Adoption Carnival V: What do you want REFORMED?

Adoption Reform means so many things because we all come from different parts of the adoption community. To you reform may mean making original birth certificates available to every adoptee, to me it may mean making all countries Hague compliant.

Almost everyone involved in adoption believes that the adoption community needs some reform.

So, tell us what you want reformed. Help us spread the word a little (okay, a lot) and lets get everyone involved in this Carnival. Make sure to link to Mr. Linky.


What do I want reformed? Hmm. High up on my list would be keeping the original birth certificate and adding an adoption decree—the amended birth certificates are not only a lie, they are sometimes nonsensical. Yes, Cricket’s biological parents are both women, why do you ask? Says so right here! Ruth and I both have copies of his OBC, so access to it won’t be a problem for him, but all adoptees should have access. Original birth certificates should tell the truth; our agency tried to bully me out of having Mr. Book on there, wanted me to go with “unknown.” Listen, guys, I’ve only had sex with one man in my life—I am not pretending otherwise so that you can shut him out of the process!

I want all adoptions to be agency adoptions, and all agencies to be nonprofit. In fact, I’d rather they didn’t focus on placement; I know one social worker here in town who works with an organization that helped 240 women last year and of those, 6 placed their children for adoption. That’s what I want—organizations that are genuinely looking out for the best interests of the child and the mother, whatever that looks like. I know that they exist, but they’re in the minority . . . and they don’t have the ad budget of those less ethical agencies.

Prospective adoptive parents should be educated before they go into the pool—about open adoption, about RAD, heck, maybe they should have marital counseling (I throw that last one in only because the local CUB rep told me that adoptive parents have an 86 percent divorce rate. I’m not sure that I believe her, but jeez). They should hear from adoptees and birth parents and adoptive parents, about the good and the bad. I don’t think that all adoptions need to be open, but I do think that all open adoptions should be legally enforceable; modifiable if it’s in the best interests of the child, of course, but not at any of the parents’ discretion.

Beyond those few things, I become more uncertain. I think that there are some problems with the way that some women making an adoption plan have their expenses paid by the prospective adoptive parents—but some of them need the help. Heck, I had some of my medical expenses and some maternity clothes paid for by Ruth and Nora (through the agency); I felt that it was okay for me to have them pay for things that they would have paid for had they gotten pregnant (so no rent or food money, but medical expense, absolutely). Heck, I thought to myself, if I could pay my own medical expenses, I wouldn’t be doing an adoption, now would I?

I hate some of the advertising done by people hoping to adopt, but I suppose I can’t blame them. I have not yet been through that experience of trying and trying for a child, realizing that it isn’t going to happen that way, going to a doctor and trying even harder, and then deciding that a biokid just isn’t in the cards. But the billboard ads, the YouTube videos . . . it creeps me out, to be perfectly honest. There’s gotta be a better way.

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15 thoughts on “Adoption Carnival V: What do you want REFORMED?

  1. I’m with you on all your reform ideas. The birth certificate thing makes me crazy, because by putting my name on the fake second certificate, it makes me tacitly compliant with the system that is denying my son and other adoptees the truth, and I don’t wish to be. If there had been an option for skipping that fake certificate, I’d have taken it.

    Adopting from foster care, the agency staff goes out of their way to make sure you hear about RAD, attachment issues and other problems adopted kids may have–in fact, we often felt like the subtext of every training was “If you’re not here to adopt a pet-sodomizing firestarter with ADHD and an eating disorder, please leave now.” But there is much less space (one video) given to the voices of people in or adopted from foster care, and nothing at all representing parents who lost their children to the system. I don’t think people should be able to adopt without hearing lots from both those groups. It’s easy to demonize people when you don’t have to hear them, and it’s easy to have the adoption process be about the parents if they never hear what it’s like for the kids.

  2. I disagree that agencies should be available to help women who have no intention of placing. There should be OTHER resources readily available for women with unplanned pregnacies, should they choose to parent. But agencies are just that- even if they are nonprofit. I don’t think encouraging women to place is evil and I don’t think it is necessarily coersion. Tricking people is different. Insinuating that agencies should discourage women from placing (not saying you are, but plenty of people do) is just as coersive as trying to influence them to place. Hopefully agencies being nonprofit would deter some of this unneccesary advising in BOTH directions, because there would be less of a financial incentive.

    As far as potential adoptive parents paying for expenses? How can you say that this too is not some sort of coercion? If adoptive parents pay for some expenses, and then the woman changes her mind after the baby is born, can’t the fact that they gave her money be used to coerce her? I don’t think giving money, either privately or through an agency is wrong. IF, however, the woman changes her mind- she must be liable to re-pay the PAPS all of the expenses. I think any sort of financial transactions, private or otherwise, should be HIGHLY discouraged. If the woman cannot repay them- where does that leave the couple who now is both childless and out a few thousand dollars? Money should not be involved, but if it is, thats the only way I could see it working out. Any other pregnant woman in the world who plans to keep her child does not receive thousands of dollars of support for rent or food or anything else from the general public. Pregnancy and childbearing is a choice under the law and therefore those who choose it should be held responsible for their own actions, from conception to birth. I don’t think “considering” making an adoption plan makes a woman any more special than any other, and therefore does not permit her to take money from strangers to help her with a baby she could end up raising herself. Some people will argue that under the pressure to repay the PAPS, a woman will relinquish when she doesn’t really want to. Thus is the personal risk of asking for financial assistance. If a woman cannot even afford to be pregnant or sustain her own living expenses, how can she raise a child? Not saying she isn’t worthy- we all know money doesn’t mean much when it comes to mothering skills. But practically it is important and should not be ignored. We should all be making decisions proactively, and we are all responsible for our own reproductive lives. No money should exchange hands in my opinion. Staying pregnant under the assumption that someone else will be paying the medical expenses is irresponsible, especially if the only reason they are offering to do so is in the hopes of adopting the baby. If the adoptive goes through, then they would have paid for their child’s prenatal medical expenses. If not, they just paid for a strangers prenatal expenses. This is not fair and should not be okay. My adoptive parents paid for my birthmothers prenatal expenses, and the therapy she underwent after my relinquishment. They would say it was worth it. But just as a pregnant woman should not be exploited into relinquishing, nor should adoptive parents be exploited.

    I agree the advertising has gone overboard. Adoption is a private intimate thing and should be regarded as such. It should be done by nonprofit organizations and agencies only. I also think that adoptees should get BOTH birth certificates. The amendended version forever, and the original at 18, should they request it.

    • I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t think there should be adoption agencies—there should be crisis pregnancy centers—a non-evil kind—that help women make the best decision and find the support they need. Perhaps that means all prospective adoptive parents who wish to be available for a baby pay a set amount into a birthparent expense fund and the center uses it as they see fit; I know that support directly is coercive, but some women need a little help to be able to raise their children (if that’s what they decide to do). Maybe I’m thinking of something like an idealized Catholic Charities. I think that it’s shameful that women in this country give up their children because they can’t afford to raise them, and that calls for massive changes and improvements to the social safety net. But that’s just my opinion.

  3. I dont see anything wrong with having two birth certificates as long as both of them go home with the adoptee and his parents. I know I said “when they are 18” but I would like to contradict myself. I think it’s better that the parents and child together should have control over the OBC together. It belongs to the child but sometimes there are very good reasons why a child should not know his birthparents too early…. I am one of those children.

    • Amanda, I agree that there are times when a child shouldn’t know his birthparents too early, but a birth certificate with names on it is not the same as knowing people–it’s just knowing who they are. The problem with the two birth certificates is that one of them is false. My son was not born to me, period. So it’s a legal document that is a flat out lie.

      And we have no access to his original birth certificate, they didn’t give us that one, so it’s totally up to me whether he will have access to information that by right belongs to him. No one should have the right to raise a child on a lie–not me, not the county or the state.

      • Which is why I said that BOTH birth certificates should be given to the adoptive parents when the child is adopted.

        From what I understand, the augmented birth certificate is not the real issue, its the secrecy surrounding the original. Given that the most common way to prove child-to-parent connections is the birth certificate, disregarding genetics and speaking purely on a legal basis, I don’t mind that there is a piece of paper that proves without a doubt that my parents are my parents and I am their daughter. I have duel citizenship based on that “lie” and without it I would not have been able to live the life that I had. Should I have simply waited at home in the USA while my parents left the country? Having both certificates, at least in my opinion, eliminates the secrecy, while all the while giving we adopted persons the right to have a document that can be used in all other proceedings.

        What name would be on the OBC? The one the birthparents chose or the adoptive parents? If the name is different from the one they are carrying, what extra documents will need to be provided when an adopted person goes to am embassy, or to get their liscence? If a second document indicating adoption is necessary as a supplement(and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be- given that the birth certificate does not indicate legal familial standing) are we to present it to every place that requires a birth certificate? So the woman behind the counter, and everyone at the embassy, and the whole world needs to know not only that we were adopted, but our birthname and our birthparents names?

        I get the hang ups people have with the birthcertificate being a line. I’m an adult in reunion for over a decade, and I don’t think I could get my OBC even if I wanted to. Sometimes I want to try, just as a challenge. Also, before anyone says anything, there are plenty of hereditary life altering diseases my birthfamily carries. I also think that information should be required along with the OBC and augmented BC. If the birthmother wants privacy and no contact EVER ( which is understandable in some violent situations), she should indicate that somewhere in said file in a legal and enforceable manner. Its sad for the adoptee, but as long as they have a right to all of their genetic and medical information, as well as the correct times of birth and weights from the OBC, then I think birthparents have a right to indicate as such on the OBC or on an attached document. If an adoptee or adoptive parent chooses to violate that request, and who could blame them for trying, they should be open to any personal or legal repercussions.

        I’d be happy if we could just have the RIGHT to both BC’s. it should come as a package- here’s the baby, here’s the OBC, here’s the legal BC, and heres a familial history. And I think it’s a much more obtainable goal.

  4. Which is why I said that BOTH birth certificates should be given to the adoptive parents when the child is adopted.

    From what I understand, the augmented birth certificate is not the real issue, its the secrecy surrounding the original. Given that the most common way to prove child-to-parent connections is the birth certificate, disregarding genetics and speaking purely on a legal basis, I don’t mind that there is a piece of paper that proves without a doubt that my parents are my parents and I am their daughter.

    WHat about dual citizenship situations (one that affects me quite personally). Without a BC indicating the adoptive parent and child relationship, what will we present the embassy? Assuming there will be a supplement record indicating adoption, how will we ensure that OTHER countries will recognize adoptee and adoptive parent ties without a BC indicating as such? Should I have waited in the US while my parents and their biological child traveled and lived out of country? Having both certificates, at least in my opinion, eliminates the secrecy that we ALL dislike, while all the while giving we adopted persons the right to have a document that can be used in all other legal proceedings. Because legally I only have one set of parents.

    What name would be on the OBC? The one the birthparents chose or the adoptive parents? If the name is different from the one the adoptee is carrying, what extra documents will need to be provided when an adopted person goes to an embassy, or to get their liscence? If a second document indicating adoption is necessary as a supplement(and I can’t see why it wouldn’t be- given that the birth certificate does not indicate legal familial standing) are we to present it to every place that requires a birth certificate? So the woman behind the counter, and everyone at the embassy, and the whole world needs to know not only that we were adopted, but our birthname and our birthparents names?

    I get the hang ups people have with the birthcertificate being a lie. Heck, it irks me too, since it’s my birth certificate that is falsified. I’m an adult in reunion for over a decade, and I don’t think I could get my OBC even if I wanted to. Sometimes I want to try, just as a challenge. Also, before anyone says anything, there are plenty of hereditary life altering diseases my birthfamily carries. I also think that information should be required along with the OBC and augmented BC. If the birthmother wants privacy and no contact EVER ( which is understandable in some violent situations), she should indicate that somewhere in said file in a legal and enforceable manner. Its sad for the adoptee, but as long as they have a right to all of their genetic and medical information, as well as the correct times of birth and weights from the OBC, then I think birthparents have a right to indicate as such on the OBC or on an attached document. If an adoptee or adoptive parent chooses to violate that request, and who could blame them for trying, they should be open to any personal or legal repercussions.

    Adoption is a LEGAL contract, and is used to transfer legal rights. Why should adoptees be required to carry not only a BC but also a seperate document in order to prove the identity that is legally theirs? I think having the right to both and having possession of both BC’s is a much more obtainable goal.

    • But what’s the advantage of having two birth certs, over one true birth cert and an adoption order to establish legal parenthood?

      The only reason that birth certs, as opposed to adoption orders, are used as a form of ID is because that’s the way it’s been done in the past, and that can change. With all the kids who are being adopted these days, how long would it take people who need to see birth certs to adjust to the fact that for ten percent of the population (or whatever the statistic is, these days) people have an adoption order, too, to make the names match? After all, every piece of paper my son’s school sends home is addressed to “Parent or Guardian” because the school recognizes that not all kids live with a parent. If public schools can change their language for the percentage of kids who don’t live with parents, then the gov’t agencies who require us to show our birth certificates can change their understanding of what papers prove parent/child relations.

      As for the burden of carrying a separate document in order to prove identity…how much of a burden is that, really? I’ve used my birth cert to get my driver’s license,a passport, and to adopt my son. That’s it. So, if I had to carry two pieces of paper instead of one on those few occasions, it’s hardly a big deal, compared to millions of people not having access to their parents’ names. And giving adoptive parents two different certificates does not guarantee that the child will have access to the original, ever.

  5. I also do not understand the birth certificate thing and was surprised after we adopted our son. When we received the birth certificate, I had actually expected it to say something about it being an adoption. But it listed my husband and I as the biological parents. Perhaps we were naive, but we really didn’t know that would happen. I knew from reading adoptees blogs that it was the way things had been done in the past, but I thought the process had been changed. It just hadn’t even occurred to us. I had done a lot of research pre-adoption to make certain we did as ethical of an adoption as possible, but that really showed me that even with all the research I did, we just plain had no idea what a lot of the issues were! I’ve since done so much more research and have become an adoption reform advocate!

  6. I guess it’s just a difference of values or opinions. I want what everyone else has- adoption took that from me, and I’d just rather have both my BC’s for the sake of truth than have a special piece of paper that I would have to use for legal purposes announcing to the world that my birthparents didn’t want me. Sometimes, I’d like my adoption to be a little less public, a little less everybody elses business. You see the augmented BC as a lie, I see it as what I wish could have been. I want my truth and I deserve it and I have it- but simply because my biological parents chose not to raise me should not mean that I have to hold a special type of documentation indicating such.

    Why not just both BC’s? The original for genelogical and personal and health purposes, the second for legal ones. This is all supposed to be for the adoptees, right? Well let me tell you as an adoptee who has had a wonderful life and who enjoys a good relationship with the healthy of my biological family members— as long I have full access to MY truth, to BOTH BC’s, what that silly piece of paper says that I look at once a year says means very little to me. I don’t lie to people with that piece of paper, I don’t try and hide the fact that I was adopted with that “lie” of a birthcertificate. But nor do I want the name “ADOPTEE” stamped across all of my legal documents for life. I see it kind of like “bastad” (which I am as well!). “BASTARD” was stamped across BC’s for years, indicating that the child was born out of wedlock. “ADOPTEE” being visible on all of my legal documents that will be used for all forms of identification (which is essentially what you are suggesting, given that I’d have to carry a seperate piece of paper to back up my BC) indicates that the people who brought me into this world didn’t want to keep me.

    If you dont mind, I’ll keep my truth AND augmented BC. I want to know the truth of my beginnings…but I don’t necessarily want everyone else to know.

    I won’t be reading follow up comments, because frankly I just don’t have it in me. I can’t find truth in either side of the argument, so I’ll let you guys fight the good fight, since I simply can’t anymore.

  7. I just wrote an essay about the finalization day for our adoption & wished for four spaces on the birth certificate. (well, at least 3; the bio dad has never reached out personally although he did try to block the adoption against the wishes of his former partner). But really, four spots.

    Although I can see how a child once grown maybe should be able to control that info if s/he would like.

  8. The agency I placed through offers a variety of services beyond adoption (even services for seniors and pre-marital counseling workshops… not all pregnancy/child related). PAPs each pay into a fund the agency uses to pay expenses of prospective birthparents and birthparents. Women who choose to parent are asked to attempt to repay (not required and not in a set time frame) the organization for expenses that were covered. That way, PAPs aren’t directly paying for expenses of a woman who may place with them (eases coercion risks and PAPs being out thousands for a child they do not adopt) but the expenses get paid. I feel this is a much more equitable way to handle it. Not everyone who ultimately decides to parent repays the agency, but some do.

    As far as birth certificates, there are quite a few scenarios in which someone might wish to “hide” some truth in the document (children whose mothers do not know who the father is, for example… or those who live with guardians other than their parents… even those who were born to an unmarried couple, evidenced by different last names/addresses). It’s still reality, even if it’s an unfortunate one. If done well, an adoption document could be accepted as an alternative to a birth certificate, eliminating the need to carry an additional document.

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