The legislation in NY allowing for full-term abortions has caused a variety of reactions: disgust, anger, indignation, judgement, sadness, silence, even validation.
Many people have reacted with a simple and heartfelt response: “adoption is the answer.”
While I agree it is part of the answer, I believe it is an extremely over-simplified response to this new legislation. Many people have misconceptions about adoption, so I want to unpack a few things I’ve learned in our child-loss, adoption loss, and adoption journey.
What does newborn domestic adoption look like?
Newborns available for private domestic adoption (not in foster care) are almost always adopted. There isn’t a lengthy waitlist. There are waiting families.
Many birthmothers decide to keep their babies. In adoption attorney Steven Kirsch’s experience, “About half the birth mothers decide against adoption before the baby is placed and about 20 percent after the baby is born but before consents are signed.” It is their right, thankfully, to make this decision. If you feel confused as to why birthmothers have so many rights I highly encourage the book Birthmothers by Merry Jones, which explores our country’s history of exploiting birthmothers. It will give you grace and understanding as to why a mother should have the choice and support necessary to raise their biological child (even if their life is less secure, stable, or ‘good’ than adoptive families).
Adoption costs vary widely (from $8,000 to more than $50,000). I hear complaints against this all the time. Yes, it is costly. Ours (with a direct connection to our birthmother) still cost nearly $20,000. It was hard to understand why, but when I see countries (including our own) that have underground circles of child-trafficking, it helps me see the need for the legal steps, policies, and cost. These children are priceless. There is also a tax credit for adoption that helps a family recoup a sizeable portion of adoption costs in their next year’s returns.
The majority of adoptions are “Open” Adoptions, meaning there is some level of contact or knowledge between the birthmother and child. This is widely believed to help children understand their identity and origin. It is also a helpful way for birthmothers to heal from the trauma they experience in placing a child for adoption. Sure, it’s more complicated for the adoptive family but it’s not about us.
Not all domestic adoptions involve teen mothers (thanks, Hollywood). In our case, it was not. We don’t share details online (it is our daughter’s story to share), but there are so many more scenarios than the ever-imagined girl-who-wants-to-go-to-college and needs a stable, older couple to adopt her baby. Many scenarios (now, possibly more than ever) involve drug and alcohol exposure for at least part of their pregnancy. Adopting a baby you have not carried is a huge risk.
What about foster care?
There are thousands of children waiting in foster care. Many are older, some are not eligible for adoption as their family of origin is still working to regain custody.
Families are needed for these children of all ages. It is not easy, but if you are able to follow
“Of the 400,000 children in foster care, more than 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted.”–AdoptUSkids.org
“On average, children wait at least three years to be adopted from foster care.”– davethomasfoundation.org
If you are willing to adopt a child and believe that adoption is the answer to abortion, you should seriously consider what is holding you back from foster care. There are needs right now.
What does late-term abortion often indicate?
Many late-term abortions are not an alternative to adoption but an alternative to raising a child with significant medical needs, often suspected to be a terminal condition. The pregnant woman is informed of her baby’s physical deformities and given an option to terminate. How could someone do that? It is difficult to answer until you step into her shoes. How would it feel to carry a baby that you suspect may die? Or perhaps never leave the hospital? How would you handle all the questions surrounding their name, nursery, birth plans? How would you plan for the future? I imagine that choosing abortion is often because of fear of the unknown. (I write more about that in this post)
But, with regards to adoption, the questions I must ask: Are you willing to foster a child (with their potential emotional needs, trauma, and risks of being removed from your care)? Are you willing to adopt a child who may die? Are you willing to raise a child with special needs (medical, cognitive, physical, emotional)?
As you read the following quotations and verses, allow your heart to break for the waiting children and fearful mothers:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance. -Mother Teresa
Your true character is most accurately measured by how you treat those who can do nothing for you. -Mother Teresa
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. –Deuteronomy 10:18
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. –Psalm 82:3
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. -Psalm 68:5-6
At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in. -Mother Teresa
The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling or being unwanted, uncared for, deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor who lives at the roadside, the victim of exploitation, corruption, poverty, and disease. -Mother Teresa
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. -Proverbs 31:8-9
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. -Romans 8:14-17
What does our society’s reaction reveal?
We are uncomfortable with adding risk to our lives in the form of a child who may require more love and sacrifice than we want to give.
We are uncomfortable with upsetting our control (perceived control) in our lives by taking risks.
We convince ourselves that someone else can do a better job, that they are uniquely gifted and equipped. “I could never do that. I just don’t know how you do that!” I have heard this countless times after the deaths of Clive and Winnie, as well as after people heard we had an open adoption. Well, we didn’t have the luxury of a choice. I never thought I could handle the death of a child, much less two children. But, by the grace and strength of God, I’m still here. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is an excuse that far too many people gravitate towards.
We want to minimize suffering. For the mom considering abortion, she wants to minimize the risk of the suffering of her child and/or herself. For the people unwilling to adopt (or not actively pursuing it) they want to minimize the suffering we choose to bring into our lives. But suffering cannot be eliminated, and perhaps we must embrace what we can learn from suffering.
We want a simple answer: adoption. We don’t want to wrestle with other avenues of thought. It’s not black-and-white when it comes to adoption being the answer to abortion. It’s complicated because adoption is extremely complicated.
We equate someone’s value with what they can offer to us, rather than their innate value as a human. A child with medical needs is often considered a burden rather than a valuable teacher. An adult with dementia, a teen with no verbal ability, or a child with limited cognitive function is seen as a drain on society and an exception to the ‘norm’.
If we call a mom’s abortion wrong and recognize she is acting out of fear or selfishness, what do we call our actions in not adopting the waiting and available children?
What can we do?
Learn more about adoption, foster care, and abortion.
Adopt. Don’t just think about, don’t just wait until the ‘calling’ or the right time. Learn about it, talk to those who have done it, and take the next step. Two of my favorite resources: www.adoptuskids.org, www.davethomasfoundation.org
Read scripture anything by Mother Theresa and allow yourself to feel convicted.
Let go of your desire to control and establish a perfect life or perfect child.
Support others who foster, adopt, or have an unplanned pregnancy. Help babysit, take their older kids to a movie, make meals, help locate resources, or give financial assistance.
Normalize adoption (non-Hollywood version), but see it in full color—both the highs and lows, risks and amazing benefits.
Although we help others, we are not the saviors and rescuers. There is a major complex within the Christian worldview that we should strive to fix all the problems that exist. Let’s reframe our thinking from saviors to servants. Sometimes serving means adopting, sometimes it means allowing our hearts to break when a child stays with their birthmother, sometimes it means caring for someone else’s child for a time in foster care. We must strip ourselves of our entitlement and allow our hearts to humbly serve.
Above all, we need to move forward with grace, teachability, prayer, and humble service.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Want to read more? Here are two other articles I wrote about abortion topic:
“I’ve learned so much from my babies. My sick, sweet, beautiful, darling babies. If I knew they were going to die, I’d still choose to do things the exact same way. Because meeting them and loving them was worth it. They are loved and valued. They didn’t contribute anything to society, and they cost a fortune in medical bills, but they changed lives by just being alive for a tiny period of time. The world is a better place because they lived.
I’ve learned so much from other mamas and their children. Brave single moms. Moms who continued to carry babies who would not live. Moms who surprised the doctors by not terminating. Babies and children who (from an outside perspective) would seem to be such a burden with their range of disabilities but are an absolute blessing by just being themselves.”
Read more: https://samandrachelgeorge.com/2016/10/22/termination-incompatibility-with-life-and-the-value-of-a-child/
I also wrote an article sharing my thought that all kids deserved to be loved and given a chance at life, spurred by my time at the cemetery looking at the small graves. “Every child deserves to be fought for, to be loved, to live, and to be remembered.”
Read more: https://samandrachelgeorge.com/2015/07/31/the-graveyard/