Review: What Makes a Baby

What Makes a Baby Book Trailer from Cory Silverberg on Vimeo.

A few months back I got a lovely email from Cory Silverberg telling me about a new book that he authored: What Makes a Baby. After a very delayed email exchange (I’ll admit I am often sloooowwww to respond) I received a copy of this lovely book in the mail.

The promises made in the trailer above definitely deliver. It’s an amazing specific yet unspecific story that helps tell the tale of where babies come from—all the modern and queer possibilities included. It does an incredible job of being inclusive of all genders and bodies. It also tells a birth story that includes the possibilities of a c-section and a vaginal birth, of midwives and doctors.

I’m not an expert on kids books, or what works when teaching kids about sensitive subjects like this one, but I’m happy to have this on my shelf for future use with family and friends.

The book is now available for purchase. A readers guide and more are available here.

Making the radical a reality

There is a great article up at RH Reality Check, written by Mary Mahoney, one of the founders of The Doula Project. I’ve written about the NYC-based Doula Project before, and am honored to have been one of the founders.

All the credit for what the project has become goes to co-founders Mary and Lauren, who took some very early stage ideas about providing doula care to folks having abortions and turned it into this amazing project which supports people throughout all stages of reproductive life, including abortion, fetal anomalies, miscarriages, adoption and birth.

I think this project takes doula care to its natural end–we’re there to support pregnant folks, through any and all decisions.

The Doula Project has served over 500 pregnant people since the fall of 2008, guided by the mission of providing free compassionate care and emotional, physical and informational support to people facing birth, abortion, fetal anomaly, or miscarriage. The foundation of our project is built on meeting pregnant people where they are, something I’ve taken with me from working four years in the reproductive justice movement. This connects to our belief that pregnant people should be trusted to make the choices that are best for them and that their experiences and the memories of those experiences should be honored.

Doulas hold a unique position in health care as non-medical lay people who are there solely for the pregnant person. The birth doula movement has certainly grown over the past few years, and innovative and radical projects have expanded care for pregnant people who might otherwise not receive it, such as young mothers and women in prison. During this time, The Doula Project has been building on a new model of doula care: one that supports pregnant people having abortions and choosing adoption.

Read the whole article here and check out the Doula Project here.

UPDATE: There is another great article about the Doula Project in the Brooklyn Link.

Adoption Dialogues

Last week I attended the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Annual Conference, Creating Change. It was a really interesting week, with tons of panels and workshops on a wide range of issues. I was a little bit disappointed to see the lack of workshops on the topic of family creation.I would think that for the LGBT community how we create our families (and what related rights we have) would be of the utmost importance. Part of this absence may have been a backlash to the many marriage-only conversations that occur in gay activism as well. But there are a wide range of topics that I think could be important to the LGBT community around family creation. For example, surrogacy, adoption, do-it-yourself inseminations and coparenting with non-romantic partners.

I did attend one workshop that focused on the issue of intercountry adoption, and I wanted to share some of the issues brought up in that workshop with all of you. Pauline Park facilitated the workshop, a woman who is herself a korean transnational adoptee.

The topic brought up some interesting discussion. I learned that the history of intercountry adoption began after the Korean War, when Christian missionaries set up shop in Korea and facilitated the adoption of Korean children by white Christian parents from the US. This process had its roots in the ideology of salvation, that these families were saving the Korean children (as well as showing them the way of Christ). Since those days the international adoption market (as some people would call it) has exploded, and children are adopted from a wide array of countries, including most popularly China, Guatemala and Russia.

Some questions posed by this issue:

–What kind of regulations should be put in place to regulate this market? Is it the responsibility of the adoptive parents country or the childrens?

–Is it okay for this to be (in some cases) a for-profit industry? If so, who should be making the money? The birth parents or the adoption agencies?

–What about the cultural competence of the parents? How can we ensure that the (mostly white) parents will be able to raise the child in a way that recognizes their background?

–What about race?

–What about the rights of the birth parents? Are the women giving up their children in these developing countries really given a choice? Or are the economic circumstances overly influencing that choice?

–What about abortion? For many anti-choice people, adoption is seen as the perfect alternative to abortion. Is it really?

–And finally, what about the desires of some people to become parents, in many cases without the “biological option”?

I unfortunately don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but here is a great piece by Elizabeth Larson in Mother Jones which grapples with some of these important issues from a personal perspective. It’s called Did I Steal My Daughter? The Tribulations of Global Adoption.