The Solution Dogma
To me, one of the most striking examples of adoption lobby lingo has always been the term "children awaiting adoption". According to the various websites on the internet there must be hundreds of thousands of children all around the world all awaiting adoption, though I've never heard a single child use that terminology. Children await the arrival of Santa Claus, they await the upcoming holidays, maybe the return of one of their parents from a business trip, but I've never heard of a child awaiting adoption, other than through the publications of grown ups that claim to act in the best interest of a child.
I believe the entire notion of "children awaiting adoption" is part of what I would like to call a "solution dogma". What was once discovered as a solution to a problem, gradually becomes a belief that sees the solution as the one and only alternative, a one size fits all affair.
The world is full of solution dogmas. Marriage is a good example of another solution dogma. Without looking much into the alternatives, marriage is seen by many as the only possibility for a man and a woman to spend their lives together and raise children. In the mean time many marriages fail, second marriages don't fair much better and many couples that stay married are unhappily living together. Yet there remains a constant push to get married, while there is hardly evidence marriage is doing anyone any good.
On a much less personal scale, privatization of public services is another example of a solution dogma. Over the years many public services have been transformed into private enterprises, based upon the belief that private organizations are more efficient than public ones. There is hardly any evidence to back this up, yet most western countries have privatized large parts of their public services, only to find out later that the public sector has not gotten any smaller, yet the money flowing to the private sector has increased tremendously. Still privatization continues, because so many people believe in it as a solution, even in the absence of a problem.
I see adoption as one of the solution dogmas around. Whenever a child is living in an abusive home, whenever a woman or a family is not quite capable taking care of a child, for whatever reason, adoption is immediately seen as THE solution. While some children may thrive when being adopted, many others don't. For some reason child protection practices have been put on a scale, where institutionalization is seen as the worst option and adoption as the best, with foster-care lingering somewhere in between. That measure stick is believed to apply to all children, irrespective history or personal traits.
I think it is time we stop measuring one option against the other, the only thing we can learn of that are generalizations, which have no meaning in individual cases. While an institution may show detrimental effects on a population of 1000 children, it can under certain circumstance be the best the solution for one individual child.