Adoption practice: “What is coercion?”

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“What is coercion?”  This question was asked recently in an adoption-related forum, by someone unfamiliar with the idea that mothers may not want to surrender their babies for adoption.  Someone who has meekly accepted adoption industry brainwashing and never questioned the notion that mothers’ don’t willingly abandon their children hither, thither, and yon.

Ever since the Post World-War II demand for newborn infants arose, and the social work profession decided to meet that demand by taking the babies of vulnerable mothers, coercion has formed a large part of adoption practice.  You can read all about it in many pages on the internet.  Origins Canada has a collection of articles about coercion, including the coercion checklist I created from the true experiences of mothers I had got to know in support groups.   You can also read about Baby Scoop Era practices in the U.S. and what excuses baby brokers used for their abuse of mothers and abduction of infants.  You can pick up a copy of Ann Fessler’s book  The Girls Who Went Away and read first-hand accounts from the mothers incarcerated in maternity prisons, which were little more than baby farms, who knew they would never be allowed to leave with their babies.   Or you can read mothers’ stories  on the Exiled Mothers and Origins Canada sites.    You can look at the many years of research, the millions of dollars in federal tax money, put towards inventing new methods to separate mothers from their beloved newborn infants:  techniques such as open adoption, taking mothers away from their support system and putting them into maternity homes because it will more than double the rate of surrender (Namerow, Kalmuss, & Cushman, 1993), and research in which blindfolded regressed “volunteers” were forced to relive the trauma of their surrender in order to find out what coercion worked best.  One of these volunteers committed suicide after her experience.

But what is a good one or two sentence definition that sums of what constitutes coercion in adoption practice?  I thought it may be useful to invite feedback on one such possible definition:

“Coercion” includes any practice  specifically designed  and intended to either ensure — or  significantly increase the odds —  that a mother will surrender her baby for adoption.

“Coercion” describes any practice designed to remove a mother’s freedom of choice by the use of influence, persuasion, fraud, or duress. A coerced “choice’ is not a “choice” at all.


Update:  This article, from March 2010, ends with a proposed possible definition of coercion.  This short description was taken and expanded upon in a later article:  “The Definition of Adoption Coercion.

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22 thoughts on “Adoption practice: “What is coercion?”

    What is Coercion in Adoption? « An Ecofeminist View said:
    March 12, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    […] Full Article and links here: What is Coercion in Adoption? […]

    Peach said:
    March 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Thanks for writing what needs to be written.

    […] This blog entry is a response to reading Cedar’s blog post: Adoption practice: “What is coercion?” […]

    Joan Wheeler said:
    March 13, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Many years ago I was the only adoptee rooming with a half dozen mothers-of-adoption-loss in a hotel room. They were surprised at my support for them, saying that adoptees were hostile because of being given away, but I wasn’t hostile to them. Maybe it is because I before I entered into adoption awareness in 1974 I was introduced to feminist thought in 1971 by a woman called Canada Jane. I was 15 at the time. Womanhood came first and with that came the understanding of what it means to be able to carry life within and the struggle to gain independence from men. So, I understood womanhood long before I was thrown into shock at being found by siblings I was never supposed to know.

    So, when I hear of women’s voices telling of what actually took place for them, I believe them.

    Much more on this at my blog:

    Lois Luckovich said:
    March 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm


    i KNOW what coercion is, I lived through it. I still want to HURT the people who talked me into giving up my daughter.


    Lori said:
    March 14, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Coercion in adoption is the only time a contract is considered a legal contract, not voidable as a matter of law.

    Coercion is a lack of meeting of the minds. There is no contract, only the theft of child, sold into lifelong slavery to people who may or may not believe that they have the right to continue to deny that child rights.

    Lori said:
    March 14, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Correction – “There is no contract, only the theft of child, sold into lifelong slavery to people who may or may not believe that they have the right to continue to deny that child rights.”

    This should read: There is no contract between the mother and anyone. This is illegal in almost every nation in the world. There is only a child, kidnapped and sold by agencies, individuals and various other sources into lifelong slavery. This slavery is being the property of people whom may or may not believe that they have the right to continue to deny the child their basic human rights.”

    Weaver said:
    March 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing a lot recently. I was removed from my mother because she “couldn’t take care of me” but she was very poor, uneducated and had serious mental health issues and i think the fact the state didn’t step up and help her with those issues but just told her to sort her shit out or her kids would be taken away , that was a kind of coercion

    Lois Luckovich said:
    March 16, 2010 at 2:13 am

    That is basically how the social worker here treated me “Straighten up and fly right or I’ll take your Daughter.”

    Miserable old bag. She is lucky I’m non-violent, cause she’s retired now AND I KNOW WHERE SHE LIVES!

    Coercion is the hardest damn thing to prove because those who coerced you WON’T tell the truth if you threaten to take the issue back to court!

    Shannan said:
    March 22, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Hey Cedar
    This sounds a lot like some of the things I emailed you about. what I am hearing these days is how happy these people are at the agency because they are creating families. They believe they are doing s great work here. And don’t forget they just raised their prices so they get paid even more money for there kind and generous work.
    You have a powerful voice cedar! You will be the change…I feel it.

    Lois Luckovich said:
    March 22, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Yeah, but do the foster parents see any of that money?–Is it spent so families REAL families like I HAD can be together??? NO! Its being used to line their pockets and pay for Judges and lawyers who will make sure they win–at least in this town.

    I have had two pictures now where my daughter looks unhappy.
    WHAT are they doing to her, with her, that makes her look that way.

    Do they have her full of drugs to control the alleged ADHD??

    Are they threatening her–what’s going on.

    And of course I can’t get legal help to find out

    Easter-time to send gift,I miss her twice as much as usual and get snmappy when we get pictures because I don’t dare cry,,,,I’d never stop-oh darn, anybody got a tissue

    Dan in MI said:
    April 24, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    As an adoptee and part of a foster care family, I can tell you that my parents spent on average TWICE the stipend payed by the adoption agency.

    Our job on the surface was to care for the infant until a family was matched up. the real purpose was to ensure “quality product” before adoption took place.
    The children bonded with us as there was nobody else giving him/her love and care, and then, weeks later, they get to be ripped from yet another source of security that they had just gotten used to.

    Many times foster care is the backdoor to adoption, for those less “well-off”. The first step in a huge savior complex that can and will get them past “financial ability” requirements for adoption.

    For our family, we were adopted first, me (son) and my asis 2 years later. then about 3-4 years later, we became a foster home.

    Lois Luckovich said:
    April 24, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Dan–COERCION is when someone FORCES you to give up your child.

    I was FORCED by an ex bf and the **** social worker.

    But if you write to the Adoption Council Of Canada (Attn: Sarah Pedersen) You will find it is TOTALLY wrong under their principles.

    And 4 years after I was forced they now (They being the D*** Ministry) won’t listen to me, nor will my Dr. or Legal Aid or any other agency I’ve tried.

    Received pictures of my child with a bruise on her forehead that when blown up can clearly be seen as a backhand from someone wearing a ring. AND the remains of a black eye.

    I have an appointment to complain to a Ministry intake worker next week, but I doubt they’ll do anything

    I was in a foster home as a child that was opposite to your parents caring. They fed us wrong, berated us, hit us and even FORCED us to push the foster father’s truck when it wouldn’t start (And I was ONLY 7)

    The Systemhere is dirty and theres a whole lot of us who’d love to fix it.


    Tracie Palmour said:
    October 8, 2010 at 3:33 am

    My little girl was taken from me when she was 6 weeks old b my sister-in-law–that could no longer have children. Its a long, long, story but to get to the point, when she was not returned from an over-night visit, i called tthe police. The local police “looked” for her and five hours later i was served with an emergency custody order. (not through DEFACTS,etc.) through a judge. Ironically enough my father in law used to be a judge! I think he did not want his daughter going to jail…anyway, after 13 court appearances and everytime different lawyers by my sister in law…she took it to Superior Court. We do not have alot of money and did what we could to keep our head above water. M sister in law threatned us with something m husband did a long time ago although the statue of limitations hade not run out. She stated that if we did not sign over our parental rights she would personally see to it that he and i were prosecuted and sent to jail. It wasn’t an violate crime or anything like that. she also stated that she would get her when we went to jail, so either we stay out of jail and give Bella to her or she would do it the hard way…i don’t know where tho turn or wwhat to do. I signed the papers because i was scared out of my mind. what can i do?…PLEASE SOMEBODY HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM HEARTBROKEN AND CANNOT GO ON WITHOUT MY LITTLE GIRL. PLEASE, PLEASE, I AM BEGGING FOR HELP.

    Lori said:
    October 8, 2010 at 11:36 am

    @Tracie, I don’t know what state you are in or how long it has been, but those are factors in how much anyone can help you. click on my name and it should lead you to my blog or page – if not – go to…I will see what I can find out – no promises.

    GirlGone said:
    November 30, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Circa 1960’s
    Once the target mother-to-be was in the L&D ward, they just drugged her out of her mind and body to facilitate the abduction so that they didn’t need to bother with coercing her… she was just a chuck of used of meat. Can you say ‘rape’? How about torture?
    These all-out government-funded programs aimed to eradicate the single mother For her potential to contaminate social morality, she was feared, hated and possibly not human at all. Infertiles en masse bought into the infant-adoption replacement program, so the CAS claimed to be saving innocent kid from their vile and offensive mothers.

    I knew her « canadianbanishedmother said:
    March 10, 2011 at 2:52 am

    […] feel the pain of Kristy’s loss of her daughter the same as I feel mine. She was coerced out of her daughter, like me. I wish she did not end her pain but I understand more than most of […]

    arlineHunter said:
    April 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I think the world needs an education,the women that I have had conversations with do not have a clue what an adoptee is .They don’t have a clue what we went through during the years of the baby scoop era and later but still exsists. A muti billion baby buying and selling industry,they don’t even know the adoptive prospects must pay $ 40,000,00 or more as the bid grows higher.That didsgusted the mothers that were getting a summary of what adoption has done to women ,mothers to be .When the loss of idenity was told ,never to be opened for a hundred years and medical records sealed for the privacy to adoptive people that desire or want to buy a baby because they could. The mothers with their families raised the roof in anger,shouting Thats wrong! They were stunned how us mothers have had these unconsitutional old laws were still keeping them in business,the part where the children weren’t allowed medical records were just uncalled for ,no matter what,these adoptives put those children and grandchildren in grave danger.They were outraged at the whole thing,down to the signed papers under duress ,one of the husbands said this was illegal in the court of law,no one can know what they signed being under a highly stressful and tramatic condition.

    arlineHunter said:
    April 9, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Forgot to mention my natural son was born September 25th 1973 in StMarys Hospital,W.P B,Fla. The agency that sold him (I did not Know This ay time)said that he is a ( Lawyer )If anyone knows a lawyer with this birthday and place of birth ,please contact Face Book

    gert mcqueen said:
    May 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    in response to
    Joan Wheeler says:
    March 13, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    regarding Joan Wheeler, and her screen names of halforphan56 and 1adoptee and the book Forbidden Family:

    It needs to be pointed out that the book Forbidden Family, written by Joan Wheeler, published by Trafford Publications has been pulled from their selling markets. The book is unavailable and no further copies of it in it’s present form will be printed. The book was pulled by the publisher after several months of investigating the documented proof sent to them by the birth family.
    The pulling of the book proves that what the birth sisters have been saying, that the book is full of lies and hate, is correct. For further details see:

    arlineHunter said:
    May 24, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    others please know I write form my heart and whats right and wrong,I am also a christian.In no way do I have to write a book if thats what anyone is thinking.I am only a mother that has went through a battle of torment just like all you mithers,there is no way to put in a short summary of what we’ve gone through and what we will go through if the mthers even get to reunite with their own,in words to thse adoptors the mothers never lossed them,you stole them andpurposly as so called christians new this and oops guess what ! Stealing is a sin,so don’t you think for a minute that the wolves are after your money,But!!! your feeding this continuing fire.I wouldn’t want to be a persion like you if God himself made me trade shoes with the poor war torn women overseas,oh by the way part of the money trafficking is to kidnap mothers to be and babys,YOUR ADDING to the fire,no book OK,I’m busy right now trying to talk some sense into womens and anyother enitys head ,it’ wasn’t normal to begin with,God hasn’t even used his wrath yet ,it’s burn or live forever with him where he is.

    Gert McQueen said:
    June 22, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    I am a birth mother, a foster mother and an adoptive mother!

    I signed 3 documents, one to relinquish my birth child, one to became foster mother and one to become the adoptive mother. He was 16 and never left my presence, gave his own permission to be adopted, which in NYS anyone over 14 must give own permission. My daughter, 15, chose no adoption, she wanted to keep her own name.

    My family had interference in this process by a meddling ‘angry militant adoptee’ (her own description of herself) who happened to be my reunioned adopted birth sister. When told to butt out of our business she placed a child abuse report against me because we were causing harm to my son by taking away his original birth certificate, he was too old for adoption and other things she didn’t like about my parental activities. This report was dismissed, by authorities, but she didn’t stop.

    She poisoned my daughter against me and when I moved my family out of Buffalo for economic and quality of life improvements, my daughter ran away. Her issues were my business no one else’s but this reunited adopted sister determine that now my daughter was a victim of sexual abuse! What ended up being a 2 years ordeal, with me placing my child in a PINS in a foster home for her safety and to keep her away from the meddling adoptee and a court hearing wherein we were proven fit parents, the charges were false and the record was expunged. But the damage was done to my family, this happened in 1980/83.

    In 2009 she rewrote history and facts, about my life, the family I was born into and the family that I gave birth to, exploiting us all into what she ‘views’ us to be. So tell me again.. that I don’t know Joan Wheeler’s character or about adoption!

    To see full story to which I posted the above go to

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