Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Complex Ethical Decisions - Crisis Pregnancy

A crisis pregnancy, by definition, is a bad situation.   It is a woman who, for whatever reason, is not prepared to parent her baby-to-be.  Her choices are:
1. Get rid of it by killing it in utero (abortion)
2. Get rid of it by giving it away at birth (adoption), or
3. Raising it in non-ideal conditions, namely
3a. Single motherhood without assistance, often resulting in poverty
3b. Single motherhood with welfare or family dependence, often with no way out
3c. Trying to make a family with the father, either with or without marriage, often resulting in unstable or even abusive family life

Adoption critics argue that for many women, some form of option 3 is available, and not as bad as it appears in the moment of crisis.  A friend of mine discovered she was 5 months pregnant (!) while a sophomore in college, and chose (3c).  The father was several years older than her, addicted to alcohol and cocaine, and did not have a stable job.  They got married and their son is now a teenager, the dad has been clean and sober for years, and they are doing great!  At the same time, both birthmothers and adoptees often experience intense loss as a result of adoption, even when the adoptive family is great. 

Unfortunately, option 3 does not scale well, since most women in a crisis pregnancy are correctly assessing their ability to take care of the child. 

At the same time, over-reliance on option 2 results in excessive pressure on women to relinquish their babies even in situations which do not actually warrant it, in order to supply healthy newborns for the infertile couples who are eager to adopt them.

Over-reliance on option 1 has its own problems, even for people who support a woman's right to choose an abortion.  The PTSD experienced by many women after abortion is real, as are the medical complications which can result from repeated abortions.

In an ideal society, how would you make the best of a bad situation?

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