Public Fallout over the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute report
edited: Monday, November 27, 2006
By Claudia Corrigan D'Arcy
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Posted: Monday, November 27, 2006
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Expecting the general public to have understanding, compassion and even to read before reacting is just too much it seems.
have known for years, that losing a child to adoption hurts; hurts more than almost any other situation in life, and continues to effect many mothers (and fathers) years after the act of surrender. As the report stated “the ongoing, negative impact of their experiences on many areas of their lives, particularly by causing chronic grief, difficulties in intimate relationships, and/or complications in the parenting of subsequent children.”
Last Sunday, with great media attention, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issued a comprehensive report regarding past and current domestic infant adoption practices in the US. Appropriately named Safe Guarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in Adoption Practices”, the release of the report was picked up by Associated Press, and hit paper media such as the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Essentially what the Donald Institute did was take much of the known research about infant adoption practices and outcome effects on relinquishing parents, combine them with current laws and population estimates, and put it out in a detailed report. It was very validating for many to see in print what many in adoption
Now, Yahoo and MSN ran the story from the AP wire and both ended with the final quote: “Current adoption practices, the report said, “are too often based on outdated understandings, faulty stereotypes, and misinformation from the time that secrecy pervaded the adoption world.” Both then opened for discussion on message boards, general society feelings and perfectly demonstrated the true nature of those “outdated understandings, faulty stereotypes, and misinformation” The end results based on the message board is that the Donaldson Institute and other adoption watchdogs really have much more work to do with educating the general public.
To begin with, many seemed to not understand the essential and huge difference between voluntary infant adoption, and adoptions with state agency involvement such as a CPS child removal from abusive parents. Attitudes and misinformation such as this: “maybe if people started promoting adoption as an act of love so many children would not grow up in abusive homes” do not help the real nature of adoption at all. Of the estimated 14,000 voluntary infant adoption placements a year, how hard is it to understand that these women did not place their children because they thought that they were going to beat on them and be lousy parents? When in fact many women choose to relinquish and have thoughts more like this: “I wanted to go to college, and being a single parent wasn’t sure that I could make it with three kids on my own. I know that people do it everyday, but with lack of family support and not exactly sure where life was going to take me, I didn’t think it would be fair to bring him into this world when I wasn’t sure of life”
Promoted and touted by agencies across the internet as “A mother who unselfishly creates an adoption plan for her child is placing her child's best interest above her own. It is an ultimate sacrifice for a mother to choose life for her child and realize what is best for her child. Adoption is a caring and responsible process that is as natural and loving as parenting” , it is amazing that a woman can going to adoption be told that she is strong and loving and selfless only to find that after she relinquishes she will be subjected to the following attitudes and beliefs. “Look, these birth "mothers" are morons. They're irresponsible and frankly, only in this situation because they're not so bright or too young and stupid to follow directions. The faster and the more permanently kids are taken away from them, the better.” Unfortunately, that is one of the nicer thoughts. Many of the attitudes towards a woman who has experienced an unplanned pregnancy is more puritanical, judicial, and damning often with some truck stop name calling, and whore house curses.
What really got the general public foaming at the mouth was the idea that adoption as a whole, for all parties involved, would be better served if the considering new mother had more time to make up her mind. Over and over again, sentiments such as: “birth parents should not be allowed to go back and forth at ANY time, it is not about them anymore” and “If you give the baby up, you give it up - period. No refunds, exchanges, all transactions final.” Of course, if anyone had bothered to read the report, they would have seen that “To permit a woman to make a reasoned judgment – which can be difficult in the days and weeks after childbirth – there should be a significant period of time before she can sign a legal relinquishment, and there should be a reasonable revocation period during which she can change her mind about placing simply because she wants to be a parent and without having to jump through legal hoops.” is really stated. Just because a woman considers adoption for her child, even if she begins the process, she is not any less nor more questionable as a mother than anyone else who happens to give birth and is allowed to walk out of a hospital with their baby.
For whatever heartless reason, the public seems to think that “9 months is long enough to have to make a decision” and fail to see that there is a huge difference between a plan, and then the reality of ones feelings after giving birth and holding ones flesh and blood offspring. States that permit relinquishing mothers to sign off immediately anytime after birth, while the mother is still recovering from the trauma of birth and still may have drugs in her system, endanger the solid legal footing of any adoption. While Florida, which has an immediate signing period and no revoke time frame, may be considered “adoption friendly” by the professionals and adoptive parents, in truth it is cruel and inhuman to expect someone to make a legally binding contract decision while under physical and emotional stressors.
Many posters seemed outraged by the concept of a mother “coming back in 3 years saying "I changed my mind"“, when no where in the report was the idea of years for thought given any credence. We live in a society where the government in terms of physical disability payments recognizes that it takes a woman six weeks to recover after normal childbirth, so how much harder is it to see that the same six weeks can be taken to make sure that a relinquishing mother truly has made a decision she can live with. Being that the report found that “adoptive parents can feel more secure that the birthparents were sure of their decision and will not try to reclaim their child.” with a longer revoke or “change my mind” period. Since “research on birthparents … suggests a significant proportion struggled – and sometimes continue to struggle – with chronic, unresolved grief.” when pressured to relinquish wouldn’t the time to decide if they can make it thought life separated from their child be right then in the beginning, rather than allow an over 1.44 billion dollar industry push her to life a lifetime of this magnitude of sadness?
Society doesn’t seem to think this way.
“The birthmothers should understand that their decision, be it difficult and emotionally taxing, is FINAL”
“This notion of Birthparents Rights? They don’t HAVE them. They gave them up”
“Mothers should not be given additional time to change their minds, the decision is best made quick and to move on from there…”
“When the mother changes her mind, how then does she raise a child that she did not initially want?”
Proving that the public is cold and heartless and has never bothered to think about what it does mean to have to make such a decision. The feelings of mothers is apparently worth much less than the feelings of other people. Having a woman make a decision when in physical pain, under the influence of drugs, without knowing what motherhood really means, without being given the chance to explore her own feelings, is alright as long as the final result is “The child BELONGS to the adoptive parents, not the person who gave them up.”
As long American in general base a person worth and their extended compassion on how much money they make and whether or not they were stupid enough to use a birth control method that can fail, people don’t seem to be able to practice empathy for anyone else. Somewhere in our society fertility has become a crime and infertility holds the rights to compassion. “People are so interested in the birth mother, but what about the woman who can't have children for medical reasons? So, she turns to adoption, and finds out one day she was approved and will be getting a baby. Now, she finds out that she won't be getting that baby after all because the birth mother changed her mind, or she can have the baby but has to give visitation rights to the birth mother.” What it really boils down to is that if you want something and you don’t have it, but you have the money to get it, then you are deserving, but if you don’t think you want something and you don’t really have the funds, then you better dare not try to keep it from those who want it.
The Donaldson Institute was definatly correct about many things in their report, some might even say they did not go far enough. For sure the public needs to actually learn to read a report before they freak out and say hurtful things that effect real people. They need to be educated about many things and they need to develop some compassion and understanding for people who might just become their own daughters, their nieces, their cousins, their friends, or their own mothers. For without the terrible damning mistake of an unplanned pregnancy of every mother of adoption loss in this country, all six to ten million of us, your teachers, your doctors, your neighbors, your waitresses, there would not be posts like this one: “I am the adoptive father of two wonderful children. I love them with all my heart and will forever be grateful to the two birth mothers that had the courage to give up their children for adoption.”
We don’t even want you to be grateful, we just would like to be treated as human beings. That means we have rights and feelings in regards to our children whether adopted or not.