The Definition of Adoption Coercion

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Update on September 22:   A week ago I posted a proposed definition of adoption coercion.   Thank you so much for all who gave feedback.  This below is the revised definition, based on your feedback:

Adoption coercion is any form of overt or covert pressure, manipulation, convincing, force, fraud, human rights violation, or withholding of services that results in a woman surrendering a baby for adoption.

It includes any practice specifically designed and intended to ensure or significantly increase the odds that a mother will surrender her baby for adoption. It also includes any practice designed to restrict or 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. There is no ‘decision’ where there is coercion.

“ Perpetrators of adoption coercion may include anyone in a position of trust, authority, or relative power in relation to the mother.  Examples are: adoption industry employees, hospital staff, medical professionals, prospective adopters, social workers, government social policy makers, the mother’s own parents, clergy and nuns, etc.”

Again, what do you think?

You may also be interested in reading these related posts where I elaborate more on specific coercion practices:

And the “Coercion Checklist for Mothers” on the Origins Canada site.


7 thoughts on “The Definition of Adoption Coercion

    Which name would you prefer birth,leagal or adoptive name?/ said:
    September 23, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    our govt of canada is responsible for mass illegal adoptions of 1st nations people, I am living proof of this.

    Glen Campbell said:
    September 25, 2011 at 7:01 am

    A very interesting article, this says it all !

    danielle dambrosio said:
    October 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    ‘right’ on the spot!

    kitta said:
    November 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Agree with all of this and would also like to add that the mother is not responsible for the surrender of her baby when she has been coerced.

    There seems to be a strange “double standard” that holds mothers responsible for their childrens’ surrenders even when the surrenders were forced and the mothers had no choice.

    “Adoption plans” are made by the government, social workers, churches, the adoption industry, and others who stand to gain from the adoption. Mothers rarely if ever “make an adoption plan.”

    Angela said:
    December 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I think you’ve done a good job. I don’t know if we want to get into details of legality here. When my daughter was born, no one had the legal right to take her from me, until I had legally relinquished her. Nonetheless, the nurses in the delivery room did just that. They wheeled me away from her and, even though we were in the same hospital, we never saw each other again until 2000. I think that the emphasis on coercion rather than decision is the most important piece of the definition. Decision involves a choice and no one presented most first mothers with a choice, at least not in the 1960s and 1970s. Things were even worse for First Nations mothers.
    Great blog, by the way.

    Jessica said:
    December 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Hello! I’m writing a research paper on adoption coercion for a women’s health class, and I’m curious if this definition is your own, or if you got it from somewhere else, and if so, where? Thanks!

      Adoption Critic responded:
      December 31, 2011 at 9:55 pm

      Hi Jessica! You have seen the development of it right here. I posted a first draft here on September 15th, and then asked for input from participants on many different adoption-related support groups and message boards. Valerie Andrews, the Executive Director of Origins Canada, and Karen Wilson Buterbaugh, of the Baby Scoop Era Research Initiative, were especially helpful in their suggestions.

      I then refined the first draft, and here is the end product. I am sorry that I am unable to provide a written source for it, other than this blog site.

      But I will be assigning the copyright for this work, the intellectual property rights, over to Origins Canada, as a donation to the organization. I will provide the URL here to the link on the Origins Canada site once it is reprinted there.

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