Quoting federal data that notes that only about 6,800 babies a year are relinquished at birth for adoption, writer Cheryl Wetzstein notes that is "a minuscule number out of nearly 3 million unwed pregnancies." Plus, it's only white women giving up their kids! Black families are keeping their babies to such a degree that those placed for adoption are "statistically zero." Legal abortion is part of the reason, of course. But what's also blamed is an anti-adoption attitude that is being pushed, and that the option that was once "no way" that is, keeping the baby, is now "OK." Yet woe to Joe and Jane Q. Public who wish to adopt:
"Meanwhile, millions of Americans remain willing, even anxious, to adopt, and this number is likely to grow because infertility among men and women is expected to rise due to the epidemic of sexual disease."Not mentioned: the number of women who wait until 30, 35, even 40 before they try to conceive, long past their fertile time span. Implied here: My god, we had better do something for these poor people! Ladies, let's multiply and give them our babies! But it isn't going well, Wetzstein writes, for since 1973 (when the attitudes of the Sixties caught up with real life) the number of adoptions dropped to roughly 1 percent, and relinquishments are becoming so rare they are nearly impossible to study statistically. I'd call that a victory for the end of stranger-adoption. Ms Wetzstein calls it a "perfect storm" that has beset domestic infant adoption.
Those nasty anti-adoption websites
Wetzstein implies that anti-adoption websites which call adoption "barbaric" are at least partly to blame. Gee, I don't think that was moi, but we do have among our readers a variety of opinions on how sane and healthy adoption is for both the birth/first mother and her baby, and I'd have to say that we bloggers three at Birth Mother, First Mother Forum are not all that wild about stranger adoption except in cases of demonstrated and dire need. We personally might not like the Palin family body politic, but we cheer that Bristol decided to keep her baby! And if Wetzstein counted us among the "anti-adoption" websites, we would be honored. Judging from the tone of the story, I would say that anything that didn't urge young women to give up their babies to supply the huge demand for healthy white infants would be called "anti-adoption." She quotes a site (without specifying which one) that states "No mother who has lost a child [to adoption] fully recovers."
Of course the adoption agencies weigh in on this dire state of affairs of Not Enough Babies To Supply Demand.
"We hoped we would see a 'Juno' effect, but it hasn't happened,'" said Teresa McDonough, who directs the adoption program at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington."She adds that since previously there was no acknowledgment of the birth mother's grief--"No wonder they couldn't let it go"--but now, since some genius sociologist figured out that we do grieve our children lost to adoption, we are much more "empowered." In other words, give us some counseling and support services (an unlimited lifetime supply of Kleenex? A memory-eraser?) and Voila! we are "settled and at peace."
Giving up a child, Ms. McDonough concludes, is "really a loving option."
Okay, all together now, how many children who have been reunited with their birth mothers have thanked them for loving them so much they gave them up? How many of us have been reunited with our children to find that they had no issues with being adopted? That they were ... thrilled to be adopted? They they loved us for making that decision? That they harbor no resentment?
NCFA to the rescue...Not
An employee of the Maryland Bowie-Croft Pregnancy Clinic (and ministry) comments that a few years ago they sent about 25 volunteers for adoption training from the National Council for Adoption.* While the training improved the workers' comfort level in promoting adoption...it did not affect the number of girls choosing it! Sad, notes a NCFA spokesperson, because he estimates that there are 10 million couples who would like to adopt "an infant domestically."
At least the story quotes someone who doesn't look for more teens to be like the despicable wise-cracking birth mother in our least favorite movie of all time, Juno: (Read more here about movies.)
"Juno was a horror show, said Jessica Del Balzo, founder of the adoption-eradication advocacy group Adoption: Legalized Lies and author of Unlearning Adoption: A Guide to Family Preservation and Protection."The story also includes interviews with two women who are at peace with their decision to have their children be adopted. One had a ritual in a Catholic church with a priest presiding over the"entrustment ceremony," after which the baby went home with the new parents, and the mother when home with her parents. (One wonders what the scene was like in the car on the drive home.) The birth/first mothers quoted, both in open adoptions that have remained open, do sound at peace with their decision to relinquish their children. Birth mother Jessica O'Connor-Petts even went from a partially open--updates without names--to a fully open one, and her relinquished son, now eleven, was the ring-bearer in both her and her sister's weddings.
While that did sound like an outcome that would be at least livable, and the adoptive parents did not go back on their words to keep the adoption an open one, Ms. O'Connor-Petts had these wise words to add:
"If you make the decision that you really believe is the best one for you and the child, you will be able to live with yourself," she said. "The only way you won't be able to live with yourself is when you make a decision that you sense is not the best decision for you or your child."
"For some people," she added, the best decision "may not be adoption. But for me, the joy of watching him grow up in his family far outweighs the grief of separating from him."
But those words at the end were so far outweighed by the overreaching attitude of the piece: Gee, why can't adoption be made more palatable to girls who have babies? As I read, I kept remembering Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. And thinking that family columnist Cheryl Wetzstein was an advance man for the society depicted therein.
You can read Wetzstein's latest on this story...Adoption Success a Reality.
Email the paper with your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Ms. Wetzstein at email@example.com
And a second installment, on embryo adoption, is coming on Sunday. Stay tuned.
You know, I never write about adoption without full disclosure--that I am a birth/first mother, and if I did, I would be hooted out of town on a journalistic rail. But we have no clue as to Ms.Wetzstein's connection/desires regarding this life event. It would be good to know. Let's ask the paper to inform us. All we know is that she writes a bi-weekly column called, On The Family. I think I may send her a copy of Birthmark. Yes, I'm shamelessly promoting my 1979 out-of-print memoir about the reality of giving up my daughter for adoption.