Just a little over a month ago, I asked what my readers would like to read. Rain said she wanted to see a post about “discrimination.” As that’s been in my drafts folder for several months, and a post I’ve been wanting to write for over one year, it wins. However, this is not a post about racial discrimination.
Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, esp. on the grounds of race, age, or sex.
Agencies, facilitators, and other adoption professionals* routinely discriminate against prospective adoptive parents. Usually, they discriminate on the basis of religion. If you are not Christian, it can be very difficult to find an agency that will work with you. Another common form of discrimination is discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – same sex couples need not apply to many agencies. Going along with this, somewhat, is discrimination on the basis of marital status. If you’re a single person, whether hetero- or homosexual, it’s going to be more difficult to find adoption professionals who will work with you.
If an agency doesn’t work with parents who aren’t Christian, that agency is discriminating on the basis of religion. That seems pretty evident, right? Don’t work with gay people? That’s discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. What floors me is that some people don’t believe that these practices are discriminatory. Of course agencies pick and choose who they work with! That’s not discrimination, that’s just business. Or, the agencies are just choosing PAPs based on what “their” expectant parents want. That can’t be discrimination.
By definition, if an agency chooses not to work with a PAP because of religion, sexual orientation, or marital status, that’s discrimination. You can dress it up or excuse it however you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that the agency is practicing discrimination.
I had one guy on Adoptive Families Circle argue with me repeatedly over whether or not choosing PAPs based on religion, etc. was discrimination. He said it wasn’t; it was just my “opinion” that it was. He finally stopped. I don’t think I changed his mind. I just think he got tired. Which is fine, because I’m right.
I do not recommend working with agencies that discriminate against anyone, even if you don’t happen to fall in the category that is discriminated against. For example, if you are a churchgoing Christian, you can work with, say, Bethany Christian Services. However, I don’t recommend that, as you are tacitly approving their discrimination against non-churchgoing Christians. (Bethany won’t work with you if you don’t go to church.) Of course, maybe you’re one of those people who believe that children are better off in Christian homes.
I’m not arguing against religion. Not at all. But research indicates that children are not better off in homes that practice any specific religion. Similarly, research also shows that children are not better off in homes with two parents of the opposite sex. Research also shows that, when agencies discriminate against PAPs, the children are the ones who get hurt. It is not in the best interests of children for agencies to discriminate based on what the owners of said agencies think is best.
What about agencies who are just looking for PAPs who fit what “their” expectant moms want? I argue – and this is based totally on anecdotal evidence – that most agencies aren’t really upfront with expectant parents on what they will and will not accept in a PAP. I have read essays by birthmothers who didn’t know that they could ask for more profiles, didn’t know they could change agencies, didn’t know that they didn’t have to do exactly what the agency wanted them to do. If an emom wants a white, Christian, heterosexual home with pets, then the emom should be shown profiles that fit that description. If an emom wants a black, heterosexual home with parents who are any religion but Catholic, she should be shown profiles that fit. If the agency doesn’t have profiles, then the agency needs to be upfront, risk losing their possible placement (and the money that goes with it) and say, “We don’t have any. What would you like us to do?” But you can’t put the blame for agencies discriminating against PAPs on e-parents. There are e-parents looking for every type of adoptive family for their children. They shouldn’t be forced or coerced into a situation they’re not comfortable with because the agency is discriminatory.
If a PAP passes a home study, then the state has found that PAP to be a fit parent. That’s all an agency should care about when it comes to accepting clients.
I find it disheartening when I see other adoptive parents recommend agencies that discriminate against PAPs. Even more so when someone like me brings that fact to their attention and they pooh-pooh it. Their attitudes seem to be “It worked for us.” However, there are real legal and ethical concerns when agencies discriminate. For one thing, social workers who work for agencies that discriminate are violating the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, which states:
Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.
When you’re looking for agencies, please support ones that don’t discriminate against PAPs. That’s all I’m saying. And yes, it took over 900 words for me to do so.
* To make the post less wordy, I’m just going to use “agency” to mean all of these, ‘k?