So the big “british” film this year is about an Irish mother forced by the evil catholic nuns to give her child up for adoption.
One ex catholic atheist at the NYPost said it was an anti catholic bashing film, which is the impression one gets from the British newspaper reviews. Fair enough. But I wonder how much of it is really hatred of those uppity Irish?
I worked in Africa with a lot of Brits, and ran into a lot of anti Irish prejudice from them. A lot of these Brits even had “double names” suggesting their upper class heritage, and here I was, a young woman from the inner city who not only was a Yank with an Irish surname but obviously not from the upper crust of American society either. Andrew Young once said the Brits invented racial prejudice, and he’s right: but in the UK, this included hatred of the Irish, who often were seen as inferior, drunken, lazy sots.
What is disturbing in all of this is not that the Brits like to bash Catholics and the Irish: is that the producers revel in the film’s prejudice. Imagine a film being “sold” with the ads proclaiming that a film released on Martin Luther King’s birthday was an anti black racist propaganda piece. Or how about a film bashing Israel being released on Yom Kippur (actually, with the far left’s embrace of the one sided anti Israel propaganda of the Arab press, I can imagine that one in the near future, alas).
One wonders how much of this is psychological projection: The British press has been piling on the church for not so recent scandals, while trying to look away at the problem in their own secular institutions, where the tradition of “fagging” sometimes meant more than allowing younger students collect “faggots” (bundles) of wood for older students in exchange for being tutored.
Reality check: Up to the time when the government decided to
reward subsidize unwed motherhood, few single women were able to keep their babies. But it was not just because of a rigid “religious” code, but from a practical standpoint: A single mom could simply not work at a job and support herself and raise a family, without help. Even today, single moms raising kids even in the affluent USA face many obstacles.
So in those “good old days”, mom found a willing husband to marry her and support the kid: usually the man was the father of the baby (the term “shot gun marriage” suggests that society pressured the men to do the right thing). That is how the moms of President Obama and President Clinton managed to carry and keep their unexpected pregnancies.
An alternative scenerio was adoption of the baby by family members, or having the girl visit a distant relative and come back later with a cover story about a dead husband, and then work while living with her extended family who cared for the child.
But this required the help of the extended families: again, the lives of the president’s moms show how the grandparents assisted their daughters to finish college when they lost their husbands (to desertion, in Obama’s case, and to death, in the case of President Clinton). So where are the parents of Philomena? Catholic snobs, or maybe abusive alcoholics, or maybe just too poor to be able to feed another mouth.
Ireland of the early 1950’s was a poor country: more similar to the US during the depression. Not only were there few jobs, but most of the jobs for single women without marketable skills were for low level poorly paying jobs that made caring for one’s child impossible. So the child grew up on the streets, or if he was lucky, got placed in an orphanage. Yes, I said orphanage. Few Americans realize many of these fatherless children back then were put into orphanages because mom could not care for them or feed them properly. And of course, the unsupervised child often became a street child, addicted to alcohol or the drug of choice on the streets.
This is what we see in most of the “Third world” today: millions of street kids.
Even in the USA today, where welfare helps these mothers, many of the children of young, uneducated single mothers end up being raised by relatives or in foster homes. Alas, we also see cases where “mom” loves them so much she refuses to release them to be adopted, so they bounce back and forth to mom from the more stable environment because too many social workers and activists behind laws making it difficult to remove a child from an abusive home think mother’s love trumps everything else, including the welfare of the child.
Yet for those living in affluence, the bashing of the Catholic church is more fun than pointing out such things.
But of course, “Philomena” didn’t have her child stolen: NYpost writer Kyle Smith pointed out: the mom gave up the child voluntarily.
Dench even says, in an introduction to the book the film is based on, that you, Philomena, were “forced” to give up your child. Dench has already forgotten her line in the film, “No one coerced me. I signed of my own free will.” The audience will forget she said that too, since the rest of “Philomena” creates the strong impression that you, Philomena, were coerced into giving your son up for adoption.
But never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.
Yet Catholics are not the only ones being attacked in the film: So are the adopted parents. You know: the ones who took him to school, who cared for him when he was sick, who did the daily hard job of parenting.
A lot is made that he ended up Republican (read “evil”) but since he was gay and died of HIV, I guess that makes up for it.
Yet he wasn’t aborted, he did grow up, and he didn’t die in jail, or of a heroin overdose.
Reality check: when one adopts from a foreign country where orphanages are short of funding, it is customary to give a gift to support the children left behind. (Note: I didn’t have to pay the fee, because I adopted “hard to place” children, but most of the families who adopted younger children paid a small fee).
It might surprise you who the fee is used for: it is used for the kids who aren’t adopted. In the past, as in the third world today, many children in orphanages have family members so cannot be adopted, but have to be fed and clothed and educated by someone.
But activists must cherry pick and criticize to get headlines, and child buying implies the child’s fate is not that of living in a loving home, but is going to become a slave to do housework for the adoptive parents.
One result of this “activism” some countries have shut down foreign adoptions. As a result, many children who might find loving adoptive homes in other lands are left to be raised in an institution that cares for their needs but cannot supply the daily love and security of belonging to a family.
One wonders if any of the
b—–d bashers behind the film have ever worked in the poverty ridden slums of post World War II Europe, or in the slums of the third world today. What would you do if faced by this problem? Not all children can be adopted and given homes: But at least some of us try to “light one candle”. And that includes organizations that arrange a small stipend for children and their families, day care to keep the children off the street, orphanages for the children who can be rescued, and (alas) jails for those who steal or become drug addicts. But for some children, adoption is the best solution: and if a local family cannot be found, some countries do allow placement with overseas families.
So why all this “adoption bashing”? The dirty little secret is that it eases the conscience of those who had abortions, or more likely, by those who coerce women to abort their unexpected child (usually the father, but sometimes the grandparents).
But never mind. Must be Politically correct and make adoption something shameful.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She has two children adopted from Colombia, and has among her extended family children who were adopted after being removed from an abusive birthmother, children adopted from overseas, and children adopted by family members.