Monday, July 13, 2015

Coercion And Manipulation . . . Can't Fight That

Again, another fit, loving mother, Kimberly Rossler, is being forced to fight for her baby.

For Kimberly, she had decided before ever giving birth to keep her son.  She took him home, raised loved and cared for him for three weeks before he was taken to satisfy the desires of the woman desperate to claim her son as her own.

There are  many news stories, blog posts, out there that can give you Kimberly’s story and the horror that happened to her, and worst of all, her newborn son.  With a visit to the Facebook page, Bring Baby Elliott Home, there is plenty of information on her case and how to help Kimberly in her fight for her baby.

As I’ve read through the many different comments on the stories being published and shared, there has been, yet again, a repeated theme in what some have had to say.  It’s an anger, disgust, over vulnerable, pregnant mothers receiving  expenses paid from those hoping to adopt her baby.  And forming a relationship with them before ever giving birth only to “crush” their hopes when they then choose to keep their babies.

It’s sad to read, the anger being directed at the mother for practices the adoption industry insists on because they know and understand the coercive and manipulation nature of paying expenses to a mother in need.  Encouraging her to form a tight bond with the couple so desperate to adopt her baby.

The agencies, attorneys, facilitators, don’t push such practices for the benefit of the mother and her unborn child.  They push it for their paying customers, the ones so desperately wanting to adopt a baby.  They push it because they know the odds are better of a vulnerable, pregnant mother giving up her baby if she feels manipulated into feeling she owes the hopeful couple for the money they paid or is fearful to hurt their feelings after growing so close to them during her pregnancy.

For those of us in the world of adoption reform, we have repeated until we are blue in the face the risks and downfalls of pre-birth matching and paid expenses.  We have made it clear that such practices need to be done away with, for both the protection of the pregnant mother, her unborn child AND the hopeful adoptive couple.

Those of us fighting for family prevention advise pregnant mothers seeking help and support not to accept money from anyone who benefits – through profits or a child – from them giving up their babies.  We discourage them building a relationship with the hopeful couple before birth.  We do this because we know and understand how such methods are full of coercion and manipulation.

But, for as many times as I’ve heard them complain.  For the comments that happen again and again, sharing disgust about a mother choosing to raise her baby after a hopeful couple  paid so much  money and was there for her during her pregnancy, I rarely ever come across hopeful adoptive parents or adoptive parents  speaking up when it comes to fighting for the practice to end.  They remain silent when it comes to fighting for change so such situations no longer occur.  Instead, they move on and repeat the process with yet another vulnerable, pregnant mother . . . if they don’t become one of the “entitled” who believe they have a right to another woman’s child and fight her for him, as in Kimberly’s case.
And the cycle continues.  The complaints carry on.  The comments of broken hearts and empty wallets litter news stories everywhere when it comes to the topic of adoption.

Why is that?  It’s the adoption industry, not the pregnant mothers, pushing so hard for such practices.  So why not speak up.  Why not join the voices of the rest of us and fight back with a clear message that such things need to end?

There is only one answer to that, coming back around and around again.  Ending such coercive and manipulative practices will reduce the number of newborns available for adoption.  Putting your voice to the fight is seen as a risk to everyone wanting a child to claim as their own.  It’s more preferable to continue the coercion and manipulation then turn around and blame the mother for it than it is to do anything that might threaten the availability of adoptable infants.

And the paid expenses and pre-birth matching is just a part of it.  One of the things that struck  me hardest about Kimberly’s experience is the fact that she was actually counseled by a true, unbiased therapist rather than someone invested in convincing her to give up her baby . . . such as the options counseling agencies provide.

Kimberly’s therapist first worked on Kimberly herself before ever addressing the idea of giving her baby up for adoption.  She was true and professional in the help she provided, understanding, as TRUE therapists do, that first Kimberly needed help to work first on herself and whatever obstacles she faced.  She needed to be helped through whatever crisis she was facing and find a place where she felt confident in her ability and own self-worth.

Only then did her therapist begin discussing the adoption with her.  And, because Kimberly was first given the support and help to face her obstacles, to find her self-worth, she began to see and understand that she was good enough, worthy enough, for her own child.

It wasn’t months or years later, as happens with so many mothers, that she realized she could take care of her baby.  It was before she ever gave birth, preventing yet another scenario you hear adoptive parents complain about . . . the mother who seems unable to deal with her emotions.  Seems upset she gave her baby away.  Isn’t falling perfectly into place as one who is grateful to them for raising her child but is instead questioning if she made the right choice

But again, putting a voice to and fighting for vulnerable, pregnant mothers to receive the kind of true counseling Kimberly did from someone not invested in adoption but instead specializing in depression and helping their clients work through crisis situations, reduces even more the number of babies available to adopt.  Because empowering and supporting the mothers drastically reduces the numbers of those who believe they aren’t good enough or worthy enough for their own child.

There is this ridiculous notion that pregnant mothers and their unborn children receive too many rights and that those desperate to adopt deserve more so that they can get their hands on the babies they desire.  There is this belief, because of expenses paid, relationships built, mothers choosing to parent instead, that somehow those wanting to adopt are the ones who are losing out . . . at the expense of the mother and her child.

I don’t agree with this in any way.  I find such thoughts ridiculous since every child deserves to first have everything possible done to save them from unnecessary separation from their mothers, fathers, family.  Every mother (and father) deserves to first be helped and supported in raising their children before ever being led to believe giving up their babies is the best thing.

And honestly, what so many desperate couples are demanding is not an end to the coercive and manipulative practices of expenses paid and pre-birth matching so that a mother never feels as if she has no choice or is forced to give up her baby.  They aren’t fighting for true, unbiased counseling so that a vulnerable mother never has her crisis situation used against her to convince her to give up her baby.  But instead is truly helped and supported to be the best she can be and from there make the best choice she can.

What they want, what they demand, is for even less protections for vulnerable, pregnant mothers and their unborn children.  They want the coercion and manipulation to be even stronger so that if they pay the expenses, form a relationship and are promised a baby, then they will get that baby without a chance of the mother choosing to raise her own child instead.

They want their own desires for a child protected by making sure mothers receive the options counseling designed and created to use their crisis against them to convince them to give up their babies rather than a true, professional therapist actually providing the help deserved.

It’s not the coercion or manipulation they are against.  Because getting rid of such practices would greatly reduce the babies they desire.  It doesn’t matter how angry or frustrated they get.  So many are not willing to put a voice to fight such things.

Instead they want their voices to create a world in which horrors such as what Kimberly and her innocent son faced become the reality.  They want to be able to take a child from a fit and loving mother if they paid the expenses, formed a relationship.  They want to restrict them from true counseling so they are seen as the best choice for another woman’s child.

They, just like the woman in Kimberly’s case, want to get their pay out for taking advantage of and using another’s suffering for their own gain.  And, if they don’t get that, it will be the vulnerable, pregnant mothers they will direct their anger at rather than at the true evil . . .

The adoption industry and the coercion and manipulation they survive on.

***This post, of course, does not pertain to every hopeful adoptive parent or adoptive parent.  I am honored, to know and have friendships with some wonderful adoptive parents who, themselves, face terrible attacks because of their belief and fight for change in the world of adoption.***


  1. Amazing post which expresses many of my own thoughts and feelings after reading hundreds of comments on Kim's case.
    I would just like to add that the majority of commenters was supporting Kim, which is refreshing. And even more refreshing that the adoptive parents were split in half with many, many of them supporting Kim's right to change her mind.
    So- there is hope. Much depends on how the article is written. We have to get our voices into the mainstream.

  2. I think you are being unfair to hopeful adoptive couples. I don't think their intentions are to hurt anyone. You have to understand they are coming from a place where they don't want to be hurt by getting their hopes up for nothing. They are likely coming from a place that has experienced enough of that. What they ultimately wish for is a process that brings a path with the least amount of obstacles. Which is why I favor getting rid of pre birth matching and only matching a child with a couple after a mother has terminated her parental rights.

    While I agree that coercion practices need to stop I don't think a parent deserves support. It's up to them to make their own choices and figure it out. They shouldn't lean on hopeful adoptive couples to pay their bills and help them out. It isn't the obligation of the hopeful adoptive couple to help them just as it isn't the obligation of the parents to provide the hopeful adoptive couple with a child. No one owes anyone anything in this world.

  3. As an adoption social worker who works with expectant parents AND adoptive couples in Alabama, I agree with some of your opinions. In fact, I agree with quite a few. I do take issue with this statement "rather than someone invested in convincing her to give up her baby . . . such as the options counseling agencies provide."
    I work for an agency and I provide pregnancy counseling to women/couples facing an unplanned pregnancy. I provide counseling for life-giving choices and my clients are aware of this. I do not, under any circumstances, try to convince women to choose adoption. I help women explore life giving options and if they want to parent, I spend my time linking them to resources and helping them prepare for parenting so they will be successful. And we do not get paid for this. I also work with women who want to parent and adoption does not cross their minds. I wholeheartedly support this and I will provide unbiased counseling to help her do just that. Please keep in mind that there are social workers and counselors (quite a few) who genuinely care for expectant parents and birth parents. We don't do this because we are making money hand over fist (social work isn't a lucrative career- who knew???). I also know a few attorneys (well, one) who are adoption attorneys who genuinely care for the expectant parents and are always truthful and forthright. I agree that this case is a tragedy and I can guarantee you that it wouldn't have happened on my watch.

    1. I'm glad to hear that you are very ethical and don't see it as business! Thank you for your support -Kim