' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The lie behind the question: Aren't those kids better off adopted?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The lie behind the question: Aren't those kids better off adopted?

Aren't kids better off adopted? That's the underlying argument of adoption apologists who feel the answer is an obvious yes. "Maybe mothers were misled about adoption or fathers were tricked by Utah's laws into losing their rights, but at the end of the day, aren't the kids better off with living in an intact family with more money who can give them better opportunities?"

Now that shame no longer propels young women to give their babies to strangers, the adoption industry relies on "better off" to acquire children. Mothers aren't giving up their babies; they are giving them more. American Adoptions, for example, claims that: "...birth mothers are choosing life for their child--a life complete with all of the hugs, laughter and lullabies that they desire for them.... Birth mothers place their babies into the arms of eternally grateful
loving families that will spend their days appreciating the gift that a special woman gave them."

Advocates for international adoption use the "better off" arguments in spades with a dose of divine destiny thrown in. "God wants us to rescue children from Russian orphanages or mud huts in Uganda," they argue conveniently ignoring the kidnapping and corruption which brings these children to our shores. 

What's wrong with the "better off" argument? For starters, the Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Child Welfare League of America, and numerous other experts on child welfare tell us that the vast majority of children are in fact better off with their biological families, even if these families are headed by a single parent struggling to make ends meet.

I'm sure we will hear from adoptive parents who will comment that their children's birth parents are imprisoned for major felonies, drug addicts, mothers who have had a zillion kids with a zillion different fathers and abandoned them all, and so on.

For most of the 15,000 infants each year given up for adoption in the United States, however, this is not the case. We know this because the adoption agencies and attorneys who place these children promise their mothers that they can be actively involved with them through open adoption which the courts would not allow if the mothers were a threat. The children are given up because young parents like Catelynn and Tyler of 16 and Pregnant fame buy into the "better off" myth.

Although social scientists today favor family preservation, that view can change and the opinions of those who advocate redistributing children from natural parents to "better" parents might dominate if this trend continues, just as it did a few decades ago when Lorraine and I gave up our daughters. Fortunately the right of parents to nurture their children has greater protection than the changing views of social scientists: the U.S. Supreme Court has held it as an intrinsic liberty right which can be taken away only after due process.*

Last week, however, the majority of the Supreme Court glossed over these decisions in holding that the Indian Child Welfare Act protected only "intact" families, ruling against Dusten Brown, an unmarried Indian father who sought to raise his daughter, now three and a half. She has been living with him for more than a year.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor (herself the child of a poor immigrant family with an alcoholic father and a distant mother) noted the folly in focusing on the "intact" family:
"The majority's focus on 'intact' families ... begs the question of what Congress set out to accomplish with ICWA. In an ideal world, perhaps all parents would be perfect. They would live up to their parental responsibilities by providing the fullest possible financial and emotional support to their children They would never suffer mental health problems, lose their jobs, struggle with substance dependency, or encounter any of the other multitudinous personal crises that can make it difficult to meet these responsibilities. In an ideal world parents would never become estranged and leave their children caught in the middle. But we do not live in such a world. Even happy families do not always fit the custodial-parent mold for which the majority would reserve IWCA's substantive protections; unhappy families all too often do not. They are families nonetheless."
In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia put it more succinctly: "We do not inquire whether leaving a child with his parents is 'in the best interest of the child.' It sometimes is not; he would be better off raised by someone else. But parents have their rights, no less than children do."

Let me add: The "better off" argument is not limited to child welfare; it has been used historically to justify all manner of exploitation by the powerful. Europeans claimed native Americans, Asian, and Africans were better off under European rule, allowing Europeans to exploit these people and their lands. Before the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many Southerners argued that "darkies were better off in the south" because "we take care of them while Northerners left them to fend for themselves and they get into trouble.

As we celebrate the birth of our nation, we at First Mother Forum hold this truth to be self-evident. Our hope is that the South Carolina court comes to the same conclusion--again--and lets a father who wants to raise her daughter do so.

The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption
"The Child Catchers is a shocking exposé of what the adoption industry has become and how it got there, told through deep investigative reporting and the heartbreaking stories of individuals who became collateral damage in a market driven by profit and, now, pulpit command."--Amazon
Jane's review:
The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too
From FMF
Giving Up Your Baby?
The Child Catchers exposes the stench of international adoption--and domestic adoption too
Catelynn and Tyler--still grieving over the loss of their daughter
(Pro) Adoption Special: Dr. Drew encourages teen moms to give up their babies
How the Internet is changing adoption
Supreme Court rules against Indian father. limits Indian Child Welfare Act
Natural parents have the natural right to nurture their children

*Smith v. Organization of Foster Families for Equality & Reform, 431 U.S. 816. 845 (1977)
Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 68 (2000)
Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl (2013)
American Adoptions
Sonia Sotomayor

Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self  The title says it all: the lifelong search for identity. If being adopted was so great, adoptees would not embark on a "lifelong search for self." A personal favorite of Lorraine's explaining the adoptee sensibility.

"Like Passages, this  groundbreaking book uses the poignant, powerful voices of  adoptees and adoptive parents to explore the  experience of adoption and its lifelong effects. A major  work, filled with astute analysis and moving truths."--Amazon   .


  1. this is written well and speaks to the logical heart. yet the numbers do not lie. children are in considerable more danger statistically in adoption/foster care. judges and money lovers need to know this. poverty is not a disease. poverty can teach resourcefulness. and mothers are entitled to financial assistance this is why taking a baby away from the poor is more difficult (they know there are programs). much less that d#$@ adoption tax credit (that is just plain abuse). thanks for a well written article

  2. Just getting my post here before the adopters do spewing their adoption agenda they saved a baby.

    My son was part of Baby Scoop Era 66. He had an a single "mom" soon after he was adopted by the then married "mom" so strange as I was single mom too. But I wasn't qualified by social mores of the time to parent. Although, I was as I had a daughter previous to my son his full sister. She was ok to be raised by me but second time around my step thing decided to punish me with adoption. Religious nut who ended up having three crazies of his own although no grandkids. Pay back a bitch...lol

    My son would have been fine with me and better off. He was raised ok but knowing his blood would have given him so much more than he had a old male adopter grandpa age who bailed early. Paid no support, and basically left the female adopter with two kids she was lucky enough to adopt with that wedding band.

    He also would not have suffered emotionally from second husband of his female adopter. Denying him food or even a sandwich. Such fine upstanding people...

    My son and I are in a good long standing relationship. We love each other. See each other live 6 miles away. Thankfully, I found him before he had lost his adopter she died a year or so ago. He would have been pretty much alone with a daughter and adopted sib which isn't around much. Glad he knows the truth and that I love and loved him more than he will ever know.


  3. I just read Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography which I highly recommend. She is a brave woman who overcame some heavy odds to get where she is today and it does not surprise me that she has a good word for less than perfect families staying together.

    I really hope that the lower court rules in favor of Dusten Brown keeping the daughter who has lived with him for over a year during which he has proved a fit parent. In this case, shame on the prospective adopters for pursuing a cause that can only hurt the child.

    Yes, some children are better off being adopted, because of extreme bad conditions in the natural family. That is not the situation here though, from all I have read about it. Each case is different, and should be evaluated on its own merits, with money and coercion taken out of any adoption, and natural parents given real choice and opportunity. Adoption means a different life, which may or may not be "better" and for many of our kids was worse.

  4. Interestingly enough, someone posted on FB on my page or a page I was on that Baby Veronica would be better off with the adopted parents, The Capobiancos. Why? She didn't have a reason other than Just Because.

    I asked her a couple of times what her connection was.

    Finally got an answer: Adoptive parent looking for the birth mother of her children.

    So it goes.

  5. It will soon be 24 years since my son and I reunited. Hard to believe it has been that long. He died almost 6 years ago, from cancer. I miss him terribly.

    When we were first reunited, I constantly told people about the joys of reunion, and the pain of that original loss, and was astonished at their lack of interest.
    Mostly, the response I got from people was along the lines of: "well, let me tell you about my friends. They have tried to have a baby for so long. Do you know of any pregnant girls?"

    People seemed to see me as an endless supplier of babies, somehow, for other people. I think that it is very difficult for people in general to see first/natural/ mothers and their adopted-away children as the family that we are.

    No matter what kind of lives our children had or will have, adoption is seen as better than we would have been. Adoption was designed to be a "solution" to the so-called "problem" of "unwed mothers and children" and therefore adoptions' supporters are determined to never see us as anything but inferior.

    I see adoption as a problem(even open adoption) in itself because it divides families, and is presumptive. It presumes children will be harmed by being raised by their own families, presumes atrangers are better, and presumes strangers won't harm.

  6. kitta, that may be one of the most bone-headed, cruel things I've EVER heard of anyone saying to ANYONE. (And Lorraine can attest I've heard quite a bit.)

    Given how terribly excited people get over pregnancy and birth, the idea that your own was seen merely as a conduit to fulfill other peoples' desires is... well, words fail me.

    May the memory of your son endure as a blessing. I'm glad you reunited, although for far too short a time.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Kitta's experience may be extreme, but not all that unusual. Maybe because my friends and even casual acquaintances know that I can't possibly be an adoption enabler, I haven't heard anything quite that gross; but I do know that people still see adoption as a "solution." The people I know seem to be only the ones who need that "solution" to "build a family," a phrase that I think emanates from the Donaldson crowd and makes me ill from the getgo.

    There is still the attitude, well, you got on with your life, you didn't end up in a garbage dump somewhere, or on the streets, so...what's wrong? the insensitive people who speak to Kitta need a lesson in compassion.

    I am only aware of one family where their daughter became pregnant (after her mother publicly railed against giving her birth control while she as in high school; the girl became pregnant at a Christian college her first year, the baby was kept). Other than that, my world is one where adoption and anonymous IVF is a "solution."

    At least, why can't anonymous IVF be outlawed in America? It is sickening that it is not. Now I am hearing of more cases of that for the grandchildren of my peer group.

  9. This comment is related to this post as well as the previous one about Wendy Davis of Texas. It's a bit off topic but still relevant.

    The pro-life movement goes way beyond wanting to outlaw abortion. They also want to make many kinds of birth control illegal, as they consider some forms of contraception to be de facto abortifacients. They also want a world where sex is only for married couples.

    People are often surprised that so many pro-lifers are opposed to social benefits such as welfare, Medicaid, etc., that would help single mothers keep their babies and not consider abortion. But I think their positions are remarkably consistent. They want a return to a 1950s/60s mentality. They do not want a world full of single mothers. I believe they want 'unwed' mothers to have no other options other than giving their children up for adoption. And just think, they can then get into the adoption business and make a ton of money.

    See a very illuminating article "How I lost faith in the pro life movement" by Libby Anne, written by someone who was formerly very active in the pro-life movement.

  10. Our losses as mothers are not as important as not being able to have a baby. We were lowly pregnant unmarried woman who didn't deserve to keep our own babies.

    I shared about my reunion too, but noticed even some females, in my family were uncaring always tooting horn of adopters. Even the ones who weren't good parents but had to have a baby any baby because the couldn't have their own.

    My own mother who did not help me keep my son, but had helped me at a younger age keep full sister to my son still gives kudos to her brother and ex sister in law for the wonderful "parents" they were not true my mom's brother only agreed to adoption because his wife was going to sign papers for divorce. My uncle was horrible my mom would NEVER admit truth, sadly.
    the "son" he adopted turned out horrible drug infested, alcoholic.
    I keep telling my mom he needs to find his family.
    Another, family member a cousin was in divorce court they decided to not get divorce, put in for adoption, got girl months later were pregnant. Their "daughter" said to adopter when she had her baby this is my only relative.

    Experiences, in my family with adoption. Another friend of my step thing adopted a young girl, Canadian I think they were older. Not sure of what happened but they had foreign girls come and babysit. What type of checking was done to protect child they adopted? Scary, thing to me with all abuses of kids.

  11. What happened to the post about tyler and Catelyn on "Couples therapy"? I can't seem to find it


  12. I was confused to but here it is:

    How does a baby feel about being a "gift"?

    When you want to find a post about a particular subject, use the search function in the very top upper left and put in key words, such as "Couples Therapy".

    You can find this by scrolling down on the initial page.

  13. just found this:

    Wed 7.24
    10:00 PM

    Fear Of The Future

    After Tyler calls of their wedding, a heartbroken Catelyn meets with Dr. Jenn for help with her broken heart. Liz takes a pregnancy test that comes up...

  14. I found your blog in some exasperated googling after one too many people told me that "we could always adopt!" when my third pregnancy ended in a miscarriage.

    My ears perked up at the mention of anonymous IVF. I'm an anonymous donor sperm baby, probably one of the first generation who were conceived that way and knew it (I'm 24). I have been told repeatedly that I'm crazy, disrespect or ungrateful to my parents for wanting to meet my donor and learn about this part of my past. It's outrageous that a part of my own medical history is denied to me, and I'd like to see the practice of anonymous donors banned.


    The other day I heard this outrageous story from friends about their highly educated friend's daughter who has a child under a year old from an anonymous sperm donor: The sperm came from a professional poker player. The child is nine months old. The mother is now watching professional poker to see if she can find someone who looks like the child. Others who heard this laughed.

    I didn't know what to say. I thought: How do you all think the child is going to feel about this?

    Incidentally, we have written about anonymous sperm donation several times. Use "sperm donor" in the search function in the upper left corner and you should get a few posts that you may find interesting and helpful.

    Ignore those people who tell you that being curious makes you ungrateful etc. They all know their full and true heritage. Curiosity is the sign of an intelligent mind.



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