Wednesdays for Women – “I’m Having Their Baby” – The Changing World of Adoption
On July 17, 2012, Oxygen Media released a study conducted by Lightspeed Research targeting the insights of women and men on the deeply personal and complex topic of adoption. These findings reflect a new openness among Americans, shedding light on the true perception that they have about this decision as well as the driving factors that will bring a woman to make this emotional choice. The survey, which interviewed more than 1,000 people ages 18 to 49, explores a vast range of findings and coincided with the premiere of Oxygen’s docu-series, “I’m Having Their Baby” back in July. This groundbreaking series gives viewers an intimate look into the world of adoption by telling the too-often untold story of the birth mother and her experience in making this difficult and emotional choice.
Times are changing, and so is the sensibility of many Americans. When it comes to atypical adoption scenarios, an overwhelming number of the men and women surveyed expressed support. Women ultimately lead the pack with a massive 86 percent open to single parents adopting a child (vs. 77 percent males) and 73 percent open to gay and lesbian couples adopting (vs. 62 percent males). Similarly, 90 percent of the women surveyed feel it’s more socially acceptable than it used to be to adopt children of different races, while 84 percent of men feel that way. Now that the family portrait is starting to change, Americans turn their attention to the causes for adoption.
Of those surveyed, 90 percent identify teen pregnancy as the dominant reason that someone might place a child for adoption. Regardless of circumstance, the consensus is that it gives the child a chance for a better life. Even in the world of entertainment, adoption is on the rise and quickly becoming a common scenario for celebrities looking to start or expand their family. In fact, 73 percent of Americans are aware that actress Angelina Jolie has adopted a child – more than three times the number of people that know tech icon, Steve Jobs, is an adoptee (21 percent).
This study also revealed compelling results as it relates to familiarity and acceptance. While 55 percent of Americans say they are very/somewhat familiar with adoption and 66 percent who actually know someone was adopted, an astounding 97 percent of the men and women surveyed agree that adoption is a good option for people who can’t have biological children. Also, 94 percent say it’s becoming more socially acceptable, and 84 percent concur that it’s more common than it used to be.
Taking the discussion a step further, 33 percent of Americans admit they’ve actually considered adopting a child and 21 percent know someone who has placed a child for adoption. Ultimately, men and women are open to it and have high levels of approval. Of the people surveyed, 89 percent confirmed that adopted children of different races are more accepted than they used to be, 84 percent were open to single parents and 71 percent were in agreement with gay and lesbian couples being able to adopt.
Reasons for Adoption
This topic can obviously spark intense debate about what’s right, wrong or best. Any number of complicated circumstances can lead to a woman choosing adoption. However, the majority of Americans (90 percent) feel the main reason is teenage pregnancy. In fact, 72 percent also believe this issue is one of the most serious challenges facing society today. With that in mind, 91 percent of the people surveyed feel that adoption gives the child a chance for a better life and two-thirds feel the child benefits most (66 percent) with this choice. On the other hand, 25 percent say that the adopted parents benefits most. Either way it’s a tough decision for the birth parents, with 66 percent of Americans acknowledging that being a parent is a lot harder and a lot more expensive (65 percent) than they thought it would be.
A woman’s choice to place her baby for adoption can easily be the most difficult decision of her life. As a result, often times a mother is unsure and may change her mind over the course of the pregnancy or after the actual birth. Americans understand this complexity with 90 percent saying that birth parents have the right to change their minds about adoption until the papers have been signed and 26 percent even go so far as to say that the birth parents have the right to change their minds even after that point in the process. It’s an emotional journey on both ends of the spectrum and the potential adoptive parents stand to lose a lot as well. That said, 69 percent of the men and women surveyed also feel that the birth parents should go through with the adoption if they’ve already chosen the adoptive parents who expect to receive the baby. In that circumstance, men are more likely to push for follow through and feel they have to (80 percent males vs. 66 percent females). At the end of the day, it’s a shared decision and 81 percent feel the mother and father should have equal say.
In comparing the thoughts of men and women, it’s clear that the two groups don’t always see eye to eye. Men are more likely than women to think adoption is tough, agreeing that adoptive children live harder lives (43 percent males vs. 17 percent females) and raising an adoptive child is more difficult than raising a biological child (27 percent males vs. 19 percent females). Similarly, two times more men than women say it’s better for everyone if the adopted child looks like the adopted family (34 percent males vs. 17 percent females).
Men also indicated strong feelings about the reasoning behind a birth mother choosing adoption. More than half felt that moms place their children for adoption due to selfish reasons and are ultimately doing what’s best for themselves (53 percent males vs. 41 percent females). However, while it seems that most people would think that the child’s needs should come first, one in ten men were more sympathetic to the birth mother (two times more than women) and thought that her needs should come before the baby (9 percent males vs. 5 percent females).
Oxygen’s six-part docu-series, “I’m Having Their Baby,” follows two pregnant women during each episode who have made the decision to place their babies up for adoption and are making the life changing decisions that follow. The series documents a range of poignant, personal stories as the women struggle with an unplanned pregnancy and ultimately, decide whether or not to place their baby in the hands of another family. However diverse the case, there is one thing that’s common – each woman wants the brightest future for her unborn child and a better life for herself.
I was not compensated for this post. This information was provided by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research. Pictures were courtesy of the Facebook Page for “I’m Having Their Baby.”