Adoption--A Positive Option

Author: Kosmachuk

Celebrate Life May-June 1995, p. 14


By Joan Dower Kosmachuk

EVERY YEAR MORE THAN one million teenagers become pregnant and have to make a choice concerning the future of their child. Many choose abortion, and many more choose to parent, while fewer than five percent choose adoption.

Thirty to forty years ago, 80 percent of pregnant teenagers were placing their babies for adoption because it was the accepted thing to do. Single parents were not accepted in our society until recently, placing pressure on young women to turn to adoption rather than face the stigma and lack of support offered by society. Often the young mother was sent out of town so that no one would know she was pregnant. Frequently she was pressured into relinquishing her child and urged to forget the whole experience. Often she did not even see her baby. Adoption was usually shrouded in secrecy without regard for the feelings and emotional well-being of the birth mother or adult adoptee. Rarely did birth parents receive information about their child or the adopting family, and rarely was good medical and social information passed on to the adoptee. It is no wonder so many birth mothers regret the decision that was made for them concerning adoption. It is no wonder that so many adoptees now search for their family heritage.

Today, the stigma attached to unmarried motherhood has almost disappeared. Instead, there is family, peer, and social pressure on a young birth mother to live as a single parent. Financial and emotional support for single parents has increased. A young birth mother wanting to consider adoption often feels unable to face the opposition from her family and friends. She does not want to be labeled "uncaring." Often she will see abortion as her only other alternative because she is unable emotionally to bear the burden of being a single parent. Many people still have misconceptions about adoption based on stories they have heard from the past. Many still believe the myth that only birth mothers who don't love their babies give them away.

Being a single parent is one pro-life option for pregnant single women. Adoption is the other. But when I talk to people who have not been personally touched by adoption, I find that their understanding of the whole process is usually extremely limited.

Adoption has changed. The needs of the birth parents receive more consideration nowadays; adoption practices have become more humane, resulting in better psychological satisfaction and adjustment for adoptees, birth parents and adopting couples.

For most birth parents today, adoption is a choice they make after looking at all the options and considering what is in the best interests of their child. It is a choice made in love and, to be honest, with great pain. The relinquishment of a child will mean both physical and emotional loss, and a grieving period is inevitable. Too often, this pain is mistakenly viewed as an indication that adoption was not the right choice, instead of acknowledging that it is a normal reaction to loss. As one birth mother so eloquently put it, "You choose to hurt for your child's sake."

I am proud of what pro-life supporters have done to expose the myths surrounding abortion. We are educating the church, and indeed society as a whole, about the fact that the fetus is a person who deserves our protection. We are making known the psychological illness known as "post-abortion syndrome" and generally are proving to society that the "quick fix" of abortion is not a solution after all.

We are working to change the laws. We are teaching the Church that we must love the young, unmarried, pregnant woman, and we must show her that there is forgiveness available to her, and that it is not conditional on marriage to the birth father. We are accepting the single mother and offering her our practical and emotional support.

May I encourage you to give equal time and attention to exposing the myths surrounding adoption, to educating the church, and indeed society as a whole, that adoption is a viable alternative that should be presented as a positive, loving option for every single pregnant teenager.

Joan Dower Kosmachuk lives in Ontario.


Education about adoption practices today is desperately needed if adoption is ever to become a completely accepted practice and an attractive option in our society. As a pro-lifer you can have a vital role in presenting adoption as a positive alternative. I would like to encourage you to:

1. Become informed. Adoption is changing. Do some research. Read some current books on adoption. Write to the adoption agencies in your community for information on how they operate. Talk to adoptive parents, to adoptees, and to birth parents who have placed their babies for adoption. Understand the law. Each country, state and province has its own adoption laws.

2. Use positive language. Terms such as "real mother" and "natural parents" may confuse. The woman who gives birth to a child is the birth mother. The parents --whether they are the physical parents or adoptive parents--who raise a child are the mother and father. It is not a matter of "giving your baby away" vs. "keeping your baby." Birth parents are planning for their child's future.

3. Be supportive of birth parents who have made an adoption plan, or who are going through the grieving process. Be supportive of infertile couples who are working through the adoption process, and be sensitive to the needs of newly adoptive parents who are adjusting to their new role. Be supportive of adoptees who are searching for their birth parents.

4. Support your local adoption agency. Most agencies welcome invitations to speak to church groups or to high school youth to promote adoption. Offer to place their brochures in your local doctor's office, drugstore, library, church pamphlet rack, etc.


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