' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too

Kathryn Joyce
Journalist Kathryn Joyce takes on domestic infant adoption and international adoption in her new book, The Child Catchers, forcefully demonstrating its unsavory realities, including how it exploits vulnerable mothers. While the general public may believe adoption is a win-win solution that saves children, builds families, and allows poor biological mothers to get on with their lives, Joyce portrays it as the billion dollar industry it is, fueled by money, religious fervor, the high demand for children, and misguided altruism. She backs up her claims with scrupulous research--visits to foreign orphanages and adoption facilities, interviews with adoption practitioners, narratives of adoptees and first parents, statistical data, marketing materials, and media reports.

Joyce begins with the tale of Laura Silsby who tried to take 33 "orphan" children from earthquake-ravaged Haiti in 2010 to the Dominican Republic where she planned to house them in an orphanage not yet built. In fact, the children were not orphans. Their parents had consented for Silsby and her band of evangelicals to take the children because she told their parents she was taking them to the DR for education and they would come back.

Jane
ADOPTION FERVOR SPURRED BY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS
Joyce, who previously has written extensively about the extremes of the American evangelical movement, documents that the Silsby incident was not an aberration. She shows it to be a logical outcome of adoption fervor ignited by the twin goals of saving children from poverty and depravity and saving their souls from perdition.

"Saving" children through adoption is not new. In the mid-nineteenth century, The Rev. Charles Loring Brace, a protestant minister, arranged for several hundred thousand poor Jewish and Catholic children in New York City to be sent west on "orphan" trains to be adopted by farm families. These children were for the most part not orphans, but their parents were poor, and many of the children were exploited as unpaid labor.

In the 1830's Congregationalists in Jamaica adopted the children of former slaves, separating them from their homes and culture as a way of "civilizing" them. Other nineteenth century would-be do-gooders sought to save American Indian children and convert them to Christianity by placing them in boarding schools. From the 1950's through the 1970's, the Child Welfare League of America operated the Indian Adoption Project, removing between 25 and 35 percent of Indian children from their homes and placing them into white adoptive homes. In 1978, Congress enacted the Indian Child Welfare Act to stop this pernicious practice, mandating that children stay within their tribes, if possible. (The law is under attack is a case before by the U.S. Supreme Court brought by would-be adoptive parents, and supported by segments of the adoption industry and much of the media.)

THE RISE OF INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION
The Holt Family
Joyce recounts how international adoption took off in this country. In 1955 Harry Holt and his wife Bertha, evangelical farmers in rural Oregon, brought eight Amerasian orphans from war-torn Korea to join their six biological children. Believing that God wanted them to do more, the Holts appealed to Americans to save Korean orphans from "'the cold and misery and darkness of Korea into the warmth and love of your homes.'" The Holts received the blessings of politicians and opened up an adoption agency, now Holt International Children's Services. Soon the Holts were bringing children from Korea by the plane load. They demanded little of adoptive parents other than they be Christians. Other Christian adoption agencies soon sprung up in Korea.

In 2004 Rick Medefind, President Bush's acting director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, founded the Christian Alliance for Orphans. In 2007, he held a small summit at the Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs which caught the attention of Rick Warren, pastor at the mega Saddleback Church in California and author of the best-selling The Purpose Driven Life. Warren and other evangelicals quickly saw that adopting children from abroad was a way to answer critics who accused them of not obeying biblical mandates to help the poor, bring millions to conservative Christianity, and reduce abortions. They spread the gospel of international adoption through their extensive networks of churches and the media touting adoption and foster care as scriptural imperatives. The movement spread outside evangelical churches as a way for liberals to neutralize abortion debates by proposing adoption as a "common ground" compromise.

CREATING ORPHANS THROUGH 'THE ORPHAN CRISIS'
To rally the troops, raise money, and gain the support of politicians, evangelical church leaders and other international adoption advocates invented an "orphan crisis," first claiming there were 143 million orphans in the world, then raising the figure to 163 million, and then 210 million. In 2008 Warren brought Barack Obama and John McCain to Saddleback and convinced both candidates to commit to an emergency plan for this global crisis.

In fact, there is nowhere near 210, 163, or 143 million orphans available for adoption. The 143 million came from a United Nations tally of "'orphaned and vulnerable'" children, which included children who lost one or both parents. What went unnoticed was that most of these children live with their surviving parent or extended family. Many of the children in orphanages are still connected to their families who may use orphanages as boarding schools, or places for their children to stay because of poverty or work demands during a harvest season. Furthermore, many of these "orphans," are older or disabled, not the children those seeking to adopt are looking for.

Ironically, the adoption industry itself increases the "orphan" population by expanding and building new orphanages, financed by donations from grateful adopting parents. ("If we build it, they will come.") Orphanages in Korea increased from 38 in 1945 to a whopping 482 by 1957, housing nearly fifty thousand children. Joyce writes:
"When orphanages are created in places that didn't have them before, suddenly that region will have more 'orphans,' as poor parents see the institutions as a way to ease their burden and give their children an opportunity for better food, shelter, and education. Children who were not homeless or unparented before end up becoming institutionalized as a direct result of orphanages setting up shop in poor areas. Then adoption advocates point to the increased rates of institutionalization as evidence for the need for adoption. It's what some have come to call 'a culture of adoption,' functioning like a self-fulfilling prophecy." 
These newly-created orphanages become holding pens while operators make the children available for adoption through fraudulent paperwork or convincing their parents to let them go to America for education, without explaining that the children will not return.

We've seen a similar outcome during the Baby Scoop Era in America, as pregnant women were urged to give up their babies, in part to give an infertile couple a family. Meanwhile the adoption industry recruited couples to adopt their babies, so that the children would not grow up in foster care or orphanages. Yet each side of the equation naively believed it was acting selflessly to meet the needs of the other.

To facilitate this, evangelical ministers promoted adoption aggressively from the pulpit leading to a "contagious" spread of adoption culture. Some families adopted as many as eight or ten children, often far more than they could care for. Some children became nothing more than unpaid labor; others were murdered or abused. Up to 25 percent have been "re-homed," that is, sent to another family.

Joyce does not discuss the role of non-evangelical churches. Yet I've visited four Unitarian Universalist churches in the past half dozen years, and have seen many children who were of a different color than their parents. While the UU Church may not have promoted adoption, many of its members have jumped on the international adoption band wagon.

STORIES OF KIDNAPPING AND 'BABY FARMS'
Once planted, the demand for overseas adoption rose. "A number of popular 'sending countries' or 'source countries' emerged, and in waves hundreds of children began to arrive from South Korea, Romania, Russia, China, Vietnam, and Guatemala," Joyce writes, adding that the focus  has recently shifted to African nations;  Ethiopia, Liberia, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have became source countries.

Joyce outlines how adoption follows a five stage process in "source countries": The first stage begins with a legitimate need for large numbers of children facing a particular crisis. In the second stage most of the original children have been placed, but adoption demand has grown and paid "child finders" enter the scene. In the third stage pressure to find children increases to keep pace with demand. The fees Americans pay for the children create powerful incentives for adoption workers to find children who match the desires of Western families, baby girls or young children. Bad players begin to appear, along with suppressed stories of kidnapping or "baby farms."

In the fourth stage adoptive parents begin to come forward with their experiences of corruption or fraud, and governments and adoption agencies respond. In the last stage governments shut down the program and adoption workers and agencies move to another country that can supply children. When that country gets wise, they move on to another unprepared nation. It's a cycle that repeats year after year, in country after country.

In the last few years, countries rocked by scandals have curtailed adoptions and adoption workers have not found enough new sites to keep the adoption gravy train going at the same rate, Joyce writes, and international adoptions have plummeted from a peak of nearly 23,000 in 2004 to around 7,000 in 2012. Evangelicals joined by secular adoption promoters have launched counter attacks, generating media coverage of would-be adoptive parents whose "children are in the pipeline" and writing horror stories of children in orphanages. Of course it's not just the welfare of children which has caused alarm in the adoption community as numbers have fallen, it's the closing of agencies and the loss of jobs. Without children, they can't stay in business.

In the cycle that Joyce so graphically documents, adoption advocates blame familiar scapegoats like UNICEF or the Hague Convention for creating bureaucratic red-tape and an over-zealous response to incidents of corruption. They argue that wrong-doers should be punished but "saving" children through adoption should continue, conveniently ignoring the fact that the corruption is deeply institutionalized within the culture, not the result of a few wrong-doers. As long as money is to be made, it can't be fixed.

Politicians are quick to respond, pressuring the State Department to open the markets. Senator Mary Landrieu, an adoptive mother and co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, has sponsored at least seven pro-adoption bills, the most recent being the Families for Orphans Act. The bill, co-sponsored by another adoption champion, Senator James Inhoff, would have used aid to developing countries as carrots and sticks to increase adoptions. A sort of "show me the children before I'll show you the money." Fortunately, the bill did not pass.

A bright light in all of this is Rwanda where thousands upon thousands were murdered in a long civil war, leaving thousands of orphans. The Rwandan government prohibits adoption agencies from operating in the country, requiring all international adoptions, Joyce writes, "undergo individualized, plodding scrutiny instead of permitting the booming free-for-all that characterized the adoption process in nearby Ethiopia." Churches and the government work together moving children from orphanages into foster homes until they can be reunited with their families or placed for adoption with Rwandan families. International adoption is a last resort. Cambodia is following suit with the same model.

THE UGLY SIDE OF DOMESTIC ADOPTION
Domestic adoptions follow patterns similar to those of international adoption: a boom after World War II, followed by a bust when evolving mores caused more mothers to keep their children and abortion became a viable option. In what's often referred to as the Baby Scoop Era (1945 to 1973), anywhere from six to ten million women, about 60 percent of unmarried mothers, relinquished their babies. (Other researchers put the figure at 80 percent of white women and close to zero for women of color.) Today less than one percent of unmarried mothers give up their babies. I was pleased to see familiar faces in the chapter on the BSA, colleagues who have worked tirelessly to document the abuses of the era and work for adoption reform: Mirah Riben, Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh, Joe Soll, Sandy Young, Suz Bednarz, Evelyn Robinson and Ann Fessler.

To counter this trend of falling adoptions, the industry has gone on the offensive, decrying the shortage of adoptable babies, as if this were a bad thing. Even President Obama has gotten into the act, recommending that adoption be made easier to reduce the number of abortions. We are well aware of the successful pro-adoption campaigns in the media to convince the public that adoption is just another way to form a family and the ultimate form of charity, masking the fact that it is a multi-billion business with fees from $15,000 up to $40,000. As part of this normalizing of adoption, the industry has popularized positive adoption language intended, as Joyce notes, "to remove any stigma from the idea of being adopted or relinquishing a child for adoption." Adoption marketers sweep first parents' pain aside, often portraying them as immoral or manipulative, liable to turn up on adoptive parents' doorsteps, or at best inept and immature. In the case of foreign mothers, they are written out of the narrative altogether, assumed to be dead or uncaring.

Joyce writes that evangelicals are prominent in domestic adoptions as well as international adoptions, with approximately half of all agencies associated with evangelical churches, including Bethany Christian Services, the largest adoption agency in the country. They portray adoption as part of God's plan--"'that some parents are infertile because god has a child for them in another place'" Of course it's not only the evangelicals who find divine intervention in adoption. Rosie O'Donnell made a similar claim when she said that she told her adopted children that God placed them in the wrong woman's tummy. (Rosie's brother Dennis O'Donnell is a staunch opponent of allowing adult adoptees access to their original birth certificates in the New York Legislature.)

Christian adoption marketeers use various forms of help and coercion to convince young women to give up their babies, from isolating mothers-to-be in maternity homes or apartments, practices reminiscent of the Baby Scoop Era, guilt-tripping mothers not to disappoint the prospective adoptive parents, and providing inaccurate legal information. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) funnel unmarried pregnant women into the adoption stream, frightening them with predictions of poverty, a tactic not limited to such centers. (Although more sophisticated, the Center for American Progress uses a similar spiel in their white paper, "The Adoption Option.") Joyce shows how CPS's portray single parenting as a selfish, immature choice adding a strong dose of religion, telling them "'You've done wrong, but God will forgive you if you do the right thing.'" Both religious and secular practitioners often use openness as a ploy to get mothers to give up their babies.

The Mormon Church's LDS Family Services is another vital presence in the Christian adoption community. Because of the Church's influence, Utah has become a haven for unscrupulous adoption practitioners, luring women to leave their homes and give birth in Utah where adoption-friendly laws allow irrevocable relinquishments and create legals traps and barriers for fathers, effectively denying them any rights.

Joyce ends The Child Catchers by taking us back to South Korea where up to 200,000 children
Jane Jeong Trenka
left their homes for the U.S. and Europe. Originally established to provide homes for children fathered by American and English servicemen, overseas adoption became THE solution for unmarried mothers with few resources and a condemning culture, much like what happened during the Baby Scoop Era in the U.S. The tide is beginning to change, however, as Korean adoptees return to the country of their birth reuniting with their Korean families. Jane Jeong Trenka and other adoptees are advocating for cultural changes and help to single mothers. These reformers helped achieve passage of legislation restricting adoption agencies from running maternity homes, giving mothers a week after birth before they can relinquish, and providing single mothers more support in raising their children. These laws could be a model for the U.S., where agencies isolate pregnant women and state laws allow mothers to sign irrevocable relinquishments on the delivery table.

The Child Catchers has its critics, of course, accusing Joyce of being "anti-adoption" and promoting a pro-abortion agenda, as we at First Mother Forum have been accused of. But it is an important voice for adoption reform and should be read by those who shape adoption policy and those considering adopting from abroad or donating to an international adoption agency or foreign orphanage. It's laden with facts and figures, but is never dull. FMF highly recommends The Child Catchers.--jane
________________________
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Throughout The Child Catchers we meet an interesting and diverse group of people from Oregon evangelical farmers Harry and Bertha Holt to Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet. Besides those mentioned above, also included are:

Adoption advocates including Rick Medefind, President Bush's acting director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and founder of the Christian Alliance for Orphans; Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky who is crafting an extensive orphan theology; Tom DiFilpo of Joint Council on International Children's Services; Chuck Johnson of the National Council for Adoption; Jane Aronson (the "Orphan Doctor") CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation. Aronson has just written a self-laudatory book, Carried in Our Hearts, recounting how she helped Angelina Jolie, Connie Britton, and countless ordinary families bring home a child from developing countries; Craig Juntunen, former pro-quarterback, adoptive father of three Haitian children, and founder of Both Ends Burning which employs strategy consultants from Mitt Romney's firm, Bain & Company.

Adoption workers including Tom Benz of Bridges of Faith who brought children from Ukraine and raised thousands of dollars to bring Haitian orphans to the U.S., which never happened; Michelle Gardner, mother of twelve including nine adoptees and founder of Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries who worked on behalf of Christian World Adoptions. Gardner arranged the adoption of three Ethiopian sisters without their parents' consent and misrepresented their ages and family status to the adoptive parents; Sam and Serene Allison, parents of five biological children, who adopted six children from Liberia. The children were "home-schooled" and received little education. They were denied food, forced to work, and beaten. The Allisons and their families were part of a movement urging people to have as many children as possible; Dave and Jana Jenkins who developed a pilot program with the Rwandan government to place abandoned children with foster families rather than in institutions with the Jenkins' church providing basic supplies and training  for foster families.

Adoption Reformers including: Gina Pollock, Vice-President at Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR);  Ethica, law professor David Smolin; Niels Hoogeveen of Pound Puppy Legacy. 

The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption 
Kirkus, STARRED Review
“Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting” 

The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler, an adoptee.
Chicago Tribune
"A wrenching, riveting book." Stories of women like us.
_________________
 Other sources:
Why Christians Like Me Should Listen to Critiques of Evangelical Adoption

FROM FMF: 
A father's right to raise his own daughter hinges on 'Indian Act'
Creating a Culture of Adoption
Let's Hear it For the Haitian Government
Shotgun Adoptions via Crises Pregnancy Centers
Pres. Obama, Adoption is not only available, it's being crammed down our throats

24 comments :

  1. Thanks for writing about The Child Catchers. I had been seeing it around and was hoping FMF would review it. I know a number of adoptive parents I would like to send this to!

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  2. Interview with Kathryn Joyce:

    http://killingthebuddha.com/mag/witness/truth-telling-in-vulgaria/

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  3. The Quiverfull connection - in his recent “Launch Out into the Deep” 2013 commencement speech at Southern Virginia University (April 27, 2013) Romney advised the students to "have a quiver full of kids".

    http://svu.edu/pdf/news/launch-out-into-the-deep-mitt-romney.pdf

    For those who don't know, the biblical reference is found in Psalm 127:3–5 :

    Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD:
    and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
    As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
    so are children of the youth.
    Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
    they shall not be ashamed,
    but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

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  4. Does anybody know who did the NPR interview? I'd like to hear it.

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  5. Here's the link to the interview with Kathryn Joyce on NPR, "Fresh Air" WHYY
    How Evangelical Christians Are Preaching The New Gospel of Adoption

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  6. This is a very important book. I read the interview linked by anon which I liked. Thanks for featuring this book and thanks to Ms. Joyce for writing it.

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  7. If you want to give the book a "lift," go to Amazon and the reviews for this book and click on Yes in answer to the question: Was this review helpful to you? You will see that the Pro-adoption Christian forces, as well as a director of Bethany, have posted very long comments trying to discredit the book. Of course, are we surprised?

    We at FMF are not surprised.

    Back to writing legislators today in NY.....

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  8. In this video Religious Dispatch’s senior staff writer Sarah Posner talks to Kathryn Joyce about The Child Catchers. Kathryn describes how adoption has developed as an expansion of anti-abortion politics. Who is responsible for making adoption go viral among evangelicals in the past decade? Is there really an "orphan crisis?" Kathryn recounts an episode of adoption fraud from Ethiopia, and explains the trouble with adoptions from Liberia. Finally, has the evangelical community reassessed some of the systemic problems with international adoptions?

    http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/17250

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  9. Any news about the export of babies from Florida to Ireland?

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  10. A few random thoughts and observations about the book.

    First of all, I think it is an excellent book that is extremely well-written and impeccably researched. However, I also think it is a dense, scholarly work that will appeal mainly to the 'choir'. I don't think it has the easy readability to appeal to a wider audience, the way a book such as Ann Fessler's 'The girls who went away' does.

    Also, the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking...does anyone care about the children? Is anyone concerned about the childrens' safety? Joyce did get into some family situations where there was abuse and she did bring up the topic of rehoming. I felt though that she didn't make this clear enough to the average layperson, who thinks that adoption always results in the child getting a loving, wonderful, 'better' life.

    Then I had an issue with some statistics. On page 89, Joyce writes that a fifth of all children born to never-married mothers were relinquished during the BSE. Then again on pg 111, she writes that 19.2 percent of unmarried white mothers relinquished in 1972. She did mention that the relinquishment rate was closer to 80 percent for those who were incarcerated in maternity homes during that era. But I find the 20 percent figure impossible to believe. Many unwed mothers were not living in maternity homes and to get the figure that 80% of unmarried mothers between the years 1945 and 1972 kept their children sounds highly unlikely to me. If the overwhelmingly majority of mothers were keeping their babies, then I'm sure my mother would have kept me. I can see that 80% figure being accurate for unmarried mothers from the mid-1980s on but certainly not during the BSE. I remember that you had once also posted this same statistic on FMF.

    Another little sticking point I have is that when Ms. Joyce introduces Australia's Evelyn Robinson (pg 284), she is described as a "first mother" in quotes. I picked up perhaps a bit of mocking of the term. Throughout the book the term birth mother or birthmothers was used.

    Overall, though, I do think it is an excellent work and it makes me happy that a respected journalist gets it and is bringing the issue to the public arena.

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  11. Thanks, Robin. I have only skimmed The Child Catchers so far but when Jane quoted the 60 percent figure I though, WTH, that doesn't jive with what I have read AND REMEMBER. Maybe by the early 70s the tide turned and skewed the numbers who kept their babies, but boy, the 40s, 50s and 60s were a time when it was almost unheard of for a white, middle class or upper class girl to keep her baby. And if you mix in the African American babies in that consort, you also skew the figure dramatically toward mothers keeping their babies. I think that is maybe what happened.

    But she doesn't like "first" mother, eh? We are not allowed to change what we are called? Without the "quotes" offering their not-so-subtle snicker? I don't remember anyone doing that when Negroes became "blacks" who became "African Americans." Apparently we are not supposed to cross the mighty adoption-industry supported language.

    Despite what you say about The Child Catchers being read largely by the choir, all the media attention might make a difference and cause people to think differently about adopting from the country de jour, or even here at home.

    Certainly the evengies are pushing back and not happy about this. Because of all the interviews, etc, the message is getting out and that can do a great deal of good, whether or not one reads the book. One of my friends not involved in adoption heard her on NPR. I personally want to do as much as we can to promote this book.

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  12. There are a few other issues with the book as well.

    For instance she does not delve into the fact that some adoption rates have declined as overall conditions/personal wealth have increased in foreign countries. That is especially true for Russia and Kazakhstan.

    Additionally while some countries might experience drops in available children or orphanage closings when International adoptions cease or temporarily close that is not the case for all. Romania is one where the need is still critical, though adoptions have been halted for years.

    Finally, I agree with Robin's assessment that she treats the term "First Mother" almost joke like. I found this read to be a bit high handed and more of a rant on religion that a true reformative look at adoption. Almost as if she found an angle to attack Christianity and adoption as a side topoic simply happened to be convenient.

    Just my take on it and btw, I have been to Romania 6 times since IA ceased and please believe me when I say that the need is still crushing. The solution to that need may not lie in IA but something needs to be done for those children.

    Sue

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  13. Oh, I think The Child Catchers goes beyond preaching to the choir. Joyce had a good interview on Fresh Air and other appearances before audiences not connected with adoption reform.

    She also gives the choir new songs--more arguments for why adoption should be more regulated--as we used to say in law, more hooks for the judge to hang his hat on.

    She gives more credibility to reformers because she is not a first mother or an adoptee.

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  14. "She gives more credibility to reformers because she is not a first mother or an adoptee."

    Yes, that is what I especially appreciate about an "outsider" writing about this subject.

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  15. As to the percent of unwed mothers during the BSE that surrendered. You will never get an accurate percentage - 1955 was 90,000 according to the Kafauver Subcommittee records - you would have to compare that to the CDC birth stats for the year to be able to estimate a percentage - but you also have to remember that many of us weren't adopted the same year we were born because we needed that Acceptable rating before placement. Other years I doubt you could come up with anything valid.

    What was the exact wording of the percentage - unwed white mothers or unwed mothers - that will skew the statistic because very few non-white adoptions happened.

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  16. I agree with adoptedones about the percentages. Only estimates are possible and they are going to vary considerably.

    I haven't read The Child Catchers yet (although I did read Joyce's book about the Quiverfulls), but I intend to.
    I too would appreciate it if Robin would supply quotes to go with the points she made, so they can be understood in context.

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  17. @Anon 4:07pm
    I didn't have time to put the full quote from Joyce's book when I wrote my last comment. The page numbers are referenced though if you are interested in researching it further.

    I agree with TAO that it is not possible to get an accurate figure on what percentage of unmarried mothers relinquished. But that is not how it came across in Joyce's book. The impression I got was that the large majority (80%) kept their children. She did state that relinquishment was more an issue for white girls and women. Although to someone who is not terribly familiar with adoption, her statistic made it seem like the coercion and force that so many mothers of the BSE have talked about was more in their own heads than reality. After all, if supposedly 8 out of 10 unmarried mothers kept her child, why couldn't they?

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  18. And if you mix in the African American babies in that consort, you also skew the figure dramatically toward mothers keeping their babies. I think that is maybe what happened.

    African-Americans have been pretty steady around 10-15% of the population for most of the 21th century. I'd be curious if that really skewed the numbers that much.

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  19. But since most African Americans did keep their babies, that 10-15 percent portion of the overall population of teens and women who kept their babies would skew the overall number a great deal. I suggest that if you separate out the non-white population from the cohort, you get a very different percentage for how many women gave up their babies than when they are included.

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  20. I am grateful to have come across this forum. And appreciated the review of "The Child Catchers". I am a first mother whose child was taken while I was living in a ashram in Vermont by a guru who insisted I was not spiritual enough to be a mother. I would like to connect with other first mother's whose children were adopted out by this guru. I have many reasons to believe that he was running a baby selling ring.

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  21. Oh, Julia, that takes the cake (and, heartbreakingly, your baby)! "Not spiritual enough" to be your own child's mother?!

    I think you've come to just the right place to continue your journey among friends, and find answers to your questions. I hope so.

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  22. Julia: What's his name and the ashram in Vermont? This is indeed a horrible sad story.

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  23. Lorraine said: "But since most African Americans did keep their babies, that 10-15 percent portion of the overall population of teens and women who kept their babies would skew the overall number a great deal. I suggest that if you separate out the non-white population from the cohort, you get a very different percentage for how many women gave up their babies than when they are included."

    I went and found some statistics on illegitimate birth rates per 1,000 women from the era plua a few more tidbits. Everything below is from the link and page numbers included.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_21/sr21_015.pdf

    (sorry it may come with formatting problems)

    (Page 22)
    All of the measures indicate that the prevalence of illegitimacy has increased over the past 25 years but that there have been several distinct periods in this quarter century. The illegitimacy rate, for example, nearly doubled from 1940 (7.1) to 1950 (14.1). The rate continued to rise rapidly until 1957 (21 .0), and since then the increase has slowed down considerably. By 1965 the rate was 23.5, or only 12 percent higher than in 1957.

    The differences in illegitimacy between the white and nonwhite population are wide. Although the measures of illegitimacy have always been higher for the nonwhite than for the white population, this differential has been declining in recent years. For example, in 1950 the illegitimacy rate for nonwhite women was 71.2, or nearly 12 times greater than the rate of 6.1 for white women. By 1965 this differential had declined to slightly over 8: the rates were 11.6 and 97.6 for white and nonwhite women, respectively.

    Adoption and Legitimation (page 21)
    Illegitimate children begin life with more precarious health than do other children. In addition, illegitimate babies have social handicaps. Under what conditions do children with these disadvantages grow to maturity?

    There are several possibilities: a child may be adopted, either by relatives or by unrelated persons, thus becoming a member of a socially recognized family; his parents may marry and “legitimize” the child he may not survive infancy or he may survive with unchanged legal status and be raised by his mother or another person or be put in an institution.

    Attempts have been made in a few States to determine how many illegitimate children are adopted or legitimized. For example, Minnesota found that of the 1,527 illegitimate children born in 1952 in that State, 53 percent were adopted and 11 percent were legitimized by the age of 10. Robert W. Hiller of the Minnesota Department of Health obtained these figures by examining the birth certificates that had been replaced by revised certificates. Hiller suggests that a more complete study would also take into account welfare records and death certificates.

    The “replaced” certificates, representing legitimation, constitute a readily available source of data for additional information on the circumstances
    under which an illegitimate child is raised. Research based on these should be encouraged.

    Page 28 shows actual number of births.

    Interesting note at the start of the report - that only 34 states+DC provided details on illegitmacy so they had to use estimates to cover all states and they noted for example that CA, NY, MA did not give illegitmacy status - but accounted for 21% of all births.

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  24. theadoptedones:

    Thanks for the research.

    ReplyDelete

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