Culture Challenge of the Week: Adoption, an Invisible Option
One lopsided statistic easily overlooked in the abortion debate is this: 3700 abortions occur each day, drastically outnumbering the 68 adoptions that occur across all fifty states on any given day. It's "a staggering gap," says Thea Ramirez, a social worker and former adoption agency director.
Numbers like those inspired Thea, a married mother of two young children, to leap forward in faith and found a new, stunningly successful website called Adoption-Share. When you visit her site at www.adoption-share.com you will see the beauty and genius of her idea. Thea has a profoundly pro-life mission, with a very practical goal: to make adoption easier, more transparent, and more successful for all involved-licensed agencies, adoptive parents, and birthmothers.
But back to those numbers for a second. Why so few adoptions? First, most women with crisis pregnancies don't view adoption as a viable option.
Anyone who has worked with women in crisis pregnancies knows it's difficult to open women's hearts to adoption. Pregnant women often say, "I could never give my baby up for adoption. If I'm going to have the baby, I'm going to keep the baby."
When adoption seems unthinkable, these women find their "choices" reduced to two: keep the baby or abort. For some, keeping the baby loses its appeal fast or becomes untenable. A boyfriend or husband may threaten violence or abandonment if she keeps the baby. Or the women herself may realize that she lacks the human capacity to parent a child, perhaps because of drug or alcohol addiction, serious immaturity, or lack of support. The stats tell the rest of the story: In some cities, over 40% of women will choose abortion as their "best" option.
Understandably, those on the frontlines of pro-life work focus first on helping women make that life-affirming decision to carry the baby to term. Thea rightly points out, however, that through non-directive and non-coercive counseling, we can present an additional choice---to parent or not. Women in crisis pregnancies need the opportunity to hear the benefits of adoption presented gently, with time to ask questions and reflect.
The reality is that some women who admirably choose life are unable to parent - and human decency demands that we help them.
And, it's always in the best interest of the babies to help place them in loving homes right away. The child who might have been a great candidate for adoption at three days of age," but remains with the birth mother, "might be the child at 15 who is in foster care," needing serious intervention because the mother proved unable to parent. Situations like that are preventable.
Another reason for the low adoption rate is that the adoption process itself is expensive, uncertain, and mysterious. Families grope in the dark, trying to make decisions quickly to maximize their chances of receiving a child. Many lose their way. Prospective adoptive families sometimes avoid licensed agencies to save money, but spend more and never realize their dreams. Other families bend under agency pressure to sign up (and pay hefty fees) long before they feel ready. And others try foreign adoptions, with uneven success or higher rates of failed adoptions.
How to Save A Family: Recommend Adoption-Share.com
Enter Adoption-Share.com. It's an online network (similar to Facebook) for those actively engaged in the adoption process. Not an adoption agency or "facilitator," Adoption-Share is simply a place for all parties in the adoption process to meet-to connect, network, and gather information.
The benefit? The network promotes transparency among possible parties to an adoption and represents an amazingly easy way to break through the confusing and expensive adoption process.
Who may join? Women exploring adoption as a solution to their crisis pregnancy may join Adoption-Share for free. The confidentiality of an on-line setting and the ease of a social network provide time, space, and privacy to seriously consider adoption.
Licensed agencies may join, for a monthly fee. They benefit because every prospective adoptive family in the network is already approved for adoption. (Families must have their home study completed and approved in order to join Adoption-Share.) Agencies can be transparent about the adoptive situations they offer and streamline the process.
And prospective adoptive parents enjoy the great blessing of communicating, networking, and gathering relevant information from licensed adoption agencies before they need to make a financial commitment.
Thea Ramirez is a woman with a passion for families-and a vision for streamlining the adoption process to make it a viable pro-life solution to crisis pregnancies. If you know a birthmother considering adoption, or a family (with a completed home study) ready for the next steps, encourage them to visit Adoption-Share.com Tell them it just might be the place to "meet your new family."