Seriously?

I really wish someone would pay me to look at adoption agency and facilitator web sites and point out everything that is wrong with them. I’ve already spoken specifically about Rainbow’s End. Every so often, I will find myself at an adoption-related web site and I find statements that are just plain wrong.

Here are some examples…

AdoptHelp (facilitator in CA): I Am Pregnant

Refers the the adoptive family as “your adoptive family.” While I certainly consider S and Laine to be part of my family, I didn’t adopt them. We are not their adoptive family, we are their children’s adoptive family. I think using “your adoptive family” is patronizing, and treats the expectant mother as a child.

If the father of your baby knows that you are pregnant and is supportive of the adoption, he can be as involved in the process as you would like. If he is not supportive of the adoption, nor supportive of you and your pregnancy, then we can work with you in terminating his rights. But don’t worry! This usually is not a problem.

So, if the guy is supportive, he can stick around. If he’s not, f- him! But don’t worry, those pesky biological fathers don’t really want their kids, so it’s not a big deal. Seriously? This is just another reason why more bio fathers aren’t involved in their children’s adoptions. Bio fathers should be involved to the extent that they want to be, and they should be encouraged to be involved.

If you go into labor and have not selected a family yet, it is okay. You will need to call our office. We will have a family at the hospital as soon as possible.

A family. A family? What if she doesn’t like that family? Really, all of the information given about what happens in the hospital is impersonal and authoritarian. The hospital is the expectant mother’s (and father’s) time. Let’s treat it that way.

Adoptions from the Heart (agency on the east coast): Information for Fathers

The page includes a chart with newborn expenses. It lists Birth Medical Expenses as $24,000. In reality, the average cost of a hospital birth is between $7,000 and $11,000. If you have health insurance, the out of pocket cost is much less, usually less than $1,000. Many expectant moms will qualify for state health insurance even if they don’t have private health insurance.

I also question the other values in the chart. I think they totally made them up.

Adoptions from the Heart: Information for Fathers

Once again, the agency uses the term “your adoptive family.” How disappointing.

You may be wondering if your child will ever get to know you if you choose adoption? This is completely up to you and your child’s birthmother. It depends on the openness level you choose for your adoption plan. Your adoption plan will be completely unique to your needs. From open to closed to semi-open adoptions. You and the child’s mother can choose the number of visits you want with the child and you can receive picture and letter updates as well.

Liar liar pants on fire! This is actually up to the child’s adoptive parents. I don’t even think that the states in which Adoptions from the Heart are located have legally binding open adoption agreements. Even if they do, no adoption can be set aside if the adoptive parents don’t follow the agreement. This paragraph is one big lie.

There is no wrong choice.

Yes, actually, there is. The problem is, you probably won’t know which choice is the wrong one until long after you’ve made it.

ChildPlace (agency in Illinois): Adoptive Services

Childplace practices a semi-open adoption policy. This means the birth parent has the option of choosing the family with whom their child will be placed. Also, the birth parent can request ongoing contact with the adoptive couple via letters, pictures and/or gifts. Correspondence is conducted through the agency and no identifying information is exchanged/revealed.

This says to me that the agency might as well be working in the Dark Ages. It apparently understands that adoptions can’t be closed anymore, but longs for the good old days. So they practice semi-open adoption. This says to me that the agency does not know or understand the benefits of open adoptions.

A Gift of Hope Adoptions (agency in Missouri): Birth Parents

Once again, the agency refers to the prospective adoptive parents as “your adoptive family.” They talk about the “level of contact that will make you comfortable,” without explaining that a) contact is really at the pleasure of the adoptive family, and b) the level of contact isn’t about what will make the adults comfortable, but about what is best for the child.

How will my child feel about being adopted? … Many are grateful because they know what a difficult thing it is and how much their birth mothers loved them.

Seriously? I know a lot of adoptees who aren’t grateful at all. I know many who are perfectly fine with their adopted status, but who wouldn’t describe themselves as grateful. You can’t know how any one person is going to feel about being adopted, but to say that the adoptee will feel grateful is perpetuating a damaging myth.

Conclusion

The people who write these web sites are absolutely saying what they think they need to say, as opposed to what is honest. Do I think some unfortunate phrases or terminology on a web site is a reason not to use an agency? No. But I do think you need to read these web sites with a critical eye. How do the agencies really see adoption? Birth parents? Adoptive parents? Children?

I recommend that prospective adoptive parents read the expectant parents section of a web site, and vice versa, to make sure that the same messages are being sent. If an agency tells expectant parents that they can choose the level of contact, but also tell the PAPs that, which one is correct? Ideally, all of the parents decide together, but that needs to be explained.

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8 thoughts on “Seriously?

  1. Pingback: Open Adoption | From Instant to Forever

  2. Hey, great minds think alike lol. I’ve often thought it would be good to have a site that points out what is wrong with many agency/facilitator sites. I would also use that site to honour the good ones :).

    Comments on the ones you talk about:

    ADOPTHELP
    In regards to AdoptHelp, they have a “birthmother blog” where one can ask questions of a birthmother. There is a question on their blog:

    “*I am currently matched with a family. Do you have any suggestions on how to make delivery day easier?
    and part of the answer is:

    *As a birth mother who placed a baby through AdoptHelp. Choosing adoption is a difficult decision and everyone deals with it differently. There are quite a few things I did before I gave birth that helped me make the transition from giving birth to life after birth a little easier. Here are a few things I did that really helped me heal:•I thought of the baby I was carrying as the adoptive parent’s baby. I chose adoption at 13 weeks of pregnancy and thought it best if I didn’t get attached.”

    There is more but it just concerns me that one birthmother is advising an expectant mother to not get attached and to think of the baby she is carrying as the adoptive parents’ baby. To me, doing that can mean that the emom will end up thinking about what is in the “best interest of the adoptive parents” rather than “the best interest of the child”.

    LIFETIME ADOPTIONS
    With Lifetime Adoptions, I dislike the fact that the owner, Mardi Caldwell, has about 50 feeder sites designed to attract pregnant women from all walks of life, eg if one is in the military, there is a feeder site aimed at you, if one is East Indian, there is a site aimed at you, if one is a teenager, there is a feeder site aimed at you etc.
    With American Adoptions, this is a tract I received from them:

    http://www.americanadoptions.com/pdf/BP_STAGE1.pdf

    I just feel it is all a bit over the top. Also, I was looking at a comment on a popular adoption forum where a commenter talks about a positive with American Adoptions being their commitment and dedication to the birth mothers and then that commenter saying how important that is to an adoptive family, ensuring that the emom “is sure of her decision and lessening the chances of a disruption of your match”. Umm, no. To me “commitment and dedication to birthmothers” should be about supporting the emom in whatever decision she makes for her child NOT being committed and dedicated in turning the emom into a bmom.

    Btw I went to have a look at some Canadian private agency websites and one thing I noticed with most of them is that their websites basically just stated the services
    they provided. An example:
    http://www.adoptionbychoice.ca/choices_howdoes_adoptionwork.html#
    I could quibble about them using “birthparents” as the heading but the point I’m making is that most of the Canadian websites seemed to present their “birthparent” pages the same way. I have no idea what they are like behind the scenes but the website pages themselves were just stating basic info.

    • While I think some expectant moms do think of the baby as belonging to the adoptive parents, I certainly wouldn’t counsel them to do so.
      There are a lot of things I dislike about Lifetime Adoptions, and Mardie Caldwell is one of them.
      That PDF file from American Adoptions is, well, sickening.
      I do think that part of “commitment and dedication to expectant mothers” can result in the emoms who do choose adoption being less likely to change their minds during any applicable revocation process. However, the goal of being committed and dedicated to emoms should be to make sure they have the resources they need to make the best decision for the baby, whether that’s adoption or parenting.
      I don’t know all that much about adoption in Canada, but I’ll take a look at some of their web sites.

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. As for the being grateful about being adopted bit.

    My take on it is this. I am, just like many non-adopted people, grateful for my life. However, I don’t personally feel though that I need to be grateful about the way I came into my family, i.e. by adoption. I, like many other adoptees of my time, was relinquished because of the lack of options that time. I love my afamily but that still doesn’t mean that I can’t feel sad that so many women were in a position of not being able to parent because of a lack of options and lack of support.

  4. Hi, I’m Elizabeth and I work for A Gift of Hope Adoptions. I actually changed the “your birth mom” to “your child’s birth mom” because of this blog article. I hadn’t noticed that it wasn’t basically grammatically correct – you don’t adopt the birth parent you adopt the child.
    However, I wanted to point out that the quote you pulled about adoptees being grateful A) didn’t give the whole paragraph, which states that every adoption is different and adoptee reacts differently, and B) actually gives proof of an adoptee stating they are grateful for being adopted via YouTube video of an adoptee interview, in which the adoptee also talks about how awesome being in contact with her birth family is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wma_ykUMRIo
    I do realize that not every adoptee would describe his/her feelings in terms of gratitude, but I also feel that it is important to point out that some do, particularly when in a healthy open adoption context, which we want to encourage. I know there are some very unethical agencies and facilitators out there, and it frustrates me, but try to remember that we aren’t all bad guys, some of us are genuinely trying to focus on the child and the child’s best interest – it isn’t all rhetoric, at least to me.

    • Elizabeth,
      Thank you so much for commenting. I’m very glad to see that you changed the “your birth mom” to “your child’s birth mom”, although the change is about more than just grammar.

      The paragraph about how adoptees feel is misleading. It sells adoption. It begins well, you’re right. Every adoption *is* different, and every child will grow up into an adult who feels different. But then you decide to stress gratitude. As I’m sure you know, the word “grateful” is controversial in the adoption community. Adoptees do not want to be told that they should be “grateful” for being adopted. Adoptive parents should not expect their children to be “grateful” that they’re not with their birth parents. I personally don’t want my kids to be “grateful.” Some adoptees are angry, even bitter. You don’t talk about them. Many adoptees seem to be ambivalent – they love their adoptive families, but will always wonder “what if” they had been raised by their birth families. Some adoptees seem to feel that they don’t fit with their adoptive parents at all. Some of them love their families anyway, and some don’t. But you don’t talk about any of that. You talk about being “grateful” and only about being “grateful.” I think it’s always best to present a balanced picture. It’s hard to do that here without scaring people. But expectant parents have a right to know that the emotions of adopted people run the full gamut of any human’s emotions, and to focus on gratitude does a disservice to adoptees.

      I don’t think your agency is “the bad guy.” Someone recommended your agency on a forum, I looked at your web site, and the “grateful” comment really struck a chord with me. I don’t think it’s accurate, and that’s why it ended up in this post. I think that the FAQs below that question are particularly well-answered, and I really think it’s great that you link to BirthMom Buds.

      Again, thanks for commenting!

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