' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: The thriving domestic adoption craze

Friday, April 24, 2015

The thriving domestic adoption craze

Lorraine and reunited daughter, Jane 
 Earlier this week we covered the subject of children who might be adopted who are in foster care, and international, or intercountry adoption. Today we finish this chapter talking about the reality of adopting today in America, a topic that seems particularly relevant after a recent comment at the previous blog from a woman who signs herself: Birthmumof2.

She wrote of having a good, open adoption with the adoptive parents of her two full siblings she has relinquished to a family she knows and trusts. She baby-sits for the children; the parents and she trust each other. Yet it was the ease with with she relinquished a second child with the same father as the first that we and
several of our readers took exception, as we and several adoptees chided her for the displaying the sense that the situation is such a good one for all parties concerned. Perhaps it is not so great for the children.

Our feeling is that Birthmumof2 today is part of the new wave of natural mothers who feel that little or no harm come to the children, as long as they are well taken care of, and the mother gets to play a part on their upbringing. As fellow blogger Jane noted, it is as if she found a good nanny for her children--as she the mother "sees them as often as she wants." This kind of mindset could only happen in a country where adoption has come to be seen as an option of equal standing to raising your child, a zeitgeist that is a result of the endless marketing of the "adoption option." The concluding part to:  What about those children who need to be adopted? 

Delve into domestic adoption in America, and one is immediately aware of the great “shortage” of babies, of waiting times, of the women with child who change their minds—even of women who pretend to be pregnant and scam couples desperate for a child.

The demand for newborns in America has given rise to a thriving industry, worth more than $2.6 billion annually. Commerce rules, and prices are set by supply and demand. Caucasian children can cost up to $40,000; African American babies can be had for $4,000. It is appalling, but it is the reality of adoption today.

The internet is the great marketplace for private agency adoptions—profit or non-profit, it matters not, everyone is well paid. Would-be adoptive parents—and expectant mothers—have used Craig’s List as a baby bazaar. Photographs of attractive couples advertising for a baby, along with their hobbies and interests, are depicted on Facebook and at agency websites as if on Match.com. In fact, they are not dissimilar because they are hoping to reassure women their babies will have “a better life” than the usually poor and vulnerable mothers-to-be can possibly afford.

Today it is not just unfortunate teens who are encouraged to make a “gift” of the child to a worthy, middle class couple or individual, married women overcome with financial need or who are uncomfortable with abortion are also part of the hunt for babies. It’s not unknown for adoption attorneys and workers to become friendly with nurses in the obstetrics departments who tip them off when a vulnerable woman gives birth. Workers at fertility clinics are known to get bonuses for referring clients whose attempts at in vitro fertilization (IVF) failed to shady operations with a pipeline to children from other poor countries. Conservative religions such as the Mormon church encourage unmarried women to surrender their babies. In fact, because of the influence of the Mormons on state policies, Utah, the seat of the church, has such lax adoption policies it became known as the go-to state for adoptions in this country.

Yet no matter from where the child comes, one basic fact remains: Children are transferred from the poor to the wealthy. Poverty continues to be the main cause of giving up a child to be raised by others. Yes, there will always be a need to people to open their hearts and homes to other people’s children, but the way the majority of non-family adoptions transpire today confirms that the system is not designed to provide homes for children in need, but instead to supply couples with babies. As with any commodity, demand drives the market. In countries where private adoptions are pretty much outlawed, and the state controls the process and there is no money to be made, adoption becomes the solution of last resort and extremely uncommon. The numbers are minuscule compared to the United States.

The adoption rate of infants in the United States is approximately twenty-five times greater than that of England and Wales.* Stimulated by commerce, encouraged by an attitude that everyone can remake themselves into something new, the number of adoptions in America is largely reflective of a cultural phenomenon.--From Hole in my Heart by Lorraine Dusky, soon to be released. Not to be copied without permission. You are welcome to share on Facebook. That last section will discuss the thriving industry that adoption as a business has become. 

* This was compiled by comparing figures for adoption of infants from England and Wales and the United States from a number of statistical websites: According to Health and Human Services the U.S., with a population of 319 million people, has an estimated 15,000 voluntary infant adoptions each year. There were 3,952,841 live births in the US in 2012. About .38 percent of newborns were adopted (15,000/3,952,841).
England and Wales, with a combined population of  56,567,800, had 729, 674 live births in 2012, and 113 adoptions of children under one year, or approximately.015% . The data doesn't show whether mothers voluntarily gave up their babies, or the parental rights were terminated by the state.

What about children who need adopting?
What about those babies in....any-poor-nation?


The Giver (Giver Quartet) By Lois Lowry
"In the "ideal" world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children's adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment, sensibly chosen by the community's Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are "released"--to great celebration--at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also "released," but with no fanfare. 

"Lowry's development of this civilization is so deft that her readers, like the community's citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. ...With a storyline that hints at Christian allegory and an eerie futuristic setting, this intriguing novel calls to mind John Christopher's Tripods trilogy and Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. Lowry is once again in top form--raising many questions while answering few, and unwinding a tale fit for the most adventurous readers."--Publisher's Weekly  

The trilogy that grew out of this YA novel remains interesting reading for anyone. The Giver was a movie last year but we haven't seen it yet. Directly Phillip Noyce, an Australian, also directed the harrowing film about the adoption of the aboriginals, Rabbit-Proof Fence. Worthy watching. 


  1. *As fellow blogger Jane noted, it is as if she found a good nanny for her children--as she the mother "sees them as often as she wants."*

    May be stating the obvious here but for the benefit of Downton Abbey fans, this sounds suspiciously like how the upper crust of British society was raised. Is this being repackaged as an adoption plan?!! In any event, lots of those kids were screwed up royally, although to be fair, some were not. It goes to show how different ideas of parenthood/motherhood can take root even if they seem bizarre. Wonder what the dad thinks of it all. People who have the compulsive need to give away all their kids have something goin' on in their psyches besides adoption IMO.

    1. Actually, Jess, that is exactly what Jane's first thought was--about the British upper class and ... from my experience, the French upper class too (I have a friend who was raised that way; she's in her 80s now)--she saw her nanny much much more than she ever saw her mother, who was busy being a member of the French intelligensia and hanging out with Hungarian counts, etc. In fact, her first memory is of seeing her mother after not having seen her for a long time.

    2. Yes, exactly -- the upper class, a nanny until they are eight or so and then off to boarding school. Winston Churchill is purported to have said that he barely knew his mother; he was far closer to his nanny. And who can forget Southern Mammies who even breast fed their white charges?

  2. So I realize that this comment may very well be deleted because it is a tangent, but as you mentioned the state of Utah and their lax policies, I wanted to put in a shameless plug for the facebook group "Utah Adoptees". We are trying to gain the numbers necessary to have the strength to change policy. As a plus, the group creators are incredible at helping people find their first parents. Also, your blog is very informative and helpful for adoptees and gives us hope that our first mothers are as caring and interested as you.

    1. Totally fine to put in your shameless plug for Utah adoptees to find your facebook page!

      We hope you find natural mothers who haven't been so overwhelmed with the message that their children are gone forever that they are welcome you back into their lives. Have you see the blog, Letters from Mrs. Feverfew? She is a Mormon natural mother. The link is on the right sidebar.

    2. I used to be LDS. I left the church because of the loss of my son to adoption due to "encouragement to relinquish to a temple worthy couple". The church really views relationships as interchangeable although they tout that motherhood is sacred and should be cherished. That last sentence only applies if you follow their rules. Being sealed to your family only applies to non adopted people. Adoptees are to leave their ancestry and cleave unto their adoptive families. So......family really doesnt matter. The adoptee ancestry really doesnt matter.

      The church stopped their services because of a lawsuit , yet have just partnered with Adoption.com to continue the legacy of adoption.
      They are not listening, or just dont care, OR better yet, are building their army. Seriously, this is real.

      Which leaves me to the question that The Giver breeches. Are we interchangeable? As a non adopted person with a rough childhood I can honestly say, no. I am not interchangeable. My ancestry is important. I feel the same way about my raised children. Their history is important. Yet, I am hesitant to apply that strong opinion toward my oldest son. His ancestry has been denied, and with that my future grandchildren.

      So, upon reading your reply, bretheadoptee, I am elated to see that you are trying to gain numbers to change the policy. I am nervous at the same time. I am here in Utah, I am a mother who fights to protect women and the natural family. The Koolaid is very thick and deep here in Utah.

      I care. I love and miss my son. I am human and regret that I was so dumb and trusting.

    3. BJane, I am a Mormon adoptee. A couple of years ago I started researching the histories of my family of origin. Now at church if I'm asked to share a family history story, I share one from my birth family. I have traced some family lines back to the 15th century. I've submitted over 100 names for temple work. I see changes in the church. For example, when you go to submit a family name online, you get a message saying you can submit names for biological, adoptive or foster family members. And the family search website has featured stories of adoptees who found their first families through DNA studies.

    4. Megan, that is wonderful that you are reaching out to find out your origins.

      Again, I refer to this idea of interchangeability. Are we all one big happy family and everyone needs to have their saving ordinances done?

      Why seal adopted children, foster children to people who are not related to them? Why not seal them to their original families in the first place? ......Because, "We eventually come to a point of common ancestry, we must have great concern for all persons"-Why Family History pamphlet

      Why not go to cemeteries gather information and start baptizing and doing saving ordinances for those people? Adopt a deceased?

      This is highly offensive to the natural family.

      Again, are we interchangeable as human beings? Shouldn't we be concerned about the interconnectedness with each other?Or should we only connect after death?

      My son is sealed to his AP's. Even after I die and he chooses to do his temple work for his biological family, what in his right mind would make me want to be sealed to his adoptive family through him? The very ones who willingly supported the separation of me and my firstborn.

      No thank you. It is abuse in the highest order.

    5. "Shouldn't we be concerned about the interconnectedness with each other?" Yes we should be concerned. That is the true nature of loving. It is the purpose of our existence, of our destiny.

      Your comment about adopting deceased people is interesting, because that actually was a practice (not doctrinal) in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the era after Joseph Smith was martyred. A lot of people wanted to be sealed to Smith. I think it was Brigham Young who finally put a stop to it.

    6. Megan, I'm glad you that include both your families (birth and adopted) but I wondered what "temple work" is that you have submitted your birth family's names for? It sounds like they need to be worked on?

    7. Sorry Anon. Mormon lingo. Family relationships can extend beyond death. In the narrowest sense, it means that husband-wife, parent-child and sibling relationships can stay with us through eternity. In an expanded understanding, it means that all of God's children that have ever lived can be united. This is made possible through covenants and ordinances in the Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For family members that have died without receiving these blessings, we can take their names to the temple and make the covenants vicariously for them. These family members, who are now spirits, can choose to accept or reject the covenants we make on their behalf. The temple ordinances are like a welding link that joins all of God's children throughout the ages.

      In the case of an adopted child, s/hecan be sealed to adoptive parents. Some adoptive parents might pridefully assume that this ordinance somehow separates the child from the family of origin even more. But they misunderstand. The temple ordinances are meant to join everyone on the earth together, if possible. They are binding ordinances. They can never be separating ordinances. This is a topic I prayerfully studied for a long time.

      We sometimes refer to "temple work," but really maybe a better term is "temple worship."

  3. Argggh. I thought 1970, when I relinquished, was the biggest year for adoption. Is it bigger now? That makes me sad. I was hoping more mothers would keep their children. Although I realize that more women are waiting longer to have children, and thus there are more infertility issues with age. It saddens me that there aren't more adoptions out of foster care. I know those kids come with problems. Still, I hate that adopters insist on having a fresh newborn, instead of adopting to give a child a home. Pro-adoption media tries to make it about the kids, rescuing them. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's about filling the need of a-parents.

    The idea of wealthy parents adopting children from the poor strikes me as redistribution of wealth, which is popular in today's political environment. And now babies. Yuck!

    Interesting that you posted something about The Giver. I watched the movie, then read the book. And it scared the bejezzus out of me. A totalitarian government and society, where no one has a choice, lives in accordance to the rules, are assigned their role (including bmother). Methinks we may be headed that way. JMHO.

  4. It's not just British aristos who outsource their childcare. My sons are now in their twenties, but while I was home raising them I witnessed firsthand how many of their classmates rarely saw their parents. This went, in many cases, far beyond frazzled working parents who needed help just to work, but some whose kids also were parked during vacations with caregivers so that their parents could enjoy "relaxing getaways."

    I was expected to compliment these acquaintances. Instead I tended to look at my shoes and mumble something noncommittal.

    For nearly two years, I picked up a little girl at the bus stop with my sons and looked after her until a parent came to get her, sometimes as late as nine p.m. She had been adopted from China, and I often wondered why--her APs had so little time for her. I finally had to stop, in part because her bio older brother made my sons and their friends nuts, and also because my then-dwindling energy would stretch only so far.

    But I still feel guilty about abandoning a girl who already had been, more than once...

    1. Ditto for friends of mine.Neither parent after adopting from China (at husband's insistence that he have a child) blinked in their careers. I doubt they were are careless as the case you describe but I am sure that there are many cases like the one you are familiar with. When you say older bio brother--you mean bio child of the adoptive parents?

    2. I too am amazed at adoptive parents who don't seem to let "a little thing like a child" [insert sarcasm!] interrupt their lives or careers...

      Our son's mom was not deceived that we were wealthy or anything like that. When she called us because of a mutual friend and subsequently came to our house, she could see that we were just regular folks. My husband is a teacher so you can easily imagine that we are on a budget.

      Anyway I let her know that the plan (if she decided to go through with adoption) was that I would stay home and ten years later that's still how it is. I work weekends and hubby stays home with the kids. That way they are always with a parent. Finances get tough from time to time but we do alright.

      My thinking was, and still is, that he'd lost one mother so he shouldn't lose another one by having to go to daycare...(If I could help it)

      And when I say "lost" I don't mean that he doesn't see her because he does and always has, I just meant "lost" in the sense that he doesn't get to be raised by her.

      Long story short, I agree that it is mystifying why anyone would adopt and then ship kids off to daycare at six weeks old, long hours after school etc. That's not ideal (in my humble opinion) for ANY baby, much less a baby who's suffered a loss.

  5. My a mom stayed home for a few years, but went to work when i started first grade. I was shipped to relatives or summer camp for 6 summers. i often wondered why she adopted.

    I used to wonder why when i was a child. i also thought it was OK that this was happening to me, because i was saving some other "nice" kid from having to suffer like I did.

    I used to cry for the little girl who was sent away, not really understanding that it was me. Kids minds get bent by adoption, and they don't always bend back.

    1. I'm so sorry Robot girl. That must have been so hard.

      Agree with you about adoption bending minds too.


  6. Yes, Stephanie, the "bio older brother" to which I referred above was the bio son of the APs of the Chinese girl for whom I was the caregiver for some time. I should have stated this more clearly. Because of (in my opinion) insufficient contact with the parents--natural to one child, adoptive to the other--the first was a boundary-pusher who was crying out for attention, the second was a cuddly, bright little girl hungry for love, affirmation, and even simple answers to basic questions.

    For example, when vigorously pushed I calmly explained certain aspects of human reproduction to her. The Afather joked, "Better you than me." Maybe he meant it, but I would have hated it if my sons had asked someone other than me such questions.

    What I also question--and still feel badly about--is why a couple so deeply involved in their careers evidently felt it quite all right first to start a family--and then to expand it through adoption--only to parcel out child care with seemingly only relief that the primary secondary caregiver treated them well. They never wanted to discuss, it seemed, how the children really were coping. I almost never saw or spoke to the mother (if she returned my calls, once told that there was no, say, medical emergency, that ended the call. She was "busy," she'd say.)

    At least that's how it seemed to me. Was it just that these parents couldn't envision how all-encompassing childrearing can be, even (especially) after the infant/toddler stages? I still worry how these teens are doing.


    1. As to why someone would adopt and then push the kids onto caretakers -- adopting Asian girls, first Korean and then Chinese, was almost a fad in the 1980's -- 2000's for the white middle class. Some adopted for religious reasons, others out of a liberal bent. These people felt that not only were they saving children, but they were saving the planet by not having a second bio child.

      I recall in the early 2000's, when I went to Trader Joe's or the Unitarian Church with my sister, I took a second look every time I saw an Asian girl to see if the adults with her were Asian. They rarely were. These "do-gooders" didn't seem to understand that by adopting these children, they were helping to advance discrimination against girls and fund corrupt politicians.

    2. Jane, I never stop doing that. Only I find that I do with with all children with their parents--look to see if there is a resemblance of any kind. But it is more pronounced with Asian kids and non -Asian parents since that was the craze for a while.

    3. Jane wrote:" These "do-gooders" didn't seem to understand that by adopting these children, they were helping to advance discrimination against girls..."

      I have often wondered why there was never any outcry over the inherent sexism in the fact that was usually only Asian girls who were available for adoption. It puzzled me that it was often liberal, white, feminist oriented people who were adopting these children, and yet they never seemed to express any indignation that a culture valued their girls so much less than their boys that they were willing to give the girls away.

    4. "I have often wondered why there was never any outcry over the inherent sexism in the fact that was usually only Asian girls who were available for adoption."
      Obviously, you missed something. Maybe you were focusing on something else at the time/

  7. BJane, you weren't "dumb." The pressure must have been intolerable. (((Hugs)))

  8. Jane: True story (alas).

    A woman who once worked for Mr. B adopted a Chinese toddler girl, early in the craze to do so, and then said, to a number of people including us, that she hoped her adaughter would be accepted by [very fashionable and selective D.C. secular private school] BEFORE adopted Chinese daughters, nominally raised as Jews, were "so commonplace" among the student applicants.

    She was. Parents ecstatic. I don't know how the young woman (now college-age, or close to it) is faring. But the Aparents can brag on where she goes/went to private school... and to them, that was the important thing.

    Note: Adopted/converted children of color did and do attend the Jewish day schools and gan [nursery schools] at which my sons were enrolled, but I noted that Aparents of children of color tended to be much more avid to pursue admission to fashionable secular private schools. There, they also made the school enrollment appear "more diverse," while generally less in need of financial need: Two-career couples who could afford international adoption usually were more able to pay the very costly school tuition, cash on the barrelhead, than many local bioparents of color who sought a higher quality education than the usually struggling local public schools in the District could provide.

    We encountered a similar situation at the schools for the learning-disabled that we checked out, and in some cases, applied to for one son for his upper-school years. There were a disproportionate number of domestically adopted children admitted whose often famous-inside-the-Beltway Aparents (not always Aparents, but very frequently) could pay a not-quite-mandatory-but-it-sure-helped hefty "donation" to the independent school. There seemed to be a pipeline from the Gladney Center to one school in particular!

    We were able to find an upper school that suited our son's needs--not without difficulty, but without baksheesh--fortunately. But it truly broke his heart that his then-best friend, bio child of a bitterly divorced but wealthy couple, was admitted to the Gladney-pipeline school after Daddy $$$ paid $$$... and his son was accepted and ours was not. No other reason that either family or even the school could admit.

    Forgive my rant, please. Obviously this is a bitter memory, and an awful way to teach an already vulnerable adolescent how money not only can talk, but can scream!

    1. Mrs. B, your story reminds me when I worked for the State of Oregon. The state was pushing agencies to contract with minority-owned businesses. One agency contracted with a white-owned company which claimed to be using a minority-owned sub-contractor. This minority-owned business had a co-owner who was the bio-son of a Japanese woman and a white G.I. He was adopted and raised by a white military family in the U.S..

  9. ps that was bretheadoptee. I clearly don't know how to use a computer....hope that doesn't hurt the fight. lol

  10. For some odd reason, my first comment didn't register: case and point on my comment above. Lets try again: BJane, I just wanted to offer some comfort. I know the koolaid is quite thick there, but remember pain is thicker. I am aware that people sometimes try and use mormon doctrine to enforce mormon culture, but most of us know there is a difference. Even those adoptees who just cant seem to even try and empathize with firstmothers will probably end up searching and fighting for their rights anyway, because we have pain of our own. I know that Utah is going to be the hardest state to make any sort of change in, but we are up for the fight. We will speak up, inform others of our goals, and work with surrounding states in hopes of influencing our own. We are ready to work with you, after all, this fight has been our fight since the day we were born.



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