Babies Are Their Business

Competition among adoption agencies is anything but child's play

Indeed, the only complaint against Southwest on file with DES, which licenses the agency, concerns a birth father upset because the birth mother decided not to place a baby and he was afraid he would have to pay child support.

Critics, however, include a birth mother who says she glimpsed a different side to Sullivan when she wavered in her decision to give up her baby for adoption two years ago.

"They treated me very well up until the time the baby was born," says Dee, a 42-year-old Phoenix woman. Following the birth, she says, no one associated with Southwest displayed any concern for her feelings even after her estranged husband called and threatened to make trouble if she followed through on her adoption plan. "They were so businesslike, it was like my feelings didn't matter."

"The Southwest social-services director showed up at my bedside the day the baby was born to have me sign papers giving them temporary custody and insisted I be ready to sign the adoption papers exactly 72 hours later," Dee recalls. "A friend who was there visiting said, `Can't you wait another day, for heaven's sake, that's her birthday,' but they were adamant."

"I did receive counseling twice before the baby was born but, in retrospect, they really didn't encourage you to examine your decision too deeply," she says. "It was as if they didn't want you to look too closely because you might change your mind."

"After my husband threatened to come and take the baby from the hospital himself, I called Mike [Sullivan] and Mike said, `That's all right, we'll just hit him with a bill for $6,000 in services,'" she says. "It sent a chill down my spine because I felt like he could do that to me if I changed my mind about the adoption."

Both for-profit and nonprofit agencies require pregnant women who accept their help to sign agreements promising to repay at least some expenses if the mothers decide not to place their babies for adoption. Officials at nonprofit agencies contend, however, that they work harder to keep costs down from the outset and require only that a woman pay her own medical costs.

"In a for-profit agency, the whole system of services is aimed at validating a woman's decision to adopt," Ekstrom says. "We spend hours counseling a woman on the right choice for her, on how to make a good decision. This is because many of the nonprofit agencies aren't just adoption agencies; they offer broad-based social services."

IN A TIME WHEN the only bar to early abortion is individual conscience, Pat, at least, chose her path voluntarily.

But the coming years promise that more women will find themselves in her position, perhaps involuntarily, as the U.S. Supreme Court's new conservative majority makes its effects felt on abortion availability. In states such as Arizona, where laws are already in place limiting access to abortion by the most powerless groups--poor women and pregnant teens--further restrictions seem likely to increase the number of pregnant women with no real way to keep the babies they bear.

Conservative legislators say they stand ready to push legislation to protect these newborns from the vagaries of the marketplace. They might do well to start by figuring out how best to protect the babies' mothers from exploitation in the same marketplace.

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1 comments
msusiecu
msusiecu

Take it from this "baby scoop era" mom who has spent the last 22 years following the progress of todays adoption, mother's unprepared to parent today are still not encouraged to parent. Adoption should only be for those children without a family and then they should be able to keep their true identity and the knowledge of their heritage. 

I pray that the people who can change this system are listening.

Also, that they can change laws in 42 remaining states that deny the adopted their original birth certificate!

Margaret Susan Hoffman LyBurtus

 
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