Nina Easton, journalist and adoptive mother who wrote an opinion piece "A Mother's Day plea to stop equating adoption with abandonment" published in the Washington Post, is trying to alter the perception of adoption in a country whose understanding of adoption is, at best, rudimentary. How can we consider “celebrating” adoption when the entire institution is so biased against the natural mother and her child? We are given only part of the picture of adoption in mainstream media which is usually that of the adoptive parent.
Ms. Easton is not introducing any new ideas in her plea for America to “celebrate” women who relinquish their children. This tactic is already used by crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies in business today. Although she claims the secretive actions of adoption are a thing of the past, denying adoptees access to their own information is still secretive. Adoption agency’s still use coercive practices to support their multi-billion dollar bottom lines. An astounding amount of money is still being made by getting women to “heroically” give up their babies.
Ms. Easton lacks the understanding this “celebration” is inherently coercive. The expectant mother is being set up to please someone else by making her “mistake” into someone else’s “gift”. Relinquishment is sold as a chance to redeem herself in the eyes of her parents and society and prove her worth as a human being. This is a common, and successful, tactic being used by most adoption agencies today.
Ms. Easton believes adoption should not be equated with abandonment. Instead, we should convince women relinquishment is an act of “bravery and selflessness” on the part of the mother. How many times has this same line been used to convince soldiers to go to war? The solider imagines himself after the war, safe and alive, receiving accolades for his bravery. He doesn't envision the more likely psychological and physical damage just as the “brave and selfless” woman doesn't comprehend the years of pain ahead of her after she’s relinquished or how those who called her “brave and selfless” will abandon her to convince other women of how they, too, can be “heroes”.
Regardless of all other issues, Ms. Easton’s greatest flaw in reasoning is her belief you can change how an adopted person experiences their own adoption. Many adoptees report feeling they were abandoned, and it took therapy for most to understand how the act of being rejected by their natural mother affected their lives. I've read some will never seek therapy because of their own necessity to appear normal, and some will not seek help due to a reluctance to reveal any issues they may have with their adoption to their adoptive parents. The adopted adult’s over-representation in mental health care and drug and alcohol abuse proves our inadequate understanding of the results of adoption for the adopted individual. So, no matter how much Ms. Easton wishes adoption wasn't about abandonment, for the child, that will never be true.
Furthermore, Ms. Easton doesn't even touch the discrimination against the same children she is trying to save from abortion. They are the only group of people in America who are selectively denied the right to know their origins. Ms. Easton’s cultural “celebration”, if successful, would sentence millions of adults to never knowing who their natural parents are as, in most states, adoptees are required to beg a judge to give them access to information non-adopted adults can send a check with a self-addressed stamped envelope and receive in a matter of days.
What this country needs to do is stop making adoption about adults, and to stop letting adoption agencies take advantage of women by convincing them theirs will be an act of heroism while withholding the consequences of adoption for their child. Adoption should not be exclusively about the woman who finds herself in an unplanned pregnancy, and it should never be about the infertile couple who “deserve” her baby. Once you are pregnant and decide not to have an abortion, it becomes about the child you are carrying and giving them the best life possible. The best life is, and always will be, with their biological parents in an abuse free home.
Ms. Easton’s motivation in making adoption heroic is centered in the injudicious belief adoption will reduce abortions even though adoption professionals admit this isn't true. If she was truly concerned about the child, she would encourage legislation to stop the practice of discrimination of adopted individuals by allowing unrestricted access to their original birth certificates and support making open adoption agreements enforceable so the adopted child can have the best of both worlds when an adoption is necessary. If she truly wanted to make a positive impact, she would support making adoption a more equitable institution for the adoptee and their natural family.