There is always much debate regarding adoption, especially when you move into the various adoption camps- those who believe adoption is a miracle, and those who believe that adoption should be banned. When I began writing, I truly struggled on a daily basis to figure out where I fit on the spectrum. I went back and forth, trying to reflect if one belief could coexist internally with another belief. Did I have to pick a specific side, or could I possibly find some happy medium, a spot in the middle of this adoption continuum? What would I change, if I could begin to change the adoption world as it currently stands? Or did I even see any issues with it?
Obviously, my adoption experience has been jaded. As I’ve come out of this adoption fog, I’ve learned that there are more ragged edges in this world then I was first led to believe. It’s not as easy as “sign here and be happy that you gave a gift”. It’s not as simple as saying no adoptions should ever take place. My own adoption experiences, and the many that I read on other blogs throughout the internet, tell me that it’s really not black and white.
I think adoption could work, though I think it doesn’t really work right now, and has been exceptionally dysfunctional in the past. I think that when we shift the focus to take in the entire family that adoption encompasses- mother, adopting families, and most importantly, adoptee, we may actually see a shift to the proper place.
However, I do see the inherent flaws in the current system. I see the privilege that adopting parents get. I see the manipulation and myths that we relinquishing mothers deal with. I see the way this system breaks adoptees in ways that we don’t talk about, and how this thing we call a miracle ends up causing a virtual rift between biological connections, and internal, proverbial wounds for those who relinquish their rights, willingly or not.
If I was given the right to change the adoption world, here’s where I would begin (meaning, there would be likely more that I would change as the situations arose, or as perceptions changed):
- If a woman found herself in an unexpected pregnancy situation, she would be able to find ethical information that neither encouraged or deterred her from one choice or another. She would be allowed to educate herself on abortion, parenting, and adoption. She would not be condemned for taking her time, nor would she be pushed to make a choice, unless medically necessary. She would be empowered to make the decision that was best for her life.
- No adoption agencies would exist, and if they did, they would be regulated heavily by policies, and guidelines. They would be there to connect and match, but without the use of coercive tactics, or false myths on either sides. There would be a cap on adoption fees, and no discrimination in fees would exist. Couples entering into the adoption world would be screened, not necessarily for financial stability, but for their own ability to be open in an adoption.
- Open adoption, full, true open adoption would be mandatory. Unless there were circumstances, that could be proven and documented, the adoption would remain open, always.
- A woman would never be called a birthmother. She would always have the title of mother, parenting, or relinquishing. She would never doubt the importance of her role, because no one would ever tell her she was a birthmother who should disappear into the corners, silently. She would be a mother, because, she is always a mother, even in adoption.
- She would not be allowed to sign her rights away until she had attempted parenting for at least 6 weeks. During this time, she would have support, if it was necessary, through programs that would help her with post-partum issues, breastfeeding, general health issues, and even financial information. During this time she would be allowed to file a birth certificate, that would remain, always, un-amended, and unlocked, even in the event of an adoption. No one would be pressuring her with the word adoption, or relinquishing during this time.
- Infant adoptions would only be considered in worst case scenarios, and again, with well documented evidence as to why this is in the best interest of the baby, and mother, after 6 weeks.
- If at 6 weeks, she decided that she wanted to relinquish, she would THEN begin the process that is often begun in pregnancy. She would look at profiles, and meet couples. After she signed her rights over, she would be given close therapeutic care for at least a year.
- Open Adoption would be legally enforceable. Or at the very least, no one could close the adoption without extensive mediation, or just cause.
- Birth Certificates would show original parent’s names. The adopting family would be issued the original, as well as an adoption decree.
- Adoptions would only occur in situations where it was necessary, where both the mother and father had ethically declared that they relinquished their rights to their child.
- Reality shows would be banned from catering programming that focuses on coercive tactics, beyond the unethical use of cameras and agencies sponsoring.
- Most importantly, all persons involved in an open adoption would have a voice. No amount of money would make one side more important than the other, and the utmost respect would be expected between all parties, with the best interest always being focused on the adoptee.
If you could change current adoption practices, where would you begin?