Pre-birth matching of expecting mothers and prospective adoptive parents is pretty commonplace in domestic infant adoption these days. From an outsider’s perspective, it makes sense if 2 parties are entering into an open adoption agreement that they should get to know each other before committing to a lifelong relationship. It would also make sense that a mother considering adoption would want to know a little bit about the people who will be raising her child. Unfortunately, this practice is ripe for unethical behavior and manipulation.
I disagree with pre-birth matching for a few reasons. First and foremost, a mother can not and should not be forced to make a final decision about adoption until well after the birth of her child. If that decision can not be made prior to birth, it makes no sense for prospective adoptive parents to put themselves in the position to be heartbroken when a woman decides to parent. It should be assumed that a mother is going to raise their child until she can sign her consent for adoption without undue stress. In most circles, the opposite is assumed. If a woman contacts an agency while pregnant the assumption is that she will be giving her baby up for adoption after the child is born. If a woman can not make the decision regarding adoption until after her baby is born, why bother with pre-birth matching?
Are Adoptive Parents Engaging In Adoption Coercion?
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt in life. With regards to pre-birth matching, I try to believe that prospective adoptive parents engage in this practice because it is what the agencies suggest. At this point, it simply is just how it is done in the U.S. so who are they to argue? I do believe that the industry as a whole has a different agenda when it comes to pre-birth matching. The agencies and lawyers know that a mother is more likely to follow through with an adoption if she has a relationship with the adopters but I have tried to believe that hopeful adoptive parents do not engage in the practice because of that. And then I read something like this, taken from a post on the Adoptive Families Circle forums:
“With my first I waited until after court and had more of a family party.
My last 2 were piratically twins (3.5 months apart) and the expectant/birth mothers were good friends.
I was having a huge shower and knew they both wanted to come, so I invited them prior to birth.
I am glad I did because it really got them excited to see all my friends and family and all the love and support and gifts. They loved seeing all their child would have, the nursery and also seeing all the friends and family, etc.
It would have been really hard had they not actually placed, but I am glad it worked out. Maybe that influenced it, I believe the more time you spend together and share, the more likely they do place. You just never know. I thought if they did not place I would give them the gender specific stuff and keep the other stuff.
On a side note I knew I would get a ton of baby stuff, so I had a hospital bag/recovery basket for them so they would have something to open as well with robe, slippers, and all the stuff my sister said you need after you deliver, etc.
Maybe it is to emotional to do for a first time adoption, but probably fun for a second one.”
This comment was in response to a prospective adoptive mother wondering if she should or should not invite the expectant mother she was matched with to her baby shower.
I have bolded the portion of the comment that I had a visceral reaction to. What that bolded portion is describing is most definitely coercion. This woman is describing how, by having the expectant mother present at the baby shower, she was hoping it would put pressure on the mother to follow through with the adoption. She flat out states that she believed that the more time spent with the expecting mother, the more likely they are to give their child to you.
When I read that comment, it was a punch in the gut. This is not how adoption is supposed to work. A woman who is considering adoption should not be subjected to the manipulation and added pressure of worrying about the prospective parents. To read a statement like this from an adoptive mother was truly an eye opener for me.
I am not sharing this woman’s comment to punish or embarrass her. It is my hope that more expecting mothers and hopeful adoptive parents will start to recognize the subtle manipulation and added level of stress pre-birth matching puts on mothers and refuse to engage in it. Adoption should not be about convincing a woman to give up their child. Adoption should be about a woman making the best choice for her child.
As seen on Craigslist New Haven this week:
We are a married couple who are unable to have children of our own and are looking to you to help us with your generous gift.
We will offer your baby a lifetime of love, support, and caring in a great home environment.
We’re looking for a private adoption and have already had our home study completed by a reputable licensed agency.
We work with a great adoption attorney who has adopted children himself and is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
Please visit our website to learn more about us. http://www.IreneandGreg.com or call us at 1-888-292-2003 (our direct line)
Thanks for visiting and we look forward to meeting you!
This one included pics of a beautiful home, an empty, fully loaded nursery, and wedding photos of the couple:
Our baby boys passed away as infants due to unforeseen, unrelated health problems. Our love of children and the desire to build a family has led us to adoption. We have a completed home study and are waiting to give an infant an excellent home.
If you, or someone you know, is considering placing their child for adoption please review our website at http://www.DanaandBobby2Adopt.shutterfly.com to learn more about us and contact us at DanaandBobby2Adopt@yahoo.com or 973-223-6453 when you are ready. The decision you are considering is a selfless act of pure love, strength and courage. We admire you more than words can describe and hope to join you on this journey together.
Craigslist Adoption Ads are Unethical and Disturbing
Dear Irene, Greg, Dana, and Bobby,
Stop it. You are so much better than this. The fact that you are posting ads on craigslist in the hopes of bringing home someone else’s precious child seriously calls into question your ethical and moral boundaries. Actually, it flat out screams you have none. Even if it does work, do you really want to have to explain to your child that you placed an ad for him on Craigslist? Or that his original mother decided to look for his parents on Craigslist?
Irene and Greg–
A child should not be gifted to anyone. You give gifts on birthdays and holidays. You wrap them up with a pretty bow. Children are not things to be gifted.
What in God’s name does YOU having a wonderful adoption attorney have to do with anything? I seriously hope you are not suggesting that this attorney can represent both yourselves AND a potential birth mother. That would be highly unethical and a big, fat conflict of interests.
I also find it strange that your “direct line” is a toll-free number. So you want this woman to potentially give you their baby, but can’t bear the thought of her having your home phone number…sketchy.
Dana and Bobby–
I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing, not even adopting a new baby, will make that loss easier to cope with. The fact that you are using the death of your sons to try to coerce a mother into giving you their baby is disgusting. The entire reason you bring your dead sons’ up in the ad is to pull at the heart strings. Take a good look in the mirror and decide if that is the kind of people you want to be.
You call the decision to give a child up, “a selfless act of pure love, strength and courage.” So, if that same person decides to keep their child is that a selfish act of pure hatred, weakness, and cowardice? Choose your words carefully please.
You say that you hope to join this mythical, as of yet unidentified, pregnant woman on her journey. It is not a journey, it is a pregnancy and you should keep the hell out of it.
I especially like the longing pic of your empty nursery. Well played, adopters, well played.
Please go troll for babies elsewhere. You aren’t even supposed to place ads for adopting dogs on craigslist, let alone infants.
A Fed Up Original Mother
P.S- If you haven’t already, please consider participating in the Craiglist Adoption Truth Project, it’s super easy and guaranteed to piss off a few people (always a plus!)
So it looks like this blog is turning into more of a “oh you crazy adopter” type of blog and you know what? I am fine with that. There are so many others out there in the adoptoblogosphere who maintain their equilibrium a bit better when confronted with nutballs. I am just not there yet. I would love to be the classy lady who speaks their truth without flushing and spiraling down into a rage filled abyss, but I have not gotten to that place yet. I try to be respectful when commenting on articles or facebook posts, but in reality I sit behind my laptop seething and all I want to do is scream obscenities. So, I am going to do that here (cover your ears)…
First up, we have a driveling article entitled, “Adoptive parent urges: If you’re not ready to parent, consider adoption option”. I’ll let you read it, but be prepared, the interviewee jumps to quite a few conclusions about adoption.
Sarah Hamlin is apparently convinced that more women should put up their children for adoption if they’re unprepared for parenthood. She jumps to the conclusion that us original mothers would have eventually abused or neglected our children, had we kept them, and they would have ended up in foster care in the end. She, of course, has no studies to back that up. The first time I read the article, I wasn’t sure if I was reading it correctly. This Sarah adopter couldn’t really be saying that, right? All of her children are foster adoptees. So she has not had actual experience with infant adoption.
She goes on to say how all of her children’s issues could have been avoided if there was an earlier adoption plan put in place. Okay, in some of her children’s cases I’ll let her have that one. However, one of her children suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome sooooo I’m not sure how an adoption plan would have helped.
And then she starts with the open adoption is a cure-all nonsense. Here’s where I yell, “shut the fuck up” at the screen. Open adoptions are not enforceable and should not be used as cure-all for the heartache of giving up one’s child. She then goes on to say that all of her adoptees have open adoptions, oh except for the one with a drunk for a mother who is probably dead and no one knows where the father is. Uhm yeah that’s not open then arsehole.
The worst thing I can say about this Sarah is that she seems like her heart is in the right place but she is uneducated about infant adoptions in the US. I give her props for adopting out of foster care though.
Moving on to the commenters….here’s where it gets ugly…
First up we have Wendi, obviously an adopter. Wendi backs up her comments with statistics which have no bearing on the conversation. Wendi REALLY likes statistics. Well, actually, just one set of statistics about how many adoptions are infants vs. foster care vs. international. Apparently Wendi refuses to acknowledge the social norms which played a part in baby scoop era adoptions since there are no stats on it. The study which Wendi loves (for what reason I have no idea) had adoptive parents as the survey group. Not one adoptive parent in the survey stated they coerced or stole an infant from its mother, SHOCKING! Walk with me a bit further down the page…
Wendi goes on to proclaim that she is “intimately involved with adopted children and an adoptive parent” herself, I know, I was taken aback as well. She goes on to exclaim that adoptive parents are far more educated than other parents, surprisingly there is no statistic to back that statement up. Wendi then states while open adoptions can close, it’s usually the birth mother who does so because adoptive families understand the importance of open communication. Right, because Wendi is far more superior to us biological mothers who care not a whit for our children’s well beings. In the climax of her comment she goes on to explain to everyone how her child’s birth mother has no regrets. And if she did, I’m absolutely positive you would be the first one she told, Wendi.
A bit further down the page, Wendi once again tells us how her son’s mother feels, because she is
delusional no wait uhm psychic no that’s not right either… and apparently a judge told Wendi her and her son were “now blood”, that must be some medical procedure he had to endure. Wendi is also firmly entrenched with the idea that all birth mothers made an informed choice to give up their children, it’s the law in every state, and so adoption is a beautiful, miraculous thing for her. Oh she also threw in the old standby about how she’s sorry if someone had a bad adoption experience but that is not how most adoptions are, silly me was thinking that all adoptions should be handled ethically and if only one was mishandled it should be looked into since afterall we are talking about human beings.
Of course, I had to pop on over there and write a few things of my own about coercive practices in adoption, about how speaking for birth mothers was really not ok or representative of the truth, and of course about how open adoptions are unenforceable.
The article itself seemed a bit whimsical, but Wendi, Oh dear, sweet, loving, perfect, smart, superior Wendi, really got my blood pressure up. Feel free to head over and contribute to the comments.
Eta–just noticed some of the comments on the article can only be seen from an actual computer for some reason.