Are We Entering A New Baby Scoop Era ?

Before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, >LINK Time magazine carried an article – What History Teaches Us About Women Forced to Carry Unwanted Pregnancies to Term by Kelly O’Connor McNees on Sept 30 2021. She is the author of The Myth of Surrender about two young women in a maternity home back in 1961.

Her article was motivated by Texas’ severe abortion law back in 2021. Reproductive rights advocates are justifiably concerned about a potential increase in unsafe abortions and adoption activists are right to be concerned about more adoptions taking place that will leave more people dealing with the trauma of separation from their original mother.

The image of coat hangers may seem obsolete in an era where medication abortions can be safely self-managed at home, but we also know that there will be some women who lack access to health care. They will resort to desperate measures to avoid the physical, psychological, emotional, social and economic trauma of being forced to complete their pregnancy and give birth against their wishes.

We have been here before. In the decades from 1945 to 1973, now known as the “Baby Scoop” era, more than 1.5 million pregnant girls and women in the US were sent away to maternity homes to surrender children in secret. In realizing that my adoptee mom conceived me out of wedlock in 1953, it has become to my own heart a minor miracle that she did not get sent away to have and give me up for adoption. I will always believe I have my dad’s adoptive parents to be grateful to for encouraging him to do the right thing when he had only just started at a university in another nearby town. This is why I was born in Las Cruces NM but I am happy to claim I am a native of that state.

It was believed back then that both the child and the birth mother would be better off. It would be a win-win scenario: the baby would be saved from the stigma and shame of illegitimacy, and the birth mother could put the unpleasant chapter behind her and make a fresh start. Meanwhile, the young men who shared equal responsibility for the pregnancies typically carried on with their lives unfettered by social stigma.

Birth mothers sent to these homes received little to no counseling on what to expect from labor and delivery, and were not advised of their legal rights once the child was born. They endured psychological abuse from nuns and nurses, and gave birth alone in sometimes terrible conditions. This is the scenario I imagined my paternal grandmother endured at a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers when she gave birth to my dad. Many women still foggy from the effects of anesthesia following a birth under “twilight” sleep were coerced into signing papers terminating their parental rights. That was a tactic employed by Georgia Tann during her baby stealing days up until her death in September of 1950. Those who wanted to keep their babies were threatened with financial penalties, since many homes only covered the cost of prenatal care and room and board if the child was surrendered. Some women who refused to give up their babies were committed to mental institutions.

The promise that birth mothers would surrender their babies and “move on” turned out to be a lie. They did not go back to normal; they did not forget. Many were haunted for the rest of their lives by the uncertainty of their child’s fate and were prevented by strict adoption statutes from acquiring any information that might ease their minds. My maternal grandmother, exploited by Georgia Tann, reverted from her married name of Elizabeth to Lizzie Lou, the name on my mom’s original birth certificate, and even has that name put on her grave stone, when she died many years later. She never had another baby after my mom.

Unplanned pregnancies create a complex constellation of decisions that resist a tidy narrative. Sometimes they are the result of love, sometimes casual sex and sometimes rape. That was true in 1945, in 1965, and it’s true today. Given a different set of circumstances—access to legal abortion and open, non-coercive adoptions—the women caught up in the Baby Scoop era might have chosen to terminate their pregnancies, carry their pregnancies to term and make a plan for adoption, or keep and raise their children, and they would have made these decisions for all kinds of individual and personal reasons. In that more humane version of midcentury America, the decisions would have been theirs alone.

Women with unwanted pregnancies are no longer physically warehoused, but many of them are still trapped by what happens when they lose the freedom to choose whether or not to give birth. The overturning of Roe v Wade, and the rush in almost half these United States to totally ban any access to abortion regardless of the circumstances that caused the pregnancy, now guarantee that more women will face the same formidable future that women were facing back in the Baby Scoop Era.

Only In America

Some thoughts from a birth mother –

Only in America is the for-profit business industry of adoption disguised as non-profit god work, that saves babies and is the answer to abortion; greed, trafficking and coercion will now be standard practice. This isn’t about women or babies. It’s about money and control.

When things like this happen, there is no rest. Only exhaustion, heartache, devastation. I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-INFORMED choice, the one that every human should have the right to make themselves and have access to safely. This is about controlling women and making money off their offspring, calling it “saving babies”, “orphan care”, “better lives”. THIS is a war on families, particularly on family preservation. Giving children to people deemed more worthy than biological parents, then selling it to the masses as “creating families”…that had to be broken first.

Billions stand to be made by the adoption industry with this ruling; to an already billion dollar a year industry that disguises itself as the hands and feet of Jesus. Commodifying women and children in crisis could not be less of Jesus. Seeing posts claiming how the church will step up, pushing their congregations more to take these “unwanted” babies, feels so dehumanizing as a mother who was in crisis, not fully informed about the ramifications and traumas involved in choosing placement, and then used by the church as the poster child for adoption. It’s lifelong trauma being separated from your children. Even though I did the best I could with what I had to go on, I was still failed. Most of us are. Women will now be forced to endure pregnancies either dangerous physically or possibly detrimental emotionally and psychologically, in the name of domestic infant supply, for the demand required. And there is nothing in place for these women in the aftermath.

Money in hand, baby secured, they have no need for us anymore. Millions more of us will now suffer these traumas. This is a sisterhood I never wanted to be apart of. It is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone and yet, people are shouting from the rooftops, without any lived experience or knowledge of the traumas we live daily, they’ll take our babies, like they are a pair of shoes at a garage sale we are looking to get rid of. Nope.

Forced Behaviors

Pro Lifer: Well the mother should just give the baby up for adoption if she doesn’t want the baby

Me: So who will adopt the baby?

PL: I don’t know there’s lots of couples who want to adopt

Me: Do you know any couple who is waiting to adopt?

PL: Um well not personally but like I know there’s lots of people waiting to adopt.

Me: Do you know what a domestic adoption costs?

PL: I don’t know. $15,000 maybe?

Me: The average cost of domestic adoption in the United States is $70,000 if you go through a private agency.

PL: Oh I didn’t realize it was that much

Me: Yep it’s really expensive. It can be more if you want a newborn straight from the hospital. Up to $120,000.

PL: We’ll all life is precious.

Me: it really is. I’ve adopted through foster care and am currently a licensed foster parent. Would you be interested in becoming a foster parent yourself?

PL: Oh no I couldn’t do it.

Me: Why not?

PL: It would just be too much for me right now.

Me: Why is that?

PL: It would be too hard to handle all the issues that came with it. I’ve heard horror stories.

Me: Yep it can be extremely difficult. But what if I told you that you were required by law to become a foster parent?

PL: what?

Me: what if you had to become a foster parent by law?

PL: they would never do that. That would never happen.

Me: Well, if a woman is forced to bear a child she doesn’t want, and she goes ahead and has that child, someone has to care for the child either through adoption or foster care. You have to do one of those two things.

PL: But I don’t want any more kids.

Me: So you don’t want someone forcing you to have a child in your home that you don’t want or aren’t able to care for?

PL: no, that’s not my job to raise someone else’s child.

There it is, folks.

Have the baby, but we don’t want anything to do with it afterwards.

(Copied and reposted, thanks to a friend for sharing this herself)

Fertilization or Implantation

It didn’t take long for the concerns over the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade to leap over into In-Vitro Fertilization. Some states, including Louisiana, are already contemplating laws that would define a fertilized egg as having the same rights as a live child which will definitely have the same chilling effect on IVF clinics as the escalation of anti-abortion laws at the state level has had on clinics that perform abortions.

The Catholic Churches inconsistency regarding when life begins hasn’t helped matters. Among Catholics it is NOT clear – does life begin at fertilization or at implantation ? One Catholic said, “It’s actually not disputed. For example: the official stance of the Catholic Church is that life begins at IMPLANTATION, not fertilization. Additionally, you can’t turn a pregnancy test positive without implantation. So again, many would consider ‘conception’ to mean successful implantation.”

In 2006, under Pope Benedict (before the current Pope Francis), it was affirmed during an international congress on scientific aspects and bioethical considerations of The Human Embryo Before Implantation that embryos are “sacred and inviolable” even before they become implanted in a mother’s uterus. The Pope said the Church had always proclaimed the “sacred and inviolable character of every human life, from its conception to its natural end.” adding, “This moral judgment is valid from the start of the life of an embryo, even before it is implanted in the maternal womb.”

In 2021, Washington’s Cardinal Wilton Gregory spoke at the National Press Club, during which he fielded questions about President Joe Biden’s support for abortion. “The Catholic Church teaches and has taught that life — human life — begins at conception. So the president is not demonstrating Catholic teaching in that,” Gregory said. “Catholics should take care not to believe the myths and lies that are produced by those influential individuals and institutions that want to confuse people about the true nature of abortion or who wish to exploit the bodies and lives of unborn children. For example, the myth that ‘pregnancy begins at implantation’ is a deception that has caused misunderstandings for decades.”

Another Catholic noted – Our vicar general was very confident that when the church says “conception” they are referring to implantation, per his actual priesthood teachings. But, that most Catholics assume conception means fertilization, but that isn’t correct. My discussions on this topic with him were in 2010 for reference. I know the pope said prior to that that it’s before implantation, but the actual documented definition in church literature is apparently implantation.

At the end of the day, this is splitting hairs and I’m pro-choice. But, it’s clear even the church can’t figure out a cohesive stance, and none of this is dogma anyway. Also, just because “life” begins at conception it’s doesn’t address the bodily autonomy issue (the Church doesn’t support forced organ donation to save another adults life, but they are ok with a pregnant person being forced to give up their body?).

I don’t know anyone who would say they are trying to “conceive” and mean that they are just trying to fertilize an egg. For all practical purposes, fertilization alone just isn’t conception. And these old white men can believe otherwise, but if my egg is fertilized but doesn’t implant, I would never say I conceived because I wouldn’t even know the egg was fertilized, unless I went through IVF anyway.

Leaving aside religious arguments, Wired had an article by Sarah Zhang in 2015 titled – Why Science Can’t Say When a Baby’s Life Begins with a subtitle – If anything, science has only complicated the personhood debate. The article notes – When life begins is, of course, the central disagreement that fuels the controversy over abortion. 

In the 19th century, abortion in Britain was legal—until the quickening. The “quickening” was the first time a woman felt her baby’s kick, it was the moment the baby came alive, the moment it got a soul. Ultrasound imaging made quickening, a concept that had been around since at least Aristotle, a relic. In a 2012 vice presidential debate, Paul Ryan explained that after seeing their unborn daughter on ultrasound, they nicknamed her “Bean.” My husband jokes about our youngest son being “LumpT” before he was born. Ryan actually sponsored a bill for fetal personhood, giving full legal rights to a zygote after fertilization.

After fertilization, must come implantation. The fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and attaches to the mother’s uterus. “There’s an incredibly high rate of fertilized eggs that don’t implant,” says Diane Horvath-Cosper, an OB-GYN in Washington, DC. Estimates run from 50 to 80 percent, and even some implanted embryos spontaneously abort later on. The woman might never know she was pregnant.

Clearly, the controversies and debates are not going away any time soon. It is going to be very messy for some time to come.

Increasing The Supply

I did think this – immediately. That banning abortion is meant to increase the number of babies available for adoption. Actually, I’ve thought this for some years as I have learned more about the traumatic impacts of separating children from their biological parents and have generally turned against the practice, even though but for adoption, I would not exist.

When I was doing my own family roots journey, I contacted the Salvation Army in El Paso TX because I knew my dad had been adopted from there. They told me that they closed their home for unwed mothers after Roe v Wade because they had no clients to serve. Very revealing. Three out of nine justices on the Supreme Court have adopted children. Adoptive parents are very influential when it comes to laws related to adoption as they are the ones who have the money. They are the ones who wish to keep an adopted person’s information away from them and hidden away in a sealed file.

An adoptee friend of mine who didn’t even know she was adopted into well into her adulthood as that had been hidden from her, a family secret, wrote – “Domestic supply of infants?” I guess they want to restart the supply chain, no matter how wrong that may be, how harmful to parents, family, the person who ends up being funneled into the system. She added –

Note there are no safeguards being proposed for the people who will be forced into that system. No additional funds for sex Ed, contraception. No requirements for men to take greater responsibility, no requirements for prospective adoptive parents to undergo evaluations, education and ongoing therapy. No after adoption services. No additional services for people forced to give birth. No aftercare services for people who lose their children to adoption. No acknowledgment of the fact that the majority of states will be erasing the children’s identities and severing them from family and community. No. Just an acknowledgment that there isn’t enough supply to meet demand.

A Pro-Adoption Supreme Court

Part of what drives the anti-abortion effort is that the supply of adoption available infants has dropped to almost nothing. Certainly, adoptee centric groups continue to counsel expectant mothers considering adoption to keep and raise their own children to save them from the trauma that separation from the mother who’s womb a baby grew in causes trauma that leads to a diverse variety of physical, mental and emotional effects.

Today, I discovered this person – The Adopted Chameleon. She writes, “Amy Coney Barrett has said she isn’t inclined to protect women’s rights because the baby can be put up for adoption. She has adopted children and knows nothing about adoption. She is clearly biased. John Roberts and Clarence Thomas have adopted children also. They are biased also.”

The Safe Haven Laws are often used to prove that a woman does not need to parent the baby she carries to term. What these people seem to conveniently ignore is the 9 months of a woman’s life that she must give up to gestate a baby. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood comes quickly to mind. Forced birth to supply the demand for babies by couple who are infertile or just can’t have enough children. There are truly gross examples of that kind of overconsumption of children – I’ve written about some of these in the past.

The Adopted Chameleon continues her thoughts with this – “These people are going to decide the fate of future mothers. They use their religion as the reason why abortion should be illegal. Abortion was never a sin in the Bible. The Bible talks about how to make a woman drink the bitter water if her husband thinks she was unfaithful. It never says its a sin. Abortion is used as a fear tactic in voting. People think they are saving babies but they are traumatizing mothers. Then if the mother relinquishes the baby, the baby is traumatized. The cruelty and ignorance of people is right in front of us. They show no remorse for separating families and taking rights away from babies that will be adults without rights. Adoption should be the last option. Adoption is trauma.”

A Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity to new converts. Missions involve sending individuals and groups across boundaries, most commonly geographical boundaries, to carry on evangelism or other activities, such as educational or hospital work. The Pro-Life movement is actually a “mission” and it really matters not if the original parents are poor or of a different color than the hopeful adoptive parents – what matters is converting the heathens to the one true faith.

I woke up this morning to a husband who is worrying about what this contingent minority in our country will do next. Don’t believe this is all that they want. We are on the road to authoritarianism. Could they make these laws retroactive to punish anyone who ever had an abortion when it was legal ? Could they relegate anyone who has been donor conceived to a second class citizenship along with any person who is not the “right” color ? Though I will say that such things could occur, if the current path continues along the current trajectory, making laws retroactive against people who were acting under legal provisions at the time they did whatever will certainly be a dark day for freedom and will usher in a most draconian phase of life in these United States. So I will urge you to Vote Blue – Democrat in November and again in 2024 – if you value freedom at all.

Obedience, conformity, oneness and sameness over freedom and difference. These authoritarian inclined persons are unwilling to tolerate complexity, diversity and difference. Latent authoritarianism relates to a predisposition towards child-rearing values that exclude independence, curiosity and an ability to think through challenging subjects from one’s own points of view. It includes a concern with structuring society and social interactions that minimize any diversity of people, beliefs and behaviors. They favor disparaging, suppressing and punishing differences. ~ from Can It Happen Here ? page 182-183.

As Rebecca Solnit has written, “First they came for the reproductive rights (Roe v Wade, 1973) and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a uterus in its ovulatory years, because then they want to come for the marriage rights of same-sex couples (Obergefell v Hodges, 2015), and then the rights of consenting adults of the same gender to have sex with each other (Lawrence v Texas, 2003), and then for the right to birth control (Griswold v Connecticut, 1965). It doesn’t really matter if they’re coming for you, because they’re coming for us. ‘Us’ these days means pretty much everyone who’s not a straight white Christian man with rightwing politics.”

Thank You For Choosing Life

Some questions were posed – How many pregnant women do you thank for “choosing life?” Why say it to the woman who is a birth mom? You don’t know that was even an option she considered. Yet, you want to blast it off social media thanking your kid’s birth moms for “choosing life.”

Until you start saying it to the preacher’s wife, stop saying it to expectant moms considering adoption or first moms. Stop blasting that crap on social media. It’s so incredibly disrespectful. Have you ever told someone “thank you for choosing life?” Have you ever given credit to your children’s birth moms on social media for “choosing life?”

An adoptee comments – I have not. I have forgiven her for the decision she made to give me away without a legal adoption but I don’t see her not having an abortion in 1961 as some great thing. 

Another adoptee perspective – I may sound dramatic but since my own adoption is closed and no information provided and lots of lying surrounding my adoption (Connecticut is one of the worst states for coverups in adoption). As much as I may love my life at this moment, I would rather have not been born. Then I wouldn’t have be abused and suffered pain and trauma. So those words thank you for choosing life wouldn’t ever come out of my mouth. I find it very problematic and just adds to the fake rainbow of adoption world.

Yet another adoptee says – If I’d been aborted, I wouldn’t know it. If my birth mom had chosen and been able to abort, I hypothetically support her, as I do anyone seeking abortion. If we want to end trauma, forced birth is not the way.

One woman shares – When my husband and I were first dating, I got pregnant and miscarried. A trusted adult who I told (not a parent) said “at least you didn’t murder it” because we weren’t in a position to have a child. That’s forever bothered me.

An adoptive parent adds – In many cases, being backed into a corner is not really choice, regardless of “choosing” abortion or parenting vs adoptions. In far too many cases, women are in crisis situations and are not helped so that they can make a decision free from fear or coercion. I also think the lifelong trauma connected to being adopted isn’t something I can be dismissive of in these conversations because I can’t possibly know how it feels to be adopted. I’ve read adoptees who say they would rather have not been born, and I think that feeling needs to be given space and consideration.

Some more reasons that it may be inappropriate to say thank you for choosing life.  It could be inappropriate because she may not have had a choice. The pregnancy could have been a result of sexual assault, incest, statutory rape, or some combination thereof. The pregnancy may not have been discovered early on, and if it had, the birth mom may have aborted rather than carry to term. Maybe birth mom wanted to terminate the pregnancy but wasn’t able to do so. How many states require a parent’s permission if it’s a pregnant minor? Maybe the birth mom misses her baby so badly that she wishes she had killed herself while pregnant, so they could be together forever.

A mature perspective adds – because they (the adoptive parents) got what they wanted. It’s always all about what they seek to gain, a child they cannot have on their own. Are they grateful someone else made them parents? Sure they are. It’s sick to be grateful for someone else giving you their kid. If they actually tried to break down the actual act of adoption, without their feelings, they would understand that.

Some additional thoughts – We don’t generally say thank you for choosing life to an expectant mother who is not in crisis. We assume the child is wanted, accident or not. And an alternate choice would not be obvious ie morning after pill or termination. Pregnancies are generally pretty easy to spot at some stage and strangers love to comment, so it is only those people who know the expectant mother or the plethora of manipulative pro-adoption information that push the “choose life” guilt trip to mothers both before and after birth or relinquishment. The people who benefit most promote it and have indoctrinated and manipulated society to believe this dross. The privileged customers need for it to be this way to soothe and convince themselves that they have done a good deed, rather than participate in a cruel trauma.