Adoption: A Different Option

07For many years, anti-choice activists have suggested that adoption is the kinder option than abortion. They argue that babies deserve life and there are families who will adopt unwanted infants. Recently, conservative pundit S.E. Cupp intimated it that it was a moral obligation of pregnant women otherwise considering abortion to instead carry babies to term so that families seeking children could have the opportunity to be parents. It seems like a winning combination: unwanted baby, family who wants a baby, woman absolved of responsibility for the baby.

Adoption should be an option. Only, I’m not talking about the babies-to-be. I’m talking about the mothers-to-be.

I do not wish to minimize the strength of character it takes for a woman and an adoptive couple to reach terms that allow a baby to be given the best home possible. That’s an admirable course of action. For a woman who is not in circumstances to raise a child, finding an adoptive family for an unborn baby can be a blessing of invaluable magnitude. But why should the mother give up a baby whom, studies suggest, she would undoubtedly love?  Why should the mother continue to live in circumstances that preclude raising a child when her circumstances could be changed by the act of adopting…her?

Anti-choice families who wish to see women carry, birth and raise babies should bring those women into their homes. They should treat them as they would treat their own pregnant daughter. Provide them with food, clothing and shelter. Enroll them on their insurance plan and get them the best prenatal care. Find a school for the women to attend if they need education, assist them in finding work if they need work. Give them a car. Give them emotional support. Take them to church and social events. Make them a part of the life that they lead – a forever life, not just the duration of the pregnancy.

After the baby is born, give mother and baby the same shower of love, support and material goods that they would a grandchild. They should offer assistance with childcare so the mother can work or attend school, maybe subsidize an apartment if they want to have their own place. They should read stories to and play tag with the child as he or she grows, and welcome mother and child beneath the Christmas tree and at the Thanksgiving table every year.

Make having a baby possible. Make raising a baby possible.

Too often I read about Crisis Pregnancy Centers that counsel against abortion and offer pregnant women rudimentary help. Cast-off baby goods. Diapers. A sheaf of papers they can use to apply for housing or medical aid. But how much of a difference does that ultimately make? Does it break the cycle of poverty? Elevate women to true self-sufficiency? Does it prevent the next unintended pregnancy? Or is it a band-aid on a larger issue, measures meant to make sure babies are born? But what happens after? What happens to mothers who raise their babies within our limited safety net? What happens to mothers who relinquish their babies to adoption?

Yes, adoption is an option and no one is saying it shouldn’t be. But as a student of the nature of unintended pregnancy, my conclusions after reading about who the women who seek abortion is that it isn’t their babies who need to be whisked off to a better life. It’s them.

Rebekah Kuschmider is a D.C. area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theater and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector.  Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at StayAtHomePundit.com.She was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at Babble.com, Salon.com, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.

Photo coutrtesy of iStock.

  • Josie

    I’m pro choice, I’m adopted, and I’m trying to figure out what about this article keeps making me feel defensive.

    Adoption *is* a great option for some women. I think it’s not understood well enough by most people. Everyone is always fascinated when they find out I was adopted. There are a lot of myths (how can you bond with a child that’s not yours, etc).

    While I certainly agree that we should never be pressuring women into adopting their children, I also think what bothers me is that this post feels almost like biological families are better than adopted families. Which is absolutely not true. I’ve become a better person than I believe I would have been otherwise because of the things my family was able to expose me to, and now I am in a position to help my birth family, and love doing so, and do so whenever I get the chance.

    I agree with the author that discussions of adoption often need to treat the birthmother with more respect, but I also feel that this post is doing more to perpetuate untrue stereotypes about adoption than to show respect to women who end up pregnant unintentionally.

    • Dana

      You’re not in a better situation. You are in a different situation. That’s all adoption is. It’s just different. If you had grown up with your biological family, that would have been your normal. Adoption should not be about “getting a child a better life than they would have had otherwise.” If it’s supposed to be that, then everybody should give their kids to Bill Gates. I don’t see you calling for that, so let’s look at this from another angle.

      By the way, virtually all pregnancies are unintended or unplanned, in their timing if in no other way. You can do IVF and still not get pregnant exactly when you think you will. The problem isn’t whether you time the pregnancy down to the second but whether you have the resources at that time to take care of a baby. And if lack of resources is all that’s stopping most relinquishing mothers from parenting, then adoption in most cases in this country is absolutely criminal. Disrespectful. Not-life-affirming.

      Children should not be a status symbol. Ever. Family is a human right. And yes, I do mean biological. This is why we are so horrified by child abuse, among other reasons: if a child cannot even rely on their own family to be there for them, they’re not going to have much else going for them either. Even an adoptive family can go horribly wrong. They’re proportionately more likely to abuse kids than natural families are (I have this from a social worker, by the way), and they can become poor or start abusing drugs or file for divorce just like any natural family can.

      So our first priority should be keeping natural families together when there is no clear and compelling reason not to do so. Most of the reasons women give up children (and I used that phrase very deliberately, I would appreciate it if no Kool-Aid guzzlers correct me) are temporary and will be solved in time.

    • RLDavies

      I’m adopted and pro-choice, and I’m creeped out by the underlying message here, too. I have very different issues than you do, Josie, but yes. I’m feeling defensive, as well. And a little offended.

      First by this, “…the women who seek abortion is that it isn’t their babies who need to be whisked off to a better life. It’s them.” That it’s mostly “bad girls” seeking abortions is pretty much the party line of the anti-choicers, and that stigma is is inaccurate and damaging. It’s not just whores, losers, and crackheads having abortions. Middle-class married women have them; smart, young college girls have them; sweet girls next door have them; successful career women have them; suburban adoptive mothers have them. Women of every class, color, and walk of life face unplanned pregnancies they don’t wish to carry to term. I’m a middle-class mom (and step-mom), married to an aerospace engineer. I was a straight-A student, a cheerleader and homecoming princess in high school. I have a Bachelor’s degree that I earned in three and a half years. I’ve never done drugs; I’ve never been in trouble with the law. I worked in advertising until I retired at 45. Now, I paint and garden and spoil my dogs. And I had an abortion when I was 24. My best friend–another woman a lot like me–had one when she was 19. I have seven other friends who’ve terminated pregnancies. (That I know of.) None of them have ever needed to be swept away to a better life by some “kindly” Christian couple.

      Most of the single moms (and I was one for a few years after my first marriage ended) I know do pretty well for themselves. All they needed was a leg up when they were pregnant–and maybe for a short while after. A little support. Assistance. Encouragement. Personally, I think if we were to give expectant moms that $13K tax credit instead of forking it over to adopters, very few women would consider relinquishing their babies. I honestly believe that’s how little it would take to turn adoption numbers around.

      For the record, as an adoptee, I don’t feel adoption is a “better choice” on any level. I would NEVER subject a child to adoption. I feel it’s much kinder–and much more selfless and responsible–to terminate the development of a clump of cells than it is to give away one’s living, breathing, feeling child to strangers.

      No one should have have to start life losing everything that everyone claims is important: Our mothers, our families, our identities, our heritage.

      I think the ideas you’ve posted here are well-intentioned, and I think they’d work for a very small segment of society. But they’re wrapped in a very puritanical and patriarchal mindset, and we need to break away from that, and start GENUINELY empowering women.

      And bottom line, adoption is big business. Its focus is on profit. Real change isn’t going to happen until society actually, honestly, genuinely begins to put the needs of children above the wants of adults.

      • “Most of the single moms (and I was one for a few years after my first marriage ended) I know do pretty well for themselves. All they needed was a leg up when they were pregnant–and maybe for a short while after. A little support. Assistance. Encouragement. Personally, I think if we were to give expectant moms that $13K tax credit instead of forking it over to adopters, very few women would consider relinquishing their babies. ”

        This. A thousand times over, this.

        A $13K+ refundable tax credit would have **absolutely** been the difference between me keeping my daughter and losing her to adoption. The only thing that prevented me from raising her was a temporary money issue. Instead, her adoptive parents got her AND the refundable tax credit and I got a lifetime of heartache.

    • beentheredonethat

      Josie, I commend you as well as respect your opinion, after all who better to voice adoption , than one who is adopted:)
      I must simply add, that when a woman becomes pregnant with child, while planned or not, it is in no way going to turn out a “good thing:” when that mother surrenders her child to said strangers…no matter how well they feel about said “decision’ in that very moment, no matter how right it feels. It is the most UN-Natural thing to live through, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, employment/educational status, and ESPECIALLY when mother is doing so because of Finances or ones societal beliefs.
      I surrendered due to pressures of people who had money and their threats of what they would/could do if I did not. Yip, my surrender has ended up in most ways as you describe your life, happy and having been exposed to many different things that may not have been otherwise. However, my kept son, 6 yrs., their senior, has traveled the world, experienced so much culture, lived life exactly as he has “chosen’., and he did so with me being his mother, not a woman or a couple who paid to see to it!
      I mean no disrespect, so please do not think I do:) It is completely unfair to imply that your adoptive parents are responsible for this, when YOU are responsible for this life you have created. I wish you so many blessings, and thank you for giving insight to some of your thoughts and feelings of being adopted, I always take away something new from hearing others speak of their lives, and I didn’t even have any financial input in doing so….I learned it all on my very own;)

  • Aliza Worthington

    This is a phenomenal piece, Rebekah. So well done. And, no this will never happen, because it would require many anti-choice people to admit that the mother’s life has value and is worthy of attention, praise and love, rather than someone who is irrelevant and expendable because they went and got themselves knocked up.

    • Beverly Uhlmer

      Aliza, I beg to differ about the so-called “anti-choice” people. There are thousands of us doing different tasks to protect and support women, including going into the prisons to minister to those in need. We most certainly DO care about the women, as well as the babies. If you will refer to us as pro-life, I will refrain from referring to you as “pro-abortion”.

      • Dana

        I will not refer to you as pro-life because it implies we’re all pro-death. It’s an insult and I will not play your game.

  • sophia

    i am an adoptive mom and i am pro choice. i think the important thing to realize is that not all women who become pregnant need help from themselves as you state “my conclusions after reading about who the women who seek abortion is that it isn’t their babies who need to be whisked off to a better life. It’s them.” in my limited experiences in knowing 4 women who had abortions none of them needed saving or a better life. they all had a great life and they became pregnant at a time in thier lives that was not convienent for them to become mothers. they all had access to birth control, health care, education and so on but an unintended pregnancy happened and they chose abortion.

    as an adoptive parent in an open adoption i know that adoption is very difficult for a birth parent and it is often said lightly and spoken with ease how a woman can just give up her baby to a couple who would like to parent. to me this idea comes from a place of judgement and entitlement.

    • Dana

      You knew adoption was difficult for these parents and yet you happily took the child anyway. What does that say about you?

      Any woman who does not want to be pregnant is justified in ending the pregnancy. If she doesn’t want to be a mother then that is the end of it. If she has the baby and gives it up she will still be a mother even if she’s not doing the so-called “mothering.” And if you think babies don’t know they’re being taken away from Mom, you’re dreaming. No one ever seems to stop and consider that, not even so-called “attachment parenting advocates.”

  • kirsten

    i’m an adoptive mom, pro-choice and i have always said..no woman shoul have to bear a child for anyone else.. it is their choice. but i think there are some women who become pregnant that would love to be able to keep the child if they could afford it or had support long enough to get an education and a job and make a life for themselves. so, all you good christians.. feel free to offer this type of support with NO STRINGS to women. maybe you will find some takers. i hope so. no one like abortions, no one, pro-choice or not i wish no one had to make that choice.

  • My husband and I had a long conversation about this once. We are staunchly and actively pro-choice, but we talked about how, when our children are grown, we could see ourselves in our big house, with extra bedrooms, and why not be the grandparents for young women who want to finish a pregnancy? A safe place to live, help with the ins-and-outs of social services, time and financial breathing room while she finishes her education, and other adults on hand when parenting gets hard…it seems a very reasonable option, and the kind of help that many young women get from their own families (and what my daughter, or any young woman pregnant by any of our sons, would certainly get from us were she to become pregnant and choose to keep her child).

    Probably moot now as our youngest has special needs and may be home forever, but before that, it seemed like a great idea, and I think some families could make it work. It would be a tremendous gift to a woman and her child.

    • Dana

      I love this idea too. There is a website that helps single mothers find other single mothers for roommates. I wonder if they’d be willing to introduce a new category of roommate-seekers that is an older woman or couple wanting to look out for a young single-parented family. They’re called CoAbode, I think.

      • “I wonder if they’d be willing to introduce a new category of roommate-seekers that is an older woman or couple wanting to look out for a young single-parented family.” <– Love this idea, Dana!

      • beentheredonethat

        DANA, I too love the idea of fostering/adopting a young scared mother to be, and offering her a hand up !

  • Angelia

    I am a birth mom. My daughter was placed 22 years ago. The promise that “it would get better” proved elusive to say the least. I have agonized and regretted my decision horribly; can’t begin to describe the very literal ache in my arms to hold my child. I was 18 and poor but otherwise highly capable of raising my daughter. The adoption is closed so I’ve no idea what she has suffered as a result of being separated from me but I have first-hand experience of the suffering I experienced and the studies overwhelmingly support that her suffering has definitely not been zero.

    I am well educated and have at times enjoyed extraordinary wealth (2008 reset lots of that but overall I provide for my other 3 children very well and now do that as a single mom). I was never a drug user or criminal. So, I’ve struggled to figure out why it seemed like everyone was in such a hurry to get my baby away from me. Not ONE person laid out a plan of how I could make it work if I wanted to. In my now extensive studies of economics, business, money and law I can see why: there is an overwhelming economic driver to take babies. It’s disgusting but it’s big business. Only when the consciousness shifts will this sad state change because the money doesn’t flow in the direction of even considering how to help moms raise the babies God sent to THEM.

    Looking back, I needed someone, anyone, to take my daughter AND me and make us both family. I truly believe that would have been better for her. The separation is NOT without cost.

    I am so proud that I didn’t choose to kill my baby (abortion). That is the only comfort I’ve had. It would have been nice to have had this kind of an idea in mind – I could have done this. Lots and lots of women could do this. Lots and lots of families, especially if they are more conscious, would love this. If I were looking to adopt I would love this. It’s more complex, of course, but what if it’s just the right thing to do?
    Until we stop separating parents (moms AND dads) from their children, violently and with lies, we are going to continue to have a violent and lying society. God forbid we should help families within the tribe and stop trying to just transplant kids, what a concept!!

  • There are not enough adjectives in the English language for me to say how very much I love this piece.

    I find it it incredible that that the concept of adoption says “Oh, yes, we understand that you are in a tough place. You don’t have the support, or help or resources or tools or finances to parent successfully right now; so we’ll happily take your baby and give them everything they can ever want ( but YOU; their mother.. who DOES have value.. but let’s down play that k?) . And then after you give birth, we’ll just plop you right back into that same situation, except without your child and you’ll be just fine now!”

    Once upon a time, I thought it was possible. Once upon a time I believed that it was a win win.. and then I lived it. No, adoption didn’t provide any answers for myself or my baby and I certainly did not manage to go through life as IF I wasn’t a mother. I was a mother.. just a mother without her child and with a huge unending grief that I can never escape.

    If we had a society that valued the bonds of mothers and children and saw motherhood for the important job it was.. the MOST important.. creating and raising the next generation, then there would be n need for adoption. Because I can tell you, normal healthy people do not desire to give their babies away to raise. Its’ just not natural and it’s really not a good idea . We relinquish because we feel that we have no choice or because the 13 billion dollar adoption industry wants us to believe that we have no value and no worth and our children must be removed form our care for their own best interest. In the end you have destroyed loving caring and capable mothers and save a child from nothing…why? For profits.

    Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy
    Birthmother circa 1987
    http://www.adoptionbirthmothers.com/the-truth-about-adoption/adoption-industry/

  • While I respect the opinions of the birth mothers here, I have to say there is much more to the issue of adoption. As a mother by adoption in an international adoption, I know there are many issues our daughter will have to deal with. But I also know that she was in an orphanage and that if she had not been adopted by someone, she would have aged out of the institution and most likely would have been sent to work in one of the many Chinese factories, living in factory housing, with no family of any kind. There are many facets to adoption, and I would respectfully request that people acknowledge that adoption is not an evil thing. There are many children who need homes and families that their bio families cannot give them, for a variety of reasons. So please do not villify those of us who just wanted to be parents.

    • RLDavies

      I’m an adoptee. I’ve lived adoption for 52 years. My opinion on adoption is very well-informed. You aren’t entitled to request that I or any other adoptee or natural mother justify your life choices.

      I do believe adoption is an evil thing. It is NEVER necessary. Changing names; amending birth certificates and identities; negating genetic connections; erasing thousands of years of heritage–none of it is necessary. It is, in fact, selfish and damaging.

      You wanted to be a parent. Sorry, but it’s not supposed to be about you. It’s supposed to be about the needs of children, not the desires of adults.

      You don’t actually help families and communities by helping yourself to their children. There are a million ways to help children–families–communities in need without claiming them as your own. People who give of themselves without demanding benefits in return are the real heroes. I’ll save the back-patting for them.

    • You know maybe adoption was not an evil thing for you, but you cannot say you respect the opinions of birthmothers out of one side of your mouth and then tell us that we need to remember that it was good for you out the other side!

      I would respectfully request that you acknowledge the fact that adoption is a 13 billion dollar business. I would respectfully request that you acknowledge that while your daughter might have been spared the life of a factory worker, she also lost her heritage, her identity and her country. I would respectfully request that you acknowledge that you understand that while you paid huge fees for the privilege of becoming her mother, other mother such as myself, based on the desires of people, such as yourself, lost our children who did not need to be saved at all. I respectfully request that you acknowledge that for us, especially mothers through voluntary infant adoption, we were denied the rights to raise our own babies and yes, that can be considered pretty damn evil.

      And for the record, no is vilifying the desire to become a parent, but we just might questions the means of how you make that desire into a reality. It’s the actions that might or might not infringed on others rights that get a little dicey.

    • beentheredonethat

      Joanne, I agree with your mind set, and reality is, there are children who do need someone to love them, because there is no one else to do so. However this is not the picture of DIA!
      I have never and will never adopt a child, has never even entered my thoughts to do so. IF, there were ever the slimmest chance of doing so, it would certainly be an adoption of an orphan…this IS what adoption should be!
      I suppose, “in wanting to be parents”, my loss of the true meaning of parenting begins with the idea of that “being a parent” is about having a brand new shiny baby, one that will automatically feel loved by a strangers who did not carry it for 9 months, knows its very own mothers scent, feel, and warmth, familiar sound of that constant heartbeat it has grown (no really truly grown) to love. This is where I lose my train of thought, and all my reality screams “help”! It is ludicrous to think a new born baby comes with a clean slate, that it will forever be as if “born unto”.
      Now, in having given my thoughts on what adoption should be about, (child with no one to love them, care for them, and is helpless and defenseless in all aspects of life) NOT about a woman who feels a ‘need” to become a parent, otherwise it is not about the child! Having said all this, I suppose I would forever wonder if an Orphanage from another country, had received their orphans from true abandonment, or was the orphan actually stolen, from a Mom who wanted to mother her child, and was given NO choice??? This is why, I personally could never adopt from another country, so I commend you and personally know of a few woman who have fostered/adopt, and are remarkable in every aspect of true parenting:)

  • Excellent post!

    Truly the way it SHOULD be….and what COULD be. I know because I have DONE IT, and my experiences are in my book. i think especially for those who see adoption as a religious calling, this makes far more sense than an adoption model founded on punishing single moms for the “sin” of fornication, and causes lifelong grief.

    Current adoption practice pits women of means against their less affluent sisters and exploits the later’s temporary position, turning them into handmaidens to meet a demand. The fact that adoption resolves none of the mother – and other children’s lives – applies to International as well where it is far more charitable and sustainable to help dig a well or provide needed medical aid or school books than to tear families apart.

    Two problems with this article. One is you cannot just put someone on your health insurance, but you can help get an expectant mom enrolled in every entitlement she and her child are eligible for, including housing. Also, if you are trying to change people’s minds about they way they are doing things now…you need to read people by starting from where they are. Those who are opposed to abortion do not identify themselves as “anti_ anything, but rather “pro-life.”

    Mirah Riben, author, THE STORK MARKET: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry

  • Chris

    I’m an adoptee, and I’ve been reunited with my birth father, Unfortunately, my birth mother died years before I knew her identity, and missing the opportunity to bring her into my life was, and remains, a true loss.

    But her post-relinquishment life was pretty good. She married, had a daughter with her husband and enjoyed a middle-class life that wouldn’t have been possible if she’d kept me.

    On the other hand, with respect to the idea raised by the writer, the notion of adopting pregnant mothers has been our social reality for almost 50 years. America’s entitlement programs have provided housing, food, education and medical care for single mothers and their children since the 1960s.

    Have they succeeded as advertised? Have their promises been fulfilled? Apparently not.

    Thus, it’s hard to argue in favor of more spending for programs that seem to have accomplished so little, except for an increase in social spending and more governmental intrusion into the lives of individuals.

    • Beverly Uhlmer

      Well said! In some minority communities 72% of children are born to unwed mothers. Men are pushed from the home so the government benefits can be enjoyed. The breakdown of the family is at the core of many of our social ills. A friend visited the juvenile detention center in Houston and was astounded to see children as young as 10 being held in this facility. When she asked why they are there the reply was, “they have no family to care for them and nowhere to go”.
      When we begin to have programs that support marriage and family we will see a change in the social ills that are devastating our communities. In Texas a huge proportion of our tax dollars is spent to care for children who are caught in the web of family breakdown. Surely there is a better way to help people!

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