Adoption in relation to Abortion provision, notes on clinics that embrace adoption marketing
The below is my comment on the New York Times article, Campaigning for Common Ground in Abortion Debate.
Where to start?
The fact that women’s autonomy and freedom must not be up for “debate” perhaps?
The article itself starts off with the false notion that many clinics that offer abortion services don’t ALREADY mention adoption in the course of counseling sessions, offer referrals, or even do adoptions themselves and then goes downhill from there.
More to the point, the article never gets around to the core questions that underlie a woman (and adoptee) centered analysis of adoption and thereafter the decision of any given clinic to incorporate adoption marketing materials (if such is still left up to the clinic, as many states mandate it at this point.)
Whether the existing adoption infrastructure (which is after all, the only adoption we have) is or is not compatible with institutions that at least on some level claim to honour women’s free agency and autonomy, speaking both reproductively and more generally *AND* does adoption as an institution respect and uphold and the human, civil, and identity rights of those directly affected (including the rights of the eventual resultant children)?
Or is adoption incompatible with women’s autonomy and free agency, *AND* does it systemically, fundamentally cause harm to the human, civil, and identity rights of those directly affected?
If it does harm, is such fundamentally at odds with the very nature of any given clinic as an institution?
Answering those questions would go a long way towards determining whether or not clinics that are genuinely interested in women’s rights, autonomy, lifelong health and well being should or should not accommodate promotion of both adoption itself as a concept and for today’s existing adoption industry.
Some clinics are Feminist in orientation viewing themselves as part of the broader Women’s Health Movement, others view their role as a medical specialty. Some are physician owned, others are part of a broader corporate structure.
Through the years many have come out to their own stances in relation to adoption, each as unique as the clinics themselves.
(Anti-Abortion Coercive Pregnancy Indoctrination Centers, so called “crisis pregnancy centers” on the other hand, are usually little more than a front door entrance to the adoption industry. Many measure their monthly tallies in terms of not merely how many women redirected from abortion to birthgiving, but also how many children placed for adoption per month. They ARE adoption marketing. Their track records on both rights and women’s autonomy are but a series of horror stories.)
So my comment:
There are only two reproductive decisions (sometimes) under a woman’s control: having an abortion or giving birth.
Adoption is a decision about who will do the day to day raising of any eventual child. It is not a reproductive decision but rather, a decision that cannot be carried out until after a child is born. The child has their own distinct set of human/civil/& identity rights.
Adoption is not some form of reproductive middle ground.
“Open adoptions” in many states are not legally enforceable. Promises of ongoing contact are made, sometimes just long enough to get a woman to sign a relinquishment form before the child is taken by the adoptive parents, never to be heard from again (as an agency intermediary may keep names and other details as secret as a child’s state confiscated birth certificates.)
Even “open adoptions” in sealed records states produce kids with sealed records. It is more an industry marketing tool than a genuine protection of Mother’s rights
Coercive Pregnancy Indoctrination Centers have long conflated the adoption child rearing decision (if a woman gets to decide) with the reproductive decision of whether or not to bear a pregnancy to term.
Seeing clinics that offer abortion services embrace that false conflation is tragic.
Most women seeking abortion providers have already made their decision BEFORE they reach the clinic.
Posters, required “information,” and other adoption marketing mechanisms inside clinics, whether due to the provider’s embrace of the false meme or state mandated continue the drumbeat of what women already hear outside the clinic walls:
- ‘An abortion decision is something a woman should always second guess.’
- ‘There’s still time to back out’
- ‘You don’t have to do this.’
All of which are more about stigmatizing abortion and isolating women who do go forward with their abortion decisions as well as abortion providers themselves than any concrete offer of a genuine alternative.
Falsely elevating adoption up to some supposed form of “third choice” also vastly exaggerates the number of women who turn to adoption in the perception of the woman who has come to the clinic seeking abortion care.
Only a tiny percentage of pregnant women in America opt for adoption and of those who do, most will chose family or close friends not total strangers as adoptive parents.
When women and girls do turn to adoption, what institutions they find are rarely designed to respect her autonomy and sexual decisions.
The current state of the adoption industry in this country is largely religious in nature, born of objections to abortion AND a desire to ensure its own movement growth by moving children from those it deems “unfit” parents to those the religious institutions deems “appropriate.”
For young women, the maternity homes of yesteryear are still with us, though some have updated their tactics. Religious conversion and ‘moral redemption’ via the surrender of their parental rights, remain core to many of these maternity ministries.
Placing what amounts to an intake path to ministries into the clinic setting is asking women to endure advertising from a competing view of women’s place in the world inside one of the few spaces where what she herself has decided should be respected.
Such also glosses over or denies many Mothers’ unpleasant experiences of adoption. To simply offer up such a panacea as some last minute solution, whereby a woman can avoid the medical procedure that culturally she is being taught to fear is to offer little more than an impulse shopping form of escape hatch without a full disclosure of what lies on the other side of the hatch door.
Those attacking abortion have invested in infrastructure to collect those women and utilize their pregnancies for their own ends.
I’ve spoken with abortion providers who do offer adoption “counseling.” The crux of the matter is what happens when it comes time for a adoption referral on to a next step. The answer is always the same: either religiously based aspects of the crisis pregnancy industry or the more secular alternative, an adoption lawyer.
The problem with both of these is that by funneling pregnant women into such, clinics are all too often handing pregnant women off to those who will financially benefit from the woman’s pregnancy (creating a vast conflict of interest and very real pressure on the woman to relinquish, not change her mind after birth) AND both of these are some of the key players ensuring that Adoptees’ and Mother’s records remain sealed away from them.
To genuinely respect women’s lifelong needs and rights, including the rights of adopted people, clinics need to carefully re-examine their support of the existing adoption industry, not put posters up funneling pregnant women into an industry that oftentimes cares little for them as individuals and their and their eventual kids’ lifelong needs and rights.
Women deserve better than the crisis pregnancy industry.