No Kidding: Jillian Michaels is Not "Doing That" to Her Body

Last year, Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels got into some natalist hot water when, in an interview with Women's Health, she was quoted out of context when she said, "I'm going to adopt. I can't handle doing that to my body. Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a part of yourself." The tabloids immediately seized on the comments. US Weekly's headline read, "Biggest Loser's Jillian Michaels 'Can't Handle' Getting Fat While Pregnant," and HuffPo proclaimed, "Jillian Michaels: I Won't Ruin My Body With Pregnancy." There was no immediate inquiry into what Michaels meant. It was assumed she was a narcissist obsessed with fitness, unwilling to sacrifice her toned abs to the stork.

uscover_jillianmichaelswomenshealth.jpg

For as much as we live in a fast-paced world with Twitter-as-news instantaneous updates, you'd think someone could go back and change those headlines. Because, as it turns out, Michaels has endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—conditions that have already been mentioned here in the comments as reasons that some women choose not to have biological children. Michaels is not afraid of altering her hot bod (she never said "ruin"); she's afraid of how she would respond to the physical strain of pregnancy.

A quick primer in case you don't know: Endometriosis can cause infertility; PCOS is thought to be related to subfertility. Women with PCOS can also have a higher risk for high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and miscarriage. Neither of these conditions mean a woman can't have a child, though it can be difficult. Michaels isn't willing to put her already temperamental reproductive organs through the trauma of a potentially risky pregnancy. More than fair, if you ask me.

(Also, if Michaels did have a biological child, can we imagine how ruthless gossip bloggers and the paparazzi would be if she, fitness goddess, didn't drop the baby weight immediately?)

Michaels had a chance to defend herself, including in an interview with momlogic.com, in which she explained that she'd felt "embarrassed" by the question from the Women's Health writer. And why shouldn't she? Why is women's health and fertility a topic for strangers to parse, to judge? What's really sad is her admission that she wasn't up front about her condition because she was ashamed. It's really sad—and a rather disgusting statement about our cultural norms—that social pressure would make her feel deficient for, of all things, not wanting or feeling able to be a biological mom.

You know what else? No one should feel like they have to defend their choice to adopt. Adoption is an awesome choice for so many families, and Michaels has used the media shitstorm to address that. (That doesn't mean she hasn't said some problematic things about international adoption—who out there wants to blog about feminist adoption?) Then again, she probably could have said more about endometriosis or PCOS, two rather misunderstood conditions. But I'm also not into bashing her for what she didn't say; she clearly felt compelled to come forward with more than she originally intended as a result of being taken out of context, and in my opinion, that's a shitty position to be in as a somewhat private public figure. Yes, to some degree, you can (or should be able to) have it both ways.

One other tidbit: Michaels is bisexual. No, that doesn't necessarily limit her procreation options in a time of widespread IVF, but it oughta help do away with the "you'll meet the right man" myth—at least in her case.

Did you know Michaels has health-related concerns about having children? How have endometriosis and PCOS affected your choices about pregnancy and childbirth? Why do you think adoption is treated as a lesser option than biological parenthood?

Bitch Media publishes the award-winning quarterly magazine, Bitch:Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

76 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Even before the

Even before the clarification, I had no issue with her statements about not wanting children. What I had issue with was the statement that she saw adopting a baby as rescuing it.* As an adoptee, I find that insulting. We're not puppies you found at a shelter. Adopt a baby because you want to be a mother, not because it's your good deed for the day.

*I'm also perfectly willing to believe that she was misquoted on that, too. However, it is a pretty pervasive attitude in general.

How is adopting a baby not

How is adopting a baby not rescuing it? Adoptive parents take children into their homes that might otherwise languish in foster care (or orphanages in some cases) which is not as nurturing an environment for a child as a family is. How is it NOT a good deed? Adoptive parents have no obligation to take in someone else's child and raise it as their own. How could you think people do it as their 'good deed for the day". A good deed for the day is holding the door for someone or handing them back the fiver they dropped on the floor. A lifetime commitment to the health and welfare of another human being is is much, much more.

It is a good deed

You want to know how I can view it that way? Years and years of being treated like a charity case or not a "real" child by those who don't fully understand what adoption is or what it entails. Thankfully my parents were better people than that, so that attitude was something that was primarily directed at me by (albeit often well-meaning) strangers. I never said it wasn't a good deed. It's just so much more than that or just "rescuing" someone. We are human beings who want to be loved and viewed the same as if our parents had conceived and birthed us themselves, not as something someone did to be a good person. Unfortunately too many people do treat adoption as simply a good deed that makes them a better person, rather than the addition of a child to their family. It's insulting to those of us who are adopted and it's insulting to the wonderful adoptive parents who don't act that way.

My immediate reaction to the

My immediate reaction to the description of adoption as rescuing is a big NO. For me, it creates a sort of hierarchy/weird power dynamic, almost a debt situation - where the kid then must be grateful for being saved. Ick. I'd also like to point out that not all families (adoptive, bio, or whatever other kind) are nurturing environments (just as not all foster homes are abusive environments). Abuse happens everywhere, and I think it's important to remember that just because someone chooses to adopt, doesn't make them a SuperParent, or even a good person.
"A lifetime commitment to the health and welfare of another human being" is just plain parenting, in my opinion, and whether I make that commitment to my biological child or to my adopted child makes no difference. Choosing to become a parent should equal making that commitment (in an ideal world) - it's not something I would ever expect my kid to be grateful for. It's the bare minimum.

"A word after a word after a word is power."
- Margaret Atwood

Exactly. The gratefulness

Exactly. The gratefulness aspect is another reason I have a problem with viewing it as rescuing. There is just a different meaning associated with the idea of rescuing a person and the idea of taking them in because you want them.

Thank you

I know someone who is currently in the process of adopting a baby girl from the Congo because she loves it when her goodness is affirmed by other people (really...not kidding). Yeah, maybe it is a good thing for a girl not to be raised in what's currently the rape capital of the world, but the fact that she's being adopted in order for someone else to cavort around saying, "Look how wonderful I am" honestly sickens me. Not that the desire to be a parent and this sort of self-affirmation are *always* mutually exclusive, but it just seems so...insincere to put a human being in the position of being a sort of trophy.

Out of context

Let's not forget she also followed it up with "It's also like rescuing a part of yourself." Clearly Jillian understands the deep commitment of parenting, and opening up doors in your heart you never knew were there before. How about we all be a bit less judgemental. In the end, that's why this article even exists in the first place- people's judgemental attitudes.

This is an AWESOME point that

This is an AWESOME point that completely discounts any of the above concerns. (at least for this interview) I wish people would back off. Society always has trouble with powerful women it seems. And I'm having trouble getting pregnant and would totally adopt because I want a child to love and care for... I would see the kids on the advertisements at Wendy's growing up and beg my parents to adopt them because they needed love, too. I said they could have my room... I didn't card about race or age... They needed homes. I still feel that way, so maybe that is why I am having trouble getting pregnant... Maybe I'm supposed to adopt. My dh was also adopted, so I understand a Lot of the mentality of adoptees.

I've been interested in

I've been interested in adoption for several years now, and there are a few common responses I get when I talk about it with folks. They all seem to point to the idea that families created through adoption are not "real" families (see: "But don't you want your own kids?"), and that all women have a deep need to carry and bear children (and if you don't want to now, well, you'll change your mind when you meet the right man, sweetie!). There's a concern that "you don't know what you're getting" when you adopt, too, the implication being that you're getting damaged goods when you choose adoption. That always reminds me of Anne of Green Gables: you know, the part where Mrs Lynde is trying to dissuade Marilla from adopting Anne by telling horror stories of kids who poison their adopted parents, and Marilla is all, "WHAT is your deal, Rachel Lynde?" L.M. Montgomery wrote that book a reeeaally long time ago, yet that awful attitude is still hanging around. I don't know where it comes from, but I would like it to go back to there, now, please.

I think some people feel threatened by adoption because it's a way of becoming a mother that doesn't necessitate being partnered with a man, and it challenges the belief that all women want that "Leave it to Beaver" family model.

Something that just occurred to me about this issue is that maybe there's a class issue going on for folks who aren't okay with adoption. (This is separate from the class issue around whose kids are being adopted and by whom, and how much choice that actually entails for some bio-moms.) I'm thinking specifically of my middle-class mom's attitude. She's the kind of lady who admonished her daughters for dressing in a way that made us look "common" and "low-class". I wonder how many folks like her are freaked out by adoption because it could entail crossing of class divides?

P.S. Yes, please! for a series on feminist adoption:D

"A word after a word after a word is power."
- Margaret Atwood

Health concerns and what

Health concerns and what pregnancy does to your body are totally valid reasons for not wanting to have kids. I'm six weeks postpartum with my second child and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that pregnancy was stressful on my moderately healthy body. If you are unhealthy to begin with your pregnancy is likely to be difficult and cause more problems... not just for you, but for the fetus and, in my opinion, it's totally okay if the risk isn't worth it.

I hate that people are always telling me that becoming a parent totally changed them, like some happiness switch was flipped when they became pregnant or gave birth. The happiness doesn't come in the moments that the relationships are formed, the happiness comes in the day-to-day life of the relationship. A marriage isn't made with a wedding, a parent isn't made with a birth. Family is about being, not becoming, and adopted kids are no less someone's child because there is no biological connection.

That last sentence was not

That last sentence was not only truthful, but incredibly eloquent and beautiful.

Endometriosis

I have endometriosis. Women with endometriosis have a 39% higher risk of miscarriage than women who don't. I have 2 living children, and I lost a baby between them. I don't regret my children for a second, but if I had known 5 years ago that I would for sure have a miscarriage I would have chosen to save myself the eternal heartache. I would have adopted.

Jillian's reproduction and sexuality are none of my business, though. And, frankly, she's really not that well spoken. (Sorry, Jillian! You're awesome nonetheless!) That makes her easily taken out of context. Why are we even talking about this? Good for Jillian knowing and doing what's right for her!

As someone who "ovulates

As someone who "ovulates imperfectly" (and I quote the reproductive endocrinologist who suspects I have PCOS), I have been doing a lot of thinking about fertility, adoption, etc. I never had a problem with Jillian Michaels' decision, because it's her call, health issues or not. I'd like to have my own kids, but if my body won't cooperate--and it hasn't been--then my husband and I plan to adopt. I don't really have any interest in expensive reproductive technologies like IVF, though if someone else wants to build a family that way, he/she has my blessing. Anyway, we're at the early stages of all this, and I'm still hoping to kick my cycle into gear and conceive. If I can't, though, I'll be doing tons of reading on adoption. Feminist adoption series, pleeeeease!

As another person with PCOS I

As another person with PCOS I would like endorse a feminist adoption series! My husband and I are now looking into fertility treatments vs adoption as well. Not sure how far I would want to go with fertility treatments. I'm glad that the RE options are available, but the statistics are still depressing... Plus, having a biological child doesn't seem to be important to me or my husband. Yay adoption! :)

How about a series on

How about a series on feminist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist adoption?

Yes, please!

Yes, please!

Imperialist Adoption, "Rescuing," and (the lack of?) Feminism

I'd like to see a series too. I married my husband, who in his last marriage, adopted a girl from China. The adoptive mother gives her the "China baby doll" haircut, treats her as her personal dolly, and has her own identity so wrapped up in the girl, that I cannot humanly conceive of the pressure she's put on her daughter-- gratefulness for being saved, responsibility for mommy's sanity/identity, ultra-femininity, and then the high class expectations as well.

It makes me sick.

I've read several adoption books and have the "Blue Ribbon Babies" on my to-read list, and the more I read, the more my heart aches for this kid. It may not be politically correct to say, and there's no way to tell, but I sometimes wonder if she would have been better off being adopted anywhere else than America, to anyone else, or staying in the orphanage. (Granted, my husband is overjoyed to have her, takes her to whatever sport she wants, lets her dress like a hippie, actively teaches her to box, etc, so at least one of her parents is more understanding of nurturing the child as an individual human being, and not a "China doll.")

Feminist Discussion of Adoption

I think it was the fall issue of 'Bitch' where you reviewed Christine Ward Gaily's book: 'Blue-Ribbon Babies and Labors of Love: Race, Class and Gender in U.S. Adoption Practice.' My partner and I have been discussing adoption for a while now, and reading this book, based on Bitch's review of it, really opened our eyes to what is actually going on with domestic v. international adoptions, public v. private, and inter-racial adoption. So many of the blogs and websites about adoption on the internet are extremely racist, classist and ethnocentric. Several on international adoptioners talk about going to the other country and berating how "horrible, dirty, and disgusting" the country, food and/or people were and how they couldn't wait to get back where people "actually speak English!." As someone still considering adoption, I would really appreciate the writings of Gaily or another feminist with first hand knowledge of adoption on your site as one of your series blogs. Thanks!

As someone with PCOS,

As someone with PCOS, fibromyalgia, rheumetoid arthritis, PMDD, possible bipolar, and a slew of other health conditions... while I will concede that there is the slight chance I may change my mind in the future (although I really, really doubt it), I'd rather adopt or foster than go through pregnancy, plus the conditions I have are highly genetic, and I DO NOT want to pass this shit down. It's made my life hell, and I would not wish that on any child.

It's amazing how many people are horrified when I mention adoption or *gasp* fostering, because ... don't you know all kids in the system are evil!? The close-mindedness of people is just... argh.

DISCLAIMER: I think adoption

DISCLAIMER: I think adoption is great, my dad was adopted and I'm glad, and if I found out that for whatever reason I could not bear children, I would definitely adopt.

BUT, I do actually see what people mean about not knowing what they're getting. More and more people are discovering that nature has a lot more to do with personalities than nurture. And I want a smart kid. Yeah, I said it. I want a smart kid with a sarcastic sense of humour, because I'm like that, my mom was like that, and my mom's mom was like that and we have a long history of awesome mother-daughter relationships. I want a kid that I can relate to, because I have a lot of difficulty relating to 99% of people anyway. If I adopt, I would be running the risk of adopting the child of a poor decision-maker. Not that all unwanted children are the result of a bad decision on the mother's part, but I can also say that I have gone this long without being pregnant and it was pretty easy, again, acknowledging that there are other situations (rape, contraception sabotage, etc).

Also, I'd just like to say hats off to you for not wanting to pass on any genetic health conditions. I think it's incredibly selfish and mean when people with conditions like Huntington's (if they know they have it) decide to have children. Also, kind of sabotaging this awesome natural selection thing we had going on for a while.

No one shouldn't have children unless they don't want them

Whoa, I strongly disagree with that last paragraph specifically. Telling anybody whether or not they should have children and saying that people with disabilities (PWD) are "incredibly selfish and mean" is very, very ableist. What people do with their bodies is their business period. Sterilization and eugenics targeted towards PWD is a frequently employed tool of the kyriarchy. Here is some reading that I recommend on the topic:

http://disabledfeminists.com/2010/05/20/dear-imprudence-have-you-conside...
http://triumphantmulatta.wordpress.com/2007/04/05/rights-of-people-with-...
http://www.disaboomlive.com/blogs/disabled_politico/archive/2009/03/02/i...
http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2010/05/dear-abby-and-disablism.html

I would also suggest looking

I would also suggest looking into information about genetics and decision making skills, how adolescence affects decision making, and how birth control affects people differently before assuming that you would end up with a child that has poor skills.

And Preeclampsia...

let's not forget that one. I wish I'd known that my mild PCOS made it very, very likely that I'd have preeclampsia. I'd have demanded more careful monitoring at the end, and have planned on a hospital birth from the get-go rather than deluding myself that a home birth would be possible.

Thank goodness everything turned out ok.

This brings up something I thought while reading the last blog

Why is it still considered this great "tragedy" for women to be unable to conceive their own children? I think of the thousands of dollars people spend on IVF, the highly structured sex life/acts in order to increase the likelihood of conception, not to mention the stress and pain that miscarriages cause. It's probably because I don't plan on having children, biological or otherwise, but I just can't fathom why someone would go through all that hassle and pain, and why a woman not being able to birth biological children is such a taboo terrible thing that no one dares speak of. Also, I totally agree with a previous poster who mentioned people's ignorant comments that you "don't know what you're getting" with adoption. And you do by conceiving your own kids?? Come on.

It's also with men too.

It's also with men too. People tend to also pity men who have difficulties getting their partners pregnant. I'd say it's a social and an evolutionary thing. Most people are naturally driven to want to pass on their genes, and it's a socially acceptable norm, which is why childless people are unjustly looked down upon by some, and why people who cannot naturally conceive on their own are pitied by some.

In some ways, it is

In some ways, it is considered a tragedy because it is a tragedy for those who go through it. While I have total respect for women who *choose* to not have biological children, I would ask the same. I can certainly fathom why someone would stop at any point in the process of *choosing* to have a child come into their lives but, even having been through all of the above myself (miscarriages, infertility, IVF, and then finally becoming a mother) I will fiercely defend anyone's right to not do those things. I have felt some ugly things from women who choose to be child free, and am reading them in these comments as well. It's ridiculous, actually. And I think part of the larger picture society has of what it means to be a woman, what it means to be an adult all goes back to the whole bullshit idea of a woman being a thing to be owned, to produce children for her owner. If a woman is a thing to own which will give you children and she does not produce said children, she is pretty much useless. So that's the ugly history - which obviously remains in our cultural story about womanhood in a lot of ways.

I think also that we discount the fact that biology is pretty powerful in ones life in many ways. For some of us, that means we have a deep-down desire to be pregnant, to birth a baby, to nurse that baby and feel that part of our selves expand. For others, that particular desire is not present or is softer. For others biology is powerful because of medical concerns, or in connections to biological family members who otherwise make them crazy.

Heartbreaking

I could definitely see how it could be a tragedy for someone who desperately wanted to conceive and couldn't. Not only is it heartbreaking to want an experience so badly and not get it, I think you make a great point about the sociological "purpose" of women. Society does put an emphasis on motherhood, particularly birthing biological children, so much so that it's often ingrained in women. When they can't fulfill that purpose, its not surprising that many would feel like there is something wrong with them or something to be ashamed about (disclaimer: I do not think there is anything wrong or shameful about not being able to conceive) or that they are letting their partners and society down. Justified or not, the feeling is present in many women who are unable to conceive. Not getting something they want coupled with being made to feel as if they are broken in some way is definitely tragic.

Nasty opinions about adoption...

I've been Child-Free for as long as I can remember, but it was a choice that my now ex-husband and I had to defend constantly. When the ex got his vasectomy, his mother freaked out about it and "bingoed" us with every tired cliche that some who are otherwise perfectly rational adults, could dream up. When we told her that we could always adopt if we changed our minds (as a way to placate her), she told us that we shouldn't stoop to burden ourselves with someone else's mistake.

Wow. Is it any wonder I'm no longer married to that man? His family was obviously crazy and cold-blooded.

I did know that about her,

I did know that about her, and I really feel for her.

However, it's every single woman's choice whether or not they want to have biological children. And the reasons behind it are no one's business but hers. Even if it was about really about appearance, even if she didn't want to go through with pregnancy because of the physical aspects of it (or any woman, rather), it's still none if our damn business. Who am I to judge if she doesn't want to get "fat" while pregnant and afterwards? It's HER BODY. So what if she doesn't want to go through that? Is she a bad person because of it? Hell no! That also doesn't mean that she thinks being fat is bad, or that gaining weight is bad, or that being pregnant is bad, she's making a choice about her body that she wants to make. She's happy with her body the way it is, and it's not my place to say she's a bad person for not wanting it to change.

Yes!

My thoughts exactly!

Ditto!

Nail on head :)

Right on.

Right on. It bothers me that so many people are quick to take someone else's personal decisions as an affront to their own choices. Absurd.

I would love to see a series

I would love to see a series on feminist adoption. My husband and I adopted our son this past summer, so this topic is really relevant to me.

PCOS

My sister-in-law has PCOS and gave birth to two healthy children with no health complications/emergencies/worries whatsoever.

She's very lucky. However, I

She's very lucky. However, I don't blame Michaels for not wanting to take that risk. Many women with PCOS and endomitriosis can have healthy pregnancies, but many don't.

I think it's pretty telling

I think it's pretty telling that she felt it was required of her to give a reason, any reason, at all for not wanting to give birth. While she of course should not feel ashamed for having the health conditions she does, it's unfortunate that she obviously felt required to bring up what is clearly a very personal and private subject for her. And yes, being a celebrity, and one known for weight loss and fitness at that, I'm sure that had she chosen to become pregnant, all sorts of judgments would fly about her body and habits during pregnancy. It's also weird that childbirth is the one time women are "supposed" to get "fat" in our culture. If you gain weight while pregnant, that's good and normal, provided you weren't fat before and plan on losing it all later, but if you gain weight otherwise and are not concerned about it, that's like the worst thing ever. Weird.

I can't wait to live in a

I can't wait to live in a world where women's decisions don't have to be justified. I wish she could have said that she simply doesn't want to have biological children with no questions asked afterwards other than positive reinforcement. Like where she wants to adopt, if she wants to adopt a boy or a girl, what age, etc. Instead, she has to focus on why she doesn't want biological children. Personal decisions shouldn't have to come with explanations. Unless it's on a personal level with friends and family, but in interviews? No.

YES! Why do I have to

YES! Why do I have to justify my decision to anyone but my partner/husband and we agree on child-free by choice as our family plan. We ARE a family, even without kids. Adoption is a viable option but we're not in the place to make for that household yet, if at all.

no, no, and yes

No to adoption (I want someone to prove to me that it's "all it's cracked up to be"), no to having children and shortening my life and yes to birth control and abortion if needed, both of which are far safer than having children. As for adoption, if you adopt an older kid they are likely f-ed up. Only way I'd do it is if it was from birth and that baby came to me and never ever met it's biological mother first. I've heard too many horror stories and not enough good ones. I guess in my old age I've become pro-abortion. (pro-birth control but that doesn't always work).

There are plenty of adoptions

There are plenty of adoptions that work out fine, even with (gasp!) special needs children. There are many issues plaguing adoption and the adoption industry, but to make such a blanket statement is unfair. Your choices are your own and I'm not going to pass judgment on any of them, but some of your remarks about "f-ed up" children mirror the prejudice that some of the other commenters have mentioned.

We're all entitled to opinions but education is important.

Hey, you're entitled to your opinion just as I am, having worked in women's health for many, many years I'm jaded about adoption. I'm saying it's NOT it's all cracked up to be. People make it sound like the perfect answer to an unplanned pregnancy and it's not. Not for the biological mother and often not for the adoptive family. If it works out, great, fine, no problem. Then I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about the disasters that often occur. And if you can't understand that then you've not done enough research about psychology and bonding and what happens when people do and don't bond appropriately.

Your "research", please?

Christy, you go on and on in this post and others on this discussion that if people don't agree with you then they need to do more "research". Can you cite us some published peer-reviewed studies that back up your statements about adoption and children in foster care? If not, take your concern-trolling elsewhere.

Here's a start

Number 1: http://www.nichd.nih.gov/about/meetings/2010/060810-leve.cfm
Start there and I'm not concerned about anything but presenting the alternative. The national institutes for mental health will give you what you are looking for that you can't believe in what I say.

On adoption

In my humble opinion, adoptive families turn out just like biological ones-that meaning, some are very happy, well-balanced and wonderful to be a part of, and others aren't. And of course that's a spectrum-we all have good and bad days.

And if you want "proof" I can only provide case studies, which is obviously a limited strategy. One of my best friends was adopted into a loving family that encouraged her to blossom as a person. She's hilarious and smart. She went to UC Berkeley, and her family is very proud.

My co-facilitator for a course I'm teaching is an adoptive mother. She loves her son, and is going back to pick up a few more degrees of her own while he goes to college...the only negative thing I've ever heard from her about the adoption experience is that people treated her like she didn't "really" get to participate in motherhood because she didn't undergo pregnancy, or that people have considered her family less valid somehow.

A social worker I know has struggled with her adopted son, because he was diagnosed with Bipolar and severe ADD a few years after he was adopted. For what it's worth, it's not actually fair to "blame" adoption for this situation-biology is no insurance against medical issues. Hell, my bio-brother is bipolar, and it's not like our family has a history there.

Do what you like-your choices are your own and no one else has the right to make them but you. But please don't contribute to prejudices against adoption...

Exactly... it's not like

Exactly... it's not like mental illness or behavioral problems stem from adoption only... my husband's father is a paranoid schizophrenic and he wasn't adopted. He had a totally normal childhood and has suffered from the illness for years and years and years. And with no family history of mental illness, either.

Saying that adopted children are "messed up" somehow is, to me, the same as saying that children raised in single-parent homes are "messed up" as well because it's a less than "ideal" household to be raised in.

One parent children are affected by it

Schizophrenia can be that is inherited during crossing-over of genes. It may have been someone way far back in family history. But it's not ALWAYS inherited. It's just likely. Just like depression and bipolar disorder they are influenced by genetics but not necessarily caused by them. Those are mood disorders (different from schizophrenia) except that bipolar disorder is often a combination of childhood experiences AND genetics. It is likely a combination of childhood experiences that incited the onset of the schizophrenia and it worsened from there.
Can one parent raise a child....absolutely, BUT there are effects and if you don't recognize that, then you might need to do a little research.

That really wasn't my point

That really wasn't my point but whatever.... my point is that children raised by their biological parents are just as likely to be "f-ed up" than children raised in the foster care system, or children adopted at a young or older age. So you saying that you don't want to adopt an older child because they might be "f-ed up" is wrong.

You're right

My apologies for misunderstanding your point. You are very right that any and every child can be affected by their environment. That's the entire point, that children ARE affected by their environment, particularly prior to the age of 5 as this is when neural pathway growth is happening more than any other time in life.

Early childhood is definitely

Early childhood is definitely an important time for development, but it's become increasingly apparent over the last few years that the brain is pretty plastic, i.e. it has a tremendous capacity to heal and change over one's lifespan. Pretty neat stuff, and hopeful too!

"A word after a word after a word is power."
- Margaret Atwood

Adolescence

Have you read any of the latest information coming out about brain development in adolescence? So interesting! It rivals or almost surpasses the brain development in young childhood.

And there is something called

And there is something called resilience. Some kids aren't affected by their environment. My husband, for example. I mentioned earlier that his father is a paranoid schizophrenic. And his mother was very ill and was in a board and care home for most of his life. His dad was a poor factory worker and couldn't be home most of the time, never helped him with his homework, and even abandoned him one summer when he was 17 so he could sail to Hawaii. Yet he's one of the most responsible, well-rounded people I know and isn't remotely affected by the way his father raised him or by his father's behavior (and refusal to seek treatment).

You can do some Googling about that and know that not all kids are affected by their environment. I can think of a more famous example as well. Ryan Mathews who is the running back for the San Diego Chargers. His mother was just 16 when he was born and she was living in her car. He had a pretty tough life yet he's a successful athlete. There are numerous other examples. You really need to stop making sweeping, broad generalizations.

Yes some personality types

Yes some personality types are more resilient and driven than others. That childhood may be what drove him as he was affected by his environment

So why is it that you believe

So why is it that you believe the opposite about children in foster care? Can they not be resilient? If you believe it's possible for someone to be raised by a schizophrenic father and be resilient, surely you also believe that children adopted also have the ability to be resilient, thus negating your argument that children in foster care (more specifically, older children) are lost causes.

Lost cause?

I don't remember saying they are a lost cause but the resiliency you are likely to see with an older foster child follows an incredible amount of intense therapy which they actively work hard at and participate fully in.

You pretty much said that you

You pretty much said that you would never consider adopting an older child because they'd be "too f-ed up" which to me, sounds like "lost cause".

"the resiliency you are likely to see with an older foster child follows an incredible amount of intense therapy which they actively work hard at and participate fully in."

Um no. Resiliency is being able to not be negatively affected by negative things that happen to you. On your own. Not necessarily through therapy. An example of a resilient child is when a child grows up in a condition where it would be expected for them to fail or fall into the life they grew up in, but don't. Like when those kids grow up with drug-addicted parents, or in a crime-ridden neighborhood, or with abusive family, and grow up to be unaffected by it. Like they don't turn to crime or drugs like everyone else they know. And it's not through therapy.

Might want to look up the

Might want to look up the definition of resiliency, I don't believe it defines how a person is resilient, just that they are, lets stick to the facts please.

Not so much

"As for adoption, if you adopt an older kid they are likely f-ed up."

That's a massive over-generalization. I know you said "likely" but it's still problematic to talk about older children in the foster care system like that. You're also insinuating that older children are somehow "damaged" and not worthy to be adopted. There have been many, many adoptions of older children that were successful.

And as for individual feelings on adoption, everyone has their own different opinions and experiences. Many people adopt older children and have zero problems. No one can prove to you that adoption is "all it's cracked up to be" because they're biased and you're biased. You've already made up your mind about adoption and so have they.

Biased? Educated and experienced

Yep, you hit the nail on the head. There is not a kid who hasn't been damaged being in the foster system. You don't end up in the foster system because you're a lovely child raised by lovely parents. Either you were naughty and your parents couldn't handle you or your parent's died and nobody else could take you. Or your parents were shit (which means you're already fucked up) and you were taken away. In any case, the foster system is FAR from perfect. Hard as they try and I KNOW they do, but when the opportunity to bond is pooh-poohed it's difficult on the child. Let's get a little reality in here and talk about what REALLY happens to the mentality of people in foster care. Therapy can help but that's not something you forget. Let me be clear, if you are not one of these people, then I'M NOT TALKING TO YOU. Massive over-generalization is an accurate generalization. Like it or not.
Adoption in general, I'm not suggesting to anyone what they should do, I'm sharing knowledge and what I would do. I don't want kids. I'm allowed to have that choice, thankfully. As does everyone else. Do what you want, it's not my life and I don't really care.

Could you clarify, please?

"You don't end up in the foster system because you're a lovely child raised by lovely parents. Either you were naughty and your parents couldn't handle you or your parent's died and nobody else could take you. Or your parents were shit (which means you're already fucked up) and you were taken away."
I just want to make sure I'm understanding you correctly: was this written in seriousness? (Sounds like a snotty question, but I promise that's not the intent! Sincere curiosity.)

"A word after a word after a word is power."
- Margaret Atwood

Absolutely serious

Yes, I'm serious but being a bit facetious as I'm shocked that people fail to understand how fragile the human mind is but one must take in to account personality type, genetics and environment all of which play a part. Children are beaten every single day in this country, of course parents place their children into the foster system if they feel unable to "control" them. That may be more representative of the parental mental health than the Childs but he will be affected by this new environment and not likely in a positive manner.

Really

I'm also starting to wonder if you're serious or if your sarcasm just isn't coming across. If you are serious, I honestly don't know what to say. I'm wondering where exactly you are getting your information. I am both adopted and work with foster children (though I realize this hardly makes me an expert on the subject, obviously) and have not encountered the negativity that you seem to believe is present in all situations concerning adoption and fostering. Yes SOME children turn out the way you are saying (as do some children who stay with their bio families). Yes, the foster system could be much better than it is. However, blaming the children, saying that adoption is always a bad thing, that we'll all always turn out terribly, I'm just gobsmacked by the ignorance and hate apparent in your opinion. Stereotyping and mass over-generalization do not help you make a good argument, they simply make you look as if you have made up your mind and will only listen to what supports it.

As others have said, you should be able to make your own choice about parenthood and I applaud you for knowing what you want, but please don't assume that you know what is right for everyone else. And please consider the hate and prejudice you are spreading. Perhaps a little compassion would be a better answer.

Hate and prejudice huh?

Hate and prejudice huh? First of all, I'm no expert on this subject either but if you really think that you've met children unaffected by their environment then what else can I say? You've made up your mind. I however enjoy hearing how differently people perceive things, comments or experiences.

I never said they weren't

I never said they weren't affected. I've just never met kids that were so "f'ed up" that they weren't worthy of help, like you seem to be implying.

Wow, that is really misinformed...

My youngest sister was adopted when she was 12 years old. She has been with our family for 4 years now. When she was adopted, she had a plethora of security and bonding issues which is completely normal for any kid that has been living for an extended time without having a permanent home, but our parents got her some psychiatric help and she has bonded with us wonderfully. She is a normal 16 year old girl who loves to hang out at home with us as well as go out and be independent. If it wasn't for my parents who took her in a gave her a chance to have a normal life, she probably would be "f-ed up," but now she has the help and love that she has always needed. The way you put things makes it sound like the problems these kids face is insurmountable, and in some cases, I'm sure the adoptive family is going to have to work harder than they originally expected (which, by the way, is the same for ALL new children biological or not- when was last time your heard a first-time mother say "Oh yeah, this is exactly what I've been expecting and planning for!") but they are HUMAN BEINGS, not misbehaved mutts at the pound who would be better off put down because no family wants to put up with them. You are perpetuating a prejudice against older children who already have such a hard time getting adopted because people feel like they would rather have a baby, tabula-rasa-style, than a "misfit." Seriously, stop acting like you know what's going on because it's obvious to everyone here that you don't. Maybe YOU need to do a little research. Jeez.

she is a very lucky girl, but

she is a very lucky girl, but ask her if she's forgotten where she came from. Probably wasn't pretty before finding your wonderful family.

Bitch Blog post on adoption

It's great to see that so many people want to discuss feminist adoptions! For some good links to blogs on the subject (and an interesting article), you might want to check out Dawn Friedmans' 2009 blog post "Adopt-ation: The past, present, and future of the adoption industry."

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Ahh! Just read it now. Any

Ahh! Just read it now. Any chance of Dawn coming back and doing a series for Bitch? In the meantime, I'm devouring her blog instead of doing the dishes!

"A word after a word after a word is power."
- Margaret Atwood

There are certainly ethical

There are certainly ethical issues surrounding adoption (international adoptions, race, etc. ) but I'm happy to see more positive adoption-related news in the press. Well, besides Brangelina.

Most of my lesbian friends with children have chosen AI. I support this choice, too, but it's been difficult to hear them say they did it because they wanted "control" and felt AI would eliminate the "gamble" of adoption. A friend whose son had developmental delays complained bitterly to me that she felt a bit cheated. She believed the screening afforded by AI would eliminate this possibility, and believes that it must have been the donor's genes since nothing like it appears in her family. She may be right, and AI has its own ethical issues involving poor screening and fraudulent promises, but guess what? Kids are always a gamble. My parents didn't know their pretty blue-eyed daughter would turn out to be deaf, but I'm forever glad I was able to have the childhood I did -- and pretty proud of being deaf, too.

Michaels does have good medical reasons (if true) for adopting, and while I love her forceful personality she also has a certain perfectionist body self-criticism I find problematic. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what her reasons are: she wants a child, and someone who needs a home will have one. If this helps persuade other would-be parents to consider adoption, all the better.

I will always champion adoption and those who choose this route.

Anh yes, another " you're a

Anh yes, another " you're a wonderful person if you choose the personal agony of adoption" but there's something wrong with you if you choose abortion. You are not championed for forgoing a life of concern for the child you gave birth to you and is likely to come looking for you at some point. Does anyone here consider those things and how much they impact the rest of you life? Thank god for safe and legal abortion.

"Kids are always a gamble. My

"Kids are always a gamble. My parents didn't know their pretty blue-eyed daughter would turn out to be deaf, but I'm forever glad I was able to have the childhood I did -- and pretty proud of being deaf, too."

Exactly.

Parents never know how their children are going to turn out, health-wise or behavioral-wise. And they take it in stride. And if you ask any parent who loves their child, if they'd go back and change anything, they're going to say they wouldn't. Because you love your kid no matter what.

Hmmmmm, I don't quite think so

"parents never know how their children are going to turn out". I beg to differ. There is good parenting and bad parenting and there's a RARE case of not understanding why your child is the way they are. Most of the time providing a stable, loving, verbally open environment where open communication occurs and the parent doesn't attempt a dictatorship you'll end up with a stable adult capable of expressing feelings and full of the necessary confidence to carry them through life.

Could not disagree more!

I don't know if you check this anymore, but I can see you were very active on this thread last year. I want to enlighten you on this ideal scenario you've imagined that if you have stable parents, you'll be a stable adult. My parents raised the four of us (all normal births!) in the same house in a nice southern metropolitan city. My mother never had to work and Dad is a busy, but present, lawyer who provides a very comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle. Three of us are healthy, normal and functioning adults with college degrees and significant others. My brother though, was always a problem, never bonded with us, couldn't get through college, can't keep a job, doesn't date, the list goes on! No amount of costly therapy has been able to help heal his issues. Don't pretend to be able to make such generalizations. Every family is different, every woman creates a different family story, and you don't know what you're talking about.

I'm infertile and it breaks my heart, but I know that if I choose to adopt, I'll do the best I can to raise that child; however there are no gaurantees either way.

Genes aren't everything

I respect reproductive and adoptive freedoms, responsible parenting, as well as the choice to not be a parent and not to have to qualify those choices. When I was 20 I was told my father was not my biological father. He knew from the day I was born and though he and my mother did not get along, they stayed together and raised me and my older sisters as one family. By the time I knew the truth, I was the last one in my family to know. There are racial differences that complicated things-my mother is white, my father is black and biological father is from the middle east-but beyond physical features, there was never anything my parents did that made me question if I was theirs. I was asked often if I was adopted and was frequently accused of lying about my race, and where my parents are from continues to be a question I am asked on a weekly basis. My dad loves me and I know he accepts me as his own.
I think the most important thing about being a parent is to give love, support, guidance, safety, and a sense of home to a child regardless of genetics. I do not have children at this point but I plan to adopt American children in the coming years. And yes, older children or adolescents. I believe all humans have the right to be loved and to have a home.

You're absolutely right but

You're absolutely right but read up on it and don't expect adoptions to be easy. You weren't in the exact situation referred to in this post. Lets see, there was a book I read that talked about being childless by choice and not childless by choice and it referenced older adoptions and over and over and over again the same story came out. It would be interesting to hear from people who adopt older children and see what they really have to say about it. I SUSPECT (not implying they aren't worthy of love) that they are mentally affected by all they've seen in foster care, poor parenting, etc. I know much of what I know from having worked on highly confidential CINA cases (Children in Need of Assistance), the photos alone would make you vomit but add in the story and you'll see where I"m coming from. But also working with women's health for YEARS and intense study of not only my own psychological make-up but that of others. I do not pull my knowledge "out of my ass" as has been assumed here. Take it for what it's worth.

No Kidding: Jillian Michaels is Not "Doing That" to Her Body |

Admiring the time and energy you put into your blog and detailed information you offer.
It's good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same old rehashed material.

Fantastic read! I've saved your site and I'm including your RSS feeds
to my Google account.

misunderstood

I suffer from pcos and its terrible, i never managed to have children but also didnt feel the need to rescue a child nor myself.
What i find strange is that Jillian brings it up now when under attack for what has probably been words taken out of context. But the whole of season 4 i think it was of the biggest Loser there was a girl in there that had pcos and they would sit and chat about it not once did she say or even nod in agreement as to even understand what she was going through. ??