Tuesday Topic: Is Adoption the Loving Option?

I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. Blogging is a little sparse because we are enjoying having Hannah home for a visit.  This morning I’m up early, so I’m sneaking in a little writing before the crowd descends.

I got a very interesting Tuesday Topic question from Jessica, who wrote:

Several weeks ago I read your blog entry which told in general terms how painful your experience was giving up your child for adoption when you were a teenager.  You implied that you were given false information and unduly pressured to give your baby up.  Since then, I think of you whenever I see the pro-life slogan “Adoption: The Loving Option.”  Of course I do believe that this is true, but I wonder, what are your feelings when you see this slogan?

What do we as the church need to know about what girls go through in giving up a baby, so that we can be more compassionate and aware when we advocate for adoption as an alternative abortion?

This is a good (and very complex) question, not only for me, but for all of us who love the fatherless and are involved with adoption in some way. Personally, I would love to hear from all members of the triad: adoptees, birthparents, and adoptive parents.

Hannah and I are preparing for a trip to Montana to see Dimples, so it may take me a little while to write a personal response, but I would love to hear your thoughts. I expect that we will have a wide range of feelings and opinions – and that’s what I love about Tuesday Topics.

I’m reminded that I need to finish my Tell it Well series  this summer; it’s been left in a sad place far too long.

If you have a question for a Tuesday Topic, please email it to me at lisa@onethankfulmom.com, with “Tuesday Topic” in the subject line. I’m ready for more new questions – so send them my way!

Encourage one another,



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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Kemery
    May 28, 2013

    I believe we have had more than one conversation on this subject (smile) but I couldn't help but post. I think adoption can be a loving option, however it is suggested as such at far too early a time. The lack of support for women who are struggling to keep their babies is tragic and I believe more money, effort, time and compassion should be spent on this group of women, so they don't have to become a member of the triad. I also believe that many adoptive parents are ignorant of what happens when I woman relinquishes her child, and if more people knew the stories, the process, the life-long consequences, they would have a much broader understanding of the adoption process. I admire and respect the adoptive parents that search for this information, for it is not easy to get. I do not (generally) fault the adoptive parents that don't seek it, for many times they are completely unaware or misguided in their understanding of the process. If the money that is paid to adoption agencies by prospective parents would be at least shared with women who are struggling to keep their children, I think much sorrow could be alleviated.

  2. Dana
    May 28, 2013

    I think that adoption is a loving response to the tragedy of losing one's first family. But I think we should do everything possible to prevent that first loss.

  3. Jennifer Anderson
    May 28, 2013

    a great program that has a good handle on focusing on the needs of the bio mom is Rebecca Swan Vahle’s program at Family to Family Adoption Support Program at Parker Adventist Hospital

  4. Susie
    May 28, 2013

    I think it completely depends on the first mothers,their situation, the adoptive family, and probably the most greatly on the agency used.
    I have a friend close to 40 who placed a child in college. She said from the moment she found out she was pregnant, she felt that this was not to be her child to keep. She loved him so, but she felt that he was destined to be raised by someone else. I don't think she looked at this as a "God had me get pregnant so these people could have a child" just that God was providing another family for him since she wasn't ready. She had good counseling with her agency and was able to really make an informed decision. She picked the parents who would raise him and felt very connected to them. She asked for updates until age 5. She said she felt it would be intrusive for her son after that. She is now married and has 2 children they are parenting. She is and has always been intelligent, stable and loving-which serves one well any time one is in a crisis situation. One of her parents was very emotionally supportive of her, and the other was horrified that she had become pregnant. She has contacted the mom of her son through fb now that he is 18 to provide her information and say that she is available for him at any time should he choose to make contact-which she would welcome. She did not go straight to him because she wanted him to have a choice in the matter.
    Another friend is in her 20s and has placed a child for adoption. Her relationship with the child was (from her point of view) supposed to be more open than she has found it to be at this point. She would like more frequent contact-perhaps the a parents even allowing the child (who is about 3 hours away) to spend the night with her. Her daughter knows her and is speaks with her on the phone and they see each other once year. I think she is in a place where she wishes that now that she is older and more stable she could participate in the parenting. I understand how she would feel this way-it's like she looks at the child and thinks "If only you had come along 5 years later…." She is respectful of the a parents in that they are the decision makers, etc and is glad that they are parenting the child. She says she knows she made the right decision, but she is sad and she misses her. And honestly, I think she feels alone and would love to have other first mothers to talk to about her experience. I do not know what kind of agency support she got- but it would be wonderful to think that the agency would still be available to her.

  5. Nicole
    May 28, 2013

    This is a great question. I feel like it really depends on the situation. I gave my baby girl up for adoption when I was 15.5 years old. For me, it was the most loving choice I could have made. Even though I was mature for my age, I didn't have a job and it was very difficult for me as a pregnant 15 year old to get a job. I myself didn't have a stable living environment, it just wouldn't have been right for me to bounce around from house to house with a baby who needs a set routine. I'm now 20 years old and in my 2nd year of premed school. I study and work hours upon hours so that I can one day provide for my own children, that I cannot wait to have.
    I believe it all depends on the situation. If a mother or father is not able to provide the basic needs for a child, then adoption is probably the most loving option. For me, and my situation, adoption WAS the most loving option.

  6. Jessica
    May 28, 2013

    Perhaps what makes it a bit odd is the reference to adoption as "the" loving option. As if there are no other options that can be loving.

    I understand this is usually coming from a place where you're looking at the dichotomoy of abortion vs adoption and, between those two, I do believe that adoption is the loving option.

    However, in the spectrum of things that could be done, there are multiple options that could also be considered loving (not least of which would be deciding to parent your child).

    Once you place adoption in that wider context, a phrase like "adoption, the loving option" begins to seem a bit overbearing and could potentially be pressuring people to make a decision they aren't ready for.

    1. Joe
      May 28, 2013

      I like your thinking. I think we always have to look at the broader context because language always has its limitations and it's important to try and understand the context the words are trying to communicate about. Otherwise we get offended or start arguments that are unnecessary. Not criticizing your point just elaborating. Most of the stories I read from agencies that help a woman through a rough pregnancy are about a woman who has kept her child (not saying adoption isn't chosen often, just contrasting) which leads me to believe keeping your child is often given as a real choice and supported.

  7. Joe
    May 28, 2013

    it seems to me the biggest issue is the mother having enough time and enough information to be able to make that decision. I'm sure all the time and information in the world won't change the difficult emotions of whichever choice is made but it seems pressure would only compound that. As a grandmother I'm grateful my daughter chose to keep and raise her baby. I am glad I get to be in her life. I would have supported whatever decision was made and been there for my daughter but am glad my precious grand daughter is in my life. My daughter saw it as a selfish decision to keep her child because she didn't think she could spend nine months carry a child and then give it away. I think the mommy bonding was already starting. I support any woman who feels it's in the best interest of the baby to go the route of adoption. I just think there needs to be time to really think that through.

    1. Nicole
      May 28, 2013

      I agree with you on the feeling pressured. Nine months seems like a long time but it really isn't when you're trying to make a decision like that. I also agree that it is thought to be selfish if you don't choose adoption. Especially as a teen mom. When I gave my daughter up or placed her, I never really felt like I had anyone in my corner. I knew I was doing the right thing but I know that if I would have kept her I would have been seen as being selfish. I know I did the right thing but I can see where a mom might feel pressured because they feel like they will be considered selfish if they keep their babay.

  8. Jen Summers
    May 29, 2013

    hmm. . . I have been thinking about this more these past few weeks – in light of the latest flood of blogs and articles about adoption ethics.

    Adoption is biblical. Adoption can meet real needs of real orphans and of real birth moms. Adoption can be a glorious picture of redemption. Adoption is one way children are placed into families.

    BUT Adoption is not the only option. Adoption is not always the best or right option. Many times a birth mom may need support and encouragement. A family in an impoverished nation may need a little assistance and local church community. A child may be cared for by a near-by relative.

    Maybe instead of "THE Loving Option", it should read (more rightly):
    Adoption: A Loving Option

  9. Jodi Pizzuto
    May 29, 2013

    I speak as the adoptee… I was raised with my birth mother and adoptive father. I was adopted at such a young age as to not remember anything other than the family in which I was raised… and even at that, there was loss for me. I grew up knowing about the adoption, and I wondered as I was growing up what there was about me that made my birth father not want me.

    Now, as an adult, I have an entirely different perspective (of course). I have met my birth father and I do have a relationship with him. The process of forming that relationship was not without its own troubles and pain, but it was worth it. My perspective on my adoptive father has changed significantly. The fact that, at 23 years old, my wonderful daddy was willing to marry my mom and take my older sister and me in as his own is spectacular. Was he perfect? No. Was he wonderful? Yes. (And still is.)

    No matter what the adoptive situation is, there is loss attached to it. But that loss can, as can anything, be redeemed by our loving heavenly father who has adopted us all.

  10. Gretchen
    May 29, 2013

    I think that another way it has to be looked at is that sometimes it's a great option for only one side. Being adopted myself I always thought it was really neat that my parents "adoptive parents" where able to adopt children since they were unable to have their own. I also always had my birthmother portrayed as a very selfless woman who hadn't had the means to give me a stable life. I always felt that adoption was the loving option. However after turning 18 my birthmother attempted to become involved in my life and I now have a totally different perspective. I now see that on my side adoption was great on hers it was a terrible option. I think that people that adopt need to realize that at some point all the negatives of giving a child up may hit the birthmothers and that it may effect the adoptee. I also think birthmothers need to be aware that sometimes what they have gone through ( lies ,false information , etc ) doesn't effect the adoptee in terms of what they think of being adopted or interms of wanting to become invoved in their lives. I think that adoption is the best option for the children alot but not for the birthmothers and I think that later in life it can hurt the adoptee. If nothing else it educating adoptive parents on what a birthmother goes through might be a good start for adoption processes.

  11. ddg
    June 4, 2013

    One of our adoptions, over 20 years ago, was of a toddler. It was a private adoption of a family member. We did not know the child until we adopted him. The father told several of us that the birth mom was planning to have an agency adopt him out. It was a hard time in their lives and he was a very hard child, due to many things. One other family member said they would adopt him but after a short time realized they could not handle his needs, which were pretty extreme. It was also before there was so much help available for children in his situation. We ended up taking him and we encouraged an open relationship. There were times that we had to back away slightly because the birthmom and birthgrandmother became aggressive. They caused a lot of grief for our child and caused him to be torn in so many ways. When he was 16 or 17 with the help of a long time counselor, the birthmom and he were able to sit and talk and develop a different relationship.

    Over the years we learned different things – in some unspoken way, the birthmom thought that we would share in the raising of him. She didn't really want to have the responsibility and care for him – esp. as he grew and became diagnosed with mental illness and some other things. But she carries a lot of anger towards us when we have never had a problem with the relationship.

    Since she ended up not being a part of the family through marriage, I think that affected her some.

    We have total sympathy and love for birthmoms. I can't imagine being in their situation and the loss they feel. But I know its huge and real. When she had a little doubt during the process, we immed. packed him up and took him back to her. When she had to deal with him on a daily basis, though, she realized she couldn't do it and brought him to us and signed the papers.

    I don't know if there is a clear cut answer. I know a lot of agencies are geared to specifically working with the birthmoms throughout the pregnancy and making sure this is the right decision. I do realize that there are probably many situations, though, where there is either no support or a lot of pressure is applied.

    I think like many things in our lives, we can't ever predict how we will respond in the future. A birthmom tries to make the best decision she can at the time. If a family did not step up to adopt her child, though, the child might possibly end up in foster care. My nephew was in foster care for 6 weeks while his mom tried to decide what to do – she eventually had to make a decision and she adopted him out to my sister. That may or may not be a bad solution, but sometimes its years before a birthmom starts regretting her choice. I don't know what the answer is. There is no way for a birthmom to know what her life and future emotions will look like when she is in the middle of everything – all she knows is what she is capable at this moment and the near future.

    I do not believe it should be presented as "the loving option" because that does send a message of guilt and pressure by itself. I do believe counseling and support should be there to encourage and help the birthmom see the future as much as possible, to maybe find others to talk to – at the same time show what the adoption option looks like and will look like for the rest of their life.

    It's hard!


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