The Legacies Of Trees

The Legacies Of Trees
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why Closed Adoptions Should Be Outlawed

I can find no reasoned, principled justification for closed adoption. Its only defense is that it has positive law on its side which is no defense at all. The laws continued to become more and more about the adoptive parent's needs and less about birth parents and their children. Shame, secrecy and being underage at the time kept these people from speaking out and now a whole generation of displaced people are organizing to put and end to it.

When the injustice of slavery was recognized, the "impossibility" of removing it from a culture dependent on its existence became morally irrelevant. The difficulty of accommodating millions of displaced slaves has no bearing on the justice of slavery, and the difficulty of the possibility of some of the children who may have otherwise been aborted ( there is no evidence that women have chosen an abortion because of lack of privacy) has no bearing on the justice of closed adoption. Appealing to the social cost of abolishing closed adoption does not justify the cruel act of closed adoption itself.

The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) points out that "there are many couples hoping to adopt for every one adoptable infant." Their studies show that one-third of all women, aged 18-44, have considered adopting, and their coverage of the dramatic rise in international adoptions is further evidence that the demand to adopt is well ahead of the number of infants available to be adopted. There are more than 1.2 million abortions performed each year in the United States. The NCFA also points out that roughly 98% of the unmarried women who give birth decide to parent their baby. Only 2% place for adoption. In 2002 there were 130,269 domestic adoptions in the United States. 175,000 domestic adoptions that took place in 1970. From 1970 to 1986, annual domestic adoptions decreased from 175,000 to 104,088. Abortion became legal and society evolved.

Closed adoption has been increasingly criticized in recent years as being unfair to both the adoptee and his or her birth parents. Some people believe that making the identities of a child's parents quite literally a "state secret" is a gross violation of human rights. The decision is up to the adoptive parents regarding how to inform the child that he or she has been adopted, and at what age to do so, if at all. Difficulties include the lack of a genetic medical history which could be important in disease prevention. Often, this was not given at the time of adoption, and the father's history is usually little known even to the mother.

For many years in New York State, adoptees had to obtain the permission of their adoptive parents (unless deceased) to be included in a state-sponsored reunion registry regardless of the age of the adoptee. In some cases, older adults or even senior citizens felt like they were being treated like children, and required to obtain their parents' signature on the form. In a broader sense, they felt it could be inferred that adopted children are always children, and thus second-class citizens subject to discrimination. The law has since been changed.

Another practice that has ceased because of cruelty is fostering until legally free. Prior to adoption, the infant would often be placed in temporary and state-mandated foster care for a few weeks to several months until the adoption was approved. This would also help ensure that he or she was healthy, that the birthparent was sure about relinquishment, and that nothing was overlooked at the time of birth. Nowadays, this practice is discouraged, as it prevents immediate bonding between the mother and child. Also, much better medical testing is available, both prenatally and postnatally. Many children suffered from bonding issues and orphanage type behavior such as rocking, head banging and hand flapping.

The trend in adoption policy and practice in the U.S. and most other nations during the last few decades has been toward less secrecy, more honesty and greater openness. Adoptive parents are routinely prepared to share the fact of their child’s adoption at an early age and to make discussion of adoption part of their family’s natural communication. It is rare for parents today not to tell their children they are adopted or to try to hide this reality from others – and it is considered bad practice, with negative repercussions for those involved.
Closed adoptions also have become much less common in infant adoptions in our country, birthparents and adoptive parents most often meet each other, and many maintain some level of contact . With social media a fast-growing number of adopted adults and birthparents are able to successfully gain information about each other without access to adoption records. Modern adoption practice, with its emphasis on openness, honesty and family connections should be the only legally allowed form of adoption. Closed adoption has undermined the institution itself. It has caused pain for adult adoptees and their descendants and should be stopped forever.

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