4 Investigates: Options for adoption in New Mexico
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There is no easy choice when it comes to reproductive options and unwanted pregnancy. But with the fall of Roe v. Wade, there is one option for women around the nation that will not change.
There are no words to adequately describe the moment that thump in your belly becomes a baby on your chest.
“You feel the elation, you feel the love, you feel the joy, you feel the sorrow, you feel the loss,” said Sarah Wasson. “You feel the anger because you can’t be all the things you want to be.”
Wasson said what comes next was the hardest part.
“You know what’s best, and you keep going forward in that,” she said.
About 14 years ago she decided, for the first time, that her baby was better off without her.
Wasson is a mother of five. A birth mother that is – two of her baby girls are growing up in families of their own.
“99% of birth parents want to raise their children. They can’t for one reason or another. Or they don’t think they’re best for one reason or another. So it’s putting aside what they want and doing what’s best for a child. That takes an incredible amount of heart, courage, compassion and love,” said Sharon Allcorn, executive director of the Adoption Assistance Agency.
Allcorn said only 4% of unwanted pregnancies result in adoption. Over the years, she’s been educating families on what she calls the often forgotten choice.
“People tend to think they can parent in an unwanted pregnancy or they can do abortion,” said Allcorn.
Over the years, she said adoption placements have dwindled. For the Adoption Assistance Agency, the peak was in 2006. They placed 26 babies in adoptive homes. Last year, they only placed two babies through the agency.
Allcorn doesn’t blame it all on abortion care options. She said access to the internet can cut out the middleman, but families are still waiting.
“We had a waiting list for our waiting list and it had gotten as high as 40. Then we decided to let people know they could stay on that list if they would like but also refer them out to other services to provide that opportunity to let them seek adoption elsewhere,” she said.
She estimates there are 100 families waiting for every baby available. Older children are a different story, especially those in the state system. Statistics show about 1,000, on a given month, in the CYFD system with a “plan of adoption.”
“You can have a ‘plan of adoption’ but not be freed for adoption legally,” said Anthony Beltran, CYFD acting bureau chief for the Adoption and Placement Bureau.
Beltran said they prefer those children to end up with biological family, but that can leave some children in legal limbo for years.
The state does advertise some children online looking for loving homes but it’s not as simple to adopt them.
First, they look for relatives, then they look for resource or foster families with the possibility of it turning into an adoption.
“There are some instances where we have trouble finding the appropriate match for a child or youth,” said Beltran.
Sometimes, families pursuing that option choose to go through private agencies for guidance.
“It takes a special person to commit to a child that’s had a history of trauma, perhaps abuse and neglect,” said Allcorn.
Allcorn said they help with that too offering classes for birth parents, home studies for prospective adoptive parents and beyond.
“Really, it means education and information. Once they open it enough to ask and say ‘I want to know more about what that’s like.’ they start learning about it, they go ‘oh what I thought about it wasn’t accurate this might be something I do want to consider.’”
Wasson started looking into adoption shortly after having an abortion, all those years ago.
“At that time, I was a daytime bartender and I was a nighttime drinker. I was going through a lot,” said Wasson.
Now she watches her birth babies grow up from afar, sharing her story with anyone facing that tough choice.
“Think about having to choose between diapers and formula or food for your child or the electric bill. Think about, can you pay rent and day care?”
She’s collecting photos and writing letters.
“Molly is an animal lover, she is very, very charismatic, she makes a lot of friends,” said Wasson.
She knows her two biological baby girls are happy, healthy and loved.
“She’s a ballerina, she’s a pet lover, and she’s an amazing big sister. She knows me. She embraces her entire picture,” said Wasson of her other birth daughter, Noelle.