Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ethical adoptions

You may have noticed some of the recent news stories about adoption. There have been some recent cases of international adoptions in which the adoptive parents found out their children were likely kidnapped from their birth families. And while from what I've read it appears the adoptive parents have done the right thing (reach out to the birthfamilies) and were told lies about the circumstances around how their child became eligible for adoption (i.e., these were not greedy parents looking to steal a baby but people who thought these children were orphans in need). But in the past week several friends who know we are adopting but are not "in the adoption world" have forwarded these articles to me along with some note saying how great we are for pursuing domestic adoption and are not complicit in these tragedies.

I don't know how to respond to these types of comments. Because, honestly, I see a lot of unethical practices in domestic adoption and so while I think domestic was a better option for us, I don't see it as unambiguously more ethical than international. I mean, there are agencies that fly pregnant women to "adoption friendly" states so that the adoption will be ruled by that state's laws. I can't see how a woman who is confused, scared, and unsure of what to do is going to make a well thought out decision when she is separated from everything she knows. There are agencies that promise the world to women who make adoption plans, but when they start to give indications they might want to parent all those supports are whisked away. There are moments when I start to do something and then hold back because it starts to feel like marketing or engaging in a financial transaction.

The truth is, domestic or international, there are large sums of money being traded around. And agencies and people who see adoption as a business model. And once you do that, it is too easy to forget that there is a child in the middle of all of this. So even though I hope that adoption will soon bless my life in countless ways, I also kinda hope for a world in which pregnant women did not look at their future-- and the future of the child they are carrying-- and see so few prospects that adoption seems like the best option.


  1. It would also be easy to point to the whole surrogacy/donor gamete situation that has been a hot topic lately as an example of domestic family building gone awry.

    The part of the equation that I keep coming back to is the person(s) who feels that it's okay to take advantage of people in need. I know there are always going to be those out there who will take advantage of the vulnerable, but these situations are just abhorent.

  2. I agree with this post wholeheartedly. From the other side of the coin, going international, I made sure to choose an ethical agency... but it means that the wait is longer (because they do super thorough searches on the child before allowing them to be adopted), and some adoptions that this agency have done have had to stop midway through because an official in the country wants a bribe, my agency won't give it to them, and then the family and the child are left separated... and part of me wonders if that is the ethically the right decision either.

    I read something in an adoption book that I felt resonated with your post- that we have to remember "that every adoption story starts with a tragedy"- a child is separated from their biological family.

    I too look forward to becoming a parent though adoption, though at the same time I wish that there were no children that needed adopting anywhere in the world.

  3. Hi Missy, Thinking of you and hoping all is going well with your wait!


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