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November 29, 2010

Column #1,527

Adoption: Good News, Bad News

By Mike McManus

                “Adoption Works Well,” according to a synthesis of the literature by Dr. Patrick Fagan, Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute of the Family Research Council.

                “Adopted children benefit significantly from adoption,” he writes. Many move into “materially advantaged homes and to the care of supportive, educated adoptive parents who are very interested in all aspects of their child’s development.” 

                They are more likely than children born into intact homes to live with both parents because few adoptive parents divorce. “They scored higher than their middle class counterparts” in school achievement, social competence, optimism and volunteerism, “are less depressed than children of single parents and less involved in alcohol abuse, vandalism, group fighting, police trouble.”  They also have higher self-esteem, self-directedness and positive views of others.

                Children adopted before they are 12 months old are just as attached to their parents as those born to intact parents, but those who are adopted at older ages are less secure. “The older the child is at adoption, the greater are his special needs, and greater in turn is the need for parental constancy, flexibility and engagement,” Fagan writes.  However, adoptive mothers spend more time with their children than do natural mothers, and most kids do well.

                Even the birth mothers who relinquish a child fare well, with higher educational achievement and are less likely to live in poverty, or receive welfare than mothers who keep their out-of-wedlock children. Nor did they suffer “any extra social or psychological problems.”

                Fagan cites a study showing that 90 percent of Americans view adoption positively. 

                Yet of the 1.75 million children born to unwed parents, only 22,000 a year were adopted in 2002, reports Chuck Johnson, President of the National Council for Adoption.  And a soon-to be released survey of 2007, shows the numbers have fallen even further.

Alarmingly, out-of-wedlock births have soared eight-fold from 5% of all births to 41% in 2008.  These children have the worst prospects in life. In an earlier study, Dr. Fagan reported that compared to children from intact homes, those from fatherless homes are:

·         24 times more likely to run away

·         15 times more apt to have behavior disorders and to end up in prison as a teenager

·         11 times more likely to commit rape

·         7 times more apt to become teenage mothers

·         6 times more likely to drop out of school and 3 times as apt to be expelled

·         33 times more likely to be seriously abused (requiring medical attention)

·         73 times more likely to be killed.

                The peak adoption year was 1971 when 90,000 infants were adopted. About that time, major states, such as New York, began making abortion legal.  In 1973 the Supreme Court issued its famous Roe v. Wade decision, legalizing abortion nationally; abortions doubled overnight from 745,000 to 1.5 million.  The number has dropped modestly to 1.2 million a year.

                When combined with out-of-wedlock births, there are potentially 3 million children who could be adopted each year – to the clear benefit of the child and the birth mother.

                Why are so few adopted?  Only one percent of babies to unwed moms are relinquished. 

                To its credit, the Bush Administration created an adoption tax credit which was extended by the Obama Administration and Congress in Health Care Reform, that now gives a refundable tax credit worth $13,170 this year.  It has had one positive benefit, of increasing the number of adoptions out of foster care, which have risen from 50,000 to 57,000.

                Yet few infants are adopted. Why?

                Regrettably, Crisis Pregnancy Centers, who see perhaps 200,000 women a year – rarely encourage unwed mothers to give their children for adoption. “The training for Crisis Pregnancy Resource Centers, has volunteers telling women that `God’s first plan is to mother the child,’ says Johnson of the Council for Adoption.

                “Only a woman who is considered a poor risk because she would not be a good mother, if she is on drugs, for example, is advised to consider the adoption option.”

                This is tragic for the children and their mothers.

                Crisis Pregnancy Centers proudly proclaim they are “pro life.”  But what kind of a life do they favor?  One where the children are at high risk of failure, abuse and crime – or a life where the kids will fare better than those born to married parents?

                It is a question that must be answered by Crisis Pregnancy Center volunteers.

                They should read Pat Fagan’s report, “Adoption Works Well.”

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