Then of course there's the new Oxygen TV show "I'm Having Their Baby". This show follows young pregnant women as they go through the coercion process of adoption agencies. Of course it's being described as showing us the process from the mothers point of view. She will be painted as being brave and selfless in the face of this very difficult "decision" while the young mother doesn't realize how she's being manipulated. I can't remember the last time I was so disgusted by a program. This is Oxygen's lame attempt at justifying the show. They're trying to say that - see? women love adoption. Who did they ask? Who was surveyed? It certainly wasn't anyone who knows anything about adoption. It certainly wasn't anyone who has lived it from the mother's or adoptee's perspective. If you just pick up a phone and make random calls to names on a list, they're going to repeat the same garbage that's been taught to them over the years from the big business propaganda machine. So, read their survey. Be sure to read the comments and add your own. Here is the Facebook page for the show. You can comment there also. If you're interested in doing more to let Oxygen know your thoughts on this show, join us on The OFFICIAL Mothers and Adoptees Boycotting Oxygen's "I'm Having Their Baby" Facebook page. Below is the email I sent to a director of Oxygen Media who is involved with this project.
Hello Ms. McIntosh,
This is the comment I left on the Facebook page for the show "I'm Having Their Baby".
A mother and her baby being separated is a trauma and a tragedy, NOT entertainment. These women are not only being exploited for their infants, they're also being exploited for ratings! People are willing to spend money to make a show so everyone can watch a woman being coerced into surrendering her child and grieving her loss. Where are the people willing to help these mothers with the support they need in order to keep and raise their own children? Adoption in this country has sunk to a new low. Disgusting!
Let me tell you why I left the above comment. I am a mother of adoption loss. I lost my daughter to adoption in 1980. Although 1980 was not considered to be during the Baby Scoop Era (google it if you're not familiar with it) of adoption which occurred between 1945 and 1973, I was still treated as though it was. I was sent away to live in another town, my files were coded BFA - meaning "baby for adoption". When a mother has that code on her file it means that the hospital staff is alerted to not allow the mother to see, hold, or be with her baby at all. I was told nothing about my own child, not even the sex of the baby I had just given birth to. The minute she was born she was wrapped in a blanket and taken out of the room. The only memory I had of her was the sound of her cry. Adoption at this time was filled with lies, secrecy and shame. It was a completely closed adoption meaning I was not allowed to know anything about my own child. For 22 years I didn't know if my child was alive or dead. Some people liken the loss of adoption to a death. I liken it more to a kidnapping. You know your child is out there somewhere but you know nothing about her life. Is she ok, is she being treated well, is she sick? The questions go on and on. The pain goes on and on. You were simply a vessel for the child and your motherhood was erased. Living day to day with that reality is horrific.
I always knew I would search for my daughter. Ten years ago I found her. I also found that her adoptive parents divorced when she was only 3 years old. After the divorce her adoptive mother never remarried. She was raised by a single mother - something that I was told wasn't good for my child. I lost my daughter because I was single and pregnant yet no one suggested that a divorced mother raising a child alone should surrender that child for adoption. Why is it ok for a divorced single mother to raise a child but not a single mother who never married? One year after losing my daughter I got married. I've been married to the same man for 31 years and had 2 more children. If my daughter had been able to stay with me she would have been raised with her own mother, a father and her 2 siblings - an intact family. She didn't end up having a better life, she just had a different one. There are no guarantees. Adopting couples have the same problems as other people. They're not saviors. They get divorced, they have drug problems, they lose jobs, they lose homes, things happen.
This brings me to the next point. You're probably thinking that adoption has changed since then. Now there's open adoption and women have more choices. It may appear to be so. Open adoption sounds good. It looks good, but is it? Did you know that open adoption is not legally enforceable? Did you know that the adoptive parents have all the power? Did you know that 80% of open adoptions close within the first 2 years? An adopting couple can disappear with a mother's child and there's nothing she can do about it. She could try and fight through the legal system but that costs a lot of money and the chances of success are minimal. If she had that kind of money, would she have lost her child to adoption in the first place? Usually adoption happens because of 2 things - marital status and financial situation. Both of these are temporary situations and adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Since the time period of the Baby Scoop Era the rate of babies surrendered for adoption dropped dramatically. Because of that the adoption industry had to find a way to encourage more young, vulnerable mothers to surrender their children. Adoption is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. There is a lot of money to be made on babies. It's a supply and demand business. In order to fulfill the demand they had to convince pregnant women that they're unfit to raise their own children. This is done in very subtle coercive ways. The coercion of pregnant women happens this way....
1. Using the term "birthmother" for a woman who is pregnant sets her up psychologically to separate her from her infant. It puts her in the position of being simply a vessel carrying someone else's child. She is an expectant mother, not a "birthmother".
2. An adoption agency providing counseling for a pregnant woman is unethical. It's a conflict of interest. They are paid by the people who will benefit monetarily from the surrender of that baby.
3. An adoption agency providing legal counsel for a pregnant woman is unethical. See above for reason.
4. When you title a TV show "I'm having their baby" it's coercive. As long as she is pregnant and until she signs the document surrendering her rights, she is the mother of that child. It's HER baby, not theirs.
5. Matching a pregnant woman with a prospective adoptive couple is coercive. It puts her in the position of feeling indebted to the couple who has spent many hours and dollars preparing "birthmother" letters (aka... slick advertising brochures portraying them as superior to her as parents for the baby), preparing for bringing home a child, bonding with the mother, etc. The more she bonds with the adopting couple the less chance there is of her changing her mind and deciding to parent her own baby. This is also why mothers like me were kept from our babies when they were born. The agencies knew that if mothers spent time with their babies they were less likely to surrender.
6. Adoption agencies have a lobbying group working on their behalf - NCFA, National Council for Adoption. They have been instrumental in keeping adoptees from accessing their own birth records. It is every person's right to have access to their own personal records. The NCFA hides behind the skirts of women like me to deny adoptees what is rightfully theirs. They claim that we as mothers were promised anonymity and privacy in the closed adoption era. This is a lie! Closed records were closed to protect the adoptive parents. We were never promised this. We were told not to try for contact because we would cause damage to our children. Of course we didn't want to do that so we waited...... Over 95% of mothers want to be contacted by their children.
7. Did you know that we have stricter laws governing the separation of puppies and kittens from their mothers than we do humans? It's against the law to take a puppy or kitten from it's mother before the age of 6 to 8 weeks because it's in the best interest of the puppy or kitten to stay with it's mother, yet it's ok for a human baby to be taken from it's mother at birth. An adoption consent can be signed in some states within 48 hours of birth, while the mother is still dealing with drugs in her system and while she is still dealing with post-partum hormone changes.
Coercion takes many forms. Unfortunately I feel that your show contributes to the coercion of young, vulnerable, pregnant women. It's incredibly sad to me that our country finds entertainment in the separation of mothers and babies. Adoption is damaging to not only the mother who loses a child, but also to the child who loses her natural family. You may think that you're showing the world what a difficult decision adoption is for the mother but what you're really doing is contributing to the coercion of that mother and contributing to the damage done to the child. Adoption is not a one time event. It's a life sentence for both mother and child. The only real winners in this scenario are the adoptive parents who get the coveted baby and the agency who makes the money.