Living the life of adoption seems to evoke various levels of emotion. Depending on your perspective, the feelings of numbness, anxiety, vigilance, reflection, fantasy, hope, despair, loss, gratitude or rejection (just to name a few) can be a constant companion. Maybe reflecting upon the heart of adoption (the intent) would be helpful in understanding how the intent and the system (the way adoption is executed) are in conflict.
Isn’t adoption a path that is taken in the best interest of the child? Let’s start there. Do children seek adoption? No, never. So what is the motivation for adoption? One scenario is the biological family of the child feels unable to care for the child. There are many reasons why this might happen: economically unstable, difficult to consider single parenting, coerced by family, pressure from others, mentally unstable, low self esteem which translate in birthparents mind as unable to parent. So the reason to place is a difficult concept from the beginning. The child doesn’t “fit” into the life of the biological parent.
Another reason for adoption is that the birth family/custodial parent is incarcerated and unable to physically care for the child. Society then labels the “poor child” as needing a good home with good parents.
There are also the tragic circumstances where a child can no longer live with birth parents because they have been killed. This child needs a home. What are the options? The only one that seems most viable is adoption. So how does adoption work? Who wants to engage in adoption?
The answers are found in the motivation of all who are involved in the adoption process. Adoption agencies find childless parents desperate for a child due to infertility. They are eager to form a family by adopting a child. Eager to call a child their very own. Which one of the above scenarios of a waiting child would be the best solution for this family? Any one of them, right? The child then has a home and the childless parents have a family….all fixed.
Maybe this is a little harsh or simplistic but this is how the system is set up. There are a lot of undisclosed details in the above description such as home visits, mounds of paperwork, and lots of money. Did I mention loss? Yes, another undisclosed detail. This entire relationship begins on a foundation of loss for everyone; everyone that is but the agency/attorney being funded by this match.
This one article can’t begin to cover the issues just now introduced. So watch for more to follow. Let’s suffice this to say that the way adoption is approached today creates a conflict of interest for everyone EXCEPT the parties being funded by the transaction. So let’s begin to explore ways to make and suggest change that could be a win/win for the parents and the child.
Sarah Bell, MA, LPC, CCDP-D says
I agree that ‘loss’ is an unspoken reality of adoption that is often not discussed. Thanks for this great article.