About Revocation

15 Mar

What is revocation? This is the waiting time between the birth of a child or the initial decision to place a child for adoption and the point at which paperwork may be signed and filed with the relevant authorities.

The period of revocation differs from state to state in the United States. Like most aspects of adoption, there is no consistency on this matter. Requirements for pre-placement counseling, for separate legal representation, and for notification of biological fathers, also vary widely. There are few to no legally enforceable guidelines on contact between biological and adoptive parents or limitations on coercive conduct by placing agencies. This makes for a real “Wild West” or “might makes right” approach to domestic infant adoption in the United States.

Many agencies actually relocate mothers considering placement to states where revocation laws are more lenient and where notifications to biological fathers are virtually non-existent. Often, the prospective adoptive parents pay the relocation expenses and support the mothers financially for the last few months of pregnancy. These financial ties — although handled through the agency and perfectly legal — are absolutely the form and substance of coercion.  How so?
1. When the mother gives birth, she is alone in a strange town with no support and few prospects for the future. An agency social worker and two adoptive parents come into her hospital room with tear-filled eyes, telling her what a saint she is for giving them her child.

2. This woman knows that she cannot give her child financially what the prospective adoptive parents can give to her child. She’s been living on their support for the last 4 months.

3. She knows that if she decides to keep her child she will be virtually on her own to find her way back to where she came from and plug into services that she will need. She may not even be able afford to get back home and the agency won’t pay if she doesn’t surrender.

4. The biological father may not even be aware of the pregnancy and going after him for child support might be a truly terror-inducing prospect.

The deck is totally stacked against this woman continuing to parent her child;  a 72 hour waiting period and 2 hours of counseling won’t change those odds.
What will change the odds for this woman is a true waiting period.

Six to nine weeks would be ideal where she can place the child in temporary foster care or parent if she so desires and think about her options….where she can be free of pressure from the agency and pressure from prospective adoptive parents….where she can tap into services and supports that she will need going forward regardless of her decision.

However, a true waiting period would require a virtual total overhaul of the domestic adoption system in this country. It would necessitate ending pre-birth matching of children and prospective adoptive parents. It would require standardization of adoption laws and policies across the United States. It would require an end to the practice of adoption as a business.

Yet, for all of the upheaval to the system and for the subsequent further reduction in babies available for adoption that these changes would engender, this type of shift in how adoption is practiced in the US would make adoption a cleaner and more sacred thing than it has been in this country to date. To my mind, that’s worth it.

~Wednesday

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The Business of Adoption

10 Mar

oFriday: Previously, you raised an interesting topic that I’d like to explore, and that is that adoption is a business. Can you tell me more about that?

Thursday: To be honest, MOST of the agency infant adoption world is unnecessary, and therefore, full of corruption.

Wednesday: Domestic infant adoption is a business…. plain and simple…and business have to keep up supply, demand, and profit to stay in business. There are few instances (I would venture to say, almost no instances) where domestic infant non-special needs adoption is strictly necessary to save the life of the child. That’s a fantasy that agencies like to sell, but it just isn’t the case. Is every domestic infant adoption unethical? No. Would many/most domestic infant adoptions be unnecessary if society was more supportive of parenting in less than ideal situations? Unquestionably yes.

Tuesday: Yes, yes, a thousand times yes to this. This can be an incredibly painful fact for those struggling with infertility whose deep desire of the heart is be able to turn to adoption in order to re-create as close as possible what biological parents get to do— raise a healthy child starting from the moment of birth or in the newborn period.

The reality is that these are not the children who are in need of adoptive homes. The “demand” outstrips supply, and money involved is lucrative, and the motivation to increase supply by any means necessary then creates the perfect breeding ground for corruption and child trafficking.

This is seen in just about every single country doing international adoption as well. There is a classic scene that plays out in international adoption that has happened so many times that it practically predictable.

1. Adoption agencies scout out new countries with easy laws and available children, and set up shop.

2. They advertise, aggressively. These advertisements usually involve appealing to people’s sense of charity, compassion, while also appealing to what most people WANT in an adoption process, a guarantee of a healthy child as young as possible, in as short of a time frame as possible.

3. The program rapidly begins to gain speed and momentum. Whatever oversight infrastructure the home country had to oversee adoptions is quickly inundated. Those in positions overseeing orphan care suddenly find themselves flush with cash and needing to maintain a steady supply of *NEW* “orphans” coming into care in order to keep business running without a hitch.

4. Whatever corruption that already existed, EXPLODES. In hindsight looking back, this period of “wild wild west corruption” usually corresponds with the “peak” years of adoptions processed from this country. “Wild wild west” corruption includes hiring “finders” to go to villages and homes and convince families that relinquishing their child or children to the orphanage will result in material benefits for their child and family, and the money they offer seems like pennies in to us but is quite promising and lucrative to poor families in these countries. It also includes out and out KIDNAPPING of people’s children. It includes falsifying a child’s documents and identity papers so that their story can fit the definition of orphan and appear above suspicion. It degrades into a free for all bonanza of keeping up with Western demand for healthy, young as possible infants and older toddlers, at any cost.

5. Eventually, corruption is so systemic for so long, that from time to time, they get “caught”. Stories don’t match up, paperwork doesn’t match up, children are old enough and let slip certain information, a handful of parents from in-country who realize they have been lied to, or simply change their mind, decide to be vocal and demand their child back. Those who have their child simply “disappear” might make the news somewhere. And slowly, the door starts cracking open as certain people asks harder questions and dig deeper. Then an avalanche of stories comes pouring out.

6. Damage control from all parties involved in making money from this begins. The time frame for a match, which has already been lengthening due to so much demand, now begins to slow even more dramatically. Some countries close down completely for adoption at this point. Others tighten requirements and oversight to such a degree that it is no longer a “desirable” place to recruit potential adoptive parents who do not want to wait 3+ years for placement.

7. If the country hasn’t already closed, adoptions began to decrease in number as result of #6. Adoption agencies who are always scouting out new locations and countries, have usually already done some work on the ground in some place new. Once they have secured themselves enough on the ground to have enough children in care to be able to offer international adoption, they “open” their new program and you start all over again at point #1 in a new country.

The thing about this kind of corruption is that it is relatively EASY to root out *if* you have local contacts and know to ask questions. What prospective adoptive parents walk into an adoption seminar and think that this kind of stuff goes on? How many adoptive parents think to question the legitimacy of a process that seems so full oversight and checks and balances? We jump through a million and one hoops of paperwork and background checks and fingerprints and therefore we trust in the show of paperwork and bureaucracy.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. I could probably go on for a thousand more words.  I also know it can be overwhelming and shocking to realize that this stuff exists, but it is SO KEY to know this BEFORE starting the process to protect yourself and protect vulnerable children.

And let me tell you, adoption agencies and other adoptive families can get testy and defensive when you start delving into these kind of ethical discussions, and accusations of being “anti-” adoption and trying to discourage people from adopting when there is such a “NEED.”

I am in NO WAY “anti-adoption”, as evidenced by the fact that we have adopted several times now. What I am is PRO-TRUTH, and I fully believe that those of us who are vested in the well being of children should WANT the truth, *even if* it leads to less adoptions.

Thursday: An adoption agency is not an unbiased party. As I mentioned earlier, most of the big ones you have heard of are BUSINESSES. Businesses need to stay in business, so they need to meet the demand.

If a woman goes to an agency for counseling about what she should do about her pregnancy it IS going to be biased. Of course it is. They need her baby in order to stay in business, make payroll, and keep the electricity on.

Women should be encouraged to have counseling with an un-biased counselor regarding this decision. This means not a Crisis Pregnancy Center, and not an adoption agency. It should be a licensed counselor, and ideally one who has experience/understanding of adoption loss and trauma.

I believe that the agency/hopeful adoptive parents should NOT pay for most things, but I DO think that they should be willing to pay for counseling with a counselor of the expectant parent’s choosing, if they are unable to pay for it themselves or don’t have insurance.

Wednesday: I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER have used the agency that Baby was placed through if they hadn’t had my child. They are a private for-profit domestic agency in my state. They mostly handled straight infant adoptions but occasionally got preemies and a few minor medical special needs babies. They ended up with Baby because their social worker was from South America and Baby’s parents wanted to place with someone who got their culture. I didn’t like the agency and the feeling I got from them from the get-go, but I fell in love with Baby.

First of all, I found Baby through a facilitator/broker. The agency used a facilitator to promote Baby on adoption photo-listings and network with potential adoptive parents. For the $3500 we ultimately ended up paying the broker, this person called some fellow facilitators and got them to place Baby on their photo-listing and handled the initial review of my family’s profile before giving us the agency’s contact info and her recommendation. In between my contact with the facilitator and submitting my info to the agency, I had to provide her with financials (ability to pay) information.

There was some misunderstanding/miscommunication to the tune of approximately $3500 in our upfront cash that the agency wanted before placing with us. When the agency realized that the numbers didn’t quite add up, they called the facilitator and that person called me and HIT THE ROOF! That’s when I realized I was dealing with a bunch of folks that were all about the money. I told this person that since they obviously thought we were lying about the money and that was more important than this child’s best interest I would step aside in favor of another family if they had one lined up.

Then this person and the agency back pedaled big time. They had no other family and didn’t want to front the actual costs of finding one. I ended up paying the facilitator out of my pockets, plus the agency, plus half a dozen other ancilliary fees to other brokers who were shopping Baby around I’m sure.

All in all, Baby’s adoption cost $40K. I had $25K the day we brought Baby home, and my spouse and I signed a promissory note notarized by an attorney for the remaining $15K. That was what the bulk of the paper-work and investigation into our family amounted to. I’m not sure that anyone ever even looked at our home study or profile except possibly the dear foster mother who Baby was placed with. They couldn’t have cared less about who we were. We passed a home study. We passed the FBI fingerprints and ICPC. We had the cash. That’s what they cared about.

Now we were the perfect family for Baby. However, these people didn’t know that and didn’t care. The agency is now out of child placing and I say Thank the Lord!

I want to add that most of that $40K went into the agency’s coffers. Baby was over a year old when we found the picture and had only been in private foster care for 2 months. The agency did no birth parent support/housing/subsidy and we used separate legal counsel for finalization in our home state. Also, our home study was with another independent agency. So that’s $40K for agency staff salaries.

There are good domestic agencies out there, some even placing infants. My sibling has worked with an agency in my state that is doing great work. However, you really have to do your homework and be clear on what you will and won’t do or consent to being done in order to bring home a child.

Tuesday: As a side trail, take the oft-quoted statistic that there are 147 million orphans, or 135 million orphans worldwide or whatever the current figure is trotted out to be. This is used as a plea to make people think about the overwhelming need for adoptive families to step up and fill in the gap for these children.

In REALITY, that is a number that includes children who HAVE at least one living parent. My grandfather died at 39 of heart disease and left my grandmother a widow with 4 young children. My mother was certainly in no manner, shape or form “an orphan” in need of a whole new family to pop out of the blue and adopt her as a solution to her loss of a father. The UNICEF statistic that is used to urge adoption was originally developed as a way for UNICEF to highlight the need for in-country, on the ground family preservation and support for those most vulnerable to poverty, starvation, illness and disease. http://www.unicef.org/media/media_45279.html

Monday: Direct infant placemen is a HORRIBLE idea of international adoption. The reality is that there are not enough domestic infants being placed for adoption to meet the rampant demand that already exists in the US. Adoption, whether domestic or international, should always be a last resort for a mother to choose, not a first.

If you open international adoption up to allowing mothers to directly choose and place, all you do is open the door and ask the US government to sanction blatant, widespread child trafficking.

The world’s poor readily sell their organs and rent their uteri for wealthy Westerners. If you allow direct parental relinquishment in international adoption, not only do you turn children into a commodity to meet our insatiable demand, but you will open breeding programs in poor nations whereby women are deliberately bred and held for the purpose of harvesting infants and forced “relinquishments.” That has already been seen in far too many international adoption programs when we didn’t sanction it. There would be NO stopping it if you allowed the practice. As a nation, we simply cannot allow that outcome. Furthermore, there is simply NO WAY that dangling the promise of a rich American life could be anything but highly coercive to parents in poor nations who desperately want a chance and a future for their children.

Tuesday: There will always be children in true need of adoptive homes and families. As we live in a broken world, that will always be the case. We shouldn’t be afraid of telling the truth, and we should believe in a zero tolerance policy for anything else, because truth, transparency, integrity, and a commitment to children and families means that those children who *truly* in need of an adoptive homes are the ones that have resources devoted to advocating and finding permanency for them.

If we ever do an international medical needs adoption again, I will hire finders on the ground in the host country, to independently verify any and all information I received on a child. This to me is an absolute must. You cannot verify the legitimacy of a child’s story and documentation by trusting the word of the agency who tells you they are “legitimate”.

It may cost more money up front, but it is far preferable to the alternative of risk.

There are finders in every country that has international programs. There are also ways of double checking the information you get from finding sources as well.

Monday: Do not assume that expenses collected for a birthmother’s living expenses in domestic infant adoption actually go to the mother.  When I was considering placing my first child for adoption, the prospective family threatened to sue me for fraud after I backed out of the placement. They alleged that they paid several thousand dollars for my living expenses.

Except……they didn’t.

The ONLY help I ever received on my living expenses was a bag of maternity clothes given to me by a friend of the facilitator and a piece of clothing this person bought me at a thrift store. The facilitator did network to find me a home to stay at in her church, but my parents paid my living expenses. The facilitator, with a GED as her furthest education, charged several hundred dollars an hour for “counseling” every time she met with me. It was NOT counseling, nor was it ever disclosed to me that she was billing anyone for it. She also took me out to eat at fancy restaurants and apparently billed the couple for the two of us plus a slew of her personal friends who ate with her. Lastly, she billed them for medical expenses, except I had health insurance that paid for everything and what my health insurance did not cover, again my parents paid.

I saw less than $150 of the supposed several thousand that was paid for my “expenses” by that family. I cannot tell you what the facilitator did with those funds. I can only tell you that those funds did NOT go to me, nor did they pay for any of my needs or support

Profile Books

1 Mar

Profile books

When adoptive parents in the United States are starting the process of domestic adoption, one of the first thing an agency has them do is to create a profile book. This is a book that tells about their family and why they should be picked to be the adoptive parents.

Friday: Now, I’ve heard some people really don’t like profile books. Can you give me some insight into that process?

Wednesday: My issue with profile books in domestic adoption is that it is basically a glorified popularity contest with money and status being the primary things that move your profile to the front. Older parents, parents with other children, middle class families, families that just aren’t pretty enough or don’t have the right look/lifestyle don’t get chosen.

Thursday: Typically, profile books provide nothing of actual substance about the family. They are typically a “Dear Birthmother” letter, that includes (usually not on purpose by the family-but very much intentionally by the agency) a lot of manipulative language and heart-tugging information. There are also usually pictures of the people, the vacations, the big house, etc. Even the fact that they are “Dear Birthmother” letters is manipulative. At the time a woman views these profiles, she IS NOT A BIRTHMOTHER. She is just a mother-a woman *considering* adoption, yet by calling her a birthmother, we are implying that her decision is made.

It’s a popularity contest. Who is prettiest-who can give a Disney vacation-who is a doctor, etc. Then these parents (the expectant-parents) are encouraged to think about who can give their child a better life. Good grief, how manipulative. In comparison to all that, *I* should be placing my kids for adoption.

It should NOT BE about who has the bigger house, or who goes on the best vacations. Kids should not be placed for adoption because someone else can give them “better” by those standards. Yet, these profile books play on ALL those insecurities. “Look what WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We are educated! We live in a nice house!!! We have been married for 10 years!!! We go to Disney!! We have dogs!!! We have supportive parents!!! YAY US!!!! But, so, so sad. We are infertile, and your baby would make our perfect life complete.

Do you see?

And again, I don’t completely blame the hopeful adoptive parents. They are usually following instructions, and haven’t really thought this through. They are hurting, and want the hurting to stop. But the agencies? The agencies know EXACTLY what they are doing. Infant adoption is supply and demand. The demand is HIGH, and the supply is low, so they have to pretty it up to make the sale. And honestly, hopeful adoptive parents should take responsibility for educating themselves fully about these issues-the problem is, some don’t even realize there are any issues to educate themselves ABOUT.

I know I am using harsh, business-like language. That’s because for these agencies, that is EXACTLY what it is-a business. A people-trading business.

Tuesday: My book ended up being many pages of dense information about parenting, special needs, and our kids.

The agency rejected it and told me it overwhelming and filled with too much detailed information that expectant parents would not be able to process in times of stress. I told them “Oh well”.

I refused to re-do it and we had a long discussion lasting many days about it whereby they tried to tell me we would have a low chance of selection if we didn’t re-do our book. Some places refused to take a book that was more than 5 pages long, and expected it to mostly be pictures, so they wouldn’t take our book at all.

Our agency training on domestic infant adoption involved several hours devoted to looking at profile books that were “successful” in getting a couple chosen by an expectant parent, so we could emulate their success.

This is when I first began to get an inkling into the under belly of the adoption world. It was not pretty.

Friday: So, what can be done about this whole profile book thing? How can a mama get to know the potential parents of her child?

Thursday: I would like to see more info of substance offered to expecting parents. WITH NO LETTER. Those letters make me want to gouge my eyes out.

A list of info FIRST, for expecting parents to see, to decide who they’d like to meet/learn more about. Info like:

Age
Religion
Other Children in Home
Occupation
Parenting Style
Discipline Method
Education Plans (for children) public? Private? Homeschool?
Strengths and Weaknesses
Likes and Dislikes
Openness desires
How they will talk to their child about being adopted.

No pictures, no letter.

Once it is narrowed down, meet, or talk on the phone to a few of the possibilities.

Things that should actually be CONSIDERED when making this huge decision. NOT dogs and Disney. Women and Men considering this should be encouraged to ask REAL questions about REAL issues. Adoptive parents required to be honest.

If the match falls through because the e-parents want a Catholic, public schooling, mainstream family, and I am part of a Baptist, homeschooling, and attachment parenting family, then the e-parents HAVE THAT RIGHT to make the decision that they want for the child that is STILL THEIRS.

Our Starting Point

28 Feb

Welcome! We are kickstarting our blog on this last day of February by providing an outline of issues that will be written about over the next few months and years.

For profit agencies
Advertising
Profile books
Myths about the mother that is placing her child for adoption
Agencies providing the counseling for the expectant parents
Birthfather rights
Revocation Periods
Openness Issues
Closed adoptee records
The pre-birth matching process

This is not a complete list 😉 but is a good starting point for ethical issues in adoption.