:50

I imagine she is trying to reconcile her feelings about what happened to her and rationalized that in her case there was a positive outcome. I doubt she is calling for disabled kids to be given to rich people. Her mother was probably living in poverty and couldn't cope.

you have to remember in other countries there isn't the same financial support from the state for children with disabilities.

The selfish part probably relates to the love every parent has for a child, but balance that against horrific poverty for you and the rest of the family that keeping a disabled child might bring.

Well, I can understand what she is trying to say.

It's a balance surely?

You've got the love of a parent in extreme poverty balanced against wealthy people from countries with good healthcare.

There's a chinese man who's been kept in a cage since he was a child ( mental health problems) - no healthcare available - wouldn't he have been better adopted to a rich country ?

In greys anatomy (tv programme) a baby with 3 heart issues was dumped in a bin - the doctors fixed the baby and put it up for adoption - the child would not have got that healthcare if it hadn't been abandoned.

Watching that I can only think that the parent did the right thing.

It's the system that needs changing, not individuals who try to make the best decision for their baby.

I guess we think of selfish as a negative thing when it can simply mean thinking only of oneself. So for that mother to consider giving up her child but to keep her because she(the mother) couldn't stand the loss would be a selfish act though not in any sense a negative one. I think what the athelete meant that her biological mother made a huge sacrifice of a broken heart to get her child the better quality of life she wanted for her.

ClairityVerity Fri 14-Mar-14 20:15:56

Some of you have misunderstood my point. I was questioning her judgement of this impossible choice as being either selfish or selfless. Not making a statement about whether children in poverty should be put up for adoption.

Ahh, Northernlurker as always you put it so well (I'm an ancient MNer who's name changed but have seen your wise posts over the years). Yes, I was viewing it as the negative interpretation of the word - though to be fair she was adopted as a baby so she's basically American. I don't think they use the word any differently from us Brits, do they? So I believe that either she did mean that, or that she was dazzled under the lights of the press or something.

Or maybe she's young, inexperienced and still in that life-is-black-or-white frame of mind that we all go through grin

ClairityVerity Fri 14-Mar-14 20:19:13

Some of you have misunderstood my point. I was questioning her judgement of this impossible choice as being either selfish or selfless. Not making a statement about whether children in poverty should be put up for adoption.

Ahh, Northernlurker as always you put it so well (I'm an ancient MNer who's name changed but have seen your wise posts over the years). Yes, I was viewing it as the negative interpretation of the word - though to be fair she was adopted as a baby so she's basically American. I don't think they use the word any differently from us Brits, do they? So I believe that either she did mean that, or that she was dazzled under the lights of the press or something.

Or maybe she's young, inexperienced and still in that life-is-black-or-white frame of mind that we all go through grin

ClairityVerity Fri 14-Mar-14 20:19:32

hmm

Tbh form where's she's from was she wrong? Mightn't suit kids in London but in her specific example you can't argue she was wrong.

Need more Angelina Jolie's in the world I suppose....

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 14-Mar-14 20:24:57

I assume she and her birth mother have spoken about the circumstances surrounding her adoption and this was her take on what happened to her.

Yama Fri 14-Mar-14 20:27:31

I listened to the interview on the World Service this morning. I understood that as a baby, Tatiana needed much surgery and then ongoing medical treatment.

Her Russian mother could not provide this so selflessly gave her up for adoption.

Listening to her mother was tear inducing stuff.

Nocomet Fri 14-Mar-14 20:28:04

I think many Russians and Chinese people (and no doubt others round the world) have a more practical and less sentimental idea of raising children.

It's not at all unusual to leave children with family far away (In the case of our visiting ice theatre troupe, another country) while you earn a living to send them to school etc.

A poor woman giving her child up for adoption is at the extreme end of this mindset, but it's still the same idea that a child's welfare and education comes before spending time together.

Viviennemary Sat 15-Mar-14 21:15:29

I might be wrong but I should imagine that life might be a lot tougher in America if you have a child with a disability or who needs a lot of medical treatment. So maybe in this case the person had a point as she just wouldn't have had the opportunities that she had with a better off family.

ClairityVerity Sun 16-Mar-14 00:42:30

You're all making valid points, which I agree with, but nobody's directly addressed the question of whether someone living in poverty who does not give up their child for adoption into a more materially stable life could be considered 'selfish'. I assume then, that you after that it's not an appropriate judgement to make?

Nocomet - perhaps you're right, that certainly fits in with what I know of those cultures.

ClairityVerity Sun 16-Mar-14 00:44:01

Pants!

"I assume, then, that you agree..." not "that you after".

hmm at autocorrect.

nulgirl Sun 16-Mar-14 00:53:24

Depends on what you mean by poverty though as this has very different defintions across the globe. People in some countries will not have access to specialist medical treatment so their disabled child would die if it wasn't adopted. If your child's life would be saved if it was adopted then it's a slightly different scenario to poverty in this country where the NHS is free and available.

Owllady Sun 16-Mar-14 19:20:30

I have a child who is severely disabled in the UK and I act for what is best for HER all the time. It's not about me, she is a human being. If I was in such poverty I believe I would do what was best for my daughter
As someone in that situation, I understand

LauraBridges Tue 18-Mar-14 09:18:46

They are interesting issues. I am not very pro adoption although many on mumsnet are but I can see the point - baby born to 15 tear old low income mother who will never work and child will be in a cycle of poverty for life with few life chances. Is it better at birth going straight to someone like the couple who adopted Mr Gove?

meringue33 Tue 18-Mar-14 09:31:26

No. I don't think a woman who chose to keep her family together although it impoverished them would be selfish. Both choices are valid and must have been very hard to make. But perhaps altruistic Americans could donate so the child could have operations and stay with her family too?

evertonmint Tue 18-Mar-14 09:46:37

Perhaps because what her birth mother did was selfless, she's just using selfish as the opposite of what she did do. So she's not saying that people who make a different decision are selfish but saying that her mother had two choices, made the selfless one, and by implication the other, in her particular circumstances, was more selfish as it would have been more focused on her wanting to be with her child when she knew that adoption was the better thing for her child. I doubt she meant it as a comment on anyone else in similar circumstances.

PigletJohn Tue 18-Mar-14 09:47:00

Nocomet Fri 14-Mar-14 20:28:04
I think many Russians and Chinese people (and no doubt others round the world) have a more practical and less sentimental idea of raising children.

I think that's wrong. It's like the old slavers saying that blacks don't really mind being taken away from their families.

I think it would be more accurate to say that there are people who would do whatever they could to save their children, but are in a position where it is impossible for them.

Think of babies being passed onto refugee trucks.

Nocomet Tue 18-Mar-14 10:33:37

There was a program about incredibly young Chinese children being sent to boarding schools and you often hear about children back in rural villages while parents work in the city.

I'm not sure the parents like it that way, but in societies without our kind of benefits and with a very strong work ethic it's far more accepted that funding a child's education may be more important than kissing them good night.

Erroroccurred Tue 18-Mar-14 10:43:14

I think this is so personal and she is referring to the specifics of her mother's situation as they have discussed. she maybe phrased it badly- my mother was selfless, didn't put her needs first etc sounds like a recognition of the bio mother's motivation. Saying she wasn't selfish sounds more judgemental.

I think because she is so clearly referring to the narrative of their adoption there is no wider implication of other mothers with disabled babies being selfish.

sebsmummy1 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:56:44

I wonder if it could then be argued that choosing to have a child is selfish full stop if you are living in poverty. I think if having a child was a solely conscious act (ie it couldn't happen accidently) people would be very quick to criticise Mothers for having a child in a less than ideal housing/financial situation.

It sounds to me like the athlete was thanking her biological Mother for giving her the opportunity to fulfill her potential in a living and stable environment and probably ensuring she absolved her of any lingering guilt she may have that she made a bad decision.

sebsmummy1 Tue 18-Mar-14 10:57:17

Loving

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