So, after dissecting The Adoption Option from the Center for American Progress, let us look at their proposed reforms:
Legal counsel. Expectant mothers should have independent legal counsel. We agree. We were stunned, though, to read that legal services are necessary because “the daunting complexity of the adoption system and confusion about the process surely pose a deterrent to some women.”
Mothers forced to keep their babies because they can’t navigate the adoption system? Give us a break! Even a dim-witted fifteen year old can sign the papers the nice lady gives you and you’re out the door--child free. And if adoption is too complicated in your state, the generous people you found on the Internet will be happy to pay your way to adoption-friendly (or as some refer to it, adoption-corrupt) Utah. Or Alabama, or perhaps even Hawaii, where you can sign the paper before the baby is born!
Time to decide. Recognizing that “a woman who has just given birth is inevitably in a period of high stress—not the best time to make irrevocable, life-changing decisions,” The Adoption Option recommends mothers have three days after birth before they may sign a consent, and one week to revoke it.
Three days is an improvement over state laws such as Oregon’s which permit mothers to sign irrevocable consents on the delivery table, but it is still far too short for a mother to recover from hormonal changes and the effects of giving birth. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute recommends that “parents have several weeks after childbirth before an adoption decision becomes irrevocable. Ideally, this would include a minimum of one week after birth before a relinquishment can be signed and then a substantial revocation period.” European countries often require a waiting period of approximately six weeks.
Mother’s remedies. Notably, the report does not include remedies for women who lose their babies through coercion, pressure, or bias. Unless mothers have the legal ability to get their baby back when their rights are violated, there’s little to deter sleazy adoption practitioners, the high-pressure tactics of social workers and prospective adopting people, the coercion of having these people in the delivery room and actually cutting the cord, and parents of the birth mother who may see the baby as a problem. Not all the societal pressures of the past have been eliminated in the life of a young woman facing a birth of a child she can not raise alone and without support, but one she will most likely grieve for alone for the rest of her life.
Birth mother confidentiality. The report urges "protections" for the minority of women who wish to remain secret; consequently mutual consent registries (20 states as of 2000) and search-and-consent laws (13 states), which continue the unequal under the law status of adopted individuals.The open-records laws, the report notes, were "passed at the urging of adoptee activists," making them seem less than desirable. While it doesn't quite say: Stop causing trouble, you ungrateful bastards! it is deftly implied.
Apparently Jessica Arons, the author of The Adoption Option, is unaware that “birth mother privacy” is in fact a fiction created by segments of the industry pandering to adopters who want to obliterate natural families, or has gotten in bed with the American Civil Liberties Union, a generally clueless organization when it comes to adoption. (Ed: The best the ACLU has done in some states is at least not take a stand on legislation that would give adoptees the same rights as most of the members of the ACLU, that is, the right to know who they were at birth. In some states, notably New Jersey, it vocally opposes adoptee rights to allow adoptees to know the truth of their origins, and sees such legislation as an infringement of birth mother "rights." We say: Adoptees should not be denied their identities because that might embarrass somebody.
Conclusion. The report asks “whether it is a legitimate policy goal to seek to increase the adoption rate." Thank you for that. "After all, in an ideal world where every woman had the resources necessary to plan wanted pregnancies, cope with unexpected pregnancies, and end unwanted pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies, even fewer women would likely choose to have a child placed for adoption.”
Keeping mothers and children together is well within the capabilities of the United States, supposedly the richest country in the world. This “ideal world” world already exists in Western Europe and Australia, both of which have much lower adoption rates because they support needy mothers and babies, and tightly regulate the adoption industry.
The report notes that the Guttmacher Institute points out "that promoting adoption is not an effective strategy for reducing the abortion rate--it that is one's goal." What galls us most about the report is that while it acknowledges that "adoption almost inevitably starts with a sad situation [Ed: almost? that means there are some situations in which adoption does not begin with a sad situation],--an unwanted pregnancy, a difficult decision, and stress for the birth mother. But this situation can, and often does, have a happy ending. [Italics added]
That happy ending: "a flourishing child in a loving home, a caring adult or couple enjoying the opportunities and challenges of parenthood they might otherwise not have been able to have, and a birth mother who knows that she made her own choice and the best decision for herself and her child."
Jane and lorraine
Readers. Write to the Center for American Progress and its director John Podesta; tell them if you really want to do something progressive, go after the abuses in the adoption system with gusto AND push for something really progressive, like helping distressed mothers nurture their babies. The above link will take you to their contact page.
See also: Encouraging the 'Adoption Option' as public policy and Should the Government Encourage Women to Choose: The Adoption Option, Part Two