What Can We Do to Encourage the Adoption Option?
January’s March for Life was another huge success, highlighting the growing support for ending the crime of abortion in America.
Across the country new legislation is being promoted to limit access to abortion and bring down the number of abortions. And it’s working. The number of abortions in America continues to plummet. More abortion clinics are closing. An ever-growing number of young people are joining the anti-abortion crusade.
Along with the fight to end abortion is the ongoing campaign to assist women in crisis pregnancies. Women’s clinics and pastoral care centers offer counseling, health advice and parenting support. Adoption agencies are increasingly flexible and compassionate. They offer expectant mothers a range of adoption choices as well as post-adoption counseling and support.
All of this is important. But if abortion is to be limited or even outlawed, those who oppose abortion must think even more creatively about ways to help women faced with a pregnancy they feel they cannot continue.
Adoption can be traumatic for the birth mother and her family. But it’s often the best choice (in the long run) for both the child and the birth mother. It’s natural, when a young woman is pregnant unexpectedly, for her and her family to respond with noble self-sacrifice and agree to keep and raise the baby. This is laudable and their choice should be supported. But they should also be aware of the long-term consequences of the decision.
The young woman’s future will be seriously affected by the needs of her child. The woman’s family will also be involved in the long-term investment of child care. This investment will be great not only financially but personally in time and energy. If the birth mother’s family are older they may be making a commitment to the unborn child which, as their years increase, they may not be able to fulfill. As a single mother, the young woman’s earning power will probably be reduced considerably. If she is out at work, she may have to pay for child care. As her child gets older she will face increasing expenditure which she simply may not be able to afford.
Pricing the Adoption Option
When all these factors are considered, the adoption option becomes more attractive. However, adoption itself is not easy or inexpensive. In fact, adopting a child is very expensive. According to Adoptive Families magazine the average cost of adoption in America is $43,000. This website explains why it is so costly.
It is ridiculously wicked that adoption should cost so much. The expense makes it impossible for many families who would willingly adopt. Furthermore, the cost is prohibitive to lower-income families. This makes adoption the privilege of the wealthy.
Pro-life warriors should therefore not only be working to end abortion. We should also be working to make adoption easier, quicker and more affordable. While working on anti-abortion legislation, perhaps the pro-life activists should also increase their work on other legal measures to bring down the cost of adoption.
How to Encourage the Adoption Option
Here are some ideas to help make adoption easy, safe and affordable:
- Why not get legislation in place that limits the amount lawyers can charge to complete an adoption? Is the legal process really that complicated and expensive?
- Maybe pro-life lawyers could form a pool of volunteers who were willing to offer their services pro bono for adoption on a scheduled basis.
- Let’s get lawmakers to streamline the process as much as possible to make the legal aspect of adoption less complicated.
- Why not get rid of the lawyers completely and set up a local government agency to take care of the adoption paperwork?
Funding for Adoption
- Why not divert some of the charitable funding for the anti-abortion crusade towards subsidizing the cost of adoption?
- Instead of continuing to fund Planned Parenthood, why not use the same government funding to set up a network of adoption advice centers along with positive, well-funded women’s health centers?
- Why not redirect the funding for Planned Parenthood to subsidize the initial cost of adoption?
Helping Adoptive Parents
- The cost of adoption isn’t over once baby comes home. Why not use the tax code to support adoptive parents? Additional exemptions could be granted which puts a bit more money in the pockets of adoptive parents to help support their adopted child.
- What about the birth mother? To encourage adoption, further funding could be assigned to help the birth mother if she was from a low-income group. This funding could be used for educational purposes, counseling and support while she gets back on her feet.
- Government educational grants could be provided in case the adopted child was disabled or had special educational needs.
- The social services could develop closer ties with faith groups to assist with an expanded pro-life adoption and fostering service. Local faith groups and community support groups could apply for funding (now used for Planned Parenthood) to assist them in offering services.
- Law enforcement could be empowered to follow up with the child’s birth father — demanding that he pay child support to the adoptive parents.
It is important to end the crime of abortion, but if desperate women have no other option they will turn once again to illegal abortion mills. This solution is always tragic.
Those who fight abortion need to expand the fight and continue to find new ways to support women in crisis pregnancies. We can come up with new and creative ways to encourage the adoption option.
Fr. Longenecker is a Catholic priest working in South Carolina. Read his blog, follow his podcasts and browse his books at dwightlongenecker.com.