Reply to: More Adoption, Less Adoption? By Jan Baker
In my research, I have spoken and with and or read the writings of the most strident anti-adoptionists, and remarkably, not of one them is 100%! Not one advocates leaving a child in an abusive or dangerous home, nor prefers foster care or institutionalization. These are false impressions that are being spread by those who have not taken the time to read and discuss the issues, but have chosen to jump to conclusions.
I highly recommend reading completely, “The Case Against Adoption: Research and Alternatives for Concerned Citizens” by Jess DelBalzo, one of the oldest and most radical self-proclaimed anti-adoptionists. If you read it through, you will see that she is not saying anything very different than many within adoption reform who use the phrase Family Preservation.
All of us agree with UNICEF that separating a child from his/her family should be a last resort, only when no extended family can care for the child. We are all opposed to unnecessary separations. Where we disagree is what defines "necessary." You twice use the example of drug addiction. Addiction, however, is seen by the medical community as a treatable illness, albeit with some more resistant to treatment than others.
Many of us would not advocate, as you do, for removal of a child for pre-birth drug use without giving the mother an opportunity for rehabilitation. This is a slippery slope that could lead to babies being taken form cigarette smokers. Many of us are opposed to permanent solutions for temporary problems. Removing a child from his/her family involves a gamble that the outcome will be better. Like medications, none of these so-called “solutions” is without its side effects, or shortcomings. Studies and model programs (described in The Stork Market) have found that mothers and babies do better when kept together during drug rehabilitation, with supervision.
When you read the work of Elizabeth Samuels into the history of sealed adoption records you discover that the records were sealed to protect adoptive parents from intrusion, and secondarily to protect adoptees from the stigma of illegitimacy. Since the second reason no longer exists, the need to seal records cannot be said to have anything to do with providing for the best interest of children who need alternative care. In fact, it is counter to healthy identity formation and is known to create an increase in mental health issues for those adopted.
All reformers agree that when a non-relative placement is necessary it must be open and honest and now we have learned to add is: enforceable. Some of us recognize that the only way for adoptions to be truly open and honest and openness never stopped leaving a child with no access to his true identity, is to not falsify the birth certificate to begin with.
Thus, some adoption professionals reformers such as Reuben Pannor, Annette Baron, Jean Paton and others have advocated enforceable open adoption by calling it simple adoption, guardianship adoption, or permanent legal guardianship. A (Long Overdue) Time for Sweeping Change . This is what all anti-adoptionists and those labeled as such are suggesting. It is nothing new or radical or for that matter far different from what any other adoption reformer are suggesting…just with different words to describe the same thing. Some are additionally more lenient in their preferred definition of necessary, although that will always remain a matter of interpretation and never be totally defined or legislated.
To be 100% anti-adoption would mean being opposed to adoption no matter what! There is, thus, no one who is 100% anti-adoption, no more than those who are not anti-adoption are by definition pro-adoption. Unless one considers blogging on adoption.com being pro-adoption, inasmuch as that is decidedly a pro-adoption site which exists for the puyrpose of gettiugn their advertsiers see, who exist for the sole purpose of profiting from adoptions. One might also call those mothers who are basically content with open adoptions (albet, some want more openness) pro-adoption.
One label is as equally absurd an extreme stereotypical assumption as the other, and are simply polarizing.
We are all on a continuum in respect to our desire to transform adoption into something ethical and human, removing coercion caused by the commercialization and privatization of adoption. Labels such as these create we/they dichotomies of people who are all working toward the same goals and keep us in-fighting instead of using our energies toward what is needed. Instead of labeling, especially as it often done in a very judgmental, perjorative fashion, it is far more appropriate to ask one another "how" anti-adoption are you? People are learning to judge themselves on a scale of 1-10 with one being someone who thinks adoption is wonderful thing that should be supported and promoted (pro-adoption) ...to 10 being those who see it as failed system that needs to be replaced with a far more moral one.
Where do you lie on that continuum? More importantly to what degree to either side - left or right - of where you place yourself, are you will to listen to and try to understand the views of others...and maybe even work with others?
For further reading, I suggest: