Don't forget the successful adoptions
By Donald C. Cofsky
This week's two-part series by Megan Twohey of Reuters on "re-homing" of adopted children presents a picture of great concern regarding the minority of international adoptions that have been disrupted.
While the examples are very disturbing, we must not lose sight of the thousands of successful adoptions and the marvelous families that follow all the laws, take these children into their homes and provide them with the love and caring that they so desperately need.
There will be people who abuse the system and who do not follow the rules. The series has graphically pointed this out. Those individuals should be stopped from doing so immediately.
However, a family that is in crisis, having discovered that their child has significant special needs that were never revealed, and that seeks to take actions in the best interest of the child, should not be condemned. Most often, the connection between a family in crisis with another family that has the ability to provide the child with the support, love and affection that the child requires, results in a positive outcome, provided that all of the proper procedures have taken place.
There are also agencies that specialize in assisting these families and attorneys who often work with them to help accomplish this. These success stories certainly deserve to be shared with the public.
There are hundreds of thousands of children languishing in orphanages throughout the world who are being ignored or mistreated and who are badly in need of permanent, loving homes. Unfortunately, because of regulations that the United States and other countries have enacted, more and more of these children will likely remain in these orphanages. The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys has long supported international adoption as being in the best interest of children, as long as all proper procedures are followed, and has recently endorsed soon to be introduced federal legislation to achieve this.
The advice that we as experienced adoption attorneys would encourage any family to follow is:
■Work with a reputable licensed adoption agency or an experienced adoption attorney.
■Make sure that a home study has been completed and that any prospective adoptive family has been approved to adopt a child.
■If there is a possibility that the child may have special needs, the family should be counseled and educated to make sure the family members are ready and able to raise a child with those needs.
■Obtain a detailed medical history of the child, and have it reviewed in the U.S. by doctors who specialize in medical issues involving children from foreign countries.
■For those parents who find that the situation has become critical, consult an experienced adoption attorney or agency specializing in disruptions to make sure that everyone's rights are protected, especially those of the child.
Lastly, we urge state and local agencies to provide counseling, assistance and guidance to those families who are in crisis as a result of the potential disruption of an international adoption, just as they do in those rare instances of a potential disruption of a domestic adoption.
If all this is done, we will have gone a long way in assuring the future well-being of these children.
Donald C. Cofsky is president of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, a nonprofit association of attorneys, judges and law school professors who practice, or have otherwise distinguished themselves, in the field of adoption law.