Informed consent…

18 Nov

I was reading various articles on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy site this afternoon, and stumbled on an interesting and yet rather dry article on “Informed Consent” in medicine and the concerns by bioethicists.  Parts I read and other parts I skimmed, but it talks about the different components/elements that make up informed consent for patients. 

Reading that got me wondering on whether there were any articles defining what was required for informed consent for mothers looking at adoption.  I haven’t found a good paper on that – perhaps no one has bothered?  

Instead I came across this paper by Ellen Wertheimer titled “Of Apple and Trees: Adoption and Informed Consent” which is a pretty interesting read, and talks about how the adoption agencies do not give prospective adoptive parents complete information to make an informed consent.  How having the information about the higher representation of adoptees accessing the mental health services would allow them to make an informed consent to the adoption, and make them able to parent better.  She discusses the various studies and notes how the adoption entities find reasons to dismiss, or provide alternate reasons for the outcomes.  She believes there needs to be a code of ethics for adoption professionals just like there are for doctors, lawyers, etc., if they ever want to be taken seriously as a profession.  All in all an interesting read and highlights just how prospective parents are taken in and not provided with all the information they should be provided. 

In the above paper she talks about Linda Anne Babb and her book “Ethics in American Adoptions” 1999, which has the following description.  Has anyone read it?

Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 – 235 pages

Today in the United States there is a lack of consensus about what constitutes ethical practice in adoption. Although ethics in adoption is a hot topic, adoption specialists and professionals are unsure about how to serve the best interests of children who need to be adopted and how birth parents, adoptive parents, and adult adoptees ought to be served. This failure to identify and prioritize ethical standards in adoption has resulted in a lack of ethical decision-making and inadequate–and sometimes fraudulent–treatment of those seeking adoption-related services. Destined to be seminal in the fields of ethics and adoption, this books offers numerous case studies describing what is wrong with America’s adoption system, illustrating what the lack of applied ethical standards in adoption does to adoptees and those who love them, and raising many questions about what adoption facilitators are doing, who is accountable for what they are doing, and whose interests they are serving.

One of the reasons I stopped when I came across the Informed Consent article at Stanford, was because I had read an article that frankly disgusted me, in its fervor to separate mother and child and return to the good old days of my era when unwed mothers knew they had no choice but to surrender.  The entire article should be read as it clearly speaks to the agenda, and while you might be mistaken for assuming it is from long ago it was published in 2001. It also clearly highlights how the realities of surrendering a child is dismissed and the impact on the one adopted, because it is focused on increasing adoption at any cost. Then take the time to google the article Missing Piece by Curtis J Young they mention which is basically how to get more mothers to choose adoption…

Page 15 of the article linked above (bolding mine)

An unwed pregnant woman’s first step must be to carry her child to delivery.  In the second step, she must answer the question. “Who will parent my child?”  To be able to take these two steps, and expectant mother must be informed about adoption.  She should know that adoption is superior to abortion and single motherhood in the prospects it holds for both the unwed mother and child.  She should be surrounded by counsellors and caregivers that will support her through the decision-making and adoption process.

If these steps in public policy and private practices were followed, the barriers to adoption for both the unwed mothers, and prospective parents would fall dramatically, helping to reverse the trends of the past three decades.

It just all makes me sad.  I know some adoptions are for the best, but to target unwed mothers as all bad – must surrender – just makes me want to scream.

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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child, Ethics


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