Thursday, December 26, 2013

Baby Scoop Era

From Wikipedia:
The Baby Scoop Era was a period in history starting after the end of World War II and ending in the 1970s and 1980s, characterized by an increased rate of pre-marital pregnancies over the preceding period, along with a higher rate of newborn adoption.

From approximately 1940 to 1970, it is estimated that up to 4 million mothers in the United States surrendered newborn babies to adoption; 2 million during the 1960s alone. Annual numbers for non-relative adoptions increased from an estimated 33,800 in 1951 to a peak of 89,200 in 1970, then quickly declined to an estimated 47,700 in 1975. (This does not include the number of infants adopted and raised by relatives.) In contrast, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that only 14,000 infants were "voluntarily" surrendered in 2003. 

Solinger describes the social pressures that led to this unusual trend, explaining that women who had no control over their reproductive lives were defined by psychological theory as "not-mothers", and that because they had no control over their reproductive lives, they were subject to the ideology of those who watched over them. As such, for unmarried pregnant white girls and women in the pre-Roe era, the main chance for attaining home and marriage rested on their acknowledging their shame and guilt, and this required relinquishing their children, with more than 80% of white unwed mothers in maternity homes acting in essence as "breeders" for white, adoptive parents.  According to Ellison, from 1960–70, 27 percent of all births to married women between the ages of 15 and 29 were conceived premaritally. This problem was thought to be caused by female neurosis, and those who could not procure an abortion, legally or otherwise, were encouraged to put up their children for adoption. 

In 1970, approximately 80% of the infants born to single mothers were placed for adoption, whereas by 1983 that figure had dropped to only 4%."

In contrast to numbers in the 1960s and 1970s, from 1989 to 1995 fewer than 1% of children born to never-married women were surrendered for adoption.

Have you ever heard of this?  I am sad to say I had not until recently.  It makes sense in retrospect, but I suppose, not even being born until 1980, it was just not something that ever made my radar until now.

In an effort to arm myself with viewpoints from all members of the adoption triad (the adoptive parents, the birth parents, and the adopted child/adoptee), I’ve constantly been searching out articles and blogs on how to be the best adoptive parent I can be.  What is important for the child?  For the birth mother?  What mistakes would I potentially make that can easily be avoided? 
In that research, I’ve come across a very dark side of adoption history.  In fact, it is so dark, that the victims of it (the birth mothers of this “Baby Scoop Era”), do not consider it a “side” of adoption, or a product only of its time.  They can consider it the sole fact, the sole outcome.  These mothers, now mostly in their 50s and 60s, hurt so desperately for the child they lost, most often in a very closed adoption with no knowledge of who the adoptive parents even were.  Many times, these women were given no other options, even forced by their own families, to relinquish, simply because they were unmarried and pregnant.

They pain they express online is palpable. Raw.  Heartwrenching.  I have literally been brought to tears while reading some of their stories and the aching that echoes in their words.
I have also cried because of the absolute hate they have.  The vitriol towards the other members of the triad – mostly the adoptive parents, but even towards the adoptee at times.  And to be clear, these “first mothers” (the term birth mother is considered derogatory towards them, which is something I never even knew) while commonly from this Baby Scoop Era, certainly also include first mothers from current day.  

It is a commonly shared belief on some of these forums that:

-Abortion is preferable to adoption.  If an expectant woman truly believes she is unable to raise a child (with poverty being defined as a ‘pathetic’ excuse), she should exercise her rights to an abortion.  

-There is a special place in hell for adoptive parents.  We obviously have a sense of “entitlement” to another woman’s child, and throw money around for the right to yank this child out of her mother’s arms.

-Any adoptees that love their adoptive families and are well-adjusted to their adoption (which many post as such on these forums), have been “brain-washed” or drinking the kool-aid their adoptive parents & society force upon them.  One commenter responded to a “happy adoptee” telling her she is deluded and in fact has experienced unrepairable loss, and is essentially a messed-up human being.

Among other things.

The expansiveness of their opinions is what I find scary.  Again, the pain they have is so deep-rooted, they must vent, speak out, protest.  This is their right, and a well-deserved one at that.  I find it scary that a human being has experienced that level of pain.  But my concern is how black and white the issue is to them.  Human life and morals is grey at its core.  One can judge premeditated murder as pure evil.  But do you pause in your judgment when you find out that a father murdered his daughter’s rapist?  The murder still isn’t the right answer, but suddenly the “evil” associated with it is softened, yes?    To them, adoption is evil.  It is wrong to the very core of our society, with very limited exception.  They don’t believe that expectant mothers actually “choose” adoption, but are strongly coerced – by society in the Baby Scoop Era, and currently by money and slick advertising in current times. 

T wants me to stop reading these blogs & forums, but I can’t.  I realize these can be considered extremists in the adoption world, but there is a simple fact that they do exist, and the hurt they experienced has rocked them beyond repair.  NO HUMAN should have to feel like that.  Ever.  My heart constantly breaks for them.

I don’t agree that makes adoption, potential adoptive parents, and adoption agencies inherently evil.  Is the system messed up?  Yes.  Is it getting better?  Debatable.  Do I feel entitled to H’s baby (the woman with whom we are matched)?  God, no.  Do I know that, if she ultimately chooses to place her child, that we will be whole-heartedly committed to that child, our relationship with H, and our faith in God?  Passionately yes.  I firmly believe that the majority of potential adoptive parents are very good, honest, loving people.

I didn’t want to post any links to these forums, as I’d like to have my own little place in the blogosphere to talk about our journeys without getting drawn headfirst into this debate.  But I do highly highly encourage anyone even contemplating adoption to do a few simple google searches to hear all viewpoints.  I had no idea this kind of pain was out there, and I feel so much more educated now. 
In other news, we consistently email with H and are visiting her and the father in Florida in January.  We will do a 3D ultrasound (yay!!) and just generally get to know each other.  In relation to above, we make every effort to ensure H realizes that her adoption decision is hers and hers alone (with the father), and there is no sense of her owing us anything at the time of birth.  But if she ultimately chooses to place, I will be so happy that we were able to get to know her during this period and beyond.  We feel so connected to her already, and will always want what is best for her and her family – whatever that may be.

(And I don't think I posted this (sorry if I did!) - T and I got our results back from our recurrent miscarriage testing, since, you know, 3 miscarriages in 9 months shouldn't be considered normal, right?  Well, tough shit.  We're normal. Everything normal.  Super normal.  Perfect normal.   Lovely, right?)

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's a....

GIRL!  or a BOY!

Baby didn't open his or her legs really well.  The ultrasound tech guesses a girl, but basically no one knows for sure.

We are going to visit H (the expectant mom) in January, so we may do a 3D session then depending on if she feels comfortable.  But for now, we did indeed confirm that it is a baby, and not an alien.  And for that, we opened a "top shelf" bottle of wine tonight.

Happy Friday!
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