Up until I relinquished my son for adoption, I had a pretty rosy view of adoption as a whole. However, I am ashamed to say, I only really thought of it from a hopeful adoptive couple’s point of view. When I did think about the concept of adoption, it was usually when I would hear of a friend or family member hoping to adopt because they could not have children of their own. I would feel terrible for people who had adoptions “fail” and I never considered it from the mother’s viewpoint or the adoptee’s viewpoint. I do not think I was any different than the average Joe who has never had a personal experience with adoption. I believe that the average american with no connections to adoption has a fairly preconceived notion of what adoption means to the people who are living it every day, if they ever think about it at all.
The current Veronica Brown and Baby Desirai cases (among others) have given many of us the opportunity to comment and educate the average Joe about what adoption truly means to the birth mother and adoptee. I can not say I am grateful for the opportunity because of the awful circumstances surrounding these cases, but I can say that it gives me some hope for opening up a dialogue with society at large.
Throughout my travels around the interwebs, commenting on articles, reading others’ comments, I seem to encounter the same basic idea from the average Joe over and over again. It is the idea that birth mothers who seek to educate others about corruption in adoption need to “just get over it”. The underlying assumption is that we, as birthmothers, made our choice and need to move on with our lives.
Do Birth Mothers Ever Truly Move On?
In the spirit of having an open dialogue, I want to address the idea of moving on with our lives after relinquishing. Personally, I have “moved on” with my life the best way I can. I am married, raising 3 children with my husband who I adore. I am active in the school system, volunteering my time and resources as much as I can. I attend school myself. I am not lying in bed everyday, immobile from the sadness of losing my oldest son. I am not wallowing in self pity. From all outward appearances, I have moved on. The grief I feel from my adoption experience is not something that I am ever going to be able to forget. Moving forward with my life does not mean I forget what happened or forget the child I gave up. It is the same with a parent who loses a child to death. They move forward through the pain, but they are never going to forget their child. To expect more from anyone who loses someone close to them, whether that is through death, adoption, drug abuse, and so on, is to expect more than any human being can manage.
A huge part of being able to move forward through the grief is helping and educating others about adoption issues. My adoption experience was not part of the baby scoop era of adoption nor was it a part of the current open adoption trend. I would categorize my experience as being a fairly normal, run of the mill, everyday experience of birthmothers. The “normalcy” of my experience is exactly why I try to educate others on adoption issues. If my “normal” experience left me feeling like this, then everything I was told is wrong. I can not stand by and watch others encourage mothers to give away their children under false pretenses. The prevailing view of adoption by the average Joe needs to change.
Does a Birth Mother Really Make a Choice?
Part of the problem when birth mothers talk about adoption issues, is this notion of choice. We made our choice, we should live with it. We made our beds, we have to lie in them. We are at fault because we did not research the issues. We should have thought about all of that beforehand. When I write about coercion and mis-truths in adoption, and how the corruption involved in adoption negates any real choice, I think it is a hard concept for most people to grasp. It is just too abstract if you have never been subjected to anything like that. I am going to attempt to use an analogy, which I hope will make it easier to understand.
Mr. Smith is experiencing a medical issue. Let’s say it’s a tumor. Mr. Smith has been told by their primary care physician that the treatment for the tumor is either surgery to remove it or chemotherapy. Mr. Smith is referred to an oncologist whom they have never met, but the Mr. Smith assumes since an oncologist is a doctor specializing in cancer that the doctor will be an expert in their field. Mr. Smith been told that this specialist will discuss his treatment options. It is reasonable to assume prior to meeting with this specialist, that the doctor is going to use his experience, his expert knowledge, statistics, medical research studies, medical journals, etc. to recommend the best treatment for Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith has his appointment, the doctor recommends surgery to remove the tumor and explains in detail why it is the best course of treatment. The doctor also explains why chemotherapy is not the right option and gives Mr. Smith statistics to reinforce his recommendation against it. Mr. Smith chooses to have the surgery based on his expert doctor’s recommendation.
Mr. Smith has the surgery, and develops some fairly severe complications because of it. Mr. Smith finds out later that the doctor presented false statistics, misrepresented the outcome from chemotherapy treatment, withheld vital information about the possible complications from the surgery, and made a great deal of money by performing surgery on Mr. Smith.
Based on this, would the average person say that Mr. Smith ever made a real choice? I would say no, Mr. Smith was never given accurate information and therefore he could not have made an informed, true, real choice.
Now, let’s go back and replace “Mr. Smith” with “Miss Jones”. Let’s replace “oncologist” and “doctor” with “adoption professional”. Let’s replace “tumor” with “pregnant”.
Miss Jones is pregnant. Let’s say it’s unplanned. Miss Jones has been told by her gynecologist that her options are to raise the child herself or to give the baby up for adoption. Miss Jones is referred to an adoption professional whom she has never met, but Miss Jones assumes since an adoption professional is a person specializing in adoption issues that the adoption professional will be an expert in their field. Miss Jones has been told that this adoption professional will discuss her options. It is reasonable to assume prior to meeting with this specialist, that the adoption professional is going to use their experience, their expert knowledge, statistics, adoption research studies, medical journals, etc. to recommend the best option for Miss Jones and her child. Miss Jones has her appointment, the adoption professional recommends adoption and explains in detail why it is the best option. The adoption professional also explains why raising the child is not the right option and gives Miss Jones statistics to reinforce the recommendation against it. Miss Jones chooses adoption based on the adoption professional’s recommendation.
Miss Jones gives her baby up for adoption, and develops some fairly severe complications because of it. Miss Jones finds out later that the adoption professional presented false statistics, misrepresented the outcome raising her child, withheld vital information about the possible complications from the adoption, and made a great deal of money by facilitating the adoption.
Based on this, would the average person say that Miss Jones ever made a real choice? I would say no, Miss Jones was never given accurate information and therefore she could not have made an informed, true, real choice.
If a person with a life altering medical condition can reasonably assume that a medical professional is going to give them accurate information about their treatment options, shouldn’t a person consulting an adoption professional be able to reasonably assume the same thing about their options?
In real life, there are regulations and repercussions for a doctor who would engage in such practices, including professional ruin. I would expect the doctor in my little scenario to be sued for malpractice and I would expect Mr. Smith to win that lawsuit. There are little, if any, regulations and repercussions for an adoption professional who would do the same. In fact, the scenario I presented above is dead-on accurate for my experience, and an accurate portrayal of many adoptions.
Now, let’s throw in a healthy dose of positive adoption language heaped on Miss Jones and a dash of being in the position to have to consider the hopeful adoptive parents’ feelings and you have the current adoption system in the United States. Does that sound like an informed choice to you, reader?
I know this blog certainly doesn’t get a ton of average, uninterested in adoption, readers, however it is my hope that this oversimplified analogy can shed a little light on the meaning of choice in adoption.
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.
I love facebook. I really do. I love reading different perspectives on issues I may never have thought of. I might not agree with those perspectives, but they are valid to me if they at least get me to think. I read a ton of different adoption perspectives on facebook. Lately, or maybe just lately for me, I have come across more and more facebook groups specifically advocating for open adoption BUT specifically banning and deterring dissenting opinions about open adoption. One might think the owners of these groups are all adoptive or prospective adoptive parents and agencies. To my surprise, some of the most vocal anti-pro-adoption reformers are newly minted birth mothers. This got me thinking (always a dangerous prospect), are all birth mothers alike and simply on different stages of journeys? Or, are we all very different?
What kind of birth mother are you?
I do not consider myself to be especially bitter about adoption. I am unhappy with the way it is conducted today. I believe much change needs to come about.
It has always been my opinion that women who find themselves in less than ideal circumstances want to keep their babies. A woman who is presented with support and help from their community and perhaps a little compassion would not choose adoption. Lately, this small idea of mine has been challenged by happy birth mothers. My question is, are they really happy or have they let themselves been talked into believing they are happy?
Do Happy Birth Mothers Exist?
When I use the word happy, I am not talking about being at peace with a decision. I am talking about women who proclaim their joy and happiness with adoption and take every opportunity to talk about their happiness. I am talking about women who are dancing around to REM’s, Shiny Happy People while thinking about adoption.
I am talking about women who talk about their children’s adoptive parents like Gods, thanking them for raising their children and allowing them to maintain contact with them. I am talking about women who talk about the absolute joy in getting to go on with their lives without the burden of motherhood. If these women are as joyful and ecstatic about adoption as they claim to be, I have to say, they sound like sociopaths.
Now, who am I to discount or expect every woman to have the same experience as me and why do I care? I care because these happy daisies preach about their fantabulous adoptions on every “support” site out there. I care because other women who are considering adoption read their bullshit pudding and take it at face value. It is fine to present that side of the adoption coin, but I do put my pissy pants on when these sites/groups/pages ban and delete what they consider to be “anti” comments. What is so wrong with putting it all out there, the good and the bad?
These “happies” seem to get deeply offended by “unhappies”. I do not think they can stomach any comment that would not lead to the conclusion that they are saviors. Their fragile psyches can not be exposed to any other way of thinking about adoption. Certainly the mere mention that however they (the happies) may feel about adoption may not translate to how their adult adoptees may feel about it sends them into a tizzy of epic proportions. Lots of how dare you’s and who are you to talk about my situation’s.
The point of my little tirade is this. If all of you “happies” out there are truly so overjoyed to have given up your flesh and blood to strangers, why are you trolling support groups? Why are you creating support pages for open adoptions? Generally speaking, happies don’t usually need support groups. There are only 2 conclusions. Either you are sociopaths (or maybe the right word is psychopaths) who only function on this planet to serve yourselves and cause pain and discontentment to those around you OR you are not truly happy and the only way to shield yourself from the realization of the unhappiness in your soul is to talk other women into the same painful experience as you.
I said Goddamn I loves me some misinformation and deliberate withholding of the truth. It makes my innards tingle.
This is a chart on americanadoptions.com listing the differences and similarities between adoption and abortion.
|You can pursue earlier goals||You can pursue earlier goals|
|You can live independently||You can live independently|
|You will not have to parent prematurely||You will not have to parent prematurely|
|You will avoid being forced into a hasty marriage or relationship||You will avoid being forced into a hasty marriage or relationship|
|If you are a teenager, you can resume your youthful lifestyle||If you are a teenager you can resume your youthful lifestyle|
|Note: There are no similarities between parenting and abortion. One important similarity between adoption and parenting is that you can give life to your child and watch your child grow up.|
|Your pregnancy ends with giving life||Your pregnancy ends with death|
|You can feel good and positive about your choice||You may feel guilt and shame about your choice|
|You will remember giving birth||You will remember taking a life|
|You will have plenty of time to plan you and your baby’s future||Abortion is final; you can’t go back on your decision|
|You can hold, name, and love your baby||You will never know or treasure your baby|
|You can have continued contact with your baby||You will miss the opportunity to see your child develop|
Truth and Transparency Needs to be a Priority in Adoption Practice
So yeah the first half of the chart seems pretty accurate and straightforward. There are many positive similar outcomes between the two for women.
Scrolling down to the differences and bingo! Out comes the manipulation and outright lies. Let’s break it down.
First up, pregnancy ending with giving life versus death. A major point I need to get across is that no one is out aborting babies just prior to their birth. So really we’re talking about giving life vs removing a ball of cells. That is my personal view on abortion and I don’t expect everyone to agree.
Next we have feeling good and positive about your choice versus feeling guilt and shame about your choice. This one made me chuckle a bit. I’ve known quite a few women who have chosen abortion and none of them feel guilt or shame or even regret over their decision. It was a medical procedure they underwent, no complications, tiny ball of cells gone, carry on with your life. None of these women took the decision lightly, but all are fine with it. I have met many women, including myself, who have chosen adoption and all of them carry guilt, shame, regret, sadness, and lifelong negative consequences of their decision. What the chart should say is that although some women can feel good and positive about their decision, most deal with the reverberations of their decision for decades.
Continuing on, we have remembering giving birth versus remembering taking a life. Oh sweet jeebus, shut the christ up. This is similar to above. Yup I remember giving birth and it haunts me every single day. Knowing what I know now, I would have chosen differently.
The next one cracks me up. I actually don’t think these two things even belong together but you know how those crazy christians are. So a woman can have plenty of time to plan for their baby’s future or they can have an abortion which is FINAL. Here’s the thing, BOTH decisions once made, are final. If they were comparing parenting to abortion I’d agree with them, but adoption is not parenting dumbasses.
Of course you can hold, name and love your baby. Yes, I held my baby and didn’t let the adoptive parents in the room. I also named my baby, which the parents promptly removed and then renamed him. And yup, to this day I love him, but it isn’t a happy love. It’s loving someone who you can never hold, talk to, express it to. It’s a sad love. Yes I knew and treasured him for those 2 days but that is it. I don’t know him anymore although I still treasure him.
And the most deceptive statement at all comes at the bottom of their chart. You can have continued contact with your baby. Well I don’t. Countless women who thought they would, do not. I have blogged about open adoption deception before so I won’t get all the way into it again, but I’m sure you get the idea.
Carrying a Pregnancy to Term for Adoption Purposes has Risks
Of course this simplistic chart gives no actual negatives to adoption but plenty of negatives about abortion. This is so misleading. The sole purpose is to con women into giving up their babies. Is it really so much to ask for a little truth and transparency in the adoption industry? Can’t we agree to fully inform women of all the negative aspects of adoption? Oh I guess we can’t since that would probably result in more abortions or *gasp* single women parenting their children.
I weep for the the young women today who are talked into adoption by lists such as these. Give these women access to other viewpoints for fucks sake.
I would venture to guess that most women choose abortion because they do not want to be pregnant. Pregnancy itself carries far more risks to a woman than abortion alone. In 2007, the rate of mortality for legal abortions was 0.6 per 100,000 procedures*. By contrast, the rates of mortality from pregnancy in the US in 2010 was 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births**. That number does not even take into account women who died during pregnancy before childbirth. Why don’t they talk about that on their pro life websites?
*World Health Organization. Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2003. 5th edition. Geneva: WHO, 2007; http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/unsafe_abortion/9789241596121/en/
**source: Centers for Disease Control
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.
I’m feeling riled up this morning. Perhaps I need to step away from the ol’ laptop for a bit. But first, I need to express my distaste for ignorant, dishonest, coercive things I have seen on many comments around facebook and adoptoland. I can’t possibly respond to every ridiculous thing that is written so I am just going to vomit up my distaste for the open adoption lie here. Get your buckets ready.
The Birth of Open Adoption
The number of infants available for adoption in the US has steadily declined in recent years. The reasons behind this include better access to birth control, legality of abortion, and acceptance of single-motherhood. The number of people who want to adopt infants has increased partially due to women putting off having children in favor of careers. Unfortunately, biology hasn’t caught up with women’s rights yet.
This disparity in supply and demand of infants has created quite a problem for the adoption industry. The adoption industry could no longer scoop babies up in record numbers and hand them over to the piles of money waiting for an infant anymore. They needed to come up with a marketing scheme to persuade women to hand over their children. In walks open adoption.
Open Adoption is a Marketing Tool for the Adoption Industry
The promise of open adoption is a powerful tool in the adoption industry’s arsenal. They recognized that a major obstacle to convincing women to give up their babies was the fact that there was no contact. Not surprisingly, most mothers want to know how their children are being raised. Open adoption was the solution to that. Yes, mothers, you can still see your children grow up. You can still have a relationship with them, just hand them over and the adoptive parents will make sure you are still a part of their life. What the adoption industry fails to advertise is that open adoption agreements can become closed at any time. Just take a look at one example on the Bethany Christian Services site. They never state that the adoption could become closed at any time.
Open Adoption Agreements are Not Legally Enforceable
Some states do recognize open adoption agreements as legal documents however, these agreements can be voided if found not to be in the best interests of the child. In no state does the penalty involve nullifying the adoption. It should also be noted that many first families do not possess the necessary financial resources to fund a legal proceeding and so are left with no way to argue against closing an adoption.
It is my position that all open adoption agreements should be legal and binding. If the adoptive family chooses to close an adoption without the consent of the courts, it should be considered a criminal case. Perhaps this is extreme, but slapping an adoptive family with a fine because they closed their adoption is not exactly a deterrent.
Open Adoption is a Bait and Switch Technique
There are many adoptive families who take their responsibility to keep their adoption open seriously. I applaud these people. That being said, there is a special place in hell for adoptive parents who enter into an open adoption agreement knowing they have no intention of keeping it open. For many women, being able to have an open adoption is the deciding factor on whether they will relinquish their baby. It is akin to stealing a baby from its mother when adoptive parents cut off all communication.
I have seen so many comments on various forums, facebook and articles singing the praises of open adoption. I am sure that those of you out there (first mothers and adoptive parents alike) who are keeping up your end of the agreement have a very positive view on open adoption. I, too, think if adoption must exist, that fully open adoptions should be the norm. However, to these same people who talk about their wonderful open adoption experience, I ask you, would you not feel more in control if you knew, without a doubt that your adoption would stay open? How can you praise open adoption if there is no way of knowing that others’ agreements will be honored? If anything, you should be pushing for more regulations to be put in place so that all future agreements are honored. How can we take something as important as our children and leave it up to flawed individuals to keep that agreement in place?
Until open adoptions agreements are legally enforceable they should not be mentioned in adoption advertisements or presented as fact to expecting mothers. It is morally reprehensible for agencies not to disclose these facts to expecting mothers before entering into agreements with adoptive parents.