Monday, July 11, 2005

How can we make adoption attractive to women?

Throughout her book, I waited with baited breath for the answer to a pressing question. “How could adoption become an attractive option to a pregnant woman in crisis?” As I read through the first 100 pages of Real Choices: Listening to Women; Looking for Alternatives to Abortion, Frederica Mathewes-Green referred to a study completed by 194 pregnancy care centers. Each one of these centers listed “Adoption appears too difficult (practically or emotionally)” as the number one most common problem as well as the number one most difficult problem handled in their centers.

Reading through the book on a warm Sunday afternoon in the park, I became inspired to more aggressively promote adoption as a healthy option for a mother.

Surprisingly, I discovered that in pregnancy options counseling, “adoption is not even mentioned to clients” in 40 percent of pregnancy counseling situations (p. 111). The reason seems to be that it seems to be difficult to find the right moment to bring up this option to women, and to be able to present it in an attractive way.

Of course, by attractive, I do not mean glamour and bliss, but an example of what love and motherhood really mean. The argument I hear most often against adoption in my work is that “we don’t want some other person raising our child.” This argument can stand up to parenting (it is entirely naturally to want to raise one’s own child), but it cannot stand up to abortion (it is entirely unnatural for a woman to destroy the child that her body naturally protects). Wouldn’t providing the child with a stable home and a two-parent situation be an ideal option for the mother in a crisis pregnancy? How do we convey this in a loving way to the pregnant mother?

BJ Williams, former director of Adoption Services of San Diego, suggests “helping the client think objectively, not emotionally, by posing questions in the third person: ‘Why would someone plan an adoption? Why would someone single parent?’” (p. 111).

Aha! This is the gold I was looking for in the mine of hurt and desperation encountered when helping a woman in crisis. Although this woman will be experiencing confusion and lack of mental clarity, she has not lost her ability to think objectively. Yes, her emotions will urge her to keep and parent her child, but her emotions do not urge her to separate her motherhood from the decision making through abortion. Yet, if neither of those options are, well, options, this must be how we make the third option more attractive. This simple advice has the potential to move mountains.

In this book, Marlena Moore of Bethany Christian Services of Maryland “criticizes the ‘Adoption, not Abortion’ slogan for seeming to assert the child’s interest without explaining that adoption over abortion also serves the mother best. ‘Until we can defend an adoption over abortion for the benefit of the mother as well, our slogan will continue to fall on deaf ears’” (p. 112).

Please see Chapter 9 of the book as well as Appendix A for reference to the items discussed in this post. Book available from Ms. Mathewes-Green’s website; please see above.

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