For women and babies involved in a crisis pregnancy, adoption can be a very positive alternative. Why are women being told about abortion as the only solution for an undesired pregnancy? Kiernan Gildea, from AAI (Adoption Authority of Ireland), stated recently that in Ireland there are at least 14 times as many couples wanting to adopt children than there are children available. Rules may be to some extent restrictive and complicated, but the main issue is that children are not being put forward for adoption.
Recent legislative work has yielded good results. Under the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017, all children are now considered equal in terms of their eligibility for adoption. Children born to married parents can be adopted and it is easier for children to be adopted by their foster homes.
It is disappointing to note that adoption has barely featured as a consideration in the current 8th Amendment debate in media coverage or political forums such as the Citizens Assembly or the Oireachtas Committee. Giving a child up for adoption needs to be more culturally accepted and promoted, because it is a compassionate and practical alternative to abortion. It is a choice that does not hurt either the mother or the baby. It is a choice that, truly, they can both live with for the rest of their lives. As Sile’s story shows.
It would be a good idea for the government to hold a state-funded conference, in order to address the issue further. It could count on the experiences of those who have been through the process – whether as parents giving their child a chance at a better life, families who have adopted a child aswell as members of the wider family and the impact it has had on each of their lives.
Adoption must become a more common option presented during crisis or undesired pregnancies. This approach allows us to meet the needs of children, adoptive parents, birth mother and, when possible, also the birth father.