Regarding letters “Adoption through open eyes,” responding to R.H. “Dick” Lea’s “Adoption should be the right choice” and David J. Scotton’s “Misguided questions, terminology serve to stigmatize adoption”: Both advocate increasing the incidence of infant adoption. As a Louisiana adopted person, with a loving and supportive adoptive family, I find both letters misguided and cynical.
I believe there are circumstances where infant adoption, when done with openness and integrity where family preservation is not possible, is a necessary option. That is not the same as it being anybody’s preferred choice. There is a long history of women forced to relinquish babies due to societal norms and ostracism, family pressure, and absence of employment and child care choices. Things are improved, but equality for women still is lacking today. Women were not, and are not, choosing to “gift” their children to an infertile couple as the adoption industry portrays. Nor is adoption the first choice of couples dealing with infertility. Many pursue other medical options in hopes of conceiving. They deal with their own issues of loss, insecurity, filling a need, and not fitting into society’s view of family. This dynamic creates a lucrative market for agencies preying on the sensitivities of infertile couples and mothers and fathers in crisis. For both sides, infant adoption is a last resort.
In adoption, it is indisputable that the creation of one family comes with the unfortunate dismantling of another. It is not just a mother and father losing a child. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and extended family all lose a member of their clan. The child loses a connection to their roots, a loss that endures for generations. Policy experts today see far greater value to society in supporting mothers and fathers and seeking wherever possible to preserve families. Instead, these parents are subject to manipulation and coercion by agencies that stand to gain only if they can pressure parents to relinquish their children.
The letters are cynical because of the authors’ affiliations. In addition to being a “retired business owner,” unmentioned is that Lea is on the board of The St. Elizabeth’s Foundation, a Louisiana adoption agency. Scotton has similar loose affiliations. The latter argued in his piece for a more honest discourse on adoption. Perhaps they should begin by disclosing their own motivations.
Elise Bateman Lewis
former regional director and board member, American Adoption Congress