Supply vs Demand and how the narrative of confidentiality changed…

06 Apr


Trying to combine two different points in this post and hopefully it works.  My post Adoption History talked about the 1955 Senate Subcommittee hearings on interstate adoption specifically Florida and baby selling (their words).  In Senator Kafauver’s opening statement he noted there were 90,000 adoptions each year in the US. and then (bolding mine):

“Let us review for a moment the situation which created the adoption problem. On one hand, we have anxious couples, hungry for a child. Between them and the child is an agency with rigid requirements and a huge waiting list. The agencies have 20 requests for every child available. The result for the anxious couple is red tape and a long delay.

On the other side of the picture we have the young unmarried mother, anxious to leave her own community, but often lacking the money to do so. Her shame is so great and her emotional framework so shocked that she is susceptible to the first idea that promises to alleviate her situation.”

Note that in the above quote he speaks of the mother wanting to leave her community.  Her societal shame extended to her entire family and their standing in their community – why mothers left – not that they desired confidentiality from their child later – but to protect their family name and family standing in their community at that time.

Today on the FB Adoption News and Events page is this gem of an article from 1981For Ruby Lee Piester, the First and Last Word on Adoption Is ‘confidential’

“Ten to one. In some areas of the U.S., that is the disproportionate ratio of couples seeking to adopt children as compared to the discouragingly small number of babies available. […] As if the statistics weren’t bad enough, the tight adoption market is being complicated by “right to know” advocates, who assert that adoptive children should automatically be able to learn the identities of their natural parents upon request, thus ending the long-standing code of adoption confidentiality.”

See the switch in narrative from the mother wanting to leave her community to the mother never wants the child to know who they are?  That’s because in 1955 and the years earlier and following many states didn’t seal the records from the adopting family, but the move to change the laws allowing adult adoptees the right to their birth certificate had begun by 1981, and they needed an argument to counter.  Back to the article.

Is there a crisis in adoption?

Yes, there is. Though thousands of children are put up for adoption each year, there simply aren’t enough to meet the demand. The gap is widening as contraception and abortion whittle down the birthrate. At the Gladney Home last year, we had 352 babies up for adoption—and some 3,000 applications, most of them from childless couples unable to conceive themselves.

So in 1955 – the era everyone speaks of as the easy days it was 20 to 1 and in 1981 it was 10 to 1 – but still a crisis?  It also talks about the move to create a unified federal adoption law and when asked what she didn’t like about it answered:

One disturbing feature is that it recommends allowing the natural father to extend his veto power over adoption until after the child is born, rather than before birth as is generally the case. Our experience is that some previously disinterested fathers, or their mothers, become anxious to keep a baby once it is born, especially if it’s a boy. Such a practice can make things difficult for a mother favoring adoption.

Just imagine a father or his mother wanting to keep the child in the family, my word the nerve, seeing as until the start of the 1970’s fathers had no right to consent or contest adoption of their child if born out-of-wedlock, and then the adoption industry was upset, and stated it would spell the downfall of adoption.  Further down, the article moves from those pesky “birth fathers” back to those pesky “right to know” advocates.

How can so-called right-to-know clauses endanger the adoption process?

Such provisions, if they are ever enforced, could be disastrous for adoption because they threaten the privacy of those involved. The average age of the expectant mothers who come to Gladney is 17. Mostly, these are fine girls from all-American families who have had an unfortunate experience, and one of the first things they ask about is confidentiality. They are looking forward to the time when they can pick up their lives, get married and have more children. They see problems ahead if anyone can find out who they are.

Again, the switch of the narrative from “leaving the community” which in 1981 many still did – to never wanting to be known by their child.  Make sure you read the article because the above are just snippets.

Then this article in US News Today Adoption options plummet as Russia closes its  doors in December of 2012…another crisis…demand is higher than the supply.  Demand has always been higher than the supply – it isn’t a crisis, or that crisis has gone on for what 60 years, or more, and how is it a crisis that there aren’t more babies and children who need homes?

While the subcommittee hearings focus was on doing adoptions right and stopping the black market adoptions in the best interests of the child.  I can see the switch over time from “finding a home for a child” to “finding a child for a home”.  The former should be the primary focus – never the latter, because that circles back around to why those Senate Subcommittee hearings happened in the first place.  Mothers being taken advantage of and not following processes that put the best interests of the child first.


Posted by on April 6, 2013 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Supply vs Demand and how the narrative of confidentiality changed…

  1. potsdamsr

    April 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I am an adoptive mother. I see things clearly now. It was perhaps the biggest mistake of a Canadian woman’s life that resulted in our raising a beautiful daughter. In 1971 I did not want this mother to know our identity. I also imagined a grandmother longing for this child. Today I am incensed that adoptees’ OBCs are sealed, ( thanks to NY State’s dysfunctional legislature this isn’t changing any time soon). I am very glad that “our” daughter found her first family 20 years ago and that she shares two daughters of her own with them.


    • TAO

      April 7, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Welcome – yah the quest to keep the original birth certificates sealed makes no sense – at all.


  2. Dannie

    April 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    My mindset has always been geared towards the foster care world so I’m thinking this supply and demand goes to the mindset of acquiring a newborn without problems….or whatnot.

    You know in my folks country, there isn’t ‘adoption’ per say….usually a child born to an unwed mother gets raised by the grandparents or by the mother in the parent’s home….but then again it’s a country that loathes stepparents as well (mindset like Cinderella and all stepparents are like that evil stepmother) so if a parent leaves a spouse, the child stays with the parent that didn’t leave or run off with the lover….or if one spouse remarries, the child stays with the unmarried parent because there are no stepparents involved. Or cue grandparents again.

    Not sure why we can’t step up and help unwed mothers….but general consensus is either….adoption because how rude that grandparents should have any say in their upbringing or they need two parents….hmmmm sad.


    • TAO

      April 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Hey Dannie – glad to see you surfacing here again. I know I harp on the same subject repeatedly but apparently it still galls me no end. 🙂

      As to the grandparents – have seen that listed as one of the “red flags” your adoption may fail. Holy Crap is the thought that runs through my head – I know they want “the” baby, but it is “someone else’s baby” and that someone has a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, likely siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces…and they all lose when “that” baby is adopted out of the family – and the baby loses their biological family too. It isn’t something that they should be so casual about. If the family wants to support them then it should be a good thing for “that” baby.

      It is also encouraged by some agencies that expectant mothers not have family around that aren’t supportive of adoption. Golly gee – biased much? Or why mothers are encouraged to go out of state, or into a “sheparding home”, or “maternity home”, or “agency housing”, where people who support adoption are in constant contact with the mother…again – no pressure for the expectant mother to choose adoption as the only option with that type of tactic.

      Disclaimer: of course there are always scenario’s where it isn’t but if all is good then “it” should be a good thing all around.



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