Saturday, February 20, 2010

Young, Poor and Pregnant; Reasons to Relinquish?

Recently I added my first Dad to my Facebook friends list and he's been privy to some of my not so thought through status updates. However, in discussing this with him and my fiance, I have discovered that many of those status updates are merely topic sentences for blogs that I want to start, even if I'm not quite aware of that yet. I think I also need some of the feedback from my Facebook friends that these updates provide in order to clarify my own thoughts on the things I "say".

However, both my first Dad and fiance urged me to make disclaimer statements at the beginning of my "topic sentence" status updates and post the blog link in order to be able to view the entirety of my thought process. While I can't guarantee I'll remember to do that every time, it will be something I will strive for in the future.

Below is the status update that began this discussion.

"As I continue to read The Primal Wound one thing becomes blatantly, brutally obvious to me; it should be a crime to force, coerce, manipulate, cajole, or in anyway separate a child from their mother unless that parent is proven unfit. And it should be severely punishable should a person or persons be found guilty of this act. Adoption has got to be the most unnatural thing one human being can do to another in the name of a child's best interest."

In defense of my first Dad, he isn't a part of the Adoptees Rights Movements, or the Family Preservation Movements and is only just now beginning to be aware of it at all because of his avid interest in me, his daughter. Some things that perhaps might have been obvious to those of my Facebook friends who are intimately involved and aware of my positions wouldn't need any sort of disclaimer, but one of the things that my first Dad brought to my attention is that there may be people who, like him, have no point of reference and could find my statements very confusing.

Some of the salient points I should have clarified sooner are these:

  • Who exactly "a person or persons" are.
  • The legal status of adoption.
  • What constitutes an unfit parent.

I want to address these points now.

When I refer to "a person or persons" I was in fact referring to attorneys or agencies whose sole purpose is the making of money from adoption. I never said adoption should be illegal, but that force and coercion and manipulation in order to obtain a baby for an adopting couple should be illegal. Informed consent is required for every single medical procedure we have; a doctor is obligated by law to give all the information about said procedure and the alternatives to the patient, yet there is nothing in place to keep an attorney or an agency from outright lying to a woman who is considering adoption and to me, that is plain wrong. While placing a child for adoption isn't technically a medical procedure, it is a life altering event for the surrendering mother, the child and the adopting parents. To be less than fully informed is, in my opinion, a criminal act. In the system we have today, adoption is a money making industry, motivated by greed, not good will, on the part of the vast majority of agencies and attorneys. It's not in the agencies or attorneys best interest to give a woman who is considering adoption all the information that is available on the repercussions of adoption on all members of the triad. Those people understand that should a woman be given this information, she will likely chose another option for her child, and they can kiss the money goodbye.

As for teen parents, their youth should not make them automatically unfit. I believe we need a movement in this country to keep the children of these teens at least within the biological family, should a teen mother and/or teen father prove unable to care for the child. Placing a baby with strangers doesn't help the child, no matter how loving, caring and attentive those strangers may be.

Some simple definitions of an unfit parent would include neglect, abuse (physical, emotional, mental), drug abuse. There are other definitions of "unfit", of course, but, that would be up to a judge to determine, using the law as precedent.

Financial abuse is a trickier situation, generally speaking. There are millions of children in this country alone who don't have health insurance. I'm ambivalent about this being an abusive situation; one, because we do have access to emergency rooms that by law must treat patients who seek treatment (and should the child need to be admitted to the hospital, there are financial alternatives that most hospitals offer for payment, either through medicare or payment plans), and two, because for things like immunizations there are free clinics in just about every community that a parent can take their child to. It was stated in a conference on adoption at the White House in the early 1900's that poverty is NOT an adequate reason to remove children from their families. Another thing to consider for financial "abuse" are that there are a great many community, private outreach programs designed to assist poorer families.

As for who is a better parent, according to The Primal Wound (and frankly, common sense) there are natural processes that a woman goes through during a pregnancy that does enable her to be the best parent to her child. Societal pressures are the factors from keeping that woman from fulfilling the imperative nature has provided. An adoptive mother hasn't gone through the 9 months of pregnancy that will make her uniquely able to care for that child. Can prospective adoptive parents provide a more financially stable environment? Perhaps, but as I stated earlier, I don't believe that poverty is a sufficient reason to take a child from it's mother. And that mother and child do not necessarily have to rely on tax payer money in order to survive.

Additionally, our society has a tendency to view a young pregnant woman in a static position. They see her as forever being young, immature and unable to provide for her offspring. This is an incredibly narrow view point, very limiting, imposing a certain set of criteria upon that person that common sense must dictate as purely illogical. One of the primary reasons why many prospective adoptive parents want an infant is because we know that babies grow incredibly fast, and are soon out of infancy. Humans grow. They grow up, get older, wiser, more mature. Of course not everyone does, however, telling a young, financially challenged woman that she cannot care for her child because of these very transitory situations in life is to risk creating in that person a mind set that, as soon as she signs the papers, becomes reality instead of only a possibility. Youth and poverty are not permanent. But when a woman is coerced into handing her child over to an eager, infertile couple, society has stated that woman will forever be a child, incapable of taking care of her child, establishing a destructive pattern of behavior in her that will keep a part of her forever that age when she relinquished, and even sadder, can cause so much damage as to compel the young woman to sabotage any efforts or attempts at creating a better life for herself.

Additionally, as the child grows, he or she can inevitably experience these exact same situations. Where the birth mother was unworthy to parent, the child was unworthy to be parented by their biological family. When one feels unworthy, there is no desire to better oneself. It can turn into a self perpetuating cycle to the point where the child turns into a birth parent themselves.

We regularly prosecute people for coercion, manipulation and force when these methods deprive another of health, happiness and well being; however, when done in the name of "the best interest of the child" we excuse the behavior, even if studies have shown time and again that adoption isn't always in the best interest of the child. Its criminal to leave a child in the hands of a parent who is patently unfit. Why then is it encouraged to take a child from a fit parent simply because of transitory situations in life?

1 comment: