I know to expect falsehoods coming from adoption agency websites. After all, they’re in the business to make money. If they told the truth to young expectant mothers, if they let them make informed decisions while NOT under the influence of pregnancy and post-partum hormonal surges and neurological changes, then likely very few would surrender their babies (e.g, South Australia: 2003 population = 1,527,000. voluntary surrenders = 3).
But I do not expect falsehoods to come from university text books.
I was in the local campus bookstore today, looking for a certain statistics text, when the title “Adolescence” caught my eye. Having taken the psychology of adolescence course there a few years back, out of curiosity I picked it up to take a look at the new text for that course. It didn’t take long to notice a chapter on teen pregnancy, which I skimmed. Under adoption, it was firmly stated that adolescents who surrender their babies for adoption suffer no negative consequences. Not “few,” not “rare,” not “temporary.” And definitely not telling the truth that study after study has shown that the emotional and psychological consequences can be both devastating and life-long.
“A grief reaction unique to the relinquishing mother was identified. Although this reaction consists of features characteristic of the normal grief reaction, these features persist and often lead to chronic, unresolved grief. CONCLUSIONS: The relinquishing mother is at risk for long-term physical, psychologic, and social repercussions. Although interventions have been proposed, little is known about their effectiveness in preventing or alleviating these repercussions.” – Askren & Bloom, Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing, 1999 Jul-Aug. p.395.
To support his claim that mothers walk away unscathed, the author cites a handful of pro-adoption authors whose studies are easily picked apart and whose results are in the minority. This handful of authors surveyed mothers who had surrendered only within the past 5 years, and these first five years are when many mothers are still in the numbness and shock of grief and trauma. In her Ph.D., dissertation, Weinreb (1991) states that it takes at LEAST five years for the loss to be fully realized. In order to survive the extreme pain, loss, and trauma we often resort to denial, dissociation, avoidance, and repression of memories.
To give him the benefit of the doubt, I am certain that the author did not intentionally present a misleading claim. It is likely that he did so unintentionally, having only obtained “one side of the story’ and likely from some of those same adoption agencies and/or their staff.
But it is still depressing to think that undergraduate university students in colleges and universities across North America are reading this stuff as gospel truth.