June 1, 2007

Faith, Hope and Charity / David Siler

Adoption: A choice we can all live with

Babies are oftentimes not conceived under the best of circumstances—for neither the baby nor the mother and father.

Faced with an unintended pregnancy, parents essentially have three choices: abortion, to become parents, or to choose another set of parents to raise the child.

Of course, the Catholic Church can never recommend the termination of the life of a child, and we may not approve of the circumstances under which a child came to life. However, once that child is conceived, we have a responsibility to help ensure the best life for all involved.

Two of our Catholic Charities agencies in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, St. Elizabeth/Coleman Pregnancy and Adoption Services in Indianapolis and St. Elizabeth–Catholic Charities in New Albany, exist for the very reason of helping to ensure the best life possible for children and families.

Fear, uncertainty and confusion are often the most prevalent emotions that a young, single, pregnant woman and the father of their child feel. The pregnancy counselors at these two agencies are available to provide the necessary support, guidance and compassion to help these young women and men and their families make the best possible decisions.

At this time in our history, the choice for adoption is rare. Currently in the United States, of all unmarried women who carry their child to term, only about 2 percent choose adoption!

Our experience at our two St. Elizabeth programs tells us that one of the major factors in this low rate of adoption is the lack of awareness of the many choices available to parents. Many people still have an outdated notion that parents choosing adoption have little control over the life they choose for their child.

The fact is adoption laws have changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Today, expectant parents have the ability to not only choose the couple to adopt their child, but also may even choose to meet and interview the prospective parents. The parents placing the child for adoption may choose to maintain an ongoing relationship with his or her child by letter and/or e-mail correspondence (called semi-open adoption) or even meet face to face at periodic intervals (open adoption).

These changes to the field of adoption have empowered biological parents to make more choices about the life that they will choose for their child. Just because a woman and a man conceive a child does not necessarily mean they are best suited to raise their child.

Birthparents love their child and purposefully choose adoption to serve the best interests of their child. At any given time at our two agencies, dozens of married couples who are not able to have their own biological children or who would prefer to adopt await the chance to complete their families by adopting a child born to another woman.

Abortion is simply not an option. In pro-life language, being pro-choice is not acceptable. At St. Elizabeth, we are all about empowering expectant parents to explore their true choices—to become parents or choose parents.

To learn more about these two pro-life ministries, log on to www.CatholicCharitiesIndy.org.

(David Siler is executive director of the Secretariat for Catholic Charities and Family Ministries. E-mail him at dsiler@archindy.org.) †

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