The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood
by Gretchen Sisson
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Pub Date 27 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 12 Mar 2024
“Impressively reported…[Sisson] uses her deep well of knowledge to make the case that adoption is no solution for Americans’ reduced access to abortion.” —San Francisco Chronicle
A powerful decade-long study of adoption in the age of Roe, revealing the grief of the American mothers for whom the choice to parent was never real
Adoption has always been viewed as a beloved institution for building families, as well as a mutually agreeable common ground in the abortion debate, but little attention has been paid to the lives of mothers who relinquish infants for private adoption. Relinquished reveals adoption to be a path of constrained choice for those for whom abortion is inaccessible, or for whom parenthood is untenable. The stories of relinquishing mothers are stories about our country's refusal to care for families at the most basic level, and to instead embrace an individual, private solution to a large-scale, social problem.
With the recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization revoking abortion protections, we are in a political moment in which adoption is, increasingly, being revealed as an institution devoted to separating families and policing parenthood under the guise of feel-good family-building. Rooted in a long-term study, Relinquished features the in-depth testimonies of American mothers who placed their children for domestic adoption. The voices of these women are powerful and heartrending; they deserve to be heard.