Mary Ellen Gambutti
Adoptee Voices Matter
A warm late spring welcome to friends of my blog, and to all new visitors!
I welcome for the first time to my blog, a new friend, adoptee, author, and blogger, Laureen Pittman. Laureen has graciously agreed to take up a difficult topic that concerns the health and welfare of all American women, families, and adoptees. I see it as an issue right up in importance with adoptee rights and adoption law.
As a pro-choice adoptee, my view is that a woman's reproductive health is her choice; her right. Abortion must be kept legal and safe for all women. Neither privilege nor poverty must determine our access to our reproductive choices. Roe v. Wade is vital and should be preserved.
The fraught leaked draft opinion by Justice Alito has rightly generated outrage among adoptees and adoptee advocates. Many adoptees feel that we have been employed as a political talking point; as propaganda for the adoption industry, and pro-life advocates, like this: Adoptions have saved the lives of countless babies. Adoption negates the need for abortion.
Adoptees see how domestic and intercountry adoption commodifies infants and children; that we have been bought and sold, our identities erased, and our rights as equal citizens stripped. As a response, many Facebook profiles bear the frames "Not your propaganda," "Pro-choice adoptee," and "Domestic Supply Infant."
In a recent Zoom meeting among members of Adoptees United https://adopteesunited.org/ Director, Greg Luce's focus was on what should be the non-profit's messaging post-Roe v. Wade. Discussed was the question of whether a misogynist, chauvinistic mindset was behind the effort to overthrow Roe. Will banning abortion result in another Baby Scoop Era, like the '50s through 70s, before Roe?
Contrast our concerns with the pro-adoption and pro-life movements. An article in Tampa Bay News speaks to the concerns within the adoption industry. https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2022/05/06/will-adoption-community-be-impacted-if-roe-v--wade-is-overturned-
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, will it impact adoptions?
By Saundra Weathers Pinellas County
May 06, 2022
As experts look more into the potential impacts of overturning Roe v. Wade, there’s one community that could see some considerable changes, and that’s the child adoption community.
Josh Waulk and his wife Christy have three adopted children and are active in the adoption community in Tampa Bay. [...] Waulk said they adopted their children when they were infants which isn’t an easy or cheap process, especially with private adoptions. [...] "The impact of Roe’s potential overturning, I think, could have fallout in the adoption community in a number of ways," Waulk said. "Could there be an increase in availability of infants to adopt in the community? Maybe. On the other hand, for a number of social reasons we may not see that. [...] I’m very confident that the pro-life community, in particular the Christian community, will, as we say, step up to the plate and welcome the opportunity to adopt many children,” he said. “I think that the pro-life community will certainly have a significant role to play in all of this if it transpires the way we think it might,” he continued. “Families being willing to step up, sign up to foster children as well as the adoption side of things..."
My note: The communities mentioned in the article are "Adoption," "pro-life," and "Christian." Not "Adoptee." The voices of adult adoptees are still underrepresented--but that is changing. #adopteevoices #adopteevoicesmatter
New York Times Opinion-Letters Dec. 18, 2021
Amy Coney Barrett’s View: Adoption, Not Abortion
Readers offer personal stories to challenge the justice’s suggestion that adoption is a good alternative. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/18/opinion/letters/amy-coney-barrett-abortion-adoption.html
Justice Amy Coney Barrett indicated during the Supreme Court hearing that a mother’s option to give a baby up for adoption at birth meant that abortion was not necessary...
Featured Guest Blogger
Abortion and Adoption:
It’s Not About Supply and Demand
Just for the record, the Supreme Court justices did not, in their leaked draft opinion regarding Roe v. Wade, say that one of the reasons for overturning the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, is because the U.S. needs a “domestic supply of infants” for adoption. This language actually comes from a 2008 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on adoption that is included as a footnote in the draft opinion.
The line, as it appears in the footnote, reads:
"Nearly 1 million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002 (i.e., they were in demand of a child), whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted had become virtually nonexistent."
There are many reasons for this. Abortion is not one of the central reasons for the perceived “baby shortage.” The main reason for the lack of “domestic supply of infants” today is that society and morals (thankfully) have evolved away from the negative social stigma surrounding unwed mothers and children born out of wedlock. The common sentiment during the Baby Scoop Era (1950s-1970s) was based on the assumption that unmarried mothers were incapable of raising their children and were, therefore, better off placing them for adoption.
Today, of course, that stigma has all but disappeared. In addition, there are options and resources out there for single women and couples struggling to parent. For this, I am thankful.
Let’s shift the discussion back to abortion and Roe v. Wade. To simplify, the question before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 was: Does the Constitution recognize a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy by abortion? The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. With the decision, the Court established a right of personal privacy protected by the Due Process Clause that includes the right of a woman to determine whether or not to bear a child. It was actually a very complicated and progressive interpretation of the Constitution.
My opinion on abortion doesn’t matter here. In fact, it’s a difficult thing for me to articulate, because although I do believe that a woman should have the right to choose within certain parameters that include her health and wellbeing, I also have a difficult time accepting the Supreme Court’s reasoning in 1973 that the right to decide to have an abortion is an absolute constitutional right. In my conservative opinion, the right to have an abortion has no foundation in the text or history of the Constitution. I blame my political science degree and law background on my steadfast strict constitutionalism. Still, I believe in the right to choose. I believe that a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body and I believe in access to safe abortions. And I believe that doctors should not be criminalized for performing crucial medical services to women. I’m pro-choice. But it’s never that simple, is it?
I am an adoptee. I was relinquished as a newborn in 1963 and adopted three months later. I also had an abortion. I was 17 and terrified. I believe it saved my life. My adoptive parents never knew. Luckily, I had a supportive group of friends who were mature beyond their years and helped me through the experience. I am thankful the resources were available to me. And, as an adoptee, I never considered adoption.
Let’s get this straight. Abortion and adoption are NOT related! Banning abortions, or overturning Roe v. Wade, is not a path to increasing the domestic supply of infants available for adoption. Adoption is not a replacement for abortion rights or a solution to infertility or family planning issues. If you look at it that way, you’re stuck in the sad mindset of the commodification of children. Baby selling. And that’s just wrong. And whatever you do, don’t tell me to be thankful that I wasn’t aborted. Or that adoption somehow “saved me.” It just doesn’t work like that. I don’t think you’ll find any adoptee who will subscribe to that view.
Even when adoption is a necessity, it is not a normal or easy way to build a family. Adoption rarely results in a storybook happy ending. Even adoptees who claim an idyllic childhood recognize that a family framed by adoption is fraught with complexity. It is complicated and often brings its own type of sorrow, grief, and trauma for all involved.
The bottom line is this: adopted persons are not pawns in a political game focused on determining the fate of abortion. What is needed in the fight for women’s reproductive rights is compassion, understanding, and kindness. Interestingly enough, those are the same things adoptees need. But, keep adoptees out of the abortion debate.
Let’s try hard to push aside divisiveness and anger. Rage divides. Compassion can unite.
Laureen Pittman is the author of The Lies That Bind, An Adoptee’s Journey Through Rejection, Redirection, DNA and Discovery, published in 2019. Before deciding to bare her soul in a memoir, Laureen worked as a paralegal for over 20 years after graduating from college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Laureen started blogging about her journey in 2013 (http://adoptionmytruth.com/). As her own story began to evolve, she realized that there was a much larger truth about adoption and those affected by unknown parenthood that needed to be explored and shared. Laureen wanted to bring her story to life—not just for herself and her family, but for other adoptees and those who yearn to learn their own truths. Her story is also for families touched by adoption who want to understand and value the heart and soul of an adoptee. Laureen’s writing on adoption has also been published on the blog, Secret Sons and Daughters – Adoptee Tales From the Sealed Records Era (http://secretsonsanddaughters.org). Adoption: My Truth
On a different note, I'm thrilled to have a memoir essay featured in three-weekly installments in True Stories Well Told, Thank you, editor, Sarah White!
Each part of "The Blue Bicycle: Travels With an Adopted Air Force Girl" can be read here:
Week 1 https://truestorieswelltold.com/2022/05/04/the-blue-bicycle-travels-with-an-adopted-air-force-girl-part-1-of-3/
Week 2 https://truestorieswelltold.com/2022/05/11/the-blue-bicycle-travels-with-an-adopted-air-force-girl-part-2-of-3/
Week 3 https://truestorieswelltold.com/2022/05/17/the-blue-bicycle-travels-with-an-adopted-air-force-girl-part-3-of-3%ef%bf%bc/
My Memoir is Coming Soon!
Thank you all for being with me!
Until next time.