Psychology of Adoption, Quotes
The psychology and sociology of adoption is complex and interesting.
Mothers and fathers who are considering relinquishing their infant
son or daughter for adoption should take special note. Those who
develop public policy should as well.
Maternal Instinct - Noun 1. maternal-infant bonding -
the attachment that forms between an infant and its mother
beginning at birth; "maternal-infant bonding influences
the child's psychological and physical development"
"Adoption is an aberration'" quoted from Linda Cannon
Burgess, adoption social worker,1992
Adoption - Voluntary relinquishment?
"...How many child relinquishments have resulted from something
other than a conscious, voluntary decision? The answer is deeply
disturbing. For by delving extensively into the matter, it is
possible to compile a sustantial body of evidence identifying
the troubling influence traditionally exerted upon child relinquishments
by such forces as punishment, coercion, shamings, biased counseling,
legal disenfranchisement of parents from their offspring, and
numerous other forms of manipulations and pressure. As the available
data is assembled, one very unpleasant conclusion eventually stands
out: that the reigning myth of American adoption has been that
of the voluntary relinquishment of children by their [natural]
parents for placement in new families." p.41-42 Adoption
in America:Coming of Age, Hal Aigner (Paradigm Press,1992) Larkspur,
A baby won't know the difference?
What psychologists should make generally known:
Just how at ease is the new baby who goes to live with strangers
in an adoptive home?
"Day-to-day life with a new child, who is scared and perhaps
angry or rejecting (and who has apparently lost the ability to
sleep at night), can make even the most self-confident parent
lose that perky edge." - From "Dealing with post-adoption
depression," by Jean MacLeod , Adoptive Families Magazine
And what about the feelings of the adopted child
(or adult) later?
Psychologists and adoptee insights:
"For adoptive couples, adoption is wonderful. For the natural
mothers and families of adoptees, adoptees themselves and their
progeny, adoption is profoundly painful. ...
"No matter how much they want and can love a child, most
adopters are blind to the child’s pain of separation. This does
not make for good parents. Think, for a moment, how you would
feel if you were expected to join in the "celebration"
as everyone dances on your mother's grave." Julie A. Rist,
adoptee - Promoting
Adoption - "Is the U.S. Promoting Pain?"
Adopted children "feel they were unwanted and unloved by
their natural mothers" - Prof. Rachel Levy-Shiff
Many adopted children experience "emotional problems, including
fear of close relationships, negative ways to be in control, low
self-esteem, anger, and immaturity that produce behavior problems,
including lying, oppositional behavior, school underacheivement
and quick temper. These problems often do not respond to rewarding,
punishing, and consequences, producing much frustration in parents
and teachers." Dr. Michael Katz, profile in Psychology Today.
“the ego of the adopted child, in addition to all the demands
made upon it, is called upon to compensate for the wound left
by the loss of the biological mother.” Clothier, F. MD. 1943 Psychology
of the Adopted Child
“the child who is placed with adoptive parents at or soon after
birth misses the mutual and deeply satisfying mother and child
relationship, the roots of which lie deep in the area of personality
where the psychological and physiological are merged. Both for
the child and the natural mother, that period is part of the biological
sequence, and it is doubted whether the relationship of the child
to its post partum mother, in its subtler effects, can be replaced
by even the best of substitute mothers. But those subtle effects
lie so deeply buried in the personality that, in the light of
our present knowledge, we cannot evaluate them.” Clothier,F. MD.
1943 Psychology of the Adopted Child
What about the fitness of the adopters to raise
a child ("parent" a child)?
"Adoptive parents are deprived people. Almost all of them
have experienced the pain of infertility or inability to bear
a live child. They have gone through much disappointment, waiting
and uncertainty, all experiences which tend to reduce people’s
confidence and self_esteem. When they first acquire a baby their
natural instinct is to salve their wounded feelings by denying
any difference between the two kinds of parenthood, yet they also
have to live with the fear of losing the child up till the time
of legal adoption." - PARENTS, CHILDREN AND ADOPTION, 1966,
[Adoption] breaks the ties between generations; and there is
no guarantee that some stranger can and will love your child as
much as you will. - DUBIOUS CONCEPTIONS, The Politics of Teenage
Pregnancy, (1996) Kristin Luker
"The adoptive parents have regained faith in themselves
as citizens by restoring social respectability, psychological
‘unwantedness’ and legal protection to the otherwise unwanted
and outcast child…" - PROFILE OF UNWED PREGNANCY TODAY, Private
Agency Point of View, Lillian Bye, Executive Director, Crittenton
Hastings House, Boston, Massachusetts to the National Conference
On Social Welfare, San Francisco, California, 1959
For older adopted children "There is often a big gap between
parents' high expectations of their adopted child and the problematic
reality," Prof. Rachel Levy-Shiff.
"I hear this [from people who have adopted] all the time.
'We're the real parents...'
Do you know what adoptive parents really mean by that? What they
really mean is, "We're not real parents, and if our child
searches for and finds her [ ]parents, she will abandon us and
we will be what we were before we adopted: childless."
People who have to assert who they really are don't know who
they really are. " Adoptive
Parents: Fables, Facts, Fears by L. Anne Babb, Ph.D.
The childless may become pathologically obsessed with obtaining
babies. A few even personally murder a pregnant woman to get a baby.
Yet society validates the infertile woman's delusional grief for
a phantom baby, a dream.
Regarding fathers and their responsibility
"..should we expose the natural father to where he under
all circumstances would have to face his responsibilities towards
his child, acknowledging the fact that all children have a father
and that we do not have to give some children a father through
the artificial process of adoption?" PROFILE OF UNWED PREGNANCY
TODAY, Private Agency Point of View, Lillian Bye, Executive Director,
Crittenton Hastings House, Boston, Massachusetts to the National
Conference On Social Welfare, San Francisco, California, 1959
What about the mother's or father's right to make
decisions for the good of their own child?
"Yet parents are sometimes denied the opportunity to make
this decision. We social workers sometimes stress the advantage
of placement, hoping that we can keep the parent satisfied with
an arrangement he does not understand and which is not
really his. It is beside the point to say that such placements
are doomed to failure."
"To assume that we know best is to take liberties with the
complicated relationships between children and parents. This not
only denies parental rights but is contrary to the agency's duty
to provide services that parents are free to utilize or reject
so long as their legal authority concerning their children remains
"If I labor the point that children's agencies do not have
the authority or function to control the lives of children whose
parents voluntarily bring their troubles to an agency, it is because
of the widespread misconception in this area. Furthermore, if
we are clear on the rights of parents who retain full authority
over their children, I think we can see more clearly the rights
of parents and the responsibility of agencies when a court steps
in to alter the natural status of parents and children."
"There is no justification for generalities that the child
needs love and affection and we will place him where he can get
it, or that any home is better for him than his own. Except in
the rarest cases of physical danger we might go so far as to say
that no home is any better than his own unless he is able to use
it. It is our responsibility to help him use it. We have sometimes
leaned on sentimental platitudes and indulged in wishful thinking
about children's need for emotional security. Scientific knowledge
has stripped us of this kind of justification. We know what separation
means to children; that it is akin to death and carries with it
anger, disillusionment, despair, and a deep sense of ‘badness.’"
"... we reaffirm the right of parents to make decisions
in behalf of their children as long as they retain their legal
rights." - UPHOLD RIGHTS OF PARENT AND CHILD, Inez M. Baker,
(Parish Supervisor, Children's Division, Orleans Parish Department
of Public Welfare, Louisiana, Condensed from paper given at Louisiana,
State Conference of Social Welfare, Baton, Rouge, March 1948)
The Child, Vol. 13, No. 2, August 1948
"We were mislead, uninformed and certainly taken advantage
of. It is inhumane to think we were not informed of the basic
options, nor given anything in writing!" - a Natural Mother.
A Mother from the 1960's era baby scoop:
"It didn't matter whether signed the relinquishment papers,
we were going to lose our children, one way or another. We were
a targeted population. If we didn't sign our babies would still
have been taken, involuntarily, thru court termination - and possibly
with criminal penalites for us. If we did sign, they would be
taken. Same result, different legal processes."
"The reason I mention the 'signing' so much is because I
meet so many mothers who feel guilty for signing and they think
if they didn't sign they could have kept their children."
"The truth is, it didn't matter whether we signed. In some
ways it was like rape - you could fight, but the man would probably
overpower you, and he could easily threaten you. If you stopped
fighting him, you weren't 'giving in" or "going along
with it". You were being raped. The legal defintion of rape
includes threats of harm and force. Only the threat has to exist,
for it to be considered "non-consensual sex" or "rape'."
Is the real issue the "unwed" mothers,
hatred of single parents and their "bastards" or the market
"The bastard, like the prostitute, thief, and beggar, belongs
to that motley crew of disreputable social types which society
has generally resented, always endured. He is a living symbol
of social irregularity, an undeniable evidence of contramoral
forces..." - quote from The American Journal of Sociology,
article by Kingsley Davis, 1939
"Because there are many more married couples wanting to
adopt newborn white babies than there are babies, it may almost
be said that they rather than out of wedlock babies are a social
problem. (Sometimes social workers in adoption agencies have facetiously
suggested setting up social provisions for more 'babybreeding'.)"
SOCIAL WORK AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS, National Association of Social
Workers, (Out-of-print) copyright 1964
"... the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is
to regard unmarried mothers as breeding machines...(by people
intent) upon securing babies for quick adoptions." - Leontine
Young, "Is Money Our trouble?" (paper presented at the
National Conference of Social Workers,
"When the environment gives support and reassurance, a new
mother is most often able to relax and interact pleasurably with
her infant, feel less lonely, and gain perspective on her situation.
Often a person in the midst of a crisis, overwhelmed by the stresses,
cannot see the process of it or its meaning." - Psychological
and Emotional Problems of Pregnancy In Adolescence, THE TEENAGE
PREGNANT GIRL, Jack Zackler, M.D. and Wayne Brandstadt, M.D.(1975)
Adoption "Counselors" Training
The following quote shows how moms are coerced to hand over their
own sons and daughters for use in adoption:
"OVERCOME OBJECTIONS AND STEREOTYPES"
"Counselors must be trained to give women sound reasons
that will counter the desire to keep their babies. One example
is to reinforce the notion that it takes a strong, mature woman
to place a child for adoption. Honestly addressing the issue of
financial survival can be compelling as well. Counselors must
communicate that adoption can be an heroic, responsible choice
and that the child benefits tremendously ..." - From The
Missing Piece: Adoption Counseling In Pregnancy Resource Centers
by Curtis J. Young. Family Research Council (2000).
Adoption as "illegal plunder" or "legalized
Adoption services get babies for infertile and gay people to adopt,
and may transfer children from one culture to another to wipe out
"The war against illegal plunder has been fought since the
beginning of the world. But how is... legal plunder to be identified?
Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs
to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong.
See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another
by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing
a crime. Then abolish this law without delay ....... If such a
law is not abolished immediately it will spread, multiply and
develop into a system." - Frederic Bastiat, French author
of "The Law" (1848)
In Reunion - Will the guarantee of a "forever
family" made by social workers to the adopters hold up?
"Many times since our reunion, my son's a-mom has told him
'I am your ONLY mother!'. She even told him that he was forbidden
to love or regard us, his natural relatives, as family. Because
this is what she paid for, a child of her own, not a child to
'share'. The ironic thing is that my son, 3yrs later, now considers
me to be his only mother, having been advised by the police 2
yrs ago to escape that household due to the level of abuse there...
we're now living together. This proves that the 'lifetime guarantee'
of the broker is total false advertising!" - A Naural Mother
"I like to use the word "repatriation" rather than
"reunion" to describe the return to my family. Repatriation
is to restore or return to the country of origin, allegiance, or
citizenship - like prisoners of war going back to their country.
Few in our society comprehend what it's like to experience and survive
something like war and few in society comprehend what it's like
being separated from family to be used for adoption." - An
Is there really an "adoption triad" comprised
of natural family, adoptive family and adopted child?
"... social work has normally conceived of adoption as a
decontextualized triangle, composed of adopters, adoptees, and
relinquishing parents. ... Triangularization removes a range of
institutions and actors... from the primary picture of adoption,
encouraging the misrecognition of adoptions as a private consensual
transaction between, and in the interests of, members of the triangle.
Important dimensions of the social location and function of adoption
are thereby denied or blended out of analysis." - Tim O'Shaughnessy,
" Adoption, Social Work and Social Theory: Making the Connections"
What about all the secrecy in adoption and lack
of interest or concern for mothers whose children have been adopted-out?
"A cloak of secrecy usually surrounds the unwed mother and,
therefore, little is known about her... the agencies which work
with unwed mothers have too long operated behind closed doors.
Concern can grown only where there is knowledge." Mothers
Out Of Wedlock, Bill Pinson - CRISES IN MORALITY, Edited by C.W.
"The woman pregnant out of wedlock suffers despair and loneliness.
A feeling of helplessness, coupled with that of severe guilt,
sometimes leads to suicide. Denial and a desire for concealment
are frequent first reactions; this is dangerous because a lack
of proper care may be the consequence." Mothers Out Of Wedlock,
Bill Pinson - CRISES IN MORALITY, Edited by C.W. Scudder, 1964
Quotes by psychologists, sociologists,
social workers and professionals are one thing - what do natural
mothers have to say?
"Everytime I speak up about our loss as mothers and adoptees,
someone starts talking about adopted person's right to medical
information, as if that is the only loss that exists in adoption.
I feel like I am being cannibalized and used for bone marrow,
kidneys, ... At first, I was "only good enough" to be
used to provide a baby for infertiles. Now I am "only good
enough" to provide medical information. Our humanity as mothers
still goes unnoticed....." - A Natural Mother
"It was inhumane and unethical to subject anyone - most especially
the vulnerable minor - to this such trauma. But to ensure she
was silenced and abandoned her whole life was to ensure her dehumanization
was permanent." - A Natural Mother
"I have come across articles by nurses who arrogantly think
if they just 'counsel' the mothers right in the hospital we'll
go away whistling and dancing happily." - A Natural Mother
"So, we're incredibly strong to not only continue to live
through this but to fully face it and feel it. But what a crappy
way to waste one's precious life!" - A Natural Mother
"Remember the days when we were young and people would say
to us, "Don't do something to ruin your life?" I finally
understand what ruining a life means." from "One Woman's
Reflections" by MW, moderator of Empty
Arms Support Group
"Moms [whose children were adopted-out] are portrayed most
of the time as sad and tainted and never the same. Society acknowledges
their horrendous suffering, but likes it. It's a source of amusement
to them, like there is some sadistic flaw in the human psyche.
It's disheartening that it continues. It's so uncivilized and
primitive, some throwback feeling from times long past."
- A Natural Mother
"Adoption is a window through which we see all types of
injustice... I empathised with the plight of indigenous people
here without realizing for a long time that my issues were similiar....
Yes its difficult to heal. But to heal in a climate where there
is no validation and where there is continuation of the very thing
which causes one's suffering is even harder. I venture up the
mountain and go for walks with my dog which keeps my sanity."
- A Natural Mom in Australia
The breakdown of "family" leading to
the belief that unrelated persons who purchase a child (or the raw
materials to make one) are more "family" than related
From the book "1984" by George Orwell: "Already
we are breaking down the habits of thought that have survived
from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child
and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman.
No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But
in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children
will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from
"Some people take adoption very lightly. A considerable
number of Americans have gone to Europe to find children. Sometimes
their decisions are made under the stress of emotion and then
regretted. International Social Service reports many instances
of children brought to the United States and then casually shipped
back home by plane." - THE BATTLE OVER CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION,
Why You Can’t Adopt the Child You Want, Joseph H. Reid (Executive
Director, Child Welfare League of America), Woman’s Home Companion
Magazine, June 1956
Social workers who discuss changed attitudes toward
separating real family members to get babies for adoption
"The authors... have... been provoked and disturbed by the
recent evidence of the dark side of adoption, and have come to
re-assess, after many years, the work they and other social workers
have done in this area... For example, they discuss the... the
practices that formerly put many of these mothers under pressure
to give up their children for adoption."
"These women have rightly demanded that serious attention
be given to their ongoing grief and what they now see as society’s
betrayal of them at a time for them of great vulnerability and
"There is now much evidence of the psychological effects
of unresolved grief on the mothers following the loss of their
children. There was a cover of denial put on the wound but, for
many, the wound continued to fester." - THE MANY SIDED TRIANGLE,
Adoption In Australia, Audrey Marshall & Margaret McDonald
(2001) [both long time social workers]
Ultimately, the transfer of babies has a genocidal purpose - the
purpose is most often the decimation of families which are not of
the "family-unit" type. This is true even when only a
few families are actually decimated, because the terroristic threat
remains for other families.
"This story of [ancient] ritual sacrifice of a virgin closely
matches a ritual sacrifice practiced in the United States and
in some other countries - that is the ritual sacrifice of a family
that is not of the 'family-unit' type. In a patriarchal culture
where people believes it is inevitable, a pregnant mother is lured
into the trap. She is 'counseled' and groomed for the sacrifice.
She is called a 'not-mother' or 'birthmother' (sacrificial 'offering'
) well in advance. The people she trusts believe they must go
through with it or their 'people', their culture, will perish.
If they do not sacrifice this mother-and-child, there will be
more instances of family that are not 'family-units' - there may
be grandparents helping to raise their grandchildren, there may
be single fathers taking responsibility for their children. The
mother who does not comprehend the real truth behind the biased
- and who does not have the opportunity to overhear the true motives
of the 'adoption counselor' - may not extricate herself from the
situation in time. The 'birthmothers sacrifice' will please the
gods and the people will profit from a great harvest - the harvest
of a human baby for adoption. " - From "Ritual
Sacrifice of 'Birthmothers' and Ritual Sacrifice of Virgins"
"When a mother is forced to choose between the child and
the culture, there is something abhorrently cruel and unconsidered
about that culture. A culture that requires harm to one's soul
in order to follow the cultures prescriptions is a very sick culture
indeed. This 'culture' can be the one a woman lives in, but more
damning yet, it can be the one she carries around and complies
with within her own mind....." -- Women Who Run With The
Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Psychology of Adoption?
Social workers, psychologists, sociologists, adoptees and natural
family members have all made some interesting observations. The
psychology of adoption and psychological affects on adoptees and
natural family is worth thinking about before encouraging a young
mother/father to relinquish parental rights.
There is still a large market of people looking not for orphans
but for the perfectly healthy baby "of their dreams" to
adopt. So, some say the "fix" is to provide "open
adoption" as a lure so these people can get a baby and the
adoption businesses can expand. Mothers-to-be are told they will
be "heros" for making their own sons and daughters available
for adoption. They are encouraged to select prospective adopters
in advance of birth and in advance of relinquishment, so they will
feel beholden to these seemingly friendly people. This just one
of the methods used to lure more parents who might have kept their
families intact into surrendering parental rights. It seems to be
working - new adoption agencies are springing up and other adoption
agencies are expanding.
Do other countries allow independent adoption agencies,
adoption attorneys and individuals to try to get living people's
infant sons and daughters?
Here's a Comparison
of adoption practices in Australia with United States and Canada.