I’ve been thinking about the adoption evolution and revolution here lately. How the adoption agencies and their clients have changed so much in their approach to the modern day pregnant women who is considering adoption as opposed to how they spoke to and about our baby scoop era sisters before us. The modern day pregnant women considering relinquishing her parental rights are shown compassion, respect and admiration with phrases like:
“You are courageous, wonderful, and selfless.”
“You are giving your child a chance at a better life.”
“You are giving some family a precious gift.”
Now a day’s society understands that women have clear choices. We basically have two more options that the baby scoop era women didn’t have. So naturally, adoption agencies and the adoption community have changed their approach to the unintended pregnant woman.
We’ve gone from “You have to give up your baby,” to “You can choose open or closed adoption when you place your child.” But the truth is, women don’t give up or place their children. We have chosen to relinquish. Society doesn’t like that word. I don’t like it either. But that is the truth. Often times, it’s an ugly truth. Ask any mother (or father in some cases) who has signed a legal document entitled Relinquishment of Parental Rights. Once the ink makes contact with the paper and the strokes of the pen slowly inscribes your name, it soon becomes very apparent just how real those words are. And it is done. Relinquished!
I think back to the times when my (birth mother) sisters who were forced and coerced to leave their babies in a hospital. The ones who never got to see their child leave their womb and enter the world, the ones who woke up after giving birth to an empty crib and empty arms, and the ones who reluctantly believed a bias society. Although these women may have signed relinquishment papers, most of them had no other choices. There was no Roe vs. Wade; only illegal abortions. There were no single parenting options; only a cruel disapproving society.
Don’t get me wrong, society still has their way of getting into the psyche of vulnerable modern day females. Family and romantic partners still use coercion tactics on defenseless pregnant women. Adoption agencies and hopeful clients refer to expecting mothers as their birth mother while her baby still rests within her womb, (and in most cases) warm and safe, surrounded by the love of a mother. How can a woman who hasn’t even given birth yet or relinquished her parental rights be referred to as a birth mother? That’s society’s way of psychologically preparing her for what they hope she will choose. Since they are unable to use the old scare tactics, the shameful tactics, the bad girl tactics, the “you’re inadequate” tactics, they have found new ways to subliminally prepare her for their anticipated choice. So they call her by the name that labels her as a future candidate for the adoption industry.
I couldn’t imagine telling someone they should give up, place or relinquish. I couldn’t imagine telling someone they should abort their child and yet people do both of these things every single day. I wonder how these people feel about their own selves, after coercing a woman or teenage girl to abort or relinquish. How does one live with themselves knowing that their persuading or forceful ultimatum created a decision that separated a child from his or her first mother and father?
Personally, I don’t think we appropriately prepare women for the truth of relinquishment. Adoption agencies like to use nice words, fluffy words (placed, adoption plan, gift, loving choice) to conceal the truth. I can tell you from personal experience, the word relinquish never came up in conversation once during my pregnancy when I met with my adoption counselor prior to the birth of my son. The first time I remember seeing and hearing that word was when I went into a meeting room to sign the “adoption” papers. When the relinquishment papers was placed before me, I remember saying the title out loud with a raised brow as I swallowed uncomfortably and looked over to my counselor. She tried to offer a slight constellation, stating that that is what it is legally called.
We should ask ourselves why an agency feels the need to hide such an important word that goes hand in hand within the adoption industry. Without relinquishment, there is no adoption; unless it is through the foster care system.
I wonder how many women would choose to relinquish if they were not persuaded in any way and if they knew all the facts beforehand of post relinquishment despair. I’m not saying adoption is wrong. There are some cases where adoption is necessary. But what I am saying is that first and foremost, a woman should be free to choose with no outside influence. No adoption should be legal without the consent of both biological parents. More importantly the adoption industry needs to be truthful in every way. They need to do a better job at preparing mothers and fathers of the repercussion of choosing to relinquish.
After the reality of relinquishment sets in, a birth mother’s heart breaks in a thousand pieces, her mind fills with images of regrets and what ifs, and if she feels she cannot bear another day without her offspring, she may try to rescind her choice. However, society could care less about this birth mother now. There is no going back. There are no second chances. Just listen to any mother (or father) who has tried and you will hear an evil hiss among the masses warning her, berating her and making false accusation and claims to sway the general masses. Never mind that just weeks and months before, she was this wonderful angel doing a selfless act. Now she is no longer a women giving but a women taking. The priceless human being that God gives freely to females has now become a commodity, a legal lawsuit, and sometimes, a human ransom. And so, the lawyers, the courts, the adoption agency, the adoptive parents, and even large amounts of society are quick to point to a signature on a legal document that states, Relinquishment of Parental Rights. The act of signing ones name, that took less than a minute to complete will now take a lifetime to heal.