I was born in the 1970’s. Right there in the heat of the Roe v. Wade era when abortion became legal- not that my parents considered abortion since I was the 4th child out of what would be 6 and my parents had been married for a long time. Still, the fires of the topic were burning brightly at that time.
It’s no coincidence that the laws for adoption began to change at the same time abortion became legal. Before that, all of the power for regulating adoptions was in the hands of the state. Caseworkers and adoption agencies did what they considered to be best for the adoption situations, which they considered to be closed adoptions. Not only was there no contact between biological parents and their child after placement, but the records regarding the process were sealed up and kept away from everybody’s eyes. A woman’s biological child placed years before for adoption could be living next door to each other or working together at the supermarket and they wouldn’t have any way of knowing.
Then, along with the legalization of abortion, the regulations for federal financial assistance changed. The concept of financially being able to support a child changed. Over just a matter of a few years, everything was different with adoption. Expecting mothers had more options and for the first time the power to choose what they wanted was in their own hands.
Still, there is something that’s bothering me that I have to get off my chest. Why oh why why why isn’t adoption a bigger part of the pro-life discussion? It seems that too often people just dismiss it- that the only 2 choices are keeping the baby or aborting it. There is a third option, of course. There is option of adoption. That needs to be part of the conversation. That needs to be in people’s mind as they’re considering what to do. I think, for the most part, people do “think” about adoption- it’s not like they don’t know it’s there, but they don’t understand it. The days of giving birth and never hearing about the child’s well-being are gone (unless that’s what the biological parents want). The days of having to try to put the past into the past and try to carry on with life as if nothing had happened are gone. Still, I don’t think people really know that.
I thank God every day, as I see my little boy play with his Thomas the Train toys, and my daughter squeeze her little baby doll, that some people understood there was a third option. I thank God every day for my ability to be a father, even though something crooked with my body is keeping me from having biological children. I happen to be strongly pro-life, but having the discussion of life vs. abortion isn’t even what I’m after. All I ask is that people remember there’s a third option, and the only way people can know that is if we open our mouths as much as everyone else. By Russell Elkins- author of Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father’s Inspiring Journey