A new trend has emerged in the adoption community. Much like the Kickstarter campaigns that we see to help fund projects, we are seeing more and more potential adopting couples setting out to campaign for money to afford their adoption costs. With adoption costs ranging between 0-40,000 dollars, it’s understandable why this trend has emerge. However, is this new trend ethical? Should these couples be asking their friends, family, and even strangers on the internet to donate to their plight to adopt a baby?
I don’t think so, personally. The ethical concerns surrounding this new trend are by far one of the worst I’ve seen in the adoption community since the Baby Scoop Era, and I don’t believe we should be condoning this practice.
A young girl finds out that she is expecting. She’s still in college, and is loaded down with debt. Her mind is awash with her options, and if she can really afford to parent a child. She seeks out resources that guide her through her decision-making process, and eventually decides to parent. In making this decision, she decides that she’ll ask her friends, family, and others to donate to her cause. Being able to have some money set aside would surely be incredibly helpful, and give her the ability to complete her schooling, afford childcare, and be able to pay for any medical bills that may arise.
Would you donate to her?
Considering that it’s illegal for mother’s to request reimbursement for the exchange of her child, should we not be concerned that adopting couples can make a plea to outsiders to reimburse them for their own adoption costs? Most would tell this mother that she should make an adoption plan, to give her baby to a family that can afford it. We know that very few would shake their head at potential adopting couple for doing this, but it serves reason to ask this question:
What makes them more financially stable than this mother who wants to parent?
The argument could be made that they are no better off than her and quite simply, it would appear that it’s most definitely the case. If you have to ask for people to help you fund something within your life that you wish to have, revisiting the idea and re-evaluating the situation is in order. What would make these couples stable when the actual baby comes? The costs of having a child in this day and time are high, and will likely only get higher. When they can’t afford to adequately care for this child, will they again, campaign to have help with the costs associated with raising a child, or would that be considered taboo?
For those who are in the camp that believe the child is better suited to be with his mother, than in an adoption scenario, this argument is powerful and properly illustrates the glaring double standards that exist within the adoption community.
If a campaign can be made to adopt a child, why is an expectant mother unable campaign to people to help her raise her child?
The reality is that for an expecting mother who is dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, a lump sum of cash would absolutely make the difference in helping her decide whether or not she could parent. For me personally, it would have made all the difference. I would have been able to afford rent for the two of us, a baby shower would have been had, and most items received. It would have bought me some time while I figured out how to better my own financial situation so I could raise my son in the best possible manner. Most birthmothers choose adoption for the very reason of financial instability, not necessarily because they would choose it as their first option. Of course, there may be some do choose it for other options, but the for the majority, being able to crowd-source money in the hopes of parenting could simply be the deciding factor. It would absolutely change the result dramatically, if mother’s were able to do such a thing.
Furthermore, in relation to adoption costs, the universal costs should be between $0-5000. If this is the case, the question should be asked if the idea of adoption is simply just not a feasible reality if the couple needs the money to be donated. This is not a slight to those who struggle with infertility, it’s simply the same rhetoric that is used to coerce mother’s into believing that they will not be able to afford the costs of a child. If she were encouraged to support herself through crowd-sourcing methods by an agency or supporting organization, would it be considered no big deal in the community as a whole? We simply know that it would be significantly frowned upon.
I’ll use this analogy to better illustrate my point:
If I was planning to buy a house, I could not ask for donations to the cause simply because I wanted a house. I would have to tow the line, work harder, and save the costs myself. Just because I want a house, doesn’t mean that I should have one. Just because I can gather funds from those who support me, it also doesn’t mean that I am financially stable enough to afford the house.
The tricky part about crowd-sourcing for adoption is that it draws a line, and forces each side of the adoption constellation into boxes that don’t necessarily match up. The idea that it is okay for potential adopters to ask for donations to have a child but not for a young woman facing similar financial issues is quite simply hypocritical. On top of this issue alone, it brings to light the reality that adoption isn’t necessarily about giving a child the best life possible, but simply about who can afford the astronomical costs associated with the agencies that a couple has signed up with. Could it not be asked why the couple crowd-sourcing is not choosing an agency that has the fees that they can afford? Absolutely, and we should be asking this. Why not adopt an older child within the country, rather than internationally? Why do you need to have an infant, the highest of the high costs when it comes to adoption? If the argument is that of the blank slate quality, this myth can be debunked. All children in adoption situations are likely to deal with their own set of emotional, physical and even cognitive issues associated with being relinquished by their biological families, no matter their age. Each adoption comes marred with its own set of issues, even if the child was adopted quickly after birth.
If we are able to question why a woman would choose to keep her own child when she’s not at the financial peak of her life, we should be able to do the same to those who are requesting money to fund their adoption. Financial status ebbs and flows throughout our lives, and none of us are exempt from the hardships that can fall on us when money flow is limited or stopped for a time. Nonetheless, these periods do pass, and eventually, with the right resources, and support, you are able to lift yourself out of that hardship in order to move forward. Whether you are a young mom, or an adopting couple, these obstacles come into your life whether you want them to or not, and we are all forced to adapt to the financial hardships that we come upon, and most of us, would never consider asking others for money in order to fund a project we can’t afford.
Considering the double standards that exist in the adoption community is a necessity especially when we come to an impasse with ethical standards such as this one. Quite honestly, can we say, even those who are pleading for adoption funds, that we are not being hypocritical and to an extent coercive when we believe that one side is more suitable to ask for money but the other is not? Should we not be encouraging all sides to do this when they are faced with a family building dilemma that relates to financial costs?
The answer is easy; if adopting couples are encouraged and praised for doing this sort of fundraising, than the same privilege should be given to mother’s who wish to parent.
This sort of process makes the entire process convoluted. It brings to light the issue that adoption has become more of a profit based industry rather than an industry that is legitimately focused on what is best for the lives of the children they wish to place in adoption situations. It also brings up the issue of agencies who have a high price tag; if universal costs are significantly lower, what is happening to the remaining money that is given to the agency? We know that advertising in some places is out of the question, and we know that medical costs are not always in play for these situations. So again, where is this money going, and why are adoptive couples so eager to place their money, or the money that has been donated into hands that aren’t necessarily being transparent about the actual adoption related costs?
But most importantly, why aren’t we asking potential adopters why they aren’t chasing the adoption they can actually afford? If a mother shouldn’t keep her child because she can’t afford it, then quite blatantly a couple asking for money to adopt a child should not be adopting. It’s that simple.