Coercion and Adoption

Below are several examples of common, coercive practices carried out by adoption agents, agencies, social workers, and the church. It’s crucial we’re aware of the ways in which pregnant women in our country are targeted and coerced into losing their children so that we may effectively fight together for family preservation. 


 

Coercion in Domestic Adoption

  •   Labeling a Pregnancy as a “Crisis”

A pregnancy will be perceived the way it is received. When we refer to a pregnancy as a “crisis” rather than the joy it is, people will respond accordingly. When an entire family decides to embrace a baby as a welcomed addition, the panic response subsides and is replaced with the enthusiasm a new life deserves.

  •   Counseling for Expectant Parents Provided by the Agency

     This creates an obvious conflict of interest. Clearly, anyone employed or contracted by adoption agents would be unable to provide unbiased services. Additionally, fathers are often overlooked in the adoption process. Every child deserves to be raised within their family of origin if at all possible, this includes their father. Fathers have a right to parent and raise their own child, just as a mother does. Expectant parents should receive an unbiased advocate, counseling, and legal representation which has no affiliation with an agency. 

  • Withholding Important Studies & Testimonials 

     There is extensive research available for expectant parents so they can make fully informed decisions; this includes testimonials and studies from both mothers and adopted people who have actual lived experience. Mothers need to know what to expect should they decide to relinquish. By withholding critical information agencies are throwing mothers into a raging river without a vest. When making a decision of this magnitude they MUST be informed. 

  • Initial Consultation

      Adoption agents are known to provide worksheets and questionnaires for expectant mothers at the initial consult. During this time an agent will take the opportunity to point out all an expectant mother doesn’t have and all that the hopeful adoptive parents do have. (Link to actual agency worksheet below)

  • Referring to the Expectant Mother as “Birth Mother” 

     The terminology “Birth Mother” acts as a reminder to the mother of her responsibility to fulfill the adoption plan (to give birth). She should never be referred to as birth mother until she legally relinquishes her rights. ‘Birth mother’ is another way of gradually disassociating a mother from her child throughout her pregnancy. This label is dehumanizing and carries a stigma. A pregnant woman does not owe her child to anyone no matter her circumstance; a woman who carries a child in her body is a mother, not a “birth mother”. For clarification purposes, the qualifier should be added to ‘adoptive’ mother.

  • Referring to a Mother as “Brave” or “Selfless”

     Does the alternative mean a mother is selfish for keeping her baby? When we elevate a mother to hero status we are attempting to create noble justification for separation. It’s subtle manipulation. The truth is: A mother and her baby were created to be together. They are a family. “Brave” is parenting even when people tell you you’re not good enough. (See: BraveLove)

  • Creating an “Adoption Plan” 

     An “adoption plan” should never be made before a baby is born. On average, 50% of mothers with an adoption plan change their minds after giving birth (cite/source below- 10 Red Flags). When a plan is made before a mother has had adequate bonding with her baby, there is a sense of obligation to fulfill not only the adoption agreement but also the hopeful adoptive parents dreams.

  • Pre-Birth Matching 

     Typically an agency and/or adoption attorney will provide the expectant mother with profiles of hopeful adoptive parents. When she chooses a couple to parent her child and begins communication with them prior to delivery, this further solidifies her sense of obligation. This is intentional. (She “..doesn’t want to disappoint them”, she “…really likes them”, or “…they’ve been so nice  to me.”) This standard protocol also sets up hopeful adoptive parents for disappointment should a mother change her mind. (See: The Missing Piece)

  • Promises of an Open Adoption

     Open Adoption was established by adoption professionals when the industry saw a decline in available babies. They recognized that expectant parents were less inclined to relinquish if they didn’t know where or with whom their baby was going. It is a coercive tactic created in order to persuade a mother to relinquish her baby. In most states there is no legal recourse should adoptive parents decide to close the open adoption agreement and there is no state where adoptive parents face a penalty for breaking a PACA.

  • Assisted Living Expenses

     The amount given to a mother during pregnancy varies by agency, state laws, and situation. Mothers are frequently threatened that they will need to pay back adoption agents should they change their mind. By receiving monies during a pregnancy this also applies further obligation and pressures to the mother when making her decisions.

  • Hopeful Adoptive Parents Present at the Birth

     Having hopeful, adoptive parents (HAP) present at any time while a mother and her baby are in the hospital adds undo pressure to a mother and additional trauma to the infant. This is a critical time for a mother to bond with her baby. No decisions should be made until they are given time alone together. Having HAPs present becomes an added (intentional) distraction (also noted in The Missing Piece study mentioned above). An infant only knows their mother, everyone else is a stranger. Contrary to common adoption agency practices, “bonding” with strangers doesn’t create an easier transition for infants. 

  • Offering Lump Sum, Housing, or Scholarship Money once TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) is Signed

     To entice a mother with monetary gifts only if/when she signs the TPR is coercive. It’s often the determining factor for a vulnerable mother. It’s yet another incentive for hopeful adoptive parents in order to receive her signature and her baby. 

  • Calling CPS When a Mother Revokes

     Another common practice, seen as an additional attempt to get a mother to relinquish her child is calling CPS with false accusations if/when a mother revokes. This is bullying behavior. If this occurs, a mother should know she is well within her rights and should never sign any document presented to her by CPS.


“I had not realized that I had gone through a process to take away my parental rights completely,” the mother said in sworn testimony September 8, 2016. “I had all along thought and understood that the child was going to be educated and returned back to me.” -Ugandan Mother

Coercion in Intercountry Adoption

While many of the same coercive measures are used in intercountry adoption, there are some additional layers of manipulation and deceit often seen.


  • Money Exchanged

     We often hear stories of poor and vulnerable families being given  a sum of money for their child (See: Child Catchers by Kathryn Joyce). Parents in these countries are often told their children are being sent away for “education and feeding programs.” They  are promised photos, letters, and the safe return of their child. They fully believe they will see their children again. Frequently, these parents do not speak english and are tricked into signing papers (not in their spoken language) relinquishing their rights to their own children. 

  • No Word for ‘Adoption’

     In many of these countries there is no word which translates to adoption. The families have no understanding of this construct. They are, typically, illiterate and unable to read any document they have signed. 

  • Societal Stigma 

     In many countries, the deep cultural stigma attached to a young, unwed mother, let alone a pregnant woman, bring about severe consequences. With their lives at risk, their only option is to hide and/or abandon their baby.

Additional Links to Information / Resources Mentioned Above

  • Domestic

10 Red Flags That Your Adoption Agency Might be Coercive 

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The Missing Piece

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“Landmark Donaldson Adoption Institute Study reveals financial difficulties, social pressures and lack of support all factors in decision-making for expectant mothers.” 

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The Latest! Pre birth matching as easy as a mobile app

“AdoptMatch is a mobile app and online resource that connects Expectant Parents with Adoptive Parents who are working with an Adoption Professional committed to the very highest standards of ethics and best practices in adoption. AdoptMatch is not an agency, attorney or facilitator.  We connect Expectant Parents with the Adoptive Parents’ Adoption Professional.” 

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“The truth is that the adoption system is greatly flawed. It is a profit driven industry. Both adoptive parents and natural parents are exploited for what they bring to the table: money for fees and children for transfer. The children adopted are treated like a commodity with the transfer of parental rights to a child bought and sold.” – Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy

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“When Jordan arrived, a counselor began asking whether she’d considered adoption and talking about the poverty rates of single mothers. Over five counseling sessions, she convinced Jordan that adoption was a win-win situation: Jordan wouldn’t “have death on her hands,” her bills would be paid and the baby would go to a family of her choosing in an open adoption. She suggested Jordan move into one of Bethany’s “shepherding family” homes, away from the influence of family and friends.”  

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Utah, especially, has a long history of unethical adoption practices particularly regarding father rights. It’s no secret that expectant mothers are often sent to Utah to deliver their babies. “Under Utah’s law, a child aged six months or less can be adopted without the legal consent of an unmarried biological father unless the man has already initiated a petition to establish paternity.” 

  • Intercountry 

The Child Catchers, by Kathryn Joyce 

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The Traffickers – Exposing the Dark Side of International Adoption

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Why We Need to End the Era of Orphanages 

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“I had not realized that I had gone through a process to take away my parental rights completely,” the mother said in sworn testimony September 8, 2016. “I had all along thought and understood that the child was going to be educated and returned back to me.” 

© 2018 Family Preservation 365, All Rights Reserved.

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Why Family Preservation?

IMG_0027When discussing family preservation we are often met with questions and pushback.

Here, we’ve provided some helpful responses when fielding questions specific to family preservation vs. adoption. These are intended to be used as tools when having these critical conversations so that we may better educate society.


 

  • What about the mothers who don’t want their babies? Rarely will a mother carry a child for 9 months, bond, and then want to give away her baby. This is simple biology. Adoption most often occurs because mothers/families lack social support and financial resources. Even in the rare cases where a mother might seem disinterested, kinship care is still a better option than adoption by strangers. Children need genetic mirrors. Children raised within their own family exhibit higher levels of self esteem and confidence, which translates to healthier emotional growth, overall.

 

  • What about mothers who are addicts (drugs/alcohol) and/or are abusive? Children born to mothers who use drugs or infants born with FAS or addicted are removed from their mother by the state. There are programs available to these mothers (see U.S. Resources). A mother should be given time to rehabilitate before her parental rights are terminated. Addiction is seen most often in parents of children in our U.S. foster care system, not typically in domestic infant or inter country adoption. Even in the cases where children have been removed by the state, every effort for family reunification should be made.

 

  • What about the orphans or children who were abandoned by their family? The majority of children labeled “orphan” are living in orphanages due to poverty, isolation, and a lack of resources, not because they don’t have family.  If we are truly caring for those in need, then we should help establish systems in those countries to allow children to remain with their family, in their own familiar culture. 80% of children living in institutionalized care have living family. 1.2 million children are trafficked annually, around the world. 70% of the victims are dis empowered, illiterate, and living in poverty.” -Global Orphan Prevention 

 

  • Does separating a child from their mother cause lifelong trauma? As we listen to the lived experiences of adopted people and what science has taught us about the infant/mother bond, it’s clear separation of child and mother, and their biological family often causes lifelong harm to a child. This trauma can manifest itself differently in each individual.“Unless a child’s safety is in question the best place for a child is in their family of origin. We don’t add trauma to an already traumatized child.” – Wendy, MSW// Evangelical Child and Family Services   ReadThe Science Is Unequivocal: Separating Families Is Harmful to Children and But I Adopted My Child at Birth. What Do You Mean Trauma?

 

  • Is adoption the alternative to abortion? Women who have decided to carry their child to term have already chosen not to abort. The alternative to abortion is pregnancy. Once a woman decides to remain pregnant, she is the mother of her child, not a vessel for another family. Abortion is a reproductive choice, adoption is a parenting choice. A mother and her infant need to be thought of as one; a dyad, that need each other for survival.

 

  • What about the statistics of children being raised by single mothers? More and more we see studies showing the success of single mothers and the success’s of their children. Birth rate for unmarried women: 42.4 births per 1,000 unmarried women ages 15-44. 40% of all births are to unmarried women, not to be confused with “single” mothers. Read: Single Mom Statistics

 

  • What does the Bible say about adoption? Adoption was used in ancient Rome for inheritance purposes; this in no way reflects modern adoption practices. Many are quick to reference James 1:27 as a “call to adopt”. The verse instructs us to “care for” or “visit” the “fatherless” or “orphans” and “widows”. It’s a far stretch to interpret this scripture as instruction to separate children from their families rather than offer them support.  “Other than Mordecai and Esther (a kinship adoption) I’m unaware of any adoption. Moses was -sort of- adopted but his mother nursed him and helped raise him, and there was no happy ending there considering his estrangement from the Israelites and subsequent flight into the desert. If we look more closely at a few of the verses that might be interpreted as reason to adopt, we find that there is a huge discrepancy between the verses pertaining to spiritual adoption into the family of Christ and adoption as it’s known today.” –The Call to Adopt: Christians and Adoption / Bleeding Hearts. 

 

  • What is in the best interest of a child? Fighting a cultural narrative. Separating children from their families has never been nature’s design. As a society, we’ve become quick to make assumptions about who is better equipped to raise a child. Therefore, adoption has become an option in western culture. It’s seen as a solution to unplanned pregnancy, infertility, or simply to grow a family. Adoption is often described as “win-win.” In the U.S. there are approximately 18,000 infant adoptions per year. It is a 13 billion dollar industry and children are the commodity. In Australia, Ireland, and England there are less than 300 private adoptions annually, combined. In these countries, private adoption, the buying and selling of children, is illegal. So, they are often encouraged to turn to the U.S. if they desire a newborn.

 

  • Adoption: A permanent solution to a temporary crisis. When a mother is faced with an unplanned pregnancy, her circumstances are often less than ideal to parent, but most of these circumstances are temporary. Separating a child from their family for a lifetime because of a seasonal crisis is not a logical solution. There are many opportunities for family and community to step in and offer support regarding finances, housing, and childcare. There are also multiple resources available to women and families that often go untapped because of the push for adoption (many U.S. Resources are listed on our site and The Family Preservation Project has an exhaustive list organized by state. There are several resources outside of the U.S. listed under Global Preservation). When a mother is offered proper support and stability, she is able to confidently raise her child. When we preserve a family, we strengthen a society.

 

  • The restricted rights of an adopted person vs. a non adopted person. When a child is born, an original birth certificate (OBC) is issued showing date of birth, time of birth, parents’ names, etc. Parents should request this original document. When a child is adopted, along with finalization papers, an amended birth certificate (ABC) is issued which replaces the biological parents’ names with those of the adoptive parents and the child’s name given at birth with the new name (if this is being changed). The revised birth certificate is then given to the adoptive parents. The original birth certificate is placed with additional adoption records and the file is sealed by the court. An adopted persons original birth certificate is generally not available to them…ever. Adoptees are the only people group without access to their original record of birth, even once they reach the age of majority.

 

  • “But, ours is an open adoption…” Open adoption is sold today as the solution. Open adoption has its own set of issues: it’s confusing for the adoptee and there is no legal recourse should the adoptive parents decide to close the open adoption agreement. Open adoption was created by adoption professionals when they saw a decline in babies available for adoption. They found that mothers were hesitant to relinquish their children without knowing where and to whom they were going. Open adoption still results in the separation of a mother and her child.

 

  • What about infertile couples who cannot have children? Adoption is often a last resort for couples who are unable to conceive. The inability to have a baby doesn’t entitle anyone to another persons child.

 

Statistics and Useful Links 

Learn More With fp365

Open bookEducation is key as we work to do our part in keeping families together. We are up against decades of silencing those who are most affected by family separation and a multi billion dollar industry based on deceit and coercion.

Our three educational resources share directly from those who live with family separation. In order to fully understand the importance of keeping families intact, we need to hear from those who have lived the alternative.

Let us approach these resources with a “Just Listen” mentality and use what we learn as tools for family preservation.

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DearAdoption.com is a platform for adoptees promoting authenticity and educating others by sharing a vast array of experiences as lived by those most affected by adoption.

 

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Sincerely, is a place for natural family members to share their experiences with adoption. While Sincerely, believes the dominant voice in adoption must be those of adopted people, their natural family members are a part of that story.

 

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P.S. features letters written by those in reunion: those once separated by adoption. While society loves a reunion story, often the stories shared publicly capture just the beginning of a challenging journey.

Global Preservation and Community

IMG_1762Global Preservation

A question we often hear in family preservation advocacy is, “But, what about the orphans?”. 80% of all children living in institutionalized care have living family. These are families who have been separated due to poverty, desperation, and societal stigma. The best response we can give to this persistent question and concern is to direct people to organizations who are actively working to empower mothers and families so they remain together. While many have good intentions, it’s the absence of transparency which perpetuates families being separated. They don’t know. There are warriors in the trenches who are working tirelessly toward orphan prevention and family preservation. Please visit our site to view our list of global partners. These are organizations who have a like-minded, family preservation focus. We will be adding regularly to our growing list.

Global Family Preservation

Community

One of fp365 three areas of focus is ‘building an army.’ Our purpose in forming an army is to grow a necessary presence within our communities. Family preservation efforts need to be as prevelant and commonplace as adoption; it should be the first response to a family in temporary crisis. As our army grows, you will be connected to others in your area.

We recently attended the Indiana Adoptee Network Conference. It was a great weekend filled with fantastic workshops and community. We left the conference feeling encouraged and motivated. We saw how much can be accomplished in advocacy when there is a clear, intentional purpose. We are dedicated to changing these cultural perceptions. We know there is power in numbers and together we will educate our society.

Our Global Army

If you’re interested in contributing a quote and/or image in line with our mission, to our army page, please send us an email / familypreservation365@gmail.com.

Enlist in Our Global Army

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In the fight for global family preservation we must join forces to provide resources for expectant families and educate society.

Together, as we build our army, we will create and infrastructure for families and limit separation for future generations.

 

Why join?

  • You want to minimize the unnecessary separation of families
  • You have been affected by family separation and know the depth of its grief
  • You’re willing to offer support to vulnerable, expectant families so they don’t apply a permanent solution to their temporary crisis

How to join?

  • Contact us directly and provide your name, city, state, and email address
  • Follow fp365 news by clicking the icon at the bottom of the page
  • Follow/Like our social media pages to receive updates

What happens next?

  • You’ll receive an email from fp365 admin welcoming you to Our Global Army
  • You’ll begin to see posts here with ideas as to how you can infiltrate your community with supportive, creative solutions to keeping families together

Enlist in our global army; be a part of our family preservation movement. Let’s save families together.

Upcoming Posts:

  • Breakdown of the future of fp365’s strategy
  • How to build a family preservation army in your community
  • Additional ways to get involved on both a local and global level
  • Highlighting successful family preservation organizations