| September 3, 2008
The Adoption Option?
By Mike McManus
When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin revealed that her 17-year-old daughter
Bristol, is five months pregnant out-of-wedlock, there was a small sigh
of relief in conservative circles when the girl indicated that she
intended to marry the father, Levi Johnston, an 18-year-old.
Yet questions linger. If they were going to marry, why haven't they
already done so since she's more than half way through the pregnancy?
Is marriage the right answer? Divorce rates are very high for couples
who marry at such a young age.
Is this a serious young man planning for a future, looking forward to
being a father? Not exactly.
He revealed on his MySpace page that he was "in a relationship" but
said, "I don't want kids." He called himself a "redneck" who likes to
snowboard, ride dirt bikes, fish, camp out and "hang out with the boys."
Not surprisingly, his MySpace page quickly disappeared.
Sound like a good marital prospect? Not to this father. He's very
immature. No wonder teen marriages tend to end in divorce.
I know nothing about these kids or their parents. However, how much
time does the governor have to help out, when she is already caring for
four other children?
In a case like this, one wonders why the "Adoption Option" is apparently
not being considered. The baby's life would be preserved, and be
relinquished to a more mature couple who has longed for years to have a
baby. Bristol's future could include college.
Furthermore, the birth mother could continue to have some contact with
the child. "The vast majority of adoptions involve some level of
openness between the birth mother and the adopting couple," says Chuck
Johnson, vice president of the National Council for Adoption (NCFA).
That may range from an exchange of pictures all the way to regular
There are 2 million couples waiting to adopt, and only 22,000 unrelated
infant adoptions in 2002, the latest year with data. In that year there
were 1,366.000 unwed births, 25 percent of which were to teenage
girls. Keeping the baby virtually guarantees that the mother and child
will live in poverty.
However, why is the "adoption option," so rare, involving less than 2
percent of unwed births? At one time, there were 90,000 infant
adoptions, but that was before abortion was available. In 2002, there
were 1,313,000 abortions.
NCFA's Johnson says that "Most pro-life people are very pro-adoption.
However, when a woman comes to a Crisis Pregnancy Center, most
counselors focus on helping the young woman develop a parenting plan.
They see parenting as the best option."
Frankly, I doubt that is in the interest of most teenage mothers.. CPC
volunteers view abortion as the most likely alternative to carrying the
baby to term, and therefore, pitch to a young woman's natural instincts
to mother a child growing within her: "You can do it. We will help you
with diapers, etc." they say.
When the late Bill Pierce was President of NCFA, he obtained a federal
grant to train volunteer counselors in presenting the adoption option.
And 18,500 were trained to do so, but the numbers of adoptions is
A new Ad Campaign has been developed. Its theme: "Sometimes choosing
adoption is being a good mother." The goal is to remove the stigma
associated with adoption, by convincing her that she is not "giving up"
a child, but relinquishing that child for a much better future than the
young mother could offer.
American families who want to adopt have turned increasingly to foreign
adoptions. According to the State Department, there were 22,884 infant
adoptions from abroad in 2004. That compares with only 7,093 in 1990.
Adoption by non-relatives is very rare in foreign countries. Those
local officials do not understand the interest of Americans. One Keynan
judge asked if a couple wanted a black baby to be a slave!
A much larger source of children to be adopted are the 510,000 now in
foster care. With 303,000 entering foster care in a recent year. About
50,000 of those children are adopted annually. Government subsidies are
actually available to encourage adoptions.
On average, a family who takes in a child in foster care receives $508 a
month. If the child is adopted, $444 of subsidies will continue. And
the family can take an $11,000 tax credit.
Who are these children going into foster care? Many are out-of-wedlock
kids of immature mothers unable to care for them.
Barack Obama says he wants to encourage more adoptions. Good. There is
a long way to go.
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