Why Infant Adoption Awareness Training Must Be Ended

Share Article

Many people both married and single in the United States hope to adopt an infant. Now that most mothers have the support of family to keep their sons and daughters, should the government fund a program designed to make them available for adoption instead?

There is a large "market" in the United States for babies for adoption. With the reduced stigma associated with single motherhood since the 1970s more mothers are keeping and nurturing their own children. Frequently they have the help of their babies’ fathers, grandparents and others. Grandparents speak of the joy an unexpected grandchild has brought into their lives.

One method being used to “find” more babies for prospective adopters is the federally funded Infant Adoption Awareness Training and advertising that is currently sweeping the country.

On October 17, 2000 the U.S. Congress, under Public Law 103-310, amended the Public Health Services Act to authorize specific activities pertaining to Infant Adoption Awareness (title XII, Subtitle A). The legislation requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to award grants “To develop and implement programs to train designated staff of eligible health centers in providing adoption information and referrals to pregnant women on an equal basis with all other courses of action included in non-directive counseling to pregnant women.”

Over $9 million per year is budgeted for Infant Adoption Awareness Training Programs through grants, the greatest portion of which has gone to the National Council For Adoption, a membership organization of adoption agencies.

Is the goal of non-directive counseling being met? Are women’s rights to honest information upon which to base their own decision being upheld or is the decision being made for them?

The brochure provided by the NCFA says the good news is they have trained more than 11,000 individuals to date. In addition, “According to Nielsen tracking service, local television stations donated more than $778,000 worth of airtime just since May of this year (not counting the networks such as ABC, CNN, and Lifetime). Outdoor advertising giants Viacom and Lamar are providing highway billboards, and radio stations and other media outlets are helping to say very publicly ‘Thanks for considering Adoption.’ "

The brochure tells of one Master Trainer, a caseworker for the Gladney Center for Adoption, who spoke daily to a pregnant mother on the phone and then when her baby was born traveled all the way across West Texas to be with her “in her time of need” using “compassion and many of the counseling tools and techniques” from the training to “help” the mother make “her” decision. So as a result of the IAA training when a mom decides that she wants to keep her own son or daughter, a “professional” will be there to make a “powerful impact”.

Are the known risks as well as the advantages of surrendering a child to adoption being provided to these mostly young, naïve women?

In “Postadoptive reactions of the relinquishing mother: a review” by H. A. Askren and K. C. Bloom published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing, 1999 Jul-Aug; volume 28, issue 4: "The relinquishing mother is at risk for long-term physical, psychologic, and social repercussions. Although interventions have been proposed, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing or alleviating these repercussions."

“My mother didn’t want me.” stated one adoptee who was nevertheless compelled to search. Some adoptees have been known to say they consider themselves to be a 9-month abortion.

Infant Adoption Awareness Training attendees are told they should speak positively to a pregnant woman about the “adoption option”, conduct an interest survey, and refer her to adoption agencies for more information. The interest survey is worded in such a way that it will lead a naïve young woman to say she might be interested in talking to someone about adoption. People eligible for the training are those who have little background with adoption or adoption counseling, thus contributing to the likelihood there will be no dissenting opinion during the sessions.

During training, an adoptee or a natural mother who has been hand-picked to promote adoption may be available to speak. Completely discredited are the experiences and insights of any adoptee who seeks her origins or any mother who is badly affected by the loss of her child; The trainers claim such people are “ill” or just using adoption as a “cover-up” for some other problem they have.

What do these people who are “ill”, the mothers whose children were adopted-out years ago and adoptees who search for the mothers they have been separated from for so long, have to say?

Ronna Smith, an Oklahoma resident whose son was adopted-out in 1978 observes: “Considering adoption? From what I see in the workbook, pregnant women have no chance of getting out of adoption.”

“Nurses, counselors,teachers and anyone working with youth that will come into contact with pregnant teens or women are strongly recruited for this training. This IAA program is purposely taking away from pregnant women every support person or system including all family members, friends and the baby’s father. Mothers will not be told of any government programs or any other resource that might help them. Trainees are taught to focus a mother’s attention on her inadequacies. Then they psychologically turn it around to make a pregnant girl or woman believe she has ‘chosen’ adoption when she may have just wanted general information.”

“Those of us who have been through it know what coercion is. We know the effect adoption has on ourselves and our children. We want this stopped. Instead, there should be a law that would disallow an adoption so-called-specialist to contact a mother once she has said 'no' or even voiced the feelings of doubt about adoption.”

Samantha Franklin, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and adoptee, attended the IAA training. She states: “The information presented in both written and oral form in this national federally-funded program does not meet the standards for unbiased and ethical counseling practices. They presented methods to ‘convince’ a pregnant women that adoption is the best option for her and her baby. They did not provide any other options or reasons to help a young mother to choose to parent her child.”    Franklin points out that spending government funds on “unethical counseling and training practices to the tune of millions of American's tax dollars” on infant adoption does nothing for children who are truly in need of homes.

According to Franklin, more funding needs to be given for post-adoption services instead of promoting infant adoption. In addition, she believes adult adoptees have a right to access to their records. After she went through the “humiliating process” of petitioning the courts for her birth and adoption information, she discovered that her natural mother had died ten years prior while searching for her to give her important medical information. “Adult adoptees should not be treated as perpetual children or criminals for wanting to know their own information. It is important for both the adoptee and the adoptee's children.”

NCFA represents the interests of some of the most backward agencies in the adoption industry. Their website says they’re opposed to fathers being given “power to block” the adoptions of their own children. The NCFA president, Thomas Atwood, says mothers want confidentiality. The truth is that the secrecy is for the adopters; that’s what they pay top dollar for or make the big donations for. The more ethical agencies will tell you it’s the mothers who push for openness. Secrecy, lies and separation from natural family can cause real problems for adoptees.

Mothers not only want openness, they nearly always want their children. Mothers, fathers and their parents may not know much about adoption except for all the advertising promoting it. They deserve honest information and the opportunity to make their own decision regarding their child’s future.

The Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program must be ended. Not only is the goal of non-directive counseling for women not being met but mother’s rights, father’s rights and a child’s right to remain with her own family are all being violated.

Contact Information:

Laurie Frisch

(319) 373-7479

Laurie_Frisch@hotmail.com

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Laurie Frisch

319-373-7479
Email >
Visit website