By PETER FRANKLIN
The New Jersey Catholic Bishops Conference is recruiting its faithful to contact Gov. Chris Christie, to encourage the governor to veto the Adoptees’ Birthright Bill.
In its latest “take action” alert, it touts how abandoning your child or having an abortion provides the luxury of privacy, and shouldn’t we want the same for adoption? The adoption community responds to this with a resounding no. It is the goal of adoption reform to honor family connections, and if that separates adoption from abandonment and abortion all the better. Open adoption is a choice that does not punish young mothers, nor does it devalue the newborn by stripping away his or her identity. Relinquishing mothers are then empowered with some sense of responsibility, which reminds everyone involved that they have created a person with God- given rights, not merely a mass of cells worthy of a lesser fate.
The Catholic Bishops Conference must realize that its shame-based approach to unplanned pregnancy has led to devastating unintended consequences.
Young lovers identify the product of their “sin” as the problem rather than their behavior, so the child, in turn, faces the burden of the punishment. If secret adoption is their answer, birth mothers are forced to lead of life of unresolved grief and guilt, while secrecy sends a message to the adoptee that he or she is not as “good” as others.
The Conference’s opposition to reform is not motivated by the Bible or the Vatican, but rather it
is more likely the result of pressure from “old school” Catholic adoption brokers. These brokers told unwed mothers to surrender their own flesh and blood and then go on as if it never happened, reminding them that no man would want them if they ever confessed to the fact that they were no longer virgins. These strong-arm tactics were tolerated when women had little rights or resources. Today, they would be considered a subtle form of domestic abuse. The Catholic Bishops Conference should care more about life than controlling behavior or covering up its not so honorable past. Support for adoption reform would allow the law to reflect current day
best practices and instill transparency into the process, making adoption a safer, more attractive option to young mothers.
The Catholic Bishops Conference asks what kind of a society would take secrecy out of adoption? Well, Gov. Chris Christie, with a swipe of his pen, can send the message that New Jersey is the kind of society that values the union of a mother and a child. A safe society, where unwed mothers will be met with grace rather than condemnation and adoptees, like his own sister, will have same rights as every other citizen.