The "adoption as an adequate alternative to abortion" argument
Hey hey hey! It’s still BLOG FOR CHOICE DAY 2012!
I’d like to briefly address an idea I see floating around the internets: that instead of aborting unwanted pregnancies, the better option is adoption.
When an anti-choice person says “why not just adopt?” what they are actually doing is avoiding the conversation about what happens to children in the United States altogether. They present this other option without ever going into the details of what “adoption” really means as an alternative to abortion.
When they say that adoption is always an option, they are assuming that there is some tireless supply of people willing to absorb this influx of kids who need homes now that their parent decided to carry the pregnancy to term. This also assumes that these adoptive parents will be interested in adopting all children: poor WOC have disproportionately higher rates of abortion due to systemic inequalities and a lack of access to reproductive freedom. So, if all of the unwanted pregnancies in the U.S. were carried to term on the assumption of adoption as an alternative, we are also assuming that these adoptive parents will be interested in adopting the children of poor WOC.
Further, we are completely ignoring the fact that we already have millions of children in the United States, whose parents decided to carry them to term, and who are now homeless, living in poverty, and dealing with food insecurity.
When we say “adoption is always an option,” are we really thinking about the possibility that the child will end up as one among these millions of children who aren’t receiving adequate care?
What if the child isn’t adopted? Do any of these conversations about adoption include discussing the overburdened and underfunded foster care system? Do we talk about how many children in the foster system are homeless, and then how many of them become homeless as young adults because they lose support at the age of 18?
Further, the assumption that a person who is pregnant should carry a pregnancy they did not plan and do not want to term is not about children: it is a moral judgment about women’s sexuality. If a woman becomes pregnant on accident, she is already morally deviant because she was engaging in an expression of sexuality that deviates from one focused on procreation within a heteronormative marriage. Then, should she decide to terminate her pregnancy with an abortion, she is again acting outside the norms of what is “good” according to “pro-life” rhetoric. Adoption is the way she can save her delinquent soul: this way, the pregnancy was meant to answer someone else’s prayers. Aw. How cute.
The argument for adoption as the better answer than abortion is flawed and relies on misconceptions about the adoption system and the belief that women should have to deal with the consequences of their sexuality by carrying any pregnancy to term. It is about control, it is classist, and it is woefully uninformed.