In my perusing of the adoption sites and reading the sales pitches, I get more and more upset by what I see in the language. When I first started reading about this subject certain terms didn't bother me. Words like "birthmother" didn't even bother me. I've been in reunion with my daughter for 8 years now and I began a painting series about this topic. Because of that series I began researching the industry. Now, I can't stand the "b" word. What happened that changed my mind? Well, I started seeing the correlation between the language and lures they use to get expectant mothers to surrender their children.
make an adoption plan
place a child for adoption
a loving option
Thirty years ago when I was going through the process it was called giving a child up for adoption. Back then the industry just bluntly and openly shamed us into giving up our children and it wasn't just the industry, it was also society in general. Everyone saw us as unfit simply because we weren't wearing a wedding ring. It still boggles my mind that women in the 60's in maternity homes were even made to wear fake wedding rings to go outside - who did the wardens in these places think they were fooling?
Now that being single is not as stigmatizing as it once was the industry had to come up with slicker ways to coerce young, vulnerable women. Oh, they'd like you to think that they're just being kinder and more sensitive to the mother - bull twinkies! What they're really doing is sanitizing everything to make it look more appealing. (twinkies sounds better than shit doesn't it?) It's the marketing biz at it's finest.
What are adoption opportunities? They are babies. These are human beings being traded for money. This is what it comes down to. No one wants to hear that in this country we sell babies but when you break it down to it's truth, that's exactly what it is. Party A hands baby to Party B who then hands baby to Party C who in turn hands over a lot of money to Party B. What else would you call it? Well, the agency wants to call it a selfless act on the mother's part. They call it making an adoption plan. When a young woman hears these words she feels like there's someone out there who can help her figure out what to do. There's a plan - good. That means there's a direction to go in; this is productive. Then she hears it's a loving option. Well, she loves her baby and only wants what's best for her baby so she listens some more. They tell her "it's in the best interest of the child, your child will love you for it". What mother doesn't want that? "Choosing adoption is the purest form of motherly love" No.... loving your baby is the purest form of motherly love. Placing your baby for adoption sounds nice doesn't it? In reality she's placing her child in the arms of strangers. Now come the dear bmother letters. This is how they make her think that she has a relationship with the couple. How much does she really know about people from a slick, full color, 2-sided brochure? Do you believe all the ones that come in the mail selling aluminum siding? It really is a sales pitch, there are a lot of couples competing for that baby.
So, she's picked her favorite brochure and the agency is telling her what a selfless gift she's giving this couple. If she has a relationship with the couple that goes on for a few months, they fly or drive to where she is when she's in labor, sometimes they even go into the delivery room. She's exhausted and emotional. They are standing there waiting so of course she doesn't want to disappoint them. Even if she's screaming inside - give me my baby - she has all these forces outside pressuring her to hand the baby over.
Now that she has given an adoption opportunity to a couple and given this selfless gift in an act of the purest motherly love that was in the best interest of her child, she can apply for a scholarship from the agency that is only offered to women who make an adoption plan. Some of these agencies actually raise funds to offer money for college to mothers who have given their children up for adoption. Don't get me wrong, education is a wonderful thing. But.... why not raise money for scholarships for mothers who are raising their children as single mothers. Why not help them to KEEP their children and go to school. What a concept! Of course they wouldn't do that. That would hurt the bottom line.
What happens if the mother changes her mind and decides to keep her baby? It's called a failed adoption. Instead celebrating a mother and child staying together it becomes a failure. Something to be upset about. Well yes, it's upseting for the adoptive parents but a mother and child staying together is a beautiful thing. Aren't we supposed to be concerned for the child and his/her best interests? A baby continuing to hear her mother's heartbeat and feeling her mother's love is in the baby's best interest. But the new mother gets to feel guilty because she let everyone down. In my opinion the only person she needs to worry about is that new baby.
I'll keep on saying it. To the prospective adoptive parents out there.... if you want to be a parent and help a child, please look to the foster care system first. So many children need homes and someone to love them. Another option is to help a baby by helping her mother, help them stay together.
It's a dirty business using scholarships and a mother's love for her baby as a lure to bring her in and get her to give up her child. The language isn't going to clean it up.