The Exploitation Problem

What could be wrong with a couple who has experienced infertility and has the financial means adopting the baby of an unwed mother ? Many people would see nothing wrong with this.

The problem is that behind this happily ever after scenario is a great deal of exploitation. In both of my parents’ adoptions, this was a definite factor, even though my mom’s parents were married. There is a great deal of money changing hands in the domestic infant adoption industry.

So, let’s consider domestic infant adoption. Only a newborn baby will do for these adoptive parents. They desire to only adopt a newborn baby. Let us judge this as selfishness. Maybe you as the hopeful adoptive parent just want to have the baby “experience.” Maybe you believe you’re getting a “blank slate” (that was what Georgia Tann who was involved in my mom’s adoption would tell her prospective parents). The truth is babies are NOT blank slates. Maybe you want the “as if born to” parenting experience (being there at the very beginning and you as parents being the only ones the child will ever know). Maybe you think this is as close as you can get to having your “own” child.

Some reality checks –

1. You are NOT needed. There are over 100 hopeful adoptive parents/singles/couples for every ONE newborn baby that is available to adopt. These babies are in high demand and sought after. They won’t age out of foster care, if you don’t adopt them. Furthermore, they have biological genetic families. Contrary to popular belief, there are very few women who just don’t want their kids. Imagine the desperation, fear and poverty you must live in to give away your own child. Adoption rates have gone down drastically over the last year. Why? Because families have received so much more financial help and resources due to COVID. With help and support, even more mothers are parenting their own children.

2. If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent glad that “support” from the government is stopping to increase your odds of getting a baby – you are not adopting because you are a good person.

3. If you’re praying for a woman to feel desperate enough to give you her baby – you are not adopting because you are a good person.

4. If you match pre-birth with a pregnant woman and coerce and manipulate her during her pregnancy – your desperation is showing and you are not adopting because you are a good person.

5. Agencies are a for profit business and often are not at all ethical. Know this, if you’re paying thousands of dollars to adopt through an agency – you are not adopting because you are a good person. You are adopting because you have the money to do so (or have raised the money through a Go Fund Me or other such platform).

6. A standard adoption practice is for the hopeful adoptive parents to be present in the delivery or hospital room. The agencies tell the birth mother that “this is just how it’s done.” Know this – it’s done to make it harder for the mom to change her mind, when she sees her child. If you’re there breathing down her neck while she is giving birth and in that moment when she first meets HER child – you are attempting rob her of the only precious moment with her baby that she may ever have. And maybe she WILL change her mind and her baby will be glad that she did.

7. If you make her feel guilty for wanting to keep her baby, the same way the agency will – you are exploiting her. If you employ an agency to call Child Protective Services on her (mind you, just standard adoption practice) when she wavers regarding giving her baby up to you, just to scare her into going forward – you are exploiting her.

8. So, the mom has changed her mind and is going to keep and parent her baby. Then, you fight against her decision by using the legal system or the agency does it on your behalf – you are exploiting her.

9. If the father is not on board with the adoption and his rights are being completely ignored – you are exploiting the father.

If any of this is true of your circumstances – you are guilty of exploiting a difficult time in someone’s life. A situation that will likely change for the better given time. You will leave a baby with lifelong trauma from sundering that child from its original family.

A Failed Adoption Is Not The Same Thing

A woman shares this – Someone’s asking how to support a friend whose adoption has been disrupted at [a specific point in an unborn baby’s gestation]. This friend is a would be adoptive parent. The responses to this situation, that include some from other adoptive parents who identify themselves as having experienced this, equate it to a death in the family, stillbirth, or trauma.

Certainly, one could relate the two up to a point. The prospective adoptive parents have been excited about the pending adoption. They have the expectation of holding a newborn in their arms. They may have invested in a crib, baby clothes and diapers among their other preparations. But the similarity stops there.

My daughter experienced a stillbirth with her first pregnancy. She describes to me being given the expelled fetus in a blanket to hold and say goodbye to at the hospital. She tells me that when she became pregnant again with my grandson, she could hear this first one saying to her in her heart, you weren’t ready for me then.

Another woman shares (she is an adoptive parent) – I have had two late term stillbirths. Both were cord deaths. In no way, shape or form would I say that a failed adoption is at all related to experiencing a stillbirth or death loss. You cannot even put the two together. It’s only recently that stillbirth has been allowed to even be spoken about. This is why pre-birth adoption matching of unborn babies to be shouldn’t be allowed! Adoptive parents who compare the two, taking away from the women who have had an actual loss by birthing a stillbirth baby by comparing that tremendous sorrow with a belief that their loss of a baby because the expectant mother has changed her mind is a kind of mental illness.

An adoption reform response to prospective adoptive parents experiencing this kind of loss could be – “While this is a type of loss for your family, can you shift your perspective and realize how amazing it is that this mother and your family will not have to live with the certain regrets surrounding an adoption? It is a lovely and precious thing for this mom to be able to parent – just as it would have been for you.”

It’s A Woman’s Prerogative

So the question is asked –

Should a woman that has planned on giving her baby up for adoption, with a family for the baby chosen, details worked out, etc, be able to change her mind after the baby is born ?

This started as a situation where the hopeful adoptive couple helped the expectant mother get back into school and away from an abusive ex. The couple got to hold and name the baby but then she took it away from them. She said they had helped her reach a point of stability, where she no longer needed to put her baby up for adoption.

The kicker is that this was a fictional TV drama but it upset hopeful prospective parents in a support group that this could actually happen in real life.

One comment in that group was – “make a decision, no take backs.”

To which members of my adoption group said –  “no take backs.” We are not seven years old trading Pokemon cards on the playground, lady. Good grief.

Another said – This isn’t trading Twinkies at the lunch table.

More realistically though, This is a HUGE decision. 100% she should have however long she needs to decide. There is no reason to rush into a permanent decision, when the problem that is motivating that may prove temporary. Many a birth mom has realized this too late and carried a lifelong sorrow because she acted too hastily.

The hopeful adoptive parent perspective is generally along these lines – She’s selfless and brave to give up her baby but deciding to parent makes her cruel and a mooch.

Another honest perspective is this – If its a mothers choice to go the adoption route, then she should have the right to change her mind and she deserves enough time for her hormones to regulate, before any choice is made permanent.

As to reforms – Moms should have at least the first 4-6 weeks with the child. This allows them to judge how they truly feel. There are so many feelings plus hormones while pregnant and immediately after giving birth. These can cloud a woman’s decision making. Let new moms have the chance to experience motherhood first. Then, if after a settling period, a mom is still feeling it’s too much for her to handle, at least she’s had some actual experience with her baby. A bonus is that the baby is able to spend time with the mom the infant grew within.

One mom who surrendered her baby notes – Pre birth matching is mentally manipulative and really I think its abusive. In hindsight, she says, this situation encouraged me to “follow through” on giving my baby up. I now believe that if they had not been allowed in at the hospital, I wouldn’t have signed the papers. If I had been able to take my baby home, she would be here with me today.

And I do agree with this perspective – Yes, they should be able to change their mind and shouldn’t be forced to pay or give back anything that the potential adopters paid out!

Many mothers don’t comprehend how strongly they will love for their newborn child, until the minute the baby is laid in their arms. Honestly, only then, can a mother even begin to make a sound decision regarding what she wants for her child.

Every expectant mom should be offered unbiased therapy to assist her in making the choice that’s right for her, not anyone else’s decision on her behalf. She doesn’t owe anyone her baby.

And from an adoptee’s perspective – Since adoption is supposed to be about the child, ALL newborns would respond YES (let my mom change her mind !!). Adoption isn’t the first choice of most adoptive parents and is certainly would never be a newborn’s choice. All newborn’s (including those adopted) are predisposed as humans and by nature to crave their own mother’s voice, smell, breast and heartbeat – not a stranger’s.

As adoptees we had no choice but to learn to live without our true mother, and learn and be conditioned to call another woman “mother”, but at birth SHE (the mother we grew within) is our universe. A woman choosing to parent her own child isn’t a failed adoption but a failed assumption on the adoptive parents part. It is a chance adoptive parents take, when they try to groom a (likely desperate) expectant mother with the intention of procuring her newborn for themselves.