Not Just an Alternative Option

Roe v Wade is vital to the health and well-being of people across America and I stand in solidarity and fight for the decision to be held by the people who are in the horrible situation of deciding if they should have an abortion.

The act of overturning Roe v Wade instills so many issues: a continuation of a problematic patriarchical system, the continual erasure the trans community, allowing a Christian indoctrination of society, the deepening of socioeconomic divides, and a continuation of dehumanizing others.

And the ramifications of the pending decision to overturn are long lasting. In reading through the draft decision and listening/reading through the commentary, there is so much to respond to. I can’t speak to many of the ramifications as having the privilege of not having to center the possibilty of having an unwanted pregnancy for myself or my partner. However, I want to address one of the “alternatives” to abortion that everyone seems to be latching onto…adoption.

Frankly the ignorance and absurdness of the people touting this as an easy alternative is absolutely maddening.

As you know I come to this perspective as an adoptee and having sat deeply in my adoptee identity over the course of my life, I have things to say about this as an alternative (as you no doubtly expect of me. LOL).


First, as the scholar practitioner that I am, a little bit of context:

Adoption statistics for the United States are fuzzy at best because of the multiple types of adoptions, the public and private sectors of the process and the ability for states to determine foster care and adoption parameters at a state level to name a few of the reasons. For the purpose of the conversation at hand I’ll focus on the US foster care system and domestic adoptions.

What statistics can share is that:

  1. Since 2010, the number of children in the US foster care system has increased. In 2019, there were 424,000 children in foster care on the final day of the fiscal year, which is when they determine numbers for the foster care and adoption systems.
  2. On average, 60% of children will spend 2-5 years in the foster care system before being adopted or exiting through reuniting or aging out.
  3. Each year, approximately 20,400 children will age out of the system when they turn 18 or 21, or when they finish high school (depending on the state). They will leave the system with no support system and are at an increased risk of poor educational outcomes, homelessness and being unemployed.
  4. Since 2010 between 26-29 percent of children waiting to be adopted in the US foster care system are not adopted each year. Children waiting to be adopted are those whose goal is to be adopted or whose parental rights have been terminated. In 2019 the number of children waiting to be adopted was 122,000.
  5. In 2019, only 66,000 children were adopted from the US foster care system.
  6. In 2019, 52% of the children who were adopted were adopted by their foster parents and 36% by a relative.
  7. In 2019, only 26% of the children adopted were 9 years or older.
  8. Across multiple sources it is indicated that anywhere between 30-40% of Americans consider adoption.
  9. Across multiple sources an average of only 2% of Americans will actually adopt, regardless if domestic or internation adoption.

In my opinionated summation, we aren’t doing well enough as it is to tout foster care or adoption as the solution to abortion.


As I sit in this, I respect that we can each have our own opinions and solutions to what we see as problems. If you believe that abortion is a problem and your solution is adoption, then at the very least, understand what you are asking of from this complex, personal and societal system that adoption is.

So I’d like to share just some of my thoughts for those asking that adoption be considered as an alternative to abortion:

  • Adoption is about journeying with another human through trauma. 
  • Adopting a child who has been fortunate enough to survive the foster care system, which is woefully unsupported and resourced by the same individuals who are heralding this as the solution to abortion, is not an easy process.
  • The US adoption process does pertetuates a capitalistic system of legal human trafficking.
  • The US adoption system deepens racial and socioeconmic disparities
  • Parents and adoptees are required to always be in multiple worlds at the same time.
  • Adoption is not abandoning your child later in life for the way they identify.
  • Individuals, at times, use adoption to instill a sense of relief from *name the identity* guilt.
  • Adoption is not grocery shopping for the perfect child.
  • There are significant power and intimacy dynamics between adopted children and parents that are different than that of birth children and their parents.
  • Adopting a child requires significant attention to the dynamics of the identities of the child and family both in social constructs but also genetics, medical, etc.
  • There will more than likely be a desire at some point to reconnect with the birth family.
  • The foster care and adoption systems must receive more support and resources for this to even be a viable option.

Now, there are beautiful parts of adoption. I was fortunate to be adopted into a family who gave me love and support when I was growing up. But even in the beautiful parts of our journey we dealt with many of the issues I listed above and we still do. And please, know that this is not to dissuade anyone from adopting, but rather providing a more comprehensive understanding of what adoption consists of. The implied narrative that it is an easy and simple process and that it causes less harm than abortion is problematic and misleading.

There is so much more to this alterative option than just eliminating abortion and forcing people to have unwanted children then putting them up for adoption. What they are really proposing is the use of a broken system due to being undersupported/underresourced for a deep and complex life experience to replace abortion. And in many ways its an out of sight out of mind, situation where they care about the individual being born but after that there is no care, no love, and no action of providing for those children.

For me, this is one of the plethora of reasons why the logic and reasoning behind the support for overturning Roe v Wade is faulty.

I appreciate you reading through my rant and processing 🙂

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Resources

AdoptUSKids

Connected By Love Adoptions

Supreme Court Abortion Draft Opinion

Surprising Facts You May Not Know About Adoption

Trends in Foster Care and Adoption: FY2010-2019

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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