The article LINK>Meet the New Anti-Adoption Movement in The New Republic by Emily Matchar is dated September 1 2013 but the need for reform has not progressed all that much. True more states do now allow adult adoptees to have access to their original birth certificates and that is a very precious document for those who are able to obtain one. It is subtitled – the surprising next frontier in reproductive justice.
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.
The past decade (note that she is referring to before 2013, however much remains as described here) has seen the rise of a broad and loose coalition of activists out to change the way adoption works in America. This coalition makes bedfellows of people who would ordinarily have nothing to do with each other: Mormon and fundamentalist women who feel they were pressured by their churches, progressives who believe adoption is a classist institution that takes the children of the young and poor and gives them to the wealthier and better-educated, and adoptive parents who have had traumatic experiences with corrupt adoption agencies.
They’ve formed several grassroots activist organizations, including Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, Origins-USA, and Concerned United Birthparents. Some call themselves adoption reformers. Others prefer terms such as “adoption truth advocate.” A few will come straight out and say they’re anti-adoption. They want, among other things, a ban on adoption agencies offering monetary support to pregnant women. They want to see laws put in place guaranteeing that “open” adoptions (where birthparents have some level of contact with their children) stay open. They want women to have more time after birth to decide whether to terminate their parental rights. These activists have become increasingly loud of late, holding prominent rallies, organizing online, and winning several recent legislative victories.
I belong to such a private, members only, community on Facebook – Adoption:Facing Realities. Discussions in that community can be difficult and uncomfortable for some (often the adoptive – including “hopeful” – or foster parents who join). I remember getting slammed almost immediately when I arrived. I had a positive perspective on adoption since BOTH of my parents were adoptees. I have learned so much there, stuff one doesn’t encounter often online or out in the world. Adoptees and former foster care youth are privileged voices in that community. It is NOT a support group for adoptive or foster parents. They do not promote a rainbows and unicorn perspective on adoption.
Reproductive justice activists see adoption reforms as equally important to the issues of abortion and contraception, when it comes to men and women having full control of their destinies. It is true that adoption in America has changed vastly since the end of the so-called “Baby Scoop Era,” That ended in the early 1970s. During that era, many pregnant young women were “sent away” and their babies put up for adoption. During the 50 years of legalized abortion, along with a drastic lessening of the stigma against unwed mothers (I personally know several), the number of babies available domestically has been shrinking since the mid-’70s. In fact, one of the arguments put forth by Justice Alito was that ending abortion would increase the supply. Back in 1963, about 9 percent of babies born to unmarried women were placed for adoption. In 2013, that number was 1 percent. At the time this article was written, there were about 14,000 domestic infant adoptions per year, which was only about 15 percent of US adoptions – with the rest from foster care or internationally sourced, which has now in 2023 also decreased as those country’s governments clamp down on the export of their own citizens.