Sunday, November 21, 2010

There is coercion in adoption

Would like to share a post with you titled, "Young Moms and Coercion in Adoption."

"I UNDERSTAND it’s heartbreaking for an adoptive couple to plan for a baby, get their hopes up for the baby, and to expect the baby… and have the mom change her mind. However, at the same time, they need to understand the heartbreak it causes a mom to actually sign away her rights and to walk away from her child." -OnceLost

This isn't an isolated incident. When a mother does not sign relinquishment papers, we have to see this for what it is - not a "failed adoption" but successful parenting. Wonderful. The best of all scenarios. We have to grasp this. This must change.


Mrs. Deem said...

I LOVE that. "Successful parenting."

lavendergardener said...

Thank you for this. I do options counseling with expectant moms and I really wish more people would understand that the goal can never be to convince a mom to make an adoption plan.

Jolene said...

~*AMEN*~ Too many people forget about the mother! First of all they chose life for their child and second they are choosing a life WITH their child!

Bonky's Mom said...

I get what you're saying and certainly there are plenty of birth moms who change their minds and work hard to create a loving, positive childhood for their children.

However...there are two sides.

As a parent of three failed three weeks into the process in which we had been in NICU with triplets...and as a person who is aware of the circumstances those sweet ones now live in...and as one who is very, very, first hand aware-- kind of aware...of the circumstances the little one from another failed adopted is living's can't be wrapped up and packaged as the birthmom choosing successful parenting.

Just wanting to bring attention to two sides. Neither more valid...just equally important and deserving of our attention and consideration.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Great post. This is what makes me a little squirmy about pre-birth matching. I think there needs to be a shift from calling moms "birthmoms" and calling PAP's "parents" until after placement has actually occurred. Until then, it really needs to be in the first mom's court.

Llama Momma said...

I've chimed in here before, as a birthmom, and of course I can't resist chiming in again! :-)

I had a wonderful social worker that must have asked me a thousand times if I was sure, and went over all my options over and over again. For me, having all the information before signing meant I wasn't left with regret. I don't think, "Wow. If I had known THAT, I never would have..."

"Success" is hard to define in adoption. Certainly we can agree that coercion is not good...but on the other hand, if birthparents KNOW they are not able to parent, but don't want to sign their rights away...well, is that really a success? I guess it depends on their ability to step up and parent. Coercion isn't the answer, of course. But information might be. I wish more birthparents would speak up so the world would know we're not a bunch of messed up freaks! ;-)

I know firsthand how painful it is to sign away parental rights, but for me, the alternative wouldn't have been a "success." It would have been a disaster.

But that's just me and my story. Everyone has a story. Every birthparent, every child, every adoptive parent. And so we have to be wary of saying "always" and "never" and even "success."

I see my adoption story as a "success" because I have no regrets. But my birthson is 20 and I don't know his side of the story. Maybe it's not a success from his perspective.

Sorry for the long, rambly comment!! It is so important for everyone to keep having this conversation. Christine, I love your heart for adoption and EVERYONE involved in it! :-)

amberwoods said...

Bonky's Mom and Llama Momma have it right. As an adopitive mother of two angels I am so thankful our adoption went through. One of my children would have been in a very BAD PLACE now if the birth-mother had changed her mind. Not because she is a bad person but because she was mentally, emotionally and physically unable to raise her own child.

Thankfully, she had the wisdom to know that, and despite great pressure to raise her own child, she showed her love by placing her child for adoption, thus making sure her child had what she could not provide.

Perhaps what should change is the stigma attached to adoption.

Most times a child is adopted because the birth-mother is an amazingly strong person with more love for her child than most people can ever imagine.

Thanks Christine - great topic!

Gracefire said...

When I was pregnant with my son, there was enormous pressure to make an adoption plan. I was actually told (by more than one person), "He's white*, there will be couple lined up around the block to adopt him." People were so mad at me for not wanting to relinquish my son, like I was being selfish. And, as almost a weird form of punishment for this perceived selfishness, people would withdraw their support. I had a multitude of offers from friends to be there if I decided to have an abortion, or to hold my hand when I signed the relinquishment papers, but when I decided to parent my child, it was made perfectly clear to me that I was on my own.

As much as I know I could have given a couple an amazing gift by entrusting my son to them, my son is an amazing gift to me and I love him with every fiber of my being, just as his adoptive parents would have loved him with every fiber of their being.

*Which is a completely separate rage for me. My son is biracial - his sperm half was Mexican (I think).

Diana said...

I, too, have been on the adoptive parent end of things. I've been through a marked "failed adoption" that didn't end in "successful parenting" but was rather"more successful coorsion from a the agency and a durranged grandmother who initially insisted she place the child then changed her mind and decided she couldn't live without her grandchild whom she had no intention of actually parenting."

As parents, we were APPAULED at the level of cooercion happening across the board in the name of placing babies. Way more than one agency (as in it's the industry norm) were basically importing pregnant girls, harboring them as fugatives, racketeering, and doing it legally. They were importing these moms from other states, promising to cover all their medical and living expenses in the process, and treating them to a lifestyle I couldn't even think of affording for myself in the process. They then stuck the adoptive families with the bills, and made it clear to the girls if they didn't place their babies they would have to repay their living expenses. Most of these girls were young and single and had no place to go and didn't even have $5.00 to their names, let alone the $15,000 it would take to repay their 6-8 weeks of living expenses. What choice did they really have?

Many of these moms were also being brought here, being immediately put on Utah's medicaid system in order to pay for medical and birth expenses (which of course once they're on, they can stay on for a long time...but if they were already enrolled in antother state, there was no coverage from either medicaid or any private insurance.) They were then being hidden from the birth fathers and grandparents until after the birth of the baby and parental rights were terminated. It felt like a stinking kitten factory!

Of course, if these girls did change their minds, the adoptive families had no legal or even financial recourse with the mothers or the agencies. Everything they paid was non-refundable, but could be applied to another "situation" if this one didn't work out. Really? Like I'd want to stick around!

We also found that agencies prey just as much on vulnerable, hurting families as they do on birth parents. We were contacted more than once about potential babies. We were told what the birth mother's living expenses were, what the medical expenses were, etc. and told to take it or leave it. More than once, the "situation" would have required over $60,000 in cash AND the baby was born addicted to crack or some other lovely substance. That $60,000 didn't include any medical bills for the baby.

Another really disturbing trend we saw was the practice of popularity contests. If you were cute and fun and young and rich, your profile got shown and you got a kid. If the social workers didn't know you, if you were over 30, or if they didn't like you, your profile never got shown and you didn't get a kid.

And finally, there is a MARKED lack of services available to propsective adoptive parents. Every agency (and there were many) offered great services to the birth parents. Yet, even though we were the ones paying the bills for all of it, there was ZILCH available in terms of greif counseling, educaiton, or even support offered to the adoptive families. For us, personally, and I know it was the case for many others, we turned to adoption because of infertility. That's equally as big of a loss as terminating parental rights. Yet there was no help for us on how to deal with it or come to a place of acceptance with it.

And so we turned to foster care and international adoption as an alternative...and went straight from the frying pan into the fire. :-)

In a nutshell, adoption definately has a dark side there needs to be better controls and reform across the board!

Brenda said...

I have to say that this is why when we looked for kids to adopt, we only considered those whose rights were already terminated. I was fearful of the pain. While I do think that successful parenting is best, I also can only imagine the pain of having already become a child's parents in your heart and then find out you are not.

Gracefire said...

"Success" is hard to define in adoption. Certainly we can agree that coercion is not good...but on the other hand, if birthparents KNOW they are not able to parent, but don't want to sign their rights away...well, is that really a success? I guess it depends on their ability to step up and parent. Coercion isn't the answer, of course. But information might be.

I wanted to address this comment because so much of it rings true for me and my situation.

When I got pregnant (September 2007), I was in no position to be a parent. I was poor, unprepared and had no support system. Add to that the fact that my son was conceived as the result of a sexual assault, and there was no question in the minds of others what I would do - of course I would abort. At my very first prenatal visit, both the doctor and the nurse asked me if I wanted to talk to some one about abortion options, even though I had told them I wasn't going to abort. And it wasn't just limited to doctors. Friends, even family, asked me when (never if) I was going to abort. When they finally got it through their heads I was not going to abort, they then moved on to "when are you going to get in touch with the adoption agency" routine. At no point did anyone ever try to hook me up with agencies that could help me with obtaining basic babies supplies (clothing, a car seat, etc.), or even inform me that there was help through my state for things like getting nutritious food and medical/financial insurance. I can't help but think that, in conditions such as this, no wonder women feel like relinquishing their child is the only option they have.

I know people who have struggled with infertility and who have gone through the process adoption and my heart aches for them. Their pain and their struggle is very real and very valid and nothing I say here is attempting to take away from any of that. But when I got pregnant, I felt like people stopped seeing me as a person and started seeing me as nothing more than a walking uterus containing what they felt would be some one else's child. I often wonder how many more successful parenting stories there might be if pregnant women were seen less as walking incubators and more as mothers from the very beginning. How many more successful parenting stories would there be is women were just given some help?

Llama Momma said...

Amberwoods wrote, "Perhaps what should change is the stigma attached to adoption."

Yes, yes, yes!!!! I had so many people trying to talk me OUT of placing my child. So many people. A woman in my church told me I would "never recover" and would "cry every day of my life."

There was so much pressure to parent! Why? Because I was graduating high school and college bound and LOOKED like maybe I could get my act together??? What nobody knew was that my mom was seriously mentally ill and could offer me no real help. And birthdad made it clear: I was on my own.

I was so ashamed of my grief after I placed...afraid to share it with anyone because, after all, they "told me" I'd regret it. Add that to the symphony of people who thought I was a monster to even consider adoption...


Obviously, I've got some baggage here. :-p

Llama Momma said...

Gracefire -- I just read your comment, and want to say...I'm so sorry for your pain. I think we're both coming from a very similar place -- at very vulnerable moments in life, we were told what we *should* do.

It's so important to just stop and listen, isn't it? We assume we know what someone needs and in reality, we have no idea.

beemommy said...

We too experienced, twice, when birthmom's changed their minds. Sadly, in both cases it was not in the best interest of the child at all whether the baby went to us, another couple or another family member.

Our first match had never planned to place. She was looking for freedom from living in a restrictive home with her grandparents. She admitted this when we were on the way to hospital to meet our new daughter.She took her new daughter home to live in a severely dysfunctional situation rife with poverty. I wonder about that young woman often.

Our second match happened almost a year later. Homeless couple living in a station wagon with two toddlers. The birth mom was adamant about placement. Neither of their families helped them at all to keep the young family in a safe place until the maternal grandmother found out an adoption plan was in place and suddenly decided to help her daughter and grandchildren. Do I blame her? No, not for helping them at that point but for not stepping up sooner for the sake of the first two grandchildren. I am sure that their situation while temporarily helped, more than likely spiraled out again after the newness of the new baby wore off. Sad for all three kids.

Our daughter's birthmom ended up placing her full brother in foster care for almost two years after placing Hannah with us. Had they not chosen an adoption plan, she would have been in a foster situation.

Gracefire said...

@beemommy: I am so sorry for the heartbreak you experienced.

However, it sounds like (at least in the first situation), the mother never wanted to relinquish her baby in the first place. If this was truly the case, where was the "village" to help empower her to keep that child? She may have been poor, and the situation she was living in may have been dysfunctional, but that does not necessarily make her unfit to parent. Those are things that can be changed (or at least improved) if the people in her life who had pushed for adoption in the first place had stopped trying to strong arm her and started trying to empower her. I can't help but feel if she had had a real support system, instead of people just pushing her to give her child up, a lot of heartbreak and pain could have been avoided on both ends.

(Also, I am in no way saying that you were responsible for that coercion. I see both you and that mother as a victim of the coercion.)

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I've been in way too many homes and witnessed first hand so much UNsuccessful parenting, that I don't always consider a canceled adoption a good thing. In fact I usually don't.

I think the needs of the baby are primary. Not the birthmom's, not the PAPs, the BABY.

And I have a pretty stinking strong opinion regarding this since I was that baby, and am over-the-moon glad to have not been raised by my birthmother. And you know what? I don't really care whether she was coerced or not. That may sound horrid, but let me repeat - it was an amazing act of grace that I was not raised by her. That would have been some big time unsuccessful parenting.

She was not a horrible person, and later in life she got married to a great guy, had 2 kids and was a great mother. But was she ready to parent at 17? Are you freaking kidding me?

r. said...

I wonder what type of professional license, if any, it takes to be the person counseling those considering adoption.

I think there is an argument to be made in favor of professional licensing (e.g., a social work license, counselor's license, etc.) because at least then there are defined confidentiality rules and an agency to report to when the confidentiality is broken. How far that would actually get the parent, I don't know, but at least there are rules on the books regarding disclosure ("If you say X, Y, or Z, I'll have to notify the authorities") and there are rules regarding what justifies notifying authorities. Although as I type this I realize that's pretty flawed reasoning, because I'm pretty sure state laws tend to protect the identities of people who call in reports to CPS ...

But I guess what I was getting at is that it may well be the case that in the course of pre-adoption counseling a girl or woman tells the counselor something that would make the counselor legitimately think the baby would be in danger. Not just "baby would be taken home to dysfunctional family" or "baby would be taken home to homeless family," but real danger. And in that case, it may well be the counselor's professional and ethical obligation to make the report. But that possibility should at the very least be spelled out from the beginning. But as I mentioned earlier, I'm not sure there's any recourse if the counselor does break confidentiality when it's not called for...

Sunday said...

I am with Missy; in every situation should be the child’s needs that come first, always. Adoption Foster Care Divorce! I believe children deserve their own legal representation in any custody matter, since they are the ones who are most affected and important.

Poverty doesn’t make one an unfit parent, nor dose wealth make one a fit parent. Those are honestly nauseating concepts to me. My parents were upper middle class narcissists who couldn’t be inconvenienced to raise kids once they divorced…neither one of them wanted us. On the other hand the same resources spent to keep SOME kids in care could make it possible to maintain the family unit.

I know a lot Adoptive parents love their kids just like they would their own (good, bad or indifferent), but when natural parents WANT their, are willing and motivated to care for them, that is where they belong end of story, no matter how much any one else could love them! The pain and stigma of abandonment lasts for lifetimes, and generations. my grand father died with it, my mother is living with and I am coping with it and hanging on to this next generation for dear life. In each of our cases our parents were capable of taking care of their children but they didn’t feel they should have had to.

And this:
“Most times a child is adopted because the birth-mother is an amazingly strong person with more love for her child than most people can ever imagine.”
I am sorry …is just BUNK! I think I want another kid – if you really love them you would give me yours, or maybe you should yours the neighbor down the street with a better job.

I thank god for good, intelligent, insightful adoptive and foster parents who understand the pain and trauma that is inherent in abandonment. Because there is no shortage in kids who have parents who CAN’T or WON’T take care of their children. There is no rush to split up families before mom’s milk even comes in!

Gracefire said...

@Missy: Before I start, I just want to say that nothing I am about to type is being written in an attempt to invalidate your feelings about your situation, I do not know your particulars, so everything I am writing is being done so in the hypothetical. Now, that being said...

Many people would look at my situation and say there was no way I was ready to be a parent. Nothing about my mental or physical state of being screamed "stability". But I desperately wanted to keep my son. Did that desire come out of selfish reasoning on my part? Yes. But whatever the reason, there was no way I was going to sign relinquishment papers. So, in this case, what would be the proper thing to do? There are people that took Route A: withdrawing their support and threatening to call CPS. Then, there were the people that took Route B: They gave me rides to the DHS office and helped me find information on how to apply for food stamps, WIC and health insurance so I could get prenatal care for the baby and counseling to help deal with my issues.

Situations change, and so do people. I feel like there are lots of pregnant women out there who are currently in situations where they would be unsuccessful parents. However, there are two routes you can go and I feel like the knee-jerk reaction is Route A. And, again, I wonder how many of those stories could end in successful parenting if the first thought was not "get the baby out of there" but "how can we empower this mother to be successful?".

Gracefire said...

@sunday: I was going to comment on a couple of things you said, but I am unclear on how to interpret a couple of your statements. Can you elaborate on the following two thoughts?

1. “Most times a child is adopted because the birth-mother is an amazingly strong person with more love for her child than most people can ever imagine.”
I am sorry …is just BUNK! I think I want another kid – if you really love them you would give me yours, or maybe you should yours the neighbor down the street with a better job.

Are you saying that birth mothers are not strong people who love their children?

2. There is no rush to split up families before mom’s milk even comes in!

Again, I am little unclear. Are you saying that there is no coercion in adoption and that women are not pressured to give up their babies?

If I completely missed the meaning of what you were trying to say i neither of those statements, I am so sorry. I am not yet fully awake and my brain is not yet moving at full speed. :-P

Sunday said...

No problem gracefire, I was probably up to late to be commenting! ; )

1. Maybe birth mothers love their children, maybe they are strong…I speak from my perspective as a child who was thrown away, so while those things may be true…I hate to hear people say “the most loving thing you can do for a child is to give them away”. In my opinion the most loving thing a parent can do for their children is PARENT them! You may have to be strong to give your child away, but again, in my opinion, you have to be stronger to clean up, sober up, signup for welfare, forgo the body waxing or what ever it takes to save your child the life time of pain that abandonment brings. Sucking it up and accepting that once you have children that they are your ONLY priority…now that is STRONG and LOVING. I love my children, giving them away to some more fortunate family as away way of showing my love for them is absolutely unfathomable to me.

2. I was saying that there is absolutely coercion in adoption, especially in pre-birth matching! To set up a venerable pregnant woman up with people usually more affluent, and educated who desperately want her baby, will buy her gifts, fain friendship, and support all while trying to convince her that “if she really loved her baby she would give it to them” is not only coercion, but it is cruel. No pregnant women should have to be subjected to that- ever. There should be a waiting period for ALL newborn adoptions. (ok, maybe not if the mother shows up for delivery drunk or high, but I assume you know what I am saying)

So I guess what I am getting at are two ends of the spectrum, some people give up their kids because they are to narcissistic to see past them selves, and for the children of those people thank goodness there people wiling to foster and adopt them. And there are mothers who could honestly parent their children with a little support, and they be given every opportunity to do so.

I am sure there are all kinds of scenarios that fall somewhere in the middle but…

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Can you explain to me when this coercion takes place? I'm not being snarky, I am honestly asking. Here's why.

The majority of women who place their children are not teenagers influenced by their parents - they are in their early 20s. Conventional wisdom and experts in the field say that this is because women in their 20s have a much better idea of the reality of raising a child and also grasp that the birthfather frequently has washed his hands of the situation. It is usually naive teenagers who don't even consider adoption. So if a woman is older, wiser, has had 9 months to go over the ins and outs of her options a kajillion times, and places with an agency, then how is she coerced? If she were not thinking that adoption might very well be a better option for the child, then how would she have even come into contact with a social worker?

I know that sometimes a birthmother can absolutely parent and do a wonderful job. And maybe I am just jaded. But as a court appointed child advocate who saw more heartbreaking cases than I care to remember, someone who has seen personally the devastation of children raised by women who were not ready to parent, and just a person who watches society, and hey, an avid Judge Judy watcher where 90% of the cases are a woman with 3 kids by 2-3 different dads suing one of their fathers for the rims she bought for his car or something similar, I very, very rarely see the moms who have a deadbeat boyfriend, little to know support, and no education who do it well. I know they are out there. But it is my opinion that they are not in the majority.

I know that they are out there. Heck, I probably would have been one myself had I gotten pregnant when I was younger. I would not have been a great mom, but it would not have been a disaster.

However. We have a CRISIS of children in poverty in this country. We have a CRISIS of child abuse and it is almost always the mother's boyfriend who is torturing her child. We have a CRISIS in our foster care system. We have a CRISIS of drug addicted babies. We have CRISIS of out of wedlock births which statistics prove is always the primary precursor to child abuse, poverty, dropouts, and repeating the cycle of out of wedlock, ie, unfathered, children. And all of these children were born to women who thought parenting their child was the right choice. I beg to differ.

So, based on what I have seen on my own eyes, in many, many, MANY cases, it would have been better for that infant to be placed with another family.

Okay - back to cleaning my very dirty house.

Gracefire said...

@sunday: Ah, okay, thanks for clarifying. :-)

I first want to extend internet hugs to you (if you want them). I can tell from your writing that this is a very tender topic for you. Thank you for sharing your feelings and I am so, so sorry for the pain you have experienced.

I would tend to agree with you up to a point on number 1. You can give a mother the world on a platter, but sometimes, things are just not going to work out. I completely agree that the best outcome, and the situation we should strive for, is keeping a child with their birth parents. However, if my pregnancy had happened just 5 or 6 years prior to when it did, the best option for me would have been to place the baby with another family (even if it was just on a temporary basis). I can say this with absolute, 100% certainty. The situation was too out of control, too violent, too filled with very real hazards. It would not have been safe or fair to bring a baby into that environment - even if it was just on a temporary basis while I cleaned up and got myself into a better place.

And I absolutely agree with you on number 2. When I was pregnant with my son, one of the things that people said that hurt me the most was, "Think of the life an adoptive parent could give him!" Sure, I was pretty poor, but that did not mean I loved my son any less or would be any less of a parent. Besides, don't we constantly tell our kids that is not "stuff" that matters in the end?

So, in the end, it looks like we are pretty much on the same side. :-) Thank you so much for clarifying!

Gracefire said...

@missy: Coercion can come in many forms. I was a week past my 24th birthday when I found out I was pregnant. Maybe in my situation, some one was not twisting my arm or holding a gun to my head, but the mental/emotional blackmail was huge. I was constantly told I was not fit to parent my child because I was poor or crazy or because Mercury was in retrograde...(Okay, maybe not because Mercury was in retrograde, but you would not believe the reasons people came up with.) And the solution for these people was always, always, always that I should put my child up for adoption. It was never actually dealing with the perceived problem.

The majority of women who place their babies may be in their early 20's, which may give them the mental capacity to think over their situation and go through the in's and out's. But what if those women are never shown option? What if those women, like me, were only told by the people around them what a lousy parent they would make and how the best option would be to relinquish the child? What if they never knew how to access social support programs that could give them assistance? Then, how much of a choice do they really have? Giving consent without first knowing all possible information is not really giving consent in my mind. To me, that is coercion - especially if the people urging a woman to relinquish knows places where that woman can get support and chooses not to inform her.

I am sure you have seen your share of heartbreak. But, again, I come back to the point that a portion of theses women could successfully parent if they were surrounded by people who's goal it was to keep the family together and not push for relinquishment. And, as I said before, there are some women that, no matter what you give them, they are just not ready to be parents.

We have CRISIS of out of wedlock births which statistics prove is always the primary precursor to child abuse, poverty, dropouts, and repeating the cycle of out of wedlock, ie, unfathered, children. And all of these children were born to women who thought parenting their child was the right choice. I beg to differ.

Also, I just wanted to address this statement. Saying that being born out of wedlock is a primary precursor to all of those things is a little one-dimensional. I don't even know who my son's father is. Does that mean he is doomed to become a poor, abused, uneducated dropout? Of course not. Generalizations are never a good idea and, in this case, can even be dangerous. Are children in theses situations more likely to be at risk for certain behaviors and outcomes? Maybe. But to use that as a rallying cry as to why children should be taken away from their parents is just rather...mind-boggling. I know I have said it over and over, but I feel it bears repeating. How many of those bad outcomes could have been changed if people stopped expecting the mothers to fail as parents and instead put their energy into making sure they succeeded?

kayder1996 said...

I'm delurking because of this topic, Christine. It's such a tough topic to navigate. I'm an adoptive mom but like to think of myself as a kid's advocate as I've worked in a variety of jobs doing so. (Teacher at a juvie facility, elementary teacher, mentor program coordinator)

I think there are two topics that have not really been addressed on here. First, no one has said anything about hindsight, Monday morning quarterbacking, and the "what ifs". It is very easy to point out the failures of people/systems when you have the benefit of knowing what happens next. It's easy to say "that person shouldn't have chosen to parent because the addictions/mental illness/dysfunction in her life has just continued" and to say that the system failed the kids who were parented by that person. It's also very easy to say "look at that person's life now; it's such a shame that she didn't get to parent her child" and to be angry at the system of social workers/agencies/friends/family who encouraged her to place the child. And living in the what if's is not a real productive place to live either. "What if my mother had not abandoned me?" "What if people around my mother had not encouraged her to place me for adoption?" "What if I had not made an adoption plan?" "What if I had chosen a different placing agency, one with better counselors/better ethics?" I think those questions have a place as part of the grieving process that go with being placed for adoption/placing a child but to stay wrapped up in those questions is not beneficial. You can only experience one side of the coin in life. You can certainly wish your birth mother wouldn't have been so quick to decide not to parent but the reality is if you had grown up with her, you might feel entirely different especiallly if you faced constant homelessness, domestic abuse, or other forms of instability. Obviously, only being able to know one experience applies to a lot of adoption situations.

The other thing that has not been said is that assisting someone in crisis/poverty requires a situational response. What does it take to keep a family together? For some families it would be a stable job, a place to live and financial assistance. For others it might mean years and years of counseling. For others, rehab. And there are obviously some situtations where the family is not going to stay together regardless of what is done to help them. The problem is that in a lot of situations this requires a gamble. If you are an agency worker/social worker, you must take a risk on a parent who has a lot of cards stacked against them. And the process towards promoting family stability is slow and painful. As you encourage a mom to make choices one way or another, you have to be walking a contant tightrope between if this process will be fast enough to provide a safe living environment for a child.

That said, I find the post you linked to incredibly sad. Not because I know what would have been best for the mom and the baby but just because so many people seemed to fail the mom. And the stories about agencies supporting birth moms with over the top care with threats of having them pay it back if they don't place is appalling and essentially like the cases of human trafficking you might see with sweatshops, prostitution rings and so on. I am not a big fan of government regulation. However, a little bit of regulation might go a long way. Don't know what that regulation should be but I'm sure people who work with adoptions day in and day out could probaby offer some pretty good suggestions.

Owlhaven said...

I'm with Kristen (Minivan). People ask me why we adopted internationally (6x). Truth is, hubby and I attempted to adopt a newborn in the US and had the adoption fall through when the birth mom decided to parent.

I totally understand and respect that decision. Yeah it was hard to walk away from that hospital without that baby, but it was HERS.

And in the middle of that whole process we really got the heeby-jeebies about the dynamics of newborn adoption in the US. The purpose of those birthmom letters is basically to convince those moms that their baby would be better with someone else.

In all honesty, many of us have moments of great difficulty where we doubt our own parenting abilities. It seems cruel to do that to a young disadvantaged mom. How much better it is to support her. If she still makes an adoption plan, that is her right. But we shouldn't pressure beforehand.

We ended up feeling better about adopting in situations where the birth parents had already relinquished rights, made their choice, before we ever came into the picture. I still think a better solution in most cases would be to support the birth parents so they could parent for themselves. But it felt better to adopt in a situation where we had influenced the first family.
(Of course the mere knowledge that adoptive families existed may have influenced them...arg....sooooo insanely complicated.)
Mary, mom to 10

Jeri said...

We happen to have had our family in three ways: by birth, our first two domestic, open adoption and finally, by international adoption. We approached infant adoption because after losing our first daughter to a respiratory virus (she was born with Spina Bifida) and witnessing the fall out of being a sibling to a special needs kid, we were scared poopless away from adopting an older child via the foster care system by the social workers themselves. We did not want to put our second daughter into the situation of having another special needs sibling. (Let me be clear here...our first born was a privilege to parent and our daughters were each other's soulmates but we found out after Amber's death while working with a grief counselor how much guilt our daughter carried for being physically and cognitively normal. How at times she resented her sister for my absences due to hospitalizations and then the guilt that came after. We could not knowingly do that to her again.

Our third daughter's birthmother insisted on placement due to the fact that she had felt such pressure from her family to parent her second child (first was being raised by first husband and his second wife) and that the promises of support evaporated after taking the child home. I think there is a great deal of pressure from both sides of the fence.

As to our last adoption....the one where his birthmother was forced to relinquish her children or stop dropping them off at the orphanage whenever she wanted....(often Eastern European situations anyway, the child is abandoned or removed due to abuse, neglect, alcoholism, etc not that most birthmom's have chosen to have their children adopted) he's now sitting in a state psyche hospital after years of therapies, meds, holistic efforts, and almost ten years of trying to save him. I have not given up, I never will...he's my son and yesterday, I got to rub his precious thirteen year old head and hold his hands for the first time in almost six months since he punched me the last time.

Kathy's Korner said...

this thread has been very interesting!

I too dislike "failed adoption" but question the term "successful parenting" because that remains to be seen. No matter who takes the child home to parent. And what determines success? Just to much generalization there.

I am an adoptive Mom, and birth Aunt. About the only thing I can say in regard to adoption with certainty is that you just can't predict the future!

I tend to feel strongly that whats best after birth, is whats best for baby. Only. The adults involved need to take a back seat.

I also dislike pre birth placement. Find it ridiculous. We were "matched" or "choosen" after birth 3 times, and matched prior once. I disliked it strongly. SO much stress and pressure that way on all parties. Stress that just doesn't need to be there.

T & T Livesay said...

Reading this two years late. I think it is funny (but not ha ha funny) that many seem to question that coersion happens. Makes me sad. We're a people that don't like it listen to hurting and broken and marginalized. Have lived super duper close to adoption stuff since 1992 and I am here to say - coersion happens.