For those of you who love watching Downton Abbey these days, you will immediately understand why Edith’s story seems to hit home with us at AdoptionWorks.
If you have not had a chance to catch up on this season’s drama, Edith has found herself pregnant by a man who leaves for Germany to procure a divorce from his wife. Yeah. Try and wrap your head around a time when “no-fault divorce” did not exist. Harboring this secret and facing pressure from her aunt who she confided in, Edith feels her only choice is to place the child with an adoptive couple. To ensure that no one finds out about the child, her aunt whisks her away to a foreign country for a few months so that Edith could give birth and find her baby a home. Now all Edith has to do is go back to Downton Abbey and pretend that nothing has happened.
Unfortunately, that is the way many birth mothers have been treated historically. Fortunately, the adoption world has evolved! Open adoption, when done the right way, can be a very healthy and loving option. Open adoption is a relationship where adoptive and birth parents put their desires and comfort on the back burner and work together to maintain a positive and healthy relationship for the sake of the child. It is not co-parenting; it is a way for birth parents and adoptees to stay connected. Open adoption is backed by research with entire books being written about it.
A great article, that includes extensive research, can be found here (if you cannot bring yourself to read the whole thing, at least read the executive summary!)
As an adoption professional, I cringe just about every time adoption is portrayed on screen. Although Edith’s story is historically accurate, more recent depictions in the media are not: When titular character Juno was making an adoption plan, the viewer did not see her wrestle with her decision to place her child for adoption (although, kudos to her for choosing life!). She even went forward with the plan when the adoptive couple divorced in the middle of her pregnancy after the adoptive father hit on her. Yikes. After Quinn placed her baby for adoption on Glee, she later changed her mind and plotted to “regain custody.” There is no such thing after voluntarily placing your child for adoption. Even Edith is talking about going to get her baby back on Downton’s finale. These shows are the only exposure to adoption that the average person gets, and the information they are receiving is inaccurate. Now I know how my mom, a registered nurse, felt when watching ER and Grey’s Anatomy. Television shows are for entertainment, not educating viewers about important issues. Making an adoption plan is a gut wrenching series of decisions that have lifelong implications.
Women who experience unplanned pregnancies should not, and do not have to make those decisions alone.
A reputable agency will help their clients make the best decision, free from pressure to decide one way or another. Something that all three of these characters lacked was quality pregnancy counseling (or any pregnancy counseling for that matter) and they were confused, lonely, and uninformed. Don’t let that happen to someone you know. If you or a friend is currently experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and are interested in seeking quality pregnancy counseling, AdoptionWorks is here to help you. Our goal is to help you through your decision making process no matter what you decide.
Written by Melissa Hendley, Maternity and Child Placing Staff at ChristianWorks for Children