Wednesday, February 9, 2011

But She Wanted To

I don’t see how there can be coercion if a woman seeks out an adoption agency because she has already made the decision that adoption is her best choice.”

This came from a discussion I stumbled upon about ethical adoptions. It was a discussion solely between adoptive mothers and their opinions. As you can imagine, the answers were varied, but the topic was handled civilly, in my opinion, without any intentional disrespect, I believe, to mothers who have lost their child to adoption. (Though I believe using “lost her child” probably wouldn’t have gone over so well with some.)

But there was still the misconceptions. The pre-formed beliefs so common in the world of adoption, especially when it comes to the topic of whether or not an expectant mom TRULY chooses to surrender her child to adoption.

Because there are so many situations where it all seemed so easy. Expectant mom got pregnant, knew she could not care for her child, went to adoption agency, picked the “perfect” parents, made an “adoption plan” and left hospital without her son or daughter.

So cut and dried. No coercion, manipulation or misconceptions in that scenario. She knew from day one her decision , made it, and went on with her life.

But could it ever really be that easily explained and understood when we are talking about a mother losing her child, handing her son or daughter over to someone else to raise and walking away? Does it really make sense that such terrible losses happen without any outside influence?

I just don’t see it as possible. If you take out that very rare, small percent of women who TRULY do not want anything to do with their child and have absolutely no desire to parent in any way, then you are left with a huge majority of women who feel and act and have the very same natural maternal instincts all of us carry within us.

So then why, if we are created to love and care for our children, to guide them through their younger years into productive, capable adults, are there so many mothers who go against this natural act and supposively “choose” to give their child away to another to raise?

One answer is . . . because, even when it doesn’t seem so, there is always outside influences pushing a confused, vulnerable pregnant mother toward adoption, even when they might not see or recognize it in their everyday lives.

Two very poignant quotes that have always stuck with me are the ones from the Family Research Council and their publication, The Missing Piece: Adoption Counseling in Pregnancy Resource Centers, in which they state . . .

As important as influencing adults is on this matter, influencing children must be the highest priority. First impressions of adoption tend to last a lifetime. To be effective, any public-relations effort must encompass programming and media that are child-friendly. A constant national message directed toward the next generation could help permanently change the value this culture places on adoption.

And from the National Council for Adoption and their manual, Birthmother, Good Mother,” which encourages . . .

Influencing children must be the highest priority. First impressions of adoption tend to last a lifetime. To be effective, any public-relations effort must encompass programming and media that are child-friendly. A consistent, national message directed toward the next generation could help permanently change the value this culture places on adoption.”

Both of these publications show, without doubt, that the adoption industry intentionally targets children to imbed their message of adoption being the “loving option.” They know that “influencing” the young can help manipulate them to further their agenda in the future that follows. They have learned, through their research, that one of the best ways to get a woman to surrender her baby is to reach out to them before they are even of the age to become pregnant.

A pregnant woman doesn’t need to come anywhere near an adoption agency to have their coercive tactics take effect. She has already been surrounded by them since she was a small child. Flooded with the message that the answer to a crisis pregnancy is adoption and anything less than that automatically makes her an unloving, selfish human being.

And add to that the lingering shame and judgment our society continues to place on women in such situations, and you have everything you need to see why it is so many expectant moms claim they knew from the start they couldn’t keep their baby and that adoption is their only “choice.”

The media, and any other avenue the Adoption Industry can find to use, is instilling in our daughters a sense of failure long before they might ever face an unexpected pregnancy. They have, and continue to, use young women for their own gain, making sure the message they send to them is that the only way they can be deemed “good” if they become pregnant outside of “ideal” circumstances, is to save themselves through adoption.

They know exactly what they are doing every time our children are introduced to another “happy” adoption story. They have no doubt of the impact it makes for our youth to see their “mistakes” rectified through sacrificing their own flesh and blood.

And because we have become such a materialistic society, so wrapped up in who has bigger and better, the industry has no problem guiding the majority of us to believe the way they want us to. To see failure in any pregnant woman who is poor and without proper support to raise her child. To see doom for a child born into anything outside of what is now perceived as the “perfect” life. And to cringe and pull back anytime we might be asked to help those who have less than us.

We pound our chests and demand women’s rights and yet have no problem with making many women feel like they will be failures as mothers, leaving them weak and helpless and encouraging those feelings for the profits and gains of another. Us women, the very ones who should be fighting the hardest for change, become a part of the message to our young girls and young women that if they don’t have what society has deemed as enough then they don’t have a right to their own child.

Confidence is power. It is the driving force behind pushing ourselves for more, reaching our goals and being the kind of person we want to be. When you strip that confidence away and send the very clear message that someone can’t do something, without even giving them a chance to try, you take away their power, their ability to believe in themselves and what they are capable of doing.

And when that stripping of confidence comes in a loud and clear message tossed over and over again on the shoulders of our young, it’s very clear why so many women facing a crisis pregnancy believe from the very start that they aren’t good enough, can’t offer enough to their own child and so must lose them to give them what they deserve.

We aren’t encouraging women to find their strength, their confidence, to become the best mother’s possible even in the desperate times. We aren’t reaching out and saying, “I believe in you and all that you can do to become the best mom your child deserves.”

Instead we are sending the very clear message that if a woman is single or still in school. If she doesn’t have a good job or make enough money, she isn’t worthy of her own child and will only harm her son or daughter by raising them.

We, society as a whole, shame and degrade them, pull them down to a level where they believe they can’t do it when we should be holding them up, supporting them and giving them the confidence that they can.

And every time we do this, every time it happens, we send a very clear message to our children that if they ever face the same situation, they will be expected to fail as well and the only way they can prove themselves and their worthiness is to give up their child.

And the Adoption Industry eats this up likes its candy and adds to the message with their own images of smiling First Mom’s “saved” by adoption. With tales of young women who would have been doomed, and in return, doomed their children, to a life of nothing but are now happy and thriving because, they couldn’t possibly do both, but by losing their child, they were able to build a good life for themselves.

Young girls don’t sit around and dream about losing their children but they are very much surrounded by the message that if they aren’t “good” enough when they do become pregnant then the only way to redeem themselves and give the best to their child is to give him or her away.

We are repeating a cycle, generation after generation, of stripping women of their confidence when it comes to their worth and ability to be a mother. We’re teaching our daughters that it’s okay to see yourself as “less than.” It’s okay for others to view you as “not as good.” We’re teaching them to hang on to their doubts and fears, to believe they can’t do it before even trying.

And worst of all, we’re teaching them that what’s important in mothering is not love and care and giving of yourself in any way you can to raise your child but instead it’s the material things and the marriage certificate and college degree that makes a good mother and if they don’t have those things they aren’t worthy of the title.

That’s one reason why so many women walk into adoption agencies already “knowing” they want to lose their child to adoption. It isn’t a decision that is just theirs to make. It’s one that has been given to them, year after year, in so many different ways. One that makes it very clear to them that keeping and loving your child when society views you as not having enough is a selfish act and the only way they can prove themselves and their love for their child is to lose them forever.


  1. (((((((Cassi)))))))

    Those two quotes are dang near identical, which tells a story of its own. I wonder which of those two organizations plagiarized the other.

    Yes, those who profit, either financially or self-satisfaction at their generosity and good will, stand to gain a lot if entire generations are condition to think that adoption is a win-win-win. This attitude is so engrained that people don't even see the disconnect anymore.

    I occasionally have the opportunity to speak with prospective and new adoptive parents, and when the subject of first families comes up and people start talking about how glad they are that their (prospective) children's mothers are able to make such a "choice," I ask the ones whose children have joined their families if they would have been willing, for any reason, to surrender their child the day after he or she arrived.

    Typically, the response is big eyes, slack jaws and silence. I hope that helps them get it.

    Hugs to you, Cassi, you are one heck of a trooper.

  2. Thank you for another brilliant, well thought out & articulate post, Cassi.


  3. "I don’t see how there can be coercion if a woman seeks out an adoption agency because she has already made the decision that adoption is her best choice"

    How many women actually went into an adoption agency thinking that adoption is the best choice? How many daughters just went in to make their mothers happpy? The counselors are very good at their job, they know all they have to do is get you in the door and then the rest is easy.

    It is easy to convince someone that already feels alone and vulnerable that they are not good enough to parent. It is just as easy to give that same woman support and acknowledgement that she is enough.

  4. "...the only way they can prove themselves and their love for their child is to lose them forever."

    How very, very sad is it that this is what message we continue to give future generations??

    All the stupid things that are done in our society now-a-days to "build self-esteem" in children ~ yet society continues to kill the self-esteem and confidence of mothers if they dare to conceive a child out of wedlock, too young, or too poor.

  5. Cassi this has to be the best post I've seen on this area, so well argued and with such very revealing quotes.The Adoption Industry is one I have no respect for as you probably know but it has just gone down several more notches.
    I will link your post if I may.

  6. It is very true. I know that I was coerced by doctors, the agency worker and the adopters' lawyer. All in the hospital room.

    I went and searched the net, and found the research that actually demonstrates their trainings in "infant adoption". Not only does it address creating an "accurate" view of adoption, it also shows the inherent intentional oppression against these women by tearing apart their self esteem and dismantling their power, to hand over to the agency.

    For those of strong hearts, feel free to read:

  7. Yeah, and you keep finding your excuses but they don't do any good. You weren't good enough for your child and neither are the other moms who place their children for adoption. Instead of always trying so hard to find excuses for what you did why don't you accept the real truth that some women just don't have what it takes to parent a child while others do.

  8. Piss off "Happy-Here" or should I call you misery here because that is all you are. Just because you hate to be challenged and see the truth, you decide to visit your spite on others. In fact it is probably YOU who doesn't deserve to be a parent... otherwise you wouldn't be here would you?

  9. I do believe my blog has a stalker. Hopefully they will get bored soon and move on.

    Margie - the two organizations the quotes came from, FRC and NCFA, are good "buddies" who work closely together in their research and tactics to convince society that adoption is the "loving option."

    ***I ask the ones whose children have joined their families if they would have been willing, for any reason, to surrender their child the day after he or she arrived.***

    Thank you for this! The more we can challenge others to think "outside the box" the more change we can encourage.

  10. Jeannette,

    I agree, all they have to do is get you through the door. And I was one of those girls who went to an adoption agency, not because I was set on adoption but because their "marketing" material promised they would help me and support me to make the best decision for myself and my child. As soon as I was there, it was made very clear to me that parenting was the wrong choice and adoption was the only one that would prove how much I loved my son.

  11. There is another Adoptee Blog that is currently being stalked by a bored weird-o.

    Better just to ignore it-- they thrive on attention.

    Great Post as always!

    Being the very naive a-parent that I am-- working on was-- I had once believed that when a woman went in for counseling concerning an unplanned pregnancy, the counselor laid out all the options-- abortion, adoption, resources available for keeping and raising one's child.

    Even with all that-- I doubt few if anyone provides counseling about the long term effects of placing a child-- for both the mom and the child.

    I have to say, I have not really seen much prolific Adoption related media-- such TV ad etc. other than for adopting out of foster care. The other types of Adoption media I have seen, that you mention are always in magazines and the like that specifically target a-parents.

    I did have a few friends in HS who became PG and carried their babies to term. Only one of them placed their child for adoption. I also have a cousin who became PG at age 16-- her Catholic family and community supported her in keeping her child-- this was all 20 to 25 years ago.

  12. There's this other thing they're missing. Let's say that a particular woman was not at all coereced. She was that mythical woman who embraced adoption and loved it and has no regrets and is a happy dappy birth mom totally grateful to the awesome adoptive parents. Let's just say that. Her experience in no way justifies the lack ethics even if that lack did not appear to impact her in any way. Her free choice does not mean every choice was free. If even ONE WOMAN was coerced than the system is suspect period. Kind of like how the presence of one innocent person in prison requires us to look critically at our justice system.

    So whenever people say, "Well, she's fine" (as if they can know) I feel like they're missing the broader point and the opportunity to dig deeper and look more critically.

  13. Happy-Here:

    I hope your adoptling will see all too clear one day what a selfish, deluded, self-entitled, jealous because you can't get pregnant narcissist you are. You are the one who doesn't have what it takes to be a mother to SOMEONE ELSE'S child. Your money means nothing, quite obviously. Just look at the words you wrote. So full of malice, hate and cold heartedness to those who have lost their children to adoption; all because you think you are so much more entitled than a natural mother is to her own child.

    This is the prime example of all that is wrong with domestic infant adoption (I mean BABY BROKERING).

  14. I agree with you Dawn, but unfortunately the belief tends to swing in the opposite direction. Its much more likely for many to be "sorry" if a women is coerced or left with no choice but to give up her baby but firmly stand in their belief that such cases should have no bearing on bringing about any reform in the world of adoption.

  15. Reena,

    My daughter is thirteen and I know the message is there for her and her peers. I always wonder, if you take a test group of young teenage and pre-teen girls and ask them about adoption what their answers would be. I believe, even if we aren't seeing it in our children's everyday lives, their answers would fall right in line with the beliefs the majority of society carries.

  16. Why would you choose a name like "Happy Here" and them write a seriously grumpy message that is meaness magnified? There's something very ridiculous about that.

    Glad to see you didn't retire from the online world Margie! I thought you were gone after reading your goodbye post and am much relieved to find your voice still among us.

    Excellent post this, thanks for writing it.

  17. Cassie,

    What an interesting poll/study that would be.

    The problem with asking these types of questions-- in general, but especially, I think, to young people is that one doesn't really know what they may choose until they are faced with the situation.

    I knew a couple girls who were firmly ProLife until they faced an unplanned PG and then decided to terminate. For one of the girls, I know for certain, it wasn't really *her* choice, but her mother's.

  18. Reena,

    I agree, we can never know what we might or might not do until faced with the situation.

    I was one of five girls pregnant in high school (that I know of). Two of us lost our children to adoption. Two kept and raised their children and one terminated her pregnancy. So yes, there is a diversity in what young women do when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

    But I don't think any of that changes the fact that the messages our young girls receive through the adoption industry and society itself is that there is shame if you are young, single, poor etc . . . and you become pregnant and that such situations automatically make you an "unfit" parent and then adoption drives this even more by promising there are "better" parents out there and its a loving option and a mother would be selfish to actually keep and raise her baby.

    That very message itself, I have a problem with right along with the fact that nothing is said to these mothers about the pain and loss adoption brings around as well and the only images they see around them are of happy adoption stories and smiles and everyone walking away, arm in arm, into the sunset.

    There are more and more women keeping and raising their children in today's world than in generations past, and I am thankful for that. But that doesn't change the fact that there is a very manipulative, coercive message being given to our young for the sole purpose of increasing the number of adoptions that do occur.

    To me, even if only one mother (which I know there are so many more) suffers the loss of adoption because of what society and the industry "convinces" her is right or wrong, than that is one mother too many and things have to change.

  19. Look at the work this organization is doing in Dallas, TExas to help teen mothers before and after they have their babies. Are there anymore like this organization out there? If not, why not? I'm impressed and I am thinking about starting something similar in the Central Texas area.

    I was an unwed Mom in 1973. I was lucky. My parents were very supportive and I kept my daughter who is now 38 years old with 4 children of her own. (my grandchildren) I was 20 y/o, sophmore year of college/first semester.


    Alley's House
    Dallas, Texas

  20. ***Are there anymore like this organization out there?***

    Here in Colorado, we have a wonderful place that sounds similiar to Alley's House. It's called Hope House . . .

    And the work they have done to help teen moms is amazing. And the young women I have met are wonderful mothers who just needed a little help.

    Anon - thanks for your comment. It's got me thinking that some good research could help create a page here on my blog dedicated to listing such wonderful places as resources for women who need and deserve the help. Infact, I"m pretty sure there was a previous poster, Holly, on my older blogs who also had information about another organization that helps young women.

  21. Adoption agencies advertise to offer non-adoption related services and help. However, the counselling can tend to be tilted and biased towards adoption. An expectant mother may come to an agency looking for the help they advertised and leave feeling like those options aren't good enough, if she's really a good mother, she'll choose adoption.

    People seldom realize why mothers go to agencies in the first place. How can someone believe she has "made up her mind" before she even walks in the door when she hasn't received any information yet and has yet to hold her child in her arms? To assume that makes no sense to me whatosever.

  22. This was a well written, well thought out post. Thank you for it!

  23. Anon,

    I agree about the adoption agencies and what they "market" to get women through their doors compared to what they actually push at her once she is there. That was my experience in a nutshell.

    And the basis of how can there be choice before she has had any counseling or even given birth is the topic of another post yet to come.

  24. this post captures my story perfectly

    yes, I believed the pro-life message that adoption was the righ thingto do, beside think of all the loving families who cannot have a child of their own

    in high school I even wrote a paper on 'adoption instead of abortion', which landed 1st place.

    the day they stuck the needle in my arm to draw blood for the pregnancy test, I already had my mind made up - "if it comes back positive, I have to give the baby up for adoption." I didn't even have the RESULTS back yet.

    You're right, how 'natural' is that? It isn't natural, and it is not logical either. It was the 'outside forces' you clearly expose.

    they had me hook line and sinker before I even had a boyfriend

    You're so right about the message -
    before the results came in, I knew all the reasons this deserved BETTER than ME. I wanted to do what was right, I wanted to do what was best, I didn't want to ruin his life by keeping him.

    I am among the many who walked 'willingly' into the agency knowing that I HAD to give him up.

    I wish there were not a need to write on this subject. You've done another fablaous job on such an ugly subject.