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.
BRAVE, COURAGEOUS, SELFLESS
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?