Many people assume, and anti-abortion groups insist, that giving up a baby for adoption is not only an easy choice, but a righteous alternative to abortion. It's not. First of all, it's unusual: less than 1% of women confronting unintended pregnancy today choose adoption. And for the birth mother adoption is difficult, often much more emotionally painful than abortion, according to many studies. With abortion, a woman almost always puts the decision behind her, and moves on; with adoption that can be considerably more challenging.Thoughts?
Yet abortion and adoption have a lot in common too. Just like women who choose abortion, women who make an adoption plan are subject to shame, coercion, misinformation, unfavorable laws, and the politicization of their choice. It is here that the reproductive rights movement may recognize a role for itself.
The pro-choice movement has already helped usher in a new era in adoption. Contraception, legalized abortion and the de-stigmatizing of unwed mothers helped create the environment in which birth mother rights could flourish. Birth mothers could take control of their pregnancy and its outcome. It allowed them to shape the way that their babies go into the world.
* * *
Adoption can be a painful choice but much of the difficulty is unnecessary. First, we should get rid of the misperceptions. It's safe to say every woman facing unintended pregnancy these days was born after the 1950s yet these women typically think of adoption in its vintage 50s form instead of its modern, kinder version. . . .
If a patient were deciding against abortion because of false information, as pro-choice advocates we would see it as our responsibility to give her the facts. We have a chance to do the same with adoption.
* * *
Birth mothers are often unknowingly dis-empowered at the most important point of the adoption process. When have you heard of one lawyer representing both sides in a legal agreement? Pretty much never, right? Well, it happens all the time in adoption and birth mothers are always the vulnerable party. . . . Reproductive rights groups would provide a valuable service to women by including them in the pro-bono legal work they already do.
* * *
There is tremendous need for more ethical standards in the field of adoption, just the kind long embraced by the pro-choice movement.
3 months ago