New Republic article on anti-adoption movement

The title of this article by Emily Matchar in the New Republic says it all: Meet the New Anti-Adoption Movement: The Surprising Next Frontier in Reproductive Justice. (Although I would argue that for those of us who follow the “politics” of adoption, the anti-adoption movement is not “new,” but one that has been present and growing for at least the past several years.) The article covers ground familiar to me, and I’m guessing many others:

The past decade has seen the rise of a broad and loose coalition of activists out to change the way adoption works in America. This coalition makes bedfellows of people who would ordinarily have nothing to do with each other: Mormon and fundamentalist women who feel they were pressured by their churches, progressives who believe adoption is a classist institution that takes the children of the young and poor and gives them to the wealthier and better-educated, and adoptive parents who have had traumatic experiences with corrupt adoption agencies

Some women, like [Claudia] Corrigan D’Arcy, blog their stories. They run message boards with names like “First Mother Forum” and “Pound Pup Legacy,” full of tales of bitterly regretted adoptions. They hold retreats for birthmothers and adoptees. They’ve formed several grassroots activist organizations, including Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, Origins-USA, and Concerned United Birthparents. Some call themselves adoption reformers. Others prefer terms such as “adoption truth advocate.” A few will come straight out and say they’re anti-adoption.

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Very few activists are claiming that adoption shouldn’t be an option, but the activists currently involved in the issue recognize that adoption is far from the perfect solution it was so long perceived to be. It’s a difficult, life-changing decision with ramifications that last a lifetime. As such, it needs to be treated with the utmost transparency and a much higher degree of ethical oversight, legal and otherwise.

“I would rather see us live in a society where we say to struggling pregnant women, ‘OK you have a problem, we should try to fix the whole situation,’” says Corrigan D’Arcy, “rather than remove the child and leave the mother in crisis.” One of the most important events of her recent life was locating her now-teenage son via MySpace. “Every portion of finding him, whether it was just finding that he was alive or finding where he is, I felt one step lighter, one step closer to being who I was really supposed to be.”

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Reading the article, I felt a sense of near-vindication, that I haven’t been imagining it, that the prevailing opinion toward adoption is, in fact, primarily and increasingly negative. What does that mean for families like ours, that are so obviously formed through adoption, and especially for my children?

I can talk forever about how we know our kids’ birth families and have relationships with them; how adoption was the best choice for each of our children’s birth mothers (according to our children’s birth mothers themselves) and for thousands of other women; how we visit Guatemala every year and embrace the culture. But none of that counts, really, when you’re discussing the “philosophy” of adoption, and whether it should be permitted at all.

Regardless of the details of any specific case, and whether or not the “general public” is aware of it, a shift in attitude toward adoption has occurred and is occurring, led by many vocal and active critics of the “institution.” I commend Emily Matchar and the New Republic for writing and publishing an article that illuminates this important subject with candor.

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6 Responses to “New Republic article on anti-adoption movement”

  1. nina says:

    Thanks Jessica for bringing that article to our attention. Over the years as an adoptive mother I have read, and come in contact with some very radical, angry – ‘anti-adoption’ movements. Many were started by adoptees, or ‘abductees’ as some refer to themselves, and others by organizations against international adoption. What remains true for me is the fact that although ideally it would be far better to find a way for children to stay with their birth families where possible, and desired by those families, as it stands right now there are thousands of children aging out of orphanages all over the world. The ‘black and white’ nature of these pro and anti adoption stances fails to bring into the arena the fact that while we continue to find homes for these children we can at the same time work towards a better solution for birth families, and adoptees. But until such time, we must consider the FACTS of the matter and they still remain; children all over the world are being placed in orphanages, or abandoned because parents are choosing that as a better option for both child and themselves. This fact is not a result of the existence of adoption, but rather adoption is one solution among many possibilities to alleviate the suffering of these children, and their birth parents.
    We are always so quick to find the right, and the wrong of all situations in this country. I think the issue of adoption is yet another place where we all need to step back and look at the bigger picture before we ‘take sides’.
    Thanks for bringing up the tuff stuff! I love that about your blog. Nina

  2. Jessica says:

    What wears me down is when a complex subject is made to appear simple, when it is anything but. Thank you for the reminder to see the gray areas in adoption. Nina, I appreciate your insights, Thank you. ~ Jessica

  3. It is always incredibly refreshing to read views like this from an adoptive parent. I admit I do have trouble with international adoptions, but as you say, you have met the mothers of your children. At least you are aware of the many issues involved and are willing to face them head on instead of simply castigating First Mother Forum for presenting the “other” side of adoption.

  4. Jessica says:

    I view myself as part of a sizeable and growing contingent of international adoptive families who have searched for and found our children’s birth mothers. My sense is that we’ve learned from those who have come before us and shared their experiences through books, blogs, seminars, and workshops–that is, people who are adopted and their first mothers and fathers. Speaking for myself, I’ve witnessed how critical that biological connection is to my children’s sense of identity, and even more, to their feeling of being loved. I urge anyone who will listen (and even some who won’t!) to consider searching for their child’s birth family. I describe the experience as a circle being closed.

    I’ve learned a lot from reading your blog, Lorraine. Thank you for your comment. ~

  5. Liz says:

    ‘Some call themselves adoption reformers. Others prefer terms such as “adoption truth advocate.” A few will come straight out and say they’re anti-adoption.’

    Many first mothers sincerely want deep and wide-ranging adoption reform, but a few who represent themselves as adoption reformers or “adoption truth advocates” really are as anti-adoption as those who come straight out and say it.

  6. Jessica says:

    Now when I think about the term “anti-adoption” I wonder what that really means. Surely someone cannot object to placing a child who legitimately doesn’t have a family. But maybe some do?
    Thank you for your comment, Liz.

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