adoption agencies

Babies for Sale

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Think adoption is a non-profit service for children?   Think again.  If it was so charitable, it would be provided as a public service with no money changing hands.

Instead, adoption is a multi-billion-dollar industry.  Each transaction, each time money is given to an agency in exchange for an infant, a profit has been made, a human being has been bought.  And, usually by people who would recoil at the concept of human trafficking.  But if you can dress it up in euphemisms of “adoption services” and “adoption situations,” you can get away with treating babies as commodities.

Here are examples of price-lists for babies.   These are screen-captures of actual pages from business websites.  I am leaving out the business names to avoid legal hassles.  But just google “adoption situations” to find these and many more.

(Click on graphic to see full-sized image.)


And, gee, this one below even offers a great discount for African American babies — only $17,000!  These prices are not based on the needs of children — they are based on market demand.


And the mother gets a kick-back as well, under the euphemism  “living expenses” (although I would also classify “medical expenses” under this heading).

Want to compare how much profit is being made by these businesses? It cost me all of $200 to adopt-back my son.  This is because there was no business needing to make a profit on it.  Only the court paperwork.

In most other nations, it is illegal to sell children, it is considered to be human trafficking.  In Canada and the U.S., however, it is just considered to be business.  See Gerow’s article “Infant Adoption is Big Business in America” (PDF) for a good analysis of why this unregulated industry exists.

The United Nations has also expressed concern:

“During the course of 2002, the Special Rapporteur received many complaints relating to allegedly fraudulent adoption practices. Where such practices have the effect that the child becomes the object of a commercial transaction, the Special Rapporteur, like his predecessor, considers that such cases fall within the “sale” element of his mandate. The Special Rapporteur was shocked to learn of the plethora of human rights abuses which appear to permeate the adoption systems of many countries. The Special Rapporteur considers that the best environment for most children to grow up in is within a family, and the adoption by a parent or parents of a child who does not have a family able to look after him or her is a commendable and noble action. Regrettably, in many cases the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing needy parents with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenue each year, seeking babies for adoption and charging prospective parents enormous fees to process the paperwork.” – from “Rights of the Child:  Report submitted by Mr. Juan Miguel Petit, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/92.  

Want to do something about it?  Write to your legislator and let them know that this is human trafficking and you are offended and appalled by it.  Ask them to pass laws to take the profit out of adoption, to prevent situations where money needs to change hands in order to provide a new home for a child.  Ask them to pass laws to protect unwed and new mothers from reproductive exploitation.  And,  if you are seeking to adopt, refuse to patronize these businesses.   Instead, look at alternatives where you are not paying in order to obtain a child.

“Dear Incubator”

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An analysis of what is REALLY behind “Dear Birthmother Letters”

Dear Incubator

We want you to give us your baby. We know that by meeting us and seeing just how perfect we would be for your child, you will gladly do this.

Why do we know this?

Because you are young, vulnerable, and don’t feel confident about your ability to be a mother. We know that we will appear mature, confident, capable, and will make you feel like we could take care of your baby better than you can. We may even remind you of your own parents.

Because we know that the reason you are considering adoption is out of fear and guilt. Guilt that you have disappointed your parents by irresponsibly getting pregnant.  Fear because you do not know what to do and you don’t know if you’ll be a good parent or not.  We can take advantage of your fear and your guilt, and we don’t have any qualms about doing it.

We know that research shows that mothers who “meet” and “choose” prospective adopters during their pregnancies will give up their babies out of guilt and obligation.  Especially if we are in the delivery room with you, or “bonding with” OUR newborn in the hospital with our family and friends congratulating us.  How would you DARE think of keeping our darling newborn from us? Giving us a “failed adoption” by “not carrying through with your adoption plan.”  We are scared that if you take your baby home first before deciding, that you likely wouldn’t give her to us, so our agency’s “birthmother counsellor” will ensure that won’t happen.

We know that if we befriend you while you’re still pregnant, you won’t have a choice. In fact, we’re happy to take that choice (and all choice) away from you, because we are desperate and we know we deserve your baby more than you do. After all, we’ve paid thousands to the agency – you just had a broken condom.

We also know that our promises of open adoption will sounds great, and the same pregnancy hormones that make you feel trusting of others and insecure about yourself will make you believe us, and WANT to believe us. And we also know that these promises have NO basis in law, that we can close the adoption any time we want. And we will close it, especially if it looks like OUR baby loves you when you visit (as many adopted children do with their natural mothers). We’ll just crush that pesky blood-bond by stopping those upsetting visits. They will only “confuse” our child.

If need be, we can get you a counsellor at an adoption agency. We know that the more visits you have with agency staff, the more likely you will be to surrender your baby.  They will have lots of time to work on you and convince you how expensive and difficult it would be to raise a child at your age.  Can you actually afford it?  Like any other luxury commodity, only the rich should be allowed to obtain (and keep) a child.  Poor?  Too bad.  You should have kept your legs crossed.

We promise we will treat you like a queen while you are gestating our baby, while we are “Paper Pregnant” and counting down the days until we get our freshly made bundle of joy from you. We’ll praise you and call you things like our “heaven sent angel” and “God’s gift” to boost your ego and make you feel valued and incredible and loved during your pregnancy — the love and support that your parents and those around you don’t show.

We’ll even give you flowers and a “birthmother gift” when you hand over OUR baby to us — a reasonable exchange, right?  If you’re lucky, the hospital will give you a teddy bear to take home with you – standard practice now, right?

And of course we or our paid agency worker will be right there with you in the delivery room, to make certain you don’t try to “bond” with our baby. We’re paying too much money to the agency/lawyer/facilitator for this baby to allow THAT to happen.

Speaking of money, we offer to pay your medical and hospital expenses.  This will make you feel like you “owe” us that baby.

But frankly we don’t care what we do to you — how we will manipulate you, exploit you, and then cast you aside like a used container (and that’s what you are, right?) — because we’ll be better parents than you will ever be.  That’s why we’re writing you this letter:  We know we deserve that baby more than you do.   We pay more in taxes than you earn in a year (but we’re sure looking forward to that $10,000 adoption income-tax credit that we’ll get!).

Contact us at our 1-800 number, and check out our “profile page” to see how good-looking we are and how confidant and mature we look compared to you.

Signed,

Two “Waiting Parents”
Praying that God will bring us Our Little Angel

~

shortlink:  http://wp.me/p9tLn-k1

A Mothers’ Bill of Rights

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A Mothers’ Bill of Rights


Expecting? Considering adoption? The adoption agency may not have told you all your rights!

If you are considering surrendering your baby for adoption, remember that you are still the only mother that baby has until you have signed the surrender papers and until any revocation periods have passed (this varies from within 30 days of birth in British Columbia, to no revocation period at all in some states such as Florida and Illinois). Some adoption agencies publish “Birthmother Bills of Rights,” which invariably neglect to inform the “birthmother” that she has rights that every other mother takes for granted – including the right to change her mind.

This list below is provided so that expectant mothers considering adoption can take this to adoption agencies and potential adopters and ask right-off-the-bat if they’ll honour these rights. And if they refuse to, then mothers go to a different agency or different potential adopters that will. According to an article (“Love for Sale”) in Adoptive Families Magazine, there may be up to forty couples vying for every baby available, so there is no lack of choice if one couple says “no” to you. And in fact, the best parent for your baby may well be you!

As a mother, maybe being called a “birthmother,” these are your rights.

~ Your Rights as an Expectant and New Mother ~

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:

  • … see your baby after he/she is born.
  • … choose to hold, nurse, and care for your baby in the hospital.
  • … decide if the potential adopters can be in the labour or delivery room, and the right to change your mind and ask them to leave at any time.
  • … have independent legal counsel (i.e not also representing the potential adopters, known as “dual-representation”) to explain the surrender papers and to be present when you sign them.
  • … choose to care for your baby without feeling pressured to decide about adoption within ANY certain time period.
  • … choose to take your baby home from the hospital if that is what you want to do.
  • … say “No” to adoption at any point before or after the birth without fear of hurting or disappointing the potential adopters.
  • … adequate financial support from the state which would enable you to keep and raise your baby.
  • … expect child support from the father of your baby, and take him to court for enforcement if this is not provided.
  • … be free of any monetary obligation, such as repaying living or medical expenses, should you choose to keep your baby (potential adopters can buy insurance to cover all costs if a mother changes her mind, it is a risk they knowingly take).
  • … choose to decide on adoption after recovering from birth and any post-partum depression.
  • … be treated as the mother and a parent of your baby until and unless papers are signed, and to be thus treated with the respect granted any other mother.
  • … be a mother. No matter if you’re unmarried, young, or financially strained, you still have the right to be a mother.

These rights come from the application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (at http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html), which since 1948 has guaranteed these protections to ALL citizens of the U.S., Canada and all other nations that signed it. Articles 12, 16 and 25 of the Declaration specifically guarantee protection and social support to mothers and families:

  • Article 12. – No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, FAMILY, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 16(3) – The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
  • Article 25(1) – Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Copyright © B. Lake 2004.  This article may be reprinted on other not-for-profit websites as long as it is reprinted in its entirety with copyright statement included.

Reprinted with Permission of the Author

“Do natural mothers change their stories?”

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This question was asked on “Yahoo Answers” a number of months ago:

“Do a lot of people believe that women give their children up for adoption and then in the future “change” their version of the facts/or their way of thinking, to reflect that their child was stolen or they were viciously coerced rather than truly relinquished due to whatever circumstances there may have been?”

Various people on Yahoo Answers had been posting comments calling into question the integrity of natural mothers (“birthmothers”) who had recounted their stories of having lost children to adoption against their will, of feeling they had no choice but to surrender.  This person asked whether mothers had actually changed their stories.

I found this question to be interesting for several reasons, as it showed how “general society” might still be ignorant of what happens when a mother loses a child to adoption, the trauma that occurs, or that she may be in a far different position later in life as far as knowledge of the processes of the adoption industry.  (Also interesting was that this question was asked in the first place: Perhaps the questioner was trying to wrap his/her mind around the very concept that coerced surrender could exist?).

Firstly, this question assumes that women don’t block out the memories of what happened to them — a common symptom of PTSD: you dissociate as the trauma is too difficult to face. I know women who can’t even remember their child’s birth date or signing papers, until much later, at which point the memories come flooding back, often in the form of flashbacks and nightmares. It is often with reunion or beginning their search that moms begin to remember details of what happened.

PTSD Criterion C:  Avoidance/Numbing
3. Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma

Secondly, a young or otherwise vulnerable mother may be forced to surrender by various means, and it is only when she is much older — when she has far more information on what her rights were at the time — that she realizes that those rights were violated. Rights that the adoption industry never informed her that she had rights.

“The first thing the unmarried mother is likely to lose is her right to make important decisions. The agency or community tells her what she must do if she is to receive the services she needs . . . In most instances the plan for the baby is pre-determined. Often these matters are decided without her being able to state her own preferences.” Helping Unmarried Mothers, by Rose Bernstein, copyright 1971*

Or the natural mother realizes only much later that she was coerced, not realizing it at the time, when she finds out that carefully-researched methods were used on her that would increase the likelihood she would sign those papers. An expectant mother, labouring mother, or new mother may not realize at the time that various practices were being done to her in order to ensure she would surrender her baby. Thousands if not millions of dollars in federal money in the U.S. and Canada has gone into studies researching how to get more mothers to surrender. These adoption studies do not hide their purpose. Even open adoption was designed for this purpose, to get more babies to market.

Why was this done? In part, because of the post-WWII consumer demand for healthy white infants:

“… the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is to regard unmarried mothers as breeding machines…(by people intent) upon securing babies for quick adoptions.” – Leontine Young, “Is Money Our Trouble?” (paper presented at the National Conference of Social Workers, Cleveland, 1953*)

“For every healthy newborn available, there are now almost forty potential parents searching.” – (“Love for Sale” by Nelson Handel, Adoptive Families Magazine, 2000).

Adoption is now North America’s largest multi-billion dollar unregulated industry. Agencies, lawyers, and facilitators exist as “baby brokers,” practicing adoption as a commercial transaction where people pay tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for an unrelated baby (In many other nations, this is known as human trafficking).

When I found the book “Death by Adoption” back in 1982, I discovered other socio-political reasons for what had been done to me, and why adoption was an issue of discrimination against women:

“Adoption is a violent act, a political act of aggression towards a woman who has supposedly offended the sexual mores by committing the unforgivable act of not suppressing her sexuality, and therefore not keeping it for trading purposes through traditional marriage. The crime is a grave one, for she threatens the very fabric of our society. The penalty is severe. She is stripped of her child by a variety of subtle and not so subtle manoeuvres and then brutally abandoned.” – Joss Shawyer, Death by Adoption, Cicada Press (1979)

For example: My baby was taken right at birth for adoption, by hospital staff. I had never told them that I wanted to surrender my baby. I wanted to keep my baby (but no-one ever asked me about this or gave me this as an option).  They put me in a room far from the maternity ward to keep us separated, and kept me drugged for days.   I was finally allowed to see him for about 5 minutes, but bulldog nurses kept a hawk-like watch on me to ensure I could not even pick him up.  I was not welcome in that nursery.   I found out later from my son that they even transfered him over to another hospital to keep him from me! Then I learned two decades later, by reading articles in nursing journals and the government inquiry testimony of hospital administrators — and through hearing the stories of dozens of other natural mothers across Canada — that taking babies at birth was routine, and done specifically to prevent a mother from keeping her baby, to prevent all contact in the intent that she would be prevented from “bonding with” her baby, to prevent her from “changing her mind (i.e. preventing her from making ANY real decision about adoption, as that can be made only post-recovery.) At age 17, I had no idea that this was why my baby was taken. I also did not know that it violated my parental rights, discriminated on the basis of marital status (in treating me different from married mothers), and constituted abduction under the Criminal Code of Canada:

“(281) Abduction of Person Under Fourteen – Every one who, not being the parent … unlawfully takes, entices away, conceals, detains, receives or harbours that person with intent to deprive a parentof the possession of that person is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.”

A mother may also “come out of the fog” when she discovers that other mothers “not on the adoption treadmill’ were treated differently. An example is when an agency/lawyer or parents tell(s) you: “You are 17. There is no way you can to go college and get a job with a baby — you’ll be in poverty on welfare for the rest of your life.  Besides, children raised by single mothers turn into criminals and if you don’t sign he’ll sit in foster care until you finally do!” You are not told about welfare and your parents are firm that you are NOT allowed to bring your baby home (after all, they already shut you away in (or you were shamed into “turning yourself in” to) a maternity facility, wage home, etc. so that relatives and neighbours would never find out).

A mother won’t realize at the time that this is coercion as she whole-heartedly believes the lies that the adoption worker told her — and no-one tells her differently. Then years later you meet someone your age who DID keep her baby, went to college (where there was an on-campus daycare), and works at a better or equal job, and her baby didn’t starve — you realize that at age 17 you were lied to and surrendered your baby because you believed this lie. Nevermind finding out that the paycheque of the person or agency who told you this depending on them “making enough sales”! This equates to legal conflict of interest.

For me, another wake-up call came when I met my friend Pashta back in 1990. She was a few years older than me, but also had her first baby when she was 17, also in Canada. I asked her how it could be that the hospital allowed her to keep her baby and did not take her baby at birth. Her answer: The difference was that she was married!

Does this mean I “changed my story”?  No, not at all. But it means I did not realize at age 16 and 17 how coercion worked. All I knew at the time I lost my baby was that I wanted to keep my baby and that I had no choice but to sign those papers in a state of numbness and shock. At age 17 I thought it was “normal” and legal and that somehow I did not deserve or have a right to my baby. Only years later did I find out how it was done such that I had no chance or choice, why it was done, and that it had been done to thousands of other women across Canada.

Separated by adoption reality: the adoptive parent experience

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Today, I had a conversation with a woman (whom I will call Helen) who had adopted a newborn 19 years ago. This child had behavioural problems while growing up, and the parents despaired. Eventually, the adoptive parents contacted the natural mother (“birthmother”) with hopes that the daughter would be “fixed” by some form of contact, and a reunion happened when the girl was 16.

And then, when the daughter was 18, she moved back in to live with her natural mother and full brother.

Helen is in shock. No-one had warned her that this would happen. I won’t elaborate on the contents of our conversation, as I respect her confidentiality, but it was clear that the agency she had obtained this baby from had not told her that the child could ever do this. In essence, this family was put together by the adoption industry, and then separated by adoption reality.

There is a sales-pitch that the industry promotes and tells to people hoping to adopt, manipulating them so that they will indeed hand over money ($25,000 or more in the current market) for that “perfect baby.” This is a brief sampling of what this sales-pitch can consists of:

  1. All families, both adoptive and natural, are the same.
  2. Your adopted child is now “As if born to” you, emotionally and socially. The amended birth certificate will say that you gave birth, so act as though you did. You are now the only mother.
  3. The child needs only you and not the love of their “birth parents.”
  4. Environment is everything – the child is a blank slate (“tabula rasa”). Personality is at least 80% due to environment.
  5. Rest assured that the “birth family” can never search for the child because records are sealed tight to protect you in most states and provinces.
  6. The natural mom is just an incubator, a “birthmother,” a “gene donor,” and her only purpose was to gestate that child. Her motherhood ended with the cutting of the umbilical cord.
  7. This child is unwanted, and the “birthmother” will never return or want her back.
  8. If loved enough, this child will never want to search.
  9. Adoptees will never feel hurt from being surrendered or taken. If they do have questions, love from adoptive parents will solve everything.
  10. “Adjusted” adoptees do not search, and those who do only want medical and historical information. Reunion entails a one-time meeting and then both parties separate.
  11. “The Primal Wound” is a complete myth. No adoptee faces it.
  12. This is a lifetime guarantee.

Even the loaded term “birthmother” primes the adoptive parents to believe that the natural mother is only a past and irrelevant part of the adoptee’s past, her entire role consisting of having given birth, as irrelevant to an older adoptee as a baby bottle would be. Or, as it was told to me by the man who had adopted my son:  “R— has only one mother, K—, and one father, me.”

So, this woman, like millions of people who have adopted, believed the word of the agency. After all, they’re supposed to be “adoption professionals,” right?

While I was talking to Helen, I began thinking about my son and the people who had adopted him. For those readers new to our story: I found him in 1999. We reunited in 2000. He moved back with me on New Year Day of 2003. I adopted him back in 2007.  He is now, in his eyes, a former adoptee. His former adoptive parents deny that I am related as “family” to him. “R— is a member of this family and shall not be shared in any way, shape or form” were their words to me in their 2001 attempt to forcibly end his reunion with me, to define me as being unrelated, a complete stranger, not-family.

They too believe(d) the adoption industry myths, the “sales pitch,” and it lead to them trying to control him and end our reunion. One more adoptee gets hurt, caught up in an agency promise of a “lifetime guarantee.” And the agency gets off scot-free. Agencies should be sued for false advertising.

I wonder if Helen’s adopted daughter will return to her entirely, will be adopted-back by her natural family, will maintain family connections with both families, or do none of the above? There is no predicting.

But agencies must stop promising adoptive parents that the baby they adopt is “as if born to” them. There is nothing preventing an adoptee, even one raised in a “good home” from feeling the strength of the blood-bond and returning once more to their natural family, whether it would be to build a family of 4 equal parents (2 natural, 2 adoptive) or to return exclusively to their natural parents. But would adoptive parents pay the same “big bucks” for a child who may only be “theirs” for 18 years? You make more money if you can sell an unrealistic, impossible-to-guarantee myth.

In an adolescent psychology textbook: an adoption lie.

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I know to expect falsehoods coming from adoption agency websites. After all, they’re in the business to make money. If they told the truth to young expectant mothers, if they let them make informed decisions while NOT under the influence of pregnancy and post-partum hormonal surges and neurological changes, then likely very few would surrender their babies (e.g, South Australia: 2003 population = 1,527,000. voluntary surrenders = 3).

But I do not expect falsehoods to come from university text books.

I was in the local campus bookstore today, looking for a certain statistics text, when the title “Adolescence” caught my eye. Having taken the psychology of adolescence course there a few years back, out of curiosity I picked it up to take a look at the new text for that course. It didn’t take long to notice a chapter on teen pregnancy, which I skimmed. Under adoption, it was firmly stated that adolescents who surrender their babies for adoption suffer no negative consequences. Not “few,” not “rare,” not “temporary.” And definitely not telling the truth that study after study has shown that the emotional and psychological consequences can be both devastating and life-long.

“A grief reaction unique to the relinquishing mother was identified. Although this reaction consists of features characteristic of the normal grief reaction, these features persist and often lead to chronic, unresolved grief. CONCLUSIONS: The relinquishing mother is at risk for long-term physical, psychologic, and social repercussions. Although interventions have been proposed, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing or alleviating these repercussions.” – Askren & Bloom, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing, 1999 Jul-Aug. p.395.

To support his claim that mothers walk away unscathed, the author cites a handful of pro-adoption authors whose studies are easily picked apart and whose results are in the minority. This handful of authors surveyed mothers who had surrendered only within the past 5 years, and these first five years are when many mothers are still in the numbness and shock of grief and trauma. In her Ph.D., dissertation, Weinreb (1991) states that it takes at LEAST five years for the loss to be fully realized. In order to survive the extreme pain, loss, and trauma we often resort to denial, dissociation, avoidance, and repression of memories.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, I am certain that the author did not intentionally present a misleading claim. It is likely that he did so unintentionally, having only obtained “one side of the story’ and likely from some of those same adoption agencies and/or their staff.

But it is still depressing to think that undergraduate university students in colleges and universities across North America are reading this stuff as gospel truth.

Open Adoption: They knew it would work.

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Open adoption is the norm these days, contrasting with the closed adoptions of the Baby Scoop Era, which may have ended in the mid-1970s in the United States but continued far longer in Canada. I knew single moms in the mid-1980s whose babies were still being taken at birth with the mother not being allowed to see or touch her baby. It was done to me in fact in 1980.

So, why did open adoption begin? Frankly, it began because mothers had begun keeping their babies, finding parental support and access to financial assistance that did not exist in the Baby Scoop Era when shamed parents shipped their daughters off to maternity facilities and “wage home” to return as “born again virgins.” Agencies faced the prospect of going out of business unless they found a new way to persuade moms to surrender their newborns. Research was done, and open adoption was found to be the key.

Examples are below, but the data is far more extensive and other articles examine the exact statistical affect of various open adoption practices such as meeting prospective adopters before the birth vs. after the birth, the baby going home with them from the hospital, pre-birth consents signed, etc.

This raises a huge ethical issue that is not being discussed in adoption literature. If a mother’s decision about surrendering her baby is being influenced by practices carefully researched and applied to increase the odds she will surrender increase, is it really a freely-made decision at all? Especially if she is kept unaware of this manipulation? In effect, is any open adoption truly ethical as this practice was designed to obtain babies for the market, to keep agencies in business, and to exploit the vulnerability of poor, single, or young mothers?

This, to me, is a most insidious form of coercion.

~ ~ ~

1976 — The Research Begins …

“Recently one of the authors met with a [focus group] of young unwed mothers … the women talked about their struggles, frustration and feelings of bitterness and anger. They regretted their inability to offer their children the kinds of loving care they had expected to give them. Regarding adoption, the women felt that although they were failing to provide adequately, they could not face the possibility of a final and total separation from their infants .. When they were asked about how they would feel about open adoption, thier attititudes were totally different: They thought they could face and even welcome adoption for their children if they could meet the adoptive parents, help in the separation and move ot a new home, and the maintain some contact with the child.” (Baran, Pannor, & Sorosky, 1976, pp. 98-99)

Note: This was the study that started it all: the first research deliberately done to find out how to separate more mothers from their children.” Yngvasson (1997) says about this article:

“[Open adoption] was proposed by Baran and her colleagues as a way of encouraging unmarried women (and specifically unmarried white women) to relinquish their babies for adoption at a time when they were increasingly choosing to raise them alone”

1987 — Studies continue …

“Adoption practices are changing partly in response to the falling relinquishment rate” (Barth, 1987, p. 323). [Note: open adoption being offered to counter-act mothers keeping their babies]

“Taken together, these studies suggest that more vigorous and frequent presentations of adoption options and the possible benefits of relinquishment outweight the possible risks to the practitioner-client relationship.” (Barth, 1987, p. 331)

1990 … a study of 105 white and African-American “keepers” and “releasers” and their mothers, their attitudes toward adoption practices.

“A review of the responses … indicated that the major issue for the adolescent keeper and her mother was the extent to which the birth mother would have information about the baby as it grows up. Thus, there was clear rejection of the idea of not knowing how the baby was doing as it grew up. There was clear support for choosing the actual famiy who gest the baby, for finding out how the baby is doing now and then, for meeting three families and knowng for sure that one of them will get the baby, and for seeing the baby as it grows up …. Movement to a more open procedure, which provides the birth mothers more choice and more information about the fate of her baby might, indeed, increase the consideration of adoption by pregnancy adolescents.” (Kallen et al., 1990, p. 315).

“Of course, the mere availability of open procedures will not be sufficient. Family professionals must take advantage of the opportunity to provide information, guidance, and counselling in support of open adoption.” (Kallen et al., 1990, p. 316).

1991 — Promote it as a way to get more babies to market…

“In a very general way, openness benefits prospective parents because it may increase the pool of adoptable infants. For biological parents to have some continuing knowledge about their relinquished child may help them to choose adoption as an option (Barth, 1987), thus increasing the number of children available and decreasing the wait for an adoptable child.” (Berry, 1991, p. 638)

“Cocozzelli (1989) warns that the potential benefits of open adoption may persuade some adolescent mothers to relinquish a child who would not otherwise have done so. Those mothers who relinquish in the expectation of continued contact may risk prolonged uncertainty and grief.” (Berry, 1991, p. 641)

1999 …

“A ‘confidential’ adoption … may be a factor in the number of young women who choose to keep their babies. … Rather, we must be concerned to the extent that the cost of losing contact with the infant effects a rejection of adoption as a pregnancy outcome.” (Caragata, 1999, p. 116)

“As many young women who choose to place thier baby change their minds following the birth, factors such as having met with the adoptive parents could affect these decisions.” (Caragata, 1999, p. 117)

2005 …

And here is the evidence, in practice, a newspaper article quoting an adoption lawyer (a.k.a. baby broker) who finds this to be a successful way to coerce mothers into surrendering their infants:

” The open adoption process often begins with an adoption attorney. Paul Meding, a Columbia attorney who has been taking adoption cases for 12 years, works as a medium to match birth mothers with adoptive parents. For Meding, this process has been successful. “In my opinion, when the birth mother has more input and can see first hand how important the adoption is to the family, it is more difficult for her to back out and disappoint them.” (“Open Doors,” The Columbia Star, April 29, 2005)

~ ~ ~

References plus related articles:

Purple indicates actual research studies conducted on whether open adoption would work to get more babies surrendered:

  1. Baran, A., Pannor, R., & Sorosky, A. (1976). Open adoption. Social Work, 21, 97-100
  2. Barth, R. (1987). Adolescent Mothers Beliefs about Open Adoption. Social Casework, 68, 323-331
  3. Berry, M. (1991) “The Effects of Open Adoption on biological and Adoptive Parents and the Children: The Arguments and the Evidence”. Child Welfare, 70, 637-51.
  4. Berry, M. (1993). Risks and benefits of open adoption. Adoption, 3(1), 125-138.
  5. Caragata, L. (1999). “The construction of teen parenting and decline of adoption”, in James Wong and David Checkland (eds) Teen Pregnancy and Parenting: Social and Ethical Issues, University of Toronto Press, Ontario: Toronto.
  6. Cocozelli, C. (1989). Predicting the decision of biological mothers to retain or relinquish their babies for adoption: Implications for open placement. Child Welfare, 68, 33-44.
  7. Daly, K. (1994). Adolescent perceptions of adoption: Implications for resolving an unplanned pregnancy. Youth and Society, 25(3), 330-350.
  8. Kallen, D. J., Griffore, R. J., Popovich, S. & Powell, V. (1990). Adolescent mothers and their mothers view adoption. Family Relations, 30, 313-316.
  9. Sobol, M. & Daly, K. (1992). The adoption alternative for pregnant adolescents: Decision making, consequences, and policy implications. Journal of Social Issues, 48(3), 143-161.
  10. Yngvesson, B. (1997). “Negotiating motherhood: Identity and difference in “open” adoptions.” Law and Society Review, 31(1), 31-80.

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Andy and Marcie: An Adoption Story

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(For those who have been touched by adoption (with a blow-torch), this story is pretty self-evident. For those with no experience or connection to adoption: this is an allegory about adoption, and mothers being convinced by agency workers that if they really loved their babies, they’d surrender them, that adoption is “the loving option,” and how it just does not make sense.)


Andy and Marcie: A Story

Andy met Marcie one afternoon over at Jim’s place. Jim had hosted a barbeque for his friends, and Marcie was the best friend of Jim’s sister Carla. Andy and Marcie immediately hit it off. Both were shy at first, and the conversation stumbled at times, but they laughed and joked together and felt comfortable in one another’s presence. They soon found that they had lots in common. They both loved the same sports (kayaking and hiking), going to hear the local symphony (both were season subscribers), and hated sushi.

After Jim’s party, it was a couple of weeks before either got the nerve to phone the other one up. It was actually Marcie who did, inviting Andy out to the symphony with her that Saturday — there was a special guest conductor in from Chicago. The evening went perfectly, and they went out for chocolate cake and coffee afterwards at the Mocha House Cafe, laughing and talking.

One date led to another, and soon both Andy and Marcie knew that they had never felt so close to another person, so comfortable, so “right.” They both accepted each other’s “faults” with good humour, had lots of fun together with family and friends, and found that not only was there romance but both became good friends. It wasn’t long until they moved in together and discussed commitment.

All seemed very natural, and all their friends were delighted for them. Everyone figured that Andy and Marcie were the perfect pair and would soon get married. In fact, Carla began to drop hints to her friend about being her maid of honour.

Nine months into their relationship though, after many days of joy together, Andy dropped a bombshell. With tears in his eyes, he told Marcie the news. He loved her so much that he had to leave her and he was moving out. Her faced turned white with shock, and she sat down on their couch in total numbness. This was not at all what she was expecting. When through her wracking sobs she asked him why, why she was losing the man she thought she would spend the rest of her life with” He replied with a choking voice that he was not good enough for her and the best thing he could do, the “loving option,” was to allow her to go to another man. No matter what she asked, that is what it came down to: “I am doing this out of love for you.”

As Andy walked out with his suitcase, he told Marcie the name of an intermediary who would pass on messages to him from her. He said that he still loved her and always would. But, he was firm that his counsellor said he had to “move on with his life” and “act like he had never met her.”

Marcie sat back. Did it make sense to love someone so much you had to leave them? When you could have spent your life together and everything was going so well? It was obvious to her: Andy did not love her at all, and this was just an excuse. Unloved, unwanted, she sat back in the apartment that felt so empty, and she cried.

Copyright 2008.  Contact the author for permission to reprint.