I am adding this link and quote to the beginning of my post, because I want to make sure it is acknowledged. It was a study I participated in this year about Birth Moms. The results came in last night, after I had written this post a week prior. My beliefs formed over the last year about birth moms have been reinforced by these study results. Please make sure to review them before leaving: http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Understanding-Options-Counseling-Experiences-in-Adoption-Phase-One-Report.pdf?mc_cid=201913cf4b&mc_eid=854d62306f
Here is a quote directly from the study:
“Of the 223 first/birth mothers in the study, more than two-thirds reported that they seriously considered other options besides adoption, most commonly to parent their child. However, the majority of first/birth mothers who participated in this study also reported limited to no access to information about parenting. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority indicated they would have liked more knowledge about resources that could help them potentially parent their child. Supportive services is a broad term that is typically inclusive of emotional and social support but also more tangible resources, such as financial and housing assistance. For many of the first/birth mothers in this study, the lack of emotional and social support they felt they needed to successfully parent was one of the deciding factors in their decision to relinquish their parental rights to their child for adoption. Similarly, financial and housing concerns provided additional pressure, with approximately four of every five first/birth mothers in this study citing financial concerns as one of the reasons they chose to place their child. The findings of this study suggest that pressure is experienced from a variety of sources, with the most common sources being immediate family.
As first/birth mothers reported about the available people in their personal life who could provide support, a common phenomenon that emerged was that of isolation. Approximately half of the first/birth mothers lacked family or friends with whom they could share their concerns and feelings. Isolation, in this instance, does not mean that their families and friends were physically absent from the lives of the first/birth parents in this study. Rather, the responses of first/birth mothers suggest that they felt their families were unavailable for emotional and practical support to help them make a decision regarding their pregnancy that allowed for thoughtful consideration of other alternatives, specifically parenting their child. This experience of isolation during the decision-making process was likely compounded by the feeling many first/birth mothers had of professionals (i.e., attorneys, agency professionals/caseworkers, and/or counselors) working their case who failed to advocate with family members to support their interests.”
Finances and Isolation. A very sad testimony.
Now to my post…
Let me start by saying if you read the entirety of this blog post, thank you. I am going to say some uncomfortable and certainly unpopular things.
A little back story on me, if you don’t have the time or interest to peruse my blog…I am a “birth” mom (I will use this term throughout because its the term with which pro-lifers relate). I am also pro-life. So…here’s the uncomfortable, unpopular part…I’m anti-adoption. Gasp! A pro-life birth mom who is anti-adoption.
Let me qualify my position. I am specifically anti-newborn adoption. I say this because I have lived the industry firsthand. I have no experience with other types of adoption and believe there are better voices to be heard on those topics.
Hey now! I just saw you put that “selfless hero” trophy back on the shelf. But, please hear me out before the commencement of hostilities begins. I ask that chick behind you, yeah that one with the black horn-rimmed glasses, to refrain from the customary “druggie whore”, “slut”, and “ungrateful” remarks until the end. I know your time is valuable…this should only take three thousandish words.
What is the purpose of this post and why am I appealing to you, pro-life person? The purpose is to point out that something is rotten in the State of Adoptionland, precisely at the corner of Newborn and Manipulation. And why you, pro-life person? I find that many pro-life people have very little firsthand experience with the multi-billion dollar industry called Adoption. Yet, the pro-life movement gives the adoption BUSINESS carte blanche in the adoption narrative. I think its high-time that we little people, the adoptees and birth moms, have our piece of the narrative pie. After all, the adoption business has been built on our backs. Furthermore, I think the pro-life movement…with its multitude of loving, caring, and compassionate crusaders…could embrace and put to better use many of their Christian values (and scripture) with this awesome thing called “Family Preservation.”
Now, what about me? I battled the birth mom life alone for 16 years. I developed and suffer(ed) greatly from Social Anxiety Disorder. I have cried myself to sleep countless nights. I have flirted with suicide on more than one occasion. For 1 6 years, I thought I was crazy for not “moving on.” (See my other posts) Truth is, once our child is adopted, there is very little concern for us. Some agencies provide post-adoption counseling for adoptive parents; not birth moms. There is minimal, but in the majority of cases, no help for birth moms after relinquishment. Yet, according to many studies, we suffer a lifetime of turmoil directly related to our adoption “decision”. I was recently a participant in a birth mom study. I was informed by the proctor that my answers were nearly identical to the other participants. I’ve been delighted to find, according to many studies and my birth mom sisters, that with all my adoption-related emotional baggage I am in fact totally normal! Well, in birth mom terms. Pro-life movement, shouldn’t that be alarming?!
For years, I was the “good” birth mom. Always grateful for my “selfless hero” trophies. I wore the “proud birth mom” and “adoption means love” shirts to pro-life marches. I praised adoption when people asked about my child. Why did I do these things? Many reasons. 1) I believed that in most cases of adoption, a child really was “saved” from abortion. If I spoke truthfully about how crappy adoption felt, I might be sending the message that abortion was a superior choice. Babies might die! 2) Although my adoption was a textbook definition of manipulation, I believed myself to be the exception and not the rule. 3) I believed that if I spoke poorly about adoption, my child would internalize my regret. 4) I believed, as the agency clearly stated, that my child was essentially a “blank slate” and would have a “fairytale” life with complete and total strangers to me. Turns out, its all a bunch of hooey. Call me naïve, but in my defense, I was a teenager.
A little over a year ago, things were revealed to me about my child’s adoption, and the infamous “fog” lifted from my eyes. Keep in mind it took 16 years for my fog to lift. There is indeed a fog. For some, it lifts rather quickly. For me, it took a while longer. For others, it may never lift.
Since the lifting, I have studied adoption websites, birth mom and adoptee blogs, support groups, books on healing, and psychiatric studies. I hate to say it fellow pro-lifers, but the adoption business ain’t so grand. I have tucked away my souvenir shirts.
So, now you’re wondering…where’s the beef? Get to the point.
1. Does adoption “save” lives?
That has been the pro-life narrative my entire adult life. I blindly accepted it and propagated that theory. But, over the last year, I have come across ONE…yes ONE…birth mom (out of dozens and dozens) who was mostly abortion-minded and chose to place her twins for adoption. Not wanting to find myself in an echo chamber, I decided I would go to actual adoption agency websites and read their birth mom testimonials. See, the online support groups are full of women who had NO intention of aborting. Hmm, surely I would find loads of birth moms saying my child’s life was “saved” because I chose adoption over abortion. That’s the narrative, right? Crazy thing…notta one.
All the following were taken from REAL adoption agency websites. They weren’t “cherry-picked”. I gave myself an allotted time to skim over about 12 agency sites. Honestly, most testimonials don’t give a specific, but a more general reason for placing (ie- “I was not prepared”), none included abortion. None included abortion. But that’s the selling point! I personally don’t want to call out the birth moms I quote (if they’re even real) because that isn’t my aim. But, I’m sure these quotes could be googled if one were doubtful. (Side note: A little nugget I discovered; adoption agencies frequently employee birth mothers in return for their glowing praises of adoption.) Here are some of the more frequent reasons for adoption…they all have an underlying theme…see if you can spot it.
He needed…“food in his stomach every day”
“it wouldn’t be right to put the responsibility on my parents of raising my child as I try to finish college”
“I couldn’t provide him with everything so I had found a family that could give him everything that I had only wished I could have.”
“Now my son has the perfect life”
“I’m not financially stable to have another child.”
“My life was such a mess that I was lucky to be able to crash on a friends couch where I didn’t usually feel comfortable or safe.”
Did you spot it? After sifting through about 12 agency sites, I never came across ONE testimonial proving that adoption “saved” a life. In my own adoption, I only considered abortion once I realized adoption was my fate. I did come across numerous testimonials that proved mothers believed themselves too poor and/or too unworthy to mother their own children. A lifetime lost at motherhood (and grandchildren) because of financial strain or relationship problems. That is the same message I find in my birth mom support groups. Maybe there is no echo chamber?
What do I personally take away from this? That it just isn’t true that adoption “saves” lives. It is a feel good, but false narrative and needs to stop being disseminated among pro-life groups if they are to maintain any credibility. What is true is that there are women out there who are being separated from their children (and lineage) because they are in financial difficulty or they need counseling/support with their relationship problems and/or self-esteem. Moms are losing one of the most intimate relationships in their lives because of money and apprehension. Two things the prolife movement should be champing at the bit to assuage.
What are these poor and/or self-conscious mothers being told when they meet with an adoption agent? Here are a few samples…(thanks to Is Adoption Trauma? for the “Propaganda” graphic and American Adoptions for the propaganda)
Let’s break it down:
Poor self-conscious mama seeks out help. Gets told she is selfless for placing her baby. Told, as above shows, that her child deserves “more love, family, and opportunity” and that if she loved her child any less, she would have kept him. If she is “selfless” to place that insinuates that she is “selfish” to keep her baby. Scripture stat! …Job…24:9…”The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt.”
Ugh. That made it start feeling a little creepy in here now. I need a shower to wash off the manipulation.
2) Is manipulation the exception and not the rule?
I would argue that any agency telling a mom she is “selfless”, “brave”, a “hero” etc is manipulative. Most certainly if they’re already referring to her as “birth mom” and having her sign forms prior to birth. It may seem perfectly innocent from the outside looking in, but I’ve been that vulnerable mom. Even if it’s done from a place of blameless sincerity; you’re dealing with someone who WANTS to do the best for their child (they’ve obviously not chosen abortion) and already believes that they might not be the best. So selling the “virtues” of choosing adoption should probably be off limits to the susceptible. I’m certain that many agencies, like mine, do it purposefully because they know that those praises DO in fact manipulate and sway an adoption decision. And an adoption decision makes payroll. I’m not trying to be snarky, but let’s be real, its a business. There’s MAJOR demand. They need major supply. Now, pro-life movement, I know you don’t trust Planned Parenthood’s abortion”counseling”…why do adoption agencies get a free pass?
Many a newborn-adoption supporting birth mom will tell you she wasn’t “manipulated”. Meh, I say give her 10-15 years to say that confidently. Even if she maintains throughout her life that she wasn’t manipulated, I can point you in the direction to plenty who were. THAT is the point I want to make most. THAT, again, should be alarming to the pro-life movement. A moment of crisis in a mother’s life being exploited by an industry that makes billions a year because of her crisis. That’s with a “B”. So, let’s not pretend corruption can’t be involved.
The intention of manipulation is that your victim is unaware of the fact. With adoption, once manipulation is discovered, it is regrettably too late. It causes REAL problems. Let me send a warning to the pro-life movement. Manipulating people creates hostility; especially when it concerns their children and/or family. There is a plethora of adoptees and birth moms who revel in the demise of the pro-life movement because of what adoption has personally done to them. They are angry with the pro-life movement for their blind support of the business. I beg of you to start listening to them and stop lending your blind support to the money changers.
3) Will a child internalize a birth mother’s regret?
That is absolutely possible, but to my sister birth moms its no reason for us to stay silent. Our stories need to be heard. The adoption business needs to be confronted and held accountable. I carried these regrets and pains for over a decade thinking I was completely alone. Two things I learned; I was in the company of thousands of other birth moms AND that my child had her own set of adoption-related pains. She is, in fact, an adoptee. Finding an adoptee healing group on Facebook is like finding Kim Kardashian in a gossip mag. There are studies upon studies upon studies- readily accessible on the google machine confirming that the adoptee’s life isn’t the “fairytale” as sold. At the least, we need to admit as pro-life people that adoption IS a traumatic event. A child has lost the intimacy of their biological connections. That child lost his mother who carried and sustained him for 9 months in the womb. Adoption is a decision that shouldn’t be so cavalierly suggested or encouraged. Some are revisited by this trauma throughout their lives. A little solemnity on the subject could go a long way in healing. Just because your friend’s brother’s second cousin once removed’s neighbor’s adopted kid had a “fairytale” life, doesn’t mean they all do. Just because your uncle’s coworker’s landscaper’s dog walker’s sister adopted a baby whose mom was a heroin/crack/and meth addicted bearded circus act, doesn’t mean that her child didn’t suffer a great trauma in family loss OR that ALL birth moms can be written off as deserving to lose their children. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had where I say “Adoption hurt me”…and the response I’m given is “well, it didn’t hurt so and so.” That is denial, something the pro-life movement should be in the business of snuffing out.
We, as pro-lifers, focus so much on abortion damaging mothers and babies…yet we as a whole deny (sometimes vociferously) the damage done to birth moms and adoptees. This is irresponsible. We are playing with people’s emotions here. To casually tell a mother to “just put it up for adoption” has to be the biggest, lamest cop out in all of the pro-life movement. It is apathetic; something with which the pro-life movement should be horrified. Many of us pride ourselves on our care for women and their children. The fear of abortion is so intense for some that the adoption narrative is never questioned and actually encouraged. Question it. When was the last time you heard of or saw a couple adopt a child at an abortion clinic? Hmm. Probably never. There aren’t lines of Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) waiting outside of abortion clinics “saving” babies through adoption. There’s a reason adoption agencies have to search out expectant moms instead of setting up shop next to an abortion clinic. Its because the narrative is false.
4) Being adopted isn’t a “fairytale” life
I can’t speak as an adoptee. I can listen to adoptees. They have a lot to say. Of course, there are those who will tell you they did have a “fairytale” life. I find them few and far between and mostly on pro-life threads. But, travel further into Adoptionland and there are support groups galore proving that adoptees have their own unique adoption baggage.
I know from listening to them, that they have much in common with birth moms when it comes to the pro-life movement. Few in the pro-life movement truly listens to them. In fact, they’re frequently shut down with name-calling and marginalization. The agencies run the narrative in the pro-life movement, the necessary components of the machinery are ignored or belittled. We are simply cogs in the wheel.
If an adoptee or birth mom doesn’t toe the party line, that “Adoption is Beautiful”, then we quickly go from “saved” and “selfless” to “ungrateful” and “slut”. This needs to end. There is some serious vitriol being spit by “pro-lifers” out there towards anyone who has LIVED adoption and hasn’t come to the preconceived, manufactured “beautiful” conclusion. You’re doing nothing but making enemies to your cause if you contribute to this behavior. If pro-life is indeed your cause.
With all this said…I know I’ve left out a million things I want to say, but I realize you probably have a life. Thank you for reading this far. Now, for extracurricular reading…
What would I like for you to leave here with? A brand…new…car…But seriously. I would like for you to leave here with a fresh sobering view on what Adoption means for many of us birth moms and adoptees. There are a LOT of us in pain. Many of us feel doomed to the shadows because we are shut down when expressing anything contrary to the narrative. So when we aren’t excited to see the whole “Adoption is Beautiful” and “Adoption is a Miracle” stuff on our Facebook feeds or at the March in DC, please don’t hate on us. It’d really be cool if you just listened to us. Maybe even work with us to change the status quo.
There is real CORRUPTION in the newborn adoption agency business. I’m not knocking them all…only about 99.33% of them. If a mom has to have her love “tested” with sayings such as “you’re selfless to give your child away”- for future reference that should serve as a red flag to any pro-life person. Its either manipulation or the pinnacle of insensitivity. I implore the pro-life movement to research the history of modern day adoption- a 60 year young practice. It isn’t Biblical. Biblically, there is no example of the modern type of newborn adoption. It has its roots in 20th Century social work and psychiatry. It was created to give wealthy families the children of the poor. Blech! We, as pro-lifers, have to steer clear of such eugenic-based ideology.
At the end of the day, do your own homework. There’s so much information to glean from the worldwide web. Research the “Family Preservation” movement. Research how moms in compromising situations were treated by Christians prior to modern day adoption practices. Research the Baby Scoop Era and how shady characters between the 1950s-1970s benefitted from sending unwed mothers “away”, taking their children from them against their will, and adopting them out to more “deserving” families. Once society caught on to how this was a poor answer, the industry changed its tactics and began manipulating moms from their babies through lofty platitudes like “you’re so brave”…”if you love your child”…”you’re blessing another family”…etc.
Research “open” adoption. That it is NOT a contract nor does it have legal enforcement. A hard truth that Tyler and Catelynn from MTV’s 16 and Pregnant have recently discovered. I watched in horror as you see the lightbulb turn on in Catelynn’s eyes,“This is frustrating because I was sixteen years old when I made this decision.” Some sites claim that 80% of open adoptions close within 5 years. I personally don’t know the hard numbers, but I can vouch that there are plenty of birth moms out there who have had their adoptions closed or they certainly don’t live up to the promises that were made.
Lastly, please don’t shut down the voices of adoption that make you uncomfortable. Listen to them. They are cries for help. They serve as an alarm that something isn’t right. The pro-life movement, of all movements, should be open to helping those in need and righting societal wrongs done to mothers and their babies.
The newborn adoption business is founded upon birth moms who are relinquishing their children due to financial and/or emotional hardships. These are all too often temporary problems that are being met with a permanent solution. Newborn adoption is NOT founded upon “saving” the lives of unborn babies. The evidence is not there. Although, I can name birth moms who have committed suicide due to their adoption grief. Newborn adoption is not “visiting the orphan” as we are commanded by Scripture. It is the making of an “orphan”. Often I hear prochoicers accuse us of being “pro-birth” not “pro-life”. Turning a blind eye to the abuses of the newborn adoption industry doesn’t help our case.
Now, you may commence with the hostilities. Just be aware that I probably won’t censor any ugly responses and they will be left for the whole world to see. Or at least a tiny portion of the world; who will roll their eyes and blow a raspberry at your name for all internet eternity. But I will leave you with some words of birth moms and adoptees. Quotes that I found in a matter of minutes, that I can find just as easy in a matter of minutes any day of the week.
“Ignoring the realities of adoption increases the pain and hurt.”
“If I comment about adoptee grief I get vitriol spewed at me.”
“I was not allowed to talk about adoption at all.”
“My a-parents don’t even know I’m searching.”
“Mothers are abandoned.”
“Adoption always starts out with a loss.”
“These abuses are still going on.”
“I want the world to know that the loving option to abortion is family preservation.”
Thanks for your time, A Birth Mom