exposing the dark side of adoption
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Adoption and the waiting list


One of the major topics in the process of adoption is the waiting time. Several agencies give prognoses of waiting times for several source countries on their websites. In blogs and on forums, adoptive parents discuss the waiting times they have experienced or are experiencing. Waiting times make people "go international", because the domestic waiting lists are too long.

Yet waiting lists are an absurd concept, when perceived from a child's best interest perspective. Suppose for a particular child adoption is deemed in its best interest, then it would also be in the child's best interest to be placed with the best possible family wanting to adopt that child. After all there seems to be a general agreement that adoption is about finding families for children not children for families. So it would be in the child's best interest there were a large pool of prospective adopters to choose from.

That pool actually exist, for every adoptable child there are several families wanting to adopt. Yet that large pool is hidden from the child, because all those prospective parents are neatly lined up on the waiting lists of the respective adoption agencies. Instead of a pool a representative of the child can choose from, a child somehow gets lined up with a certain adoption agency or at best a small set of agencies and usually gets matched with a family near the top of the waiting list.

This absurd situation arises because adoption agencies perform two separate tasks in one organization. On the one hand they take-in prospective adoptive families, whom they prepare and place on the waiting list, while at the same time they have access to the children market, either by running a project in one of the sending countries or by taking in parents that have decided to relinquish a child.

It would be in the child's best interest to separate these tasks and create two different types of adoption agencies, one that prepares prospective adoptive parents and offers post adoption services and another that prepares a child for adoption and chooses the best possible adoptive parents for that child. Let's call them respectively: PAP-agency and child-agency.

Instead of creating a market for babies it creates a market for adoptive parents. The approach would work best if there were some sort of prospective adoptive parent exchange, where adoptive parents can present  themselves with their abilities and credentials. Each PAP-agency lists all their customers with the PAP-exchange and is responsible for a truthful presentation of credentials and abilities of the prospective adoptive parents. Now a social worker of a child-agency, when representing a child in need of an adoptive family, can access the exchange and select the family that worker deems most suitable to place the child with. In fact the worker can make a pre-selection of several families and invite them over to learn more about the adoptive family and possibly see them interact with the child being up for adoption. The representative of the child-agency should be reimbursed a reasonable fee for this matching work, but should not be allowed to have an affiliation with any of the PAP-agencies.

With a PAP-exchange, waiting lists will be a thing from the past. After all waiting time does not make a family any more suitable. Getting rid of waiting lists also underlines the fact adoption is a privilege, not a right.

by Niels on Friday, 10 July 2009