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As adoption rates drop, support and acceptance needed

Childless parents need care, too, says Sister Julie B. Beck

Published: Saturday, Aug. 13 2011 12:27 a.m. MDT

"Our goal is to make sure that women who are making those difficult decisions have access to information about adoption," Johnson said. "All of the choices are difficult, our goal is to affirm the birth mother in the decision and give her access to information and support."

According to that same research, Utah ranked first in the nation for infant adoptions compared to the number of abortions. Researchers believe key factors explaining that ranking may include better counseling, services and facilities to orient pregnant women toward adoption.

"Research has shown that women who are choosing adoption have connected that the child will be loved and parented by good people," Johnson said. "They are then able to see it as being a pro-active parent with placing the child."

Over the past few decades the process of adoption has changed, causing more members of society to be informed, making the entire process more open in nature.

"I have been involved in adoption for 30 years," Sunday said. "I have seen it in its days of closure and confidentiality and secrecy, and I have seen it today, and from my experience the improvements in the institution of adoption because of openness and because of involvement of all parties together in healthy ways has been one of the most refreshing positive things to happen with adoption in years."

Although huge steps have taken place, the process still has a long way to go, Johnson said.

In a survey conducted by the NCFA in 2009, researchers found that 40 percent of American couples were open to the idea of adopting a child if called upon.

"One of the disappointing things, even with that strong culture that has developed, it doesn't translate to the women choosing it," Johnson said. "As a result of that, 1.2 million abortions a year are happening, and only 18,000 will willingly choose adoption."

Although families, churches and communities are oftentimes very supportive of children brought into a family by adoption, it is often difficult for expectant mothers to make the decision to place a child for adoption. It is through education, Johnson said, more changes will take place.

"Society's view of adoption for birth mom's is totally unfair," Barker said. "It isn't this big, bad, ugly monster. It is a huge big bundle of blessings — you just have to give it a chance."

That chance is what can turn something very difficult into a loving family.

"I think it's wonderful how such a tragic, heart-wrenching experience can grow and blossom and turn into such a beautiful wonderful thing," Barker said. "My biggest fear was that she would resent me for placing her, but I think one of the best things that came out of it is that I get to see that she is happy and that she loves me, and I know that she knows that I love her."

EMAIL: mholman@desnews.com

Adoption numbers

Unrelated domestic adoptions of infants

1982: 17,602

1986: 24,589

1992: 26,672

1996: 23,537

2002: 22,291

2007: 18,078

Source: National Council for Adoption

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