I know what you may be thinking. You may have felt skeptical about clicking on this link and already been convinced that Adoption.com pitched this article, in hopes that someone would come and redeem their mistake. To tell the truth, I wanted to write this article, and I didn’t think they’d publish it. Another truth? The article that was published by them, “The Baby Bust: Why Are There No Infants to Adopt?”, was a huge mess up, and I’m not here to justify or excuse them because it can’t be justified. What the author shared in that article (and perhaps in any article she ever wrote—I don’t know because I only read that one) was clearly coming from a heart issue. She doesn’t understand what adoptees and birth parents are fighting so hard for in the adoption realm. I’m going to respond to her main points and share what I think and how I feel about these topics, as both a birth mom and an adoptee.
The author had one thing right: adoptions are dependent on children needing safe and loving homes; however, there is no shortage of them. I work in the foster care space, and on a daily basis, I hear about and see children who are without a home and family. It’s not fair to them—they need homes and love, too. Where are the people stepping up to foster or adopt them? Don’t get me wrong. Some amazing people have answered the call to care for children in need here, but there are also a lot of people who only want to adopt babies.
Let me be clear that I don’t think the desire to adopt is wrong. I’m adopted, and if my mom and dad hadn’t followed their hearts to adopt, I wouldn’t know them. I’m thankful I do and that they’re my parents. However, if you’re only open to adopting babies, I think you should reevaluate the reasons why you’re wanting to adopt. Is it truly to offer a loving and safe home? Or is it simply to become a parent in the most traditional sense you can? I’d hope you’d be willing to open your home and heart to any child who needs you.
Teen pregnancy rates are declining. The author shared, “But today, fewer teenagers are becoming pregnant. While this trend is good news for teenagers not ready to parent, it is not such good news for hopeful adoptive parents.” I do not like how she skated over “this trend is good news for teenagers not ready to parent …” That whole paragraph should have been celebrating that teens are not having to make overwhelming decisions in an already overwhelming time of life, celebrating how teens are being more responsible when it comes to sex, or celebrating that teens are choosing to not have sexual relations at this time in life. Instead, the author was basically saying, “Well, that’s good if they don’t want to parent, but their success is ruining other peoples’ opportunities at becoming parents.” Let me say this loud and clear: it’s not about prospective adoptive parents. The statistics shared are great and prove that teens are being more mindful, and that’s amazing! Period. The focus should be on them.
My least favorite part of the article was in this bit about nightclubs: “To prevent transmission (of COVID-19), nightclubs, bars, and restaurants were closed, and large social gatherings were banned. Those venues are common places where meetings occur which lead to casual encounters resulting in unplanned pregnancies.” She further spun this as yet another reason for a declining birth rate that is poorly affecting prospective adoptive parents and their dreams of parenting through adoption. While night clubs can lead to casual encounters, this is a very Lifetime movie view of unexpected pregnancy. Not only does this breed shame for women who may prefer casual dating or who just simply enjoy a night out with friends at the club, but the author was also reinforcing the stigmas we birth moms fight so hard against daily. Don’t paint us as a floozy at the bar, a girl who drank too much and made decisions you think she should regret, or a girl who must have gotten what she asked for—because she’s the woman, right? If you haven’t been through an unexpected pregnancy, you cannot even begin to try and understand what it’s like or what lead that woman to that moment. It’s not your place to criticize the details. You simply do not get a say. I have had unexpected pregnancies, and I can assure you that a nightclub wasn’t a part of the story. It was just life and a handful of decisions.
Regarding single parenting, the author touched on how “in years past, a stigma was associated with becoming pregnant while unmarried and with being a single parent.” She then argues that times have changed. I don’t know about you, but I believe those stigmas are still prevalent. I grew up in church, and my faith is a huge part of my life. But I know firsthand the shame of being pregnant outside of wedlock. Within the church community, the only way to turn that shame around was to be placed on the pedestal of glorification for choosing to place a child for adoption. It is no less judged today. Women are shunned and scorned when they find out they’re pregnant out of wedlock. And while single parenting is more prevalent now than in the past, it doesn’t mean it’s more accepted or supported. I cannot tell you how hard it is to find resources to help you be successful at parenting as a single person. Again, this point in the article should not be focused on prospective adoptive parents; it’s about the women. Do you see them? Support them?
I could go on and on because the words in this article are disgusting and painful, and they have caused a lot of problems these past few weeks. However, the author doesn’t deserve any more of my time. But what can we take away from this dumpster fire?
– Adoptee voices and birth mother voices are the ones we should be amplifying, not people touched by adoption through other people.
– When something disruptive happens in the adoption space, we can separate ourselves from it, or we can use it to fuel the fire for change. Both are appropriate responses.
– Expectant mothers who are considering their options are NOT baby dispensaries.
– Adoption, as a system, is built upon grief and loss. This is, but shouldn’t be, profited on. We should be pushing for more ethical practices and adoption agencies that are encouraging parenting and even helping extend resources to those women who choose to parent.
– I acknowledge that adoptive parents have a hard road, too. Waiting in any season or scenario is difficult. However, it is not our job as women considering adoption to carry that burden with us. During our pregnancies, we should be mindfully assessing our options and be focused on our child’s best outcome, not what serves others’ interests.
– Adoptive parents are not the villains. There are some really great people out there who are adopting and doing the work—educating themselves, listening to adoptee and birth parent voices, digging deep within themselves to identify and work through their intentions and desires, and accepting the challenges that come with open adoption, head-on and with vulnerability.
– Manipulation and shame are unethical tactics and have no place in the adoption field. If you are interpreting the statistics to say the tragedy is in fewer babies available to adopt rather than the celebration in the victories on the other side of that, you’re missing the point. If we are truly reforming adoption, there should be fewer children in need of safe and loving homes. That is a world problem we want to be eradicated. That’s the goal.