Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

When adoption isn’t a choice


As most of you know, many fundamentalists are involved in missions around pregnancy crisis centers and anti-abortion centers. Many of them feel called to defend one of the most important quiverfull rule: Children are a gift. Now, I don’t want to go into the whole pro-life/pro-choice debate here; this isn’t about abortion. This is about adoption.

Adoption in itself is something wonderful that should have your full support. It includes a mother who takes the responsibility for her child by giving it away and gives it away convinced that this is the only right thing to do, a family who has the wish to adopt a child, and hopefully, a happy child and finally adult in the end. That’s the perfect scenario of how it should work.

But a lot of fundamentalists don’t see it that way. Once you approach those “counselors” who are actually fundamentalists (of course, not all pregnancy crisis workers are fundamentalists!), they will talk you out of abortion at any cost. That’s step one.

Step two is where my personal issue comes in. Step two is to convince the woman to give her child up for adoption. Of course they’d never admit that this is the ultimate goal of the entire fuzz.

A lot of times, those women who approach these counselors are in a tough situation or at least not in the perfect situation. Maybe they’re young, or don’t have much money, maybe they’re in a tough personal situation due to death of a loved one or a breakup, due to sickness, you name it, it happens.

Instead of acknowledging the fact that these women are actual very responsible, smart people to seek help and counsel, they’ll be talked into believing that they are not being fit to raise the child. Whatever her issue is, it will be used against her. And not only that, heavy pressure will be put on her in case she actually wants to raise the child on her own as a single mom. She’ll be shown statistics of the devastating effects of growing up with only one parent, she’ll be shown exaggerated lists of monthly expenses, she’ll be shown pictures of “perfect” families looking to adopt – typically rich, fancy, happy movement families – and at times she might even be introduced to them without even agreeing to an adoption (yet). Or even worse, the counselor him/herself is looking to adopt and will make it out to be God’s guidance that they found each other.

Whatever it is, it’s a fact that the movement doesn’t believe in single parenting. And to avoid more single parents, adoption is the only – THE ONLY – way they feel like they accomplished their mission. Having a woman leave happily with her child is failure to them. A child raised by a single mom is like spreading the heroin directly on the kid’s breakfast toast. They won’t give up because they believe that God sends these women their way so they can talk them into adoption, have the baby adopted by a movement family and the outcome is yet another mighty warrior for God’s kingdom. Come to think of it, it’s almost like having as many babies as you can before you die from some cruel pregnancy-related issue. It’s like every single baby they deal off into the movement is their own baby, their own creation, their own addition to the kingdom.

I read a heartbreaking story on a fundamentalist blog. It was the story of a 20something year old who got pregnant and initially wanted to raise it herself. She went to see a counselor so she could find out how to do this, and this counselor – by God’s grace a member of a fundamentalist group – convinced her that her idea was stupid. She ended up giving the baby away, which, as she said, pains her much until this day, but “she knows this is what God wanted her to do”. Sounds like a line to me. I’m not saying it might not be true, but it just doesn’t feel right.

Not every woman who gives her child up for adoption is happy with it. Some realize that they should’ve kept it. For some, it would’ve been easier to raise it on their own than to give it up. For others, this isn’t true, and that’s perfectly ok.

I feel this is an issue that needs to be addressed much more. Whatever each individual woman choses must be her own decision, one that she herself can live with. The fact that she’s seeking help shows a great amount of responsibility and mature behaviour. If the ultimate decision is not to keep the baby and to give to a different family to be raised, she must know what she’s signing up for. All of that talk about how it’s going to have a great life and family and all the financial support it needs is just distraction from the real issue at hand: The empty birthdays, the lone mothers day, the guilt some women feel when they have a baby later on, one that they keep. All of those are facts that are withheld from these mothers in order to convince them. All they’ll hear are those great stories of young women who gave their babies to christian families, and how happy they are about it. You don’t hear about the tears, the pain, the longing. It’s so easy to convince people when all you tell them are the good things.

I guess the end of the story is that adoption is something that should be encouraged, but if a woman is doubtful and you have to show her 500 different papers about how bad keeping the child would end up being, it might not be the decision that’s right for her.

7 thoughts on “When adoption isn’t a choice

  1. A very large portion of my friends and even some very close family members have adopted, and I absolutely love being part of all of it. But the reality is that adoption is a lovely answer to a really, really bad problem, and the lovely answer does not nullify the existence of that problem, no matter how wonderful the adoptive parents are. The fact that children cannot be raised by their own parents because of WHATEVER reason is really so very sad for everyone involved. All of the adoptive families I personally know would agree that the first responsibility is to offer whatever help a birth mother might need so that she can parent. My beautiful nephew is adopted. His birth mother actually contacted my sister out of the blue, and my sister and brother in law initially offered her whatever support they could in order for her to be confident in parenting her child. They didn’t want to take her baby from her but to help her be able to be his mommy if she wanted to. But in the end, she didn’t want to parent and wanted them to adopt him, a decision we all respect very much. They had just given birth to my niece a few weeks prior, but after considering it, they agreed and ended up with two infants at once. Though we are so grateful to have him, adoption was naturally the last resort, as his birth mother had first right and privilege to him and we all wanted to respect that.

    I know a lot of adopted kids, and for many of them who are in the absolutely best adoptive families, it is still very, very hard for them that their birth parents gave them up (not for all adopted children, but each child handles things differently). There are many mothers who just don’t think they can do a good job or don’t have the resources to parent, and I think that is when well-meaning others SHOULD come in, to offer material, practical and emotional support. And then, of course, the option of adoption if that is what the mother prefers. As long as there are truly compassionate people in the world, a woman should never have to give away her baby by default. That is like aborting the mother and keeping the child. My little community is fortunate that motto of our local crisis pregnancy center is to love the mommies AND the babies, not one over the other.

    All of the adoptive families I personally know have either been sought out by birth mothers wanting a home for their babies, have adopted from the foster system, or have adopted children from orphanages overseas. In my opinion, that is truly caring for orphans in the right way. But convincing a mother that she cannot or should not parent is CREATING orphans when there are already more than can be placed into homes. And it is disregarding the woman as a human life. How is that pro-life? Sorry to be so long-winded, but this is something very near to my heart. I had no idea that there was a wing of Christianity that approached adoption in such an aggressive, militant way.

    • “That is like aborting the mother and keeping the child.”
      “But convincing a mother that she cannot or should not parent is CREATING orphans when there are already more than can be placed into homes.”

      Exactly. I’m all for adoption of you have the means to take care of another child. It’s a great thing to do. I just don’t think that cutting the birth mother out of the picture is right (unless she specifically asks for it).

      Another thing that really bugs me (I forgot to mention something AGAIN) is the fact that those fundamentalist adoptive families sometimes don’t even have the means to care for another child. A family of 12 or more adopting another bunch of kids, how can that possibly work, how can those children be possibly cared for well enough? An adoptive child, even if it has a loving birth mother, will always feel the pain of being “given away”. If you try to care for more than one of these children at the time while you already have 10 natural children? It just can’t work unless there’s a huge age difference between the children. But these families pride themselves in caring for 15 children, a hand full of them adopted, raising them for the kingdom… I knew one of these families and in retrospective, it doesn’t surprise me if all of the children end up damaged in some way, natural or adopted. There is only so much time in a day and it’s practically impossible for a one-income family of 12+ to have both enough time and money to take proper care of all children. I know because I never felt like my parents had enough time for each individual one of us kids. It’s just so unfair that the birthmommies mean so well and then the kids end up with parents who can’t care for their adopted kids any better than the birthmother would have (say, financially).

      I ❤ your long winded comments!

      • Actually, I personally know an amazing family of 10 children. 9 of them are adopted. They are two separate sibling sets that the parents did not have the heart to split up or turn away (it wasn’t because they think having a bazillion kids earns them God-points LOL!). I am amazed every time I see how these parents give so much to help these dear kids to heal, grow, learn, and attach to their adoptive parents and siblings. Somehow, they never seem to sacrifice the family in favor of the individual OR the individual in favor of the family, even though there are so many individuals in their home. The mom and dad work their tails off every single day to love and parent their kids and make them each feel safe, loved and special. These kids were not considered desirable by most prospective adopted parents and would likely never have had a family if it had not been for my friends. When I see how much these traumatized kids have healed and have learned to be loved (they are still learning, it is such a process), I am so grateful that these parents were willing to totally inconvenience themselves and to do everything necessary every day to meet these kids’ emotional and material needs. I know that there are few families gifted (and CRAZY) enough to take on such a task, but a handful are. I am so grateful that they have allowed me and my family to be a small part of it.

        I also know a very large adoptive family that has totally failed and couldn’t handle all the needs of so many, and that is so sad because they could have probably done wonders with one or two kids. And then, I have some dear friends who wisely opted to just adopt one child because they felt that they could parent only one adopted, traumatized child well, even though they had the financial adn time resources to adopt more. Another friend who has lots of time and money adopted one child. She ended up not having the patience and parenting skills, and now the poor little girl has been UN-adopted. Just like anything, there is t a one-size-fits all model to adoption, and every famliy is so different.

        So from what I have seen first-hand, family size should definitely be a consideration for adoption (or having bio kids, too, I guess), but not necessarily a deal-killer when it comes to giving orphans a family. There are also parental strengths and limitations to consider as well as other family resources, like money and outside help. I am STILL learning that just because I would be overwhelmed with something doesn’t necessarily mean someone else would be, because there are a lot of people who do things WAY better than I do! And just because I may be able to parent 4 kids well (and hopefully 5, since our unexpected #5 is on the way!), that doesn’t mean that I should expect it to be easy for others to do the same, or even to WANT to.

        And guess what? It looks like I may have a new, beautiful, adopted niece soon if all goes well!!! So excited! Done right, adoption is still really hard but totally rocks, and sometimes having a very large family is better than children languishing in terrible conditions in orphanages or siblings being split up and bounced around from foster home to foster home. There are so many factors to consider.

        I guess that is not exactly what your original post was about, and I’m really sorry if I “hijacked” it :-). Like I said, adoption is totally near to my heart. And you DID encourage my long-winded comments LOL!

        • First off, yay on your pregnancy! I hope everything goes well and safe!! And of course, hopefully everything goes well with your possible new niece too!

          I think the major problem with some large families is that… You know, a good christian family with a lot of kids, I see no problem, but with the fundamentalist ones where there is no “individual” or at least it doesn’t count as much as the whole, that’s the true issue. Collecting kids, herding them, make them work for the “vision” and not work on their individual problems, fears, hopes and dreams, that’s where neglect comes in. If you can financially care for 10 kids, that’s great.. I don’t mean care as in buy them everything they want, that’s never the point. But some fundamentalist families aren’t well off as it is, adopting more and having more just because many kids are many blessings is dangerous. Just imagine if something happened to the Father and he couldn’t work (full time) any more. The wife probably still wouldn’t work a normal job but try out different at home options, of course some people have made good money working at home but generally, it’s not the big bucks. They’d rely on the help of their community. And there they go, talking bad about social welfare, but really they’d be doing nothing else.
          There was a family we heard of, a woman who had 7 kids when her husband passed away. They had no major savings and people started collecting money for them “to make it possible for the widow to stay at home and raise her kids”. While that idea in general is good and respectable, they were asking the wrong people! None of the families we knew were wealthy in any way. I might be serving a stereotype here, but we were the living examples of barefoot and pregnant. We had no money to spare at all to give to this woman and I don’t think many others had. Even the small amounts people could spare couldn’t possibly enabled the woman to stay at home. I don’t know what happened to her, but I doubt it was enough money to get by.
          Ok, now I’m completely off topic, but hey. Big families are great, if you use your brain while you do it. Blindly accepting blessings even though your health and financial means are already stretched to the limit can’t possibly be a good environment for adopted kids.

          I hope I’ll make enough money some day to adopt a child. But, in case I stay in Germany, I wouldn’t adopt here. It’s virtually impossible to get a child for adoption. Statistics say that for each child given up for adoption there are 12 (!!!) families looking to adopt one. That’s why the agencies can actually be REALLY picky and typically accept people only after they’ve proven to make above average money and go through a long winded psychological process to prove they’re good parents. It’s crazy. That’s why many many parents who don’t make it through evaluations or just wait and wait and never get picked just go to poorer countries where there’s more orphans and where the process is easier to pass.
          I do have some reservations about adopting from foreign countries though. I would think that these kids always wonder about their “real roots” and finding the birth parents later on is almost impossible. I don’t know. But then again, enabling a person to live a life in safety is something good. Very tough issue.

  2. I think the thing that bugs me the most about all this is that it’s done under the guise of helping women make “an informed decision.” There’s this narrative that keeps coming up that places like Planned Parenthood try to force a choice if you go to them, so go to the Crisis Pregnancy Centres for unbiased information to help you make a good decision. It’s a total lie and they know it.

    We have a Crisis Centre in my city. When I was pregnant (with my planned baby), I thought of going down and scoping the place out, just to see how they treat me and what they say. Of course, I was pregnant and working full time, so I never got around to it, but I think I definitely will if I ever have a second.

  3. I think it’s telling that there is a lot of research into the psychological effects of new motherhood and abortion (roughly the same rates of psychological distress), but hardly any into the pain of giving a child up for adoption. The pro-choice camp has more pressing issues to focus on, and the anti-abortion camp has a strong interest in portraying the act of giving your child away in the best light they can.

    There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that birth mothers suffer greatly, and I wish that was something more people were willing to talk about. It’s dated, but the book “The Girls that Went Away” is a great collection of stories from women in the 1950s-1970s who were pressured into giving up their children. Many were lied to about the families their children went to, they were all made to feel horrible and broken for being pregnant, and were told again and again how they were unfit mothers. It sounds like things haven’t changed much.

    I have friends who were adopted and have thrived, but many of them still feel the hurt of having been given up. I recently got back in touch with a friend who gave up her baby last year and told me “I wanted to keep the baby, but wasn’t prepared, so I chose what I perceived to be ‘the middle road’, adoption. But it feels so different than I expected. Guilt and sadness.”

    I support adoption, but I also support giving women more support keeping their natural families together so that adoption is truly a choice, not the only viable option.

    There’s a very telling story here that shows how badly the mother can be ignored when there’s a baby to be harvested.

    “I was raped at age 13 and became pregnant. My Dr. thought it would be a good idea to have me attend counseling. My parents were not poor, but could not afford the counseling cost, and it was not covered by insurance. The Dr. referred us to the Catholic Charities in Rockford. We were not catholic, my parents never attended church although they were believers. The Catholic Charities provided free counseling. I attended private sessions that were geared towards a small child not an expectant teen mother. The focus of these sessions was never on the rape, or the reality of being a teen mother. They were geared toward manipulating me into giving my baby up for adoption. I had already considered my options. At that point in my life I felt abortion was not something I could live with, yet later in life I would absolutely choose it in that situation after having 2 children already. Then there was adoption, not then, not now, never would I put my own child up for adoption. So, there I was 13 years old and decided to “suffer through” and have my child, raise my child, be a mother to my child. After attending a few sessions, I let my mother know that there was nothing for me to gain and I didn’t want to go. She forced me thinking this was going to be good for me. Then at the last session I attended it became clear that all they wanted was my baby. So I never went back. In my eyes, Catholic Charities only has one goal… Harvesting babies from innocent young mothers. Telling them there is no way you can do this on your own… I had my family backing me.”

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