Saturday, January 28, 2012

High number of adoptions in the US is a national disgrace

Jane
The number of domestic infant adoptions in the United States borders on a national disgrace. Each year somewhere between 14,000 and 25,000 American mothers lose their children to adoption. In today's day and knowing what we know about the effects of adoption, this is a tragedy.

The data is hard to come by. According a recent report of the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services,* data on voluntary domestic infant adoptions is not collected systematically. A 2003 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention put the number at less close to 14,000, about one percent of children born to never married women. The percentage for single white women surrendering was 1.7 percent; for black women it is near zero.

The E. B. Donaldson Adoption Institute used the 14,000 figure in its 2006 report, “Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process.” In his talk at the Adoption Symposium held by Coordinators 2 in Richmond last September, Donaldson director Adam Pertman upped the number to 15,000.

OH DEAR, WHAT IF THERE ARE NO BABIES TO ADOPT?
The National Council for Adoption put the number even higher, reporting that infant adoptions declined from 22,291 in 1992 to 18,078 in 2007. The NCFA urged action to reverse this trend: “there is still much work to be done in order to ensure that women facing unintended pregnancies are fully informed, educated, and able to consider the option of adoption on an equal basis with all other pregnancy options.”

The Adoption Guide, a publication of Adoptive Families magazine, however, cheerily reported that “25,000 American families successfully adopt newborn babies in the United States every year.” The Guide tells prospective adoptive parents encouragingly, that cost of adoption varies from $4,000 and to more than $30,000 but that “the median cost of a domestic adoption is under $20,000,” and that open adoption, far from being co-parenting “typically involves periodic updates to the birth family, often via an intermediary.” Unfortunately we know that "open" adoptions often effectively close because the adoptive parents have no legal incentive to keep communication open.

Whether 14,000 or 25,000, the domestic infant adoption rate greatly exceeds that of other western countries. England and Wales had 5,065 adoptions in 2008, of which 120 or 2 percent were children under the age of one. This is total adoptions including children adopted from foster care or by relatives. The population of England and Wales in 2008 was 55 million, about 18 percent of the US population of 304,000. If Americans adopted at the same rate as the Brits, we would have had about 660 infant adoptions.

Oliver Twist
Why this difference? For starters, our friends across the pond provide more support for families through the National Health Service and benefits to low income families, including Sure Start Maternity Grants of L500 (about $780). In perusing British adoption websites, I did not see advertisements soliciting women to give up their infants. Adoption appears to be a charitable endeavor focused on finding families for children who need them rather than locating newborns for families who want them. England and Wales have fewer members of evangelical and Mormon churches, religions which promote adoption as THE solution for unmarried mothers.

I've seen no reports that the small number of mothers giving up their babies has resulted in more child abuse or disturbed children. I’ve seen nothing about large numbers of children twisted into Dickensian orphanages or infant bodies floating down the Thames. In fact, it is likely that overall, children have benefited from the low adoption rate. As we have said many times at FMF, child welfare experts--including the Child Welfare League of America--report that generally children do best raised in their natural families.

Jane and Evelyn Robinson
England and Wales are not alone. Australia has only a handful of domestic adoptions each year, according to author and social worker Evelyn Robinson, who is also a first mother. The government encourages and supports women to raise their children. It handles all adoptions so there is no profit to be gained by any private adoption agency. Based on what I’ve heard at American Adoption Congress conferences, the same is true for Western Europe generally.

MAKING MONEY MOVING BABIES AROUND
While our figures are shockingly higher than other developed nations, they are a far cry from the past, as pre-1973, about 19.3 percent of single white women surrendered their infants, but approximately only 1.5 percent of black women, as their culture did not encourage young women to surrender their babies. Adoption in the U.S. then, as today, is BIG BUSINESS.

The demand for healthy newborns is insatiable, fueled by gay couples, Hollywood celebrities, misguided do-gooders, and the large number of couples who wait until it is too late to have children. The odds are that 50 percent of women over 35 will fail to get pregnant over the course of eight months, and after that the odds keep dropping. After a year of trying naturally, it's off to the fertility clinic, and when that fails--and the longer one waits, the higher the failure rate--adoption is seen as the socially accepted way to "build a family." Adoption attorneys, adoption agency directors, and adoption facilitators are in the wings waiting to find you a baby, and many make make six figure salaries doing so. As for the mothers, (the producers of these valuable commodities), for trusting the "adoption option," they receive few dollars towards expenses and sorrow by the bucketful.

(Of interest: Domestic infant adoptions are a small percentage of total adoptions. Total adoptions in 2008 were 136,000 according to data gleaned by HHS from court and vital statistics records. About 40 percent came from public agencies (foster care) and 13 percent from foreign countries. The balance of adoptions, 63,094, 47 percent, came from step parent or other relative adoptions, tribal adoptions, and voluntary infant adoptions.)
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*Child Information Gateway, “How Many Children Were Adopted in 2007 and 2008?"
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78 comments :

  1. "pre-1973, about 19.3 percent of single white women surrendered their infants"
    I'm schocked. I thought the figure was much, much higher.
    More importantly, what can we do to change policy so that young mothers are fully informed. Maybe the mothers who lost children to adoption working to get redress are on to something. After reading the advertisement from "Adoptions First" I think they could be sued for false advertising. They claim "In the end, you get to be able to go on with your life, on your terms, feeling at peace with the choices you made".
    What can we do to get money out of adoption? How can we get

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  2. I think the Donaldson pre-1973 surrender figure of 19.3% for single white women is erroneous..or misleading. It might have been true for the years just before Roe v Wade. Adoptions were dropping at that point.

    Here is another source quote, from 1960:"Possibly as many as 70% of all white illegitimate children are given for adoption, but only between 3 and 5 per cent of the non-white illegitimate children are adopted."
    from "Illegitimacy and Its Impact on the Aid to Dependent Children Program", Bureau of Public Assistance(Washington,DC:Government Printing Office,1960)
    Reprinted in:Welfare:A Documentary History of U.S. Policy and Politics, Edited by Gwendolyn Mink and Rickie Solinger
    p.177

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  3. According to Wikipedia:
    "Brozinsky (1994) speaks of the decline in newborn adoptions as reflecting a freedom of choice embraced by youth and the women's movement of the 1960s-1970s, resulting in an increase in the number of unmarried mothers who kept their babies as opposed to surrendering them. "In 1970, approximately 80% of the infants born to single mothers were placed for adoption, whereas by 1983 that figure had dropped to only 4%"

    In regards to this:
    "pre-1973, about 19.3 percent of single white women surrendered their infants"
    I note they say "WOMEN" not "MOTHERS", so it could mean that 19.3% of white women who became pregnant while single surrendered their infants. The overall figure could also include those who eventually married the father. So it could be that 75% of white women who became pregnant while single ended up married, 20% surrendered their child, 5% raised the child alone.

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  4. Sickening, Jane. Why don't they get the importance of family preservation... STILL! I know why... because adoption is a big bucks industry, and always will be. Even if we succeed in educating the public, there will always be couples who feel entitled to a child, and who have the money to get one.

    And even as altruistic as they pretend to be, they don't want older, foster kids, who truly need homes (would not otherwise have one). They want fresh slate babies to whom they can do the "as if born to" thing.

    Agree with previous commenter. If there was no money to be made, the industry would dry up. Although I suspect adopters with money would find a way. My son's was a private adoption. Always a way around social services.

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  5. "pre-1973, about 19.3 percent of single white women surrendered their infants"

    I'm with Barbara. Can you recheck your figures? I was under the impression that 80 to 90 percent of white unwed mothers in the U.S. between the years 1945 and 1973 gave their children up for adoption. Slightly less than 20% sounds atonishingly low.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that our country would have the highest rate of infant adoption among western nations. We don't believe in social benefits, we don't recognize the importance of the biological bond and most things are business/profit driven. Unfortunately, it fits our culture to think that if a young, single parent doesn't have the resources to raise her child then she should give the child to someone who does.

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  6. Jane is not available at the moment.

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  7. I left out the date and publisher for the Mink/Solinger edition of "Welfare." The book was published in 2003 by New York University Press.(NY and London)

    Regarding the relinquishment figures, not all children who were "kept" actually grew up with their single white mothers. Some were raised by extended family. Their true relationship in the family was often hidden.

    Other children were raised in 2 parent households, in states where common-law marriage existed. However, the father would probably not be listed on the BC.

    Other children might have been placed, voluntarily, into foster care. The parental rights might never be terminated, but the child would not grow up with the mother nor father.
    And some white out of wedlock children grew up with their fathers. I knew one in that situation. She lived in my neighborhood...when I was a child.

    The above are some possibilities, but I believe the figures of surrender for adoption to be much higher for white single women than 19.3% during the "baby scoop years."

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  8. I have just come here from Facebook where I unfriended my family. What does this have to do with this post? My sisters daughter just adopted an infant girl. I knew nothing of this and wole up today to see all the smiling faces and congratulations. I seriouly thought I would vomit. I am reduced back to that vunerable young girl of 1969 standing alone, signing papers alone, as they all abandoned me.
    So now being reunited with my daughter I have made the decision to move forward with her, my other raised daughter and closest friends as my family. As part of my family I will also include those of you here who know this hell called adoption.

    My heart goes out to the child and mother of this infant. And today I am in tears.

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  9. Sorry, I clicked on publish before I signed the last comment or proofed it. It is what it is. Hard to type through all the emotion I am feeling right now.

    Add this child to your numbers.

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  10. Janet:

    I am so sorry; I know how that would be a shot to the heart. You feel as if no one understands. I am so sorry.

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  11. I must say that to Western-European standards the UK can already be seen as an adoption-happy disgrace.
    That said, it is hard to compare stats between countries, even if they are available.

    @Kitta, do you think that delayed shotgun-wedding situations were included?

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  12. Oh, Janet, this adoption $hit never ends, does it? I guess if FMF is still around in 20 years we'll be welcoming your new great-niece. I am sorry your family never seems to get it but am glad that your relinquished daughter is back in your life. I am grateful that you are part of the FMF family. We get it!

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  13. Some of our readers have questioned the 20 percent figure for the percentage of never married white mothers who surrendered their infants prior to 1973.

    I, too, thought the number was much higher. The number came from a HHS report "Voluntary Relinquishment for Adoption." The HHS figures came from a 1999 Centers for Disease Control Survey. The link to the HHS report is at the end of the post.

    I recall reading in Carol Schaefer's book "The Other Mother" that a sociologist told her that that surrender was a white middle-class disease. Unmarried poor women kept their babies and rich women had abortions.

    The high percentages readers found in various sources may come from the adoption industry and its data is likely inaccurate because there wasn't and isn't any systematic way of collecting data. The high percentage was self-serving because the more mothers believed that surrender was the accepted way to resolve an unintended pregnancy, the more likely they were to surrender.

    In other words, adoption agencies may have experienced a 80 percent surrender rate and assumed it was applicable to all white women. Once a number about anything gets widely circulated, it becomes accepted and may appear in scholarly articles without further review.

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  14. Janet, please don't be foolish. As all of us here know, adoption is everywhere and hard to avoid. Imagine how I felt when I saw my sister's post on her facebook page around Christmas...my wish is that every unwanted child will be adopted...you bet I undfriended her. Try living with the knowledge that your daughter doesn't want to have anything to do with you (she found me 12 years ago but we haven't had a relationship for the past 7 years) yet counts my sister/her aunt among her bffs.

    As all of us here know, adoption, thankfully, has changed for the better since 1969, but there's still plenty of work to be done.
    The best thing you can do is embrace this child and make damn sure that her new parents and her grandparents never forget that she has a first family, don't be afraid to educate them. Many of us here, including Lorraine, Jane, and myself, know plenty of people who are adoptive parents. We also know many adoptees. Just last week I attended a concert with Mary Gautier, an adoptee, whose album The Foundling is about her search for her roots. Her first mother won't have anything to do with her, yet she educates her audiences about closed records and how it feels to be denied your heritage.

    When my friends who couldn't have a biological child decided to adopt, they used the services of our state agencies rather than expensive boutique agencies or private adoption--I can't fault them for taking extremely needy children and giving them a safe, secure, loving home. Her two children, now 7 and 5, say a prayer for their unknown birthmothers every night. One child is a safe haven baby, whose biological history will be extremely difficult to find; the other child was born to illegal immigrant parents--I don't think anyone can argue that these children are better off with their adoptive parents. I admit it took me a while to visit the new family members, and when I did, my friends and I grieved for their families of origin, and I told them I was counting on them to do right by those families, and if anyone understood the intricacies of adopting other women's children, it was them (they had me, the resident birthmother, and an in-law who was an adoptee). So far, so good, and I'm optimistic that it will remain so.

    So grieve for that broken hearted young woman, say good bye to 1969, and be there for your grandniece,for her sake as well as yours.

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  15. Concerning the percentages, I accepted the 1259 placements in 1974 as the worst year in Dutch adoption history, even assuming that that number did not include genuine orphans and/or children born to married women, it would still mean that just 34.16% of the extra-marital life births resulted in placement for adoption, in one of the worst years. A more typical surrender percentage of 19.3% seems quite possible.

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  16. Thanks to Barbara for asking how can we get the money out of adoption.

    That would be very difficult but we can take action to reduce the number of unnecessary adoptions. In Oregon we've proposed legislation to require a waiting period before mothers may sign a surrender and a time after surrender to revoke consent. The legislation would also require mothers to receive fact-based counseling before surrendering.

    I encourage mothers to take a look at your state's relinquishment statutes. If they don't give mothers time and information to make an informed decision, work on changing the laws. There's a summary of State Adoption Laws on FMF which will get you started.

    If mothers work together, they can a significant political force.

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  17. Thanks to all of you for providing research on the percentage of surrenders in the Baby Scoop Ear.

    Kitta brought up a 1960 Government report related to the impact of illegitimacy on welfare stating that as many 70 percent of single white women gave up their children. It may be that the figure was 70 percent in 1960 and that by the early 70's, it was down to 20 percent. I've heard that the percentage declined after 1970 because adoption agencies were swamped and keeping illegitimate children became more acceptable.

    However, the 70 percent figure may have just been a guess based on adoption industry assertions. Many white women who kept their children may have been under the radar and may not have applied for welfare. Grandparents or other relatives may have provided support to the mother and child. It may be too that racist welfare officials wanted welfare to look like a "black" program.

    And there's the possibility that government officials didn't do their homework.

    While accurate data from the history of the Baby Scoop Era is important, we must also focus on reducing the unacceptably high rates of adoption today

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  18. I read the survey article provided by Jane, and the CDC, on "Adoption, Adoption Seeking, and Relinquishment for Adoption in the United States."

    The never-married mothers who relinquished are a subset.Data gathered in 1973 from these never-married women was obtained through questioning techniques to try to determine if the women had voluntarily relinquished a child. The women did not know that this information was what the questioner was seeking.

    Questioners admitted that the data might be misreported by the mothers.It is also possible that children could be living with other people without formal relinquishment/adoption...and not reported as relinquished.

    A concluding quote in the survey article seems to back up the idea that the data are based on the tail-end figures from the "baby scoop years"...when adoptions were dropping steeply:

    "In contrast,the percent of babies born to never-married white women (that is, never married at time of birth)who were placed for adoption has declined sharply. In the early 1970's, almost 20% of babies born to never-married white women were relinquished for adoption, compared with only 1.7% of such babies born in the first half of the 1990s." p.9

    The report describes never-married mothers and children to be an at risk group with regard to socio-economic consequences for both mother and child.This can mean that help for these families can be either withheld or forthcoming...depending on the attitude of those in a leadership position.

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  19. When posting a sensitive topic like this - be sensitive & pick your battles. I am a parent who has adopted children.

    Adoption is a necessary part of society and your fight should not be against adoption or those that adopt.
    Instead your 'battle' should be to ensure that adoption is done for the right reasons with the interests of the child placed first.
    Birth parents, both mother & father, should have a say in who the adopting parents are and professional counselling should be mandatory for any adoption - for both the parents surrendering a child and parents adopting a child.
    Adoption should not be a money making racket & as such costs involved should be regulated and transparency demanded by authorities.
    Bottom line - interests of the child.

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  20. Yes, Anonymous, we are also interested in the "best interests of the child," but that is, under nearly all circumstances, with remaining with the natural parents and growing up in an environment with people who share a common history and DNA. If you read here on other topics, you will soon come to understand that the high demand for babies in the US has led to all sorts of abuses in that parents who should not be separated from their babies and babies that should not be separated from their natural mothers and true fathers are because...there is money to be made with adoption.

    In countries where social services are more readily available for indigent families or mothers, in countries where adoption is not a for-profit institution, stranger adoptions--such as you seem to be involved in--go way, way down. And that is in the "best interests of the child."

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  21. Jane,
    I didn't mean to hijack your important post with my own personal trauma. For that I am sorry. I am sure you understand my pain.

    And to Robin, Lorraine, Gretchen, I know you all and way too many others here "get it". Thank you all for your support. I am fortunate to have found all of you. It was bad enough that I thought this was happening in the state where they live but they have traveled to the state in which I live to get "their" baby and are at my mothers house inviting me to join the excitement. Crikey!!!!!
    Just another day in the wonderful land of adoption.

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  22. Janet:

    You didn't hijack our post--we our glad that you feel you can vent here your frustration. I admit that when my step-daughter did not try to get pregnant until she was in her late 30s, I held my breath. She (with intervention) did get pregnant at 40. What you describe is a nightmare for all of us. The joy of a family adoption (as well as asking you to participate in another mother's catastrophe) contrasts so with our own sorrow, and it's as if our relatives have tin hearts as far as we are concerned.

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  23. Anonymous Adoptive Parent, be sensitive & pick a name.

    "Adoption is a necessary part of society and your fight should not be against adoption or those that adopt."

    No, it is not, and has never been necessary either. Society can function fine without adoption, yes, there are parentless cildren who need care, but that can be perfectly solved without adoption, falsified birth certificates and the like. Yes children need to have a family, but they do not need to be connected to that family by adoption, not at all.
    The adoption we are talking about here is just a 19th century invention, many societies functioned and function quite well without it.

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  24. Since I'm not an adoptee, adoptive parent, or PAP, I'm here at FMF reading through current and archived posts for two reasons: A BCE-era adoption in my extended family could not have gone more wrong, in every respect, and I want to understand why that is so.

    Second, I live in a high-income, high-"achieving" community in which there are a great many adoptions, both domestic and international. When I started to count up how many APs numbered among people I know, or used to know, very well--friends, acquaintances, former employers, and even the man I jilted to marry my husband!--I ran out of fingers. None of these adoptions is "open."

    FMF has answered every question I've had about why I am so uncomfortable with non-essential adoptions. By this I mean, providing needy parents with children (and the younger, the better) instead of the other way around.

    Had I been unable to bear children, I decided, I would have gotten therapy specifically to make my peace with infertility, and either investigated adopting through foster care, or not parenting at all. The ONE time I noted this publicly, early in my marriage, I was bombarded with, "But... but... you can ALWAYS ADOPT?!" After that, I kept my mouth shut.

    At my sons' nursery school, there were several Gladney families; the price tag whispered about--a decade ago!--was $250K.

    Please keep up the good work, Lorraine, Jane, and all of the others who have taught me so much.

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  25. Hey MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel


    Thanks for the shout out.

    Though I am far from high income, I live in the kind of world you know: 3 Chinese by friends; 2 by cousin's kids; 2 not-close friends; 4 mere acquaintances; 1 Nepalese; 2 by neighbors, and a whole bunch more by friends of friends I see once a year or so. Plus there's the two friends of my own who are adopted (neither finished a search), or any of the friends I have met because of adoption.

    I don't know of any adoptions that are "open."

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  26. Janet,

    Nothing to apologize for. I don't feel my post was hijacked at all.

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  27. One of the posters asserted that the whispered about cost of a Gladney adoption is 250k. This must be a typo. Gladney's adoption average a cost of 25k. Even assuming the worst about Gladney, inclusing dishonesty or illegality, it is incedible (in the literal sense) that any of their adoptions cost anything close to a quarter of a million dollars.

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  28. One of the posters asserted that the whispered about cost of a Gladney adoption is 250k. This must be a typo. Gladney's adoption average a cost of 25k. Even assuming the worst about Gladney, inclusing dishonesty or illegality, it is incredible (in the literal sense) that any of their adoptions cost anything close to a quarter of a million dollars.

    The current cost of an Agency Assisted Adoption through Gladney is $50,000. This does not include the Home Study, travel expenses, or Legal Fees associtated with Finalization.

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  29. Anon 5:28am wrote:"and professional counselling should be mandatory for any adoption..."

    I don't trust counseling in this situation. A lot of mental health counseling is not objective and simply promotes and advocates for the prevailing beliefs about an issue. Even today in the 21st century adoption is generally viewed as a positive thing by most people aside from those most personally affected by it (first mothers and adaptees). Also, many professional counselors are probably of the adopting class. They spend many years getting an education and the females probably marry later and have a higher probability of having infertility issues of their own.


    I worry that most people in counseling will just get the standard platitudes about how adoption is for the best for everyone involved. How it is such a loving thing to do and how my third cousin's ex-wife's hairdresser's son is adopted and he's fine with it.

    I don't think mainstream American culture is yet willing to admit to all the damage that adoption does. I don't think we are quite to the point as Lorraine wrote "best interests of the child," but that is, under nearly all circumstances, with remaining with the natural parents and growing up in an environment with people who share a common history and DNA."

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  30. I'm sorry to say that $250K was not a typo... that's what at least one very famous (famous-for-here, that is) family reportedly coughed up for the regular Gladney fees, plus "donations."

    That "donation" entitled them to be moved up the queue, ahead of the other PAPs, for a healthy white newborn relinquished in a closed adoption. One Gladney family (about whom I heard the $250K figure from three separate sources, including one of their Spanish-speaking nannies) adopted two babies fairly close together. I was asked NOT to put the babies' arrivals in the nursery school newsletter's new-baby column. Since the APs did not pick up or drop off the children--their help did that--the fact that the a-mom had not been pregnant was a fact easily kept from the majority of the parent body.

    I was as avid as anyone you might meet to start a family of my own, once I'd married Mr. B. But not until I became an at-home mom (and fly-on-the-wall!) in a power town did I learn that a well-stocked checkbook can help cobble together a family more quickly even than Mother Nature...

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  31. ..."how my third cousin's ex-wife's hairdresser's son is adopted and he's fine with it."

    I cannot count the number of times I have heard that bromide. But usually it is closer to home.

    On the other hand, because I am so public, friends have told me about about several very troubled adoptee and adoptee situations. And they are not fine with it.

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  32. I was so sad to hear Obama include the phrase "promote adoption" in his speech on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. I know there is no way adoption can be completely eradicated, but "promote" it? UGH. Here is the quote:

    ".... While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. ...."

    The rest of the sentence I totally agree with.

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  33. LD: "In countries where social services are more readily available for indigent families or mothers, in countries where adoption is not a for-profit institution, stranger adoptions--such as you seem to be involved in--go way, way down. And that is in the "best interests of the child."

    Very true. I live in one of those countries.

    LD:"Though I am far from high income, I live in the kind of world you know: 3 Chinese by friends; 2 by cousin's kids; 2 not-close friends; 4 mere acquaintances; 1 Nepalese; 2 by neighbors, and a whole bunch more by friends of friends I see once a year or so. Plus there's the two friends of my own who are adopted (neither finished a search), or any of the friends I have met because of adoption.

    I don't know of any adoptions that are "open.""

    I only know 4 adult adoptees IRL (apart from asiblings) and know of nobody who has adopted a child in the last 20 years. The youngest adoptees I know are in their 20s (one being DIA, the other an international adoption but not of the usual kind). None of the 4 were open but I think 2 were semi-open. However, one of the younger adoptees is in full reunion with her bmom and at an art exhibition she had recently, both mums had pride of place. The other 20 year is autistic and I am unsure how much he knows about his adoption (though he is a different race from his amum so he probably has some idea but may not know all the ins and outs)

    I know quite a few single mums who are great mums and they would have been just the type of women who in a different era and country might have relinquished their children. It is all down to support and the nature and timing of the counselling. Counselling women about adoption (which always seems to be of an overwhelmingly positive nature)in the early stages of a pregnancy when she is vulnerable should never be done as far as I'm concerned.

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  34. A few comments:

    The amount of financial support the UK gives single mothers is massive compared to the US. They get free public housing and an allowance for every child. Other Western European countries are even more generous. The UK is also much more restrictive in regards to adoptive parents. I believe the home study is conducted by a government social worker. Egg donation is very rare in the UK because it is illegal to buy eggs there.

    $250,000 seems very high for an uncontested adoption even with bribary (a contested adoption could easily cost that much).

    I think it is true that most couples try the infertility clinic before adoption. However, there are plenty of young infertile couple even if they are not the majority of IVF customers/adopter . It is also normally the wife who wants to adopt, the husband if left to his own devices probably wouldn't.

    Finally, there are good reasons why PAPs might prefer a new born. Attachment disorders are quite common in older adopted children. Not everyone is equipped to deal with that including some who adopt older children. If a child is going to be adopted anyway it's probably better done sooner rather than later in most cases.

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  35. "Had I been unable to bear children, I decided, I would have gotten therapy specifically to make my peace with infertility, and either investigated adopting through foster care, or not parenting at all."

    Ironically enough, take out adoption and infertility, and you may as well grow a horn on your head if you so much as talk about leading a childless life.

    Because apparently parenthood is the only way to be happy.

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  36. Regarding the cost of Gladney adopitons:

    One couple who adopted from Gladney (opps--forgot to include them among the adoptions in my real life) held a cocktail party fund-raiser among their very wealthy friends in the one percent, as they themselves are. They would not have done that to send the agency $25k. So I would guess that they were looking to donate more to go to the head of the line. I don't know them well enough to ask if the adoption is open...but I do know their good friend was shocked when they decided to move to Texas, where the wife was from. "The birth mother could be from Texas--why would they want to move there?" was their friend's attitude.

    Why indeed? They might run into her in the supermarket.

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  37. Google tells me it's Department of Internal Affairs and not a typical adoption.

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  38. Lorraine - your comment about running into the mother in the supermarket goes along with what I was thinking as I was reading the comments. I know probably 20+ APs and only a couple of those had open adoptions, even though everyone likes to say that open adoptions are the norm these days. In the open adoptions, all of the mothers live in another state. It's much easier to be "open" when there's no real chance of having a day-to-day relationship and all you have to do is send the occasional picture or email.

    In one case, the APs have two adopted children and only one of the mothers has continued to have contact with the child, by which I mean that the mother sends birthday presents, etc. I don't think there is regular communication. The APs feel that this is too difficult for their other child so they try to keep the contact to a minimum. While I can understand that it would be incredibly difficult for the child whose mother does not send him gifts, I don't think the solution is for their other child to have less contact with his first mother!

    While I know so many APs, I only know 3 first mothers in real life and two of those I met while looking online for support after being unable to find any in-person support groups for mothers. It's amazing how many support groups there are for APs though! I can think of only one adoptee other than my daughter that I know in real life as well. There are probably more but they just don't seem to talk about it as much as APs do.

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  39. DIA?

    How about Domestic Infant Adoption?
    The Bethany folks use it a lot for that.

    The confusion with Vieetnamese and Kiwi depatments is understandable though.

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  40. I only have one friend (outside of adoption reform circles) who is a birth mother. We were becoming friends through work when I spilled the beans at lunch over Bloody Marys. She said, Me to.

    We often remember that lunch fondly.

    Yes egads, I know all these adoptive parents and the number is growing all the time. Okay, I'm older and I do know a lot of people who are younger but still, I ought to be meeting some of the first mothers of my generation someplace.

    I am in the wrong cohort: women in my social peer group had abortions (some more than one); and then I am friends with many women a decade or so younger who have careers, and they put off having children...until they turned to adoption. That unfortunately is the way of the world.

    The Pill ushered in a new era of freedom for women, but it also led to thirtysomething infertility. Which was always there.

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  41. @Theodore
    yes, the shotgun wedding stats would have an affect if the weddings came after the births, and if the research was based on birth certificate data. But even birth record data can be misleading. Parents can be living together, but the father may not be on the BC. Common-law marriage has always existed and still does in some states(it is legal where I live).

    And, birth records have not always been accurate anyway.

    And you are so correct about the way that different countries view social issues and data. The adoption figures in the USA are uncertain, and no one really knows how many children have ever been "relinquished."
    The US government does, however, keep figures with regard to children adopted out of public foster care, but the private US adoption industry has always been very secretive.

    However, the numbers of teenage and premarital pregnancies can be tracked in the USA. There is research. . The Guttmacher Institute(part of Planned Parenthood) has articles and figures and a lot of research from the 1950s that show a much higher rate of pregnancy in teenagers as well as teen marriage..in those days.
    The shot-gun wedding was quite a common practice with US teenagers back then. I knew quite a few who married in that way.

    But, I also recall, as a child/teenager growing up then, that teen marriage was acceptable...in the 50s, and 60s. And that there was no stigma attached to being a teenaged parent, as long as you were married. The legalization or societal condonement of the marital relationship made the pregnancy and family relationship "legitimate."

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  42. Mei-Ling said, "Ironically enough, take out adoption and infertility, and you may as well grow a horn on your head if you so much as talk about leading a childless life.

    Because apparently parenthood is the only way to be happy."

    Mei-Ling, I heard too many indoctrination speeches like that, so I got the hell out of Dodge and changed coasts, jobs, and found a new circle of friends.

    Today, at least half of my husband's and my closest friends are childless, almost all by choice. It's unfortunate that you've run too frequently into the happy-dappy (whoever coined that phrase, I love it!) parenthood-is-everything mentality. Because, of course, it's not.

    Becoming parents was a conscious choice for us that we were fortunate to be able to bring off in my thirties, and going child-free was the choice made by all (but one, that I know of) of our childless friends.

    I owe them an enormous debt of friendship for the years in which they were treading on Legos, having adult conversations interrupted, and attending birthday parties held at bowling alleys!

    By the way, your comments are marvelously insightful. A tip o' the Dodger cap, as we used to say back home...

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  43. Kitta, this is late, but thanks for that source. It was just what I was looking for.

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  44. Thanks for the info, h2o_girl. I didn't hear Obama's speech and was not aware that he was babbling about adoption again. We responded to his 2009 adoption promotion speech at Notre Dame with a post: "Pres. Obama, Adoption is not only available, it's being crammed down our throats."

    Ironically, Obama's father may have pushed to have him adopted. President Obama's mother making an adoption plan? Unthinkable

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  45. Sorry, I meant Domestic Infant Adoption when I said DIA.

    On page 5, the CDC explain their methodology in working out the figure of 19.3%

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad306.pdf

    Page 5.


    "Table 5
    shows the percent of children born to never-married women under 45 years of age who were relinquished for adoption in several time periods. Information on children relinquished for adoption was obtained from two sources within the 1995 survey. The first source was the

    questionnaire series that asked for the baby’s name for each of the woman’s births; in response to this question, some women, usually those who never named their babies, volunteered that they had placed the baby for adoption. A second source was a question later in the interview asking the woman directly if she had ever placed a child for adoption. This method of obtaining relinquishment information differs slightly from

    previous years of the survey, which are also used to produce the trend data shown in table 5. In 1982 and 1988, relinquishment was obtained from women’s reports of the status of each biological child who was not living in her household at the time of the interview. Children reported as living with adoptive parents were considered to have been relinquished. Relinquishment may be underreported in a survey such as this, as acknowledged in previous studies (12). However, there is no reason to believe that underreporting would vary systematically by survey year due to the questions used to obtain the relinquishment information. Underreporting would most likely occur at the point of enumeration of all pregnancies, rather than at the reporting of the status of already-identified pregnancies that resulted in live births. The method of ascertaining pregnancies was consistent across survey years. Despite probable underreporting, the NSFG remains an important and exclusive source of national level data that permits individual-level analysis of the determinants and consequences of relinquishment."

    To me, the "underreporting would most likely occur at the point of enumeration of all pregnancies" is an interesting line. Do you think any of those first mums from the 60s etc who specifically kept her child a secret is then likely to admit even in a confidential survey to even having had that child?

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  47. Thanks, Jane for the suggestion to work on adoption law in my state. A man from church is a legislator. I taught his daughter Sunday school. I will try and get an appointment with him. I'm from Illinois and we are one of the "bad" states you list on the website. It feels good for this mother of loss to adoption to have a mission.

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  48. Wonderful, Barbara. Let us know how it goes.

    Here's a Guide to Civic Engagement from the Portland "Oregonian" you might find helpful. Although written for folks in Oregon, there is some excellent information about making a difference in the legislature.

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  49. @cb

    When I read the lines about the "under-reporting" in the pregnancy and relinquishment survey..I nearly laughed..not in humor, though.

    In 1973, I feared the government and any researcher or official person learning of my pregnancy and relinquishment.

    Although I was speaking about my relinquishment experience with trusted people, I would not have told a "researcher." No way!!!!

    Another problem with the survey is that the population studied for "relinquishment" data consisted only of never-married women.

    Many, maybe most, of us "baby scoop " mothers married soon after we surrendered our babies.... and so we wouldn't have even been part of such a study survey. Most baby scoop mothers were probably married by 1973.

    So I question how a population of "never-married women" is considered a representative group for relinquishment study.If the typical mother who relinquishes her child gets married soon afterwards(like we were told to do back then...lol), then maybe the research was focused too narrowly....or in the wrong direction.

    I do realize that not everyone gets married..but tying relinquishment to marital status is odd.
    It just raises some questions...

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  50. I just printed out the report cited in the post and am about to pore over it, but I just wanted to make a quick comment about the low relinquishment figure for the BSE. I think it is imperative that we insist on the most accurate figures possible and check the methodology as much as we can, particularly when they deviate so much from what we know to be true.

    One of the statements that Baby Scoop mothers have consistently made is that we didn't have a choice. With a rate of 80-90% that Solinger quotes, it is easy to understand that there could easily be a variant due to mothers who place their children in foster care in an attempt to find a way to keep them, only to end up surrendering later. I knew several women who used that in a desperate effort to keep their child.

    However, a figure as low as the one cited in the article 19-20% pretty much makes a lie of the claims of mothers that we had no choice but to surrender. I know I certainly didn't have a choice, and wanted desperately to keep my son. But, if then 80% of women were able to buck the tide and keep their children, the ones who surrender come off again as weak-willed, impressionable and that we really didn't want our children. I dispute that. I believe that the figures are much higher, and I would think perhaps in the real world MUCH higher, even, than the ones that Solinger quoted. I know one woman who kept her child, with her parents support in a very small town in Central IL.

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  51. Seems a bit tacky to hit up your friends for the funds to pay for an adoption. A so called 1%er would not need to do that even if the adoption did cost $250,000. That's not much money to someone in the top 1%.

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  52. Sandy,

    Whether the non-surrender rate was actually 80 percent or 20 percent, the tide did not hit the women who kept their babies. It wasn't that they were able to resist the pressure; they weren't pressured. Their families stepped in and said "absolutely we're going to keep this baby." I know several mothers whose mothers swooped in and took their grandchild.

    As Ricki Solinger points out, decisions about adoption were greatly affected by race and class. I suspect there were many white girls, likely poor in rural areas, where adoption wasn't even on the radar. The adoption industry targeted middle-class white girls and their families because there were takers for their babies.

    The industry was likely motivated by profit but also the belief that both these mothers and their children were better off.

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  53. To adopted parent anon Jan 30 @ 5:28. Thank you for your thoughts. I love it when adoptive parents tell me what to do and how to behave. As an adoptee, of course would not be capable of having my own thoughts and opinions. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to patronize me and the others who have years of experience in this.

    I am just like a doll for you to act upon. OH but wait, I am grown up lady who pushes buttons on a computer all day long in exchange for money.

    I have raised a child to adulthood already and do lots of things in lots of places all the time, so young lady I would like you to get that chocolate of your face get in there and clean that room up if you want your iPhone back otherwise no internet for you!


    Joy-Joy-Joy-Joy-Joy-Joy

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  54. @Sandy,

    I agree with you..I personally knew, or knew of about 8 or 9 girls who surrendered infants during the 1960s(not counting myself) at the time that it happened.

    They came from varying backgrounds..some were poor, some middle-class, and some upper-middle. And they had no choice.

    What I recall of that time was that the "shot-gun wedding" seemed to be the most popular solution to unwed pregnancy. But, that also depended on family preference and support for the marriage.

    A childhood friend of mine became an out of wedlock father in 1967, at age 20..which was still underage in those days in our state. He wanted very much to marry his child's mother..but was having trouble gaining access to mother and baby.

    As I recall, the underage mother and baby were living at her family's home, but her family would not allow him to see her or the child.

    I don't know if they were able to work things out or not. I have often wondered what happened to all of them....

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  55. About the percentage, I just bought "Kinderen die niet konden blijven" by R. Hoksbergen (2011), it is the history of Dutch adoption, and if it does not contain everything from the meaning of Mei-Ling to the Dutch-Scandinavian "Surrendering children is NOT DONE"-attitude, it comes pretty close in its 600 pages.

    Oh I made a mistake, "1259 placements in 1974" should have been 1259 finalizations of adoptions. The placements started to drop in/after 1969/1970. Finalization can take a couple of years.

    But the book also contains superiot information about surrender rates: According to Van Oenen, 1970, whose research population consisted was formed by 598 women giving birth in an unwedded state in the years 1963 and 1964 in the women's clinic of the Amsterdam Academic Hospital, representative of the the 1415 doing that in those years in Amsterdam.
    23% surrendered in the end, though Hoksbergen is somewhat unclear about whether this is all ladies who made the choice to surrender, or only the girls who did not change their decision to baby keeping. Well over half did not.
    Both resulting numbers fit well with Dutch national statistics for that period, 3,000-4,000 births out of wedlock, 10-20% surrendered for adoption.

    31% of the 598 kept the child and were going to get married.

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  56. There still seems to be quite a few people who surrendered during the BSE who are widely and inaccurately quoting figures well above 19.2% and claiming there were 6 million babies involved. I really do believe that this statistic itself deserves its own entry on your blog. When you have people quoting wrong figures you lose credibility. I was told on the craigslist adoption forum that Jane Edwards no longer believes these stats to be correct. Can I ask why?

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    1. I'm confused. I don't know what you read on craigslist adoption forum. I've never been on that forum. I'm not clear which statistics you heard that I no longer believe are correct. I don't recall telling anyone about any statistics I no longer believe are correct.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for getting back to me! I would like clarification on the 19.2% statistic you matter-of-factly mention in this article and then later defend in the comments. I was told you had later decided that this was not correct. Other oft-misquoted statistics regarding the BSE are that there were 6 million mother/baby pairs involved and that there was no such thing as welfare back then.

      The firstmotherforum is often discussed on the craigslist adoption forum, which is here https://forums.craigslist.org/?forumID=2232 . I aplogize if this is a duplicate, I came back to a 404 after I hit "submit" the first time.

      Delete
    3. This is what I am talking about, Lorraine and Jane. Lorraine if you look at the article your co-blogger Jane quotes the rate of surrender during that time at 19.3% and then later defends this in the comments. Jane can you please write an article about this? Other common misquotes is that white women were officially denied welfare and that there were 6 million babies involved.

      Delete
    4. The 19.3% figure came from the 2006 Donaldson Adoption Institute Report "Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents," page 15. I included a reference to the report in the post. Donaldson got the number from the National Survey of Family Growth. This is the number for never-married white women; the over all number for never-married women is 8.7% according to the report.

      I have not read the NSFG report but I think the number was extrapolated as recent US HHS numbers are. States report to HHS total adoptions. It backs out foster care and foreign adoptions which are reported separately, estimates inter-family adoptions, and comes up with voluntary infant adoptions. As Lorraine writes, no one really knows the number.

      I don't know what the writers on Craig's list were referring to. I don't recall ever backtracking on this number.

      I never said any mothers were denied welfare. The ADC program, now TANF was started in the the mid-1930's. However the low amount of payments would have discouraged mothers from keeping their babies. Then as now, adoption practitioners did not always advise mothers-to-be of the governmental benefits they might be eligible for so some mothers may not have known about welfare.

      Delete
  57. Jane is currently away.

    Above I do say the estimated figure for babies adopted is between 4-6 million. No one really has a hard number for sure. It is a question that census takers do not get an answer for, or maybe it caused too much trouble because so many adoptive parents did not want to say: adopted.

    The secret number. Rikki Solinger has some numbers on this, as you can see her footnoted above.

    Your choice of moniker here indicates...you are sarcastic about everything here. Like really wow...

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  58. Lorraine in the first paragraph of the excerpt from your memoirs you mention some adoption figures for years specific to that time. Yes, they were estimates. I once found a link that had figures for ww2-roe and added them all up. For years there was no data I used the higher figure for the following year. I got a total of, IIRC, 2.1 million total non-relative adoptions for the entire era. Where do you get the 4-6 million? I am not accusing you of intentionally lying, I'm just pointing out that it doesn't make sense.

    Have you considered self-publishing, maybe as an e-book? I imagine you could find someone who would help you with the technical aspects of that for less than $100 if you needed help.

    19.3% is the only stat we have, I never really thought about why they only talked to never married. That's strange.

    The title I've used for adoption related postings did not mean to be hostile. I started using it when I first approached the online adoption community about 4.5 years ago when I was pregnant and considering adoption. In my very first post when I was explaining that I was pregnant from date rape I was introduced to the BSE. I later became very fascinated with it and have read a number of books on the subject including Beggars and Choosers, Girls that Went Away and Wake up Little Suzie. I chose this name because I was surprised at the way the agencies worked.

    It's important to remember that welfare, minimum wage and median wages are all much lower now than they were during the BSE in real dollars and buying power.

    I dont' think either of you have been on this forum, I guess I just wanted to say where I came from.

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    1. I will have to check into the figure now--I think that I have seen the estimates vary so much that I tried to be conservative. I remember a figure of 8 million adopted people in this country. Perhaps I have conflated the number of overall adoptions--total number of individuals who were adopted at that time--adopted from all time and still alive, so that would include figures from before WW2 and evern after Roe. I will revisit this.

      What does IIRC mean?

      Shall we continue this discussion at forumfirstmother@gmail.com rather than here? If you do get me to come up with better figures I will be so thankful, but as I said, the reporting on this varies, and certainly varies with race.

      Since Jane and I relinquished in the 60s, we are very aware of the difference in the actual buying power of a dollar; however, that is not critical; Jane/Solinger refer tto how much aid was available to single mothers during that time.

      The blog takes up so much time (and we have other lives) that neither of us participate in the forums. But we are always interested to hear that FMF is the basis of discussion anywhere.

      Delete
    2. IIRC is If I Remember Correctly.

      My point is that these figures have been telephoned out of control, and I think there needs to be an open discussion about it. I have an outside life as well and don't have any more information to add, except that the numbers on this are all over the place and I think *very* inflated. Not by you, but by others. You have a lot of BSE-era first mothers subscribing to your blog, so I think it would be a great place to start a discussion.

      Delete
    3. Whats there to discuss? Various experts have taken the limited available data and tried to estimate the number of children lost to adoption during the BSE. You can choose to agree or disagree with their numbers. To paraphrase what Hillary Clinton said about Benghazi "At this point what difference does it make?" -- 20 percent or 80 percent -- 1 million or 8 million. It shouldn't have happened.

      We in adoption reform have better things to do than quibble over BSE numbers. We need to try to change the future for these children and their parents by getting legislation enacted opening records.

      We need to work on legislation to assure that mothers have time and information to make informed decisions. The number of domestic voluntary infant adoptions is still too high.

      Delete
    4. What difference does it make if you are quoting accurate or even arguable figures?? I guess it's up to you. You don't have time for 1 post on your blog to discuss the basic facts that you and your friends are quoting to see if they are correct? Also up to you, but I must say after reading your writing for some time I am shocked that you are so cavalier about what the actual facts here are. Various experts have not come up with such wildly different numbers, as far as I can tell most say about 2 million. The 80 percent comes from one adoption agency saying 8 in 10 surrendered and people quoting and telephoning eachother until it morphed to 8 in 10 total. That's like me saying I burn 8 in 10 of things I attempt to cook, and then my husband quoting me and saying American LikeReallyWow burns 8 in 10 dinners attempted, and the neighbor saying 8 in 10 Americans burn dinner. If you look at the footnotes and track back you can see the progression that caused this.

      I agree with you 100% on open records. I don't see why they should ever be closed.

      Another thing I'd love to see your blog look at is foster children who briefly consider adoption getting their custody transferred from the state to the adoption agency. I've seen cases where the state would not take them back, saying simply they did not have a placement and offering a bed at the shelter downtown if that.

      I really don't think anyone is surrendering because of a lack of information. Adoption is, in a legal sense, not complicated, it means you lose a legal right to your child. All should know visitation is not enforceable as it should be and there should be at least 30 days of easy revocation after. I honestly cannot fathom what other information a woman may need and think counselling is just coercive.

      I think the biggest reason for surrenders is financial insecurity. Welfare provides considerably less now in real dollar buying power than it did in the 1960s, as does the minimum wage. I think addressing this would help more than anything, but its a big job.

      Delete
    5. I didn't see this before I posted the below, but you see I answer your questions, and we have written extensively about finances being the main reason women give up children, become surrogates, sell their eggs, etc.

      As for the other suggestion, Jane and I write about what we are interested in at the moment. As you might imagine, the blog, as we do it, takes up an incredible amount of time. I don't understand what you are suggesting we write about.

      Delete
    6. Mothers are surrendering because of lack of information. Once they learn the following, many keep their babies.

      The child should remain with his mother if possible.
      The importance of the mother to the child
      The life-long impact of adoption on the child, the mother, and her extended family.
      Public and private resources which would help mothers keep their babies,
      Right to child support from the father
      Types of open adoption and whether these agreements are enforceable
      The right to negotiate an open adoption agreement rather than simply taking what is offered
      The right to go to a different adoption practitioner if they are not satisfied with their practitioner
      The right to their own attorney
      They do not have to give up their baby because the agency or adoptive parents paid their expenses
      Threats of suing for repayment of expenses if they keep their baby are likely hollow
      They do not have to sign a consent in the hospital; they can take the baby home and consider their decision.

      This list comes from the Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Child Welfare League of America, L. Anne Babb author of "Ethics in American Adoption," and staff of Portland's Catholic Charities.

      Delete
  59. Wikipedia: with footnotes:

    In the United States

    From approximately 1940 to 1970, it is estimated that up to 4 million mothers in the United States had newborns stolen from them in the hospital for adoption purposes; 2 million during the 1960s alone. Annual numbers for non-relative adoptions increased from an estimated 33,800 in 1951 to a peak of 89,200 in 1970, then quickly declined to an estimated 47,700 in 1975.[2][3] (This does not include the number of infants adopted and raised by relatives.[3]) In contrast, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that only 14,000 infants were "voluntarily" surrendered in 2003.[4]

    Yes we know this is not the end all and be all, but these figures are what are the best available figures today. I know this is fascinating but pray tell, what is sparking your abiding interest in this, likereallywow?
    Please leave your real name. We are glad to have this information, but need more than this moniker if you wish to be taken seriously.

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  60. Anyone can change Wikipedia. I should probably fix that. Do you realize that what you just copied and pasted says the peak was 89,200? If that were the case even if the 1970 peak was the actual number for the entire period that would be a total of under 3 million adoptions. Solinger said 1.5 million, and I'd say she studied this more than anyone and if anything would inflate in an effort to sell a book. 6 million is not the best stat available, it's not attributed on that page or anywhere else. It doesn't come from anywhere but people repeating eachother. I was just trying to respectfully point that out to you and suggest you pass this along to others. Your ball.

    I've provided proof that there is much confusion in your movement about the actual facts here. It can clearly be seen on this post, the following comments, even your post I just replied to. I have been reading your writing for years and I respect you, Lorraine, and Jane too. I believe that you type the truth as best you can, and by and large you're really good at it.

    This has nothing to do with me, and at no time will I be leaving my name. In the box below it tells people to pick a name any name. I did that.

    My interest in the BSE started when I was pregnant by forcible date rape and approached an adoption forum online for information. The BSE story was shoved down my throat and I eventually read the books about it. I've always been fascinated by the 60s and issues of race, class and civil rights.

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  61. I am going to change/delete/point out in my memoir that even a ballpark number of possible adoptions during the Baby Scoop Era is impossible, as you have pointed out the difficulty in accuracy, even as a guestimate. In fact, I have to thank you for focusing in on this before I publish this. I will admit that I was not not focusing on these numbers right now with the laser focus that you are. I simply copied what I found in Wikipedia.

    However, using likereallywow totally detracts from your credibility, and despite your familiarity with the subject, made it more difficult for us to take you seriously. Can you use likereallywow at Wikipedia? I do hope you go forward and make changes there, and am surprised that you have not already done so, since that is a more quoted source, certainly, that First Mother Forum. Please let us know when you do. Some women who relinquished children after rape have have been incredibly forceful in changing adoption law. But perhaps you did not relinquish your child, and if that is the case, I commend you for doing so.

    Back to the numbers: An accurate number of babies relinquished in the Baby Scoop Era is impossible to pin down. As Solinger notes in "Wake Up Little Susie": "The second damning personal decision a white, single, pregnant woman might make, and many did, was to keep her illegitimate child. There are not [sic] reliable statistics regarding how many white unmarried mothers kept their babies in the postwar period since only three states had laws requiring a hospital to notify a state agency of the mother's plan for her illegitimate child. A 1957 study in Wisconsin, one of these three states, estimated that between 40 and 60 percent of white unmarried girls and women kept their babies. Nationwide, the proportion seemed to be closer to 30 percent." Page 33.

    The first damning decision? To sell her baby on the black market, and for that there are NO STATISTICS AT ALL. A 1956 piece in Cosmopolitan uses the figure of "20,000 or more" and decries the fact that the mothers do not go through proper channels where the children could go to "deserving couples who have applied through legitimate channels."

    So no matter the percentage and number quoted--which is pretty much unknown--we also then have to factor in the black market, which is totally unknown, despite a guestimate in Cosmo. In the end, trying to pin down these numbers is akin to how many angels dance on the head of pin.

    However, though I admit I have been somewhat prickly at first, I want to thank you for making me rethink what I say in this section--before it is published! (And I don't have a publisher yet, and yes, I will publish myself if that is a problem. I already turned down one publisher for contractual reasons.) But would you please point out exactly where Solinger states the figure is 1.5? I have both of her books here, and one of my sources was an academic article she wrote.

    Soligner must be off by say, 50 percent, since you have already pointed out the number is more likely to be three million, and does not account for black market babies! (or does it?) I'd like to see where she says that. Thank you.

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    1. I think the difference in our numbers could be you are looking at total adoptions and both I and Soldinger are considering the number of girls who went away and lost their babies. The 1.5 million is from the blurb used to sell the book here http://www.amazon.com/The-Girls-Who-Went-Away/dp/0143038974 . I'm pretty sure I read it in the book too, but I have the paperback with no search funtion.

      The three million comes from assuming the high of 89k was the actual number for the entire 33 years from 1940-1973. I once found something that listed estimates for most years in that time frame and added them in a spreadsheet. It was 2.1 million IIRC.

      Do you really think there is a chance that there were 3x more black market than above-board adoptions, especially considering how easy and cheap it was for a married couple to obtain a maternity home baby and how secrecy was assured for adopers, mothers and babies??

      I did relinquish my child, and I still believe it was the best choice for me. I found my own adopters, befriended them during the pregnancy and did not let them know my intentions until after she was born. I believe that there are other women like me who do not want to parent or abort, though it is very rare. I believe Casey Anthony was one, roped in by her parents to raise a child when she wasn't ready and didn't want to.

      I agree that adoption needs reform. I wish there was a way to prevent pre-birth contact, but I think if it were illegal it would still happen through brokers who would enforce agreements with rusty shanks. I think openness agreements should have to be removed in court the same way a divorced parent has to go to court to change visitation agreements instead of on the whim of adopters.

      I hate to see people bamboozled, so I have been known to accost scared young women outside adoption agencies. I'm sure some see me as creepy as those outside abortion clinics, but I buy them some takeout and just let them know what's up in there.

      I'm not changing my name. I would think it would be hard not to take me seriously with how evident the problem is on this very page I am typing on.

      Much intrest in your story. I'm sure you'll blog it when it is available. Having made small but taxable amounts from publishing myself, I would highly recommend the ebook route so you don't have to fuss with inventory and such.

      Delete
    2. While poverty may cause most of the relinquishments, we at FMF are seeing many apparently educated, middle class mothers like yourself giving up their babies because "they don't want to parent." These women, like you, hover over first mother blogs trying to start arguments and writing essays about how they made the right decision. One mother tries to make it pay by doing a one woman show. Eventually, though, they own up to their lasting pain.

      Giving up your baby, especially to gay men, seems to have become a fad.

      The fact is that if you were really convinced you made the right decision, you wouldn't be here at all; you'd be doing whatever it is you thought was more important than nurturing your child.

      Instead of trying to engage first mothers in arguments about BSE numbers, why don't you work for adoption reform?

      Delete
    3. I never said I was sure I made the right decision. If I were to write an essay, which I've honestly been seriously considering, it would not be what you were imagining. When I became pregnant by forcible date rape, I had no good options. I don't look down on others who do, but I just couldn't talk myself into an abortion. I didn't want to be a parent either, and I kept her for a few weeks after she was born to confirm this.

      I have had a very eventful life being born to a prostitute who never made any steps to parent but used all the legal aid lawyers she could find to fight a tpr until I was too old to find an adoptive home. I ran away to the streets to find my mom much younger than you'd ever believe and worked myself off the streets when I was 18. I immediately went back to school to get a better job and before I even got my first better job I picked up my first foster adult. People who age out of foster care have no one else to help them. I've scattered the ashes of a few, but I've helped a lot more. This is what I want to do with my life.

      It has been my life's work to help the homeless get off the streets ever since and I'm good at it and happen to have someone detoxing on my couch right now. She might get clean, she might not, but she gets a chance at least. I am passionate about a lot of issues and am frequently at rowdy protests. I love festivals and con(ventions) and frequently fly out of town for days on no notice to take drug-fueled binges through strange cities. I love my solitude and spend hours expressing my feelings by writing music, poems or essays or drowning them by writing all kinds of code. None of this is compatible with a small child and I didn't want to give up everything else I love for years and years.

      Still, giving up my daughter to the positively best family ever is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. It hurts every goddamned day and I never denied that. I think it would hurt less than being trapped with a child or knowing that like my mom, I was a really shitty mother. I think it's better for her to have a real family instead of just me when honestly I don't even like children.

      Adoption reform is not one of my big passions in this short life of mine, but I am interested. I just wanted to let you guys know that your stats are wrong. I do not think you were trying to pass off bad stats and am not accusing you of this. I was just letting you know.

      Delete
  62. No, I have no idea how many black market babies there were and I did not say that I was sticking to my original numbers. I just think know that NO ONE KNOWS how many babies were adopted--since even you are saying that the number could be double what Solinger estimates. I think that a great many women went to doctors who sold the children on the spot and the birth certs were doctored so that the individual never would be able to find out who his real parents were.

    Later today I will probably take down this discussion as you have convinced me that the estimate is probably wrong, that the guestimates are just that, and so my original figures no longer stand and I don't want them floating around the internet myself. Please understand. This has been an education experience for me.

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    Replies
    1. No one knows, and there is a lot of misinformation out there, as is evidenced on this thread. I finally got someone to tell me where the 6 million came from, and was told that they had read in a magazine that 6 million was the total number of adoptees alive in the US as of 1980-somethin. They figured it was then appropriate to widely claim that the number of women who lost babies from being sent away was 6 million. I'm not accusing you or Jane of this kind of shenanigans, but rather just reading the same thing enough so that you start to believe it. This is very reasonable.

      I don't think it could have been 3 million. That number is the absolute maximum by taking the max number from 1970 and multiplying it by 33 years. Keep in mind the low was half that. This is the number for ALL unrelated adoptions processed in the courts. I was born in 79 and have not been able to ascertain if there were many other adoptions back then.

      There is actually a lot of misinformation going around about the BSE. There are also some who claim that there was no program to help single mothers, or that it was not available to white girls, or welfare was not available to girls with rich parents. All of these, based on both experiences from trusted older people I've asked and ironclad historical links, are simply not true.

      I'd bet something shiny that if you asked 100 adoption advocates that know what the BSE is, at least 90 would give incorrect info. I simply cannot understand how you would not want to make some effort to clear this up or at least start a discussion.

      Imagine this. Someone comes into here and sees a story that they are having a hard time believing about something that happened this year in an adoption agency. They click around and see this sillyness about there being no kind of public assistance available in the 1960s or being by law only for black women. They read about the new deal in school and know this is simply not true. What could be a powerful ally is now a very skeptical person.

      A post bringing this to everyone's attention could be as easy as just pointing back to this page and asking people to discuss the statistics that are going around. Maybe someone has a valid link or some real reason to say it was 6 or 8 million or more than 19.3% surrendered. I'd be interested to see the conversation.

      Delete
  63. I responded with a rather lengthy comment and the blogesphere ate it up. I will respond tomorrow. It's late tonight and I'm wiped.

    ReplyDelete

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