Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Body vs Baby

Yeah, I'm gonna throw my 2 cents into the blogosphere about the Jillian Michael's debacle. Here are some other people who have had something to say about it: (and yes, I'm too lazy to do the linky thing right now, maybe later.)


I think there are really two seperate issues that are getting folks riled up so I want to address them seperately. The first is the irritation that the super-skinny Michael's, who makes her living turning flab into fab on The Biggest Loser, doesn't want get pregnant because she doesn't feel she can "put [her] body through that". I can understand some bloggers' reactions - especially those who feel mommyhood is one step away from godliness or those who have spent years trying to concieve. However, I  read somewhere that Jillian once suffered with an eating disorder and if that is the case, than I better understand her decision not to get pregnant.

I have a friend who had an eating disorder in her early twenties - it was devestating to witness and watching her recover from it has been wonderful. Now, 10 years later she's pregnant with her first child and I admit my second thought (the first being excitement) was fear. How was she going to handle gaining a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time? For my friend, it has not been easy. What about after the baby was born - would she push herself too soon and how would that impact her ability to mother this child? I know of another aquaintance whose eating disorder resurfaced when she was put on bedrest with her second pregnancy. After giving birth - her obsession with exercise not only affected her, but her newborn son because she was not consuming the appropriate calories to adequately breastfeed.

Eating disorders are not about pride/vainity - they are a mental health issue. I can understand that Jillian may not feel able to risk her mental health to be a parent - but just because she has had some mental health issues doesn't mean she can't be a fine parent! Many people make the decision not to have biological children for many reasons. I doubt that we would have a problem if Jillian had said she wasn't comfortable getting pregnant because she had a medical condition that would make pregnancy risky - but I have no doubt that people will treat her mental health issue as if it disqualifies her from parenthood.

The second part of this debate is Michael's use of the word "rescue" in regards to adoption. I agree that it is cringeworthy. I had the same initial response as most of you probably, "Geesh, I really wish people wouldn't further the stereotypes about 'poor babies' that need to be 'rescued' from their 'bad birth families' by their 'savior adoptive parents' in order to live happily ever after". *cringe*

But then I sighed and reminded myself that, until I was a social worker and saw the good and bad of adoption firsthand, I had very similar ideas. And the truth is that there are SOME children out there who do need help - although the word 'rescue' isn't one that I would ever use and adoption isn't the only form of support that I think we should be utilizing. But child who are currently living in overcrowded orphanages? Or those who have lost their parents to sickness and disease? Or the ones who have been abused and neglected? Well, they need families who can nuture and care for them - whatever you want to call that action.

I think Michael's statement really just highlights what the general belief in society is regarding adoption. In reality, MOST of society that has never had any true contact with the adoption world sees adoption as "rescuing" a child. I don't think its fair to fault her for not knowing something that most of the general public doesn't know either. And now, because we were quick to criticize, we may have missed our chance to really educate - both Michaels and the general public. I don't think its Michaels intended to become an adoption spokesperson - she was just talking about her plans for the future.

Educating the general public is OUR job - WE who work with those touched by adoption.

WE who love and/or live with adopted children and their families (birth and adoptive).

WE are the ones who are responsible for educating the general public about adoption.

WE are the ones that need to make sure that others know that adoption is not just about 'rescuing' anyone,

WE are the ones who know firsthand that adoption is about so much more than can ever be captured in a sound bite.


  1. I agree- Education is a much more productive response, especially from those of us that are intimate with adoption.

  2. I didn't even factor in eating disorder. My roomie in college had one and it was devastating to watch her deal with it. I believe I said it on my FB comment that I'm just glad that thought is being put into how and when to bring a child into a family. Since I deal with the consequences of those who gave no thought to getting pregnant or what they would do when things got tough. And if you REALLY wan to bash an ignorant person go back and talk Annie 2002. Totally idiot ;)

  3. As a retired SW who did adoption work and an adoptee, I would prefer to see adoption disappear altogether.Many kids could stay with parents with the right support and with less blackmail and selling techniques by immoral adoption agencies. Properly set up institutions where loving care is a priority for genuine orphans and kids who can't live with their parents, where they can keep their names and identities and possibly some supported contact with family would probably be something many who become adoptees would probably prefer..but who ever takes the views of adoptees into account?
    Whatshername has her right to her views and they reflect pretty well those of society.

  4. OK - had a brilliant comment and then blogger #FAIL

    it went something like this....

    I had not even factored in the eating disorder portion. Anyway, I knew someone once with an eating disorder and OMG it was difficult to watch her deal with it without the body issue destroyer that pregnancy is.

    I chose NOT to get pregnant a fourth time because my marriage would not have survived another hormonal upheaval and the post partum crap. I am not one of those who enjoyed being pregnant and was primarily motivated to adopt because I wanted kids, not because kids needed me.

    I choose to overlook the choice of words because, as you may know socialwrkr247 that adoption education classes are FULL of idiots who say LOTS of stupid things.

    I choose to applaud the fact that there are still people out there who know their own limitations and choose to honor themselves by staying within them. AND that people are deciding when and how to bring a child into the family and not just winging it when they "accidentally' have sex, I mean get pregnant. I have had to deal with the consequences of other peoples thoughtlessness in the matter and it ain't pretty for anyone.

    If blogger rejects this, I will kill it. Even though IT isn't even alive.

  5. I hadn't heard about Jilian Michaels' comments. I can't imagine that she's the only woman in the world with concerns about how her body will change as a result of being pregnant. At least she was honest about how she felt.


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