Womb fresh infants and foster kids

Adoption is such a strange (impossible) thing to discuss, online anyway.

I quite often see adoption reformers talk about leaving the womb fresh babies alone, that people should be adopting from foster care instead. Every time I see those words, or some version of them, I can't help but think about the reasons why there are kids in foster care in the first place. If one is to end up being adopted anyway, why would it not be better to be adopted as a womb fresh infant?

I know some will say that kids in foster care are only there because of social wreckers (is that the proper derogatory term?) yanking them from families whose only crime is a dirty home and while I'm sure it's the case sometimes, it's less often than not. At least here in Canada.

Where I am familiar, it's the opposite. Kids are kept in families too long in name of family preservation. Sometimes so long it results in the deaths of children.

Another thing that occurs to me is that, because I do believe that some women who place babies for adoption DO care about or love their babies, either as human beings or as their children, women who consciously and intentionally seek out good families for their baby are the ones who are more likely to become good parents themselves given time and adequate resources.

Mothers who do not consider adoption or abortion (or birth control) and just keep having and keeping kids they have no genuine interest in parenting, have no means to properly support financially, continue to abuse drugs or alcohol and make repeated bad choices when it comes to paternity putting their lovers before their kids, are crap mothers, if one can even call them mothers, whose kids are some (most?) of those that end up in foster care.

Are we as mothers society's responsibility? If so, after how many kids? Is there a limit? If we're relying on society to support us financially, does it not then give them the right to butt into our business? And finally, why must womb fresh infants have to wait until they're damaged and in foster care to be adopted?

Oh yeah, I watched 20/20 last night and it was about Diane Downs and the baby (her fourth) that was taken from her at birth, now an adult, was interviewed.


  1. Okay, well, let's see.... yes the term is social wreckers... definitely. Since I am both a mom and a former foster child I can speak to some of this:

    First, while I know that there are women out there that "love and want to do the best for their child" - exactly who gets to decide what is best? And at what point does it become something that anyone can decide, reasonably. So, I have to ask this, with all honesty, would you have been able to make a reasonable rational decision to give away your son if you had to decide on whether or not to eat or buy prenatal vitamins?

    Foster children... okay, since I obviously don't know what you do for a living, I am just going to give you the low down on what foster care is really about.... first, there is no such thing as "too" long for family reunification. Children that are taken from homes where actual life is threatened, that is one thing (this can include drugs and serious abuse), but most children (out of my group in care only 5 out of 75 were in actual abusive homes prior to placement in foster care - out of them, one child was left in a home where the social wreckers knew the father murdered the mother -but it wasn't proven - until the man shot the little brother - she was my roommate).

    So you have to look at all the facts. Social services makes a judgment based in their own "guidelines" and personal prejudices. For example, the average social worker is a middle classed anglo woman with a middle classed, church going upbringing. This social worker often enters homes where there has been no middle class life, and finds that there are "issues" because mom and dad are hostile and unresponsive to suggestions of going to their church for support. Gee, ya think? There are no overt questions about religion, but a refusal to attempt that type of arrangement almost always ends with the child/ren being removed from care on the grounds of a lack of a support system.

    I know, hard to believe, but definitely fact - not only was I a foster child, but I worked with social services as a Foster Care Review Board member - I have read all the reports, seen kids, talked to them, talked to parents, social workers, etc. and made decisions with the other board members. Out of the 60 cases we saw a year, 5 children were returned to their homes. 55 children's homes were found to be unsuitable, including some homes that were simply not actually suitable (less than 2%).

    Please see my blog entry re this subject.

  2. I find it very sad when children get neglected and abused and the children keep getting put back in a bad environment. There was just a case in the newspaper about a boyfriend who beat a toddler to death and it wasn't the first time that he had abused the child.

  3. I have thought this so many times. I acknowledge the importance of adopting out of foster care, absolutely. It may be the route we go if we decide we have the energy for a 3rd child. However, it's not the only way. And when women, faced with options, make the choice- as a mother- to place their "womb fresh" baby [I am very literal, and that term is a little gross. lol] within another family, why can't that choice be honored? Mothers of all types- birth and adoptive- should be treated with much more dignity than we afford them now. I notice we are most critical of each other.

  4. "If one is to end up being adopted anyway, why would it not be better to be adopted as a womb fresh infant?"

    The idea here is that "womb fresh infant" means a blank slate - or at the very least, *more* of a blank slate than someone who was not adopted days after the birth itself.

    "If we're relying on society to support us financially, does it not then give them the right to butt into our business?"

    Society *causes* people to end up like this, to end up needing help. Social welfare, stigmas, society’s unspoken “law” of assistance, etc?

    For example, a woman gets pregnant. She’s either in high school or just graduated. She doesn’t have a job – or if she does, it’s minimum wage, part-time. She needs to go to post-secondary to get a better job, regardless if she got pregnant. Why? 1) If she’s NOT pregnant, post-secondary can only be beneficial in today’s working world. 2) If she IS pregnant, post-secondary will be required to get a job that’s more than minimum wage in a way that she can raise her child.

    Maybe she has help, maybe she doesn’t. Maybe her parents say “Screw you, you spread your legs and you’re barely in the workforce! Why should we be held responsible for your mistakes?”

    Or maybe they say “How could you be so irresponsible! We’ll help you, but you really shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. If you don’t get yourself a job in x time, then you need to give your baby up.”
    No matter how much support she is given – assuming she plans or wants to keep her baby – ultimately there is this unspoken societal expectation – don’t spread your legs. Don’t get pregnant. If you need help, we’ll give it but we’ll do it passive-aggressively so you feel that you’re a burden (like the above – “We’ll help you, but you really shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place!”).

    Getting pregnant before marriage/post-secondary/graduating = super huge mistake – why help you?
    Super huge mistake = shouldn’t have opened your legs – why help you?

    Shouldn’t have opened your legs = it’s your own damn fault – why help you?

    Regardless of whatever she does (except for adoption, because remember, she’s young and only has a min. wage job), the attitude is: Why help you?

    We rely on support because we are put into the position of relying on support and are greeted with the mindset – “You opened your legs.”

    Because the mindset is: You had sex, your fault.

    The issue is not that she got pregnant - no one is immune to birth control mistakes, period. The issue is how we view pregnancy as being at the "right" time.

  5. "Another thing that occurs to me is that, because I do believe that some women who place babies for adoption DO care about or love their babies, either as human beings or as their children, women who consciously and intentionally seek out good families for their baby are the ones who are more likely to become good parents themselves given time and adequate resources."

    But if they're likely to become good parents given time and adequate resources, why do they feel the need to place?

    What makes that situation any different from that of a first-time mother who just graduated and is newly independent?

  6. I don't think there's any reason to believe that infant adoption prevents kids from entering into foster care. Just because a mother surrenders to adoption does not mean she would have been unfit had she parented. Just because someone is an unfit parent whose child is placed in foster care does not mean infant adoption would have ever been an option they would have even remotely considered to begin with.

    One reason I do not support infant adoption and suggest older child adoption from foster care instead is because of where the obvious need lies. Very few mothers surrender their infants to adoption and it takes great marketing efforts to advertise and find them (which doesn't mean they'd be unfit had they parented). Meanwhile, there is no shortage of children in foster care, no money required to find them. They are there, and they need homes and it costs little or nothing to adopt them.

    Even when a child is in foster care, the primary goal is for them to be reunited with their biological family when and if at all possible.

  7. If I hadn't been adopted I would have been in foster care or a home/school for parentless or unwanted kids.

    I didn't say anything about blank slates and I consider days/weeks old adoption pretty much womb fresh.

    Is the fact that very few parents surrender their children to adoption not one of the reasons there are so many kids in foster care? If it's not, what is the reason?

    Why are there so many kids in foster care?

    Also, when I say "damaged" I do not mean defective for those who will distort my meaning. I say damaged meaning emotionally, psychologically scarred or affected by being abused, neglected, uprooted, and passed around home to home to hotel to wherever, lost in the shuffle. If this isn't damaging to a young human being, then I don't know what is.

  8. Campbell, while I think that you think you are saying one thing, you are in fact, saying another. Damaged children are often damaged by supposed foster/adopt homes - more of them are out there now than ever before. Also, days and weeks are not realistic - it is also unlikely that you, a white child, would have been in foster care more than a few weeks at best...

    The reason that there are so many kids in foster care? Take a look at what you said - in essence, why bother with the ones that are older and have issues when you can get the womb fresh baby without them.

    As far as the rest, exactly what degree of actual knowledge - outside of schools and word of mouth - do you have with foster children? I am curious, because you don't seem to have much.

    You talk about how everyone should accept that you are a happy adoptee (which I think is totally cool), but then you assume that all adopters are like your parents - they aren't, in fact, your parents and Amanda's are the exception, not the rule. I met my first adoptee in my second foster placement.... she was a Korean girl adopted into an anglo-American family. She is awesome, but very unhappy for a very long time... do I buy into the happy adoptee for her? No. Did she have great parents? Yes.

    So, one question, why would you believe that foster care is only for kids that are actually abused? And at what point did you miss that removing a child from their mother can and does create a trauma that can, in turn, become RAD?

    Foster care is a self-sustaining monster. States are paid X dollars for every child in foster care. States are paid X dollars for every child that is reunified with family. States are paid X dollars times however many years (exponentially - like this $ x 5 to the 8th power) for every child that is adopted over the quota set by the government.

    So, when you get money to send them home - do you send home a child that can probably be adopted? Or do you send home the broken ones? The un-adoptables? Besides, if you send home the broken ones, you get them back, so you can get money for them going home.... and then turn around and get more money because they are back.... all in the same year. (Those numbers are available on the Human Services Website for the U.S. Government.

    So, then you have those kids you send home, get back and collect money on both ends... then you have the cute babies (usually some foster girls child - and yes, they do it all the time), toddlers and age 4 to 8's - Most of them are either adopted, or returned after a couple years in the circus that is foster care severely damaged from sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

    So I have a question for you.... If adoptive parents are about the children, then why is it that they only want babies that they can make fit into their families? If adoptive parents are about providing homes, why do they not provide homes to those 400,000+ children that are out there and who might be damaged, but they are still children that will actually need them?

    If it was really about the kids, it wouldn't matter how old the kids was or what kind of problems - real parents work through it.

  9. Lori, I said if I hadn't been adopted.

    I know children are often damaged in foster care, that's my point.

    I am well aware that being removed from a parent can cause trauma.

    You say the reason there are so many kids in foster care is that people only want to adopt womb fresh babies? Are you serious?

    To me it's all twisted in this way. People who relinquish, except for the people who really do not want the baby, are more likely, given the time and resources, to be good parents than many of the people who do not relinquish. Most people don't give up babies because they feel negatively toward the baby or don't care about it. I think it's quite the opposite.

    Also, Amanda and I are not that rare in having had decent enough adoptive parents.

    I'm sure you're well aware by now that an adoptee can be unhappy about having been adopted but still have good adoptive parents.

  10. Actually, yes, you are right, it sounds twisted, but it is true. According to the numbers when I was working within the system in the foster care review board, almost 1/3 of the children in foster care were adoptees. Most of them, I believe the numbers were over 70%, were adopted as infants, raised to a certain point and then the adoption "disrupted."

    And yes, you and Amanda got lucky with wonderful parents. Parents that didn't lay their trips on their kids.... Which is awesome. And yes, there are many more parents out there with the same type of styles. To those adoptive parents, my utmost respect is given.

    However, research states that children removed from their mothers are 5 to 7 times more likely to be abused, neglected, or murdered by their adopters or foster parents. While a child that is left in an abusive home is only 3 to 4 times more likely to be abused than the number of children who have never been abused by their parents and almost 3 times less likely to be murdered by their caregiver than the foster/adoptee in a foster/adoptive home.

    To me, the numbers speak loudly. When I see a great family, I respect that. Always. But to assume things, such as you have, as real because they fit into your reality, I beg to differ. Having come from a poor/middle class family, I know that social services is not even handed in their procurement of children. I also know that adoption is not and will never be the answer for young mothers.

    This is because the consequences for mother and child are too great to be something that can be considered a win/win for anyone. It is a process which creates a basis for mental health issues that might not have existed but for adoption. And honestly, while you look at it from the middle class view point, the people that are most affected are not even people that you would consider friends. So it is impossible for you to see the other side until you lay your middle class judgments and opinions aside and learn the other parts of the world...

    I also think you should know that I wasn't incensed about your believing that maybe if kids were put up for adoption in the first place they wouldn't be a mess later.... I was horrified that you think that anyone has the right to assume that everyone in care is somehow damaged to the point of not being worthy to be cared for. Which is exactly what you said - why adopt from foster care if you can get a womb fresh infant that is not damaged already.

    I have heard many adopters (no, they are not worthy of the appellation Adoptive Parents as far as I am concerned) say much the same thing... right after they talk about how stupid, broken, unwanted foster kids are and deserve to be - after all they must have done something to be a foster kid......right?

  11. No, that is not what I'm saying or think Lori so no need to be horrified.

    I'm saying why is it better to let a situation get to the point of prolonged foster care not that people shouldn't adopt from foster care.

    Someone would have to be a complete moron to say and think the things of foster kids (they're stupid, broken, must have done something) that you've just said here.

    In fact I have two different families of relatives whose children were removed from them. One family were able to have the children placed with the grandmother while they cleaned up their act, which try did quite nicely. The other family hasn't done a damn thing to get it together.

  12. I think these things are very situational and also delicate - sometimes social workers really are too eager to remove children from homes that, with a little more encouragement and support would have been be "good enough" - and in my opinion "good enough" is better than either foster care or adoption.
    Other times they try too hard to keep children with parents or extended families that are patently and one would think predictably dangerous to the children's well-being (as in the case of little Jeffrey Baldwin), or as in another case I know of where the mother kept getting her act together, getting her kids back and then succumbing to addiction again, finally losing custody of them permanently, although contact was kept. A big part of the problem is that the social welfare system is over-loaded and underfunded, but then so is almost everything other than the banks and mega-corporations. I certainly take the point that if families are to receive state subsidies, a certain amount of regulation and interference is only to be expected.

    I don't think anyone in their right mind would think that the biological parents of abandoned baby Angelica-Leslie found bruised and battered in a freezing stairwell deserved to be allowed to keep any connection, legal or social, with their daughter. In her case a closed adoption from infancy (with access to her OBC and records at majority) was entirely in order.

    There is no doubt that mothers in 'crisis' situations deserve to be encouraged and supported in keeping their children if that is what they want, but what of those women who really do not want to parent, or, perhaps worse, are indifferent to the fate of their kids? They can't be forced. It may be that they are the exceptions that prove the rule, but they exist and their children deserve to have stability and homes and loving family to care for them. Being bounced around from foster home to foster home in the hope that their mothers will suddenly have a blinding moment of truth and suddenly become maternal, is not in their interest.
    Unfortunately child abuse is neither exceptional or rare. It crosses all classes and all types of family. Being bounced around from foster home to foster home has to take its toll, whether it's called hurt, harm or damage. I know there are ex-foster kids who wish they had been adopted, some into homes where they were wanted and would like to have stayed, but the system did not allow it.

  13. Thanks anon, great comment.

    I agree that child abuse crosses all classes and all types of family. I'd go further to say that more affluent types of family are less likely to be officially called on it.

    I would just like to say one last time my use of the word damage was not meant to be an insult to people who have endured the foster care experience.

    I am in awe of people who rise above tumultuous childhoods and break vicious cycles. It has got to be one of the very hardest things in life to do.

    I encourage all that are capable to give homes and be family to the children in foster care that want one. If I were in a position to do it myself, I would in a heartbeat. I'm sorry that I'm not.

  14. I think those who want to prevent the adoption of "womb-fresh infants (awful phrase)are more caught up in reliving/preventing their own surrender experience than really concerned about children.

    These are mostly women who surrendered newborns, often under pressure, and they understand that experience and what it did to them.

    What they do not understand is the very different foster care experience which is much more complicated and harder to remedy. These same people who advocate adoption of older children from foster care on the one hand will on another day be complaining that child protective services often remove children from families just because they are poor and messy, and that that aspect of adoption is just a money-making scheme as well.

    They really want to see an end to all adoption, but especially that kind which replicates their experience as single mothers surrendering newborns. It is not about the children at all, but about the mothers, and for some people it is hard to see that not all mothers are fit to raise the children they bring into the world, or want to.


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