A few weeks ago, I read an opinion piece in The Hustler titled “The hypocrisy of anti-abortion extremists” by Molly Corn. The entire piece was written from a pro-choice perspective, and while I am pro-life, my response is prompted by the author’s direct and indirect comments about adoption.
Corn states that she believes “it (abortion) is right because every child deserves to be a gift, not an accident.” While the debate about when life begins will go on, a statement implying that because a child results from an unwanted pregnancy, he or she is not a gift is absurd.
I am adopted. To be more specific, I am the unplanned result of a one-night stand that likely involved alcohol. After my birth mother became aware of her pregnancy, my birth father wanted an abortion and she seriously considered that option for a while.
While I am an “accident,” I think it is possible to be both an accident and a gift. To my parents, who weren’t able to have biological children, I am a gift. To imply otherwise is insensitive and offensive to me, to my parents and to many adopted children and their parents, as well as to the courageous people who chose adoption over abortion.
The piece wasn’t directly about adoption, but Corn links to a column that disparages adoption as a genuine alternative for those with an unwanted pregnancy and includes several misrepresentations about adoption and the pro-life movement. The message seems clear: Life is only a gift if it is planned and/or wanted by its biological parents.
The column states that the pro-life movement often makes adoption out to be “the easy choice.” My birth mother, and others like her, did not make an easy choice. But, to many people, adoption is the only moral solution to an incredibly difficult situation when a birth parent does not want to raise the child or is unable to do so. To interpret the pro-life position so superficially, or to state it as a fact, is a gross misrepresentation of the pro-life movement’s stance as a whole regarding adoption.
The article also cites that the number of adoptions that occur annually is stagnant. Combined with the discussion about the danger of babies ending up in foster care should abortion cease to be legal, this article seems to imply that there is not a very large demand for domestic infant adoption. However, in recent years, the rate of babies being placed for adoption has dropped for a variety of reasons, including the widespread and common acceptance of abortion services and changing attitudes toward single parenting. While there are no readily available national statistics that track the number of couples looking to adopt, Richard Pearlman (executive director of the Adoption Center of Illinois, who has worked in the field for more than 26 years) notes that there is still a strong demand to adopt infants, evidenced by waiting lists which average six to 12-month waits.
A large part of the linked column discusses emotional negatives surrounding adoption, failing to fully address the serious problems abortion causes. Dr. David Ferguson, a pro-choice researcher, conducted a study that found women who had abortions were significantly more likely to experience mental health illnesses such as depression. Ferguson continues to be pro-choice, but noted in an interview that it would be foolish to not take the risks and benefits into account when considering abortion.
Adoption is a challenging and courageous choice. The adoption agency I was adopted through (Adoption Center of Illinois at Family Resource Center) even has links on its blog discussing the emotional difficulties birth mothers face. Judging the adoption alternative requires thoughtful consideration of the real issues associated with both adoption and abortion.
Finally, fewer than 140,000 total adoptions occur annually in the United States, which include international adoptions, adoptions from foster care, adoptions by step-parents, etc. Fewer than 20,000 of those are domestic infant adoptions. I would be very skeptical when reading statistics or articles arguing that many adopted children suffer from emotional problems due to separation from their biological mother, since the studies include all ages of adopted children and do not account for early experiences in foster care, orphanages, etc. A child’s emotional health, whether they are adopted or not, recognizes the important truth that families are bound not solely through biological ties, but through unconditional love.
I do not feel abandoned by my birth mother, who at the time of my birth had recently graduated from college. If I ever meet her, my first words would be to tell her how grateful I am that she decided to place me for adoption and how I think she is incredibly brave for giving me the gift of life and the gift of a child to my parents.
My life is a gift, even if it was an accident.