' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Infertility may be Earth's way of slowing population growth

Monday, October 28, 2013

Infertility may be Earth's way of slowing population growth

                                                               Added to on Wednesday, 10/30
To adopt or not adopt (except from foster care) has become the subject of lively discussion in the commentary fostered by the previous blog, about a couple who advertised themselves and their healthy lifestyle on Facebook as they attempt to find someone willing to give them her newborn.

Advertising for a first mother--or as someone said, "identify a birth mother"--is so scary and futuristic I feel as if I have stepped into a Ray Bradbury movie like Farenheit 451, only this one would be called Baby Hunger, 2013. The couple we wrote about aren't alone in their audacious advertising for a baby; recently a couple from Maryland put up a similar kind of ad on the New Jersey Turnpike at the cost of $2,000 a month. They are looking for a second child. Why advertise in New Jersey rather than their home state of Maryland? Because in New Jersey the first/birth mother only has 72 hours to nullify the proposed adoption; in
Maryland, she has 28 days. In New Jersey, you are allowed to pay living expenses while "your birth mother" incubates "your" baby. And this is different from buying a baby, how? But that's another discussion. 

Oxygen's I'm Having Their Baby does expose some of the immediate grief of relinquishing a child--and while a few strong young women decide to keep their babies--the overall effect of such the show is to make giving up your baby seem normal, even generous. As for the ads for babies, and the agencies who will take them off your hands? They are popping up everywhere: on the sides of trucks (seen in New Jersey), on paper place mats in hamburger joints that include 800 numbers of attorneys, in weekly newspapers and penny-savers under "Looking to Adopt" headings. Craigslist carries them too: 
"Looking to adopt. Any age is fine. < Adopt76 > 10/27 17:14:53
My fiancée and I would like to adopt a boy or girl, any age is fine. Because we are not married yet going through DCF is tough. We are good people and can give your child a loving home. We are willing to let you, if you choose, to be a part of the child's life. We can help you out as much as possible but we don't have tons of money and we wouldn't feel comfortable buying a child. We will pay attorney fees. My fiancée works full time and I stay home so I will have plenty of time to devote. Please email me if you would like to find a safe home for your child. Thank you so very much."
Soon I expect they will be in Seventeen. One of the effects of all this advertising is to make giving up a baby more acceptable, even attractive, to women and poor couples, at the same time abortion is being harder to come by. Yet given the state of the planet, and the resources that the burgeoning population is imposing on us, the human race should actually be restricting population growth. Certainly that is what the Chinese government has tried to do with its one-child-per-family policy that led to the abandonment of many girl children, and their adoption in the West. That occurred at the same time that many women in the West had delayed conception for education and career opportunities--and were able to do so because of more effective birth control, including legal abortion. Consequently the Chinese girl-baby export and the desire for children in this country at first appeared to be a fortuitous convergence. But of course life is not that neat and tidy, and the incredible market for babies here led to the next step: kidnapping and actual sale of children for profit there. A seemingly humane response to the Chinese government's dictum ended up with widespread corruption, and the Chinese eventually clamped down and severely restricted the number of children who exited via adoption. (Now, twenty-some years later, there is a shortage of marriageable young women.)

The burgeoning market for babies moved to other nations where a large percentage of the population is poor. Eventually more publicity about the corruption in adoption led to these nations restricting the export of one of the largest cash commodities: children. As the international marketplace for babies is becoming leaner, along with a growing awareness that moving people from culture to culture may be far from ideal, there is more pressure to find homegrown babies. Thus the ads like the one on Craigslist, and the people who trumpet their good looks and healthy lifestyle in social media. Their message is: What great parents they will be for your baby!

Government interference in a decision so personal is always problematic. Societies may voluntarily limit the number of children they produce--this is happening in Western Europe, Japan, and portions of the U.S. But unless this speeds up, the population on Earth will become unsustainable. The oceans are rising, swallowing up land that had been once habitable and usable for farming, and people are starving. Not only the Polar bears are in jeopardy. I remember reading somewhere about the increased suicide rate in parts of India where what once had been farm land had become too salty to farm. Families were starving. Fathers who could not provide were killing themselves in despair.

Perhaps all the infertility--no matter the case, age, illness or sexual preference--is part of a grander scheme to slow the rate of population growth. The infertility that becomes a baleful cry among the educated might be a good thing.

But what may be good for the Earth on a grand scale is proving difficult--even heart-breaking--on a personal level. People want a child, anybody's child. People like the Capobiancos use any legal means to take a child from a father who wants to raise her. Yes, they struggled with infertility, yes, that is painful, but that does not give them, or anyone, the right to another man's child. Given that the population growth patterns are not likely to shift, we will continue to see pressure on the less fortunate to transfer their babies to the wealthier, and that brings us back to the ads for "birth mothers" willing to give up their babies.

We here are but mere voices in the wind as we try to stem this trend. We suggest not looking for a "birth" mother, but taking in children who truly need homes, and the discussion devolves into how that isn't the answer, how difficult that is, have you tried it yourself, how dare you tell me what to do? We mention the statistics of greater thoughts of suicide among adoptees, and we are told they are likely from foster care. (In fact, they were not, and the study we refer to only included children adopted as infants.) We say giving up a child causes lifelong grief that cannot be assuaged in the normal way, and the those who would adopt say, but we offer "open adoption." But open adoption is not the solution.

Life is messy and children often end up paying the price, and there will always be adoptions. Yet the manic desperation to get a baby reflected in the billboard ads, in the media, on the Internet, glides over the unpleasant reality that that behind every “happy” adoption is a mother missing her child, and another family mourning the missing link in their family tree. And there is a child who, no matter how successful and well-adjusted or how open the adoption, who may one day wonder: Why didn’t she keep me? What was wrong with me? Why wasn't I good enough? --lorraine
See also from FMF

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman
"[W]ith a million more of us every 4.5 days on a planet that's not getting any bigger, and with our exhaust overheating the atmosphere and altering the chemistry of the oceans, prospects for a sustainable human future seem ever more in doubt. For this long awaited follow-up book, Weisman traveled to more than 20 countries to ask what experts agreed were probably the most important questions on Earth--and also the hardest: How many humans can the planet hold without capsizing? How robust must the Earth's ecosystem be to assure our continued existence? Can we know which other species are essential to our survival? And, how might we actually arrive at a stable, optimum population, and design an economy to allow genuine prosperity without endless growth?" --Amazon
An intriguing,  realistic, vividly detailed exploration of the greatest problem facing our species. 

Coming Home to Self: The Adopted Child Grows Up
by Nancy Verrier, the second book by the author of The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child

"Verrier takes you a quantifiable textbook-like journey of healing. She starts off by reviewing the traumatic effects of being separated from one's mother at the beginning of life and the impact of adoption on the brain. She then talks about anger, rage, guilt, shame, sorrow, joy, and many other emotions that adoptees experience and why. She then tackles head on what we adoptees can do about our pain in order to find our authentic self. She illustrates how important taking responsibility for our actions are paramount, how periodic "reality checks" are crucial to make sure that we are not reacting to our childhood trauma.  She points out how adoptees often misinterpret approval as love, observation as criticism, empathy as collusion, boundaries as rejection, different as wrong, disappointment as betrayal, and caring for intrusion. She reminds us that when our friend cannot accept our invitation to dinner it is not a betrayal, but simply a disappointment. Verrier also discusses reunion issues for the birth parent, adoptive parent, and siblings/spouses of triad members which is helpful for all triad members to see how the others side(s) feel. She does not shy away from difficult topics such as Genetic Sexual Attraction, difficult relationships with birth/adoptive family members, spiritual concerns, and how to deal with the adoptee in your life. Overall, this book has the feel of a resource book that can be accessed again and again, depending on the adoption issue that is pressing at the moment.(...)" Kelsey Hamner, adoption author and school psychologist at Amazon


  1. A very moving and morally courageous piece of writing Lorraine, thank you for that.

    When looked at directly, it becomes so clear how awful the whole thing is.

    Now, decades after my son's adoption, I share the incredulity of many other grieving mothers who cannot believe that they were once successfully persuaded to believe it was an acceptable thing to give our newborn baby to strangers who we had never met.
    Because that's what happened, behind the social worker's smile and all the obfuscating burble about giving them a better life etc.

    Even now, I can barely breathe with the disbelief that I once thought that made sense. I was young and persuadable, and I couldn't see how wrong that was, most especially for my darling little baby. I see it now.

  2. The first thing that jumps out at me after reading this post is....Does anyone care about the child's safety? I mean finding parents out of the Pennysaver or from a New Jersey turnpike billboard? Makes my little adoptee heart sick. I mean, even teenagers watch the news. And everyone has heard those horror stories of the family man whom everyone adored and he ends up killing his wife and kids. With so many crazy people in this world, I don't know how any adults (meaning those grandparents-to-be* who force adoption) can be persuaded that complete strangers can be guaranteed to provide a safe home for a helpless baby.

    I do agree with your premise that infertility could be nature's way of curbing the overpopulation problem.

    *I don't mean you, Kellie C.

  3. I've been around adoption land for a long long time. Have posted to alt. Adoption since being reunited with my biological parents in 1996. I'm well aware of how fraught with emotion adoption is on all sides. When my daughter began struggling with infertility I tried to steer her away from adoption as an option and concentrate on infertility treatment instead. So you would think after all this time and experience I would be beyond a lot of the stuff associated with adoption. For the most part I personally am but there are still things that irritate and/or annoy me.

    One of those things is when someone ascribes, thoughts, emotion, feelings, characterizations, etc, to a whole class of people be it adoptees, biological parents, or adoptive parents. So I have to take issue with your last statement. It is as offensive to me as an adoptee. "Why didn't she keep me?" Yes I wondered that "What was wrong with me?" "Why wasn't I good enough?" No and No. To say that every adoption has a child who will one day wonder these things no matter "how successful or well adjusted" is as insulting, demeaning, and patronizing to adoptees as saying birthmothers will 'get over' the relinquishment and 'move on' is to birthmothers,

  4. Kathy: I did change the word "will" to "may."

  5. "Perhaps all the infertility--no matter the case, age, illness or sexual preference--is part of a grander scheme to slow the rate of population growth."
    I'm not adopted, and I adopted my son. I read a lot on adoption and I really like your blog. It really help me see what my child will eventually go through. I will be there to help him realize whatever he desires when it comes to finding his birth parent. I also share your views and your criticism of the adoption industry. I am sure the world would be better if we were able to limit adoption and keep children with their family throughout the world.
    I'm just sad to read affirmations like the one you made on infertility. Infertility is a tragedy, some people deal with it in a very wrong way, but it is still a tragedy! Invoking the "grander scheme" is what those in favor of adoption do all the time!

  6. Lorraine,

    I too disagree with the Facebook, billboard ads etc. Children are not commodities and this behavior only perpetuates the view that those of us who have adopted “purchased” our children. This is also why we did not pursue domestic infant adoption where you often “advertise” your family with a “Pick Us, Pick Us!” profile.

    Nevertheless, I find it interesting that you view "identify(ing) a birth mother"—(as) so scary and futuristic,” resembling a sci-fi dystopian movie (although I would say maybe more The Handmaid’s Tale than Fahrenheit 451), while claiming “…given the state of the planet, and the resources that the burgeoning population is imposing on us, the human race should actually be restricting population growth.” This comment is also scary (and keeping with the Sci-Fi theme, right out of Logan’s Run). But unfortunately, your comment is not so futuristic. At the risk of being unfair to you, what you advocate is what has been going on in China for the past several decades, but I doubt you welcome the results of the Chinese Government’s “Grand Scheme.”

    Sci-Fi Fan

  7. Of courses the limiting of anyone's right to have children--as the China plan does--is heart-breaking, a tragedy, government interference with private decisions, but...something has to change as sustaining the population growth at the current rate is not feasible. I think I will add a graf to the blog but right now I have to take clothes out of the washing machine! Mundane tasks interfere.

  8. The post has been added to.

    We've referred to The Handmaid's Tale many times, but the futuristic and chilling tone of Fahrenheit 451--the big screen reality TV shows about plastic surgery, for instance--is more like what I imagine for my movie Baby Hunger, 2013. The next step will be people advertising on television--wait, we already have a show called, I'm Having Their Baby.

  9. Getting into the complex issue of population control here is seriously off-topic, and can lead into some areas you might rather not encourage. There are people who adopt rather than having biological children because they do not want to contribute to over-population. It is not all about infertility. Many people adopt who are not infertile.

    Nor is it necessary to say that infertility is earth's or nature's way of slowing population growth, any more than it is right for adoptive parents to say that adoption is God's will for them or a specific child, or that the child was in "the wrong tummy" but meant for them. No need to imply cosmic punishments or grander schemes to either kind of personal tragedy.

  10. As an adoptive mom, I've been reading your blog for almost 2 years. I find it to be a wonderful source of insight for me and usually a very on-point blog about the adoption industry and its many, many issues. Do I always agree? No, but your posts always make me think. But this post seemed rather retaliatory, off-topic, and not even an accurate portrayal of one of the sources you cite. Weisman's book has little to do with adoption and or infertility. His main point is that we cannot sustain our population growth, and he visits countries where women are often exploited and are not in control of their own reproduction. He explores how countries control population, not how nature might be causing infertility.

    In the US, the main cause of infertility is the higher age at which women are trying to have children. There might be environmental factors in play due to pollution. To propose that it is actually the earth and nature that is exerting a specific force upon women's fertility is inaccurate and is only science in terms of science-fiction novels or movies. That's not how biology and evolution work.

    I'm completely on board with you regarding advertising for babies. I was on board with you in your last post about the facebook page for the PAPs. But this post went a bit off the rails, so to speak, and struck me as quite cruel to insinuate that people struggling with infertility are simply earth's way of controlling the population, especially given the lack of real evidence to support such a theory. I understand wanting to reply to the comments on the other post. But if you had left out your title and the statement that all infertility is a grand design, then it would have been a much better rebuttal to those comments. Advertising for a baby is disturbing. Infertility has nothing to do with that, though, and only detracted from your otherwise excellent points.

    I don't have infertility issues, so this wasn't a personal thing for me, should anyone think my comments come from that position. I just believe that assigning punishment (unsupported by facts, at that) to a large group of individuals is unkind and takes the tact that so many others take when assigning blame to first mothers. Wrong, in both cases.

  11. Of course infertility is cruel when you desire children. So is the rising ocean to people who live on the ocean front or low lying atolls in the Pacific. I don't know what will happen in the future; but I do know that the infertility noted by people--mostly educated professional westerners--is a real phenomenon, and has led to the rise of the Baby Hunger. My ramblings may find some of your as off target, but they are my thoughts. Something has to slow the population growth.

    I do not cite the book as the source of my opinion, I just offer it as backup about the population problem.

  12. Perhaps global warming is earth's way of slowing population growth. Maybe the low-lying Pacific atolls are collateral damage for the promotion of the cause?

    Upon hearing news reports of deaths following the next natural disaster, perhaps we should all have a moment of silence for those who sacrificed themselves to fulfill another of the earth's methods of slowing population growth?

    Considering we all live on this planet and are part of nature's supposed design, maybe the "human condition" or the sum of human frailties is part of the grand scheme to control the earth's population.

    Mental illness has a purpose as does homicide and suicide. They are, after all, part of the natural course.

    Perhaps war and genocide is also a way, especially if the the victims are of a "fanatic" religious minority we don't agree with.

    Maybe eugenics and euthanasia are acceptable because they also, in effect, control population growth, especially of undesirables.

    Infanticide (abortion) is also quite effective. Oh, and it is already quite acceptable these days.

    With this line of thinking I would be thinking just like those who believe AIDS and STDs are God's way of punishing gays, prostitutes/Johns and rapists so as to rid the earth of immorality. People also die from these things.

    Maybe infertility is the earth's way of punishing the world for the abominations of the adoption industry.

    Maybe adoption is the earth's way of controlling population growth. Hmm...

  13. I agree with your theory that Mother Nature/the Earth, what have you, does affect population growth. I don't have any facts to prove that, and it may sound callous to some, but I don't think this theory is farfetched. I even think that the plagues in history were the universe restructuring the population. It's why we die. We have to leave so that others can populate the earth.

  14. "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds."

  15. In this case, I do have to agree with Tiffany. I don't really like people saying that infertility is nature's way of curbing the population because one can start getting on a slippery slope of saying that other things are nature's way of curbing the population.

    Whatever issues I might have with people like Childless by circumstance/Greg, it is not their actual infertility. I do feel great compassion for him that he has a genetic abnormality making him infertile. On the other hand, that doesn't mean that I think adoption should just exist for those with infertility. There is often where the disconnect is - there are those who say "But if adoption didn't exist, how would we become parents" and they just can't understand why people get upset about that.

    I know it is hard to keep taking the high road. However, regardless of how or why a person is infertile, it is not my business and I won't judge them for their actual infertility whatever the cause. However, some people with infertility have allowed their infertility to become more important than the rights of others and that is where I have my issues. To be fair, I think also that the IF and adoption industry have encouraged those feelings of entitlement, however I can't see it changing in the US - it certainly won't be us adoptees and first mothers who will be effective in any change there despite what some seem to think. When the fox is guarding the henhouse, he aint going to listen to the hens. However, he might be open to listening to other foxes.

  16. Other commenters have done a great job of pointing out some flaws in your argument here. I am one of those who adopted by choice; I thought, why bring another child into the world when there are already so many kids who need homes? I didn't adopt babies, all my kids were older, orphaned or abandoned. Did nature take the lives of my children's first parents to control population? Did God take their lives so they could be my children? No and no. This post is pretty nonsensical.

  17. Have none of you ever heard about the theory that all organisms ultimately work together to preserve their species? Starts at the cellular level and works its way up to humans.

  18. Here in the U.K. ' it's not the earth's way of slowing down the population' it's the dreaded CHLAMYDIA, that is slowing down the population, causing infertility, then when interviewed about infertility, the first sentence heard, is WE WILL ADOPT.

  19. I placed my daughter through an open adoption 24 years ago. When I learned I was pregnant, I did what every smart young woman does with an unplanned pregnancy, planned for an abortion. It would not have been the first time. Then I came across a 3-fold color brochure from a couple who wanted to adopt. They wrote eloquently about their desire for a child and the life they believed they had to offer. I didn’t choose that couple for my child, but I did choose adoption and would not have done it had I not seen that brochure. If I were that same young woman living in today’s world, chances are that 3-fold brochure would have instead been a page on Facebook.

    My daughter is one of those accomplished, well-adjusted adoptees Lorraine mentions. I don’t believe she struggles with the questions posed by Lorraine, since I have had the opportunity to answer those questions for her, but even if she did, life gives us all a cross to bear. That is, if we have life. I suppose the child that is aborted, and by being so saves us the additional burden on the world’s resources by reducing the population, probably has the answer to the questions “Why did she kill me?” “What was wrong with me?” “Why wasn’t I good enough to live?” I have often asked myself if that were the case when I looked into the face of a child that was the same age as the one I aborted would have been at the time. I ask myself “Was it a boy or a girl?”, “Would she look like me?”, “Would she be smart like my mom or funny like my dad?” “What would she be doing now?” “Does she blame me for ending her life?” I will never know the answer to any of those questions, but I do know she did not live, did not get to love and be loved, did not get to laugh and never got a chance to cry. Because I ended that life before it left me.

    Ads for aborion organizations and education about abortion are everywhere. In the U.S., you would be hard pressed to find a 20-year old woman who doesn’t know how to get an abortion. Our government funds the organizations that advertise to young women (and men) encouraging abortions, a procedure that earns hundreds of millions of dollars a year. These same organizations advertise on Craigslist. Guess what else? These organizations have Facebook pages! And the author has a problem with couples advertising for adoption on the same website. Because people who can’t have a baby and want one should not be able to reach the population who are pregnant and don’t? Because women should be encouraged to abort their children, but not to place them for adoption? Because giving birth to the unplanned child, who apparently has less right to life than those who are planned, goes against some higher power’s plan for a group of individuals not to have children? What poppycock!

    If some higher power’s answer to over population is making individuals with the desire and wherewithal to have children infertile, we’re screwed. A “grandeur scheme” would have been a massive meteorite. Personally, I refuse to follow such an incompetent power and prefer my to put faith in mankind, especially those who have a burning, aching, driving, desire to raise and care for a child even going so far as to advertise that fact on Facebook and in those terrified, but loving, trusting, and faithful individuals who give them theirs.



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