Adoption is not a woman’s sole decision

Ozy Frantz is a writer I almost always agree with. But in zir excellent article “11 Ways Men Can Be Better Feminist Allies,” zie writes:

8) Support women’s bodily autonomy. On a political level, of course, one should fight pro-life initiatives, attempts to de-fund Planned Parenthood, forced sterilization efforts, etc. On a personal level, of course, it’s almost more important. If your partner gets pregnant, it’s up to her whether to have an abortion, give the child up for adoption, or raise the kid. Her body, her rules.

Wait a moment. The reason it’s up to the woman alone to decide if she has an abortion is that it’s her body, and as Ozy says, “her body, her rules.” I agree with that.

But adoption doesn’t occur, legally, until after the child has been born. At which point, the child is no longer part of the mother’s body. If the mother isn’t willing to raise the child and the father is, then the child should be raised by its father — and that should be the case even if the mother would prefer that the child be given up for adoption. (And, of course, the mother should pay child support to the father, assuming she’s capable.)

As I understand it, adoption terminates the parental rights of both parents. For that reason, it should be agreed to by both parents.

Or so it seems to me. Is there something I’m missing here?

This entry posted in Families structures, divorce, etc. Bookmark the permalink. 

104 Responses to Adoption is not a woman’s sole decision

  1. 101
    Mirah Riben says:

    with due respect, I know that many adoptions are disrupted (I think that is the term currently used) due a biological parent changing their minds. One source says up to 25% in the US.

    Jane, first off you jump from sperm donations to adoption. With all due respect to you, you are confusing several different terms when it comes to adoption and the quote above. It’s understandable. There “have been insufficient definitions of and distinctions among disruption, displacement and dissolution” of adoption, per Evan. B. Donaldson Adoption Institute report on disruption.

    1. It is estimated that approx 50% of women considering adoption decide not to go through with it. This can be devatstaing to prospectivre adopters, but in these cases, no adoption has ocuured. No relinquishment of rights which must preced an adoption has occurred. The child is still the mothers. She just changed her mind about something she was thinking of doing, not anything she did.

    2. In the US all relinquishment or or termination of parental are irrevocable. The time period varies by state. I suggest you read “Time to Decide” by Elizabeth Samuels.

    3. Once the adoption has taken place, mothers who change their mind have very little recourse. They have to prove that they were unduly pressured, that fraud occurred, and then in the minute number of cases (actaully only one I know of in 30+ years researching adoption) they then have to then prove they are more fit that the adoptive parents who have had the child generally during the entire lengthy court proceedings. These are contested adoptions, and if the mother is succesful, it becomes and overturned adoption.

    4. The 25% figure you cite is actually adoptions that are terminated by adoptive parents. The high end of that rate is for disrupted or terminated adoptions of older children. They have a much higher failure rate than newborn adoptions.


    do think that the rights of the birth parents should also be protected. Birth parents who desire no contact deserve to live unmolested (though all children should have the right to their genetic history). There is a huge difference between supplying a medical history and basic background, and having an unwanted stranger show up unexpectedly demanding entry into your life.

    Here, you are confusing open adoption – which is agreed to by all parties in arranging the adoption – with adults having access to their birth certificate and thus the bame of their mother (and father, if listed).

    I am not sure what you mean by a right not be “molested,” Jane. No one forces contact on anyone. In the UK and in a few US states, adult adoptees have access to their birth certificate. Some may then attempt contact – a phone call or letter. If the mother refuses, that’s it. In the unhread of case that somone doesn’t take no for an answer, here in the US, we have laws agaunst harrasment and stalking, as I imagine the UK does as well.

    No one “damands enrtry” into your life or your home! Everyone has a right to say “no” and laws protect us from unwanted intrusions. But we cannot – and should not – legislate laws prohibting an adult from contacting another adult.

    In today’s Internet world anyone who is adopted or has relinquished a child knows that the knock on the door is possible. Most wish and hope for reunion. If a relinquished parent is truly opposed to being contacted and even providing medical history to their own child, they can change their name. But as I said, the vast majority want to be foound – they long to know the child they carried for 9 months, labored and delivered is well and happy.

  2. 102
    Jane Doh says:

    I didn’t start with the sperm banks and right to know–I was following up on earlier comments on sperm donation in the US vs UK. You were the one who implied that in the US greed is everything, and donors can provide for 1000’s of children, and I provided a counter example to say that even in the US there are places that restrict the number of children a donor can provide sperm for.

    Also, both disrupted adoptions for the family I know were when one of the biological parents changed their mind after a baby had been placed with the adoptive family, not an open adoption that didn’t go through. One of the babies was in the adoptive home for 2 months. I don’t remember how long the other baby was with the family, but it was on the order of weeks not days. The adoptive family knows other families for which this is the case through adoption support groups, so they aren’t an isolated case, at least in their state.

    I get that you know way more about this than I do, and that the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but given that people are singling Utah out as particularly bad on birth family rights, I thought I would point out that other states aren’t so bad.

  3. 103
    Mirah Riben says:


    It’s not a case of anecdotes versus statistics. It’s understanding the law.

    In the US infant adoptions are privatized. The newborn go straight home from the hospital with their prospective adopters. As heartbreaking as it is for the hopeful adopters, it is not a disrupted adoption because there has been no adoption yet. It usually takes very close to a year for an adoption ot be finalized.

    These were not adoptions yet. They hoped they would become finalized adoptions and the child would be there’s but these mothers apprently still had a window of opportunity to not go through with it, though I must say that a two month window is very odd indeed. Unheard of, actually. In some states a relinquishment of rights is irrvevocable before the ink is dry…or within hours…days at most.

    Speak to the people you know who this happened to and they will no doubt explain that the adoptions were not finalized. And, I would greatly appreciate knowing about this two-month reversal case. The only cases I know where that happened was when the father never agreed or signed anything and was granted his rights – in states other that Utah. But for the mother to revserse a decision, as I said, takes a long, drawn out court battle and the adopters always are successful. The burden of proof is on the mother to prove fraud and coercion. She cannot simply say, I changed my mind. I would really like to the circumstances of the case you mention.

    No state is as bad as Utah, but there is much wrong with adoption practice in all states.


  4. Pingback: Link post! — The Good Men Project