May 27th, 2008
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Take a moment to read this article. Done? No? You need me to paraphrase for you? Okay. Basically, an expectant mother was working at a restaurant. One of her tables leaves and, along with their tip, they leave a card that reads, and I quote:

We wish to adopt a baby. We are a caring, happily married, financially secure and loving couple. We want to share our joy and love with a child.

There are many things wrong with this action. I’ve taken some time to calm down before writing this particular blog because my initial reaction was to scream and use caps lock and possibly even cuss. However, that won’t solve anything or help people understand why this is so offensive.

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First of all, the mother in this situation is married. Now some married women have placed babies before and, to be honest, it wouldn’t be any less offensive if she was single. But, I think that needs to be said. Why? She wasn’t wearing her rings at work. As a woman who experienced very complicated pregnancies and was thus unable to wear my rings at about five months pregnant, I “get” this point that is made. Even in my last two pregnancies, married and loving it, I received dirty looks when I went out with sausage fingers that weren’t adorned with a shiny circular symbol on my left hand ring finger.

And that’s the point. You can’t judge a pregnant woman who isn’t wearing a ring. Perhaps she is a minimalist and both she and her partner have chosen to go without rings. Perhaps she’s just one of those lucky women who have sausage fingers. Perhaps she was in a rush when she left the house that morning and ran out of time to place them securely back on the appropriate finger. Perhaps she lost them recently! Or they were stolen! Or, maybe she’s just like this particular expectant Mom and doesn’t wear them to work. As her husband said, it was just a big “slap in the face” to their marriage and impending joy.

Getting past that whole fact is what the Mama-to-be says in the interview.

I was just shocked because I, they didn’t say a word to me about being pregnant. They didn’t ask me how my pregnancy was going.

This point, right here, is why so many open adoptions fail. Expectant mothers are seen as nothing more than a means to an end. They aren’t valued as real, live human beings going through a real, live pregnancy to bring a real, live baby into the world. They aren’t being respected not just for their ability to bring life into the world but as a woman and human being. Families aren’t taking the time to get to know these mothers. They aren’t placing an emphasis on the relationship between the adults. And then, when the child arrives and the going gets tough (because it will!), things get uncomfortable.

Now, this next part is so strange that I can’t even fully form a coherent verbal opinion on the matter. The card instructed callers to call the attorney’s office and ask for Joan. But, when the television reporters did so, they found out that Joan doesn’t exist. It’s “code” to let whomever is answering the phone know that they have “bait” on the “line.” Doesn’t anyone else find this extremely alarming? If they need to lie about something so small, what “big things” are they hiding? Seriously! That’s really scary to me! I fear for mothers who are being handed this specific card or working with the agency!

I did find it interesting that the attorney said that they’ve never received any negative feedback from this form of networking. That’s funny. When I posed the question on the birth parent forum, there was a whole bunch of negative feedback from birth and adoptive parents alike. Apparently the attorney doesn’t want to research the negative and prefers to wear his rose tinted adoption glasses.

I am sure that this family is embarrassed right now and that is why they aren’t coming forward. (Or they’re really ticked off and can’t figure out why the television station titled their card as offensive.) Maybe they’re great people who have been lead astray by an attorney who doesn’t seem to find any problem in lying about something so pointless to lie about that he probably lies about big things, too! But I’d like to call them up and say, “Hey, guys? Your finances? And your happy marriage? Aren’t guaranteed. You’ve got the same chances as anyone else. You can still go bankrupt. You can still have medical bills. You can still get sick. Get in a car accident. You can still die. You can still get a divorce. What makes you think you’re so entitled to this girl’s baby? What guarantees can you offer her?”

But instead I wrote a blog about it and said it anyway.

What are your opinions on this particular story? What are your opinions on “birthmother marketing” in general? Is it ever okay? Where are the lines in the sand? What is and is not acceptable? Please leave a comment or feel free to e-mail more personal discussions to jennah @ adoptionblogs dot com.

(Oh, and if you’re either Julie Moore or the couple who left the card, hit me up. I’d love to interview you. And yes, I’d be fair to both sides if they approached me. Kind of… Try me!)

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5 Responses to “Offensive Tip”

  1. KatjaMichelle says:

    Seen much debate over this recently and no matter how hard I try I just can’t see the other side. I can’t imagine it ever being ok to give a pregnant woman one of these cards. Leaving a notice on a bulletin board is more acceptable to me. Although it still leaves me feeling uneasy I can see how “advertising” is necessary to find a non-agency placement but…uh I just don’t know.

  2. Chromesthesia says:

    That’s seriously just WRONG. On all sorts of levels. They can’t find some other way to adopt? Like, I don’t know, an ethical agency or something?

    Also, folks will really look dirty at a pregnant woman not wearing a ring? What is this, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? (one of the books I’m reading.) There’s some churches (Seventh Day Adventist) who don’t believe in wearing rings, at least my relatives don’t. Talk about making assumptions…

  3. happygmom says:

    People who think it is acceptable to leave these solicitation cards in public places make my skin crawl. Having helped my daughter and a niece overcome the trauma of being solicited for their babies in public places, I know that this kind of networking is not harmless and clearly shows lack of human compassion.

    In my opinion, these people score negative on the sensitivity scale and clearly demonstrate that they do not have the qualifications to be fit parents. Talk about a Big RED Rejection Flag!! This one takes the prize!

  4. jodilee0123 says:

    Okay. . .when we went through our training for our first adoption (we worked with a lawyer run agency)–they did go over marketing techniques and leaving a card such as this was discussed. Being the person that I am, I would like to believe that this couple was leaving their card everywhere they went and weren’t specifically targeting the server. . . but sometimes my world isn’t reality. I think it is tacky anyway–but sometimes people just don’t see it that way. They think any possibility of a connection is worth a try. But the whole “code” thing kind of runs with people who get a separate 800 number to put in their profiles. Why not give your home number? And don’t give me the reason that you want them to call without it costing them anything. They can call collect. . .or most likely know someone with a cell phone with free long distance. When we started our second process of adoption we chose to go with another agency that better fit our family and our strong feelings toward open adoption. Our main concern was special care for birthparents. Making sure they get adequate and truthful counseling and help them through the ups and downs AFTER placement too! We paid a “lifetime” counseling fee at the first agency and they never followed up with our son’s birthmom pretty much after the adoption was final. I’m so happy that our relationship ended up thriving–or it could have been another nightmare story. Anyone who sees our profile now–sees our address and home phone number. Now, we choose to not advertise publically on a website or anything–so, I suppose putting your number and address out there for everyone to see is risky. What a huge RED FLAG for anyone who may be looking for a family. Anyway. . . our agency now is so AWESOME that they have welcomed our son’s birthmom into their family too and she is free to participate in any service, activity, whatever–whenever she chooses. That says a lot and means more than anyone can know for us and her.

    So back to the marketing. It’s not for us and I do think it is tacky–but everyone is different and ultimately it is the expectant parent’s choice. I am so naive, I guess and never even thought about the whole ring thing. I had a loose prong once and didn’t wear mine for almost a year–so I never even think to look at people’s hands.

    So, the bulletin board thing mentioned above. . .I guess that isn’t so bad as it is anonymous and not targeted towards anyone specifically. Or just talking about it with people you know–in a kind loving manner. . .not solicitation. And lastly. . . I hoped they checked to see if doing something like that is in compliance with their state laws as some do not allow “advertising”. All I have to say is I’m glad I’m not them right now! :0)

  5. clareb says:

    Jodilee I’m glad your open adoption is
    working out well but the fact that it
    is says more about your own personal
    honor than it does about your agency.
    I’ve been researching this subject for
    about two years and there seem to be a
    lot of people who just don’t want to
    wait four or five years to find the
    elusive “Juno” who actually wants a
    closed adoption so they promise someone
    an open adoption which they have no
    intention of honoring and legally, once
    the ink is dry they don’t have to. Now
    apparently these would be adoptors are
    saying that they didn’t pay the bill,
    didn’t see the waitress and didn’t intend
    it for her personally but just slipped
    the card in with the check. This
    probably is true, but, it demonstrates
    what a terrible idea this fishing for
    babies is. Remember Paul Newman in “The
    Verdict” showing up at funerals with his
    personal injury business card? Anyone
    who hands these adoption cards out can
    only expect a similar reaction.

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