This subject has been weighing on me heavily this past week, probably because of Mother’s Day. In this day and age, with social media, it is almost impossible to not be confronted, at least once, with a friend asking you to share a page or donate to someone’s fundraiser. A few times I have had this very thing happen to me but the fundraising was to raise the $40,000 to fund a couple’s domestic infant adoption. There is a strong debate in the adoption world about whether this is right or wrong. I’m hear to give you my perspective. The perspective of a first mother who chose to utilize domestic infant adoption for her child after she was born.
First I want to get into the “industry speak.” This includes words like “placed” instead of “gave up,” “hero” instead of “shameful unwed poor mother,” and “giving a gift to a happy couple,” instead of “giving a human being to people who are essentially strangers.” There are countless other phrases and words that I could list. This industry speak is geared to make an expectant mother considering adoption view adoption, in regards to her child, as a positive thing while viewing the alternative as a selfish and negative thing (oh yeah, did I forget “you are so selfless to be doing this.”) Let’s face it. Most adoption agencies are in the business of making money. To have a business you have to have a product, service or commodity. Without newborn domestic infants there would be no adoption agencies. Without scared, poor, expectant mothers there would be no “potential” available newborns. Agencies that cannot show a high success rate in finding people infants will not do as well as those who do. As a current business student I assure you these are just the facts of operating a business. The number of successful adoptions an agency can tout is the measure of success. If you were in search of an infant would you go with the agency that has a 80% success rate or a 20% success rate? Agencies will often advertise, with pride, how high of a success rate they have in order to gain the business of prospective adoptive families. So, where is the problem with this? Success is a good thing, correct? Most any other time, in any other business, yes. But what makes one agency have a higher success rate than another? Are the “not-so-successful” agencies just not finding expectant mothers who are serious about adoption? Highly unlikely. What makes them successful is their ability to legally sway a potential birthmother into convincing herself that adoption is the positive choice and parenting is the negative choice. It is in the very psychology of the words used when dealing with expectant mothers that is so deceptive. They are, in most states, required to tell expectant moms about social services and programs that could help them if they choose to parent. But it’s the manner in which all is told.
One “industry speak” that I am guilty of reciting over and over to myself is the idea that I did not “place” my daughter only because I was destitute and poor. It wasn’t just because of money. It was due to my emotional and mental state. It would just be “too much” since I already had 3 children ages 3 and under at home. I bought into it because who likes to admit that they aren’t able to keep their baby because they don’t have enough money? Money surely can’t be the only reason to give up a baby, right? Sure. But let’s face it. In the majority of domestic infant adoptions that don’t involve extenuating circumstances (i.e., drugs, abuse) it really boils down to money. Any possible reason you can give for choosing adoption would start with “I won’t be able to afford________(fill in the blank). You’re too young? Need to finish school and a baby will screw it up? “I won’t be able to afford daycare to study and go to class.” You don’t have a big enough house? “I won’t be able to afford a bigger place to live.” You already have 3 little ones and you think you may go a little crazy because of the stress of adding another baby to the mix? “I won’t be able to afford down time for myself such as babysitters and a night at the movies with a good friend.”
So here comes the potential adoptive couple/family. They are willing to relieve you of the financial burden that another baby will create within your family. They are more than willing. They are desperate. They want children so very badly (or more children). I feel for them, I really do. I have friends dealing with infertility and it is one of the most heartbreaking things in the world. I say a little prayer for those women every night. But you know what else is heartbreaking beyond words? Having to hand over your newborn child because you don’t have money. For most women in that situation, it really is a nominal amount of money that would entirely change their whole situation. The average domestic infant adoption costs around $40,000 (give or take). With just 25% of that ($10,000) an expectant mother could pay rent on a 3 bedroom house for a year. With the total amount she could pay rent for 2 years, attend college during those 2 years (financial worry-free), get an education and provide a very good life for her children in the long run. Are you paying attention? For the cost that goes to legal fees and agencies for one domestic infant adoption an expectant mother could be saved the lifetime emotional wound of handing her baby over and be given the opportunity to provide a good life for her child(ren).
I see these fundraisers. “Help us raise the money to adopt a baby!! Hurry, time is running out! Our birthmother is due in 2 months!” First, she is not a birthmother until she has given birth and signed the termination of parental rights. Until then she is a potential birthmother or expectant mother. Second, do you not feel the least bit guilty raising an amount of money in a matter of months (asking for charity nonetheless!) that has the ability to change the life of a mother and her family? Do you really put the selfish desires of your heart (to become a parent) above the needs of a struggling pregnant woman? Why wouldn’t you instead do a fundraiser for this pregnant “birthmother” so she doesn’t HAVE to hand her baby over after it is born? Because you want to be parents desperately. Because you, too, have bought in to the “industry speak.” To view things they way they really are, the way I have laid them out for you, would make you feel to bad about yourselves and you may have to set aside that ache in your arms to be parents and instead help someone else stay a parent. You have also bought into the stereotypes about expectant mothers in a less than ideal financial situation (sometimes extremely less than ideal). They should be ashamed for getting pregnant when they cannot take care of a baby financially. Therefore they do not deserve to have fundraisers for tens of thousands of dollars for them. They do not deserve it for being so irresponsible. They need to do what is “best” and put their baby up for adoption to a family who can give the baby a “better” life. This is the atrocity of fundraising for domestic infant adoptions. If someone had held a fundraiser for me while I was pregnant and raised just 25% of what the total cost of an adoption is I can honestly say that I would not have chosen adoption. I would have parented. But holding fundraisers for irresponsible pregnant women to keep their babies just doesn’t have the Hallmark sound to it like “Help Us Complete Our Adoption Journey.” People don’t want to donate to causes like that. But they should.
Like I said earlier…this post applies to domestic infant adoption where fundraisers are being held for the potential adoptive parents to adopt an otherwise happy, healthy newborn whose parent(s) only reason for not being able to parent is money. I understand that all adoption situations are not the same and some are very unique. Holding fundraisers to adopt from foster care, orphans who do really need homes, or babies whose mothers truly are unable to take care of them for other reasons such as drug use, an abusive situation or maybe because she just plain doesn’t want to where she is in life is an entirely noble cause!
For the record, I am pretty sure my “birthdaughter’s” parents did not utilize a fundraiser to obtain her. For that I am thankful. I made the best choice I could at the time of her birth. There simply were no other options for me. And it saddens me greatly that because of this fact I was separated from my child.
Happy Mother’s Day.
What do you think?