Friday, May 6, 2011

Should Adoption be a Reproductive Right?

Hmmm, from the Huffington Post, an attempt to link abortion and adoption from a different direction:
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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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There is tremendous need for more ethical standards in the field of adoption, just the kind long embraced by the pro-choice movement.


Dawn said...

I have been following the Adoption Access Network since I found them a few months ago and have talked to a couple of people at their intial organizational meeting so I could get an idea of their plans. I'm very very very interested to see if they are able to do some of the things they want to do and see how they impact the current discussion about adoption.

Reena said...

Reproductive rights? What about already produced rights? I don’t think abortion and adoption have much of anything to do with the other.

I agree there is much need for reform in adoption.

We are no longer living in an era where people are really stigmatized as Bastards (isn’t that a big reason for all the secrecy in domestic adoptions in the past?).
In Today’s world, plenty of women ‘choose’ to have a baby outside of marriage—whether as a single, co-habitating hetero or homosexual. People don’t really even notice any more—at least not in our neck of the woods.

I think that the terms of an open adoption should be legally binding and enforceable, much the same as custody and visitation rights are legally binding and enforceable with regard to children whose parents get a divorce. I don’t understand why would be so difficult to model the terms of an open adoption after this legal action. I was really surprised to learn that these agreements largely are not legally enforceable.

Amanda said...

While abortion and adoption share a few elements in common, they are completely unrelated to one another.

Unfortunately, it seems as though most people think of adoption as a reproductive choice which is completely demeaning to adopted persons.

Abortion is a decision about pregnancy.

Adoption is a decision about parenting.

dawn 2 said...

I think adoption isn't a reproductive right, but does belong in a reproductive justice framework.

I had written more, but since I am seriously verbose, I moved it to my tumblr, if anyone's interested.