A woman who grew up in foster care explains why the 'adoption not abortion' argument doesn't fly.

People who want abortion legally banned frequently argue for adoption as the alternative. But it's not that simple.

Anti-abortion advocates often tout adoption as the natural alternative to abortion, the idea being that those who are pregnant but don't want a baby don't have to keep it. They can go through pregnancy, deliver the baby, and then place the baby into the adoption system.


But there are multiple reasons why adoption isn't the answer to the abortion question. For one, pregnancy and childbirth are major physical and emotional experiences with real medical risks and consequences. Abortion often is, too, but let's not pretend that pregnancy, childbirth, and adoption is a simple alternative—especially when adoption itself is fraught with many of its own complexities and potential for real harm.

It would be nice if it were as simple as delivering a baby into the loving arms of adoptive parents, but it's not. Trauma lies at the heart of many adoption stories—trauma for birth parents as well as the children placed into a system that is overburdened and broken in too many ways.

Olivia Paige grew up in the adoption system, seeing first hand how many kids are failed by it.

As someone who grew up living in multiple foster homes, Olivia Paige took to Facebook to share some insights about the adoption system with everyone who says "Adoption is always an option.":

"Let me start off by reminding you of the 390,000+ children and teens in foster care, 100,000+ of which are waiting to be adopted," she wrote. "Around 50,000 are placed up for adoption each year—these abortion bans are sure to make those numbers grow so let me share some statistics with you.

20% of teens who age out of foster care become instantly homeless, with no support system in place. There is less than a 3% chance that any of these kids will obtain any sort of degree. 25% suffer from PTSD. 1 out of every 2 kids will develop substance abuse problems. Adopted children make up only 2% of children under 18.

What about the rest of them? I'll share what it was like for me, one of the lucky ones. Someone who by no means had it easy, but had just enough love and support to make it out alright."



"The photo attached is an actual flyer that was handed out to prospective adoptive homes for several years through my teens," Paige continued. "I was never adopted. I spent a decade in foster care, bouncing between 'homes' with strangers in places I'd never known before. With no warning, a social worker would show up and tell me I'd have to pack my things (the very few I had) and leave whatever strange place I'd kept myself from getting too comfortable in at the drop of a hat. I had no say in the matter. New school, new unwanted life - overnight. There was never any telling what the next place would be like."

Paige, now 22, said that she lived in a few good places, but that she was physically and sexually abused in two separate foster homes. She'd moved dozens of times by age 18.

"I was hospitalized at 11 years old," she wrote, "due to malnutrition and a swift blow to the head, then lied to the police because I was afraid of what would happen to me if I told the truth about how I got there or why I was covered head to toe in bruises. I learned that speaking up only creates more problems. So I kept my mouth shut.

I watched a foster parent take in 5 special needs children, and a few months later add a deck, new sunroom and hot tub to her house with money from the state. She later lost her license when it as apparent that she was neglecting these children. I've seen these situations over and over, I've also lived them. I spent ten years feeling unworthy of love, unwanted and waiting for the next bad thing to happen to me. This is just the beginning of it all."

Paige emancipated out of the system at 16 and is doing well, but thousands kids in the adoption system are not so lucky.

Paige made it through the system, but the scars of her experiences still linger. Thankfully, she's found a healthy way to cope and express herself through creative photography and self-portraiture.But Paige knows there are tens of thousands of kids who won't be so lucky, which is why she feels so strongly against people using adoption as a "solution" to abortion.


Paige says she took the portrait on the left just after she was emancipated and still felt unseen. "I still felt like I was unable to see the light," she told Upworthy. "It's a very binary image—much like my view of what life was like. It was either good, or bad with no gray areas." i.upworthy.com

"Do you know what it's like to log onto the adoptuskids.org website and see your name and face, year after year?" she wrote. "Knowing that nobody is in your corner. That you have no place to go. Well, I'm glad you don't and you never have to. But those kids you were so adamant about before they were born? A large number of them will.

Are these those 'rights' you were talking about? A life is not saved just by letting it be born.

Not being able to leave your foster home unless escorted by social worker or foster parent? To be unable to live a normal life? To be fully unprepared for adulthood with no safety net or support?

This isn't just *my* reality. This is the reality of hundreds of thousands of children who still face this every day, and the many more who you are signing up for this. A potential lifetime of loneliness, fear, neglect, worry and heartbreak. I dare you to say 'adoption is always an option' to any of the several tens of thousands who have been waiting patiently for years for someone to come along and give them the chance to define the word 'family'."

Some commenters asked kids like Paige if they would prefer to have never born. Their answers might surprise you.

Other people who struggled in the adoption system commented on Paige's post, and a couple of people had the audacity to ask if they'd rather have been aborted.

One person answered that there were times when yes, they'd have preferred that. Another answered that she can't speak for anyone else, but yes, she "sure as hell" would prefer that. Some pointed out that they would never have known, hence it's a dumb question. Paige herself responded, "Yes, I think that a lump of cells being aborted is better than the millions who will be born into a life like this. Absolutely." She said she doesn't wish she were dead, but also reiterated that that wasn't at all the point of her post.

"Forcing mothers to give birth under the guise of some false promise of adoption is wrong, for every party involved," Paige concluded in her post. "Nobody is forcing you to have an abortion, stop making decisions for others and stay out of other people's uteruses. This is the message I am trying to send by sharing my story.

I'll say it again, I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm not sharing this because I want sympathy. I don't need it. But those kids? They do. Their voices are unheard. And soon there will be more out there that your "hopes and prayers" will do nothing for—so please, take action now. Kids should be in homes with families that truly love them. If you're so adamant about kids being born—go through the process and adopt some yourself."

Paige said that if people want to help kids like her, they can join Big Brothers Big Sisters and look into fostering and adopting.

Let's take care of the kids who are here and need parents before pushing more kids to an already overburdened system through restrictive abortion laws.

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Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


Capital One

Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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