Can you be both?

03 Mar
My post on family the other day had some really good comments and lots traffic to read it which surprised me, because it seems like such a simple concept, nothing outrageous, nothing really to get into any dither about.  So it got me to thinking about whether the basic concept of family is family and you protect your own is suddenly not acceptable when it is discussed in the adoption world. 
That the mindset is that you must also feel a bit guilty for agreeing with the time-honored principle of family and therefore must be anti-adoption.  To me that makes absolutely no sense so I mulled on it, and mulled on it some more. 
I came to the conclusion that I would be saddened if adoptive families feel this way for the simple fact that you have chosen to have families and all that entails does not change simply because you adopted.  I would also point out that I learned what being a family meant from my family or to be more specific – my adopted family. 
And yet looking at the industry overall and how hard and how much money they boast about spending on promoting to mothers to surrender instead of parent so others can adopt, I think it is becoming something akin to us vs. them concept that adoption is better always and anything talked about families sticking together is something that is bad. 
I am not trying to suggest that adoption is all bad or even mainly bad, many children do need loving homes.  Many children do benefit from adoption after the loss of their family of origin.  And I also recognise that adoption sometimes is the last great hope for building a family, but it should not be at the destruction of a family that has the ability to stay together and raise the baby in their family, simply because society (or parts of society) deem it wrong and shameful to be a single mother. 
And the more I think about this disconnect, I think it is made this way by the adoption industry with tactics designed to attract more mothers to place.  Von pointed out recently about the NFCA running a program titled “Infant Adoption Revival Program” that conveniently offers an on-line course in “birthmother counseling” for pregnancy counselors.  Stop and think about that for a minute about all that is wrong in that picture.  A woman who finds out she is pregnant and turns to a professional for advice, is counseled by someone who has taken a course designed by the same people running the “Infant Adoption Revival Program“, can you not see the agenda and conflict of interest when an organization whose members are predominately adoption agencies?  Let alone starting off with the manipulation of determining the pregnant woman is already a birthmother…by naming the course “birthmother counseling“.
Just the inclusion of the term Revival sends shivers down my spine.  To know they want to revive the time when so many mothers had no other option but to surrender their babies, aptly named the Baby Scoop Era.  A time when society did not allow a single mother to be a mother and also be able to be employed, or find a place that would allow her to be a renter.  A time when good families did not allow their children to play with the bastard children of single mothers.  A time when single pregnant females were sent away by their families to horrific maternity homes across the country, removed from all support systems simply because it was shameful.  A time when if they did not surrender their babies they were handed bills that were more than they could hope to make in a year.  A time of cruelty that should never ever held up as something to revive. 
I encourage anyone who had not learned about the Baby Scoop Era and adoption history in general to research it at the University of Oregon or to read a synopsis of the BSE to review what Wikipedia has to say here.  And once you understand what happened, I would hope that you too would have shivers go down your spine at the though of reviving such a horrific time.

Posted by on March 3, 2011 in Adoption, Ethics


Tags: , , ,

9 responses to “Can you be both?

  1. Von

    March 3, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Hit the spot with this one! You know I don’t think that baby-scoop era will come agin in that way but I think it is with us in a much more deviously, horrible way.The adoption industry has had to get very clever and has found a way to appear to empower mothers and relieve them of their babies by telling them what agood, beautiful and wonderful thing they are doing by making a gift of their baby to a deserving couple.In time when the ‘adoption drug’ wears off the disempowerment will hit very hard.These mothers will be left with a feeling of being duped, deceived and conned and will have been coerced, but in a much more velvet glove fashion.
    The industry is clever and inventive, it has a livelihood at risk and will invent new ways when this no longer works.


  2. sundayk

    March 4, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I totally agree with you about the term “Revival” like back in the good old days when single mothers knew their place, and society in general conspired to keep them there.
    I don’t know why people feel it has to be one way or the other. If I believe in family preservation I must be anti-adoption or worse if I speak for family preservation people pretend I mean AT ALL COSTS. Or if I am supportive toward adoptive parents I am anti-adoptee. I am against private infant adoption. Children who don’t have parents who can or are willing to raise them need to grow up somewhere with someone. Right now adoption is the only hope for permanency many foster children have. I cannot be against that. That doesn’t make me the enemy.


  3. Kara

    March 5, 2011 at 9:07 am

    The conflict of interest you describe is frightening but sadly not out of the ordinary. The many layers of meaning contained within the word “revival” give me real pause.

    Adoption is always, always complicated. I find myself vascillating between different views within myself, all on the same day, depending on the situation that I am considering. At work the other night (I am an L&D RN) I had a patient who for many very, very good reasons cannot raise a child (drug-use, her job, other children, finances, etc.). While family preservation might be an ideal option, I don’t think it was going to work here. I asked if perhaps my patient’s parents or extended family could take the child, but adoption might really be what works best for them. I didn’t sit down and tell my patient that adoption was horrible and should never be practised; I told her about myself and my situation and what I think would have made life easier for me, all the while letting her know that it was only my opinion. We cried together, and I gave her things to consider before she met with the social worker. She seemed relieved. The baby won’t be due for another 7-10 weeks, so she has time to think, as well.

    I am not 100% anti-adoption, like some of my friends, but they love me anyway. I am not pro-adoption as the best thing ever, either. I can’t say that I have a whole lot of joyful adoptee friends because I am rather a dark, happiness-sucking person (just kidding). I do have friends who are adoptees who are at peace with never searching. I think it’s great that they’re doing what’s best for *them*. What bothers me is when people tell me what to think or that what I feel is wrong. I try not to do that to others because I dislike patronizing words as much as the next person.

    But in adoptoland, it’s all minefield.


  4. The adopted ones

    March 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Von – google maternity homes and see just how many have sprung up in the last few years – it is very sad to see…then check out the talk of defunding the services for maternal health…it scares me…

    Sunday and Kara – you are right, adoption is never a one size fits all but it should never happen if it is based solely on shame, what will people say, when there is no real valid reason for it to happen and that is what I will fight against – the mindset that it is always a good idea and causes only good.

    It really is a minefield and appreciate all your voices who come to talk…


  5. Von

    March 5, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Yes so retrograde and it chills me to the bone to see what some religious groups are doing in my own country to try to bring American style adoption here, where adoption is healthily dying out.
    It seems that many don’t yet realise or appreciate that everyone has a right to their own feelings and perceptions and these are unquestionable.If for instance an adoptee believes adoption has damaged them, it is so, not a point for debate, disbelief or dismissal.


  6. cb

    March 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Sometimes I just feel that the problem with adoption is that I think that many times, a woman’s decision to “place her child” is taken at face value, that the agencies don’t necessarily care about the actual reasons. In most cases, the woman is caught between a rock and a hard place and really doesn’t know what to do but thanks to advertising etc, adoption may seem like the perfect compromise. The agencies allow her to continue to think along those lines and she may never seriously consider anything else. I’ve looked at some of those training schemes and they are very clever in the way they do it – they do it so subtly that the emom can end up thinking she was in perfect control – there is no-one to play the devil’s advocate. I think an emom must make sure she has unbiased outside counselling before making any decision. It is easy to get into a certain mindset when in crisis and sometimes you need someone to point out the problems with your viewpoint (though unrelated to adoption, I’ve been in that situation where I’ve had a major problem and had a certain mindset but needed someone to point out the flaws).

    In regards to adoption being the perfect compromise, that is what it ends up being, a compromise for both mother and child. It may well be a wonderful compromise for many but it is still a compromise.


  7. Von

    March 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    It never felt like a compromise to my mother who suffered all her life from her coerced ‘decision’ and it never felt like a compromise to me either.I had no choice.


    • cb

      March 8, 2011 at 1:49 am

      Von, what I meant is that we end up living compromised lives, i.e. the birthmother ends up living a life where she is a mother without a child and the child ends up living a life where she is split in two, her “nature” part is totally separate to her “nurture” part.


  8. Von

    March 8, 2011 at 4:34 am

    So true cb!



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