Some of you may be asking, “There’s an anti-adoption movement?” and the answer is yes. It’s a big, powerful consortium of organizations comprised of adoptees, birth moms and dads, social workers, and numerous other advocates. Even though I’m in the process of adopting a daughter and I consider myself a satisfied adopted child, I think the anti-adoption folks have a good point.
The U.S. has a long, complicated history with adoption, and foster care — comprised predominantly of children who have been forcibly removed from their parents — compounds it exponentially. Recently, the New Republic wrote a widely circulated article, “Meet the New Anti-Adoption Movement: The Surprising Next Frontier in Reproductive Justice”. The buzz in the adoption and anti-adoption groups was about how there’s actually nothing new about being anti-adoption.
Here’s a rudimentary short-list of the ugly side of adoption in America:
- The Indian Adoption Project formed in 1958, which aimed to ‘civilize’ Native American children by removing them from their tribe and ensuring their adoption by white, Northeastern families. Eventually, the Indian Child Welfare Act went into place (1978), made famous now by the Baby Veronica Case.
- In 1972, The National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) issued a formal position opposing transracial adoption, citing concerns that such placements compromised the child’s racial and cultural identity, amounting to a form of cultural genocide.
- The Baby Scoop Era after World War II and up through the 1980s was a time in which white, unwed mothers were often coerced into the adoption of their newborns.
So, can adoption be done right? I think so. At the forefront of ethical policy, research, and advocacy is The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. In 2006, they published “Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process,” and the report remains the go-to guide. If you’re thinking about adopting, it’s a must-read. And don’t be discouraged, adoption can be a beautiful thing!
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