I’ve been pondering on adoption today and how it has become something I don’t recognise anymore. Adoptions from my era (BSE) had a host of problems, but how they’ve fixed them, largely, only seem to benefit the other players in adoption, not the child.
Sure, you can argue openness makes a huge difference, but how I see openness playing out is that a tiny portion have truly open adoptions with deep mutual respect going both ways. The rest seems to be a chore the adoptive parents (sometimes grudgingly) do, or find reasons not to do, leaving the only benefit being that hopefully the child knows who their mother by birth is for the future. I don’t consider sending updates to the mother by birth to be an open adoption, especially if the mother by birth doesn’t respond because that says she doesn’t feel welcome too, rather, fears overstepping and risking getting cut off. I do know some mother’s by birth flake and/or are dealing with their own challenges. Whatever the reason, I don’t see the benefit to the child when there is no relationship, and relationships without visits to get to know each other really aren’t to benefit the child, are they. I don’t see actions and attitudes matching that spirit in enough adoptive families to say adoption today is any better than my era.
Which brings me to the quotes below. Quotes I agree with and have said something similar many times. The first quote is where I think we need to return to, note there is an assumption that preservation of the family unit comes before moving to the finding a home that is suitable for that child.
Adoption is a way of providing families for children who cannot be cared for by their own parents. Its main purpose is to provide suitable families for those children who lack permanent homes and an opportunity for a good family life.
Children’s Bureau Folder No. 47 – 1959
The quote below is even more specific in who is the most important one of all, the child. It looks beyond the paying client and looks to who among the many families wishing to adopt would match the needs of what that child will have, which include similarities in personalities and interests. That requires getting to know both sides and trying to match similar with similar.
While everyone sympathizes with a couple’s wish to adopt a child, the couple’s needs cannot be placed above those of the child. If a home is to be found for a child rather than a child for a home, all professions concerned with the adoption must have a strong interest in the well-being of children. The attorney though concerned with the need to provide legal protections for all those involved in adoption is sensitive to the importance of a secure and happy future for each child who is placed for adoption.
Children’s Bureau Folder No. 47 – 1959
Mind you, the above quotes were taken from an era when good social agencies actively strove to put a child in a home that should have similar personalities, likes, interests the child may have inherited and would be a good fit. I also know that desire to do right by the child wasn’t across the board back then. But at least they’d thought about it, tried to instill it as a mindset on behalf of the child.
How many adoption agencies, lawyers, or any other type of adoption professional today even *thinks* about whether a home is good for that particular child? Maybe it happens in foster care adoption, but does it even register in the minds of private adoption professionals? Do they even suggest to the expectant mother to look for similarities in interests and personalities, so hopefully a match would work for the child?
Any agency reading this, I’d welcome knowing how your process does this, or if you’ve even tried to do this or gave it any thought. I say this because I’ve read too many stories by adoptees who share no common interests or personalities with either of their adoptive parents, and yet, find they match with members of their family by birth. It matters, I matched dad, but had little in common with mom and while we had a good relationship till the end, it wasn’t as smooth or easy as it was with dad, because we didn’t share any common interests or personality quirks.