In the past year, because I have become vocal about the injustices in our current adoption system, I have been called “anti-adoption.” Nothing could be further from the truth. I hate that label. Yes, I am for family preservation whenever possible. I believe adoption should always be the last resort. That does not mean that I am anti-adoption. I do realize there is a place for adoption and acknowledge that.
When is adoption not okay?
- Adoption is not okay when a mother has the resources available to her in order to successfully and safely parent her child but has been convinced that her child will have a “better” life if placed for adoption.
- Adoption is not okay when a mother has been coerced in some way to permanently and irrevocably surrender her parental rights. I am not talking about the “legal” sense of coercion (although that is wrong as well) but rather the subtle methods of coercion. This would include the use of “birthmother” in reference to her before she is actually a birthmother, paying living expenses and then some for an expectant mother so that she may feel guilty if she does not sign TPR, or using subtle language over a period of time in order to give her the perception that adoption is her best choice.
- Adoption is not okay when the biological father has not given his consent to the adoption. This would include states that give the biological father no rights above the prospective adoptive parents if he has not been giving monetary aid to the mother during her pregnancy. This would also include vague putative father registries that make it virtually impossible for a father to even know they exist.
- Adoption is not okay when a mother has signed her rights away under duress or within hours or days after birth. The legal definition of duress is much stricter than my definition. Being under the influence of narcotics or days postpartum (when your hormones are doing all sorts of wonderful things) can create duress to make a hasty decision. It is my belief that TPR should not be done until 30 days after birth. This can help avoid all sorts of messes in the adoption world and protect all parties involved.
- Adoption is not okay when an adoptee is stripped of their rights to the truth and their identity is changed. A legal form that states who gave birth to you and who fathered you should remain as is. An additional adoptee decree should suffice for legal matters. Additionally, denying adoptees access to this original legal document makes adoption not okay. I do realize that the current system works this way and for this reason even adoptive parents who feel the same way I do must go through with this “identity-changing” process.
- Adoption is not okay if it is being used to “cure” fertility. If you want to adopt a baby to replace the baby your fertility problems have kept you from having then you are doing it for all the wrong reasons.
When is adoption okay?
- Adoption is okay when the baby/child cannot be properly and safely cared for by his/her biological parents. Let’s face it. There are many parents who are not able to take care of their children properly. Maybe it’s because of medical reasons such as a terminal illness or maybe it is because they are truly irresponsible and refuse to put the needs of their child/children above their own.
- Adoption is okay when a child is lingering in the foster care system and the options are to age out of the system of become adopted by a family. I do believe there are many atrocities that make children become available for adoption from this system, but also believe that it is a fairly small percentage compared to the kids that truly were neglected or abused. While I would prefer that these children keep their original names and identities, the current system says they must sacrifice this in order to legally become part of someone else’s family. Ultimately this is what is most important…their well-being.
- Adoption is okay when promises are kept. If the above situations are fulfilled and a child must be surrendered for adoption, promises should always be kept. Do not promise an open adoption and then not fulfill that promise. It will hurt your child and it will hurt your child’s first family. I have heard so many excuses such as the birthmom overstepping boundaries in terms of frequency of contact and quite frankly I don’t care. The only reason a promise of open adoption should ever be broken is if the birthfamily becomes a danger to the child. All other things can be dealt with and handled appropriately.
- When a child is truly an orphan. Both parents are deceased and other family members are not willing to take care of them.
Too many times the only reason anyone ever considered adoption for the child they are pregnant with is for monetary reasons alone. I understand that there are limited resources and charities to help these women. It is a travesty nonetheless. Financial problems can be temporary but adoption is forever. Promises of a “better life” should never be made. Adoptive parents can get divorced, abuse children, fall on hard financial times, or a number of other things that biological parents can also succumb to. They are not immune to life. While the chances of a more successful life are higher with a financially well established family, one must consider the definition of “success” or “better.” As a Christian a bible verse comes to mind.
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
Of course money can offer you the whole world, but what is it that you may lose? Does money buy happiness? Sure it buys opportunities. But does it buy love? Togetherness? Of course not. No one should ever promise a “better” life if they surrender their child. Better is a subjective word. It’s definition relies on one’s own experiences and wants.
Currently there are 101,666 children available for adoption through the foster care system in the United States alone. 32% of these children will wait 3 years or more for a permanent family and countless more will age out of the system. Domestic infant adoption should always be a last resort.