We will adopt your baby’ is a dark meme for depressing times

On June 24, the Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion. The majority of Americans oppose the decision, but at least two people celebrated: Executives at the Global Center for Human Rights, an organization that vows to “uphold national laws that protect life, family, and freedom of religion,” posed in front of the Capitol with wide grins and a poster that read, “We will adopt your baby.” It’s a phrase with a long history in the anti-abortion movement. One person sharing the photo on Twitter recounted this same offer was yelled at him and his wife while they were walking into a clinic to have an abortion for a nonviable pregnancy. The photo is uncanny and the “offer” is performative—all elements that make for a perfect satire. “We will adopt your baby” quickly became a meme devoid of any of this context.

By June 25, the phrase was trending. Online posters flooded the zone with their own adoptive parent suggestions, enlisting characters like Wario and Waluigi, Hellraiser, the Beastie Boys, the trio of witches from the movie Hocus Pocus, and the burglars from Home Alone. Other meme-makers interpreted the setup with less joyful irony, using notorious abusers of children like Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. A programmer created a website that will generate a random stock photo of two people along with the phrase. Comedian Kylie Brakeman shared an impression of the “deranged people holding the signs,” cycling through the surprisingly many different ways to demand a stranger’s baby in just 34 seconds.

This meme was probably the only funny thing to come out of a major Supreme Court decision that will negatively impact millions of people across the country. The court’s three liberal justices warned that the recent decision would “jeopardize other constitutional rights.” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that foundational decisions like Obergefell v. Hodges—the landmark case that legalized gay marriage—should be reconsidered, and the ACLU said Roe’s dismantling puts interracial marriage at risk. Tech experts expressed concerns that period-tracking apps could be subpoenaed for customer data, which could then possibly be used to locate people seeking an illegal abortion. Meanwhile, Facebook is banning users who say they will mail abortion pills within minutes of their posting. “We will adopt your baby” might make for a good laugh in a post-Roe world, but it’s bound to be short-lived.