When my husband and I began walking down the road of domestic infant adoption, there was a lot to learn.
Even before our home study began, I had spent countless hours reading books and blogs on various topics related to adoption. We worked with excellent social workers who gave solid advice and never felt alone or without a support system. Our home study provider was happy to answer questions and provide guidance as I created our family’s profile book, and we knew what to expect from the process and how the laws in our state worked.
Having now adopted twice via local domestic infant adoption and being involved in the adoption community for years, I can see how certain topics tend to be avoided. There are plenty of discussions about how to choose an agency, how to raise money, and strategies for shortening your wait time. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these topics, but I believe there are additional things we should be talking about more as adoptive parents (or waiting adoptive parents).
Adoptive parents must lead the fight in advocating for ethical adoptions. As the party who will be paying adoption professionals, our decisions have a huge impact on how domestic infant adoptions continue to be done in our country. The current system is underregulated and in need of reform.
I would love to see more hopeful adoptive parents doing their own research and asking questions not about whether they can do something, but whether they should.
We should be having more conversations about birth father rights, paying living expenses for expectant parents, race-based agency fees (i.e. discounting fees for African American babies), and coercive practices, and other important ethical issues in adoption.
I was always under the impression that trauma in adoption was only applicable when adopting internationally or from foster care. “That doesn’t matter for us, since we’re adopting newborns!” I thought. I was incorrect.
Adoption professionals and parents should be talking more about how trauma, including pre-natal trauma, can affect children adopted even at very young ages. Nancy Verrier’s book The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child comes recommended in many circles, and might be a good place to start in learning the importance of bonding and attachment and how even adopted infants experience loss.
We need to reject the notion that newborns are blank slates who are unaffected by an early change in caregivers. This is a topic that all adoptive parents—including the parents of domestically adopted infants—should be aware of.
3. Adoptee Voices
Technically this is something we should be listening to, but it still makes the list! It can be (unfortunately) challenging to find adult adoptee voices speaking on many topics that parents are discussing. The voice of adoptive parents is disproportionately represented, which it shouldn’t be—after all, adoptees are the experts on themselves!
When we are asking questions about changing our adopted child’s name, or issues related to transracial adoption, we should be seeking out what those with lived experience have to say.
Angela Tucker of The Adopted Life is one person doing amazing work in this area, and I highly suggest checking out her website. Rhonda Roorda’s books titled In Their Voices are also an invaluable resource, containing the personal stories of adult transracial adoptees (of which Rhonda is herself).
What are some topics you wish were discussed more in adoption? Do any of the things mentioned here resonate with you?