A Position on Adoption Reform - Doggy Style
Over the years many calls for adoption reform have been made, most of them aimed at opening birth records, some of them aimed at ethical adoption practices, some put into practice, but most lingering on the various websites on the internet. Reading through several of the proposals, the impression can't escape that all of them take the current system as a starting point, trying to implement changes to the patch work of rules and regulations. What we would like to do here is open the discussion for a radically different approach to infant adoption.
When looking at the landscape of adoption there are two vastly different spaces: infant adoption and older child adoption. The infant adoption system is mainly characterized by a demand market, where adoption facilitators, adoption attorneys, adoption agencies and prospective adoptive parents (PAP's) form a powerful coalition with the means to dominate the system. Older child adoption is mainly characterized by welfare organizations trying to find families for children needing a family to live with. While we are aware this is an over-generalization and there are several organizations that work both markets, we believe as a general trend it is a valid distinction.
We'd like to concentrate on infant adoption here, because it is in that sphere the desires and monetary potential of prospective PAP's and the marketing potential of the related industry prevail over the best interest of children.
Many authors have written about the money involved in infant adoption, so we shall not rehash that and refer to the various sources that can be found both on this site and on several other websites on the internet. We take it as a given there is an economy around infant adoption with an overly strong power-base on the demand side. So the first suggestion we'd would like to make is:
Make adoption free of charge
The best way to kill an economy is to make products and services free of charge. Besides the economic perspective there is a moral aspect to it as well. When children need a family to live with in their best interest, why should such families have to pay to receive such a child in their care. Do hospitals pay money to receive patients? Then why should adoptive parents be treated any differently? If the child's best interest is at stake society should be willing to pay the bill.
To turn the tables even further. Up to now adoptees have been viewed as "Chosen Children", though this has met a lot of criticism, the terminology and ideology is still wide spread. In fact the adoption industry works by that very regime, trying to find children for their clients. We would suggest to reverse that position.
Find a families for children
In order to facilitate this we suggest the creation of prospective adoptive parent registers. These registers offer PAP's the possibility to register their interest in receiving a child in their family. Such registers should be independent of welfare agencies and exist solely for the registration of and study into suitable families. No competing registers should be allowed and PAP's can only register with the register in the state/county of residence. The registers are obliged to perform as many home-studies as needed to make sure their are enough suitable families for children in their area.
With organizations now working both sides, doing welfare work for children and doing adoption placement on behalf of PAP's, there is too much a conflict of interest. Which takes us to the next suggestion.
Separate child placement from family services
At the moment several organizations are involved in child welfare, family counseling and child placement. Some even go so far as to offer child welfare, child placement, foster care and treatment of fertility issues. This can too easily lead to a conflict of interest. We would suggest child placement agencies can only work in the interest of children and should in no way have a direct relation with PAP's. The latter are represented by the above mentioned registers. When placement is seen in the child's best interest a child placement agency can ask for profiles of suitable families and make a selection for further intake and investigation. In no way should prospective adoptive parents be allowed to financially contribute to child placement agencies.
With a system as we outlined here, there is no need for adoption facilitators. Adoption attorneys will only have a role in preparing the appropriate paper work and the role of child placement agencies will be limited to working in the interest of children only.