Remember the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? My brothers and I pored over those as kids. On each step of your journey, you were given choices. You were in the Amazon. Did you want to ride a riverboat or travel to the ancient ruins by foot? Did you want to hire a tour guide or follow a local Indian? Your entire journey – and sometimes your life – would hinge on the choices you made.
While “choosing your own adventure” can give kids a heightened sense of appreciation for thinking through their decisions, the decision I’m going to talk about today is far more important than anything these books covered. And it requires thought, research, and a life-or-death choice.
Adoption is the kind, loving choice for everyone involved.
Countless women in the U.S. choose abortion over adoption for their unborn babies every year. When I sat in on counseling sessions at a pregnancy center, I learned that women are often very closed to the idea of adoption. They either want to keep their baby themselves or get rid of the baby now. Adoption statistics are hard to track, since states are not necessarily required to report domestic adoptions. However, the numbers are grim, and much of it is owing to abortion:
Between 1989 and 1995, 1.7 percent of children born to never-married white women were placed for adoption, compared to 19.3 percent before 1973. Among never-married black women, relinquishment rates have ranged from .2 percent to 1.5 percent.
Business Library reports that “there are up to 36 couples waiting for every one baby placed for adoption.”
In the USA, there are approximately two million infertile couples waiting to adopt, many times regardless of the child’s medical problems such as Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, HIV infection or terminally ill. Dr. Brad Imler, President of America’s Pregnancy Helpline, confirms the challenge of waiting couples by stating: “Only 1% of the Helpline’s annual 40,000 clients inquires about adoption.”
Clearly, this is a very sad – and I would say epidemic – situation. Many good, loving families are waiting throughout our nation for a baby whom they want to cherish, value, and raise for the rest of that baby’s life. Instead of babies going to these families, they go into a trash heap or down a garbage disposal. Why do mothers feel that killing their children is a better option that choosing families for their children?
Over the years, adoption has gotten a bad rap. Too many people confuse adoption with the foster care system. I personally know incredible people in the foster care system, but it’s clear that the system could use some reforming. Yes, some adults do enter the foster care system for the money it provides or other wrong reasons. However, adoption – especially the adoption of a newborn baby – almost always involves a loving, excited couple who have dreamed for years of holding and caring for their own special treasure. Adoption can cost an arm and a leg for the adoptive parents (it’s free for the birth parents), so they are most certainly not in it for the money.
Do mothers considering abortion realize that families actually go on waiting lists to adopt newborn babies? Do they realize that some couples wait years to adopt the baby they’ve desperately waited to hold in their arms? Do mothers realize how many experienced parents with wisdom, resources, and plenty of love are reaching out to adopt another child – no matter his or her race, gender, or disability?
I firmly believe that one of the best things the pro-life movement can do is promote adoption. We cannot claim that every mother out there can adequately care for her baby alone. That’s simply not true. We should stand behind any mother who desires to keep her child, but we should not demand this of all mothers. While the inability to care for a baby is no excuse to kill her – just as the inability to care for a five-year-old is no excuse to kill him – we should work harder to paint an accurate picture of adoption for pregnant mothers.
We need to let mothers know that they can handpick their babies’ adoptive families. They can choose an open adoption, where they see their babies at certain times throughout the year. They can choose a partially open adoption, where they receive photos and updates about their children’s lives. Or they can choose a closed adoption and give their babies completely over to their adoptive families. Adoption is full of choices for the mother and the father, too, if he is involved.
Nightlight Christian Adoptions (who works with people of all religious backgrounds) provides great information to mothers and fathers who would consider adoption. They connect birth mothers with other women who can talk to them about their questions and concerns. They even have parent profiles of parents who are already approved for adoption and able to take a baby very quickly.
You will decide the type of ongoing contact you want to have with the adopting family, whether it is through pictures, letters, emails, or visitations. You are able to get to know your child and over time your child will know about you and will always know how much you cared — because you chose a loving family for them. Adoption doesn’t cost you a thing, and our time, even if you choose to parent, is free. If you need help, adopting families can legally help with pregnancy-related costs such as medical bills, counseling for both birthparents, maternity clothes, and living expenses. Adoption is about loving your baby so much that you give them the world, being mature enough to admit you are not ready to parent, and responsible enough to choose the right family to care for your child. It gives you the opportunity to create a life for you and your child that you both can live with. If you’d like to learn more about the loving option of adoption, with no obligations, call us. The call is free: (888) 933-2237
Another thing…we need to stop referring to adoption as “giving up” a mother’s baby. She is not giving up her baby. Giving up is equated with failure and bad decisions. In reality, adoption has nothing to do with giving up and everything to do with giving life – life instead of death.
Some mothers choose abortion instead of adoption because they believe they can’t deal with wondering about where their babies are for the rest of their lives. Or, if they are pregnant for nine months, they want to enjoy the results of their hard work; they want to keep their babies. We need to encourage mothers who want to know about their babies to choose open adoptions. We need to make sure they are informed and know they can receive photos and regular updates so they don’t have to worry about their babies so much. They can handpick the parents. And there is always a waiting period in adoptions where the birth mother can change her mind and take her baby back. We need to encourage mothers who would want to keep their babies if they stayed pregnant to keep their babies. They do have mothers’ hearts, and we need to encourage them to keep them!
As pro-lifers, let’s learn more about adoption. Let’s become familiar with the stories of adopted children. All the ones I know are incredibly grateful that their mothers gave them a chance, a life, and a family instead of the finality and cruelty of death.
Adoption Questions, Agencies, and Information:
Option Line: 1-800-712-HELP
Pass this around to your friends, and let’s spread the word about the truth on adoption!
LifeNews Note: Kristi Burton Brown is a pro-life activist in her home state of Colorado, a pro-bono attorney for Life Legal Defense Fund, and a stay-at-home mom. This column originally appeared at the Live Action blog.