Writer-Counselor-Wellbeing Coach

Adoption coercion

I've found myself having a few conversations about my position on adoption lately, specifically in relation to my stance that adoption should not be proposed to abortion seeking women as a solution to their current 'problem'.   

When we do this, we are telling a woman that we also don't believe in her capacity to parent, which further reinforces whatever feelings she is struggling with.    We are in effect saying, 'hey, of course you can't have a baby, but don't have an abortion, it would be better to give your baby to strangers to raise'.    

What we need to be saying is, 'how can I best help you to manage the circumstances you are in today?'    'How can I best help you to mother your child when he/she is born?'   'You'll be okay, we will help you'.

These are very different words to those that would propose adoption as some kind of solution.

Adoption promotion can also be incredibly coercive, even when wrapped in otherwise empowering language.   Take this example from a US pregnancy support agency

"However, adoption is not “giving up”; it’s not “giving away”. Adoption is making a parenting plan for your child by choosing another family to raise him or her. It is a brave choice. It is a courageous choice. It is a selfless choice. It is a choice that will not only change your life, but the life of your child and the life of the family that you choose to raise your child. Adoption can be a fresh start for everyone. Women who choose adoption give their babies a hopeful future in a loving home, while creating a hopeful future for themselves."

Not only do they use words that suggest a woman is a better mother by 'making a parenting plan' then by parenting, but they emphasise them.  


They are telling a woman her baby is without hope with her, that she is without hope raising him or her.  They perpetuate the long-told lie that adoption is a 'fresh start', something that women move on from with barely a backward glance.   In the era of forced adoptions in Australia and elsewhere, this was the expectation of mothers, to move on, to forget about their child.  When they weren't able to do this, they felt that there was something innately wrong with them, that they were somehow failing.  

We need to do better than to advocate for the separation of mothers from their children, whether through adoption or abortion.  We need to acknowledge the drivers to a decision that a woman feels she is not good enough, or doesn't have any resources to parent.  We don't address inequity by taking babies from their mothers, either during pregnancy or after birth.

It is brave, courageous and selfless to be a mother.   It isn't something women need to be doing alone.  Children need more than one or two primary people in their lives loving them, so do mothers.   What are you doing to be part of a village for someone?  


  1. Nancy Baker

    My God,my God, why are we still enduring this nightmare! How can we stop it
    And change the scenario. Everything possible should be done to ensure
    Mother and child are kept together, then we will see blessing and not
    this curse!

  2. Elle Cuardaigh

    Thank you for this. I had a conversation with my birth mother just this morning on this subject. When you are given one option, you do not have a “choice.” And separating a mother from her child is unnatural at best, coercive at worst.

    • Karen WB

      Your mother is right. No choice. No decision. It is a “gun to the head” experience, Elle. One option is not a choice. They withheld information that would have helped us keep our baby. They withheld information, too, about our legal rights and protections under the law. They used their own lawyers. We had none (conflict of interest and no fully informed “consent”). So many abuses and omissions. In my mind, it was legalized kidnapping. Hi

  3. Patricia Glover

    Beautifully written!! I hope more people wake up to the horror we subject mothers and their children to when we tell them their children would be better off without them. Why can’t people see how wrong this is? It is so easy to help each other. And yet, we stand by and allow this to happen. It just breaks my heart.

  4. Karen Wilson+Buterbaugh

    Infant adoption is inherently coercive. The very fact that social workers are called “adoption” workers is evidence of this. They are biased towards adoption and make their living from mother/child separation. See “Not By Choice” online and exiled mothers.com. My book, “The Baby Scoop Era: Unwed Mothers, Infant Adoption and Forced Surrender,” released last June (2017) contains adoption literature in the words of adoption workers and others involved in infant adoption that prove coercion, pressure, grooming and thought reform methods (coercive persuasion, brainwashing) used on single mothers, mostly housed in maternity homes and mostly “counseled” by agency adoption workers to surrender their babies en mass. Most definitely adoption is coercive; not only during the BSE but still to this day. Having anyone involved in an at-risk single mother’s pregnancy, labor, delivery and six week post partum period is hugely and totally coercive. Take money out of adoption. Take adoption social workers out of adoption. Take potential adopters out of the mother’s pregnancy, labor and through her post partum. Stop positioning potential adopters as foster caregivers in order to use “best interests of the child” against natural parents. Force social workers (not adoption workers) to do their socially entrusted duty to help al vulnerable mothers KEEP and learn to parent their own children. No mother should lose their infant due to age, income or marital status. Support Natural Family Preservation.

  5. Kathy

    Well said, Debbie. Thanks for alerting me to this misconception among the pro-life community. The quote from the pregnancy support agency is horrendous: women should give away their children in order to create a hopeful future for themselves? Hopefully the well-intentioned pro-lifers who hold this point of view will see the error of their ways.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2024 Debbie Garratt

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑