The Anti-Adoption Movement

There is definitely a movement to reduce the adoption of newborns from unwed mothers and from people whose only sin is poverty. That’s not to say that it is not also important that children are never left in a seriously abusive situation. Unfortunately, what is “abusive” to some who insist on interfering in other people’s lives is not what true abuse actually is. Very few activists are claiming that adoption shouldn’t be an option, but the activists currently involved in the issue recognize that adoption is far from the perfect solution it was so long perceived to be. 

Already hopeful adoptive parents living in Texas are celebrating a bumper crop of adoptable babies in about one year from now. I suspected that as one of the motivations all along.

One woman describes her experience. The adoption agency had her move to another state while pregnant, purposely isolating her from friends and family who might have helped her. Though she knew who her baby’s father was, the agency told her not to tell him she was pregnant. She could have sued him for child support—he was a wealthy lawyer—but the adoption agency didn’t talk about that, only about the hardships she would face as a “welfare mom,” should she keep her child. They called her a “family-building angel” and a “saint” for considering adoption. “It was crazy subtle, subtle, subtle brainwashing.”

Adoption has long been perceived as the win-win way out of a a difficult situation. An unwed mother gets rid of the child she’s not equipped to care for; an adoptive family gets a much-wanted child. But people are increasingly realizing that the industry is not nearly as well-regulated and ethical as it should be. There are issues of coercion, corruption, and lack of transparency that are only now being fully addressed.

One issue is where an “open” adoption is promised but the adoptive parents sooner or later renege on that promise. So one reform is seeking to guarantee that “open” adoptions (where birthparents have some level of contact with their children) stay open. Activists also want women to have more time after birth to decide whether to terminate their parental rights. Given time with their newborn, many new mothers change their mind about adoption and decide to give parenting their child a serious effort. Young women who find themselves pregnant and unmarried still face pressure to choose adoption. 

Reproduce justice activists tend to focus on rights to contraception and abortion. Adoption reforms are equally important when it comes to men and women having full control of their destinies. Thanks to legalized abortion and a drastic lessening of the stigma against unwed mothers, the number of babies available domestically has been shrinking since the mid-’70s. Fifty years ago, about 9 percent of babies born to unmarried women were placed for adoption. Today that number is 1 percent. 

Adoption is too stark in its severance of the legal relationship between those adopted and their birth family, and out of line with the emotional realities for most involved. Adoption is not a risk-free panacea.  It is highly complex, with implications for all concerned that endures for decades. The identity needs of adopted people are very important and adoption, in its current form, does not recognize these.

There are other options, such as kindship placements or guardianship, which can provide safety and stability for children, but do not require such a severe break with key relationships. When we do not provide financial support to families in need but instead take their children away from them, we have to ask ourselves – Are we really promoting the human rights of all children, irrespective of background, to live safely within their families of origin? It would appear that we do not.

Some of the above was excerpted from The Trauma of Adoption. Other parts of this blog were excerpted from Meet the New Anti-Adoption Movement. Some comments are my own.

Licensed

First it was the Gotcha Day announcements and parties related to adoptions.  Now the promotions have moved into the field of foster care.

Starry eyed.  When someone thinks getting a foster care license is such a difficult accomplishment that it needs to be celebrated publicly as this huge deal, that’s a red flag. Truth is, it’s easy to become a foster parent.

The stork with the baby and the baby bottle images hint at a broader agenda and that is – to participate in what is known as foster to adopt – which is often an easier path to adopting an infant or young toddler than traditional adoption.  And the “no cravings” remark must be alluding to pregnancy and the well-known strange cravings for certain foods a pregnant woman experiences.

And it seems to be a thing also to have a “foster shower” and an Amazon wish list when announcing that one intends to foster children.

As a reality check, when becoming licensed to foster children, as the graphic indicates in its unique manner, you have to define age groups and number of kids. You have to have beds and maybe change some rooms around for the age requirements.  You can’t get licensed for specific ages without having space and furniture (beds) for that age group. If you wanted to be open to all ages, you have to have a crib (and basic baby supplies), toddler bed and twin bed minimum.

One foster parent did say however, “when older siblings of little ones we were fostering came into care we were able to take them with minimal fuss, no additional training required.”  Which is a good thing.

People approaching foster care like the announcement suggests often claim they have worked through the loss of being infertile completely. Once they are finally “called” to foster with the expectation they will adopt a newborn, they need baby announcements with storks, do gender reveals and big baby showers, seek attention and have professional photo shoots in hospital beds and wheelchairs.  Doing it all – so it appears to be the same circumstance as someone who has given birth. It’s delusional and not the same.

And finally, I can’t help but ask – didn’t their “training” mention to them that the objective of fostering is family reunification ?  This expression is actually celebrating the worst tragedy and trauma this family of origin is likely to see. Comparing it in any fashion to birth, pregnancy, a stork dropping a baby at your door is tone deaf and gross. Given that these kids needs are provided for through a government stipend, I also cannot imagine asking anyone for gifts.

A Willing Helper

I had not thought of Little Orphan Annie in a very long time.  I did know that there was a Broadway musical created around the character.  As a schoolgirl, I read the comic in our daily local newspaper.

Also growing up, I thought my parents were orphans because they were adopted.  I don’t know what they thought growing up about why they had been adopted.  But my parents were not orphans.  Unknown to me and maybe unknown to them (though my mom did know that she had some family once she was well into adulthood), there were people out there, living ordinary lives, as unaware of me as I was of them.  Only they were actually my true genetic relatives.

Many foster parents and some adoptive parents who adopt an older child come to think of them as the help.  Willing or not, they are put to work to ease the burdens of those providing for them.

Short on time today, so until tomorrow, these are just a few thoughts that came up as I was reminded of that cartoon I used to read long ago.  I’ve not seen the Broadway musical, only aware of it and mostly of the song Tomorrow.