The longer I’m around the adoption community, specifically, in domestic infant adoption, the more I see the need for so much change. Below are my views and ideas only. One of the most fundamental of changes I’ve come to agree could be better is federal regulation/laws for when an adoption happens vs state laws. I think it would be better than the hodge-podge mess of each state creating their own adoption laws. I thank Robyn for bringing that idea up on a regular basis and I do think she’s right. I also think with the pending decision from the Supreme Court on Roe v. Wade, that if it is ever going to happen, the sooner, the better.
To anyone reading this, if you haven’t read “The Girls Who Went Away” by Ann Fessler (an adoptee who interviewed mothers from the Baby Scoop Era) – order it today and read it. It will offer you a glimpse of the damage done back then; the broken hearts, the unresolved grief that is still present today in many of the mothers from that era. I don’t think many of those mothers truly got over what was done to them, I think they’ve just found a way to live with and through the aftermath.
Other things that I believe need changing, especially if Roe v. Wade falls, these are just my thoughts.
Adoption Agencies and Adoption Service providers need to have a Come to Jesus Moment, especially if they hold themselves out as a Christian Adoption Agency. A moment that makes them realize that they need to do far more family preservation services first, whenever possible, rather than provide only adoption services. That their first priority should be to keep families intact, rather than separation, and that adoption should be seen as the last option, rather than the first go-to solution.
People in the adoption community also need to stand up whenever we can to help fill the gaps a single mother experiences, whether it is a temporary roof over her head, offering to watch the baby on an ongoing basis, help navigating the endless bureaucracy, offering gently used hand-me-downs and books or toys their children have outgrown, even just checking in to see how she’s doing and maybe dropping off a gift when you can. And seeing how fundraising has become a common way to be able to adopt, maybe also fundraise to keep a family together.
If there must be an adoption, then below is what I believe shouldn’t be part of it.
*No hopeful adoptive parents at the hospital: I truly believe having them at the hospital, during delivery, or having any part in the delivery or care after birth, whether intended or not, creates expectations of them leaving the hospital with the baby. So, for that reason, and for the newborn babe to have their best start in life, HAPS, agencies, other adoption service providers need to do some deep mulling on what is most important, what the adults want, or what is the best start for the babe. <-really read the article, then do more research on the ways it benefits the babe. And don’t forget that it makes sense that the majority of mother’s considering adoption for their baby are stressed out, which impacts the babe as well (see below and read the whole article to understand that impact and it isn’t just NICU babies).
Activation of mother’s and/or baby’s HPA axis as a result of stresses experienced during a woman’s pregnancy or an infant’s stay in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) can all adversely impact the infant’s neurodevelopment. Indeed, Bergman7 suggested that ‘the mere absence of the parent creates toxic stress’ in the standard NICU and Shah et al.8 proposed that any pediatric hospitalization can precipitate toxic stress in the child as well as in the child’s parent(s), particularly if the child and family lack support to buffer their experiences. Furthermore, the National Children’s Traumatic Stress Network recently designated trauma during a childhood medical illness as an ACE.9
Regardless if there ever is a federal adoption law or it stays with the states; ensure the process for a mother to sign away her parental rights includes a time-frame for her to change her mind after signing away her parental rights, or a longer time post birth before she can sign away her parental rights, full stop. Right now, some states adoption law even allows pre-birth signing away rights (most or all with a narrow window to change your mind post birth), other states have timelines that start within hours post birth to all the way to multiple days must pass before they can sign away their parental rights. I don’t believe anyone should be able to sign away their parental rights while they are recovering from giving birth with their hormones all over the place and you haven’t healed from the birth, and/or the laws must give a window of time post signing to change your mind.
No promises of an open-adoption unless you have a detailed plan agreed upon in writing that is included in the petition to adopt so you put your money where your mouth is if you break your word, then the mother (or father) by birth can take you to court to enforce the agreement. Having it that way would hopefully reduce the number of folks promoting they want an open adoption, and then, ghosting the parents by birth once the adoption was finalized or close it based on some trivial excuse.
All adoption records, court documents, and the original birth certificate would be available to the one adopted at 18, regardless of the state, regardless of when the adoption happened, all Adoptees would have access to their documents, whether they are 18 or 88. Ideally, the way birth certificates are handled in adoption would change so the original would not need to be amended, but not sure of how it would work, but it should be the goal.
All Adoptees that were adopted internationally whose adoptive parents failed to complete the citizenship process for the child, would become US Citizens as promised when they were adopted.
What would you change and how would it change adoption?