Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Adoption is the Best Option

I am quite tired of Christians promoting the idea that "adoption is the BEST option" for an unmarried, young (or youngish) woman who finds herself pregnant and often alone. What Bible did they pull this idea from? And what gives any person the right to tell another what she should be doing with her own flesh and blood?

I am convinced...

that young mothers and single mothers can be good mothers. But they often need support to do so.

that adoptive families aren't perfect, and behind the Disney vacations and four bedroom homes, they have issues, too. We aren't saints. We are just people.

that, as a friend recently said, adoption has become the "Christian abortion." (In my humble explanation, and PLEASE read the comments below this post for more discussion on this statement/idea, Christians promote the idea of young women NOT aborting because if they really don't want their babies, which is a whole different argument/discussion, they should give them to families who "can't have their own.")

that adoption and abortion do not go hand-in-hand. They are two totally separate issues and decisions.

that adoption and abortion both create a lifetime of loss and grief.

that just because someone had sex outside of marriage doesn't mean the baby automatically should go to a "good family who can't have children."

that a baby has needs NOW, and that those needs must be considered...not just the feelings of the bio parents and/or the adoptive family.

that a mom who wants to parent her baby isn't selfish. She's a mother who wants to keep what is hers because she loves that child with all of her heart.

that a baby isn't a gift to be given away.

that all birth parents aren't courageous and unselfish for placing their babies. Perhaps they are just scared and pressured.

that the birth parents will eventually get over or "move past" the loss of their child through adoption.

that adoption is a loss, for everyone involved.

that my gain, as an adoptive parent, comes at a high cost to someone else.

that my baby is a wonderful blessing, no matter what.

that I am a "real mom" with "my own child."

that my daughter has two mothers. And that is OK.

that my child will experience joys and sorrows associated with her adoption.

that Christians need to offer an expectant mother support, not uneducated advice based on stereotypes and personal feelings.

that adoption can be a beautiful thing, but it isn't perfect or pretty.

that I will never stop thinking and praying for my daughter's biological mother.

that God can orchestrate an adoption situation even when humans are relentlessly attempting to screw it all up.

that this whole adoption thing is complicated beyond words.

16 comments:

Glenna Marshall said...

I agree with many of the statements made here. I do think people rush into the idea of adoption as soon as they hear that a single woman is pregnant. It's definitely not a decision for everyone, nor is it to be rushed into by any means. It's a weighty, messy, hard thing...but it can be beautiful, like you said.

I would have to STRONGLY disagree with the thought of adoption being the the "Christian abortion"...I think equating the two is terrible. It's the difference between life and death! Even if the life of the child is lived in a different family from his/her birthparents--they're still LIVING. I find this equation to be incredibly poor--and insulting, actually. While I get what your friend probably meant and I do agree that many Christians offer adoption too quickly as an option for an expectant mother who may be unmarried, I still think the comparison is ridiculous and way overstated. I'm just being honest here--I think it's damaging and I would never want my son to hear of adoption referred to as the "Christian abortion." What would that communicate to him, an adoptee?

Rach said...

I see your point, Glenna, and hopefully my friend will respond with an explanation. :) To be continued...

Jenni said...

Well, since I'm the one who said it, I should probably explain. :) I am trying to get my shower before the kids wake up, and then we are off to make Christmas cookies with cousins this morning. I will come back during naptime and explain my position and my reasoning for using such strong language. You might just be surprised to agree with me more than you expected when you hear me out. :) It is all about context.

TheWaldFamily said...

Thanks Rachel for posting this (And Jenni for her great words all the time) :-) I just posted this on my FB wall for other people to read.

Glenna Marshall said...

Jenni--
I look forward to your thoughts. I struggle to think I will agree with that wording being appropriate, but I'll be glad to consider your explanation. :) I'm sure the context is a key ingredient here, so when I read it in bullet form in Rachel's list, it seemed so harsh, backward, and inappropriate in my mind.

Take your time--we're all busy this time of year! :)

-glenna-

Jenni said...

I realize that Christian abortion is immediately offensive to many people. But I do hope it will get people’s attention, especially other believers. When I first used that phrase, I was taking part in a discussion about abortion protesters who use phrases promoting adoption on their protest signs. Sounds good in theory, right? I mean, adoption is supposed to be the Christian alternative to abortion. But the truth is that adoption and abortion are often completely unrelated. They are separate decisions for a woman in an unplanned pregnancy, made at totally different times. Many people who are abortion-minded would NEVER consider relinquishment. They do not believe in the personhood of the child at that stage of development, and therefore, find abortion to be a loving alternative to the situation into which the child would be born. And most who eventually do relinquish their children would NEVER have considered abortion in the first place. This type of woman very much believes in the personhood of her child and believes abortion to be murder. So for many women in a crisis situation, they are really looking at two sets of choices: Abortion vs. Parenting or Relinquishment vs. Parenting. It is VERY rarely Abortion vs. Adoption. This is where my strong terminology comes in. I have seen time and time again where women (especially in the church) are encouraged to relinquish because it is the loving thing to do. A win-win-win situation for all involved. The child gets a loving home. The adopting couple no longer has empty arms. The “birthmother” gets to go on with her life and have the comfort of knowing that she did a noble and brave thing. And they all lived happily ever after. All problems solved. What could be more heart-warming?
When relinquishment is presented as win-win-win, it is a lie. Plain and simple. Can adoption be a beautiful thing? Absolutely! But I have never in my 15 year adoption journey met a woman who relinquished who agreed that it was win-win-win - even the ones who feel strongly that they made the right choice. I have met many adoptees who love their families dearly who would also tell you that although they are very content and happy in the lives that they have, they do experience an element of loss. But bottom line is that “fixing” the problem of an unplanned pregnancy so that everyone will be able to simply “go on with their lives” is just sweeping the issues under the rug in a way that does not violate the Sixth Commandment. Poof! Problem solved and everyone can move on, but we can all feel good about the life of an unborn baby being saved! I believe, that relinquishment, in the Christian community, has become the Christian abortion in many ways. It is the acceptable means to the same end. Fix the problem. But now we can have warm fuzzies over the beauty of adoption!
Do I think this is appropriate language for a discussion with a child? NO! Do I think this would be hurtful to an adult adoptee? Very possibly. I hope some of my adoptee friends will weigh in and share their thoughts. Do I think it is interesting that people might consider the phrase Christian abortion hurtful to adoptees but have difficulty acknowledging that the very fact that they are adopted might also be the source of pain and loss for them, as well? Definitely. We are so conditioned to use positive adoption language and to look upon adoption as a beautiful story of bravery and sacrifice for the greater good. Sometimes it really is all of that. But for most people, it is something that you survive because of the sovereignty of God and His immeasurable kindness. It blows a God-sized hole into your life, from which you never recover, but learn to live alongside and lay at the feet of the Father every day.
I won’t go on for the sake of time and space, but you get my point, whether you agree with me or not. I think I feel a blog post coming on in which I can go into more detail. Thanks, Rachel for letting me hijack your blog.

Rach said...

Wow. Long post, Jenni, and lots to digest. Thanks for your time! :)

Jenni said...

Sorry. :( You know I am verbose. LOL

Glenna Marshall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenna Marshall said...

It will be hard for me to defend my reasons for further disagreeing with the language you use since I am not a woman who has relinquished her child. I don't have years of experience & heartache that seem to be driving such sweeping statements about adoption. Anything I say may seem callous as that is not something I have lived.
But, I will try to explain while I still think equating adoption as the "Christian abortion" is a poor use of language. It's more than just a gross overstatement. I find it to be an illogical use of terms because we're talking life and death by very definition. Equating relinquishment of a living child with the abortion doesn't make sense to me. I get your point, but I still think the wording is wrong, even if shock value is the goal. Perhaps we'll just have to disagree on this point.
Now, I WILL definitely agree with you that adoption is not a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. For what it's worth, however, in my experience with adoption (I'm an adoptive mother as well as the daughter of an adoptee), I have never heard it referred to in those terms.
Of course it will result in some sense of loss for the adoptee. Of course the birthmother will deal with heartache and sorrow for the rest of her life. Nobody I know would call that a win-win-win situation. BUT IF the only other option is abortion, then of course adoption seems & is the better option of the two.
That said, we all know that those are NOT the only two options. Parenting is also an option, and I think that that should first encouraged to all women who are uncertain as to what to do. I agree with you that parenting is too often the option left out. Too many women are coerced to relinquish. I firmly believe that is wrong. I want you to know I REALLY believe that. She should only arrive at the decision of relinquishment if SHE absolutely feels that she should. Many women CAN parent but don't think they can. The Church should offer help & support to those women who desire to parent. I've spent the last 3 months doing that very thing with a single pregnant woman. I don't think relinquishment was the choice for her; I never even considered mentioning it.
But is that the case all the time? Where do you get your information for this quote: "But for most people, it is something that you survive(...)It blows a God sized hole into your life, from which you never recover..."
Perhaps you are encompassing the feelings of relinquishment and forcing it into what you think an adoptee must feel. I can't say what an adoptee feels, but I just don't think my son will grow up thinking his life is a mistake, something from which he will never recover and simply must endure. His life will be one full of love and provision--from both his birthmother and from us. Maybe I misread what you meant?
I am a firm believer in the sovereignty of God in all facets of life. I come from a reformed theological background here, so I am not just saying, "Yes, I agree that God is sovereign."
I am saying, "I absolutely believe that the Father ordained my days before I ever took a breath." And I believe that about my son. I don't believe he will just "get by" as an adoptee because this is how his life turned out as a result of an unfortunate turn of events.
My point: I think using very general terms in regard to all adoptions is unwise because as we all know, each situation is so different. What may be your experience--which sounds unspeakably heartbreaking; I hurt for you--will not always be the situation for all people involved in adoptions.
I respectfully offer my thoughts here & hope they are not offensive in any way. I think it's helpful for me, an adoptive mother, to hear your perspective because it challenges what feels comfortable to me. I admit--it's hard for me to think outside of my own experiences.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jenni.

Glenna Marshall said...

I just reread my comment, and I just want to reiterate that I hope it's not offensive in any way. That's totally not my goal! I had a lot more written, but it wouldn't let me post because it was too long, so I trimmed a lot out and I think it sounds cold now. If I misrepresented what you wrote, Jenni, please feel free to correct me.

Jenni said...

I'm still thinking about your comments, Glenna. I wanted to sleep on it before I responded, but even now, I am still not sure how to verbalize my thoughts. I want to make sure that what I say is what I really want to say. Thanks for taking the time to dissect your point. I'll be back later.

Glenna Marshall said...

That's fine, Jenni. Take as much time as you need. My next couple of days are incredibly packed, so I may not be able to respond in a timely manner.
:::
I've been mulling all of this over today while I've been doing housework getting ready for a party. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that you are right on the "win-win-win" ideology. It's more commonly held than I originally recognized. I kept thinking about my son's birthmother (C.), who is never very far from my thoughts, if I'm honest. And I realized that excepting the adoption-specific conversations where potential adoptive parents are asking me about our experience, nobody ever asks me how C. is doing, if we've heard from her, if we've seen her lately. Everyone assumes she's gone on with her life. And in some respects she probably has...you have to get on with living, I suppose. But how do you do it with a giant piece of your heart missing?

I think people assume that she's doing fine and that this all worked out for the best, for her best. And I truthfully don't know how she really feels. We don't get correspondence in return after we send our letters. We've visited a couple of times, but it's not enough, I'm guessing. What looks like a "win-win-win" and is commonly held as such is probably an open wound she tries to cover. I have no idea. I can't even guess.

So, I guess I'm retracting what I said a little. The more I've thought about it--while nobody I know would SAY it's "win-win-win", they do probably THINK so, even if my husband and I don't.

Anyway...it's been tough mulling it all over because it hurts. It's the messy part of adoption people don't want to consider. I can't think of C. without hurting for her. I think that's good for me, though.

Rach said...

Glenna, your point is dead-on. "It's the messy part of adoption people don't want to consider." Some people just don't know because they've been fed so much "she'll move on" rhetoric and stereotypes. Some people just want to ignore it because it's too difficult. My next blog post is how difficult it is for me to balance the joy I have in my daughter's life and adoption vs. the pain I KNOW her bio mom must feel all the time. But as you shared, we don't know very much about how she is feeling; I can only guess. But I cannot imagine she is perfectly fine, no matter what adoption agencies or stereotypes tell us. If the idea of what Jenni expresses, that adoption is horrifically NOT win-win, was out there, people would think twice before jumping into domestic adoption---which is bad for business. I'm not saying all agencies are money-hungry or all social workers are bad people. But the fact of the matter is that most agencies are businesses, not ministries, and that really complicates things. :(

paragraphein said...

All right, coming over from the boards to participate. Interesting discussion.

Glenna, as a natural mom I appreciate that you took the time to come back and post about your further thoughts on the "win-win-win" scenario. While the phrase "win-win" may not be articulated in that manner by most people (although I actually HAVE heard it stated that way by several people), you are correct that the assumption is there. I would say that more often than not, on occasions when I disclose that I am a first mom, the first thing out of the person's mouth is either a statement about how my daughter is better off or how I'm better off. That is the common response.

Certainly there are people with a bit more natural empathy and insight who will say something deeper, but it's not the norm in my experience. In one of your earlier posts where you stated "Of course the birthmother will deal with heartache and sorrow for the rest of her life" I had to chuckle to myself a bit because again, as a natural mom, the "of course" really does NOT seem to be recognized by society. In fact talking about the pain at all years after the fact generally yields a reaction of "What, aren't you over this YET?"

What's worse is that the very agencies facilitating relinquishments sometimes do nothing to dispel this kind of attitude, and in some cases (too many) actually encourage it and create it. Check out some agency websites. How are they portraying relinquishment? How are they portraying relinquishment versus parenting? Absolutely there are decent, ethical agencies out there... but I can guarantee that you'll find at least a couple websites that will discuss the difficulties of parenting (sometimes in great detail), making parenting out to be a burden, while making relinquishment out to be something empowering and a decision that will result in being able to move on with life.

There is an imbalance. It is real. And having grown up in the conserative Christian evangelical community myself, I will say that at least in the 1980s and 1990s there absolutely was a bias in my pocket of that culture for relinquishment and against parenting.

That bias has (and continues to) hurt a number of women. (And men. We haven't even touched here on the natural fathers, but in some respects the wrongs done to them are even more egregious.)

Anonymous said...

i dont think glenna should have retracted. i agree that jenni's language did make it seem like adoption was as horrendous as abortion.

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