Saturday, August 29, 2009
Shotgun Adoptions via Crises Pregnancy Centers
Ever wonder about those "crisis pregnancy centers?" Wonder if they are actually helping women at a time when they need it...or are they just funneling pregnant teens and women into the adoption mill business? Wonder no longer.
The centers are set up as non-profit pregnancy-testing facilities...but they are really antiabortion baby mills. And they get $60 million in federal abstinence and marriage-promotion funds, which right off the bat makes me crazy.
The Nation has a lengthy piece by Kathryn Joyce, "Shotgun Adoption," in the September 14 2009 issue (on line now) exposing the "crisis pregnancy centers" or CPCs, for what they are: baby mills for adoption agencies, particularly the Bethany Christian Service agencies, which have sprouted like mushrooms all over the country--4,000 and counting. And Bethany, the nation's largest adoption agency, is incidentally a mainstay of the despicable National Council for Adoption (NCFA), a lobbying organization for adoption agencies which for years has fought every battle in every state to deny adopted people their original birth records. Make no mistake, NCFA cares not one whit about the adopted individual, their only focus is the business of adoption, and the demands of adopters to have babies furnished under sealed-records statutes. But I digress.
The illustration accompanying the article shows a woman waving from a window with money falling down and a stork taking away a big bundle of babies. Perfect.
According to writer Joyce, the centers give you all kinds of help while you are pregnant and ready and willing to give up your child, but do nothing for you if you change your mind and--god forbid, decide to raise your own child. As long as you are willing to procreate and pass on the baby, you will be taken in by a "shepherding family," whose job it is apparently to make sure that you are fully indoctrinated into giving up your baby not only for the good of the baby, but yourself. One woman, who uses the pseudonym Jordan, tells of being assured she could have an open adoption, but as soon as the birth was over, was informed that "fully open adoptions weren't legal in South Carolina," so the new mother would not receive information about the adoptive parents.
So what about this is "open?" Only "open" from the adopters' side of the fence, as they were in the delivery room.
She asked if she could bring the baby home to the "shepherding family" (who had called her a "saint" before for not choosing abortion), and they refused, "chastising her sharply." She had gone back on her unspoken agreement to supply a baby (let's call it a pre-paid-for baby) to Bethany Christian Services agency.
After learning there could be no real open adoption, she spent the day crying. The Bethany counselor warned her that if she kept her baby, she'd end up homeless and lose her baby anyway. The woman also brought the sobbing prospective adopters (who were also in the delivery room) into her hospital room. They might not get her baby. They might go home childless. When I read about prospective adopters in the delivery room, I squirm; when I read about them actually cutting the umbilical cord, and this is celebrated as a significant symbolic act, I am repulsed. Prospective adopters should not be in the delivery room. Ever. That's like taking delivery on a pre-paid kid.
Which is apparently how the Bethany counselor looked upon Jordan's baby: pre-paid. "My options were to leave the hospital walking, with no money," says Jordan. "Or here's a couple with Pottery Barn furniture. You sacrifice yourself, not knowing it will leave an impact on your and your child for life." Jordan signed the relinquishment papers, and the "shepherding family" was celebrating and wondering why she wouldn't stop crying.
We're not. We know. We've been there, done that, and here we are, all these decades later, writing reams about the pain and sorrow and endless grief and life-changing moment (for the worse) it was when we signed those relinquishment papers. Without question, the worst day of my life.
"Shotgun Adoption" also notes that unaware pregnant girls and women are often shepherded right to states where the laws favor quick relinquishment, such as South Dakota and Utah. "'There were so many allegations about improper adoptions being made and how teenage girls were being pressured to give up their children,' then-state attorney Tim Wilka told the Argus Leader, that the governor asked him to take the case. The Alpha Center [a pregnancy-crises center] pleased no contest to five counts of unlicensed adoption and foster care practices; nineteen other charges were dropped, including four felonies."
Utah is also particularly hot to trot to get those babies out of the mother's clutches. Only two witnesses are required for relinquishments that have occurred in hotel rooms or parks, and having the baby in the state and relinquishing there avoids interstate child-placement regulations. We have written here before about the Church of the Latter Day Saints rah-rah adoption practices, and were not surprised. Utah also makes it difficult for a father to retain custody of his child, and if a woman falls in with a CPC associated with the Mormon megachurch, she--and the father--find themselves under incredible pressure to sign the relinquishment papers and hand over their the baby. It's all so sick sick sick.
Read the story in its entirety. Our friends, Mirah Riben, author of The Stork Market, is quoted, along with Ann Fessler, author of The Girls Who Went Away, and Karen-Wilson Buterbaugh, founder of the Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative. The piece demonstrates what we have been saying all along: that market pressures have created a huge demand for babies, and that many babies that might be kept in the family are given up for adoption to genetic strangers, to the lifelong detriment of both mother and child.
"A lot of those moms from the '50s and '60s were really damaged by losing their child through the maternity homes," says a Midwestern grandmother who fought doggedly for her son to get his child from the clutches of a Utah adoption mill. "People say those kinds of things don't happen anymore. But they do. It's just not a maternity home on every corner; it's a CPC."
Though I am a birth mother from 1966, the height of the Baby Scoop Era, I did not stay in a maternity home. But against a background of shame and no resources, I gave my daughter up to strangers.
And neither of us ever got over the psychic damage. --lorraine
We are aware that adoptive parents find their way to our site to learn about the other side of adoption, and many of them are shocked and horrified at what we have to say. We do not mince words, or hide our feelings. That is the point of Birth Mother/First Mother Forum. Other adoptive parents, who are more open and real about what adoption is, join in the conversation. As this is an open blog, all readers are welcome, but all should understand this is first and foremost a place for first mothers to feel free to talk about their experiences and feelings.