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Tag: adoption (Page 1 of 2)

Human trafficking dressed up as beautiful adoption

The 14yr old's perspective

Imagine being 13yrs old living on the street because you ran away from an abusive home, used for sex by men who see you as an object to do with whatever they please while money changes hands and you barely get to eat. But the man who takes that money puts a roof over your head most nights and looks out for you to make sure you are at least relatively safe... within reason of course.  A few bruises here and there are part of the fun for some of the men, but it isn't good for business if they are allowed to go too far.

At barely 14, and 6 months pregnant you are arrested for soliciting on the street.  You are given an option to go to a maternity home where, you are told, you will be cared for until you have your baby.   You arrive and are welcomed with fresh clothes, a comfortable bed, people who tell you how wonderful you are.   You experience hope for the first time in a long time.  Maybe your life can actually be different.  Maybe you can even keep your baby with the help of all these people who seem so kind and caring.  Maybe it won't be all that bad to have your baby live with that nice couple who gushed all over you.  After all they promised you could visit as often as you want.  You'll still kind of be the baby's mother and you'll have a reason to pull your life together.. to make your new little daughter proud of you, and then maybe you'll even be able to get her back one day, or maybe even move in with them.   The couple seem so kind, perhaps they would be happy to help you both.

You have a long, scary and painful labour, finally giving birth to an actual baby.   An actual baby girl.  You hold her, marvelling at everything about her.  She has the biggest eyes, you see yourself in those eyes.  She cries and you want to nurse her but the social worker who sits beside you says it isn't a good idea.  It will make it harder to let her go.   You feel panic.  Let her go?  Of course, you have to let her go.  You ask, hesitantly... do I really have to? 

Your social worker reminds you that the baby's parents are right next door waiting for her.  You agreed.  You can't let them down. Where would you live with your baby?   Doesn't she deserve better than to be back on the street?  How would  you take care of her?  She tells you how brave you are.  What a good thing you are doing.  What a wonderful life your little girl will have.    You'll be able to see her remember.  She'll only be a few hours away by bus.   You'll have photos, you'll know how loved she is.

You don't want to let her go, not for a second.  You wonder why it is that there isn't someone who wants to help take care of you so you can take care of your baby, but of course the couple only want the baby.  And you did agree.

The social worker is right.  You can't take your baby onto the street with you.  In fact she said you probably wouldn't be allowed to.  The baby would be taken anyway, but this time she would go to foster parents and you know what foster parents can be like.  That's what you ran from.

You stare at the nurses, willing them to help you.  "You are brave.  You are selfless." they tell you.   You are a loving mother.  You sign your child away forever.  

You return to before.  The only way you can ever visit your baby is if you can get enough money to cover the bus fare each way and you want to be able to stay over so you can have a proper visit.  The only way to do that is to go back.   Now you put up with the men because the men are the means to seeing your baby.

You catch the bus and arrive to visit your beautiful baby girl.  It has been 9 weeks.  She has grown so much.  The couple look at you strangely.  You realised you're a bit messed up looking.  You had a shower, but you didn't have shampoo.   Maybe they will offer you to stay there for the night so you can snuggle your little girl.  But they don't.   In fact, they tell you they only have an hour because they are on the way out to a family event.  They tell you how grateful they are.   The baby cries.  You ache to hold her, to comfort her.  But the couple take her from your arms, they say she needs a nap.  You watch her leave the room.  You ask if you can come back the next day.  They look at each other.  They tell you they are busy, that maybe next time they will have more time for a longer visit. 

You know they are lying.

The nurse's perspective:

"I'm a nurse that works in a birthplace.  I've witnessed several adoptions. I've held biological moms as they cry and I tell them how brave and selfless they are.  I've also handed an adoptive parent their newborn and said "Meet your daughter/son". This is by far the most magical moment. There is not a dry eye in the room when this happens. I am a huge proponent of adoption."

and

"I do believe open adoptions are the best for the child in the long run but that is not always possible of wanted. I see many situations in the birthplace, many types of families and difficult situations.  I've taken care of 14 year olds that are homeless, that have no family support and are sleeping on their pimp's couch.. when he lets her..  and yes we involved social services but I think a child put in that situation if going to have a lot more trauma in their life than being raised by parents that have longed for a child for years.

Adoption is beautiful... that is my opinion."

These last 2 quotes are real.  The story of the 13/14yr old is made up, but has come from true stories.  It may be the real story of one of the 14 year olds mentioned by the nurse.   Or maybe the real stories are even worse.

What I want to know is how this isn't simple child trafficking?   How does a 14yr old who can't even 'choose' whether she gets a couch to sleep on, or whether multiple  men rape her each day, 'choose' to sign a contract relinquishing her newborn baby?

How can any decent human being see anything beautiful in such a tragedy?   Maybe this is an extreme adoption story, but maybe not.  It is clear that most adoptions are not freely chosen, but are the desperate decision of mothers with few resources who are groomed to believe that adoption is braver, more selfless, more loving than parenting.  How can any woman hold a new baby in her arms and feel 'happy' that she has severed that baby from the only person he/she knows and longs for?  How can she ignore the grief and trauma of the woman who carried and birthed this baby? 

The nurse quoted above is from the USA where adoption occurs at a much higher rate than in Australia, is privatised, and couples and agencies advertise looking for 'birth mums' to fill the need of infertile couples.   For those advocating more adoption in Australia, is this what you want?  Because this is where you will end up if we continue to talk about the 'tragedy' of low adoption numbers, or worse still the long waiting lists that prospective adoptive parents must endure.  

There is no entitlement to children.  We can't allow this to take a foothold here.

 

 

 

Briefing Paper: Promotion of Adoption as an Alternative to Abortion

Printable version

There has been increased media representation of Australia’s low adoption rates as a negative phenomenon along with calls to increase rates, ostensibly to provide children with security and stability, and also to provide infertile couples with a way to ‘create a family’.   Christian and prolife groups have also increased their ‘adoption not abortion’ sloganism, seemingly unaware of the damaging nature such an approach has on their positioning on abortion.

This paper will address four main arguments against the use of promoting adoption as a solution to abortion and is informed by research and experience working with both post-abortive women and those living with the negative impacts of adoption, including adult adoptees and the research into impacts of adoption.

 1. Adoption does not decrease abortion rates.

Countries such as the United States of America where adoption rates are significantly higher than in Australia continue to report the same rate of abortion as Australia.   This tells us that a) adoption is an alternative to parenting when a mother is not supported to do the latter and b) it is a decision made later in pregnancy, not at abortion decision-making time.

There is simply no evidence from any country that increased adoption means less abortion.

 2. Promoting adoption ignores the reasons the majority of women seek abortion

Approximately 95% of all abortions are undertaken for psychosocial reasons, which generally mean a lack of resourcing, whether financial, material, relational or emotional.  Promoting adoption as a solution to these social issues is no different from promoting abortion as the solution when it does nothing to address women’s real unmet needs.   In fact, such promotion weakens the evidence based position that women seeking abortion have unmet needs rather than ‘unwanted’ pregnancies.

3. Promoting adoption reinforces a woman’s feelings of incapacity and feels like a greater loss

When women think about having an actual ‘baby’ as opposed to being pregnant, they think in terms of the pain and anguish of losing that baby and may be more inclined to decide on abortion if the alternative is to give their baby up rather than be supported to parent.

  Messaging about ‘good’ parents, who have more resources and who desperately want a baby has the implicit and very powerful message that:

  • The mother isn’t good enough
  • The mother’s capacity to provide is as limited as she already believes it is
  • That the mother doesn’t want, and therefore couldn’t love her baby as much as ‘better’ parents

This messaging simply reinforces her sense of incapacity about her ability to parent and leaves her feeling that nobody will support her to parent, thereby making abortion seem much less traumatic than adoption.

4. Fails to acknowledge the adverse impacts of adoption

Adoption is not without significant, serious and long-term consequences for mothers, adopted children and adult adoptees.  There is significant and growing evidence of the detrimental effects of maternal deprivation on infants.  A baby knows and has already bonded to his/her mother during pregnancy.  He/she seeks comfort in her smell, her voice, her touch and when they are separated, trauma ensues and can have life-long effects.   Promoting adoption as a means to create families for those who struggle with infertility ignores the trauma of the severing of a first family in its wake.  

There are a number of groups established in Australia by both mothers who have lost children to adoption and by adult adoptees.   The common thread in their stories is the lack of acknowledgement of the genuine grief and trauma inherent in their lives due to the loss of biological connections.  For adult adoptees the sense that they were traded as commodities is prevalent, along with an understandable objection to the expectation they should be grateful for the ‘better’ life they were given.  This better life for many did not exist, as adoptive parents are also human beings who don’t parent well, who get divorced, and who die.   Even those who feel loved by, and love their adoptive families have lived with a strong sense of loss throughout their lives; a loss that they often feel compelled to be silent about in order to protect all parties.

For mothers who grieve the loss of their children to adoption, there are valid questions about why they were not considered ‘good’ enough and why people did not simply support them through a time of need rather than take their child.

Adoption as it is currently practised severs biological ties in a way that is not necessary for the provision of love, stability and security for life.  Adoption serves the needs of adults not of children, and promotion of this option at any time ignores the rights of mothers and children to adequate support and connection to each other.

Key Recommendations

  1. All promotion of adoption as an alternative to abortion should be ceased
  2. Access to information about supports available for women during pregnancy and parenting should be strengthened and promoted.

The clashing of ‘rights’

The concept of 'rights' would seem one that most could agree on.  Many of them are objectively clear and straightforward.   As human beings we expect that everyone has the right to be provided adequate food, water, shelter and medical care.  We expect that people have the right to feel safe from physical and psychological harm and that they have the right to make certain decisions about who they interact with, and in which ways.

Many of our laws are designed to protect the rights of the majority... the 'greater good'... as opposed to the individual.  We don't have the right to drive above the speed limit or to ride motorbikes without helmets.   Some laws are designed to protect young people from the potential harm of life-long decisions;  in Australia a person under 18 cannot legally get a tattoo and a person under 16 needs parental permission for ear piercing.    We don't allow young people to drink alcohol or drive cars until they are deemed mature enough to fully comprehend the responsibilities and consequences.

There are several areas within which the concept of 'rights'  means an upholding of one person's 'right' even when it infringes another's.   When these situations arise, rather than take the time to find a balance, people who have held vehemently to one right or another seem to dig their heels in and argue all the more loudly for their positioning.

One of these that threatens to create a new generation of people whose rights are infringed upon is adoption.  I have spent the best part of the last decade listening to the stories of mothers who lost children to adoption in an era when this was seen as 'better' for their children and something they should just move on and forget about.   Most of them describe situations where they experienced very little choice and some that they were forced or didn't even provide consent for adoption.    I have images in my mind of the mothers who related stories of returning day after day to the hospital where they'd given birth, wanting to collect their baby only to be eventually told that their child had been given to a 'better' family and they should go home.   The grief they carry today is palpable.  There is no forgetting one's child.  It is beyond heartbreaking.

Many of the mothers try to contact their now adult children, some find that their children don't want to meet them; others discover a hard reality; that the adult they meet does not make up for the infant they lost.  The person in front of them is not the same person they would have been if they'd been raised by them.  The losses remain even when a new way to build relationship is successful.

Over more recent years, the voices of adult adoptees have been added to those I've heard on this issue and they have a lot to say about the loss of their own rights.  When adoption occurs a transaction is made whereby a child becomes the legal 'property' of another family.  Their original birth certificate is replaced with one that states the new parents are their parents.  The identity of the child is erased.

While some espouse that open adoptions have replaced the previous landscape of separation with a new model, this isn't strictly true.  Open adoptions in most cases mean only occasional contact, and not always in person.  Such contact rarely provides necessary time for true relationship building, and is fraught with challenges of its own.

What happens when that child grows up to be an adult with their own rights?  Surprisingly this doesn't actually happen for adoptees.   One would expect that all adults have certain rights to know their parents or other biological relatives.  Yet people who were adopted as children don't have this right.  They don't have the right to sever the adoption contract that was made for them as infants in order to return to their biological families, even when both parties want this to occur.  Some feel they don't have the right to even seek such information when their childhoods have been replete with talk of how lucky they are to be adopted, when many are wondering how it is others think it is lucky to not be with their natural mothers.

Adoption is talked about as a solution for providing loving, stable 'for life' families for children, yet there is no guarantee of this, even when we grow up in our own biological families.   There are many stories of people who did feel loved by their adoptive families and who love their adoptive parents.  This does not negate the sense of loss they experienced, nor their need to belong with their 'own'.  In many ways it adds to the guilt, confusion and trauma that many feel.

Being adopted doesn't prevent you from living a life where your parents divorce, experience financial hardship, or where you aren't abused or neglected in some way.  There is no way of ensuring that adopted children are consistently, genuinely loved or cared for any more than this is possible in biological families.   Yet we sold it in these ways for decades, and we are now building systems to do so again.

And many adult adoptees are rightly angry that their voices are missing from the discussion, that their rights remain infringed and that they are about to witness the same level of deceit and lifelong trauma inflicted on a new generation.

When we legislate 'rights' for individuals we need to take into account all the potential individuals impacted over time.   No person has the 'right' to have a child.  Children have a right to love, stability and safety but also the right to grow up knowing their biological parents.   It is possible to do both without legal severing of those ties.  It is time to look at alternative models of long term care that don't include this.

It is time to listen to those most affected; the children who have now grown up and are demanding their own rights.

 

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