Why Adoption Needs to Play a Bigger Role in the Reproductive Justice Conversation

This summer, reproductive rights supporters in Texas descended upon their rose-hued state capitol, day after day, through two special legislative sessions, to rally against an omnibus anti-abortion bill that is expected to drastically reduce access to safe, legal abortion in the state.

Texas Democrats ultimately failed to block the bill, despite a historic fight that catapulted Sen. Wendy Davis into the national spotlight, as HB 2’s passage was all but guaranteed by the state’s right-wing legislative majority. But even some Democrats voted to pass the law, which could shutter all but the six abortion clinics in the state that are currently able to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

One of those Democrats, 30-year state senate veteran Eddie Lucio, added insult to injury when, as the second special session wound down, he filed a last-minute bill that would require Texans seeking abortions to take three hours of adoption counseling before their procedures, putting yet another obstacle between pregnant Texans and legal abortion. The state already requires such Texans to undergo forced ultrasounds and a 24-hour waiting period.

Lucio knew his bill wouldn’t go to a vote that session, but it wasn’t meant to. It was meant to be a prelude to the 2015 legislative session, when he plans to lobby hard for state-mandated, directive adoption counseling. (Lucio later filed a slightly different version of the bill, mandating “resource awareness” counseling that specifically highlights adoption.)

“I’m hoping that we can save a few lives by having the woman think about the possibility of allowing her child to go through the birth process and giving it up if necessary so she can continue to go through her life as maybe she has planned,” Lucio told Texas Public Radio in early August.

While Lucio, who waxed theological on the issue of “personhood” and abortion for several minutes before ultimately voting to pass HB 2 this summer, may be coming from a well-meaning place, his bill shows a deep ignorance about the reality of adoption, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the reasons why it is not an alternative to abortion, but rather an alternative to parenting. Research shows that the vast majority of pregnant people who seriously consider adoption never considered abortion as a viable option in the first place, and Lucio’s bill would serve predominantly to detain, and perhaps shame, pregnant people who are already in a time crunch, and who are already facing logistical hurdles to obtaining legal abortions.

Lucio is not alone in his ignorance, and as an anti-choice senator, it’s hardly unusual that he would champion adoption despite the basic illogic of his own bill, as adoption has become almost exclusively the purview of the anti-choice community, while reproductive rights supporters are compelled to concentrate instead on fighting other, mostly abortion-related battles in state legislatures.

But reproductive justice advocates who RH Reality Check spoke to say there is plenty of room for adoption in the larger conversation about reproductive rights, and in light of Lucio’s proposed bill and growing awareness about the coercive practices of a largely unregulated domestic and international adoption industry, it is not an issue they can afford to ignore.

“On the pro-choice side, they’ve kind of handed adoption over to those in the ‘pro-life’ arena,” said writer and social worker Amanda Woolston, an adoptee herself and author of The Declassified Adoptee. “We need to take it back and say that anybody who cares about women and children and families needs to have an opinion.”

Even though the question of being able to choose when and whether to parent, and whether resources exist to support those options, is central to any adoption decision, adoption tends to be overshadowed by abortion in the reproductive justice arena, for a variety of reasons: Abortion is more politically volatile, countering explicit legislative attacks on abortion access demands a great deal of time and resources, abortion is significantly more common than adoption, and adoption is an under-researched area, perhaps in part because it is by and large understood in our culture to be a social good that needs little oversight.

“I think [adoption] is a crucial part of the reproductive rights conversation,” said Kathryn Joyce, a journalist and author of The Child Catchers, an investigation into the international trafficking of adoptees by American evangelicals. “It’s part of the larger conversation about not just the right to choose when you parent, but to choose to be a parent. That’s a fundamental right that is absolutely, beyond question part of reproductive justice.”

According to critics of adoption as it is practiced today, even after the “Baby Scoop Era,” during which single women were shepherded away to maternity homes to deliver their children in secret, many of the common accusations leveled at the so-called abortion industry by anti-choice reproductive rights opponents—specifically, that coercive “abortionists” are solely interested in creating and maintaining demand for their services for the singular purpose of making money off hoodwinked and/or ignorant clientele—could be aptly applied to the largely unregulated domestic and international adoption industry.

“Ironically, some of the same things that the anti-choice side will accuse abortion rights supporters of doing seem to be kind of actually happening in some adoption counseling scenarios,” said Joyce, who also wrote about “shotgun adoptions” for The Nation in 2009, detailing the lengths to which crisis pregnancy centers and some religious-affiliated adoption agencies go in order to convince women to relinquish children to what they’re often told are sure to be better homes than those they themselves could provide.

If reproductive justice is about freedom from coercion and the ability to make affirmative choices with appropriate and sufficient resources, the adoption industry deserves all the attention those in the movement can give it.

“Adoption, the issue, is just really under-talked about and really under-explored,” said Katie Klabusich, a writer and reproductive justice activist living in New York. An adult adoptee, she says “we need to do everything we can do to make sure [adoption] is an affirmative choice.”

That means, in some cases, going up against adoption agencies that have not only an ideological investment in increasing adoptions, but a financial one. In 2012, Midwest-based Bethany Christian Services took in $82 million from adoption fees, investments, contributions, and “reimbursement for children’s services,” while Texas’ Gladney Center for Adoption reported over $37 million in net assets for the same year.

These agencies do all they can to ensure that women who consider adoption follow through on their plans. Gladney offers a kind of all-expenses-paid new-wave maternity home for women considering adoption, while Bethany places pregnant women in private homes with families who encourage them not to change their minds. Critics say this separation from family and social networks engenders a sense of isolation and helplessness, prompting those facing unplanned pregnancies to feel reliant on adoption agencies and indebted to them for support. In return, they may feel obligated to relinquish their babies despite their misgivings.

Joyce says adoption counseling can be a “very socially engineered” conversation, with adoption “presented as, ‘This is the responsible way you can take responsibility for your bad decision of having premarital sex and getting pregnant.'”

At the Gladney website, pregnant women are told that while adoption may initially cause them “pain,” it will “someday [be] replaced by strength.” The page on Bethany’s website aimed at people considering abortion advises them that “taking the time to look at your other choices may prevent you from making a decision you will later find hard to live with,” implying that abortion is a guaranteed path to regret.

But research shows that adoption can indeed be an option that pregnant people later find hard to live with. According to the Center for American Progress, those who choose to relinquish children for adoption often experience grief and profound loss, along with relief. For many in the triad of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents, adoption it is not unilaterally the joyful exploration of loving kindness presented by agencies and messaging campaigns like Gladney-affiliated Brave Love, which aims to communicate “the heroism and bravery” of adoption.

Woolston, the “Declassified Adoptee,” said adult adoptees live with frustration and guilt when they’re reminded that “what our lives could have been before adoption would have been so much more terrible, that once adoption comes into the picture, we have nothing to complain about.”

And Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, an outspoken critic of the adoption industry who relinquished a child in 1987 when she was 19 years old, says birth mothers are often cast aside once they’ve relinquished their children, particularly when they have no legal means of holding adoptive parents accountable for open adoption agreements, or ensuring they get the post-adoption counseling so often promised by adoption agencies. “We’ll take away the baby,” muses D’Arcy, “but we’re going to leave you in the same crisis.”

As for birth fathers, Woolston said they’re treated as little more than a “roadblock” to adoption: “It’s another person with rights who we have to consider,” she said. “Fathers have largely been written out of policy for that reason.”

No credible research conducted by non-partisan, objective groups or experts has found that the adoption experience universally reflects the transformational journey of joy and selflessness put forth by many adoption agencies and crisis pregnancy centers. Instead, research suggests that adoption is as complicated and nuanced as the individuals involved, who experience a wide variety of emotions and outcomes.

Which is not to say that good cannot and does not come out of adoption—none of the adoption critics that RH Reality Check spoke to oppose adoption as a concept—but the waters must be navigated carefully and ethically. A three-hour adoption counseling program that explicitly aims, as Sen. Lucio said his would, to encourage women to relinquish their children to adoptive families could not be anything other than, at best, deeply biased, or at worst, profoundly coercive.

Indeed, private agencies like Gladney are already using slick marketing campaigns to do what Lucio hopes his adoption counseling mandate would do: increase the available supply of adoptable infants. According to the Gladney website, Brave Love’s goal is to “drastically increase adoption rates in the U.S.” But how? The Brave Love website contains no information about how parents can adopt existing foster children. Instead, it is aimed at pregnant women who, according to a promotional video, will be “heroes” if they relinquish their infants for adoption.

However, Brave Love’s founder, Ellen Porter, who herself adopted a child through Gladney, told RH Reality Check that her organization believes “increased adoption education is necessary across the board, not just for abortion-minded women,” for whom “adoption should be presented as an option so that women can make a well-informed decision when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.”

For the State of Texas to engage in similar practices aimed at talking pregnant women into relinquishing infants, glossing over the nuances of adoption in order to present the choice in the best possible light, is to wade into ethically questionable waters, said Katie Klabusich. To be frank, she said, Lucio’s proposal “freaks [her] out,” not only because she is an adoptee who believes her birth mother never was able to consider abortion as an option, but because she herself has also chosen to end a pregnancy.

“I feel like it cheapens the effect that the unplanned pregnancy had on my life,” she said. “It judges the decision that I made, and it also cheapens the way that I came into the world.”

Birth mother Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy called Lucio’s bill “really frightening.”

“Three hours is not at all a decent length of time to get adequate information,” she said, adding that she’s “sure the information that would be given would not be true information.” Instead, she says most adoption legislation, when lawmakers make any attempt to address the issue at all, is intended to benefit adoptive parents and adoption agencies, the most privileged players in an adoption situation.

Adoptive parents, says D’Arcy, “are, in the end, the paying customer and the ones the agencies are going after.” According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, private adoptions can cost anywhere from $5,000 to over $40,000.

“They want the moms to make the product,” said D’Arcy. But today, very few pregnant Americans choose adoption in the first place, with an estimated 14,000 domestic adoptions taking place each year, compared to some 175,000 in the 1970s, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before 1973, nearly 19.3 percent of never-married white women and 1.5 percent of never-married Black women relinquished children for adoption, whereas today, fewer than 2 percent of white women, and “nearly 0 percent” of Black women choose adoption.

Woolston told RH Reality Check that what legislation has been passed has largely centered on enabling and encouraging would-be adoptive parents. Legislators ask, says Woolston, “‘How can we convince people to adopt?’ ‘What can we do to encourage them to keep adopting?’ And then, ‘How can we convince pregnant women to choose adoption instead of abortion?’ And then at the bottom they say, ‘What can we do for adoptees that doesn’t interfere with our plans?'”

In the end, says Woolston, “none if it is empowering to any of us, even at the top. We all have roles that have meaning in society, and we’re expected to play within those roles and stay contained.”

What, then, can reproductive justice advocates do if they want to ally with those in the adoption triad in addressing some of the problems facing the adoption industry today, and challenge what appears to be the industry’s increasing reliance on obfuscation and coercion?

Woolston suggested advocates start by looking at privilege itself, a concept central to any reproductive justice conversation: “In adoption, children tend to go from poorer homes into wealthier homes, and that really reflects traditional hierarchies of privilege,” she said. “We must ask ourselves, what circumstances place mothers and families in a position where they have to choose abortion, or between adoption and parenting? What can we do to address their needs? And how can we go a step further into the institution, to help those who live it?”

That could mean a variety of practical actions: increasing, rather than decimating, funding to food stamps, increasing the availability of affordable health care, and ensuring low-income families have access to prenatal care. But it also requires a shift in cultural conversations about parenthood, to one that doesn’t privilege some parents as being more worthy, or capable, simply because of their class privilege.

Often, when women are poor, pregnant, and considering adoption, they are told by crisis pregnancy center counselors and adoption agencies that their own selfishness, their poverty, and their general unpreparedness for parenthood will prevent them from raising a healthy, happy child.

In fact, the right-wing lobbying group the Family Research Council released a paper in 2000 intended to help crisis pregnancy center counselors direct more women to choose adoption, advising them to “emphasize the difficulties of parenting” and to tell pregnant people that “unprepared mothers” will parent children who “may very well live lives of pain and suffering.” The report, astounding in its open disdain for women with unplanned pregnancies, highlights women’s “level of selfishness” when they resist the idea of adoption. It scoffs, “[B]onding with their children, and the desire to keep them, matters most.”

The implication here, of course, is that an adopted child with a middle- or upper-class upbringing and two heterosexual, married parents will definitely fare better than a child raised in a low-income or single parent household, or one in which parents are not married.

“Ideally, no one wants to separate a mother from her biological child,” said Ellen Porter at Brave Love. But the Family Research Council’s report certainly seems to indicate that some adoption agencies and crisis pregnancy centers desire to do just that, in part by using the kind of redemption narratives and heroine-worship language used on Brave Love’s website. From the report:

Choosing adoption is a way for many women to regain their identities as responsible, caring adults. This allows them to feel they are making up for their past failures by doing the best they can for their babies whom they feel are the innocent parties in the situation. By acting responsibly and giving their babies to loving families, these women are able to see themselves as responsible and unselfish. They feel good about themselves because they are able to see beyond their own desires and strong emotional urges to keep the children regardless of what is actually the best thing to do.

It is as if, says D’Arcy, adoptive parents of means “are never going to get sick, lose jobs, get divorced.” But, she says, “they are the same as anybody else and have the same risks. The child is not guaranteed to have a happily ever after just because they’re adopted by wealthy parents.”

The “conversation about who is a legitimate mother,” said Kathryn Joyce, “feeds into so many other things about race and class and the whole broad history of coercion and reproductive history.”

From a policy point of view, adoption reform activists hope to achieve a number of goals, including opening adoptees’ original birth records and giving birth parents more legal recourse when adoptive parents choose to renege on open adoption agreements, which in many states are not legally enforceable.

Both of these issues serve to maintain adoption’s long history of secrecy. The Gladney-founded adoption lobbying arm, the National Council for Adoption, has long, and successfully, opposed opening adoptees’ birth records, and birth parents continue to be forced to rely on the honesty of adoptive parents when they agree to open adoptions.

“Once we actually have state laws allowing adoptees to access their original birth certificates,” says Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, “we’ll know what’s actually happening,” as opposed to hearing only the agency-promoted “mythology” of adoption, which she says is also used to mislead adoptive parents into thinking birth parents are making affirmative decisions.

“They all get sold a total bill of false goods,” said D’Arcy. “They get told what they want to hear, so [agencies] get their money. Once you’re $5,000 in the hole, indebted to the agency, and it’s probably your only chance that you’re ever going to have a kid, it’s just sad.”

Until adoptees have the ability to identify their birth parents, and birth parents are able to maintain mutually agreed-upon presences in their children’s lives, the reality of adoption will continue to be couched in secrecy. In the meantime, said Woolston, “It’s keeping adoptees from being able to get the same documentation from the government that everybody else can get.”

D’Arcy and Woolston both said that birth parents’ rights need specific protection from the government. D’Arcy would like to see “uniform state laws” that clarify and extend the time period in which women can consent to relinquishing their child, and in which she can choose to parent if she changes her mind. Too often, she says, women are compelled to sign consent agreements in hospital rooms, when they are still recovering from labor.

And while Ellen Porter at Brave Love said that “birth mothers can have a relationship with the family, if desired,” D’Arcy says many of these kinds of promises that are made to birth mothers, or first mothers as many prefer to be called, are never followed through with after the adoption takes place, especially when the law does not compel adoptive parents to adhere to open adoption agreements.

As for biological fathers, Woolston said they “have very little ground to stand on,” and “if we actually had laws that acknowledged a child’s right to be raised by their father or their mother,” the “heartwrenching” legal battles between adoptive parents and biological fathers could be shortened or eliminated.

It is crucial to remember that even critics of adoption are not wholly opposed to the practice; rather, they are concerned about how adoption is currently handled by its largest players, and the ignorance surrounding and motivating much U.S. adoption policy, which they say is heavily biased toward making adoption easier for adoptive parents, to the exclusion of the needs of birth parents and adoptees themselves.

Research suggests, and much anecdotal evidence shows, that adoptees have complicated and mixed emotions about their experiences—they are, after all, whole human beings and not, as they are so often told and imagined to be, perpetually thankful children who owe a debt of gratitude—to society, to their adoptive parents, to their birth parents, to God—for their very existence. Research also suggests that parents who relinquish children experience a variety of emotions and outcomes dependent on the circumstances of their adoption, again, because they are whole people and not a choir of saintly martyrs saved by the power of selflessness.

What no research suggests, and what no adoptive parent, adoptee, or birth parent that RH Reality Check has spoken to believes, is that three hours of government-mandated counseling is needed to convince or compel more pregnant people to relinquish their infants for adoption.

But if reproductive justice activists don’t educate themselves and each other about adoption’s role in their movement, proposed legislation like Sen. Lucio’s could become a reality in lieu of very real, very needed adoption industry reform. In a way, Lucio has done these activists a favor by showing his hand; he has given them a reason to incorporate more, and more serious, talk about adoption into the larger conversation around reproductive rights, and an opportunity to show lawmakers and the public what meaningful, lasting changes toward a more ethical adoption framework might look like instead.

Correction: A version of this article incorrectly noted that Texas law requires people seeking abortions “to undergo forced transvaginal ultrasounds and a 24-hour waiting period.” In fact, state law does not specify that the ultrasounds must be transvaginal, though in practice, many of the forced ultrasounds are likely to be transvaginal, as is routine practice for people in the early stages of pregnancy.

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  • ldwendy

    Thank you for writing such a well-written article.

  • RethinkThePink

    Adoption is not reproduction. Sorry. Don’t fuel their false fire. Women are not stupid – they know their options. If anything, the negative impact of adoption can be discussed. Because it makes the alleged “abortion regret” psychological phenomenon forced-birthers scream about look like a mere disappointment.

    Please don’t take your eye off the ball. Whatever happens after that primary decision to abort or not to abort is not a political issue and should not be treated as one.

    • http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/musings-of-the-lame-an-adoption-blog/ Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy

      It IS a political issue when the current adoption laws in this country do favor the paying clients, the prospective adoptive parents, and under the prodding of the adoption lobbys funded by both agencies an lawyer, new legislation continues to make ti “easier to adopt”.
      It IS a political issue when there are laws that treat one of your children differently than the other three based on the circumstance of his birth and life as an adoptee.
      It IS a political issue when the agencies make sure than women do NOT know their options, are fed false information and that information is funded by our tax funds.
      It might not be YOUR battle, but as one of the approximately 10 million mothers separated from my child based on the needs of a 13 billion dollar industry, my eyes are THIS ball.

      • Arekushieru

        I think you missed RTP’s point, as did Kym. It is not a political or reproductive issue insofar as the issue of abortion and pregnancy go. Abortion and pregnancy deal with bodily autonomy, after all. Whereas raising or relinquishing a child deals with parenting. And that’s the issue that gets conflated with adoption. And, yes, both sides are presented as ‘wins’, it’s just that the first option is presented as a win within the framework of pregnancy and abortion. But, just because raising a child is used in that same context doesn’t mean that adoption should be, as well. It is best to raise these issues within each *other’s* orbit. That way right to bodily autonomy and the right to parent or not don’t end up undermining each other.

        • kym

          Yes, there’s a difference between pregnancy and parenting. However, if there’s an abortion, then parenting of a human being isn’t needed. If the pregnancy continues, a human being will need to be parented, typically it’s by the people who created the pregnancy.

          And in regards to being political – adoption becomes political when there are tax incentives to adopt or run a non-profit adoption agency; government funding is involved in child-protective services and foster-care programs; when politicians unite to ensure diplomatic adoption partnerships with foreign countries, but do not pass legislature that ensures US citizenship to international adoptees to the US; when laws require government entities to withhold original birth certificates from adopted people, but not from anyone else.

    • kym

      Adoption is absolutely about reproduction.

      The reproduction that PAP’s would often like to experience (but might not be able to due to infertility) and the reproduction that agencies lead first mothers to believe they are not suitable for, despite being fertile.

  • Alex King

    Reproductive choice–who’s a parent, how do we support or undercut that status, who gets to decide– really does connect with adoption policy. The two go together, just not in the tidy ‘adopt don’t abort’ bumper sticker framing. Thanks for this thoughtful review of the issues. As an adoptive parent I often find myself explaining that the win-win framing of adoption, which many people impose on what we did, doesn’t really cover questions of choice. Yes, I’m glad my kid is alive, and presumably she is glad too; it’s still tragic that her first mother was boxed into a corner and her only escape was to release her child to fate. It’s complicated.

  • Maryanna Price

    They’ll scream and cry that women aborting their “babies” are throwing away their “precious, already-formed bond” with their “children,” but fully expect those women to just stick their feet into the stirrups and give away an actual child. All they care about is making sure as many women as possible are in labor at any given time.

  • Mary O’Grady

    RethinkThePink, adoption is a political issue because it punishes economically powerless women who dare to be sexually active by taking their children and giving them to richer people.

    • http://www.welovedc.com/ Don Whiteside

      Not all adoptive parents are well off, but you are right that it’s a political issue. Many of the women who place their children for adoption have arrived at that point in their life because of economic problems or because the system has failed them in other ways. I think the sources Grimes quotes are on a rather extreme place on the continuum and put a lot of societal problems at the foot of adoption itself, but they’re not wrong that there’s problems. Texas politicians trying to use adoption as some sort of pressure release valve while they take away women’s other choices are only going to cause more issues, not reasonably cope with the ones that already exist.

      • kym

        I agree with your comment, except I don’t believe that the sources in this article represent extreme views. They are very courageous, knowledgeable, and good at explaining the problems, however.

        I think this article was very informative and much needed.

        We are in a period where fewer unplanned pregnancies occur (contraceptive use), and when they do, the parent(s) may opt to keep their baby (socially accpetable). Numerous legal cases (Baby Veronica, Baby Desirai, Bring Hailey Home, Terry Achane, Bring Jerrad Home, etc.) have recently shown how fathers have been pushed away to make way for adoptions. Adoption agencies, even though they are “nonprofit”, get a lot of revenue from separating babies from their first parent(s) for the sake of adoption. In the cases of Baby Veronica and others I mentioned above, they are forced separations from their fathers.

        • http://www.welovedc.com/ Don Whiteside

          They’re extreme in the degree to which they want some of these reforms. For example, they want adopted children to be able to identify their birth parents, full stop. But this desire to simply open up access without the consent of the birth parent doesn’t reflect the desires of all birth parents. My wife’s adoption was conducted in Maryland and they have a system where birth parents and adopted children can register an interest in contact. If both parties do so they’re connected with each other and they can initiate contact.

          This is insufficient for D’Arcy, who states that access to the original birth certificate is a “civil right” for the child. She’s welcome to her position and I don’t deny her experience, but she represents an extreme in the reform community. She was interested in reconnecting with her child after placement but that’s not universal and there are birth mothers out there who find the idea horrific.

          It’s not that the vision of a supportive society that offers birth mothers every possible option isn’t one I’d love to see, but she and others seem to think that if they make these changes in adoption that somehow everything that would need to support it will somehow just magically happen. This doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground where many states are rejecting medicare expansion for their state’s poor because of ideological reasons.

          • MaiaDoe

            I agree, the birth mother should be protected against being contacted by her biological child against her will.

            They obviously think only about women who would love to parent (this specific child), but they just CAN’T, but there are also women who were traumatised by the pregnancy. Some of them would prefer an abortion, but even perfect Netherlands-style abortion access would not sort it out, there still be women who refuse abortion for whatever reasons, or women who keep their pregnancy secret until they give birth. Some women just want to forget about their pregnancies altogether, and it’s cruel to allow the child to contact them.
            “My wife’s adoption was conducted in Maryland and they have a system where birth parents and adopted children can register an interest in contact.” That’s right, IMO. Although I think that there should be possibility to place a child for an adoption 100% anonymously, without telling your name. I live in Europe, in Czech Republic, and it is possible, because it’s generally believed it can prevent (some) murders of newborns.

          • http://www.welovedc.com/ Don Whiteside

            There essentially are ways to place a child without identifying information through the Safe Harbor provisions in many states. Under those systems a mother can bring an infant to a designated location and hand the child over with no questions asked. It’s meant to serve exactly that sort of purpose – deal with a situation where someone has found they simply cannot cope. It doesn’t deal with the massive challenge of bringing that child to term and the costs and social difficulties of pregnancy in the US, but it is something.

          • kym

            Don, I appreciate your opinion, however, I think you’re confusing a relationship with having information. I agree, a relationship should be mutually consentual. A first mother who chose not to raise her child shouldn’t be forced to have a relationship with their daughter/son. Likewise, a daughter/son shouldn’t be forced into a relationship with the first mother/father.

            However, EVERYONE has an inherent and human right to know about themselves. I agree with Ms. D’Arcy that civil rights are being disregarded by keeping basic information about the adopted person from the adopted person him or herself. Are you familiar with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

            The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most universal set of laws to protect the rights of children around the world. If you really believe Ms. D’Arcy’s view are extreme, then I urge you to read Articles 7-11 and 21 in the UN CRC. It states that every child has a right to know their identity and where they came from. Yes, some first mothers might not like to be identified (although, from what I understand, very few birth mothers have objected to their children being denied their OBC).

            Regardless, the adopted person should be entitled to the same rights that every other US-born adult in this country is entitled to. Through no fault of the child was he or she adopted and most often, the decision to be adopted was not made by the child. Under those circumstances, anything less than equal legal access to one’s own factual information is an unequal law. Unequal laws are discriminatory laws. You may feel it’s extreme, but it’s the truth and the reality.

            And yes, I do support respecting the first parents’ wish to not be contacted, if that is their wish. But I don’t support laws that keep important factual information, such as medical history, birth information, first parents’ names, original birth name, etc. from the person who was actually birthed. Those people are also human beings and have a right to know and face their own identity.

          • MaiaDoe

            “If you really believe Ms. D’Arcy’s view are extreme, then I urge you to read Articles 7-11 and 21 in the UN CRC.”
            I know it’s based on that, and I think it should be abandoned, because women should not be forced to have an abortion if they “don’t want to see the child ever again”. Or give birth at home and abandon the baby somewhere. I know that the UN opposes baby hatches on this ground. I think that the UN should be ashamed.
            I know there are women who would consider carrying to term and placing the baby for adoption if it was possible to stay “somewhere else” for free, so their friends and relatives won’t notice they are pregnant.

            And I don’t think it’s a big deal – how many people do not know who their father is? I think that 10% of men raises someone else’s child, unknowingly.

            “Unequal laws are discriminatory laws. You may feel it’s extreme, but it’s the truth and the reality.”

            Then it’s discriminatory law. And? If the birth mother wishes to stay anonymous, then she wishes to stay anonymous, and the adoptees should just STFU, honestly. The adoptive parents are your real parents, get over that.

          • kym

            Where does the UN CRC say that a woman should have an abortion if they don’t want to see the child ever again? What part of the UN CRC suggests that even remotely?

            I think you’re still confusing an adopted person having factual information about themselves with the adopted person having a relationship (contact) with the first parents.

            Factual information about oneself and history shouldn’t be denied to anyone. Such as medical illnesses, circumstances of their birth, their truthful age, their ethnicity, etc. That information belongs to that person and can help with some life or death situations.

            But, it sounds like you favor discriminatory laws, and you prefer ordering a group of grown adults about how they should define their own relationships with people around them – that sounds real grown up and mature.

          • MaiaDoe

            “What part of the UN CRC suggests that even remotely?” By saying that the child has right to know who their mother is.

            “I think you’re still confusing an adopted person having factual information about themselves with the adopted person having a relationship (contact) with the first parents.” No, I’m not confusing it. Because “having actual information” means that the adopted person can reveal their mother, who might want to keep the pregnancy secret. Remember, there are women who “would not consider an adoption, because I can’t afford to stay somewhere else for at least four months, so people around me would know I was pregnant”. There are cases when the pregnant woman will not leave house for nearly half a year, so only her closest relatives will know.

            “Such as medical illnesses, circumstances of their birth, their truthful age, their ethnicity, etc.”
            Does not mean that the adopted person needs to know “your mother was this and that person”. Filling in a form with “you were born at DDMMYYYY, your mother was American and did not know where here ancestors came from, she is not sure who your father was, your grandmother has diabetes and your great grandmother had lung cancer, you were born because she could not afford an abortion, and she hates you for growing up in her body”.

            “But, it sounds like you favor discriminatory laws”
            I don’t favor discriminatory laws, but in this case, they are necessary. Sad, but true. Okay, other possibility is depriving everyone of this right, that would be anti-discriminatory, but also stupid.

          • http://www.welovedc.com/ Don Whiteside

            I think it’s pretty easy to be callous about the repercussions of sharing those facts when you’re not the one who has to cope with the ensuing reality, similar to how it’s easy for some to be cavalier about denying a woman their right to choose. But real life demands some mutually exclusive choices, whether that be denying an adoptee their original name or allowing a woman gestating a fetus to decide how to use her own body.

            The right to choose privacy, particularly when they made a decision in the past based on a promise of that privacy, is important. People have a right to seek out information about their past – which I would stop short of calling their “identity,” as if our past exclusively defines us – but these reform advocates aim for changes that show no respect for a possible desire on the part of parties to let the people who are the other half of that truth keep their own identifying information to themselves.

            it’s consistent with their overall extreme pattern which completely ignores the needs and feelings of other parties who may get in the way of their personal preferences. Rather than working to insure options for mothers before they might place a child and keeping strong the protections against coercion they dream of a world where a placement can simply be reversed after a while, no matter how fair and right everything was done before then. Because they don’t believe it could ever be fair and right; they are working to move the goalposts within a game they believe is inherently wrong.

            That’s fine; I disagree with them but they’re welcome to their opinion and have a right to forward their position. But they should not be held up as if they are the flip side of the coin opposing the anti-choice folks who want to use adoption as a tool. There are many of us who want to preserve a woman’s right to choose and desire a fair and legitimate adoption system. Showing them as if they’re the only game in town is wrong.

  • Amanda Kazarian

    I’ve worked in the adoption industry and I can tell you that there is a severe lack in SUITABLE parents for adoptive children. Just because you want a baby doesn’t mean you should get one. We screened people for a reason.

    • fiona64

      Thank you! I have seen so many posts (here and other places) where the writer acts as though a given couple is owed a child because they are infertile. The purpose of adoption is to find homes for *children,* not to hand out infants like little accessories to those unable to have their own.

  • MaiaDoe

    Okay, and aren’t they just begging for a lawsuit, providing women with false informations? Because there is very limited research on effects of adoption on birth mother, so whoever tells them all the things about being happy and proud is just making things up and has no proof.
    I think it’s illegal to say that push-up bra has any benefitial effects on breast shape and firmness etc. (except when you are actually wearing it), because there is no research that can prove that, and there is actually a bit of research that says vice versa… and it’s just a stupid bra, and still you can’t lie about it, so how come it’s legal when it comes to adoption?

  • http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/musings-of-the-lame-an-adoption-blog/ Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy

    Very Curious, Don, on why you find your self so sure that we have specific aims? What could those be? Because YOUR statement” that women should have a right to choose abortion AND that birth parents deserve respect and support at every stage in the process AND don’t want to be any part of adopting a child from a woman who was forced into her decision.” really isn’t that far off at all from my “aims” at all. Please don’t create divisions and create sides when really, we have the same goals.

    • http://www.welovedc.com/ Don Whiteside

      I can only base my understanding of your aims based on your writings, Claudia, and there you advocate an alteration to existing and past arrangements to an extent I and many others find to be unreasonable. I’ve commented on some of them in another comment and beyond that I don’t want to take this comment section off-topic into the ways we disagree. I concur that I’d like to keep us on topic of stopping these lunatics in Texas and other places, but other than in a very general sense I don’t think you and I have the same goals on adoption at all.

  • fiona64

    Frankly, I’m astonished that the anti-choice never seem to think that a pregnant woman has a) considered all of her options and b) needs to be told over and over again that adoption is a thing.

    Do I support those women who choose to gestate and place an infant for adoption? Sure — as long as they aren’t being coerced (and CPCs are noted for their coercive tactics).

    However, as an adult adoptee friend of mine one remarked, “Adoption is the only crime for which we, the victims, are told we should be grateful.”