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Wednesday, 15 July 2020
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Four steps to MAGA (Making Adoption Great Again)

It’s no secret, so let’s just get it out there: Adoption is not popular with our clientele. While we celebrate the single mom, who chose life over ending her pregnancy, we know we must also more effectively present another positive choice, adoption.

When we support the single mom, we do well. Parenting classes, material support, baby showers, mentoring—this is part of our calling. We must continually empower those who make this courageous decision.

Yet, adoption is courageous too. 

And just like single parenting, it’s incredibly challenging. It’s not for the faint of heart, it’s hardly an easy out. 

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Adoption is not about a mom who “doesn’t want her baby,” it’s a decision made by women who will be great hands-on moms in the future. But for them, the present moment is not the best time for them to parent their child, nor is it the best choice for their babies. 

Adoptive moms often want a two-parent home for their children. And, they are willing to sacrifice their present opportunity to be a mom to give their babies a better future. 

Is placing their child for adoption “right” for every mom without a husband or a father figure for their child? 

No one can make this blanket claim. But it is a viable option. And, all of us should admit we must do our part to present this option lovingly and effectively, so that each and every pregnant woman who comes in our door can make an informed decision as to what is best for them—and their children.

So, how do we Make Adoption Great Again? Four ideas.

First, count

For those who read my Advancement Trends publication each month (regarding fundraising and development ideas), you know my mantra: What you measure, improves. 

It’s the same when we consider adoption.

In our pregnancy help organizations, let’s always count two numbers. The first? How many adoption conversations do we have with our clients? Our goal should be to present all options to every client with a positive pregnancy test. Adoption is one of those options. Are we striving toward this goal?

The second number? How many adoption plans did our clients make during the calendar year? Even if the number is “zero,” let’s start counting.

Once we begin counting and reporting on each of these numbers, we become proactive in growing these numbers. And, we improve.

Second, train

Honestly, because so many clients instantly shut down the idea, discussing adoption is likely more challenging than talking about abortion. Therefore, we need training from experts—many times representatives of non-profit, Christian adoption agencies—to come in regularly for in-service trainings.

Some pregnancy help organizations have adoption specialists on staff—another move in the right direction. After all, we have medical staff presenting abortion and its ramifications effectively. We have staff dedicated to learning programs for single moms. Why not an adoption specialist to assist in helping birth moms through the adoption process?

Third, communicate

At a banquet I once heard a single mom say, on video, “I wasn’t ever going to do adoption and they (the center) helped me to . . .” I don’t remember the rest. 

It’s certainly okay that this mom didn’t choose adoption. And, it is wonderful to know her pregnancy help center was there to help her with her choice of single motherhood. Sadly however, this mom not only dismissed adoption, she implied the center helped her in doing so. The center could have avoided this by editing the video. 

Because when we allow our single moms to “compare” adoption to parenting when telling their stories, most of the time adoption is crushed and dismissed. A few other examples I’ve heard:

“Adoption just wasn’t for me and I’m so happy I have little (name) and she is with me.”

“I just couldn’t give my baby to someone else.”

“Someone (outside of the center) was trying to tell me to do adoption but I wouldn’t do it!”

You see what’s happening here? Adoption is seen as a negative decision, or as a back-up for the woman who doesn’t have the strength to be a mom.

One last thought on communication: No mother—ever— “puts up her baby for adoption.” This isn’t an auction. When I read this or hear this at events, I cringe. 

A mom “chooses to place her child in an adoptive home” or “makes an adoption plan.” 

Fourth, seize the opportunities

Back in the dark ages of pregnancy care, I—yes, I’m a guy—would meet with some of our clients. We put safeguards in place, and I don’t recommend this today. But we were seeing more than 100 women each month for pregnancy tests, and it was all hands on-deck. Therefore, we had an option: Send ‘em home, or send Kirk in and leave the door cracked.

The good news is, we never got sued. The better news? I can always say that when it comes to this work, I’ve done just about all of it.

During that time, I learned how to contend with the client who wanted to shut down an adoption conversation. I have heard a young woman say in all honesty and transparency, “I’d have an abortion before I’d give my baby away to someone else.” I get it when someone tells me it’s not easy to have these conversations.

At moments like these, let’s seize the opportunity to affirm a woman who thinks that by bringing up adoption, we’re calling her a failure as a future mom. 

To alleviate this, we might say, “The truth is, I believe you’ll be a great mom, either now or in the future. The only question you’re asking is, ‘Is this the right time for me? For this child?’ It’s totally up to you. We’re simply here to outline all your options. We want you to have all you need to make the decision best for you. We want you to have joy, whatever you decide.”

Tweet This: We should say, “The truth is, I believe you’ll be a great mom, either now or in the future..."

Four ideas. Will these thoughts Make Adoption Great Again? I don’t know. But perhaps, they’ll move us one step closer to Making Adoption Relevant Again.

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. His new Faith Revolution Podcast is online at www.kirkwalden.com

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