It’s time for adoption to stop being a marketplace and to return to it’s roots where it was an option of last resort, but only after every other option had failed. And yes, I can see people get upset with the term marketplace, so lets talk about it, because, it is the reality today.
Go on any hopeful adoptive parent profile page marketing themselves to expectant mothers; you can find them on facebook, profile websites pages, personal blogs, apps, fb matching groups (yes, it’s a thing and all I have to say on that). The vast majority of those listing wanting to adopt a newborn, and once chosen, want to be part of all that entails, i.e. doctor visits, L&D, the whole kit and caboodle to use an old expression.
Now go on any adoption provider website (agency, lawyer, consultant, etc.) and try to find out if they require options counselling and actual services offered to first help a mother and child stay together before adoption is even brought up. Ask yourself how far into the website you had to go to find anything related to helping a woman with an unplanned pregnancy to not need adoption, including places to stay, government assistance programs available to them, how to access them, if you found any resources listed at all to help them parent. And I get that adoption agencies are in the business of doing adoptions, but if adoption is your only choice, then it’s not a choice at all. And do remember that lack of choices when you’re an adoptive parent claiming the mother chose adoption…
Worse yet, it seems some adoption agencies pages I’ve read don’t even try pretend an expectant mother needs to be offered anything by them other than adoption; and to facilitate them ultimately becoming birth parents. To me, it’s a downward slippery slope in adoption that started years ago, and in my opinion, is close to reaching the bottom, if not already there. Don’t believe me? Go to any adoption agency website and take a deep dive at the message they offer pregnant women. Then come back here and tell us what you found. I do have to note that American Adoptions makes it crystal clear that expectant mothers have the right to change their minds at any point prior to signing away their parental rights, a fact that seems to have been removed or buried deep from most adoption agencies websites I’ve looked at. Imagine if you were an expectant mother who changed her mind but thought she couldn’t opt out of adoption?
And no, I’m not going to pretend tons of agencies used to do adoption right, but some truly tried to be neutral and give both sides of the choice as well as the options to parent available. I can’t find one today who welcomes in a scared woman who is pregnant and doesn’t know how she’s going to parent, without first being offered adoption before she’s even been there a minute.
Then ask anyone who wants to adopt an infant about anything adoption and the different ways it can impact the child, and you’ll see few have any knowledge of what adoption actually means when you’re the one adopted; what challenges the adopted child will face over a lifetime, how you can help the child process (or not), what not to do in that moment and how to not let your insecurities create a wedge that won’t go away, ever. And don’t forget the challenges are that comes with being an adoptive family and parenting a child not biologically related to you, bonding, infertility grief, and more, Or that adoptive parents can and may close that promised open adoption because it’s not working for them. And last, but not least, sadly, the obvious lack of any education on ethics and the adoption process and why that matters more than you can imagine.
Couple of excellent articles to read on adoption: one titled “The False Choice: Adoptee Voices in the Fight for Reproductive Freedom” by Michelle Merrit, the other titled “Adoption and the Meaning of Consent” by Malinda L. Seymore