Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Stealing" Another Woman's Child

Photo: http://www.brandeis.edu/investigate/adoption/

Inspired by this post: Adopted or Abducted?

I've been reading a ton of anti-adoption literature lately. I don't know how I came across it to begin with, but it had me all curious. I wanted to know more about why there were so many people passionately against it. So I did some research... and HOLY COW, there's a lot of adoption hatred out there. A lot of it comes from people who were wronged by adoption in some way (women who felt coerced into placing their child for adoption, people who were adopted and struggled with having a closed adoption, people who think that adoption agencies are ethically corrupt baby-selling institutions, etc.)... The emotions are intense and the stories are sad.....

And I agree with them.

One thing I love, love, love about Kal's birthmother is that she didn't take her decision lightly. She thought it over her entire pregnancy and met with a counselor before she definitively made the choice to pursue adoption. And then she stuck with her decision despite outside influences that were telling her otherwise. That's the way an adoption plan should be made. It's a woman's choice and she shouldn't feel coerced into it. I hope she never regrets her decision and I hope she and Kal can form a great (healing) relationship when he's older. Now that I know what it feels like to be a mother, I can't imagine the selfishness it would take on my part to keep him forever separated from his first mother. I don't necessarily know what I'm doing while I'm trying to navigate the unknown waters of open adoption, but I would never forgive myself if I didn't try.

In my anti-adoption research, I've been learning more about the time in America when unwed mothers had a huge stigma attached to them and there was a lot of "hush, hush... let's keep this pregnancy a secret... let's send you off and you are going to put your baby up for adoption and then you are coming home as if it never happened" going on. This was wrong. When your parents just tell you that you're going to place your baby for adoption and they send you off to a maternity home and you're drugged up and not informed of your rights and you come home empty-handed and grieving - that's wrong. I hope we are changing as a society and that women are given options and education rather than societal pressures when they are trying to make a decision regarding the parenting of their child.

There were many, many women who were victims of what is called the "Baby Scoop Era" - a period of time from about the 1940's to the 1970's (some say even later) - in which there was a huge spike in the number of adoptions, but these women have later spoken out about the loss they incurred and how devastating it was to be separated from their child when they didn't want it - they were made to believe it was their only option. Their child was "stolen" from them and usually lost forever to a closed adoption, because they were not informed of any other choice and the vast majority placed their babies for adoption whether they wanted to or not. This era has tainted the general public's perception of adoption for decades. It's why there are so many people still searching for their birthparents and why some people didn't know they were adopted until they were adults. It was all a secret thing, not out in the open. This was the wrong way to go about things!

Agencies "promoting" adoption by seeking out pregnant women and coercing them in ways (by bribing, etc.) to give up their babies is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Agencies who use a young, impressionable pregnant girl's emotions against her are wrong. Baby-selling is wrong. Treating her like cattle - just trying to get a product from her - is wrong. Building her up into a Saint for placing her baby vs telling her she's not doing what's best for her child if she doesn't place... is wrong. Adoption as a business just doesn't sit well with me. Most for-profit adoption agencies don't sit well with me. Now that I'm a part of this whole adoption world, I've made so many connections with other families whose lives have been touched by adoption in some way. And the stories I've heard!! I don't know how agencies get away with some of their practices and not consider it unethical.

International adoption can be terribly unethical/corrupt as well. I used to want to adopt internationally, and I'm sure one day I will... but I worry about getting involved in something when I don't necessarily know what's going on on the other end. I read an article recently about child trafficking in Guatemala - an American couple was ordered by a Guatemalan judge to return their adopted daughter to her birthmother who claimed she was kidnapped. I've heard stories of women coerced into prostitution rings, all the prostituting creates babies, and then the mothers are told they aren't in a position to take care of their child (which they probably aren't at that point), and then the babies are sold to rich Americans, etc. who think they are saving a child from an orphanage or a life of prostitution (which they are at that point). It's a vicious cycle, because the children do need good homes, but they're being created that way... so someone can make a profit. And there are agencies that tell birthmothers that it's the best for her child when she doesn't know any better... when in reality what her child needs is her, not necessarily a richer American lifestyle. That doesn't mean better! A lot of them are in no position to say they want to keep their child when they're told how better their life would be if they were adopted. These adoptions are closed and a mother is separated from her child, unnecessarily.

As an adoptive mother, I know from my end of things how "baby hungry" adoptive couples can be. And whatever life circumstances they're in that brought them to adoption were probably filled with lots of hardship and deep emotion. That's when things can get shady and ethically corrupt. Emotions can make you lose your integrity. Emotions can make you manipulative. Adoptive couples who pressure a young, impressionable pregnant girl into making a decision she would later regret are wrong. Thinking she owes you anything (feeling entitled to someone else's child because you deserve it) is wrong. Misrepresenting how open you want the adoption to be after placement or saying anything the birthmother wants to hear in order for her to pick you is wrong.

All the anti-adoption opinions out there make me sad, but I totally get it. Adoption is as much a "tearing apart" of a family as it is a "putting together" of one. Even the best adoptions are filled with grief and sadness and drama and unhealed wounds and hurt feelings. I would consider myself an adoption advocate, but I would clarify and say that I do not think adoption is always the right choice. Many, many, many times over it is not the right choice and can cause more problems than it solves. But it is an option! A miracle of an option in some cases. And should be included in the counseling and education of anyone with an unplanned pregnancy and hard circumstances. But it should not be pushed on anyone, even if it seems like the best option. That's for the expectant parent(s) to decide.

In our future adoptions, I'm going to do all I can to make sure my standards of an ethical adoption are being met or I want nothing to do with it. Including my own actions. I need to leave the situation with a clear conscience. I need to keep my own emotions in check and not overstep my bounds when it comes to a birthmother making a decision. And if I feel like she isn't well informed on her options, I'll be the one to tell her. Even if that lessens my chances of adopting a baby in a "timely matter."





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