Adoption: A Pro-Life Response to Families in Need

Jean Garton, Litt.D.

In a classroom of six-year-olds, the teacher was discussing a picture of a family. One of the children featured had a different hair color than did the other family members. A little girl in the class said maybe that was because the boy had been adopted.
“I know all about adoptions,” she said, “because I was adopted.” “What does that mean if you’re adopted?” asked a classmate. “It means,” said the little girl, “that you grew in your mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.”

In its defense of mother and unborn child, the prolife movement has always been a strong proponent of adoption. Yet there are whole organizations that exist for the sole purpose of aborting the adoption option. They believe that babies are better dead than with parents who are not theirs by birth.

When the founder of an antiadoption group was asked how she would counsel a teenage daughter who became pregnant, she said she would counsel her daughter “first to keep the baby, second to have an abortion, third to commit suicide, and only fourth to put the baby up for adoption.”

Why all the hostility? A National Review article (6/7/93) suggests three reasons.

1. In order for abortion to be legal and accepted, the unborn child has to be seen as the woman’s property.

2. For female autonomy to be affirmed, it must not be acknowledged that it is better for a child to live in a two parent family than with a single parent.

3. Every happy adoptee is a reminder to aborting mothers of the road not taken.

Adoption is a tried and true familybuilding option. Adoption, all in all, has served women, children, and society very well.

As one professional noted, “There are no unwanted children, only unfound parents.” 1

In the United States today there are two million couples seeking to adopt. Unfortunately, there are only 30,000 children available for placement each year. Such numbers result from two factors.

First, the number of infertile couples in the U.S. exceeds one million, and even recent advances in reproductive technology can only help one in five. Second, America’s annual abortion rate of 1.3 million drastically reduces the number of children available for adoption.

The desperation of childless couples is evident in ads which appear daily in newspapers across the country. The following are actual placements.2

HELP! Our dream is of a small voice calling mommy and daddy. We are a warm, compassionate, financially secure and loving couple. Call us at _________.

HUGS, KISSES, & DREAMS await your newborn. Your child will be part of a warm, tender, and happy home. We are a loving and happily married couple who love sports and enjoy travel. Call Arlene and Jim at ________.

INFANT ADOPTION! We are two loving people waiting to love a third. We are dreaming of 2 a.m. feedings and buggy rides through the park. Your expenses paid. Call Sally and Jeff at ______.

Americans have increasingly been turning to other countries for children, with the largest numbers now coming from Asia, in particular Korea, Vietnam, and China.

The findings from a four-year, largest-ever, federally-funded adoption study showed positive family dynamics across all types of adoptions, whether transracial or same race.3

Over one million teenagers in America become pregnant each year. Over 40% of them choose abortion. Only 23% place their child for adoption.

There are over 4,000 crisis pregnancy centers that offer supportive services. Yet all together they report that only 2% of their clients choose to place their child for adoption. Why?

The truth is that adoption is rarely presented as an option. Yet adoption serves all four parties well the child, the biological mother, the adoptive parents, and society.

In addition, language has played a negative role in the adoption discussion. It is difficult for a young woman to see adoption as a positive solution when terms are used such as “giving up” or ” giving away” her child instead of “making an adoption plan.”

In adoption what a mother “gives up” are parenting responsibilities which she is unable to provide her child. Adoption is looking after the interests of the child first, while providing specialized, sensitive counseling to help the hurting mother.

It is a pernicious myth that adopted children do not do as well in life as do children living with a biological parent. A recent study of 700 teenagers who had been adopted as infants found them to be every bit as welladjusted, socially skilled, and intellectually able as their nonadopted peers.4

Adoption is currently playing a part in my daughter’s family. After having four biological children, she and her husband adopted an 18monthold little girl from Taiwan with severe facial/cranial disfigurements. A few years later, they adopted an 11monthold little girl from Korea who was born without a right arm.

Those who think it is harder to love an adopted child than a biological child couldn’t be more wrong. I know that first hand as the grandmother of those two adopted little girls. Others know it, too.

A true story. When a young woman named Mary gave birth to her first child, her husband was on military duty, so she spent the first weeks after the child’s birth at her parents’ home. One day Mary mentioned to her mother that she was surprised that her baby’s hair was reddish when both she and her husband were blonde. “Well, remember,” said her mother, “that your dad’s hair was once red.” “But, Mom,” said Mary, “that wouldn’t make any difference because I’m adopted.”

With a surprised smile her mother said, “I always forget.”

1. Spokesperson for the National Adoption Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2. Arkansas DemocratGazette, September 21, 1999
3. “Growing Up Adopted: A Portrait of Adolescents & Their Families” by the Search Institute of Minneapolis, Minnesota
4. Psychologist L. DiAnne Borders, University of North Carolina at Greensboro


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