Buddha killer Kathryn Joyce presents a chilling story in this week’s Nation: “Shotgun Adoption,” an investigation of the use of anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” to coerce unmarried pregnant women into giving their children to wealthier Christian couples. And it’s even creepier than that — maintain CPCs, as they’re called, maintain luxurious pregnancy homes for the expectant “birth mothers” or place them in “shepherding homes” to keep them under control until they deliver the product. Afterward, the birth mothers — and empty promises of “open adoption” by which they’d be able to see their children — are thrown out like trash.
Carol Jordan, a 32-year-old pharmacy technician, was living in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1999 when she became pregnant. She’d already decided against abortion, but she was struggling financially and her boyfriend was unsupportive. Looking through the Yellow Pages for help, she spotted an ad under “crisis pregnancies” for Bethany Christian Services.
Jordan was isolated in the shepherding family’s house; her only social contact was with the agency, which called her a “saint” for continuing her pregnancy but asked her to consider “what’s best for the baby.” “They come on really prolife: look at the baby, look at its heartbeat, don’t kill it. Then, once you say you won’t kill it, they ask, What can you give it? You have nothing to offer, but here’s a family that goes on a cruise every year.”
The next morning, Jordan was rushed through signing relinquishment papers by a busy, on-duty nurse serving as notary public. As soon as she’d signed, the couple left with the baby, and Jordan was taken home without being discharged. The shepherding family was celebrating and asked why Jordan wouldn’t stop crying. Five days later, she used her last $50 to buy a Greyhound ticket to Greenville, where she struggled for weeks to reach a Bethany post-adoption counselor as her milk came in and she rapidly lost more than fifty pounds in her grief.
When Jordan called Bethany’s statewide headquarters one night, her shepherding mother answered, responding coldly to Jordan’s lament. “You’re the one who spread your legs and got pregnant out of wedlock,” she told Jordan. “You have no right to grieve for this baby.”
Jeff Sharlet is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004) and co-editor of Believer, Beware (2009). Sharlet is also the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die, (2011), C Street, (2010), and the New York Times bestseller The Family (2008).