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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Does adopting make people high?

By Trace A. DeMeyer

I’ve been reading blogs by Christian folks who saved an orphan and plan to do it again.  Apparently using the words “Christian” and “Orphan” somehow makes this adoption business holy. “Doing God’s work,” some potential adoptive parents (PAPS) are blogging how they are so compassionate and defend it’s the Christian thing that they adopted babies - because these babies were orphans and in need and “born in another womb” decreed by God to be adopted by them.  Really.

A few PAPS were upset that no one understands how difficult it is for them as married couples to cope with infertility and no one feels sorry for them. So that makes it perfectly alright for them to go out and buy adopt that baby.  (Yup, it’s always a baby they want. They get angry if you argue with them.)  

So adopting makes them feel good. It doesn’t really matter a woman will have to sacrifice her baby for them. (Some birthmothers may also feel euphoric they gave a couple a precious baby. Maybe a few did it for cash.)  It’s a mind bender that it doesn’t enter their minds that the baby hurts and is devastated losing their mother (or father) and this wound lasts a lifetime…

There are thousands upon thousands of PAPS who want only a baby and defend their reasons why. Adoption agencies are more than happy to make their dreams come true.

I have a new theory. It’s a crazy world out there. People want to feel better so they’ll rescue someone, in this case a baby, and this “giving” back will create euphoria in their brain chemistry. I think the adoption industry has manipulated and used “adopting babies” as the wonder drug that clouds the mind from adoption reality. (They also steer clear of the adoptee perspective or Nancy Verrier’s Primal Wound in their adoption propaganda.)

So these righteous saviors of babies are on a mission to feel better about themselves. Adopting makes them high.

Read this:
Norm at normblog quotes a piece in the New York Sun about giving:
…the surprising conclusion is that giving affects our brain chemistry. For example, people who give often report feelings of euphoria, which psychologists have referred to as the "Helper's High." They believe that charitable activity induces endorphins that produce a very mild version of the sensations people get from drugs like morphine and heroin.
Norm offers a thought experiment: if a pill reproduced exactly the same brain effects, wouldn't people still give? I agree this suggests there's more to it.

Adding to that, and reflecting on my own thought processes related to giving, I think this is a good case illustrating the interactions between levels of causes in human behavior. Proximately, I often go through with a charitable act despite fretting that it will be boring, too much trouble, too costly, or otherwise unpleasant. But upon doing it, or soon afterwards, I feel a sort of euphoria I would associate with the endorphin effect described in the NY Sun article.

I will suppose that the euphoria and the associated brain chemistry register somehow in my mind -- in behaviorist terms, an association is reinforced between the feeling and the act of giving -- and this association comes into play the next time a choice for giving arises.  But even if so, the association is barely liminal, and I don't reflect along the lines of 'I'll get a nice endorphin rush if I go through with this.' Rather, I think along the lines of 'good people do things like this, and I want to be a good person despite the short-term fuss I will have to endure' -- and I think the euphoric brain chemistry is a bonus (and should be seen as a second-order cause) that keeps acts of giving on the list of thinkable, possible alternatives. The next time I am faced with a choice to give or not to, I will have inarticulate impulses pushing for it, and these impulses will be rooted in brain chemistry.


I do expect some people will disagree so please leave a comment... Trace


  1. " People want to feel better so they’ll rescue someone, in this case a baby, and this “giving” back will create euphoria in their brain chemistry."

    And in too many cases, they are 'rescuing' a child who has no need of being 'rescued' and is, in fact, not available for 'rescuing', like Veronica Brown and Baby Desirai and Baby Hope.

    1. You got it, Robin. And for some reason, these adopters are too high on themselves to see they are HARMING, not helping, children and their birth families. We still have to remain calm and sane - but we battle back with truth and end adoption-abduction.

  2. Agree and that euphoria is often very visible.I've been working on a post on 'baby lust', trying to work it out and this post of yours makes it fall into place.Thanks Trace!

  3. I *love* it when science backs up my crackpot notions.

    1. It's euphoric to come up with some of these notions!


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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.


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Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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