In every era, there’s been a tragic contrast between the burden of unwanted pregnancies and the burden of infertility. But this gap used to be bridged by adoption far more frequently than it is today. Prior to 1973, 20 percent of births to white, unmarried women (and 9 percent of unwed births over all) led to an adoption. Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.


The great gulf between those who desire children and cannot have them biologically and those who conceive children but do not want them may vary over time and place. But what marks a civilization, in my view, is how we handle this chasm. Do we simply throw the unwanted away? Do we make every effort to find them homes? How do we practically facilitate this?

If the pro-life movement dedicated its every moment not to criminalizing abortion but to expanding adoption opportunities, it would win many more converts.

And Megan McCardle responds:

At the point where international adoptions have increased to a quarter of all adoptions, and kids with special health needs make up a substantial fraction of the children adopted (ranging from 30 percent of international adoptions, to 55 percent of adoptions from foster care), I think we can say that the demand side has been taken care of.  And as far as I know, pro-lifers are doing what they can on the supply side–in terms of building institutions that help women carry a pregnancy to term.  I find it far-fetched that women are having abortions because no one is willing to help them give the baby up for adoption–there are lots of people and agencies that will not only help them, but pay a substantial portion of their expenses until they deliver.  They’re having abortions because pregnancy is physically uncomfortable, and there’s still a social stigma on women who carry a baby to term in order to give it away.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. “Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year . . .” The Special Rapporteur, United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003.

    Adoption was never intended to serve the purpose of aiding and assisting people suffer from the loss of their ability to conceive or carry a pregnancy.

    A humane, caring society helps mothers in crisis pregnancy by offering child care and other resources necessary to keep the struggling family intact. To ask for it to is to ask for a social solution for a medical issue. It is to ask women to become Handmaidens, or unpaid surrogates, brood mares for others and then suffer a lifetime of grief, loss, shame and guilt. It is an indecent, immoral, degradation of humanity. Read:

    AND, it is totally unnecessary!

    There are half a million children in US foster care. More than 100,000 of them COULD be adopted.

    Nearly forty percent of American adults, or 81.5 million people, have considered adopting a child. If just one in 500 of these adults adopt, all of the children in foster care waiting for adoption would have permanent, loving families, according to a National Adoption Attitudes Survey. (The Stork Market, pp 39-40).

    Infertility is a serious issue and needs to be addressed with prevention and education starting in High School. Young adults need to know that most infertility is preventable, being caused by environmental contaminants, underweight, overweight, STDs, multiple abortions and, most commonly, simply waiting too long to begin one’s family. We need to begin a campaign to stop the escalating number of interfiles instead of just continuing the cycle of redistributing children to fill a demand, often through coercion, exploitation, kidnapping, stealing and child trafficking.

    Stop the insanity! Help mothers care for their children and MOTHER, prevent infertility and adopt one of the tens of thousands already here and needing homes!

    Mirah Riben, author, THE STORK MARKET: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry


  2. The pro-choice are always turning their noses up at other choices. I am 40 with no children and not asking anyone to be surrogate for me. It is judgmental to think all infertile couples are asking others to have a baby for them. As natter of fact, perhaps none are. We just see other options for women in crisis. People are so insensitive to the infertile. Funny how we are asked to be compassionate for those who abort but no one has compassion for the infertile.


  3. I am a birthmother who decided to relinquish my rights to parent my daughter when I became pregnant out of wedlock nearly 15 years ago. The pressure was there from all sides to have an abortion, but I could not take the life of my child and so looked to an alternative that I believed provided the best environment for my daughter. I am blessed to have been a part of her life through an open adoption and I never regret giving her the wonderful life that she now has.
    I also have a six year old daughter whom my husband and I adopted from Guatemala, and a 4 year old biological son. My daughter is an amazing and talented young lady and we are so happy that her birthmother chose life over death.
    The stigmas and misunderstandings surrounding adoption are vast. Most adoptions are not done through exploitation and kidnapping, and adopted children generally are more well adjusted than their peers. I believe that adoption should be discussed in greater length on the prolife platform as a wonderful alternative to abortion for women who are not ready to parent. Mothers seldom choose adoption because our society puts so much shame and guilt on them…this is not deserved and is not fair!


  4. Before the Baby Scoop Era, Christian women would take in pregnant women and teach her life skills for parenting. If she didn’t marry the father, her family would help her raise the child. Adoption should only be considered in dire circumstances!


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