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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,926
Advance for July 19, 2018
Why Are There So Few Adoptions?
By Mike McManus

In 2014 there were 1,058,490 American abortions and 1,604,870 unwed births. Yet there were only 18,329 infant adoptions. That's about 6.9 adoptions per 1,000 abortions and unwed births.

Why are there so few adoptions?

Chuck Johnson, President of the U.S. Adoption Council, puts part of the blame on the decrease of international adoptions. They did fall from nearly 23,000 in 2004 to only 4,714 adoptions in 2017. One reason is that Russia halted 1,000 U.S. adoptions annually after sanctions were imposed on Russia for its involvement in the 2016 election.

However, that accounts for only 1,000 of the 18,286 fewer international adoptions.

Why aren't churches encouraging women who have an unwanted pregnancy to consider adoption as an option? That is a question I suggest that you ask your pastor. Has he ever preached on adoption? If not, why not?

Most women facing an unwanted pregnancy feel they have only two options: get an abortion or raise the child alone as a single mother. About 40% of all U.S. births are to unwed mothers (20 times that of Japan), and 13.9% of the mothers are teenagers. That's 222,000 births to very young mothers most of whom should not be raising that child alone.

At least 175,000 of them should be offering their child for adoption to married parents, millions of whom are unable to have a child, due to such problems as infertility.

About 7 million couples are unable to conceive a child - 12% of the couple population. A significant percentage can be helped to become fertile, with medical assistance.

But millions will remain infertile and would love to adopt a child.

Yet there were only 18,329 infant adoptions in 2017.

Again, I ask why haven't clergy encouraged those with an unexpected, unwanted pregnancy - to consider relinquishing their child to a couple who would like to adopt the baby?

To put it more personally, why not encourage your pastor to preach on this important issue? Secondly, why don't Christian denomination encourage adoption? Have any done so? None that I know of.

Therefore, I suggest that you also ask your pastor to raise this issue at the next state convention of your denomination.

One very important resource for pregnant women are 2,500 Pregnancy Resource Centers. There are two national umbrella groups, each of which have about 1,100 affiliated Resource Centers - Care Net and Heartbeat International.

These Centers do not provide abortions. Quite the opposite. They offer free pregnancy tests, and give those who are pregnant an opportunity to take an ultrasound so they can actually see their child in their womb.

One pregnant woman, Nasya Dotie, 21, single and worried about finishing college and disappointing her parents, said she was "almost positive I was going to have an abortion." A friend at her Christian university suggested visiting Care Net of Central Texas. She met with a counselor, went home and considered her options.

She returned for an ultrasound and though not planning to look at the screen, when a clinician offered, she agreed. Then she concluded, "I was like, `That's my baby. I can't not have him.'"

About a million women a year visit a Pregnancy Resource Center, and most decide to have their baby.

Again, my question is, how many of PRC counselors encourage women to consider adoption?

Chuck Johnson, of the Adoption Council, says women "are unlikely to hear about adoption" at these Centers. "My wife worked in a Pregnancy Resource Center, where parenting is the preferred option. They offer baby showers and parenting classes. Adoption is not getting a fair discussion."

I suggest that you encourage your local Pregnancy Resource Center to at least raise the possibility of adoption, and make a thoughtful case for it with women who do not feel ready to mother a child - particularly very young mothers.Couples who have adopted a child might be invited to speak to young mothers-to-be.

It should be added that substantial numbers of older children are being adopted, after they have been in foster care. As a result of neglect by, or the opioid addiction of many mothers, children are being removed from their homes and place in foster care.

In 2016, there were 437,000 children in foster care - up from 396,000 in 2012. And 57,200 children in foster care were adopted in 2016.

However, 56% of couples in foster care returned their child to the agency, citing frustration in working with them, a high percentage of whom had special needs, or came from traumatic backgrounds.

Adoption is not a panacea - but deserves a far better visibility than it is getting.

Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.

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