Need Some Comebacks
January 2, 2012 10:20 PM   Subscribe

Help me think of a few comebacks to say to people to knock them off their high horses when they try to guilt me into adopting both children and animals by making me feel inhumane, uncharitable, and selfish if I don't.

This topic will come up again between my boyfriend and I. I mentally shut down with guilt when this topic comes up, so I always fail to convert my feelings into thoughts about how unfair it is to guilt people into adopting children or animals.

Personally, I have adopted a dog from a shelter, but I also don't see a problem with someone shelling out money to buy a purebred. With children, I don't want to adopt unless I fail to biologically conceive children myself. I don't see anything wrong with that, but my boyfriend is just so condescending! Even about the purebred! I'm so frustrated I can't think of any counterarguments, so I'm turning to askmeta to help me come up with a few comebacks. Thanks.
posted by squirtle to Human Relations (67 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You're right. Guilting people into doing anything is wrong. Having that be the hallmark of your relationship with someone who is supposed to treat you with respect? That's even worse.

If you're at the point where you have to resort to comebacks rather than straightforward communication because your boyfriend is that condescending, the best comeback I can think of is to DTMF.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:24 PM on January 2, 2012 [17 favorites]

If people want to condescend to you about a desire consistent with the strongest biological drive present in the human body and mind (i.e. procreation), they're kind of idiots.
posted by namesarehard at 10:25 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Well, this question isn't about whether I should leave my boyfriend. I've seen people make the same arguments as him, including other mefites on this board on threads about infertility, and most of them say it in a holier-than-thou way.
posted by squirtle at 10:30 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Speaking only to the children issue: adoption is expensive, time-consuming, uncertain, and has a very great possibility of being at least a little unethical. Anyone who wants to guilt you into adopting instead of conceiving just knows shit-for-nothing about adoption, and can be dismissed as an ignorant cuss. (Not that adoption isn't a great way to build a family; it is, or can be. But it's not some blithe decision like choosing a re-usable grocery bag at the store instead of a plastic one.)
posted by KathrynT at 10:30 PM on January 2, 2012 [22 favorites]

Alright. If you're not inclined to leave your boyfriend permanently, may I suggest doing the following?

Boyfriend: Blah blah blah holier than thou remark.
You: Yeah, it makes me really uncomfortable when you start conversations like this. I'm gonna go [get some ice cream]. See you tomorrow!

And then leave the room and go do something else. Train him to see that he's being an ass.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:35 PM on January 2, 2012 [34 favorites]

Mod note: Please answer the question that has been asked; the OP is asking for comebacks, not if she should dump her boyfriend.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:35 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was a happy, go-lucky guy who really wanted and was ready for a kid (great job, stable home situation, married, etc.), and I ended up getting depression and being really miserable for almost a year. Especially in the first few weeks, every day was the worst day of my life. Imagine what it would be like if you were someone who didn't want the kid? I don't know how to reduce that to a comeback, though. "Having kids is really hard. Imagine how much harder if you didn't have total enthusiam!"
posted by wnissen at 10:36 PM on January 2, 2012

It seems like it would probably be more effective to politely refuse to discuss this issue with him until he can do so without being a jerk to you, instead of being a jerk back to him. Might open a dialogue and actually help the situation get better, instead of creating hurt feelings all around.
posted by palomar at 10:37 PM on January 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

If you really just want a comeback, though, take what wnissen said and tweak it a bit. "Why would you want to take a child/animal that wasn't wanted in their original home, and force that child/animal into another home where they are not 100% wanted and desired? Isn't that rather cruel?"

Change noun and verb as needed.
posted by palomar at 10:41 PM on January 2, 2012

Response by poster: He thinks I'm selfish for not wanting a child that is not biologically mine.
posted by squirtle at 10:44 PM on January 2, 2012

"If shaming and insulting me is your strongest argument, you'll have to do better. Making me feel guilty will never inspire me to change my viewpoint."

Repeat as necessary.
posted by quince at 10:46 PM on January 2, 2012 [34 favorites]

How many children has your boyfriend adopted?

If it's none, then he's just as selfish as he's trying to make you out to be. And you can and should tell him so, every single time he says you're selfish for not wanting to adopt. He's allowed to call you selfish just as soon as he introduces you to his adopted child.
posted by palomar at 10:48 PM on January 2, 2012 [7 favorites]

"You first."
posted by ead at 10:48 PM on January 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

"I guess I'm just inhumane, uncharitable, and selfish, then. Good thing I'm pretty. What's for dinner?"
posted by mochapickle at 10:48 PM on January 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

"I don't want to adopt a dog but you go ahead."

This only works if you are not living together.

(Also: DTMFA.)
posted by LarryC at 10:51 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could also just call him out on his savior complex.
posted by quince at 10:55 PM on January 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

I also think adoption can be a wonderful thing and would perhaps like to have a chance at it myself one day. Having said that, in my country there is a LONG wait to adopt (often long lists of people who *can't* have children) and international adoption raises some questions. I also wonder about children who have grown up dropped into a new culture and what the longer term ramifications are for their home countries' if kids are effectively bought by people in countries with higher standards of living and turned into superconsumers? How does that bring any kind of change about for these places? Isn't adoption kind of selfish? Should he just send aid/education and leave the children where they are? No, more aid than that.... you can still afford lattes.

Is that rant ill-thought-out and unresearched? Yes, but how far does he want to take the argument?
posted by Trivia Newton John at 10:55 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Sure honey! What quantity of which nationalities? I want to make sure we do this right!"
posted by Rat Spatula at 10:56 PM on January 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

"You can get your Angelina Jolie fix somewhere else, baby."
posted by Kerasia at 10:59 PM on January 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

From what I my friends tell me, adoption can take years* because so many more people want to adopt than there are children to be adopted. How selfish would it be to adopt when you don't have infertility problems and don't need to?

* for example, they are being told they would have to wait six years to adopt a girl from china.

Plus, you would run the risk of adopting a child who was kidnapped do they could be adopted.

Plus, you have no control over the chemical/environmental exposure the adoptive child faced in utero, so you could be taking on much more than you bargained for.

But I agree with others that you should not even engage in a conversation like that. Who cares if you are selfish?
posted by semacd at 11:07 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Because that's what you want and ultimately it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things which you choose. The world ain't running out of dogs nor babies. Besides, what's the rush? "You might want to jump in smile-first, Mister, but there are actual people involved and I wouldn't want to do something like that half-assed."
posted by rhizome at 11:08 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

If adoption were truly unselfish, the people who adopt would instead give the money and energy they will eventually spend on bringing up that child directly to the living family of the child, and support them to raise it instead. This would be better for everyone. The main reason they don't, is because THEY WANT to bring home and raise a child. It's selfish. Just like any other child-rearing practice.

Which is fine. Really. I'm not against having children. (And am a happy adoptee myself). But don't pretend it's about selflessness.
posted by lollusc at 11:11 PM on January 2, 2012 [32 favorites]

This guy's a vegan--doesn't eat eggs taken from chickens or milk taken from cows in inhumane pens? Wears no leather? Doesn't use pharmaceuticals made by companies that test on animals? Checks all the products he buys to ensure there's no inhumane labor practice behind them? Donates all his excess funds to orphanages?

If not, say, "Most of us draw an altruism / charitableness line somewhere. I admit I draw mine where the vast majority of humanity does as well. It may be inhumane, but it's still perfectly human."
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:11 PM on January 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

"Yes, wanting children of my own is selfish. I guess I should just steal them from impoverished poor people, like Madonna does. Now that's noble."

[Note: I am fulfilling the asker's request for snarky put-downs, not suggesting this is an accurate portrait of people who adopt, or adopted children, for that matter.]
posted by rodgerd at 11:13 PM on January 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Wow. This isn't exactly a relationship problem guys. I'd just tell him it's a moot point unless he wants to have kids with you right now. And it's not like you HATE ORPHANS!!!!! You want to experience being pregnant and giving birth to a child. That's not unreasonable, tell him that if he can't respect your opinions and desires like you respect his, then you two need to avoid the subject. (This could be a long term problem)

As for adopting shelter dogs instead of purebred/puppy-mill? Well, I agree with you less there, but again, unless you're shopping for dogs, then it's moot, no? When does this come up? Can you avoid those situations?
posted by Garm at 11:13 PM on January 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Hey, you're right! Why find a dog that's the right breed for our house and exercise patterns from a known-responsible breeder. Let's just grab one at random that we can't give enough exercise to, so we can bring out its dominance and aggression problems earlier! I'll even take you to the hospital when it bites your face off! But I'll want you to indemnify me if it eats the neighbour's cat."
posted by rodgerd at 11:24 PM on January 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

I mean, to further illustrate the selfishness involved, ask him how he'd choose a dog if he decided to adopt one from the shelter. Would he look for the meanest, most ferociously growling dog and take it home to rehabilitate it? Or would he choose the sweetest dog, who was trying to jump all over him and lick him through the pen?

I know a couple of people who have adopted pets with brain damage and other disabilities, and it's really wonderful that they have the time and dedication to give them homes. But not everyone does, and most people are selfishly looking for the most companionable pet. With adoption, too, it can be a wonderful thing, but it involves another whole set of ethics-- it's not at all a no-brainer.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:24 PM on January 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think I'd be way too pissed for a putdown if my boyfriend was giving me that kind of shit about something so personal.

There are two ways to respond...I don't know that "snarky putdown" is anything but an invitation to a fight, which if that's what you want, there is nothing simpler than "Fuck you, I don't have to justify my life-changing decisions by your random purity standards." For the pet question, I think that's the only response.

If you'd rather not do that and want to talk about kids, then sit this person down with some facts from an adoption agency, stories from adoptive parents, and have a long heartfelt discussion about a) your relationship in regards to future parenting options and/or b)your actual fears/misgivings when it comes to adoption of a child.

If he wants to have a serious ethical discussion about the best way to adopt a child or a pet, he needs to drop the asshole part and just fucking talk to you like a respectful human being.
posted by emjaybee at 11:28 PM on January 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

No one should be trying to "guilt" you into anything. It is a below-the-belt tactic. Especially if it is over a very large and non refundable/returnable life decision.

And that is exactly what I would tell him:

"You are more then welcome to disagree with me. But attempting to guilt me into making a decision that I do not feel comfortable with (that is not compatible with my life goals) shows a lack of substance in your argument and is incredibly disrespectful. Just for future reference, if you have to resort to guilt to get someone to agree with you, that usually means that your argument is not logically sound".
posted by Shouraku at 11:33 PM on January 2, 2012 [12 favorites]

Giving you specific comebacks is like giving you a sabre when you have no idea how to fence. What will happen is that he'll come back at you from a different angle, and suddenly your sabre is ineffective. A much better approach is to analyze the situation, and the understand the underlying issues - at that point, you just talk, no need for verbal fencing and word-games. Honest communication is what's important in a relationship, not who has the wittiest comebacks.

You and your decisions deserve respect and understanding from your closest partner. If he's incapable of providing either, then explore that - and make your decisions based on that.

So what I'd recommend, is that you clearly think through the issues, on your own, away from him. Once you have a firm grasp of it, you'll be able to answer him without having to resort to verbal tricks.

Speaking just for myself - if I have a disagreement with my wife, I cannot imagine trying to think up repartees. I want to understand her position. And I would do my best to explain mine. And then find our common ground. It's about trust, about ultimate goals and intent, and about love.
posted by VikingSword at 11:33 PM on January 2, 2012 [30 favorites]

"We are in no position to adopt a dog or a cat, much less an actual infant human being. What are you *really* trying to tell me?"
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 PM on January 2, 2012 [11 favorites]

well that's your opinion....
posted by fshgrl at 11:37 PM on January 2, 2012

"Oh honey, I feel so yucky about thinking I did not want to adopt. You are so right honey, how could I be so callous? Procreating is cleary wrong and, starting today, I will not have sex until after our adopted child is finished college, including graduate school, post doctorate work and finds a cure for a major disease. Thanks honey. What would I do without your clarity and insight? Think of all the great, sexless, times we are going to have together while kiddie grows up. You are such a great man. I wuv u shnookums....forever."

For maximum effect, say this right after a little foreplay, then go to bed. He probably will be singing a different tune in the AM.
posted by lampshade at 11:39 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you want comebacks, try this:

"Do you think you are better than me?"

It will stop them dead in their tracks, and their response should enable you to either confront them with your views or guide the conversation away.

Another response might be to ask them why they don't give every spare cent they have in disposable income to a local homeless shelter. If they are getting on your case about not doing the most humane thing by adopting or whatnot, make them well aware of the fact that they could be doing much more to help the world, but they choose not to, and you don't look down upon them for it.
posted by markblasco at 11:39 PM on January 2, 2012 [10 favorites]

I agree with Monsieur Caution. Everyone draws their line of altruism differently. You have every right to draw it where you see fit. If you want snarky replies, maybe just things like, "Yeah? Well, YOU should buy recycled toilet paper!" and "I'm not the one who insists on driving his gas guzzling vintage Mustang because it's cool."

People who do this need to be reminded that they aren't perfect either. I'm not one to quote the Bible, but this is pretty appropriate: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Unless your boyfriend (and anyone else) is Ghandi, he's being an asshole. Come to think of it, that's another good snarky response:
"Wow honey, you're so attractive when you're being a self-righteous asshole."

As to your specific examples:
Children: When it comes to adoption, men don't have to give up an experience in order to adopt. Women do. GROWING A HUMAN inside you is a pretty monumental experience. If he were in possession of a uterus then he would be allowed to decide for himself whether or not it was an experience that meant a lot to him. But he isn't. Until that's something he'd have to give up personally, he can keep his judgements to himself. Much like abortion.

Dogs: Different breeds have different temperments, exercise requirements, health issues and allergy levels. It's only kind to adopt a dog you can treat well and provide properly for. If you have a tiny apartment, live alone, and are home only for a few hours at night, an Australian Shepherd, for example, would be MISERABLE in your home. You can make guesses as to the background of those cute puppies at the shelter, but it's a risk. You're risking an innocent dog's health and happiness.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 11:41 PM on January 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

Serious answers for people who's business this might be:

On adopting a dog:
"When I am ready to take on the responsibility to adopt a dog I will research breeds and decide which is best for my lifestyle. If I decide that an older dog is best for me then I'll look into shelters and rescues. If a puppy is best then I'll probably go to a breeder since it's hard to find a puppy at a shelter."

On adopting a child:
"I'm nowhere near ready to have a child. If and when I decide to reproduce I will look at all my options. I want to try having a biological child before I consider adoption. I want the experience of being pregnant and carrying my own child. If that doesn't work out for some reason then adoption is an alternative I'm willing to look into."

Short answer for people who should mind their own business:

"When it comes time for me to adopt a pet/ have a child I will seriously consider all my options. It's not that time now so let's talk about something else."
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:48 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

OP, can't help but wonder if he doesn't want kids and you do, or at least you want them sooner than he does. Because your reaction: I mentally shut down with guilt when this topic comes up Seems like one that one would seek to elicit in a discussion that one doesn't really want to have. So here are two suggestions:

- Relationship suggestion: Have a discussion on kids, when you both want to have them, and make it clear that you want biological kids - this isn't an 'argument', its how you feel and its about him listening and understanding, not arguing with you. In fact, every time he argues, you can stop the discussion and call him out on the 'not-listening' and that the focus is to plan your future together.

- Snappy comeback suggestion:

Say that you want kids in the next year, and there are no adoptees that you could realistically get in that time frame.

Ask him if he has a spare 20 or 30k, because adopting is not cheap (go figure!).

Ask him when he'll be ready to get married, because married couples have an easier time adopting
posted by zia at 11:53 PM on January 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

"If you are so eager to adopt a child how about I get pregnant with somebody else, and then you can adopt the kid and we will raise it together?"

Personally, though, I don't know if snappy comebacks are what you need here. Of course, I don't think a person has to justify not wanting to adopt a child. As others have mentioned, it's not like going to and picking out a blender, it's a huge and involved and expensive process that can take years, particularly if you want an infant. Unless he is eager to adopt older children, or children who are severely disabled. Regardless, I think you will have better luck if you do some research on adoption controversies or horror stories and then pitch facts at him (wittily, sure) rather than putdowns. (For example, there are people who consider international adoption a form of forced migration.)

I got nothing on the dogs.
posted by looli at 12:03 AM on January 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Mod note: Some comments deleted. Once again, the guidelines of Ask Metafilter are that if you are answering, you need to be answering the question. Arguments and discussion of why the OP/boyfriend are right/wrong aren't answering the question.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:51 AM on January 3, 2012

Do any of these people actually want you to personally adopt an animal or child, though? I can't see that it would really be the case that they would actually be literally pressuring you into doing so. Unless they are and then that's a whole other question that would need answering.

[It is] unfair ... to guilt people into adopting children or animals.

Is the only thing you ever have to say re: your own feelings on the matter.

Ok then.

Will just get them to shut the hell up.
posted by mleigh at 1:04 AM on January 3, 2012

"I think it's pretty selfish and inhumane to expect to get love and affection from someone when you continually dismiss their feelings and point of view as morally and intellectually inferior."
posted by argonauta at 1:26 AM on January 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

I personally, would say "Go fuck yourself, you condescending douche".

On the snarkier side, re children:

1. "Oh, do forgive me for having my own thoughts, feelings, desires and opinions".

2. "You clearly have no idea how difficult and complex adoption can be, and how problematic and heartbreaking it can be. Before you get on your high horse, make sure it actually has legs."

3. "You know what *always* works out great? People adopting children when they don't want to adopt children! Because what every abandoned child needs is a parent that secretly resents them."

4. "You are being a manipulative, insensitive asshole. Please stop."

5. "By your reasoning you should also sell all your worldly possessions, donate the money to charity, spend the rest of your life working in a soup kitchen. It's immoral to sit here eating dinner while there are other people out there who are hungry. Yet here you are. That's....that's just *immoral* - the pursuit of your own objectives and personal happiness."

6. "Indeed".

I have nothing on dogs, because purebred puppymills are often bad, and purebreds are often very inbred leading to health problems. The situations are not precisely analogous.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:21 AM on January 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

"We've had this conversation before, and it always ends up the same way. Unless we can discuss this in a respectful manner, I have nothing further to add."
posted by SillyShepherd at 2:49 AM on January 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

"What, and miss out on raising my clone army?"
"Have you gone through being certified to raise foster kids yet?"
"Do you know anyone who has adopted an older child or a child with disabilities?"
"Are you a Big Brother yet?"
"You're so cute with your hypotheticals, I'd love to see you take some action."
"Do you know anything about the adoption process. At all?"

You situation sounds yucky. I hope things get better.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:44 AM on January 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

"Which is the more selfish option? Not adopting a child, or adopting a child just because I personally want to feel better about myself?"
posted by Fen at 3:48 AM on January 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

"What's the view like from up there on the moral high ground?" This works great when the person isn't actually ON the moral high ground at all.

"And how many X have you adopted/bought/whatever?"

"I'll adopt a [whatever] when you clean it, feed it, walk it, take it to the vet, etc".

"Perhaps you could tell me some interesting stories about what it's like to [own a whatever]?" This works best if the person doesn't actually own a [whatever].
posted by Solomon at 4:55 AM on January 3, 2012

He thinks I'm selfish for not wanting a child that is not biologically mine.

The desire to parent is inherently selfish. Unless you are a member of a cult, nobody has children for the greater good. His argument is flawed in its premise. Additionally, you can point out that your boyfriend's rescue narrative is deeply problematic for the putative child being discussed, and that equating child adoption with pet adoption even by using the same moral math makes his a fantastically poor candidate to adopt a child - a process about which he is clearly spectacularly uneducated.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:00 AM on January 3, 2012 [10 favorites]

Given the waiting lists for adoption I suspect that there is actually no under-supply of would-be adoptive parents. So exactly why is adopting a child the moral high ground?

If there is a shortage of "adoptable children" then you would not be 'saving a child' but instead perhaps preventing someone unable to conceive from finding an adoptable child.
posted by mary8nne at 5:21 AM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

This sounds like part of the problem is that the discussion is at a very theoretical level for dude - not only is he young, but he will never himself carry a child, is statistically likely to be less involved than his female partner and (I assume) is not pressuring you to start a family right that minute. So it's kind of a sophomoric discussion anyway, not that I don't remember having strong theoretical views on the subject when I was quite young myself. You're probably going to have to negotiate kind of dumb theoretical discussions from your peers for a while yet. Some points I would raise:

1. If I were feeling really not like talking about it, I'd lay out the "it's a personal decision that I want to make based on my situation when I'm ready. I don't think it's useful to talk about it in the abstract" and repeat as needed.

2. When dealing with peers, you might want to lay some education on them - all those excellent points about the difficulty and potential unethicalness of adoption raised in this thread. I remember getting schooled by peers a couple of times to very good effect. Your peers may resist this a bit - I did - but it doesn't mean that they won't remember.

3. If someone actually won't leave you alone after you've made yourself clear, just say that you don't want to talk about it any more and either aggressively change the subject (which works with the socially clueless) or walk away (which works with the REALLY socially clueless and the jerks).

It's funny - I absolutely do believe in adopting strays and sheltered pets as opposed to buying from breeders, but I had this whole series of really awful fights with someone who kept pressuring me to 1. take in more animals than I wanted; 2. take them in before I was ready and 3. adopt animals with serious health concerns when I'd never even had my own pet before. And she didn't even have specific animals in mind, which would have actually been understandable - this was all "you should go out and do this right now because it is right!" It was kind of upsetting. I finally had to tell her that I would make my own decisions, thx very much. But our friendship never really recovered.
posted by Frowner at 5:24 AM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

I doubt that this is really about adoption of either dogs or children. This is a more fundamental personality flaw. Your boyfriend just has a huge holier-than-thou streak, and this is how he's currently expressing it with you.

If he decides he wants to have a biological child one day, or if he falls in love with a particular breed of dog, he'll drop these false ethical concerns like hot potatoes. Then, to fill the void, he'll start cooking up more arbitrary judgements against other people's behaviour. And they'll still mysteriously fall in line with what he's already doing, and still won't involve a lot of self-insight as to his own moral blind spots.

I wish I had some comebacks to offer you, but I'd probably just tell him, "This subject is off-limits for the indefinite future. Bring it up, and I'm going home/hanging up/signing off/etc." If he abides by those terms, the ethical black-and-whiteness is just going to emerge somewhere else. He may start keeping an eye out for new ways to criticize your moral failings. But maybe you can buy some peace on these topics, at least.

He probably just has a lot of growing up to do, but that doesn't make his bullshit any more tolerable.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:34 AM on January 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

"That's a great idea! Let's adopt a few rescue pit bulls and an older child with severe behavioral disabilities!"
posted by box at 5:45 AM on January 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

"Adoption is just an (un)conscious effort on the part of Americans to assimilate all the other cultures in the world into being American. It's imperialism at its very worst. And nowadays, adoption means getting a child who has likely been kidnapped from a poor woman in another country. The days when we could adopt a (local, presumably white) child from a single mother (who was probably pressured into giving up her kid) are over. That's so 1950s. Get with the program."

"Even if I adopted all the dogs in the world, it still wouldn't solve the problem of overpopulation and suffering. How do you propose to solve it?"
posted by Melismata at 6:06 AM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Wow, what an ignorant thing to say! I won't discuss this with you until you educate yourself on adoption, which you clearly know nothing about."
posted by catatethebird at 6:07 AM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

"Since we're not married, this discussion is moot."
posted by BostonTerrier at 6:19 AM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

From what I my friends tell me, adoption can take years* because so many more people want to adopt than there are children to be adopted. How selfish would it be to adopt when you don't have infertility problems and don't need to?

* for example, they are being told they would have to wait six years to adopt a girl from china.
Please don't use this in any comeback you come up with. Adoption can take years, but not because there are a shortage of children to be adopted. More than likely, these friends are referring to a shortage of "desirable" children, i.e., white or asian children under one year of age. Beyond those constraints, there's an incredible number of children waiting to be adopted who never will be.

I don't see why wanting a child that is biologically yours is any more or less selfish than adopting a child. Tell your boyfriend to (lovingly) buzz off.
posted by BurntHombre at 7:42 AM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

People are alighting on the boyfriend dynamic because it's one of those serious topics that is fairly important to be on the same page about if you're thinking of building a life commitment together. So, that's not what you're doing. This is just a guy who likes to push your buttons on this issue.

Husband and I talked about adopting. I was adopted and also petrified of being pregnant. I always thought that if I decided to have kids, I'd adopt. However, when we finally got to that stage, I didn't want to adopt first off. I decided to go for the time-tested DIY method of human making. For one, I didn't think all my hopes and fears about child rearing and parenting would play well to an adoption agency. If we had tried for a long time without luck, I think I would have put all that aside for adoption. But what about the truly needy kids out there - the disabled, the mistreated older children who have problems but are desperate for a loving family? What about those kids? It's sticky, adoption.

So, next time you talk about this with him, I'd probe him on what he imagines it would be like to adopt. What kid does he picture himself with? Is it the kid with medical issues who was born to a drug addicted mother in a foreign country and is now 8 years old? Who needs love but also therapy and may be angry and act out?

But no matter his thoughts and answers, you can say, "I love how in this hypothetical situation, you are an amazing altruistic person and I have a heart of coal. Until such a situation presents itself, I don't really know how I might act but I'm not interested in discussing it further. You can decide how blackhearted I am based on my actions today." And then don't discuss this with him anymore.
posted by amanda at 7:47 AM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Once: "It makes me shut down with guilt when you talk with such condescension about my most personal dreams. Please don't."
posted by endless_forms at 7:59 AM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

I like to combat bullshit with facts. Your preference for a biological child is typical and biologically based. We are evolutionarily programmed to prefer our genetic relatives. There's data that suggests that adopted children are more likely to be abused. That includes a child who is not known to be biologically unrelated (fathered by someone else, with the parenting father unaware). The latter case is not well-documented. Sorry, I don't have citations. In my experience, adopted parents are wonderful and loving, please don't take this as criticism of adoption.

There are children awaiting foster homes, and many of them are in real need. There are children available for adoption, but they may have disabilities or are older and often troubled. There are not healthy infants in need of adoption in the US. The adoption process is lengthy; families must be investigated, and then await placement. In the case of foreign adoption, there's been corruption and problems that are limiting options. The country of origin may require quite a bit of processing time for adoptions.

With animals, pedigreed pets may be poorly bred, bred in puppy mills, and may come with health problems and/or have been raised in horrid conditions. Please think twice about adopting a purebred puppy. There was a lengthy article in the New Yorker about AKC breeding quite a while ago, and it didn't paint a pretty picture. For the health and welfare of your pet, purebred animals should be thoroughly investigated. With pets, there is a huge surplus of wonderful pets who are killed because homes are not available. There are purebred and part-breed dogs available for adoption, and I encourage you to adopt a dog and save its life.

Meanwhile, your bf seems quite focused on this issue. A possible response is "This is obviously important to you; tell me about it." or "It feels like you want me to feel guilty, and I'd like to understand why."
posted by theora55 at 8:37 AM on January 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

I don't know anything about the adoption issue, but I am strongly in favor of buying a purebred dog from a reputable breeder -- at this point, every animal I've owned has been an adult rescue. 75% of them have had *severe* physical and/or behavioral problems, and I'm frankly tired of the sheer effort that goes into rehabilitating companion animals that have been damaged by bad people. So I might tell my boyfriend "Yes, darling. Let's rescue animals with mystery genetics and dodgy histories from the pound, instead of picking out a health-guaranteed animal from a reputable and experienced breeder. I think it's so noble that you're willing to take such a huge gamble with an animal's happiness and survival, as well as with our quality of life. I also hope that you have at least $5,000 set aside to cover the dog's health problems, Prozac prescription, and replacement furniture for when our house is destroyed."
posted by kataclysm at 9:21 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Civil: "When you say that, I feel like you're being condescending. It's clear we differ in our views on adoption, and I respect your opinion. I would appreciate it if you would respect mine."

Snarky: "You don't need to concern yourself with how I use my uterus."

Not sure if you are talking marriage/kids/etc., but that might help us in answering your question. Is this a theoretical discussion, or are you planning a future together? Or is this his way of (clumsily) broaching a discussion about your future together?

I sympathize with your frustration.
posted by dovesandstones at 9:41 AM on January 3, 2012

My parents were foster parents for a number of years and eventually adoptive parents to a small family of (related) children. They had been married for 35-odd years by that point, successfully raised two biological children of their own and helped a number of foster families in many ways. It was a hard, hard thing and caused problems within and beyond us. BurntHombre, amanda and theora55 have it - the children that are likely to be most readily "available", after a long process of assessment and questioning and examining both of you and your relationship through an absolutely and necessarily unforgiving microscope are not going to be tiny infants - they are going to be children who have grown up and been physically and mentally conditioned by some terrible, bastardised version of family / parent / home life situation long before they come to a more loving and secure environment. This will have its inevitable repercussions in the way that child reacts to the new living situation they find themselves in, not least of which will be to push back very, very hard indeed against their new parents, until that child knows they won't be let down again. And sometimes, with all the love and best will in the world, they will push past even that.

Ask your boyfriend whether he is prepared to have every area of his life scrutinised, his strength of character and ability to show empathy and set loving boundaries tested by strangers and through the legal system, and then whether he will be able to get up at 3am to help a child who has been conditioned to be so scared of the dark that they cannot bring themself to get out of bed to use the toilet to clean themselves off, change the bedding and settle them down again - time after time after time, calmly and with love and patience and not a hint of disgust or anger or frustration? That's the sort of thing he is blithely waving around at you. I would ask him if he really knows what's likely to be involved. If he really understands the commitment and heartbreak and potential for failure that the process involves in this real world, not the Madonna / Brangelina one, then good for him. But that's still his choice, not yours. I think you are very wise to be wary of being put into a situation like this that you are not 100% convinced you can support.

Children in this situation need an adoptive parent / adoptive parents who do not spend their time making other people feel guilty and ashamed of being honest. That is probably the opposite to the sort of skills actually needed to make the process work to the benefit of the children involved.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 9:44 AM on January 3, 2012 [10 favorites]

I think what will really help you is not feeling guilty in the first place. Don't worry so much about what to say to your boyfriend or others. Say this to yourself: Bringing a person or animal into your life and into your home is a huge and very personal decision. No matter what you personally decide, you 're not being selfish.

You said it yourself: you wouldn't judge someone for buying a purebred pet even though you adopted yours. Why judge yourself for wanting a biological child and not thinking adoption is right for you?
posted by chickenmagazine at 9:55 AM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Martha My Dear Prudence brings up an excellent point. With that in mind, maybe you could say:

"Using guilt to try and force people to do what you want is exactly the type of red flag that adoption agencies look for when deciding to disqualify perspective parents".

posted by Shouraku at 9:56 AM on January 3, 2012 [11 favorites]

To everyone except your boyfriend, the retort should be: "That's a very personal question and I don't think it's any of your business. Now, can we please change the subject?"

For the boyfriend, "Sweetheart, we've had this conversation before and you know that all it accomplishes is making me uncomfortable. I don't try to impose my views on you, and I will appreciate it if you don't try to impose yours on me. Now, darling, can we please change the subject?"

It should me noted that any statement addressed to a significant other should begin with the endearment "sweetheart," unless you are making a direcct accusation, in which case you should use the most formal version of his Christian name:

"Robert, old Mrs. Hutchins has been missing for a week now, and earlier today I found what looks like a recently-dug grave in the cellar. Do you have anything you think you should tell me before I call the police?"
posted by La Cieca at 10:33 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can't speak about adoption, but I can speak about animals. My older dog, Max, was an abused and then abandoned dog I adopted from the kennel 9 years ago.

Max's predecessor was "rescued" from an acquaintance who didn't want him anymore because he was old and expensive. So I took him and his bevy of health problems (and then abandonment issues) on. And my cat is from a former coworker who was going to dump him at a shelter because he outgrew the cute kitten phase the children "became allergic" to the cat. So you can imagine how I reacted, after a decade and a half of caring for others' discarded adult pets, when people started guilting me for purchasing a puppy from a local home-based breeder after we were twice turned down for rescue puppy ownership because we rent and work outside the home. We wanted a puppy so that Max could have a buddy who was emotionally healthy and baggage-free. (Now they are brothers and very best friends.)

Adopting an adult dog is not a karmic "notch-on-the-belt." It can be a commitment far harder and more expensive than most people think it is. Your dog can be fine. Or he can be a mess. Or he can be fine at the shelter and a hot mess when you bring him home. (Hi, Max!) And you just can't kneel down and say, "Hey, buddy, I promise that will never hit you with this broom, okay? I just want to sweep the floor so please quit baring your teeth and raising your hackles at me." It took months and months for Max to learn that. Not every human, even the best dog-lovers, can deal with that.

It's uncharitable to bully others into doing charitable acts. And it's selfish to adopt an animal from a shelter to make you feel better about yourself.
posted by ladygypsy at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

Your boyfriend is just pushing your buttons. Nowhere in your question did you say he wants to adopt a child, even theoretically. He's just being a sanctimonius dick about totally theoretical situations.

"You're being a sanctimonious dick about a totally theoretical situation. If you're so excited about adoption let's see you take in a foster kid or two. Come on, I'll fill out the paperwork with you, let's go." He'll shut up fast.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:07 PM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

"If I wanted something discarded, I'd take in your (friend/brother/useless male acquaintance of your guy)."

"You know what's cool about purebreds? Hitler." (That one really depends on your humor with your boyfriend, but I have used similar to amusing effect.)

"I already took you in. How many more strays are necessary?"

"I didn't realize you were so ready to be a daddy. Ok, let's go." (use only when horny).

"You want responsibility? (Take out the garbage/Do the dishes)/Vacuum the living room/etc.)"

"You know what rhymes with sanctimony? Alimony." (use only when married)
posted by Errant at 11:52 PM on January 4, 2012

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