birthmothers

Always a(n adopted) child?

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I was thinking about this issue this morning, and it occurred to me that there may be an analogy to the demand by the adoption industry and its supporters — but others as well including even many adoption-reform organizations — that natural mothers must accept the title (and status) of being nothing more than incubators (a.k.a. “birthmothers).

That analogy would be if everyone who is adopted must always live be referred to as an “adopted child” or “adopted baby” or “infant who was adopted” and may never call themselves an “adoptee” or adopted person” or “adopted adult.”  That they will always be perpetual children and be called that, no matter what their personal preference.

Some adoptees of course may be okay with being called a ‘baby” or “child” for the rest of their lives, finding it “endearing” or “special” — the same way that some CUB members I have spoken to say that ‘birthmother” is “endearing” or “special.”  Some mothers may insist that calling the child they lost to adoption “their baby” all his/her life is “endearing” and want to call all adopted persons “babies” — the same as some adoptees say that the term “birth mother’ is a special and endearing term for their own natural mother and want to call the rest of us that as well.

We know that the adoption industry and its customers want to treat adoptees as if they were children with no power and no voice. WE also know that this same people and its customers want to designated all natural mothers as being nothing more than breeders with no power and no voice.  But adopted persons do not want to be classified as perpetual infants and natural mothers do not want to be classified as being breeders.

Some adopted persons have protested about being called “babies” in online support groups.   I understand their point of view entirely,  and I would never belittle an adopted person this way.  I did not reunite with my “baby.”   I reunited with my adult son.  Society in general, and anyone who personally knows an adopted person, must cease treating  adult adoptees as if they were still children.

So, my thoughts on this are that just as adult adopted persons are not perpetual children or babies, never to grow up; natural mothers are not “birth-mothers,” never to be considered to be mothers.  We all deserve some mutual respect.

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A Natural Mother

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As most of my regular readers know, I refer to myself as a mother, or in relation to adoption, as being the natural mother of an adoptee (or natural mother, for short).   I reject the term “birthmother” to refer to myself, and “Birthmothers as Incubators,” explains the reason for this in more detail.

But the term natural mother may not be one which is familiar to you.  Let me explain a bit about it.

What is the origin of the term natural mother? Before the term birthmother was invented, the term natural mother was used throughout adoption-related literature. It was in the first modern child adoption law (Massachusetts, 1851) and is still in the laws of several states including California, Florida, Virginia, and Texas.

Some say the term natural parent means that the adoptive parents must therefore be unnatural.  I call this “playing the opposites game.”  By this reasoning, the opposite of birth parent is death parent.   Obviously, forming a false black and white dichotomy is no reason to reject the term “natural mother.”  (That is, unless you have adopted a child and really do enjoy being called a “death parent”… )

Instead, more accurately, the adjective “socially-created” contrasts with  “natural.”  Calling someone a natural mother refers to motherhood by the laws of Nature, while the adoptive mother is a mother by the modern legal and social process of child adoption.  It respects the reality that legal child adoption did not exist prior to 1851 (see “Why Adoption Is How it Is”).

Choosing to use the term natural mother to describe one’s self is a way of saying, “I am a mother, too. I never ceased having a mother’s love for my lost child.”  In using the term natural mother for her instead of birthmother, others are saying to her, “I respect you as a mother; you are not an incubator.”

Reclaiming the term natural mother—honouring ourselves and each other as being mothers and refusing to be defined/dehumanized as being walking incubators—is an empowering way to reclaim our dignity, pride, and humanity. And as Wade (1997, pp. 23-24) states, “resistance to violence and oppression is both a symptom of health and health-inducing.”

Reference:

  • Wade, Allan. 1997.  ”Small Acts of Living: Everyday Resistance to Violence and Other Forms of Oppression ”  Journal of Contemporary Family Therapy 19:23–40. doi: 10.1023/A:1026154215299

The Power of Words … and an Adoptee Rights Petition

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Sometimes my blog posts are inspired by conversations which occur on message boards, and this is one of them.  So, it is very possible that you have read the original conversation where this took place, and if so, then I apologize for the repetition.

This came from an online conversation about a recent “birthmother petition,” where an organization is requesting the signatures of natural mothers to support adoptee-rights.  Now, I believe wholeheartedly in open records, and that EVERYONE has the right to their original birth records, their family history, and the right to make contact with their lost family members if they choose (this means both ways!) … BUT, I also do not believe that it is the right thing to do to objectify a group of people in order to further the rights of a separate group, at the expense of the first.

So, in this conversation about this petition, several natural mothers such as myself stated that we would not be signing it.  Not that we do not support adoptee rights (we wholeheartedly DO! and the women discussing this have spent years of their lives actively working for open records), but because: (1)  being mothers still, we are not “birthmothers;” (2) we find it offensive, dehumanizing, and objectifying to be defined and labelled as “incubators;” and (3) we feel that the organization which sponsored this petition could just as easily have used the term which respects us:  “natural mother.” Even if it used both terms, that at least would show respect for all of us, those natural mothers who respect themselves as being mothers, and those who accept the adoption industry’s statement that we are no longer mothers.

So, this is my response to the person who defended the use of the term “birth mother” in the petition.   I sincerely respect her an an open records advocate, but I do feel that even if she does not feel that her own natural mother is a mother to her, that is her personal choice in her life, but it does not mean that this can be generalized to cover other mothers-of-adoption-loss without our consent.  And I do not give consent to be dehumanized.

” I am sorry to hear, xxxxxx, that your natural mother is nothing more than an incubator to you (yes, this is what she is reduced to if your adoptive mother is awarded the status of being your sole mother, it means that her only relevance/action as a mother in you life was to gestate and push you out), but the word dehumanizes and objectifies women as being nothing more than convenient uteri. Legislators also recognize and understand the term natural mother. They have for ages, as much currently-in-effect state and provincial legislation still uses that term.

”  I disagree with you that it is necessary to use this term with politicians. I have been involved in open records campaigns in 3 provinces, actively writing to politicians, creating websites that promote open records, and sending out bulletins to members of nonprofit organizations I belonged to in order to publicize open records campaigns and get members in involved in open records. I have never yet had to use the term ‘birthmother’ in any of these actions.

”  People have the right to not be objectified. The ‘birth terms’ objectify women. They were invented and defined by the adoption industry, which treated and treats us as livestock anyway:

‘… the tendency growing out of the demand for babies is to regard unmarried mothers as breeding machines…(by people intent) upon securing babies for quick adoptions.’ – Leontine Young, ‘Is Money Our Trouble?’ (paper presented at the Nationa…l Conference of Social Workers, Cleveland, 1953)

”  And, if one reduces a human being to an object, one can then treat them as voiceless, with rights, in need of protecting. The term ‘birthmother’ actually plays into supporting closed records legislation by defining us as having NO continuing love or connection with our lost child, and thus no interest in ‘reunion’ or being ‘found.’ And reunion IS the elephant on the dining room table when it comes to ‘adoptee rights’ and ‘open records.’

”  I have the right not to be defined as an non-mother, an incubator, etc. So do all other MOTHERS who have lost children to adoption. Thus the term natural mother, which recognizes and respects our continuing motherhood, is the one which is not derogatory or denigrating to us. Or you can call us mothers, or mothers of adoption loss. Or mothers separated from a child by adoption.

”  What is a natural mother? I am a mother by the laws of nature. The adoptive mother is the mother who was created by the laws of modern human society, pursuant to laws which began with the first child adoption law, invented in 1851 in Massachusetts. So, natural and socially-created. But the continuing love and blood-bond I have with my child, our sharing of genes, that I created him through the processes of Nature, all count towards me being a mother. (He also calls me Mom and I have adopted him back, but these are moot points). If laws and social-worker-procedures and the adoption industry had not been created to rip us apart, we would still have been together. My love for him never died, my connection with him that is just as strong as my connection and love for my other children. This is NOT saying that adoptive parents are unnatural. It is not a game of ‘Opposites,’ because if you say that this makes adoptive parents ‘unnatural’ then in the ‘Opposites Game’ the term ‘birthmother’ makes them into ‘deathmothers.’


Sometimes I feel that i beat this topic to death, and you, dear readers, are likely sick of hearing it. But why ask for my support in a way that treats me as less-than-human, that assumes that I do not have or want a family relationship with my son?   The issue this time is that we, as natural mothers, are being asked to further the interests of another group while ignoring our own interests (e.g. open records for natural parents as well), but we’re being asked as “incubators” do to so.

Meanwhile, please sign this petition, which has been active and on in the internet since 2000:

Mothers for Open Records Everywhere
(MORE)

Adoption: “Studies on How to Take Babies”

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A literature review was recently done on a collection of peer-reviewed journal articles on natural mothers published between 1978 and 2008. The results of this literature review were published as part of a masters thesis on trauma and are reprinted here with permission of the author.

In this literature review, 98 articles were identified, and 91 of them obtained.  The author did a thematic analysis of the articles, using grounded theory to identify the themes present in these articles.  Nine themes were identified, including search and reunion, the surrender experience, open adoption relationships, and advice for professionals.  But there were two main themes in this literature that were found to be above and beyond all others in terms of frequency. I am going to quote directly from the thesis:

” There were found to be two main themes in literature on natural mothers.  These can be viewed as two “streams” of research, as the articles within a stream mainly refer to other work and prior research within that one stream.  The first stream (43 articles) examines the consequences of surrender on the mother. The second stream (32 articles) examines factors that may predict and/or influence rates of surrender, often stating with concern that surrender rates have declined significantly and should be increased.  The latter stream contains three main sub-themes: factors (socio-demographic, educational, attitudinal, familial, or economic) that distinguish mothers who surrender their babies from mothers who keep their babies, surveys to determine what would encourage expectant mothers to consider adoption, and comparisons of differing agency practices and their effects on surrender rates.”

Let’s come to the point and put it into more concrete terms:  These 32 articles are on how to take babies.

The author of this thesis provides a list of some of these articles (below, reprinted with  permission).   So, seeing these, how can anyone believe that a “decision” about adoption is free from influence, coercion, or manipulation?   When agencies have 30 years worth of research on how to increase the likelihood a mother will surrender her child, is she really making an informed decision completely of her own free will?

Article

Summary

Bachrach, Stolley, & London (1992) Analysis – how demographic/economic/social trends affect and predict future surrender rates, plus factors distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who don’t.
Baran, Pannor, & Sorosky (1976) Results from a focus group on how to increase adoption:  Open adoption can persuade single mothers to surrender.
Barth (1987) Research on adolescent girls and mothers: how to make adoption more appealing. Recommends open adoption as a way to encourage more adolescent mothers to surrender.
Berry (1991, 1993) Study on effects of open adoption on family members and relationships.  Suggests that open adoption can benefit adoptive parents by enticing more mothers to surrender.
Caragata (1999) Examines teen pregnancy as an economic problem.’  Suggests open adoption to entice more mothers to surrender, that adoption should be “restructured,” and that meeting with prospective adopters might prevent a mother from “changing her mind”
Chippendale-Bakker & Foster (1996) Studies of what demographic/economic/social factors distinguish mothers who surrender from those who don’t.
Cocozelli (1989) Research – what situational variables predict surrender rates.  plus factors distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who don’t (life plans, social worker visits, sign consent before delivery)
Custer (1993) Research on influencing attitudes, beliefs and decision-making about adoption among pregnant adolescents.  Found that deterrents to surrender include:  fear of harm to baby, social disapproval, feeling that it shows lack of responsibility, lack of knowledge of benefits, “failure of professionals to actively initiate discussion of adoption with clients,” and anticipated psychological discomfort.  Suggests that these issues be actively addressed in “social programs and political interventions.”
Daly (1994) Research on adolescents to find out what keeps them from considering adoption.  Recommends agencies do educational and public relations programs to explain the benefits of adoption, promote open adoption, and conduct face-to-face outreach programs to adolescents.
Donnelly & Voydanoff (1991) Research on pregnant adolescents and new mothers: attitudes, demographics, relationships, experiences, and perceptions of early pregnancy distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who don’t.   Suggests programs to present benefits and “promote positive attitudes towards adoption” as those who surrender have more positive attitudes than those who don’t.
Dworkin, Harding, & Schreiber (1993) Research on pregnant adolescents, regarding how adoption knowledge, social/psychological functioning, familial influences (grandmother and father of baby), and demographics correlate with surrender rates.
Geber & Resnick (1988) Research on family functioning, cohesion and adaptability differences between parenters vs. surrenderers using “FACES II” questionnaire.
Hanson (1990) Research on factors distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who don’t, to recommend early intervention based on those figures, especially to get mothers “who might exhibit poor parenting styles” to surrender.
Herr (1989) Research study on maternity home inmates to examine what affected their decision most:  parents, “decision counseling,” and peer role models who are parenting.
Kallen, Griffore, Popovich, & Powell (1990) Research study on attitudes towards adoption and open adoption in mothers who surrendered, mothers who don’t, and their own mothers. .
Kalmuss, Namerow, & Bauer (1992) Research study on socio-demographics, family, education differences of mothers who surrender vs. those who don’t.   Plus 6-month outcomes on life satisfaction, outlook, relationships, etc.
Leon (1999) Instructions to physicians on treating surrendering mothers, including how to promote adoption to pregnant mothers.
Low, Moely, & Willis (1989) Research factors distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who do not, in terms of parental influence and vocational goals.
Miller & Coyl (2000) Analysis of how demographic/economic/social trends affect and predict future surrender rates, plus factors distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who don’t.
Moore & Davidson (2002) Socio-psychological influences (family background, peers), cognitive functions, beliefs, and decision-making in pregnant adolescents, to determine how to best influence decision-making processes as part of “adoption education” of adolescents and promoting “more reasoned choices” (i.e. adoption) for pregnant teens
Namerow, Kalmuss, & Cushman (1993) Research on what social, demographic, beliefs, and attitudinal factors influenced the pregnancy decision.
Resnick (1984) Overview/analysis of research on decision-making and what distinguishes mothers who surrender from those who keep. Mentions sociological, psychological, factors.
Resnick, Blum, Bose, Smith, & Toogood (1990) Studies of demographic/economic/social factors distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who don’t, including their views on adoption vs. parenting vs. abortion.
Sobol & Daly (1992) Overview and summary of the literature and findings: Factors influencing adolescents’ decisions about adoption.  How to get more babies surrendered:  Promote open adoption; make surrender easier; encourage pregnancy counsellors to suggest adoption; and present more “options” to make adoption more attractive.
Warren & Johnson (1989) Research on factors distinguishing mothers who surrender from those who don’t.
Weinman, Robinson, Simmons, Schreiber, & Stafford (1989) Research on mothers who initially planned to surrender but then decided to keep their babies: decision-making process, demographic/psycho-social and health differences, and treatment plans.
Weir (2000) Research on what familial, developmental and peer barriers might prevent mothers from surrendering, and suggests how to remove them through group and family therapy.

Related Posts:

The basic facts of pre-birth adoption matching

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Unfortunately, due to it increasing the chance that a mother will surrender her baby*, the practice has grown in North America to allow prospective adoptive parents to track down and try to convince expectant mothers (whom they call ‘birthmothers”) to give up their babies.

Or, at least that is what it looks like.  A “Dear Birthmother” letter could be seen as saying “Choose us over other people hoping to adopt!“, but, unfortunately, first and foremost the message it gives is “Choose us over yourself! We are better for your baby than YOU are! See how loving and perfect we are?  We have everything your baby needs.”  Whether the prospective adoptive parents mean to give this message or not, it is there.

So, unfortunately, the whole issue of “profiles” and “dear birthmother letters” is rife with ethical land mines

An expectant mother who is considering adoption and is feeling very emotionally insecure, inadequate, and scared may — instead of getting support and counselling to help her overcome these problems — may see the prospective adoptive couple’s “Profile” and think “Wow, they’d be better parents than i would.” or “My baby doesn’t deserve me, he deserves a family like this.” or “They want a baby so badly, I shouldn’t be selfish.”  So, reading “dear birthmother” letters and seeing profiles combined with raging pregnancy hormones can actually influence a mother’s decision regarding adoption.  This is where it gets ethically sticky.

Plus, can the mother really recover from birth first before deciding on adoption if she has formed a loving bond with people hoping to adopt her child?

Paul Meding, a Columbia attorney who has been taking adoption cases for 12 years, works as a medium to match birth mothers with adoptive parents. For Meding, this process has been successful. “In my opinion, when the birth mother has more input and can see first hand how important the adoption is to the family, it is more difficult for her to back out and disappoint them.” (“Open Doors,” The Columbia Star, April 29, 2005)

I think that these are questions to be considered by anyone who is hoping to adopt, plus by natural mothers who found that this tactic worked on them to get them to surrender their babies.  (Would you have surrendered if the alternative was a closed adoption?  If not, then you were coerced by adoptive parents using this practice).

Another reason why this is ethically problematic is that women most often surrender babies to adoption because of lack of support, resources, finances, etc.  A woman is hence being made vulnerable to exploitation because society and government has put her into a position where she can be exploited, removing protections (such as human rights in the form of a guaranteed income sufficient for her to raise her baby) that would protect her from predation.

To try to find a woman who is in a vulnerable position, so you can obtain her baby from her, is reproductive exploitation, and the people committing it are, by definition, reproductive predators.  This is why prospective adoptive parents are handing out “adoption networking cards” at teen activity centres, in Walmart, to high school guidance counsellors, in poor areas of town, to pregnant waitresses — women who look vulnerable due to youth or possible financial stress.  This unfortunately resembles to some degree what sexual predators do to find vulnerable women and youth to exploit.  Removing power and protection from socially vulnerable groups leaves them open to being exploited by those with more power, money, and social status. No-one wants to be a predator, but many prospective adoptive parents blunder into this practice without realizing what they are doing.

There are many reasons why women surrender their babies for adoption, but some of them involve influence or pressure from other people, even adoptive parents who have NO idea that they are affecting a mothers’ decision (i.e. coercion), or that reproductive exploitation is what they are engaging in.

Fuelling this is desperation: Unfortunately, as we all know, adoption is market driven. There is a huge demand for babies:

“For every healthy newborn available, there are now almost forty potential parents searching.” – (“Love for Sale” Adoptive Families Magazine, 2000).

But I encourage all adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents to get educated about this issue, so they have enough information that, if practising this type of coercion falls outside their ethical framework (and it should — do you really want in on your conscience that you made a mother give up her baby?), they know how to avoid it.

Related Posts:

*Meeting prospective adopters increases surrender rates (Chippendale-Bakker & Foster, 1996) and prevents mothers from “changing their minds” (Caragata, 1999). Choosing them increases surrender rates (Barth, 1987; Chippendale-Bakker & Foster, 1996).The infant going directly from the hospital to the adoptive parents increases surrender rates (Barth, 1987)

Also see this follow-up post: “More on Pre-birth Matching: Assumptions Some People Make”

Lies the Adoption Industry Tells …

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This is a little list i first began drafting a few years ago which has been sitting on my hard drive ever since.   These are the promises, guarantees, and blanket statements that the adoption industry (comprised of baby brokers such as adoption agencies, lawyers, and facilitators) routinely promote as being the gospel truth.  And they work — the industry now makes over $3 billion a year in profit.  Don’t let it fool you.

Lies the Industry tells to Prospective Adopters:

  1. All families, both adoptive and natural, are the exact same.
  2. The bond between parents and children in all families are the same.  The amended birth certificate will say that you gave birth, so act as though you did. You are now the only mother.
  3. The child needs only you and not the love of their natural parents.
  4. Environment is everything – the child is a blank slate (“tabula rasa”) – all the chid’s skills and aspirations will be yours.
  5. Rest assured that the natural family can never search because the records are sealed tight.
  6. The natural mom is just an incubator, a “b—-mother” and thus her only purpose is to gestate that child and then hand it over.
  7. This child is unwanted, the mother will never return.
  8. If loved enough, this child will never want to search.
  9. Adoptees will never feel hurt by being taken from their natural parents; love from adoptive parents will solve everything.
  10. “The Primal Wound” is a myth.
  11. This is a lifetime guarantee.

Lies the Industry tells to Expectant Mothers:

  1. Your child will be grateful to be adopted and won’t be angry at you for it. Your child will not be damaged by adoption
  2. Adoption shows you loved your child enough to give him/her two parents.
  3. You are not giving him away, you are giving him “more.”
  4. Children need two married parents.
  5. You will get over it and forget your child.
  6. You may feel “a type of grief’ but it will go away.
  7. Young and Unwed = unfit.
  8. The grief is resolvable.  Only flawed women or those who “cling to the past” can’t resolve the grief.
  9. It won’t hurt, or won’t hurt for long. The satisfaction of providing a wonderful future for your child will make any “regret” go away.
  10. Keeping your child will involve more pain, struggle, and sacrifice than surrendering him/her.

Lies that the industry tells to adoptees:

  1. Your mother chose adoption.
  2. Your mother “gave you away.”
  3. Your mother does not love you.
  4. You only need your adoptive parents.
  5. You should be loyal and grateful to your adoptive parents for raising you as your natural mother dumped you and who know where you’d be if your adoptive parents weren’t heroes for rescuing you.
  6. Searching is disloyal and will hurt your adoptive parents

Lies that the industry tells to society:

  1. Infant adoption is natural (false. it’s a relative recent (last 150 years) social experiment)
  2. Adoptive families are exactly like natural families, with no problems at all specific to adoption.
  3. Raising an adopted child is like raising a child of your own.
  4. Infant adoption has been common since Babylonian types (false. adult adoption was common but NOT infant adoption – infants were fostered but seldom legally adopted)
  5. Adoption is about finding homes for unwanted babies.

What is is all about? Filling post-WWII consumer demand for infants.

“Because there are many more married couples wanting to adopt newborn white babies than there are babies, it may almost be said that they rather than out of wedlock babies are a social problem. (Sometimes social workers in adoption agencies have facetiously suggested setting up social provisions for more ‘babybreeding’.)” SOCIAL WORK AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS, National Association of Social Workers, (Out-of-print) copyright 1964 (quote provided courtesy of BSERI).

The broker (agency, lawyer, social worker, doctor, or whomever else took the baby for adoption) made promises to the adoptive parents that permeate the entire adoptive relationship and even impact upon reunion.   And the promises are lies, nothing but a sales pitch.  Brokers knew there was a consumer demand out there from people who wanted newborn babies to adopt.  Brokers knew they could make money by meeting this demand — now $25,000 or more per infant.  So the brokers give promises that these  infants neither knew about nor could keep.  And adoptees are expected to live up to these promises, which they had no part in making in the first place!  It is all done for money’s sake.  It is time to take the profit motive out of adoption.

A Mothers’ Bill of Rights

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A Mothers’ Bill of Rights


Expecting? Considering adoption? The adoption agency may not have told you all your rights!

If you are considering surrendering your baby for adoption, remember that you are still the only mother that baby has until you have signed the surrender papers and until any revocation periods have passed (this varies from within 30 days of birth in British Columbia, to no revocation period at all in some states such as Florida and Illinois). Some adoption agencies publish “Birthmother Bills of Rights,” which invariably neglect to inform the “birthmother” that she has rights that every other mother takes for granted – including the right to change her mind.

This list below is provided so that expectant mothers considering adoption can take this to adoption agencies and potential adopters and ask right-off-the-bat if they’ll honour these rights. And if they refuse to, then mothers go to a different agency or different potential adopters that will. According to an article (“Love for Sale”) in Adoptive Families Magazine, there may be up to forty couples vying for every baby available, so there is no lack of choice if one couple says “no” to you. And in fact, the best parent for your baby may well be you!

As a mother, maybe being called a “birthmother,” these are your rights.

~ Your Rights as an Expectant and New Mother ~

YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:

  • … see your baby after he/she is born.
  • … choose to hold, nurse, and care for your baby in the hospital.
  • … decide if the potential adopters can be in the labour or delivery room, and the right to change your mind and ask them to leave at any time.
  • … have independent legal counsel (i.e not also representing the potential adopters, known as “dual-representation”) to explain the surrender papers and to be present when you sign them.
  • … choose to care for your baby without feeling pressured to decide about adoption within ANY certain time period.
  • … choose to take your baby home from the hospital if that is what you want to do.
  • … say “No” to adoption at any point before or after the birth without fear of hurting or disappointing the potential adopters.
  • … adequate financial support from the state which would enable you to keep and raise your baby.
  • … expect child support from the father of your baby, and take him to court for enforcement if this is not provided.
  • … be free of any monetary obligation, such as repaying living or medical expenses, should you choose to keep your baby (potential adopters can buy insurance to cover all costs if a mother changes her mind, it is a risk they knowingly take).
  • … choose to decide on adoption after recovering from birth and any post-partum depression.
  • … be treated as the mother and a parent of your baby until and unless papers are signed, and to be thus treated with the respect granted any other mother.
  • … be a mother. No matter if you’re unmarried, young, or financially strained, you still have the right to be a mother.

These rights come from the application of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (at http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html), which since 1948 has guaranteed these protections to ALL citizens of the U.S., Canada and all other nations that signed it. Articles 12, 16 and 25 of the Declaration specifically guarantee protection and social support to mothers and families:

  • Article 12. – No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, FAMILY, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
  • Article 16(3) – The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
  • Article 25(1) – Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Copyright © B. Lake 2004.  This article may be reprinted on other not-for-profit websites as long as it is reprinted in its entirety with copyright statement included.

Reprinted with Permission of the Author