Why don’t more American NotMoms opt for adoption as a path to motherhood? A new study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln examines why, if adoption is viewed positively in this country, don’t more women choose it?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, about 136,000 children were adopted in 2008, slightly fewer than the previous year. There’s been an overall decline in the adoption rate per 100,000 population by 5 percent from 2000 to 2008,
The Nebraska data was gleaned from 876 childless women, just 12% of whom were actively considering adopting a child. Only responses from women who want to be mothers — as opposed to those deliberately childfree — were used to form the researchers’ conclusion, “Statistically, people are supportive of adoption. They think it’s a good thing — but it’s not for them. They view it as a last resort,”
Admitting that parenthood of any child is a challenge, a general assumption seems to be that parenting an adopted child brings a different layer of stress. The new study found that women actively considering adoption were almost four times more likely to have seen a doctor for fertility problems than those who had never considered adoption. Women struggling to conceive who hadn’t sought medical treatment were less likely to consider the adoption route.
The University of Nebraska data confirms earlier studies showing adoption to be a last resort, but in this analysis, college graduates and older women were also less likely to view adoption as a possible recourse. Researchers are also questioning why African-American women surveyed were more likely than women of other races to consider becoming adoptive mothers.
Stating that more research is needed on the issue, the researchers posed a question they’ve yet to answer: “If childless women are unable to have biological children and if adoption is too difficult to pursue, do they shift their views on motherhood in order to cope?”
To me, that question is worded too vaguely to begin to answer. What, exactly, does “shift their views” mean? Is it that some women decide that motherhood isn’t so hot after all, so why seek it? Or, does it simply imply that those women accept that their lives are OK as is and move on?