Adoption is one of the most joyous times in a person’s life; it is a beautiful process. This is why it is all the more important to make sure that you have a team of people rooting you on from beginning to the end of your journey. A great adoption agency and/or attorney will be there every step of the way, every heartbreak, and every joyous moment. Unfortunately, there are those in the “adoption business” that will simply treat it as a business, forgetting the fact that lives are being eternally impacted. It is vital to be able to spot any unethical action in your adoption before it is too late and for the sake of everyone involved. It is in your best interest to make sure your adoption cuts no corners legally and that the adoption finalizes with everyone involved on the same page. Here are some ways you can tell that your adoption is ethical:
1. Your Agency Makes Sure the Birth Parents Are Represented
While this won’t be applicable to every adoption, if you have the opportunity for the birth parents to be represented by an attorney, make sure that this happens. Many states require this; however, some agencies do not allow for or require birth parents to be represented. Representation of all parties is not only important in making sure that everything is done legally, but in also making sure that birth parents are not or do not feel coerced in any way, and that they are sure about their decision. An attorney will also lead them through all of the legal steps in the adoption process so that they stay informed and knowledgeable about what will happen next. It is in the adoptive parents’ best interest to make sure that birth parent rights are not only respected, but to ensure that their interest is the priority. If your agency does not allow for birth parents to be represented, it is wise to find another agency.
2. Your Questions Are Answered
Though you may not be able to expect your agency or adoption attorney to be available 24/7, your questions should eventually be answered, and in a timely manner. If any agency or attorney supporting your adoption refuses to or evades any questions you may have, especially about the legal process, this is not a good sign. You should be able to understand the adoption process top to bottom with the help of any adoption intermediary. If you do not feel that your questions are being tended to, or if you have asked a question specifically regarding any ethical issue in your adoption, expect and demand that it be answered to your satisfaction.
3. No Cutting Corners
“What birth mom doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” This was a sentence I heard come from the mouth of a social worker involved in our adoption. It hit me like a ton of bricks and my husband was also taken back. When anyone involved in your adoption suggests withholding information from birth parents, not only is this unethical, but it comprises the legality of your adoption. Regardless of any feelings, you may have towards birth parents or what your situation may be, the legality of your adoption is the most important aspect of your adoption. Do not allow anyone involved in your adoption cut any legal or ethical corners. It is not fair to your child’s birth parents, but ultimately, not fair to your child. It may come back to haunt you.
4. Never Allow For Coercion
Adoption is incredibly beautiful and often joyous. However, for every adoption that happens, you may also hear about multiple failed matches. A failed match is essentially when a birth mother chooses to place her child, but then later chooses to parent before revocation is final. While this is heartbreaking, I wish there was a better term for it than a failed match. No one failed here. There was simply a different end to the adoption journey than expected. Birth parents should never be made to feel bad for choosing to parent their child. Birth parents should NEVER have anyone involved in the adoption try to talk them out of parenting or coerce them to place the child. No money should change hands nor gifts be given in an effort to coerce an adoption–that is not adoption, it is child trafficking. Your heart may break and your hopes may be shattered when a match does not come to fruition, but waiting is way better than making your adoption unethical and possibly illegal.
The adoption journey will require all the support you can muster. The team you have around you during this time will make all the difference. It is vital to build a team that not only has your best interest in mind but has a deep respect for the adoption process. Making sure your adoption process is ethical is not only the right thing to do but will be of the most benefit to you and your child in the long run. If you are lucky enough to be able to have an open adoption, starting on the right foot with your adoption process will make all the difference and begin a relationship with care and respect.