Adoption Under Attack

Bergquist family in 2002

Dick Bergquist and his children—some biological, some adopted—at the League’s 2002 Face the Truth Tour

When I was a kid there was an orphanage at the corner of Harlem and Touhy Avenues in Niles, IL, just northwest of Chicago. We used to see the kids out playing in the large yard behind the tall wrought iron fence (before Mayor Daley popularized the iron fence concept).

There was something mysterious and a bit romantic about all those kids whose families couldn’t care for them, and who might find a home with a loving family and play in their own yards.

Many children were adopted from orphanages like St. Hedwig’s in Niles. It closed in 1959 and the remaining orphans were transferred to Angel Guardian in Chicago, a Catholic Charities institution. I know lots of people whose families were built by adoption through Catholic Charities and other adoption agencies.

Adoption is a beautiful way to express love. Many active pro-lifers have provided foster homes for troubled children and babies born to a drug-addicted mother. Many have adopted children and formed strong loving families.

But widespread abortion has resulted in very few babies available to the more than 500,000 U.S. couples looking to adopt. It sounds like a sensible alternative to abortion to suggest placing a child for adoption, but those of us who try to counsel women at the abortion clinic doors and those who counsel in crisis pregnancy centers find women with problem pregnancies almost stubbornly closed to the idea of putting their children up for adoption.

Adoption has come under brutal attack by the proponents of abortion on demand and their friends in the media who seem to take every opportunity prove that foster families and adoptive families cannot be trusted.

Then something happens like last week’s story of the woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia with a note pinned to his shirt, and all those suspicions that adoption doesn’t work come to the fore. Now Russia, with thousands of children in orphanages where they only receive basic care, is clamping down on adoptions to American families. Who suffers? The children, of course.

Here in Illinois there is a proposal in the state Senate to make it easier for adopted children to find their biological parents when the original provisions were for a closed adoption. Some fear that such a move would make it even less attractive to a young pregnant woman to consider giving her child up for adoption. That may be true.

Some women may be attracted to the idea of an open adoption so that they can still be a part of a child’s life even though they are unable to raise a child themselves. But some may want to put the whole situation in the past and go forward with their lives.

There are systems in place for biological parents and children to find one another at some point in their lives. We think it seems best to keep the safeguards in place, rather than risk disrupting people’s lives with this new proposal. We recommend that Illinois voters contact their state senators and urge them to oppose HB5428 and protect the anonymity of parents who choose a closed adoption.

The vast majority of adoptive families work like all families. They face challenges. They work things out. They have fights. They hug and start again. An adoptive family deserves to be protected and safeguarded by law and public policy. And we should do whatever we can to promote adoption as a loving alternative to abortion.

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