The Shopping ListWhen I got involved with online dating, I also posted, for a time, on a dating advice site associated with one of the dating sites. *That* was an experience, for many reasons.
One of the more puzzling attitudes that I came across was the idea of the "preference", or set of standards that people had for a perfect partner. Now, I have preferences: I like tall guys, I like guys whose politics are on the liberal side of the spectrum (to match my "bleeding heart" politics, as one guy I dated put it), and I like guys that, if don't enjoy, will at least tolerate my occasional foray into movies relying on dark and/or juvenile humour that women my age shouldn't find funny.
However, I've dated outside all of these preferences and had great relationships. There's a group of people in society who have preferences from which they simply won't deviate: If he's not tall enough or doesn't have enough hair, or she's not thin enough or doesn't conform enough to female gender roles, or he/she doesn't make enough money or has something in their history, like depression, that causes discomfort (pick any one of them; these seem to be the main "deal-breakers", if there are going to be any), it's not going to work. End of story.
Inevitably, in a thread where this was being discussed, I or someone would come along and point out that peoples' bodies change as they get older, people get fired from jobs or move on to new ones where they make not make as much, people get sick...circumstances just *change*, and if that preference that you predicated the entire relationship upon the other person having was once there and suddenly isn't, what do you do? Building a relationship on something transitory just doesn't work.
But there was always a group of posters that didn't want to hear that.
You Can't Always Get What You Want
I was thinking about this the other day as I heard my sister talk about how a couple she knew was progressing through through the process of adopting a baby through the Children's Aid Society. It's a long process involving reference checks from the police, family and friends, home visits from an adoption worker, parenting classes, and sometimes fostering for the CAS before becoming adoptive parents. Rachel''s friends were finally getting to the top of the list for becoming adoptive parents.
I asked if the process went faster if you were willing to take, say, a child with Down's Syndrome. Rachel said that it definitely did, but that her friends had specificed that they didn't want a child with disabilities. Apparently most of the children looking for adoptive homes in her friends' area have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
On the one hand, I can understand not wanting to end up adopting a child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. FAS causes brain damage that not only leads to impulsiveness, diminished judgement, extreme mood swings, lack of self-discipline, and difficulty with social cues, but also causes physical damage to the eyes, ears, and teeth. A child will FAS will likely need interventions into adulthood to work and live independently, as symptoms often intensify with age. If a family is looking to adopt and doesn't feel that they can handle that, best to be honest and say it right from the beginning.
However, the other part of wants to say to these friends of my sister's, if I could: "You could get a perfectly healthy baby, take it home, have something happen somewhere down the line that causes a traumatic brain injury...and you've got a kid who's struggling with impulsiveness, diminished judgement, mood swings, lack of self-discipline, and difficulty with social cues."
"You might get a baby who ends up being on the autism spectrum...or mental health issues as a child or teen...or severe learning disorders..."
"Just because you said that you didn't want a baby with a disability...is no guarantee that you're not going to get one. I really, really hope you've thought about that."
And I'm sure that they have, because they're those kind of people.
But it still hurts a bit...most people who are adopting want a perfect baby. Few people consider that the perfect baby *for* them might not actually be perfect.
If I'd had to be adopted, and they'd known that I'd had a ticking time bomb in my head...would anyone have adopted me?
For more information on FAS: http://www.faslink.org/