Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Language and Lures

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
forever family
selfless gift
place a child for adoption
a loving option
failed adoption
adoption opportunities

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.


  1. So true, Carlynne. The industry, gov't and others have refined their methods from the brute control they used with us. It is insidious, sneaky and worse, it is dealing in human flesh..no matter what they say. Good blog.

  2. Good post and amen to adoption from the foster care system. It really upsets me that prospective parents go outside this country to get a "healthy white baby" instead of taking care of children who are already growing up in temporary homes, maybe even in their 2nd or 3rd temporary home. This is from an adoptive mother.

  3. So right on the money.....I counsel young teens, and believe me, I don't like the options others have drilled into their heads.....my doctor has me do this to drive reality home, so far none of the girls has given up her baby....I don't know what I will do if by chance they do.....I so wish that every mom could get the help, education and care plan to keep their child. So different, and yet still so lethal from 1971.

  4. Yep, and yep again...it is sad and scary and worse...because those that are still in the rainbow phase will, one day, wake up and realize that they are a mess because of it and so is their child.

    @jenny81271 - I would love to help - how do I get a doctor to let me do it? Any advice would be great!

    May I link this to the EDU Blog I set up? Let me know!

  5. I have to say, I mostly disagree with you. I agree that adoption is legalized baby selling and babies go to the people with the most money to spend.

    But when it comes to birth mothers, you're actually assuming all young, pregnant teenage girls want to keep their babies. Many of them do not. Others may want to but realize it's not the best option for them and their lives. Sure, it would be nice if all pregnant, teenage girls wanted to keep their babies. But then how do they make any progress in their lives? How can they care for a child while they work to pay for their living expenses and go to college, too? (I've been there, it's the hardest thing in the world.) Who is there to make sure they can actually afford to take care of their children? Welfare? Maybe they should live off their parents?

    I see the terminology of adoption services as helping these girls understand that it is okay to give their babies up for adoption. That they actually have an alternative to keeping a child that they are probably not even remotely ready to keep and take care of. I think there's far more pressure for a girl to take care of the baby she got pregnant with. I've seen that all over the place: "She got pregnant so she needs to take care of it!" In your words, bull twinkies. There are so many loving couples out there incapable of having children of their own, why try to coerce a teenage girl to keep a child she really can't take care of?

    Maybe I'm missing your point. But as a woman who kept a child that I was not ready to have because of societal presssures, I would haved loved to have had someone come along and tell me softly that I had other options. And as a woman who is in the process of adopting a child from the foster care system, a child that had been kept by a mom who was in no position to care for that child when she was born and who was bounced around from home to home and had been abused and neglected, I can say I've seen both sides of the coin.

    Not every person is the same and every person should be allowed the option to give up their child without guilt or keep their child without guilt. And while I can say shame on some of the adoption agencies for taking advantage of the vulnerable and charging high rates for it, they are at least attempting to help out those who need help.

  6. Diana, I'm glad we agree on the legalized baby selling part. On some other points I think we have some fundamentally different points of view.

    "You're actually assuming all young pregnant teenage girls want to keep their babies" ~I believe that the great majority do. If they knew that they had financial help, family support, help with daycare and other adults in their lives willing to lend a helping hand, they would love to take care of their own children. I think families need to step up to the plate and help girls in need. These are basic family values, we help each other. Losing your child permanently because of a temporary situation is a tragedy. Yes, it's hard to raise a child on your own and do those things but women do it every day. I can't imagine trading my child for an education.

    "I see the terminology of adoption services as helping these girls understand that it is okay to give their babies up for adoption" - You're right! And then they help themselves to the babies and the cash they bring. A couple's infertility should have nothing to do with whether or not a child stays with his/her mother. A baby is not a prescription to be filled for a woman's inability to give birth. I do believe there is a very small percentage of women who don't want to raise their children and if after giving birth and spending time with their babies they still feel that way and there's not been pressure from agencies or anyone else, they should be free to make other arrangements for the child. I don't believe that temporary situations like finances should be enough to take a mother away from a baby. I'm not just thinking of the mother here, I'm thinking of what this does to infants to be taken from their mother. They know their smell and their heartbeat. A baby being separated from her mother is damaging.

    One thing that worries me is how children are going to feel about knowing that their mothers were happy to give them to someone else to raise. The mothers out there who are proudly proclaiming their choice of birthmother status - do they have any idea how hurtful that's going to be to their children when they hit their teens and start questioning relationships?

    You said you kept your child and are now adopting from the foster care system. I applaud you for that! Obviously you are now in a position to take care of an additional child. How would you feel now if your first child were gone because you felt you couldn't keep the baby and now you're able. Do you think you would've regretted the decision now that the situation has changed for you? You said it was hard but apparently it was temporary.

    I also think you are making assumptions. When you talk about a mom who wasn't in a position to care for her child and her child ended up abused and neglected, it seems to me that you're jumping to the conclusion that if a mom is poor or unprepared she's going to abuse her children. I see that leap made often and I find it offensive. Had I been able to keep my daughter she would've been loved and adored as were the 2 that I raised. I think that would've been the case for so many out there. None of us want children to suffer and we should all do what we can to alleviate that suffering. On that I KNOW we agree.

  7. I applaud Diana for giving an opinion that is basically unpopular with sites such as this, I have been in that situation many times. However, I disagree with much of what she says, while I still support her right to say it. The point that I most disagree with is her comment that now most young girls are being coerced into KEEPING babies instead of giving them up (not a direct quote). In my experiece, the young unwed girls I have personally known who were pregnant were almost universally encouraged, if not pressured by family members to give the baby up. Some did not relinquish in spite of the pressure, but I do not know of anyone personally who was pressured to keep or made to feel guilty for not chosing to raise the child.

    I also agree with Carlynne that whether the mother chose to keep or to relinquish, I think I would hestitate to let a child know that I was proud to give them up or regretted that I did not do so. I feel for the first mothers that claim to be "happy" with their decision when it is possible or even probable that they could feel very differently in a few yearsand not only feel the tremendous pain of loss, but another type of regret as well.

  8. Hi, I have seen the state put children up for adoption, even when the mother didn't sign relinquishment papers. Thought the child would be in temporary care. The state just adopted the child out.
    Mother comes back, and state says too bad.
    Why because the laws are written the judges can do what they want.
    And the citizen has no rights.

    Now that is NY state laws.
    You agree with that. ????????

    The mother didn't prove to be unfit. Adoptees are making money for the states. HOW you ask? The federal goverment pays the states adoption Court. So if someone is paying you to do this, would you stop.? The states don't want the children on welfare. They claim they can't afford to have so many unmarried woman on welfare. But where does the money come for Foster care?
    Ask yourself that. They give Foster parents lots of money to support children. Then the state agencys get a bonus if they adopt the child from Foster care, to adoption situation. They get a bonus if they adopt more this year than last year.
    WE aren't trading cars here folks. This is human beings.


    1. Joan, I'm sorry it's taken so long to reply to this. I just now found your comment on here (don't know why I didn't get a notice that there was a comment)

      As far as the state adopting out children when the mother did not sign a consent is horrific! No, of course I don't agree with that. When I suggest that people who want to parent should look to the foster system, I'm talking about children who have already been released for adoption, consents from the parents have already been signed. I do know that there are monetary incentives for the system to move children out quickly into homes and I find that reprehensible and scary. Just like the potential profit in infant adoption, $ incentives leads to corruption and the sale of children. I wish I had an answer.

  9. Wake up and smell the coffee!!! These are facts well stated!! Misleading mothers to believe their child will have a better life, are false .No person can see into the future.