I've seen more and more blog posts and discussions on adoption ethics lately, which makes me smile and sigh in relief.
Finally. Finally. We are talking about it more. Finally, we might begin to force change.
So, here it goes. In a nutshell.
There used to be this girl who believed whatever the "Christian" adoption agency told her. Adoption was better for "birth mothers" who needed a "stable, loving couple" to raise her child. Write checks, fill out the paperwork, write more checks, be interviewed, create a profile book, write more checks, maybe create a You Tube video about how great we are, wait, write more checks.
But this girl began to meet birth moms, and they weren't who the media, who the agencies, who the public believed them to be. They weren't strung out, young, sexually promiscuous, immoral, unintelligent. The women this girl met were in their twenties, women who had made a few bad choices along the way (choices that were made by many, many women, it's just that these few had gotten pregnant), and found themselves in tough situations. They were hairdressers and call-center workers, they were college students, they were daughters, they were sometimes financially strapped (like many people), and scared: scared to place, scared to parent, scared to meet the baby they would soon have.
This girl met such women in various places: at a Mexican restaurant, at church, in an airport. And she also met adoptees: young and old (and in between). She also met adoptive parents who were advocating for the rights of birth parents and adoptees and weren't screaming, "It's all about me getting the exact baby I ordered up from my adoption agency!" These parents were talking about rights and discernment and selflessness, words that the agencies, that the media, that the public didn't allow in it's vocabulary. Instead, such places promoted "saving" children who "needed good homes" (no doubt by handing over $10,000, $15,000, $20,000, $30,000 + dollars---but no, it wasn't baby buying...).
This girl then met a young woman who was considering placing her baby for adoption...with the girl and her husband. She was in college, an adoptee herself, pregnant for the first time. This young woman became friends with the girl. The girl was with the young woman when she was pregnant, right after her baby was born, and at the moment when she placed the baby into the arms of a loving couple. She was with this young woman when the agency was pressuring her to sign papers, to make a forever-choice. She was shocked to find herself rooting for the birth parent, the young woman, instead of the ones like her: the adoptive family.
Then she read some books, like The Girls Who Went Away.
Oh yes, and she and her husband were considered many, many times as the adoptive parents to unborn babies. And though she was desperate to be a mother, as the months went by, she found herself praying the words, "God be with this expectant mother as she makes her decisions" instead of "God let her pick us." The focus changed.
This girl became a mother, three times, through domestic, infant, transracial, open adoption. And each time she watched the biological mother walk into the court room to testify before a judge her understanding of placing and her reasoning for doing so, thereby agreeing to terminating her parental rights, this girl felt more pain than joy, more heartache than satisfaction, more grief than celebration.
You see, she had learned that it wasn't about her. It wasn't about her heartache and what led her to choosing adoption. It wasn't about the months of waiting, of looking at an empty crib and answering, for the hundredth time, "Heard any news yet?" It wasn't about baby names or baby showers. It wasn't about what she wanted in a baby, what she had planned for her life, or her timeline for making the word "family" happen.
It was first about the mother, the one who would choose.
And then about the child, who would be greatly affected, forever and ever, if the mother chose adoption.
She was in last place, the exact place the media, the agency, the public told her she shouldn't be.
And it was ok. It was well with her soul to be in last place. Because she was exactly, exactly, where she should be.
The following stems solely from my experiences and the experiences of those closest to me who are also adoptive parents. My views on domestic infant adoption aren't popular, but I believe they are ethical.
When entering into domestic infant adoption, here are the things I wish I could have told my pre-child, pre-adoption self:
---When choosing an agency, don't ask how quickly I'll be placed, how many couples are waiting, how pretty to make my profile book, etc. Instead, find out how biological parents are treated (before, during, after placing), how they are supported should they choose parenting, what support is offered after placement or choosing parenting, what sort of advocates they have, how much counseling they receive, how adoptees are supported, etc.
---Don't choose an agency based on the fact that they claim the title "Christian."
---Ask as many questions as I want, and don't worry about annoying the social worker.
---Do not support an agency that charges adoptive families based on their income or the race of the child to be adopted.
---Pray for each mom looking at our profile book, that she will make the best choice for her child, not that she will choose us to parent her baby.
---Birth father's have rights too.
---If an agency promotes birth parent stereotypes, offers birth parents goods/money/experiences in exchange for placing, and/or attempts to coerce the biological parents in any way, run...fast.
---Don't push to be at the hospital, in the delivery room, at every pre-delivery appointment, etc. It's not your baby if/until TPR is signed. Period. But out. Give the mom space.
---Say it and mean it: I support the biological parent in whatever she decides.
---Truly, selflessly, pray for the biological parent (before, during, after placement, if placement happens).
---Never stop learning about adoption. Never stop fighting for what is right, even when it doesn't serve me in any way. Never stop praying that God will guide those who are in crisis pregnancies, those who adopt, those who are adoption professionals, those who create policies that affect moms and babies, those who are adopted.