By Griffin Laymon
Adoption has long been thought as the only win-win way out of taking care of a child your aren’t prepared for. An unwed mother separates from the son or daughter she’s not equipped to care for, while an adoptive family gets a much-wanted child; what’s not to like? Well, many people are steadily discovering that the adoption method is not nearly as well regulated and ethical as it should be. Only now are the issues of corruption and lack of transparency that are only now being fully addressed.
The past decade has seen the creation of a coalition of activists out to change the way adoption works in America. This group consists of Mormon and fundamentalist women who feel pressured by their churches or simply compelled to try and convince young women to keep their children. Progressives believe adoption is an unnecessary institution that takes the children of the young and poor and gives them to the wealthier and better educated. Even non-religious adoption agencies practice subtle coercion to get parents to put their kids up for adoption. Agencies offer pregnant women financial assistance for rent, groceries, medical bills, clothes, and cellphones. Some even offer college scholarships for women who keep their children. Agencies also frequently warn women about a “post-abortion syndrome”. This ailment consists of lasting depression and guilt, though mainstream medical organizations dismiss these warnings. On the other hand, adoption agencies warn people considering fostering a child that they may feel guilty due to the idea that they have taken away someone’s son or daughter and will most likely never give them back. In doing so, many possible parents are being deterred from choosing to adopt.
As well as trying to discourage mothers from putting their kids up for adoption, adoption reformers have been lobbying state governments for a number of specific changes. In some states such as Utah, a woman can sign papers irrevocably terminating her parental rights 24 hours after giving birth. At this point, a woman is still in the hospital, exhausted and possibly under the influence of painkillers. In more than half of all states, irrevocable termination of parental rights can be established in fewer than four days. Many adoption reform groups are trying to get this law changed, believing that such short amount of time is insufficient to make an irreversible, life-changing decision.
Adoption in America has changed vastly since the end of the 1970s. Fifty years ago, about 9 percent of babies born to unmarried women were placed for adoption. Today that number has shrunk to 1 percent. All in all, there are about 140,000 adoptions from single mothers, a mere 15 percent of all U.S. adoptions. However, for young women who do find themselves pregnant and unmarried, the choice to choose adoption is still present despite opposition. Much of this pressure still comes from organized religion. Mormonism forbids abortion, considers premarital sex taboo, and frowns upon single parenthood. The nation’s 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers are often affiliated with evangelical Christian maternity homes and Christian adoption agencies. However, as the strength of the anti- adoption movement continues to grow, the number of mothers considering adoption may gradually decline. The results of this opposition will have mixed effects and time will only tell how the results of the anti- adoption movement will affect expectant mothers.