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Mothers Who Give Up Babies for Adoption: How They Fare

ve8QAd   |   July 13, 1998

To find out let’s recall a fine study out of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics by Dr. Christine Bachrach. The area that she reported on is how does thebirth mother fare–the generous woman who placed her baby in the arms of adoptive parents–as compared to a single mother who keeps her baby?

Well, Dr. Bachrach has good news for us. From her report, which is well documented, it is clear that the women who choose adoption do much better than thoseunmarried women who keep their babies. Let’s look. Only 18% of women who choose adoption later live below the poverty line. In comparison, 40% of women who kept their babies live in poverty.

Another way of looking at this is to ask how many were receiving some kind of public assistance. Here the difference is even greater. For those who opted for adoption, only 21% were on public assistance compared to 51% of those who kept their babies.

How about Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC) – that’s the big government program? What are the numbers here? They’re almost startling! Of the single birth mothers who were parenting their children, 36% were receiving AFDC compared to only 7% of the women who had placed their babies.

Enough of finances. Let’s look at some other parameters. Another measure of future stability and security is education. Who finished high school? 77% of those who placed their babies finished, while only 60% of the birth mothers who kept their babies finished high school.

What about the stability that marriage brings later – or certainly should? Does placing a child in an adoptive home help or hinder the birth mother’s chance for a later marriage? It helps, quite a bit. Of those who kept their children, only 50% married later. Of those who placed their children, 70% married later.

Let’s recall a disturbing report published a few years ago by a group called Concerned United Birth Parents (CUB). Its subjects were largely drawn from its own quite selective membership. Regarding this, we have to assume that this was not a true cross-sectional representative sample. But that study claimed that adoption was so traumatic for the mother that such women subsequently had lowered fertility. Dr. Bachrach’s data disproves this.

Her data showed that both groups–those who chose adoption and those who did not–had an identical fertility rate of 59% later.

Most of us who counsel and who have been aware that there are many benefits – benefits to both mother and child in adopting – were certainly very pleased to see this study. It’s good to have some solid research to back up what our clinical observations have always shown us.


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