Exposing the For-Profit Adoption Industry | #Education

Kirsta Bowman is an activist for adoptees, foster children and reproductive rights. An adoptee herself, Bowman has been using her social media platforms to educate folks about the right-wing influence that runs rampant in the adoption industry as well as how said influence uses adoptees and foster children as pawns for their pro-life, for-profit agenda.

“When you grow up with pieces of paper showing how much your parents paid for you, it does make you feel like they should have a return on your investment,” Bowman said. “I grew up feeling like I had to prove my parents’ money’s worth.”

Four years ago, Bowman found her birth parents through Facebook, and that moment became the catalyst for her activism. “I started reaching out to other adoptees and realized that I’m not the only one who’s had issues with it,” she explains. “I learned that my birth mom actually did really want to keep me but was heavily pressured by my adoptive parents, and you learn how baby-hungry some of these people are who cannot physically have one.”

Supply-and-Demand Industry

She points out that the adoption industry has been thriving for over a hundred years by taking advantage of people suffering from infertility and infant loss. “I understand that infertility comes with its own loss and trauma, but it shouldn’t mean using another person’s child to fill that void. Children should not be used as an intervention—a medical device—for infertility. It’s created a supply-and-demand industry in America where adoption agencies can charge tens of thousands of dollars for a baby because they know someone is willing to pay that. And because it’s supply-and-demand and profit-driven, babies of different demographics will be sold at higher or lower prices by these agencies.”

States with strict abortion laws such as Texas not only often have more crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) but also more adoption agencies; the two are often affiliated with one another. Bethany Christian Services is one of the largest adoption agencies in America, handling both domestic and international adoptions. “These places use extremely coercive language to basically tell someone that they need to give their baby up for adoption and not do an abortion,” Bowman said. “There’s nothing pro-life about forcing someone to give their child up so that an adoption agency can profit.”

Supreme Court Connection?

Bowman also makes it known that some of the most ardently pro-life Supreme Court justices are adoptive parents: Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, and John Roberts. Additionally, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has financial ties to Bethany Christian Services. “There’s a lot of eugenics and classism involved with adoptive parents when they tell people from other countries that they don’t deserve to keep their children or that they need to keep an unsafe pregnancy so that they can adopt it. Amy Coney Barrett has received money on multiple occasions for speaking out against abortion from the Alliance Defending Freedom, plus she just spoke at a benefit for them. I don’t understand how that’s not a conflict of interest.”

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Adoption is often not considered by folks seeking an abortion even by those who ended up keeping their pregnancy. A 2016 study from the Donaldson Adoption Institute found that 95% of birth mothers who relinquished their babies for adoption said that they would have kept their baby if they had been given resources and support. “Most mothers save over $5,000,” Bowman continued. “But they’re told to give their baby to these agencies that are going to sell that baby for $20-$40,000. There are agencies that will tell mothers that they’ll take pregnant people in but only if they can have the baby for adoption.”

As a result of Roe v. Wade being overturned in June, abortion is illegal in Wisconsin in nearly all cases. Even when it is performed in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest, there are so-called “heartbeat laws” where patients legally have to be shown a visual of the fetus and listen to the audible heartbeat, then wait 24 hours to reflect on the decision before following through with the procedure. More info is available here.

“Adoption agencies are already targeting more low-income areas,” Bowman said. “Bethany Christian Services is known for mistreating children that they’ve removed from foster care, they’ve illegally let children be adopted while families were fighting for them, and they’ve forcibly separated migrant children from the border and had them adopted. There’s people paying for ads on Facebook saying that they’ll adopt your baby yet there’s literally adopted children who get rehomed illegally on the Internet, which Reuters did an article about.”

Bowman has been prominently using TikTok to raise awareness about these issues. “It really frustrates me because no one believes me about these things until I start showing screenshots,” she expressed. “Adopted people are four times more likely to attempt suicide and twice as likely to be diagnosed with an emotional, behavioral and/or eating disorder. We are twice as likely to have a disability. Being adopted led to me having PTSD. This system traumatized us and exploited us. But people want to pretend that it hasn’t.”

Privatized Foster Care

Foster care has become privatized in a way that has disproportionately policed Black and Brown families over the last 20 years, especially with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 that gave financial incentives to child welfare agencies for increased adoptions. Bowman explained, “The federal government subsidizes adoption from foster care at ten times the rate of family reunification, even though the main goal of foster care is family reunification, and only about one in four children currently in the system is in a place where they can’t go back to their biological family. It’s important to keep in mind that a lot of people trying to adopt newborn babies will turn their nose to older kids in the system who do need a home and do need help.”

Bowman is also a teacher and has seen firsthand how school administrations do not account for the implications of kids being adopted or in foster care. She experienced it as a kid herself. “I’ve worked with kids for over 10 years and schools are failing children who have been displaced through foster care and adoption,” she said. “Because we’re such a small percentage of children, people just don’t care when you try to bring up the struggles and adversities we have. The assumption is that when we’re adopted, we’re adopted into loving, supportive homes … I was abused by my adoptive mother and not a single teacher ever said anything to account for it. I wasn’t allowed to ask questions about my birth parents either and the only reason they were ever brought up was when it was used against me.”

Bowman shares these stories and this information to enlighten people about how reproductive rights and justice for adoptees and children in foster care are interconnected issues. “We need people who are not adopted to make noise,” she said about what folks can do. “We need support and programs for people in those temporary crises. There are organizations like Saving Our Sisters who provide resources in every state. On a bigger level, we need social welfare programs like they do in other countries; no other country has infant adoption rates like we do. That’s because we don’t help those who are struggling. Listen to our stories … elevate our voices. Our experiences are not a monolith.”

To learn more, visit Kirsta Bowman’s Linktree for relevant info and social media links.

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