Monday, July 13, 2009

Searching for pro-woman adoption resources

Our quest for offering women comprehensive information on all reproductive options has hit a sandbar. We simply cannot find any woman-centered adoption resource... the kind that treats birthmothers like humans.

It seems, in all the compassionate language adoption agencies use in their Q&As for prospective birthmothers, agencies have an air about them that seems manipulative, paternalistic, or just plain untrustworthy. There's far too much focus on the baby-to-be and not nearly enough on the emotional or physical toll adoption can have on a birthmother. Baby-centrism is the main reason I've decided not to post even the most promising adoption resources on the website. I figure, women can find this sort of information everywhere; it's well-funded, well-supported, and easy to access the "run of the mill" adoption resource. The problem is, we've found that the average adoption resource ignores what we see as the single most important faction of the process: the woman doing the birthing.

But in my search, I did come across a fantastic article on adoption from a feminist perspective. It truly helps to explain why we've had so much trouble finding what we're looking for.

Feminist lens on adoption

Katie Leo

I've asked several of the anti-choicers that write us to condemn our work for help on this. I truly want it. I ask for woman-positive, preferably secular (or predominately secular-operating) agencies that would treat the pregnant woman like a human with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and concerns. I've not heard back from any of them.

If anyone does have decent resources for birthmothers (agencies or just plain resources), do send us an email so we can get that up in our links and resources. We do, in fact, strive to be supportive of any informed choice a woman makes when facing an unplanned pregnancy, and want to help facilitate those choices in an unbiased manner.



marci said...

Hi Lauren,

I have been following your blog, CPC Watcher, for a little while now because I share your opinion of CPC’s; that they “exist mainly to limit reproductive decisions, often through deception, misleading information, or outright false "facts" regarding abortion and contraception.” In fact, recently I began volunteering with a local abortion rights activist group and we are currently developing strategies to combat their deceptive advertising tactics in communities across New York State.

My day-job is with Spence-Chapin Services in New York City, a non-profit, non-sectarian adoption agency that prides itself on its patient-centered, empowerment model of practice and it’s strong pro-choice philosophy. Working for an adoption agency has actually increased my interest even more in CPC’s because we already know quite well that they proselytize, preach and spread misinformation and lies to women seeking options counseling, abortion and/or contraception services but, the thing is, they also don’t do adoption very well either.

In your post you wrote:

“We have been searching for woman-friendly adoption resources, but have found few that aren't manipulative and profit-driven, or completely disregard the birthmother.”

I am so glad to hear that you are trying to build up your resource list of adoption resources that you can actually promote and feel confident about referring women to. In the absence of a network of trusted adoption resources, how can those of us who work in the reproductive justice movement truly say that we are providing women with access to all of their options?

In response to this gap in services, Spence-Chapin and other like-minded partners across the country are building a nationwide adoption access network that brings together family planning and abortion providers, national professional and academic medical associations and other stakeholders in the field of adoption and reproductive health to truly make adoption a more accessible reproductive option and to improve standards in the field at the same time.

I would also like to share that we offer doula care (thanks to The Doula Project: to all of our clients so that each woman has the opportunity to have a positive birth experience regardless of her circumstance. Since many of the women we work with are without support, this service is of tremendous value to our clients who are considering adoption.

We share your frustration that too many agencies do not share these best practice standards in adoption. However, there are some. Examples include: The Cradle in Illinois, the Avalon Center in Iowa, and Open Adoption & Family Services in Portland, Oregon, to name a few. I would be happy to give you more information about our partners as you continue to develop your list. Spence-Chapin is also a “Community Ally” with Backline Talkline as they are a great resource for connecting women to trusted adoption resources. Our hope is that, with time, the public may gain a greater understanding of adoption itself and that women will know where to turn when facing an unintended pregnancy—to providers that are truly committed to reproductive choice and the health and well-being of women and families.

LiturgyGeek said...

I've just discovered your blog - thanks for all you do! I would only echo what Marci said about The Avalon Center in Iowa; they provide wonderful resources to everyone involved in the adoption process.