' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Adoption Posters at Abortion Clinics...Why Not Truth-Counselors at Adoption Agencies? We volunteer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Adoption Posters at Abortion Clinics...Why Not Truth-Counselors at Adoption Agencies? We volunteer.

I missed an article in the New York Times over the weekend--Campaigning for Common Ground in Abortion Debate--even though I knew something was in the works because the writer, Sue Dominus, contacted me beforehand asking me if I thought open adoptions were a more humane option that a closed adoption for a mother who surrenders her child. Yes, is the short answer; but...is the long answer, they are typically not enforceable contracts. Anyway, Dominus' piece was about putting "consider adoption" posters in abortion clinics: She writes:
"Imagine this: a woman enters her local Planned Parenthood office and notices, in the bathroom, a poster that says: “Questions about adoption? We can answer those, too.”

"Such posters, which should be up in the hallways of at least 15 abortion providers in New York within the month, are produced by the Adoption Access Network as part of a campaign to make adoption a subject that patients and social workers alike feel more comfortable broaching in abortion clinics. The thinking is that all the clinics’ clients, whether they seem uneasy about abortion or not, should have a clear understanding of how adoption works, rather than just be handed a list of references — a list that essentially says, adoption is fine, but it’s not our thing."

I was too late to respond at the Times site, as the comments are closed, but another columnist, Amie Newman, managing editor of Reality Check, also joined the chorus of people who think the posters are a good idea. Newman wrote at Reality Check and republished at The Huffington Post, Pro-Choice and Adoption: Outside the Culture Wars
"...there is nothing wrong with posters on adoption or educating providers more thoroughly about what open adoption looks like. But adoption is not a "distraction" from abortion and, given the option, most women we saw at the health center seeking to terminate their pregnancies did not change their minds, even after being provided with more information about adoption - even open adoption (laws about which vary from state-to-state and is far from cut-and-dried)."
My response (expanded somewhat here): 
How about a poster in an adoption agency suggesting that there is a better option--abortion--than the lifelong grief of surrendering a child to genetic strangers? How about having an abortion/adoption counselor on staff to talk to young women about the fact that you do not surrender a child to be adopted and "get on with your life" as before? I volunteer.
It has been more than 40 years since I surrendered my daughter to be adopted by total strangers, and though I found her when she was fifteen and we had an open adoption after that, I never got over the deep loss and emotional trauma of giving her up. I never got back my old life I never got over the pain and sorrow that adoption means to two people: mother and child. Neither did she.
Were her adoptive parents bad people? No. Was she anything like them? No. Did a sense of abandonment infuse her life, despite everyone's best efforts? Yes. Did she feel second best after her parents had biological children? Yes. Was she wrong in thinking that? Not from what I observed. Whose swimming meets did they go to, whose diving events did they not have time for? You guess. Did she look like them? No. Did her other mother come to hate me as our relationship continued through the years? Yes.

Putting up "consider adoption" posters in abortion clinics is absurd. The woman or teenager is at the clinic seeking an abortion because she has already made that choice and to force her again to confront it is no better than the medical procedures that at least one state has forced on pregnant women choosing an abortion: that they have a sonogram. [At least Newman above found that talking about adoption to women set on abortions rarely, if ever, had an impact.]

After reading comments here and elsewhere it appears that those who think the adoption posters in abortion clinics are a great idea are anti-choice people, hoping for a last minute change of heart, or those eager to supply  the market maw of those who would adopt. After all, available white infants are in short supply.

They should spend some time reading about what life after surrender is like for first/birth  mothers, whether in open adoptions or closed. And the woman/teen who is considering adoption for their children her child should be counseled that this child is quite likely the only child she will ever have. A large percentage of women who surrender a child to adoption never have another. As fellow blogger Jane has just written: Should women considering adoption be warned about secondary infertility?
Maybe adoption agencies would consider putting up posters advertising that fact? Ya know, I kinda doubt they will, even the supposedly cool ones like Spence-Chapin. 

Damn, the Dominus piece made me mad because the attitude was that the posters are such a great idea--but no thought of equal time for our side of the story. I know Sue; she's from the demographic of women who are the adopting class today: middle class, reaching the end of their fertility years and having trouble reproducing, and able to afford agency fees...and so they want to adopt. Trouble is...too few available babies. Since I know so many of those thirty/fortysomething women who adopted, I'm sure she does too.--lorraine

Jane here. I’ll support Planned Parenthood clinics talking about adoption when I see adoption agencies talking about abortion and nurturing. In other words, NEVER!

If Corinna Lohser of the Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency and Cristina Page, founders of the Adoption Access Network, were serious about bringing “prochoice standards to the field of adoption” they would create an Abortion Access Network and train adoption agency staff to talk to their clients about abortion. After all, it's a lot easier to find an adoption agency that an abortion provider.

Lohser should take a look at Spence-Chapin’s website. The “Caring” in its tag line, “Adoption Service and Caring since 1908, is surely not code for abortion. Spence-Chapin is an adoption agency. Its website promotes adoption with happy birth mother stories and pictures of attractive couples waiting to adopt. The “choice” lingo is just another way to lure in pregnant women by recruiting Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers as runners.

It’s clear that while Page talks about options, the only one she really wants women to choose is adoption. Look at her language:
“Page also reminds us that applying pro-choice standards and a women's rights lens to the adoption experience means not just expanded rights and options for birth mothers but for those gay and lesbian parents desperate to adopt but often kept out of the pool by more religious-in-nature or conservative agencies. Developing a network of pro-choice adoption agencies changes family rights. Anecdotally, she tells me, pro-choice adoption agencies have an active pool of gay and lesbian parents wanting to adopt.”
Referring to pregnant women as “birth mothers” when they haven’t given birth let alone given up their child and referring to gay and lesbian couples as “parents” when they aren’t, shows Page’s mindset: With the right kind of sales job, pregnant women will “choose” adoption and meet the needs of Page’s real clients, gay and lesbian couples locked out of the Christian adoption market.

Significantly Page and Lohser say nothing about the other option, “nurturing.” The problem isn’t that abortion providers don’t talk about adoption. It’s that adoption agencies don’t talk about nurturing and don’t help women find resources so they can keep their baby.

If you want to comment, click on: Pro-Choice and Adoption: Outside the Culture Wars
And have fun noting all the adoption ads at the bottom of the page. Cute. You can't win. They are why I can't take regular ads here, adoption agency stuff just pops up. Not cool.


  1. Those posters need to "disappear".

  2. I have disagree with the notion of putting abortion advertisments up in Adoption Agencies. Because as much as it may hurt to give one's child up for Adoption for some women, spending the rest of your life knowing you killed your innocent baby is much worse.

  3. Improper Adoptee:

    Beg to disagree!

    I understand that abortion is a hard issue for many adopted people, but that did not stop adoptee Sarah Saffian from having one. Psychologically, there is a huge difference between having an abortion and nurturing a child in your womb and then turning it over to somebody else.

    I've done both, and trust me, having an abortion resulted in relief. Giving up a child ended in grief.

  4. ""spending the rest of your life knowing you killed your innocent baby is much worse.""

    Unless you, yourself, have surrendered a child to adoption (without choice) and chose to have an abortion...your statement above is just an opinion of yours and not fact.

    I have done both. I surrendered my firstborn, newly born baby..I have forever lived with the living consequences of that most sorrowful experience and time in my life. Sometime later..I CHOSE abortion and have never regretted my CHOICE to abort, a day in my adult life. I didn't kill, I aborted a fetus..early on in the pregnancy. And my attending physician at the time was in complete agreement with My Choice. A 'choice' that was not available to me in 1964.

    It worked for me, may not work for others...still the fact remains..opinions on one side or the other are not factual representations...they are merely just beliefs and/or opinions on the subject. Your "belief" is that abortion is much worse. If that belief is based on your own personal experience, I can respect that...if that was not your personal experience..again you cannot say that abortion is much worse for women than adoption. It surely was not for me.

  5. " . . . spending the rest of your life knowing you killed your innocent baby is much worse."
    Who sez?

  6. "Because as much as it may hurt to give one's child up for Adoption for some women, spending the rest of your life knowing you killed your innocent baby is much worse."

    I assume from this comment that you have done both and can compare this from first-hand experience?

    I did both. The abortion was a relief, and it was done because there was NO way i ever wanted to lose another child to adoption. The adoption destroyed me and the grief is still crippling 30 years later. I have nightmares and panic attacks in the night, nightmares of babies being stolen away from mothers the way that my baby was stolen from me. This is severe PTSD. Abortion was little more than a 15 minute D&C that got rid of some unwanted cells that were not even human yet.

    If more women who had abortions with no ill results actually stood up and spoke up about it, the stigma surrounding abortion would disappear, because for 99 out of 100 women who have it done, there IS no guilt, grief, or hardship. If you come from an anti-choice background where patriarchal values that denigrate women's rights are rampant, if your church has convinced you that you should feel guilty, then a woman will feel the way she is told by her Minister that she should feel -- what she needs is counselling.

  7. I agree with Improper Adoptee and Mandy...

    We can grieve the loss of a child to death, but not to adoption. We know that more likely our child is alive but we have no idea who/where he is. Any kind of grieving is stuck in perpetual limbo...

    Unless you have walked in our moccasins, you have no right to say what is or isn't worse...

  8. This is kind of off topic, but I notice that FMF is getting more and more hard-edged. As a blogger myself, I understand that it's hard to come up with new topics everyday, or even a few times a week. But I liked you better when you were more supportive of real-life first mother issues/feelings, more about stories and how to deal with situations, than political and adversarial. But hey, it's your blog! Just my humble opinion.

    I'd be interested to hear your thinking on this change.

  9. Poster idea for an abortion clinic:
    Considered adoption? Try one today! But, consider this as well: You'll most likly live with the soul numbing, unresolved pain of never knowing if your adopted-away child is suffereing from the loss of YOU. And then consider that next time you're facing an unplanned pregnancy; You just might chose US.

    That is MY experience.
    I've had both and I wouldn't wish adoption on my worst enemy. The loss of 'human cells' pales in comparison to the loss of a child carried to term, taken at birth, hiden with strangers, and then "erased" from the memory of everyone---except YOU. No one is expected to suffer in life long silence about the loss of a child except those of us who "chose" adoption.

    Abortion clinic poster idea #2:
    Adoption. Welcome to hell!

    If adoption seperation was really all that swell for Mothers and their children we'd all surely know it by now and we wouldn't be needing to brow beat every pregnant woman with poster art asking her to give it a try.
    Women aren't that stupid.

  10. "it may hurt to give one's child up for Adoption for some women, spending the rest of your life knowing you killed your innocent baby is much worse."
    It "may" hurt to give a child up for adoption?? No doubt about it, and it hurts two people - the Mother and the child.
    As for killing your innocent baby... we are talking about abortion not delivering your child in the bathroom and then throwing it into a dumpster in the alley. Please don't use the same tactics that cruel intentioned 'pro-life' advocate use to hurt women caught in tragic situations.
    I would never give a child up because I was given up and know the heart ache. When I was 19 I gave birth to a beautiful daughter, she died of a heart dysfunction. Five years later I got pregnant again - there wasn't any question as to what I was going to do. When a pregnancy ends naturally it's called a spontaneous abortion and the result is the same as an induced abortion - cells forming a type of fungal organism are expelled from the body. My daughter was an “innocent baby” because I carried her full term and she survived birth – breathing on her own.

  11. “Dominus' piece was about putting "consider adoption" posters in abortion clinics”: How about putting those posters in alleys and on roadsides, public bathrooms?? Adoption is a choice (sometimes not freely made) and disposing of your new born like so much unwanted clutter is a choice, but Abortion… well for those of us who have had an abortion it was not a ‘choice’. Abortion is a necessity – it is not a decision that was come to as an either/or. Before anyone has an abortion there has been a personally altering experience in their life – maybe it’s 3 – 4 – 5 other children and no money, maybe the knowledge of an hereditary illness, maybe abuse, impending death, or just not being able to part with a child. We don’t know what or how anyone comes to abortion but we all have to acknowledge that it was not a flight of fancy.
    To put “consider adoption” posters in an abortion clinic is an invasion of privacy.

  12. When I found myself pregnant at 18, I chose to have an abortion. Adoption was never an option for me. As an adoptee, knew how much it hurt.
    Abortion seemed a much more humane option than adoption ever did. That is what I chose and to this day I have no regret.

  13. CullyRay said, "How about putting those (condsider adoptioon) posters in alleys and on roadsides, public bathrooms??"

    Good point, Cully.
    Rather than promoting legal anonymous abandonment, as so-called "safe haven" proponents do.

  14. I feel like we are being totally sold down the river by Planned Parenthood. Of course, I am not surprised since that is a "women's rights" group, supported by NOW and that group is lousy with adopters. The womb-fresh, healthy, white infant is no longer a blessing but a comodity.

    I lost two children to adoption and never got over it. My daughter aborted and has adjusted quite well. Her grieving had a resolution. Mine hasn't.

    There are certain things in which business (the adoption industry), religion (the social engineers) and government have no right to insert their propaganda. A woman's reproductive choices definitely make that list.

  15. I don't get NOW. They are really becoming a disappointment. They used to advocate for a paycheck for stay-at-home moms, of all things--a sort of social benefit that I think a few European nations have. Then they got distracted by the abortion thing--can't really blame them, but still. Now it's like they're a shadow of their former selves. To the detriment of the rest of us.

    Someone said more women need to share their abortion stories that had positive outcomes. Here's something for ya.


    It's awesome. Pretty garish colors though, so prepare to be blinded for a moment or two.

    I love my son (the child I lost to grandparent adoption), but if I had it to do over I'd have told his dad to take a hike rather than marry him, so my son never would have existed anyway, so... Better the brief pain than the years-long hurt. But he is already here so I hope he makes the best of it.

    Anti-choice people are always so horrified when we say things like this. They don't understand, and I've given up trying to explain.

  16. I'm with Robin. Planned Parenthood is NO friend of women or of the "women's rights" movement. They make money off of women just as agencies make money off of women as well.

    With that being said, there is a blog entry over at Cassi's blog that comes to mind. http://adoptiontruth-casjoh.blogspot.com/2009/05/protecting-woman-and-child.html

    I can't tell you how much this post resonated with me when I read it & still does today..Especially when the topic of adoption vs. abortion comes up so frequently. It simply is not that simple.

  17. I'm a little confused by the author's argument. I do not think that there is no question that a woman has a right to make her own well reasoned choice concerning what is best for her while pregnant but I was disturded as I read the blog. I seems that the author is implying that it would be better to not have give birth to her child than to have had her adopted and have the child have to dealt with the residual trauma associated with the adoption. That seems like an extreme viewpoint.
    I can respect the pain of first mothers who have surrendered their children to adoption I just wonder what the adult child of this first mother feels about this argument.

    I reinterate that I do believe that each woman has a choice to abort I do however, think that termination of a pregnancy is the ending of the life of an unborn child. I can understand while that may be easier for some women to live with, one does not wish to know how the child grew up where it is if it is happy as it is no longer living and not able to experience anything pain or pleasure longing or satisfaction. My main thought, as I stated earlier, is how does the adult child think of this argument from its first mother? Is it painful to hear?

  18. Thanks, etropic, that is a thoughtful post in the link you have provided. My feelings about abortion are that I do not personally believe in it so I never had one, but do not see it as my place to tell other women what to do. Yes, I would be happy to see those whose situations are not dire choose life, but that is their choice not mine or anyone else's.

    Planned Parenthood does provide a lot of free health services for women who otherwise could not afford them, including gyn exams and birth control. They are not just about abortion, and while I find the "consider adoption" posters offensive, I doubt they will have any effect on women who have already decided on abortion.

    Also agreeing with the post you linked to, the real way to get some women to carry pregnancies to term rather than abort is to offer real assistance for parenting, no adoption. The real choice for women considering abortion is overwhelmingly between abortion and parenting. Adoption is not a viable alternative, and should not be presented as such.

  19. Would my life has been less screwed up, would I have had an easier life, would I have spent fewer tears in my lifetime so far if I had had an abortion? Yes, absolutely.

    Did I love my daughter any less because I did try to have an abortion but it was too late? No. Once she was born all the maternal feelings were there, strong and long and everlasting. When you talk about "residual trauma," let us just say at times I feel it is like hell on earth. Since I gave up my daughter I have been a condemned woman in a condemned life.

    My husband, who is not adopted, once heard that his mother, during the Depression, had tried to have an abortion. Yet they had a strong and loving relationship that endured until she died.

    Some of you have feelings about abortion that preclude them ever and for any reason; I don't object to your feeling that way. I understand that abortion is a complicated issue for you.

    But that is your life, your way of seeing things. It is not mine, nor that of the many birth mothers who have had both an abortion and an adoption in their lives.

  20. Maryanne~
    I am curious, what services are free at PP as I have used their clinics many times in the past & ALWAYS had to pay a hefty price. I'm not talking about a sliding scale either, I had to pay full price even when I wasn't employed. I don't say these things to be argumentative but question the statement of "free" being used in regards to their services. Especially since their federal funding has significantly been reduced over the years. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/18/planned-parenthoods-missing-millions/?page=2

    The reason I ask this is because if I had access to Plan B, I feel I wouldn't have had to place my oldest son for adoption. Back in 1999 they charged a flat rate of $65 for plan B.
    You know for me, the solution to this debate of adoption vs abortion is simple: compromise.

    I would simply like to see both sides of the adoption/abortion debate come to some compromise(I can dream can't I?) I would like to see sex education be more inclusive when it comes to educating our youth about what safe sex is. (I think our stories as first mothers and the effects of BOTH adoption & abortion NEED to be included in that discussion.) I think young women should be the ones who are getting free birth control, not the young men who are being told "here, as long as you use a this you are ok." I'm tired of that lie. I think condoms should come with a package of spermicide & Plan B personally. It takes two to have sex so why not make it a "package deal" & cover both people involved? It sure beats the alternative of an unplanned pregnancy! Maybe then we wouldn't need EITHER abortion providers or adoption agencies? Yeah, I'm DEFINITELY dreaming now...

  21. It grates on my nerves when I hear people say, "I would never do it, but I'm ok with someone else choosing it." It always sounds so judgmental to me. One never knows what they are capable of until they are faced with having to make certain decisions. Abortion being one of those decisions. There are HUNDREDS of unimaginable situations that might bring someone to consider abortion. (Which is why I will always support the OPTION for ALL WOMEN to have an abortion. As long as adoption is around, abortion should be as well)I bet if you asked most of the women here who are first mothers, a lot of them would tell you they never thought in a million years they would be able to place a child for adoption..especially if they knew then what they know...Never say never for you don't know what the future may hold.

  22. Etropic, I am so old I am not sure what "Plan B" is!:-)Also too old to worry about abortion for myself, menopause took care of that.

    Thinking about what you have said, though, I realize if I had been raped and got pregnant I would probably have chosen early abortion. I could not imagine carrying the baby of a brutal rapist.

    I do not think it "judgmental" to say you would never do something others might have no problem doing. That is just stating a personal feeling or belief, not telling anyone else what they should or should not do.

    I agree that both boys and girls should have realistic sex education and access to birth control and reproductive health care. I think abortion should be legal, done as early as possible, and not taken lightly or used as birth control. I do feel it is taking a potential life, but that sometimes it is the lesser evil and justified.

    Have not dealt with Planned Parenthood in years but did not have to pay anything when my husband was unemployed and I was a clinic patient.

  23. I feel for those who have suffered by of giving a child up for adoption, but can't you at least take some solace in the fact that your child is alive and thriving today? Perhaps you don't know where. Perhaps you never got to know them. Perhaps they feel abandon and hurt. But so what, they are alive. Yes, you had to deal with the not knowing, I suppose in that case ignorance is bliss and that is the the gift of abortion. But, after having an abortion don't you ever wonder who your unborn child may have been or what they may have accomplished? Is it really that easy to put them out of your mind?

    Life is full of emotional hardships that we must struggle with everyday. Sometimes there is no getting over them, sometimes you just have to deal with pain of your decisions and learn from it. That does not mean you should ignore the good that comes of those decisions. Quite often our mistakes can be blessings.

    A number of people here have said that they were given up at birth and have felt the pain of this throughout their lives. Is that some way of saying they themselves wish they were aborted? Is the pain that great that you can't appreciate your live at all? Its hard to move forward when that kind of emotional baggage is placed on you so early in life, but at least you have your life to move forward with. None of you who where given up for adoption ever thought when you were going in for an abortion that, once upon a time I was that small cluster of cells? None of you have ever appreciative that your unknown mothers chose to give you up to someone better suited instead of terminating you?

    I don't hope to change anyone's mind with this post, I'm sure your minds have been made up through your experiences and heart aches, but from my point of view, from my experiences, life is nothing but heart ache when that is all you choose to focus on. There is tremendous pain in life, if you focus on it, it will consume you. But, if you can appreciate life, and see what is, for what is, instead of what it seems to be when colored by pain, then all things are bearable.

    Good luck all, I hope you can make peace with your choices, whatever they may be.

  24. It's worth noting that that adoptees, including "Ithaka" author Sarah Saffian choose abortion over adoption when faced with unplanned pregnancies. I know adoptees and adoptive parents who are strong supporters of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

    Even though adoption is promoted aggressively and legislators in some states create as many obstacles as they can constitutionally can to abortion, women have voted on this issue with their choice. There's 1.3 million abortions each year in the US and only 14,000 adoptions. As a practical matter, the US could not absorb the 1.2 million+ babies that would be born if abortion disappeared.

    The way to reduce abortions is to make birth control and sex education more widely available and increase supports to poor families, both of which many abortion opponents oppose.

    I've met several women who gave up a child for adoption and chose abortion when they had a second unplanned pregnancy. All agree that the pain of abortion dissipates soon after the procedure but the pain of losing a child to adoption lingers on no matter how much they focus on the positives of adoption.

  25. Well, the first rather large report on relinquishing mothers (the best translation of the used concept afstandsmoeders) in the Netherlands has been published.

    Main conclusion: Offering adoption as abortion alternative is USELESS in reducing the number of abortions, it is too horrible. Most relinquishing women were unable to get an abortion in the first place, for different reasons. I should point out that the more numerous women, who went in and out the relinquishment process without loosing their baby (to adoption) were not considered.

    Yes, the unmarried mother helping and pro-life organisations already knew that and said so(!), four years ago, but it is still interesting to read that it is true. In case you want to have a summay, just say so.

    Oh, and at least one relinquished that baby, because aborting the previous pregnancy had been that bad...

  26. Thanks Jane for steering me toward this post. It is VERY insightful and will be helpful in guiding my thinking.



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