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Fewer adoptions

It was once relatively common for a young, single woman to relinquish her baby at birth for adoption.

Before 1973, nearly 9 percent of never-married women gave up their babies at birth, federal data show. In fact, relinquishment was so common among single, white women that adoption was the outcome for about one-fifth of their children.

But after 1973, this number dwindled to roughly 1 percent, and data from the most recent time period (1996 to 2002) suggest that a total of 48,000 babies were relinquished, or about 6,800 a year, said Jo Jones, a researcher at the National Center for Health Statistics who examined infant adoption data at The Times’ request.

In fact, relinquishments are becoming so rare they may not be studied anymore, Ms. Jones said.

There’s “rare” and “extremely rare” and “nonexistent,” she said, and “with sample surveys, we just don’t have enough numbers to produce reliable and stable statistics.”

Even the 1996-2002 relinquishment numbers were captured with a wider net, Ms. Jones said.

“To produce those numbers [48,000 relinquished], I had to broaden the time frame” to include babies given up at the hospital and those given up within the first month of life, she said. “It is just such a rare event, both relinquishment and adoption.”

In addition, virtually all babies relinquished since 1989 have been born to white women.

The number of black babies relinquished “is so few we can’t say anything about it,” Ms. Jones said. Statistically, “it’s none.”

The NCHS doesn’t attempt to explain why these numbers are what they are, but other research has found that black families have a strong tradition of using family members and “informal” adoptions to care for babies without parents.

Lingering enmity

Hatred for adoption pours from Web sites such as and “No one wants to be an adoptee,” they warn. “No mother who has lost a child [to adoption] fully recovers.”

“The adoption system is now virtually a North American phenomena - most other countries realize how barbaric it is toward mothers and children,” said a Web site for “exiled mothers.” Adoption, it said, is “an industry” in which “young, unwed (and thus powerless) parents are persuaded, through force, coercion or outright lies, to transfer parental rights of their children to older, more affluent couples.”

“Juno” was a horror show, said Jessica Del Balzo, founder of the adoption-eradication advocacy group Adoption: Legalized Lies and author of “Unlearning Adoption: A Guide to Family Preservation and Protection.”

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