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Ethics in Adoption

Most conversations I have that are about adoption are to satisfy the curiosity of others or to compare and contrast experiences with other adoptive parents. I love to share about our adoption experience, because I believe that when people are well informed about both the joys and the challenges of adoption, they are better prepared to make a choice about becoming an adoptive family, and then can parent better once their children are in their arms.

It is of supreme importance to me that people understand adoption better. I want for us as adoptive parents to be able to parent more compassionately and effectively so that our children grow up confident and secure, but I also want more people in our communities to understand what adoption is like both for parent and child. I tend to write about our adoptive experience, but there is one area that I leave out far too often, and that is the subject of ethics in adoption.

There are people who will exploit others for their own gain and will use whatever means possible to do it. Unfortunately, adoption has provided another avenue for people to make a profit off of human suffering, and to cause others harm they would not otherwise experience. The reality is that children are trafficked for adoption. Children have been kidnapped and sold so that families can adopt them. While most adoptions do not fall into this category, the fact is that it will continue to happen if there is an avenue for unscrupulous people to do it and get away with it, making a profit all the while. Many countries who formerly had adoption programs have been closed to international adoption due to trafficking. It is serious, and we must do everything we can to make sure that the children who are placed for adoption truly need families.

Kidnapping children is, of course, the worst of the worst ethical violations. But other violations occur, and if you are preparing to adopt, you must be mindful of other situations as well. First and foremost, adoption should be in the best interest of the child, and if adoption is not necessary, then the child should remain with his or her family. Period. It is unacceptable to coerce or even strongly encourage a family to place a child for adoption when that child could be raised lovingly in their first family. Every effort should be made to provide the resources needed for parents to care for their children. If a parent desires to parent their child and is not harming the child, then the best place for the child is in their current home. An adoption agency or social worker who recruits families to place their children for adoption is not acting in the best interest of parent or child.

Navigating the world of adoption can be daunting even for the basics of getting the paperwork together and navigating immigration if you are adopting internationally, and adding one more iron into your fire may seem impossible. However, ensuring that you have an ethical adoption and choose a provider who acts ethically in all their adoption dealings is of paramount importance, and there are resources to help you. Many people have devoted extensive time and personal resources to making the adoption process more transparent, and they continue to work to make a difference for children and families. My go-to online resource is PEAR, and I am also a member of several Yahoo Groups that provide excellent information and resources. There are adoption groups that are general and also that are specific for each country, as well as adoption agency review groups. If you are considering adoption, join these groups before you begin, and you will be given a wealth of information and a place to ask questions of others who have gone through the process.

Adoption can be a beautiful thing for children who truly need families, but the flip side is that it is devastating for children and families who could stay together. I have barely scratched the surface here, and I hope it is enough to at least put it on the radar of those of you hoping to adopt. There are children who truly need families, and making sure that the option of adoption exists for those children depends on rooting out the corruption that occurs. Let’s not lose sight of preventing the unspeakable while we pursue the good. Don’t ignore red flags while choosing an agency. Be willing to ask hard questions. Listen to those who have gone before you. Be willing to walk away if something is not right. At the heart of adoption is a love for children, and that love is best expressed by honoring all children.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

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