Activist and mother Jessica DelBalzo believes adoption is motivated by greed and must be prevented at all costs, because it destroys families and harms the children it is supposed to protect.
Speaking Monday at McGill as part of Human Rights Awareness Month, DelBalzo said separating children from the only people they’ve known is psychologically damaging. After adoption they will experience attachment disorders, identity conflicts, distrust of authority, and feelings of abandonment.
“Adopted people are overrepresented in psychological treatment facilities…in juvenile courts, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres,” she said. “Being adopted and taken away from one’s family puts children at an unnecessary risk of future problems.”
DelBalzo started researching adoption in high school and came to the opinion that its negative effects were too strong to be ignored. Ten years ago she founded the group Adoption: Legalized Lies, to help young parents keep their children and educate people about the anti-adoption viewpoint.
According to DelBalzo, people are manipulated by the government and the media to believe adoption is a beneficial system because it generates profit. She said large adoption agencies can make upwards of $10-million a year, so helping children is not their first priority.
“When big agencies are cutting these [profits], there’s really no incentive to keep families with their children,” she said.
Adoption agencies often claim that the choice to put a newborn up for adoption is made by expectant parents, but DeBalzo argued that the agencies force parents to give them up by misleading and pressuring them.
“I’ve yet to see a mother who has chosen to give up her child,” she said. “I’ve met a lot who’ve felt…they really had no choice and they surrendered.”
One misleading tactic is the promise of an open adoption, where parents are supposedly allowed to remain in their child’s life while he or she is raised by someone else. DelBalzo said these promises are rarely kept.
“The majority of open adoptions do end up closed by the adopters,” she said. “Open adoption is not generally enforced by law.”
She argued that adoption is almost never necessary, because no child is truly unwanted. The biological bond established in pregnancy often overcomes an expectant mother’s initial desire to give up her baby.
“Most people who don’t want to have children do have an abortion,” she said. “[A mother] might start out thinking that [she doesn’t] want a baby, but by the time the baby is born, that usually changes.”
If the biological parents are absolutely unable to care for their child, DelBalzo suggested “guardianship” as a last-resort alternative to adoption. Guardianship is a permanent arrangement gives more rights to the biological parents and does not create a false parent-child relationship.
“With adoption these people are legally bound to feeling as though their adopters are [their] parents and that’s where a lot of the identity conflicts come from,” she said. “Not having this pretense that they are born to their new caregivers is going to make a difference in how they feel accepted and respected.”