I continue to hear/read about how adult adoptees speaking up with concerns in how adoption is currently practiced, tarnish adoption, and they should just be quiet. It is a pretty common shut-down tactic used in the on-line commentary, but I don’t think I have ever heard it used against an adoptive parent, except when abuse is part of the story.
Imagine my surprise in reading these paragraphs in an article in the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday by Brooke Adams.
On page 2…
Laura Trinnaman, executive director of For Every Child Adoption Services and an adoptive parent, said failure of some adoptive parents to honor agreements is one of the most frustrating things an agency confronts.
“From an agency standpoint, it can make and break a country’s program [and] an agency just by a few families not being willing to follow through,” said Trinnaman, whose agency deals mostly with international adoption. “A huge expense of our agency is post-placement coordinating to ensure that both parties are following a schedule and getting what was agreed upon.”
She favors enforceable open-adoption agreements that allow parties to use mediators when disputes or problems arise, and so do many of her clients, who say that failure to live up to agreements hurts children and birth parents and tarnishes adoption as an option.
She’s right though – if anything can tarnish adoption it is broken promises. Promises broken because some agencies uses the hook of open adoption to get the mother into the agency, and for some mothers - the only reason adoption was an option. I am sure that the agencies tell the mother that openness is not enforceable, but when you are being courted by the prospective parents, put up on that pedestal of selflessness and all that is good, it has to be hard to even consider that “their word” isn’t good enough. If the mother then choose to go ahead with an open adoption, and the door is closed by the [adoptive] parents – all you have left is broken promises.
To me advertising a non-enforceable option seems very close to that line in the sand that you shouldn’t cross - but of course without having an enforceable agreement, the agency has “no control” over the actions of the other party.
Quite frankly in my opinion - if an open adoption agreement isn’t enforceable in the state where the agency operates and the adoption will take place, then it should not be part of the advertisements to the mothers – once a mother contacts them they can tell her about an openness option – but must also clearly (and repeatedly) indicate can be closed at any time by the [adoptive] parents, and should not factor into her choice of either parenting or adoption.