By Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Adoption is probably not a topic most twentysomethings think about while trying to balance professional ambitions with social lives, and any other paths to modern self-fulfillment. However, it probably wouldn’t strike many as particularly taboo either. Those who have experienced the process, either as a birthmother, parent, or child, will know how far we’ve come as a society.
A baby born out of wedlock being placed for adoption in the early 1900s would have had their identity ‘sealed,’ never to know their birthmother in any capacity. This ‘protection’ from a socially objectionable background was deemed necessary both to encourage parents to adopt the child, as well as guard that child from dangerous influences. The resulting angst and mystery surrounding one’s origins, and trauma for the birthmother, is probably unsurprising. Attitudes shifted with the sexual revolution, and the veil of shame around adoption was lifted.
Nowadays, ‘open adoption’ is the norm and not only is the child’s biological history open information, but the birthmother may continue to play a guiding role in his or her life. This naturally reassures the child, but perhaps surprisingly, adoptive parents as well. They feel much more confident in their role as the ‘true’ parents when the birthmother is involved in family life rather than a looming question mark, according to Jennifer Bliss of the Independent Adoption Center (IAC).
IAC, one of the country’s largest and oldest adoption agencies, is also one of its most progressive—it has advocated open adoption since its beginnings in 1982, as well as a non-discretionary policy towards religion, race, gender, or orientation. Adoption language has also changed, as Jennifer explains to BTN this week, children are not ‘given up,’ they are ‘placed.’ Thankfully, the days when illegitimate children were literally be ‘put up’ onto trains bound for farmland and lives of manual labor are past.
Host, Writer – Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein
Video Editor – Andy Morell
Script Supervisor – Matthew DeMello
Copy Editing – Dane Feldman
with guest – Jennifer Bliss