Adoption Reform: All We Need is Laws?

This article was originally commissioned and published by the Donaldson Adoption Institute, which closed its doors last month. No longer accessible at the Donaldson site, this article was derived from a workshop Addison Cooper (Adoption at the Movies) and I presented at the American Adoption Congress Conference in 2016.

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Imagine a glorious time in the future when all adoptees can get their original birth certificates and all open adoption arrangements are codified with a contract. Won’t it be great to be finished with the hard work of adoption reform?

reforming adoption

While changes in adoption laws and policy are necessary, these alone will not make Adoption World all better. If laws were the endpoints, then the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments would have resulted in immediate equality for formerly enslaved and free African Americans. But they didn’t. Now, even 150 years later, our society struggles with these same issues.

Reforming policy and law is one necessary step, but it’s not the last step. Not until ideas of respect, empathy, and inherent value of others also take root in people’s hearts can true and enduring change happen.

Imposed vs Embraced

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What Carolyn Hax Could Have Said on Adoption Question

A recap of the situation a letter writer brought to Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax:

“Tell My Son” and wife adopted a baby born to a teenage niece. Now age 5 or 6, Jake has always known he was adopted. His parents showed him a photo of his birth mom, Tara, when he was old enough. They told him he could get more information about his birth parents any time he wanted.

At some early point the wife was advised to “never give Jake more information than he wants.”

Due to geographic distance,  Jake and Tara have seen each other only a handful of times, and the parents report that Jake has never connected with her picture. Tara is a little awkward during visits, and the letter writer says “she avoids us when she’s visiting.”

adoption adviceWith an upcoming annual visit, Tara would now like to begin to cultivate a more authentic relationship with her son. Her big ask of Jake’s parents is that they give Jake the truth about her.

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Does An Adopted Child Really NEED a Therapist?

Question: Some kids in my adoption community have history,  sometimes unhappy, harsh, and/or abusive history before they joined their families. The kids sometimes talk about their history with their adoptive mothers who attend a support group I host.

Is that enough? Or is it better that these children work with a therapist? If these children talk at a young age and their mothers comfort them, will their teen year be better? Or will they still have tough teenage years?

therapy for adopted child

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adoption, parenting, mindfulness, open adoption