When 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. 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 Read: The 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 (The Family Preservation Project has an exhaustive list organized by state. There are several resources outside of the U.S. listed here). 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
- Adoption Surveys: Adult Adoptee Perceptions in a Closed Adoption
- The Multi Billion Dollar Adoption Industry: America, You Have an Adoption Problem -Velvet Bocephus
- The Church and Adoption -Bleeding Hearts
- Adoptee rights and current legislation -Adoptee Rights Law
- Biological Separation and Trauma:
- The Lasting Impact in Brain Development -Jacek Debiec, University of Michigan
- The Voice of Psychological Science: On Separating Children From Their Parents
- Adopted people are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than non adopted people: Adoptees and attempted suicide -PDF / Pediatrics
- Mothers who have lost children to adoption often suffer from secondary infertility
- Adopted people often struggle with feelings of genealogical bewilderment