The passing of the 41st anniversary of Roe v Wade reminds us all of the destruction that abortion has caused, both for the 56 million babies lost and the lives of the parents involved. Significant achievements have been made in the fight against abortion, including closing unsafe clinics and restricting late-term abortions in many US states. However, far more is needed to make the case for life and turn the tide against what Pope Francis has called a “throwaway culture”.
Signs of the throwaway culture are all around us. One baby started the New Year in the bathroom of a sporting goods store in England, another was found fighting for its life on a trash heap in New Jersey last September and a third was found flushed down a toilet in Spain last June. These babies lived but others were not so fortunate, as the trial of Kermit Gosnell so clearly showed.
Each of these senseless acts raises a painful question: What can we–what should we–as compassionate people, do to help viable children such as these to live and to find homes where they will receive the love and protection they as fellow human beings deserve?
I believe that much of the answer lies in how we as a society view adoption. Abortion is, rightly, high on the social agenda, but adoption is not. Every elected official has a view on how to realise their beliefs on abortion rights, but far fewer have clear ideas on how to improve adoption. Many who consider adopting a child in the United States find the process opaque and expensive and choose to look overseas for a son or daughter to love. The situation is so dire that the Russian government has used its own orphaned children as a political pawn and banned Americans from adopting them.
With that, it becomes difficult to persuade a pregnant couple to see adoption as a realistic option. This is worsened by what Nina Easton, in a Washington Post piece last year, described as a “social stigma” for adoption that can even be found among pro-life evangelicals. Citing a conversation she had with Charles Johnson, President of the National Council for Adoption, she writes that “abortion is cause for seeking forgiveness and moving on, but adoption means giving up on your faith–and your baby”.
We can each help by tackling the stigma of adoption head on and promoting it as a loving choice. Changing perceptions may involve difficult conversations among friends and families–who may not even be aware of the views they hold–about what adoption really means: A chance at life rather than a sentence of death. We have to help each other realise that even conversations with friends in passing could shape the views of a future mother and the life of her child.
On a wider scale, supporting adoption could involve strengthening partnerships between pro-life advocacy groups and adoption agencies and their advocates. Both groups share common goals; working more closely together helps both sides to marshal resources to give children the best life possible. Such collaboration could also help bring adoption to the legislative agenda in US states, helping to streamline the process and raise public awareness. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government revamped adoption laws in 2010. In addition to raising the profile of adoption, this policy reduced the expense and time required to adopt. As a result of this, the UK saw a larger rise in adoptions in 2012 than it had seen in the 15 years since data was collected (Source: BBC).
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