Who knows what would have happened with the first families, and therefore with our children, if each adoptive family had spent the median costs of adoption not on the process itself, but on programs to help families?
We adopt children at a specific moment in time. That moment however, can be the wrong moment. Poverty can be overcome, national crises solved, mothers and family members found, policies changed; families can pull together, single motherhood can become a serious possibility, addictions can be conquered, lifestyles be changed. The choice of adoption may seem right one day, but questionable the next day, the next month, the next year, the next decade… Can we be confident that adoption was the right solution for our children?
In adoption country, which is regulated by lax laws which favor adoptive parents and is practically governed by private institutions, businesses and individuals, the preferred way to tell a woman she is about to lose her child is to suggest that “she makes an adoption plan.” But those who professionally help that woman to make this plan are often themselves denizens of adoption country, who are depending on the positive choice of the mother to make that plan: the social worker of the adoption agency, the adoption lawyer, the representative of an agency in another country. These professionals are not members of a larger child welfare organization, which could make a ‘life plan’ for mother, father and child, a long-term life plan that focuses not on the immediate situation, but on the life of the child and her or his family thereafter and that has — extended — family preservation or family (re)building as its goal.
Most workers in the adoption world are decent people, but many have one-sided perspectives, which necessarily focus on the longings and wishes of adoptive parents, who are their paying clients. And some are blindsided by the widespread and false ideology that adoption is about saving children from horrible situations. A few are just in it for the money. Whatever the case, the adoption industry, as the business it is now, cannot continue. A certain rate of adoptions of children for a certain price is needed to make for the bottom line, even for the most sincere non-profit organization or individual. That is an ethical matter one can’t just bypass anymore.
Providing social services for the first family to overcome their problems is all about adding time to the equation. Not an adoption plan, but a life plan has to be made. How such a plan should look like depends on the local circumstances, but next to aid for the parent(s) and their extended families in their community and coaching, temporary guardianship, foster care and co-parenting for the child could be part of that plan. Adoption should only become an option when family preservation is just impossible or when the efforts to keep the family together failed. Adoption should not be separate of child welfare services, but part of them.