Thursday, July 7, 2011

FAQs: Family Preservation vs. Anti-Adoption

Q: What is family preservation?

A:  Family Preservation is a recognized part of social service practice, and is defined here by Child Welfare Information Gateway

My definition is similar, albeit more long term, and closer to that of the National Family Preservation Network: to keep families together and prevent unnecessary out-of-home placement of children.

There is also a Family Preservation Institute at Mexico State University...just to name a few.

The term is recognized in Australia which worked to reverse it's pro-adoption position to one of family preservation, offering support to single mothers and reducing the need for adoption loss and separation. West Australia went on to apologize for the era in which adoptions were encouraged, as they still are in the US.

In July 2011, Korea, too made shift in their policies  towards family preservation as indicated by the change of the name of the standing law from “The Special Act Relating to the Promotion and Procedure of Adoption” to “The Special Act Relating to Adoption.” Bill #1812414 marked the end of an era in which adoption was equated with the best interests of a child versus empowering the child’s family of origin.

See: "What is Family Preservation" tab 

Q: Is Family Preservation Pro-Life or Pro Right Wing "Family Values" 

A. NO, not at all! In the adoption community, Family Preservation clearly and specifically refers to helping families in crisis remain together and avoiding unnecessary permanent solutions for temporary problems.

"Open adoption and open records are important byways. But they are not the most compelling route. Family preservation is." Dr. Randolph Severson, The Soul of Family Preservation  

Q: Is Family Preservation a euphemism for anti-adoption?

A: No. In addition to the sources listed above who use the term, support of family preservation can be traced back to the negative reaction to the 'orphan train movement.'  The term dates back to the 1890s, and in the 1909 White House Conference on Children it was the top ranked issue. For more, see Wikipdia. Many states offer family preservation programs that can be found by googling the term.

Q: Am I, Mirah Riben, anti-adoption?

A: It is not a term that I am comfortable with as its pejorative use and negativity does not define my positions and is often linked with anger and bitterness rather than best interests of children and families.

I am not comfortable with the term because it seems to denote an absurd extremism that one supports any and every mother keeping a child - no matter how dangerous that might be for the child....a position not held by even the most extreme anti-adoptionists. I am as uncomfortable with that label as any pro-choice person would be opposed to being labeled anti-life or pro-abortion. Things are not as black and white as labels seem to imply. For more, see: Nomenclatures, Euphemism and Anti-Adoption Accusation.

Being against adoptions that begin with the eradication of blood ties and a falsified birth certificate, does NOT equate to preferring to keep kids in harms way or in foster care.

I am opposed to all unnecessary, unwarranted, pressured, lack of independent option counseling and lack of separate legal counsel, coercive adoptions.

I am against all profiteering in adoption.

I am against all falsified, fraudulent, fake birth certificates and lack of equal access or original and true birth certificates for ALL parties named on said birth certificates.

I have seen nothing that indicates that children in need of alternative care - those who are truly orphaned or have no parents or extended family or kin to care safely for them - cannot be provided such care via a form of permanent legal guardianship that does not alter their identity or sever their family ties.

See also: Why Some Say: ADOPTION SUCKS! And Why Some Are Anti-Adoption

Q: Do I believe that every natural mother should keep her baby?

A: I do not believe that any mother should be forced or coerced to parent any more than she should coerced or subtly pressured to not parent her own child. Mothers - after giving birth and seeing and hold their babies - deserve impartial option counseling that honestly tells them all the risks to them and their child of separation and the resources to be able to make an informed CHOICE.

I believe that baring any serious mental illness or sociopathic tendencies, any woman who gives birth to a child would prefer to have the help she needs to maintain that relationship. I believe that mothers deserve all the resources they need to achieve that goal. I believe that if they cannot accomplish their goal, extended family should be sought to help care for the child. I believe that this is in the child's best interest as well as the mothers, as most adopted people would much prefer to be blood related to the family that raises them and most people would not simply trade off all kin connectedness for better or more material advantages or a mother and father who have the same 50/50 chance of divorcing as all other couples.

Q: Am I a disgruntled, angry, bitter "birthmother"?

A: I am a mother who was lied to when I was told that adoption would be better for my daughter - my daughter who took her own life at 27 as a result of her "better" adoptive family. I am a mother who was told I would forget and get on with my life 42 years ago, who spends every day of my life working to change adoption policies as a direct result of my loss.

Dedicating my life to preventing other mothers suffering the lifelong, irresolvable guilt, grief and shame of unnecessarily losing her child to adoption is as normal and natural as any mother who has suffered the tragic unnecessary loss of a child, such as Candy Lightner who founded MADD or Maureen Kanka who founded Megan's Law. Are they asked if they are bitter?
My anger is perfectly justifiable and I will never apologize for it.

Q: Are my views radical and far too idealistic?

A: These views and positions are no more radical or idealistic than those of the The United Nations, UNICEF, The UN CRC, the Hague Convention on International Adoption, and Save the Children - all of which call for family preservation first, then kinship care and stranger adoption as a last resort - with international adoption the very last resource after no domestic adoption can be found. They also call for protection of original identity.

See "What is Family Preservation" link

Q: Don't you think that making adoption ethical would resolve all issues and allow it to proceed safely rather than abolishing it all together?

A: The word ethical is totally subjective. Unless we establish clear - enforceable - ethical guidelines, it means nothing more than "nice." All of the agencies who placed children that were kidnapped, or who were abuse or killed are considered reputable and ethical agencies and are still in business. Even the most unscrupulous baby brokers - such as Seymour Kurtz - receive a slap on the wrist simply reopen under a different name or in a different state.

What is ethical about domestic adoption agencies taking women out of state, enmeshing them with prospective adopters and making them feel indebted emotionally as well as financially for expenses paid for the room, board and medical costs? What is ethical about predatory practices such as prospective adopters in the delivery room denying the mother any bonding tome at all? What is ethical about providing one attorney to represent both parties - something that would never be done in real estate transaction but is done in very child adoption.

What is ethical about US adoption agencies - allegedly - accepting or adoption placement children who have been trafficked kidnapped, stolen and papers forged?

What is ethical about placing children with pedophiles and others who abuse or kill them, simple because they can afford to pay the brokers' fees?

What is ethical about exporting US children out of the country while we import kids by the thousands?

What is ethical about falsifying birth records?

There is no way to hold private business to ethical standards that cut into their bottom line in a country that admires, supports and encourages free enterprise and capitalism...and encourages adoption with tax and other benefits yet has NO family preservation programs or budget whatsoever. Who will establish and enforce regulations? The foxes are watching the hen house?

Ethica accepts no financial support from business that profit for adoption. The same is not true, however, of EBDAI which claims to "promote ethical adoption practices" and "better the lives of all those touched by adoption" is funded in part by Spence-Chapin, who established EBDAI, hired a marketing professional as Executive Director, and is also funded by other adoption agencies such as The Cradle and pro-adoption groups such as The Dave Thomas Foundation, according to their 2008 Annual report. The webpage of The Cradle is one big, polished marketing infomercial to recruit expectant mothers. Where are the ethics in this?

Other pro-adoption organizations, such as the NCFA, are more honest and "ethical" about whom they represent, although they lie about "protecting" adoptees and their original families.

Q: Doesn't guardianship amount to baby sitting or foster parenting?

A: Some may perceive it that way. However permanent legal guardianship (PLG) is the way adoption was always practiced up until the 1930's when adoptions began to become secretive and records sealed and falsified to protect the baby brokers like Georgia Tann and their paid clientele.

PLG gives caretakers all legal rights for their child's eduction and medical needs. The need to change a child's name is not necessary to provide care for a child, and never was prior to 1930's. Children are often raised by aunts or grandparents - or in step families - or by married parents with different surnames. With such a high rate of divorce today, there is no stigma to it. Physical and legal custody resides with the guardian and cannot be changed except by a judge and under highly unusual circumstances such as the death of the guardian or the abuse or abandonment of the child by the guardian. In that case, PLG would leave the door open for the original parent to step in, if able to - something not possible under current adoption laws that permanently relinquish all rights of the original parent. In PLG they would be forever in the background as a non-custodial parent in a divorce who generally have liberal visitation rights.

Prospective "adopters" who find this not in their liking do not have to, as there are hundreds of parents vying for each child in need.

Alternative child care is about what is about finding homes and families for orphans and children in need of safe care - it is not the last step in reproductive "rights."

Children need and deserve caretakers who want what is in their best interest not to have them as possessions or replacements or pretense for a biological child.


Anonymous said...

I am an adoptee and had I NOT had the same name as my parents, i really would not have felt like i belonged. Divorce was not that common back in the 60s

Mirah Riben said...

Yes. Things were different in the 60s. Mothers, like myself, were given no option but to relinquish our children. Single parenthood was unheard of! Illegitimacy was a shame to be hidden...even infertility was not spoken of, also wrapped in shame. And that is why adoption records became sealed - to "protect" all these secrets and lies and pretend children were born to their adoptive parents. many were never told otherwise because the falsified OBC allowed for that to happen. It legalized the lies.

But all that has changed! And so going forward we need to allow children in true need to be safely cared for without all the secrets and lies!

How would have felt never to have been told? To perhaps find out, as many people do, late in life that your parents fabricated stories of your birth to them? And do you know what your life may have been like had your original family been given the support they needed to remain intact? Do you know that many birth parents are NOT horrible drug addicted whores and criminals? Do you know what many of us are attorneys, social workers, teachers, or just good loving moms of siblings of yours - some married to your father who they forced to break up with simply because they were too young???

In cases like that family Preservation might hav elent to exactly what you say: the child having the same name as the parents who kept and raised him -- and also the same genes, and the ability to look at parents who reflect back some of his or her own features and talents! How amazing would that have been compared to being raised by people you are unrelated to...had all other things been equal (i.e. neither being neglectful or abusive)?

Jan said...

I am sorry about the ugly history and dark side of the adoption industry, however, I am tired of anti adoption blogs that hurl insults at "infertile" women. I would like to point out that its a real mixed bag that adopts. Many families who already have biological children choose adoption as well. Many singles choose adoption these days. Not every infertile woman out there is desperate to "steal" someone else's baby. Many infertiles continue to try for a bio baby and would never even consider adoption. I am one of those, as I went through infertility and never felt adoption was an option. It is just as expensive, time consuming and burdensome to adopt, if not more so, than pursuing fertility treatments. The cost of 3 rounds of IVF is cheaper than an international adoption; doing the math, many people do not choose adoption. I also don't agree with extremist viewpoints that state all adoption is bad, all of the time. Sometimes adoption and fostering are necessary.

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget