Sunday, October 25, 2009

Adoption Agencies and the Economy...during the recession

While we are talking about marketing adoption...a few weeks ago I came across a story about an agency that was reporting there were more children available than there were waiting parents, and the turn-about was credited to the economy. Then I came across a story about how more women are choosing adoption rather than raising them on their own, in this economy, which validates the first story. (There is also an uptick in abortions in hard times, but that's another issue. As is the increase in sales of condoms during recessions. We might not want to reproduce, but testosterone apparently suffers no downtown.) From USA Today:

"The economy has made them take a second look at adoption," says Scott Mars of American Adoptions, a private agency in Overland Park, Kan. In the past year, he's seen a 10% to 12% increase in women inquiring about placing a child for adoption and a 7% to 10% increase in actual placements, as strong demand for healthy infants continues to outstrip the supply.
"We've seen a dramatic increase in girls calling us from the hospital," says Joseph Sica of Adoption By Shepherd Care, an agency in Hollywood, Fla. He says they expect to get help to raise their children, so they wait, but after they give birth and no help arrives, they call. He had 14 such adoptions in 2008, up from 11 in 2007 and four in 2006. "Finances are one of the major reasons women feel compelled to place their children for adoption," says Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a research group.
 Elsewhere I read that Adoption Associates, an agency in Jenison, Michigan had trouble paying its bills and asked families to cough up an extra $2,500 per family if they wished the agency to not go under. Since agencies are prohibited by law from soliciting funds while an adoption is pending, the state took its license away, but the agency has since gotten it back. From Woodtv.com in Grand Rapids:

 Amy Rivera is one parent who is skeptical. She says days before she was to bring her daughter  home, the agency told her she had to cough up $6,000 more dollars.
"At that point, you do anything to bring your baby home," she said. Rivera credits the agency for connecting her with her little girl but the adoption process left her cold.
"I don't feel they were straightforward with the process, what the cost would be, how much we'd have to invest. I feel like we were deceived when it came to how much we paid, overall." Private adoptions can cost anywhere between $16,000 - $32,000. Adoption Asssociates says 90 percent of their families agreed to pay the fees.
The comments below the story are not kind about the agency. I happen to know that part of Michigan, and it is a poor area indeed, and not at all heavily populated. I'll hazard an informed guess here, and suggest that their clientele of adoptive parents come from all over the state, and especially more affluent areas, making this yet another examples of how poor women are the carriers of babies for the wealthy, the moderately well off, or simply, the better off then the natural/birth/first mother.

What do I think? I'm sad about this turn of events because no matter how sugar-coated is the "happy" transfer of the baby from natural mother to adoptive (to the adults involved), many of those mothers, the natural mothers, will end up sad and dealing with the downs and downs of giving up a child, no matter how they understand the circumstances of the time led to that choice. Some of them one day will end up writing out their stories at blogs like this one.

Since it is poor women we are talking about, certainly many of them will feel relief at not having to provide and care for a child they feel they cannot. But that does not mean they will not grieve for the lost child. President Obama has said in the past that he wanted women to be able to raise their children, and I fervently hope that he is able to deliver that promise one day when we get through this recession and health-care commotion and conflagration.

We are sometimes asked by those who comment if we are for or against all adoptions. I never answer the question directly because there is no one answer. For some children, some sort of  "adoption" is necessary, and will always be.

But are we unilaterally against all closed adoptions, from anywhere, any place? You bet we are. Are we opposed to the attitude that some Christian agencies and religious organizations support, that by adopting from heathen countries, they are saving the children and bringing them to the true faith?* You bet we are. Do we think that mothers ought to be given more aid so ever more of them keep their babies? You bet we do. Do we think that giving up a child is a life-changing event, not in the best long-term psychological interests of the mother? You bet we do. Are we against the attitude that poor children from poor counties are universally better off being adopted by rich Americans? You bet we are.--lorraine
__________________
If you want to have your hair curl in righteous outrage, see Osolomama's excellent post on the Christian push to adoption: Adoption: When Satan Doesn't Want You To.

7 comments :

  1. Thanks for answering that question Lorraine. Some answers don't have a yes or no answer. Sometimes the answer is a maybe or a yes or no with an asterisk. I feel that adoption is not a panacea for unplanned pregnancy. Money was NOT my motivation for placing my son for adoption. I chose adoption because I wanted my son to have a strong male role model in his life. I had an absentee father, a grandfather who lived miles away, & no uncles who were interested in being involved in my life. I didn't want to take the risk of teaching my son all of the negative things I had learned in my life up to that point. I didn't want to repeat the abusive behavior I experienced as well. Simply put? I didn't think I would be a good parent at that point in my life.

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  2. Ok......Interesting:

    "I don't feel they were straightforward with the process, what the cost would be, how much we'd have to invest. I feel like we were deceived when it came to how much we paid, overall." Private adoptions can cost anywhere between $16,000 - $32,000. Adoption Asssociates says 90 percent of their families agreed to pay the fees.


    This entire statement makes my blood run cold! To this woman it was all about money! How much it cost! WHAT!!!

    I am so sick of the adopters that pretend it is about giving a child a loving home, that it is all about the kids - BS! That statement says it all! They are purchasing a child. Some little mini me that will never be a mini me and, in a lot of cases, will never get over the feeling of not being good enough!

    Such crap!

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  3. Thats the bottom line-money and don't let anyone tell you any different.
    What bothers me is that since the publication of The Primal Wound birthmoms have so much information regarding the damage to infants being yanked from Mom's breast. In yet, I see
    women advertising for open adoption. Looking for couples who might adopt and it makes my blood run cold.
    I know I never would have relinquished if Primal Wound had been out.

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  4. Penny, I think etropic has it right. Everyone has their own reasoning. Maybe that is why most mothers end up being grouchy with each other and with a lot of misunderstandings. I know I have lost some good friends over this stuff - adoptees and mothers. We are all so wounded in our own way, we tend to forget that it is life and we are individuals. Most of the time, at least I have noted this, we don't even return to see if there is a response or comment to follow ours.

    I almost always respond. I think that we can learn from each other. But we have to communicate and stop wearing our hearts on our sleeves. No one is truly wanting to hurt another.

    One thing I have to agree on from what I have seen and heard from adoptive parents - you bet your behind it is money! My daughter's mother bragged TO ME that she paid $500 for my child. Then people ask me why I react to adoptive parents so negatively.

    What they don't understand is that my child was abused - beyond the basics right into her psyche. So, telling me that she paid $500 to abuse my child - she is lucky I can't reach through the phone line or my reunion would be from prison for murder.

    You betcha it is about money!

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  5. Penny, "Primal Wound" is not read or respected outside of the small world of adoption reform groups, so it is unlikely a pregnant woman would have come across it. Although a cult classic within our movement, it is weak science and easily dismissed. Yes, Ms. Verrier has a lot of good insights into adoptee behavior and is a helpful therapist, her initial theory does not hold up to much serious scrutiny. The whole idea of infant cognition and memory is highly controversial, and the idea that all adoptees suffer a primal wound even moreso.

    Lori, it is often about money, but not always. That your kid and my kid's adoptive mothers were abusers does not make all adoptive mothers abusers either. People are people, some good, some bad in all groups.

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  6. Adoption Associates, Inc. (Jenison, Michigan) has had a few complaints filed against it with the BBB and Michigan DHS. Parents have been waiting for 3 years or more to bring home children from Nepal, Russia, China, etc. while Adoption Associates, Inc. continues to encourage new parents to sign up and continues to tell current waiting parents that a child is just around the corner. Worse, Adoption Associates imposed mandatory fee increases in 2009 (investigated by DHS) which continues into 2010 in order to keep their doors open. If current clients don't pay, they risk file delays or termination by the agency. Adoption Associates has refused to meet collectively with waiting parents to discuss mutual concerns. See WOOD TV (Grand Rapids) for news stories about the agency's financial troubles and terrible/heartless executive director, Jane Bareman. A grievance has recently been filed against Adoption Associates, so I've been told, over their fee increases.

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  7. I can't begin to explain how awful our experience with Adoption by Shepherd Care was. Our son's adoption has since been completed with ASC, but the process was awful... as it was for another couple we met by chance. Nidia Sica asked for all the monies due BEFORE our Dossier was sent. We hadn't even been approved for the country, much less had a referral for a child, when she sent us an invoice for the monies owed AFTER we'd been placed with a child. When we confronted her, she stated that those were Hague's requirements. We paid the full amount and then contacted Hague to find that this is not true. I have ALL the documentation to show how unethical and non-Christian their practices are. They charged us $1,500 for a Colombian contact to handle our driving to and fro in Colombia. We never met that person and had to pay another contact. That money was not refunded to us. Also of note, in the break down of their charges, they charge $1,500 for "support" while you wait for the placement of a child with you. Every time we called ASC for information on the status of our waiting time... she informed me to call the orphanage.

    The other couple my husband and I met had took Adoption by Shepherd Care to small claims court and were successful in obtaining most of the money they put out.

    Though I'm deeply overjoyed at the adoption of our son, it is my deepest wish that NO ONE go through what we went through.

    -Gina

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