I love the work being done by #ErasingFamily. They are calling attention to how the judicial system perpetuates injustice by alienating parents from their children during divorce proceedings. This is truly a great mission. I hate our divorce system in the United States. It is a unilateral, involuntary system that drags legally innocent people into an often years-long emotional morass that costs them their children and their assets. It is a monster that needs to be destroyed. There can be no justice in unilateral, involuntary divorce.
So I love #ErasingFamily for calling attention to our corrupt divorce system.
But I also want to step back and consider how we got here. How did we get to the place where an phenomenon like #ErasingFamily even needs to exist?
I believe there are three cultural shifts that contributed to the #ErasingFamily movement.
First, it began in an unlikely place: when we reframed adoption. Adoption used to be a child welfare measure of final resort. And that is how most people still view it. But it has morphed into something more than that. Not always, but often enough, it is a system that finds children for people who want to be parents. The focus shifts from what the child needs to what the adults want.
By reframing adoption, we legitimized chopping down a child’s family tree for the sake of the desires of the new custodial parents. We told adoptees that they shouldn’t care about where they came from. We suppressed their birth records. We failed to address their root issues during therapy sessions. We ignored the social science that tells us their elevated risk for suicide. We failed to try and keep the family together.
So you can see how erasing family began.
Once it was socially acceptable, even lauded, to erase a child’s entire family to fulfill the wishes of adoptive parents, the logic follows like this:
- it is then acceptable to split the child’s family in half (divorce, two homes) due to the parent’s wishes.
- it is then acceptable to erase 1/2 of the child’s family (#ErasingFamily, anonymous sperm/egg donation) due to the parents’ wishes.
Second, we changed divorce laws. It used to be that courts sided with the innocent spouse. Now they side with the spouse who wants the marriage the least. Legal innocence or or legal guilt does not play a role in how divorce courts operate. This system favors the person who is most ruthless.
Third, we started to believe that adults are entitled to do pretty much whatever they want sexually. This frees them from any responsibility towards their child’s opposite sex parent, which means that they are entitled to ignore half of who the child is. Look at the photo above and compare it to this video. The logic plays out perfectly even though the sexual preference of the parents is different.
It used to be that sex and family went together as a package deal, but not anymore.
So this is the recipe for the #ErasingFamily brew in which we find ourselves today.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about how people can avoid being erased from their child’s life.