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.


A Firewall

What's needed is indeed a FIREWALL between child protection and those involved in adoptions.

Adoption agencies should not be active in, or even worse run, 'orphanages'. Nor maternity homes or shelters for unwed mothers. They should not be involved in locating children, in freeing children for adoption. No money should exchange hands whatsoever.

And support, financial and practical, must be available for mothers to take care of their children.

I'll bet that if all those conditions are fullfilled, hardly any adoptions take place. Children will be taken care of by their mothers/parents or by foster families or other child protection facilities. That's what happened in most European countries: hardly any children for national adoption. And thus we order them abroad... where no FIREWALL exists!

Radical Changes in Responsibility

As one who has been sent away because my parents were not married at the time of my birth, I would like Health Care professionals, particularly doctors and nurses in maternal-child healthcare, to get more actively involved in the prevention of child relinquishment.  It's a known fact mother-child bonding requires guidance and patience.  It's cruel to have recruiters and social services approaching young pregnant women who are scared and insecure about their changing roles that normally come with motherhood. 

The delivery room and post-partum recovery rooms are no place for an adoption facilitator or PAP to visit.

The more sensitive and educated the hospital/birth-center administrators, health-care providers, and paid staff-members are, in terms of the long-term implications of parent-child separation, the better.


I don't believe it it keeps

I don't believe it it keeps happening to me! I typed a really long in depth reply and hey presto its f##cking gone. It sounded dead good as well (you will just have to take my word for that).
So now Ive ran out of steam, and will sound a complete retard but here goes.
Basically I would like the word adoption scrapped (it represents decades of damaged lives that time wont heal). An end to changing names and birth record. The registration (my personal feelings) of a birth is like a validation that your here and you are someone significant. To change that bit of personal history to suit someone else's likes is like saying your not good enough as you are, but never mind we can fix it and pretend it never happened and a lie will be better than who you are. I had loads more to say arrh!

end of adoption

Sorry to hear your initial post got lost. I had to smash my computer several time in the past for doing the same to me. I know the feeling. Having read all posts you made ever since you signed up, I can only imagine how much effort you put into it.

I very much agree with what you say. One of the things I never understood about adoption is the changing of names, hence the changing of formal identity. A few years ago I was still very ignorant about adoption and was shocked to find out people change first names of children. I was aware of the fact my surname was changed as a result of adoption, but I was born Niels and stayed Niels after my adoption. When  my initial naivety was gone, I learned a lot more about adoption and now believe it is even unsound to change a child's surname. A child by getting adopted is assumed to no longer be part of its natural family and assumed to adapt to a new family, which is both unrealistic and cruel. I think it is much better if a child when in need to be placed in another family (which in my opinion is an extreme measure that should only be done in extreme situations), should keep its original name, with:

Full access to all information about the outplacement measures at all time.

We didn't address that in our original post on purpose. So much attention is already being paid to open records that we wanted to steer away from that for now.

Instead of adoption I would very much like to see a new system of legal guardianship implemented, which like I tried to describe in my original post, should be based on finding families for children, not children for families. I believe in either case we need to implement several safe-guards to make sure the monetary power of PAP's or PLG's (Prospective Legal Guardians) is not going to interfere with child placement decisions. Especially with regards to third world countries this is very much needed. People in western countries are so rich compared to poor people in third world countries, it is fair to say there is not just a risk of corruption, but a system of corruption. So eliminating the financial impulse is the only option I see to make a serious change in that situation.


This post echoes what I've been saying for the past decade. Early on in my adoption journey, I began to recognize the market forces and the roles played by money and demand. Ten years ago I warned that adoption had become legalized baby buying, but I addressed the wrong audience and had to temper my message to PAPs and APs. I've always said that adoption should be about finding families for children in need of homes and families, not about finding children for families. I've fought against the myths perpetrated by a money driven adoption industry and fought for ethical reforms. I've come to believe that you are right. We can not accept the existing system as a starting  point for reforms. The existing system must be dismantled and the money driven adoption industry must be torn down and replaced with a child and family preservation centered system of social services, where adoption is one option on a menu of available social services. If we accept Hague implementation and accreditation and industry initiated attempts at reforms as anything more than a PR facade that conceals the goal of preserving the status quo of a failed adoption industry, then we are looking at the trees and not the forest.

David K


supply and demand

As long as there is a supply of babies, there will be a hungry demand for them.  In this day and age, how does that NOT translate into dollars and cents?

I'll be honest, I used to blame the adoptive parents (and their "need" for a baby) for the misery people like me experienced.   Sure, babies are cute, but they grow-up to be kids, with attitudes and opinions all of their own.  This may not fit well for some who thought parenting would be fun and fulfilling.  Kids are loud, messy and annoying, and not as cute and sweet as they were when they couldn't speak.  I know in my case, my mother used to gush how cute I was when I was little, but once I became school-aged, the cuteness wore-off, and the magic and novelty of the baby-experience was over. 

Now I don't blame my Aparents for not knowing how to deal with certain faily-problems, they both came from very dysfunctional families, themselves.  However, I do blame the adoption agency for not looking into who is adopting, and not  preparing potential parents for the realities that go with a child missing his/her mother.  It cannot be said the dangers and hazards of pathological parenting were not known until recently.  (Market) studies have been conducted since the 1920's, if not earlier!  But regular people don't read research study reports.  People prefer to read stories, like the one I found about The Abandoned Baby Syndrome.  http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/1432

What could possibly convince the government to stop the money flow that comes from the baby-making industry?  How do you stop people from using adoption as a way to have a baby?  I simply do not know because the adoption-industry has managed to created a marketing miracle for itself.  First, they created a 'moral' solution to solve a social problem, ("unwanted"pregnancy).  Then they created new services to off-set the problems caused by the ills caused by maternal-child separation, without limiting or restricting the number of mothers and children forced to separate, permanently.  THEN, they went international with the plan.

What does that spell?  MORE money!  Between the application fees, the traveling expenses, the agency fees, and whatever else has to be paid-out for a child with very limited options.  It's no wonder adoptive parents feel defensive and angry when they are seen as vultures grabbing babies from pregnant teens.  Take another look at the movie Juno, and see all that isn't shown!

I feel sorry for today's adoptive parents.  They are victims of a money-making scheme that could care less about family-values and child safety.

Who pays?  Eventually, we all will.

Almost forgot, opening records....

Silly me, I forgot about one of the problems caused by the shifty paper-work done to complete a "legal" adoption plan.  The level of secrecy is so perverse, it's positively mind-blowing, however, many of the most disturbing facts don't begin to reveal themselves until the adopted child develops health problems, or the child becomes an adult, and decides he/she wants to become a parent.

I can't imagine anyone thinking an adoptee does not have the right to have accurate information about his birth-parents and the circumstances surrounding the parent-child separation.  This is above all else, a medical issue that needs to be respected and deemed important to the person who does not know if  certain illnesses or diseases are high family risk-factors.

However, I think before the opening of records becomes a reality, specialized support networks need to be formalized so those adoptees who have been misled by family members can easily get the professional assistance they need to help process the news and information their adoption records represent.

Attempts have been made to do just that in the UK

Attempts have been made to do just that in the UK but I'm not sure with how much success

I do think that all responsibility for provision of access and support should be removed from the agencies that arranged adoptions in the past here in the UK

Reading here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200001/cmselect/cmadopt/431/1... what Roger Singleton ex CEO of Barnardo's says, and it does apply equally to their attitude to adoption records, I am unhappy and uncomfortable about the fact that Barnardos have any say in either what records I can see or in what support should be provided

Putting my name and contact details to that for the record

Robin Harritt


Paying for mistakes

There's no doubt coming from THIS adoptee, no adoption agency can be trusted to supply accurate information, because many times, they have been duped, as well.  Therefore, whatever 'support' services they can provide struggling adoptees will be very limited, and insufficient.  One of the biggest emotional tasks an adoptee has to do is bridge the gap between fact and falacy.  Only those familiar with the effects of corrupt adoption policy can begin to imagine what unravels as more "truth" comes out.

So who should provide these medical and legal services an adoptee will seek, eventually, and how can these services be funded so adoptees do not have to pay for facts that should have been provided at the very beginning?

Ideally, the financially fit adoption industry will find it in it's imaginary heart to "donate" funds needed to fix the many complex problems caused by adoption.


Barnardo's Investigated

I'd like to remind Barnardo's history ...

Will these people ever learn to behave?

Barnardo's Investigated

During the nineteen nineties, Barnardo's was investigated after it was alleged that children growing up in their homes between the eighteen seventies and the nineteen eighties had been abused by carers who were not concerned bout the children's emotional well being. Many of the allegations were found to be true, and Barnardo's now states that this was not a period in their history that they are proud of.

One of the most serious allegations to come to light was an accusation made in 1924 by Harold Venell; he alleged that while he had become a Barnardo's boy at the age of seven due to his mother no longer being able to care for him, many of the children he met when he was deported to Canada had been kidnapped by the charity. In the course of the investigation, letters and diaries from Dr. Barnardo were found and within them he told of how he himself had taken the decision to remove a child from their home despite their parent's wishes. This, though serious in itself, became more so when it emerged that Dr. Barnardo's decision was often based more on his own somewhat extreme religious beliefs than whether or not the child had actually been unhappy.

Further to this, Mr. Venell told of how, when in Canada, he had been forced to work an eighteen hour day and has been fed mostly on gruel, and other thin stews. He told of how the schooling given to the children in many homes was minimal and of how many children were beaten up, sexually abused and psychologically tortured sometimes being kept in dark rooms for days or weeks at a time for misbehaviour.

Barnardo's pleads guilty to most of the charges, and has apologised. It has also agreed to pay compensation to children abused in its homes between the eighteen seventies and nineteen eighties. It was also during these investigations that it became apparent that Thomas Barnardo was not a real doctor and had conferred the title upon himself. Although in reality, this is a minor offence, some feel that this may reveal how dishonest the man really was and there are still calls for Barnardo's past to be fully investigated.


Special Services Adoptees Need

"Compensation"?  What sort of compensation can an abducted and abused child get from a child-service agency?  It took many neglectful hands to create these adult-problems.

It will take many hands to correct the personal problems the victims of these circumstances have had to face; it will take many professional hands to fix very complex problems

I found an interesting non-profit program in New Jersey that focuses on the legal needs of the chronically mentally ill in Bergan County.  It's called Community Health Law Project, and they handle family-law matters that relate to a specific group of people.  

Since 1976, the department has represented thousands of clients in a wide variety of civil and municipal court matters. The Law Project handles a large number of family law matters, such as divorce, visitation, custody and support issues. The staff of attorneys and psychiatric social worker provide specialized legal services and supportive advocacy, as well as counseling and outreach.

In my mind, such a group of professionals would be ideal, and provide the sort of assistance adult adoptees need from a "special services".  But try selling that idea to the top dogs in the  adoption industry.

Kerry and Niels!

That is great!! That is incredible!!

I completely agree that the current system must be taken down and a new child centered system must be rebuilt from the ground up. What the two of you have addressed here is exactly what I advocate for.

We need to remove the money in adoption. Remove the agencies, remove the lawyers, remove those who profit. Address and restore the rights to information on ourselves, I couldn't agree more with govt./state assisted assistance on support when coming out of the fog. A mandatory "free services for support" to adoptees, should be a national policy.


Man have I needed this. Thank you.

Lets do it! I'm with you!!


And she bore him a son and he (Moses) called his name Gershom "for," he said "I have been a stranger in a foreign land." ~ exodus 2:22

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