Bring up adoption and you’re bound to draw out differing opinions or controversial topics on a variety of issues surrounding adoption as well as the very act itself. For some, adoption means family, love, and a chance at a full life. Others view adoption as unethical, illegal, and damage with the potential for dire results. Of course, like most other life-impacting and altering situations, no two adoption stories are the same. All of us bring different things to the adoption table, and our takeaways are often a product of the many variables that shape an adoption long before the journey has even begun. While neither side is going to concede anytime soon, the fact that there are millions of children worldwide who are faced with or will someday find themselves faced with the painful situation of being alone, no matter the reason, is very real. And despite what side you’re on, most will agree that all children deserve the love of family—and that if it’s not in the best interest of a child to be with a birth family, then an adoptive family is the answer.
Private Vs. Foster Care
While some families choose to adopt through foster care, for others, private adoption is more appealing. Some advocates of foster care adoption will passionately tell those in the other camp that they are selfish for choosing to adopt a newborn through a private adoption agency when so many children are aging out in foster care—not to mention there is little to no cost with foster care, while agencies and lawyers make out from private adoption rather than making it less costly for potential adoptive families and easier for to wait for children to find these families. There is indeed a long line of deserving children in foster care, and it can seem confusing why anyone would decide to pay hefty fees and wait on long lists to go private. It’s crushing to imagine a child spending years, months, weeks, or even days, uncertain of where he will be sleeping or who will take care of him tomorrow. However, for some families, foster care can seem overwhelming, especially for younger families who may not feel ready to handle children who come with mental or emotional special needs, having experienced neglect or abuse from a member of the birth family, or as a result of years of instability and waiting in the system being passed from foster home to foster home. Other adoptive families are not open to open adoption that often accompanies foster care to adoption situations. And while there has been extensive research done that argues open adoption is in the best interest of the child, others argue that it can be confusing, and in some situations, dangerous for the child and diminishes the chances of an adopted child bonding with her adoptive family.
Domestic Vs. International
For some, the idea of adopting outside of your community, state, or country is plain wrong. “Why would you adopt from another country when there are so many children right here?” is a major argument, and it’s certainly a major truth. There are hundreds of thousands of children in the United States foster care system, especially between the ages of 8 and 21 (in some states), who has been on a waiting list to find a permanent and stable family for a long time. Advocates of domestic adoption argue that these children should come first. On the other hand, UNICEF estimates that 153 million children worldwide are orphans. Aside from needing a family, these children have a higher rate of mortality due to child labor, starvation, and war. For some adoptive families, borders are not a barrier or a reason not to provide a loving home to a child who needs one, and despite the zip code, all children everywhere deserve the same chance without preference.
Some people fear that international adoption is not in the best interest of children. Those who are against international adoption argue that with it comes human trafficking, putting children at risk for kidnapping (or removing children from a birth family under pretense), sexual abuse, and slavery. While there have been confirmed cases of this as well as the abuse of children adopted internationally, there are safeguards both domestically and internationally to deter wrongdoers and to protect against this from occurring. According to www.travel.state.gov.com, The Hague Convention, which entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions—protecting the rights of children, birth families, and hopeful adoptive families involved in international adoption. Families should make sure to engage a reputable agency going into international adoption and make sure all parties involved (domestic and abroad) are aware of and in compliance with regulations. There are many wonderful international adoption agencies and orphanages whose best interest is that of placing a child into a loving, forever family.
The controversy surrounding transracial adoption has existed as long as transracial adoption has existed. Some feel that transracial adoption is dangerous for a child. Nevermind domestic adoption and placing a child of a different race into a home across town into a school district where she will stand out from her classmates, how can it be in the best interest of a child to remove her from her birth country, from the people who look like and speak like her. Transitioning from one community or country to another is an important adoption issue, and those who are open to transracial adoption are well aware of the controversy that accompanies it. Today, prospective adoptive parents are required to take training and classes regarding race and the complications tied to transracial adoption. Many transracial families find themselves joining support groups to make sure their child does not feel singled out or different from the rest. Although it may seem correct, to ignore the differences between skin color, body type, and culture, it is doing a huge disservice to the adopted child. Making sure that the child’s concerns are heard and that she receives constant reassurance of the value of her identity and all that comes with it is crucial to self-esteem and self-worth. Families open to a child of another race should ensure they have support and resources in place ahead of their adoption and realize whether or not they “see color” has nothing to do with how they will be seen by those around them.
Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.