As soon as the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court was announced, the adoption rhetoric started rolling in, full force. The political right loves to tout adoption as abortion’s answer. After all, if a woman is in a crisis pregnancy, she can choose the “loving option” by placing her child with a loving couple. It’s a win-win-win, right?
In this narrative, the adoptive parents — often infertile, can obtain the child they’ve longed for. Likewise, they are saving a child in a need of a good and loving home. The child’s birth mother wins, too. Instead of choosing to have an abortion to deal with a pregnancy she either doesn’t want and cannot handle — be it physically, financially, emotionally, or otherwise — she can “give life” to her child. And of course, the child wins, too. They are deemed “lucky,” placed in the arms of (preferably heterosexual, Christian) parents who can provide for them.
If you’re reading this and cringing, you should be. As an adoptive mom of 4 children, I’ve heard it all, especially since we do look like the type of couple whom many of the politically right-wing deem worthy of parenting. We are a Caucasian, Christian couple, cis-gendered and heterosexual. We are placed on a pedestal, an obvious adoptive family because our children are Black and we are white.
Just as we are deemed our children’s saviors, our children are looked at as charity cases or accessories. They’ve often been called a “gift” — one we received. Strangers have approached us with their sticky-sweet smiles and affirmations: “God bless you for taking in these kids.” Yes, the cringe factor is through the roof.
The reality is that we adopted our children out of our purely selfish desire to build a family. Having biological children wasn’t an option for us due to my health — but adoption was. The longer we were parents by adoption, the more we realized how complex, bittersweet, and traumatic adoption is.
Yet, conservatives love to paint a picture that’s simple and serene. If a woman finds herself in a pregnancy that she can’t handle, there’s an easy solution (they say). She can carry the child to term and then place that child for adoption. She is told that if she does this, she is “selfless” for “choosing life” for her baby. She can then “move on” with her life. After all, God doesn’t make mistakes, and it’s a child, not a choice.
I’ve had people tell me how grateful I must be that my kids’ birth parents didn’t choose abortion. I find this disgusting —because it’s based on assumptions and stereotypes. Birth parents are, to many, less-than. People assume they are young, drug-addicted, sexually promiscuous, irresponsible, and often, people of color. Adoptive parents are the rescuers, the ones who can swoop in and redeem the situation.
When I, as a Christian and adoptive parent, voice why I do not support the overturning of Roe v. Wade, I have been met with appall. One person even asked me, “So you’d rather adopted children be aborted?”
What I would “rather” is that our country support women and children — in many ways — all of the time. The answer to abortion isn’t adoption. The answer to women in crisis is to fix the very broken, inaccessible, difficult support systems that help women and children. These helps include childcare, education, housing, food, mental health assistance, physical healthcare, and much more. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was a pretend bandage, one that will only create more issues for the very people pro-lifers claim they love and want to protect.
Pro-lifers have failed in so many ways, and I can say this having grown up in a conservative, Christian, pro-life environment. For 10 (plus) years of my childhood, I helped raise money for a local crisis pregnancy center. (If you don’t know, that’s code for “abortion is murder.”) I wrote my high school senior essay on the corruption within “the abortion industry.” It wasn’t until 2 friends of mine — both of whom identify as Christian — told me they’d had an abortion that I was suddenly able to see the humanity behind crisis pregnancies instead of the “sin.”
Our country has failed children. There 117,000 children available for adoption—right now—in the United States. 20,000 children, between eighteen and twenty-one, will age out of foster care each year without the permanency of a forever family.
If adoption is the answer to abortion — why are there so many children in the system? There are enough pro-lifers that if this is the argument they stand on, then why aren’t all of children available for adoption already adopted?
Because the overturning of Roe v. Wade wasn’t about babies, mothers, and valuing all life. The overturning of Roe v. Wade was about power, control, and optics. It’s about fueling the Trumpian fire for white conservatives to dance around. Furthermore, many of the children waiting to be adopted from foster care aren’t the ideal for polished all-American families. All kids waiting to be adopted have trauma; many of them are older, part of a sibling group, disabled, and are children of color.
There are so many other reasons why the answer to abortion isn’t adoption. Adoption is traumatic — especially for the adoptee (the person who was adopted), and create lifelong attachment issues. Furthermore, a person cannot “just adopt.” The adoption process is difficult one — an uphill battle. Depending on the route to adoption, it can also be quite expensive — a cost that many cannot afford. (However, in general, foster care adoption is free.) Many conservative, Christian adoption agencies make it difficult, if not impossible, for qualified, hopeful adoptive parents to adopt. This includes single people, those in a same-sex partnership, people with disabilities, and people of color.
Pro-lifers shouldn’t get a pass to throw adoption in the faces of women and children. This is heartless and ignorant. To boast about adoption — with no commitment to systemically bettering the lives of all women and children — isn’t pro-life at all. Yes, I am very thankful to be my children’s chosen mom, but I also had everything I needed to be a mom. Many women in this country do not, and that’s a fact we can’t afford to ignore.
Before you go: Here are 5 ways to support reproductive rights in a post-Roe America.
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