Fleming speaks for millions of adopted children. It's pretty basic. Everyone (excepting only the pathological) is grateful to have been given a chance at life. Fleming's simple gratitude contrasts with the fatuous nonsense often peddled in the media that adoption is always traumatic. It isn't. Yet even if it were, isn't it better to be alive? Yes, some adoptees struggle with questions of identity, but life is full of challenges. In other ways, adoptees are actually better off than the average American child. A Search Institute study found that 55 percent of adopted teenagers reported high self-esteem compared with 45 percent of others. This may be because adoptive families have lower-than-average rates of divorce, and/or because adopting couples want children very badly.
Fleming's birthmother abandoned her in a relatively safe place. The same could not be said of many infants found in public restrooms, train stations, and even dumpsters around the time she was born. In response, all 50 states (but not the District of Columbia) have now adopted safe haven or "Baby Moses" laws permitting women to relinquish newborns "no questions asked" within a few days of birth -- a sad necessity.
Baby Moses has inspired one more entrant into the compassionate network of organizations hoping to help women with crisis pregnancies. In the past 35 years, thousands of such groups have sprouted around the country like wildflowers. But until now, none was specifically focused on Jewish women. The Bible (Exodus: Chapter I, verse 15) relates the story of Shifra and Puah, the midwives who refused Pharaoh's order to kill the male children of the Israelites. "But the midwives feared God, and did not as the King of Egypt commanded them." December marked the debut of "In Shifra's Arms" (Inshifrasarms.org), the first Jewish crisis pregnancy group (in whose founding I played a small role). Here, Jewish women struggling with life-and-death decisions will find support, information, and resources on alternatives to abortion.
Mia's story is heartwarming. But one cannot read it without thinking of something else -- the millions who cannot give thanks. Each year, 1.2 million children in America are aborted. If they were placed for adoption, they'd presumably want to thank someone as well. The goal of In Shifra's Arms, like its sister organizations, is to ensure that more Mias get the chance to be grateful.
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