Terry McLaughlin: Adoption is a good option | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: Adoption is a good option

ABORT: Fail to complete; cut short. ADOPT: Choose, accept, select, make as your own. By changing two little letters in the words themselves — ABORTION or ADOPTION — you can literally make the difference between life and death.

Adoption fulfills several purposes in American society. It provides parents and families for infants who have been relinquished by their birth parents, or for children whose parents have died or had their parental rights legally terminated. It provides adults a means to bring children into their families when they are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term, or to legalize an already loving non-biological relationship, as with a step-child.

Adoptive parents are often older than birth parents, usually because they have exhausted years of efforts to conceive a child, and then must wait longingly for an adoptive child to become available to them. According to the National Center for Health Statistics' National Survey of Family Growth Cycle 6 (2002), domestically, the percentage of infants given up for adoption has declined from 9 percent of those born before 1973 to 1 percent of those born between 1996 and 2002, or fewer than 7,000 infants annually. That significant decline in the number of infants available to adoptive parents directly parallels the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion in 1973.

The report cited above showed that nearly a million women were seeking to adopt children in 2002, whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted had become virtually nonexistent.

Because of the lack of domestic availability of infants and children for adoption, many couples seek to adopt children from other countries. In 2009, U.S. citizens adopted children from 106 different countries. Two thirds of these children came from China, Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea and Guatemala. My own extended family includes two siblings adopted as toddlers from Russia because their parents found it so difficult to pursue adoption within our own country.

American families often find that the benefits of international adoption — obtaining an infant, the confidentiality of the adoption, and the shorter waiting times — outweigh the generally higher cost and the greater likelihood that the child or children may have developmental or health problems.

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I continually hear the argument from pro-choice advocates that pro-life means "pro-birth," but not "pro-child." On the contrary, while inter-country adoptions may be the most visible, the majority of American adoptions involve children in foster care, many of whom are literally rescued by their adoptive families from trauma or abuse.

A remarkable couple in our own community have adopted seven children, almost all of whom have special needs. One of their sons was the result of a so-called failed abortion. Failure in this instance means that a gentle and well-loved young man is alive and thriving and contributing to our community.

That's failure?

Yet another local couple have adopted five children, all from foster care situations. I am privileged to know these amazing people, and count them among my personal heroes. They are not alone, as there are many more examples of wonderful, generous and loving parents who have opened their hearts to create secure, safe, and loving homes for their children. They are the definition of "pro-child."

I personally have friends and acquaintances who have welcomed pregnant girls into their homes to help and support them as they make the decision to either raise their child or relinquish their baby to an adoptive family. There are organizations within our own community, such as the 100 percent nonprofit Living Well Medical Clinic, who support these young women with their health needs, adoption referrals, or material needs if they choose to keep and raise their child. To those who have said to me that they "don't know a single pro-life advocate who has assisted a pregnant mother or taken in an unwanted child" — you are living amongst them and need only look around your own neighborhood to find them.

Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion every time. In the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents released by the US Department of Health and Human Services, it was found that nearly 3 out of 4 adopted children between the ages of zero and five are read or sung to every day. Couples who struggle with infertility gain an astounding appreciation for the gift of parenthood, and it shows in little things such as reading to their child at bedtime. According to the survey, only half of non-adopted children receive this kind of attention from their parents.

During recent marches, both on television and in person, I have seen signs that say "Abortion is a human right." I am 100 percent positive that the unborn life growing within a woman's womb is not a fish or a bird, but is most definitely a human being, entitled to those same human rights.

To quote Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, "Abortion and racism are both symptoms of a fundamental human error. The error is thinking that when someone stands in the way of our wants, we can justify getting that person out of our lives."

An unselfish, loving, generous, humane and life-giving alternative to abortion is the very human act of adoption. There are no unwanted babies — only those who have not yet been united with the loving parents who yearn for them.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Nevada City, writes a twice monthly guest column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.