All too often, those who seek to deprive women of their reproductive rights cite adoption as a supposed alternative to abortion. In a 2012 column for the New York Times, for instance, well-known anti-choice columnist Ross Douthat bemoaned the fact that fewer babies are available for infertile couples to adopt thanks to Roe v. Wade; in 2013, Texas state Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) proposed subjecting women to three hours of adoption education before allowing them to obtain abortions. The underlying message of this rhetoric, as well as other frequently espoused claims of anti-choicers, is clear: Adoption is a more ethical option for dealing with unwanted pregnancies than abortion.
My experience as the co-director of an adoption agency, however, has shown me that the decision to place a child for adoption is nowhere near the easy choice that anti-choicers often make it out to be. In fact, posing adoption as the universal solution to unwanted pregnancies does a disservice to everyone involved.
For 27 years, my professional life consisted of talking to women who were considering placing children for adoption; evaluating prospective adoptive parents; helping to facilitate relationships between all parties; and following up after placement. In fact, I was involved in some capacity with approximately 80 voluntary adoptions annually. As such, I feel compelled to offer a viewpoint sometimes overlooked by leaders in the reproductive rights debate—that of someone intimately familiar with the depth of the emotional issues facing those placing a child for adoption.