Review of "The Stork Market" reprinted from its original post at AdopTalk, Sunday, March 25, 2007.
This is a useful and important book, well researched and documented, about what is wrong with domestic and international adoption in the USA today. Written in a clear, crisp journalistic style that is easy to read and follow, "Stork Market" quotes from a wide variety of diverse sources and opinions about the many abuses in our adoption system, and the injustices to all triad members these abuses engender. The root of most of these abuses is the ancient "root of all evil", the love of money. Ms.Riben makes a clear case that commercialism and lack of uniform or stringent regulation of adoption providers is the culprit. She also calls into question the belief that because one can pay, one "deserves" a child to adopt, whether that is really the best solution for the child or not.
This book provides a good overview of what is wrong with the adoption industry, from the coercion of naive pregnant women without providing real options counseling or alternatives, the attempts to take birthfathers out of the picture, to scams that promise a baby to prospective adoptive parents but take their money and give them nothing. Seeing the child as a product subject to the laws of supply and demand, and adoption as a businness rather than a sensitive child welfare issue is also exposed as a cause of corruption and suffering. The problems of sealed records, secrets and lies, amended birth certificates which state that the adoptive parents gave birth to their adopted child, and the new Safe Haven legal abandonment laws are also addressed, along with some heart-warming annectdotes of helping unwed mothers to keep their babies.
There is also a harrowing chapter on the most extreme horrors, children adopted by abusers and pedophiles because of the lack of oversight of adoption facilitators.
I was solidly impressed and enjoying this book right up until the final chapter in conclusion, where I feel the author will lose a lot of other readers as well. What troubled me was the solution proposed, to replace adoption with some form of legal guardianship, and the conviction that adoption is too flawed to be fixed, but must be "restructured" or replaced.
My experience has been that when one starts talking about abolishing adoption or changing it to legal guardianship, many people who would otherwise support reforms of the system stop listening and get defensive, because adoption HAS worked for them, or those they know, despite its many flaws and abuses, and they are not interested in getting rid of it.
Like Ms. Riben, I am also a surrendering mother with many years in adoption reform. Unlike her, I still believe in reform and flexibility in adoption; yes, I would like to see all the abuses she has pointed out reformed and changed, by better, more uniform laws, stricter regulation, better mandated ethical practice. I do not see this necessitating replacing adoption with guardianship. I wish she had ended her book after documenting the abuses, and left readers to draw their own conclusions. I feel the end conclusion weakens an otherwise powerful book as a tool to promote change and understanding.
I hope this book will be widely read and discussed by all interested in adoption reform, and serve as a platform to implement needed change.
MaryAnne Cohen, mother, poet, co-founder of Origins: An organization for women who have lost children to adoption
Posted by AdoptTalk, Sunday, March 25, 2007@ 9:28 AM
For additional reviews and purchase information for The Stork Market: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry www.AdvocatePublications.com