Category Archives: Ethics in adoption

Best Practices in Ethical Adoptions, part 2

In a recent post, I mused about what makes for an ethical adoption. I promised then to follow up with a post from a cross-triad discussion board.

When I posted this draft on this discussion board, I asked for help from other members to flesh it out. After all, I am just a tiny piece in the adoption mosaic. There were a few people who posted some suggestions, but I was surprised at the otherwise roaring silence from this historically clamorous group. Could it be that the loudest complainers would rather wail than work on issues? Ahhh, that’s for another post.

So, throwing it out once again, here is a working draft…feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

Ethics in Infant Adoption
Who we are: An online community representing

  • Adoptive parents
  • Birth/first parents
  • Adult adoptees

Our guiding principle: Since there are competing interests among members of the triad, we seek balance among these competing interest so that all parts of the triad are respected in fundamental ways.

Our goals:

  • Compassion and empathy among members of the triad.
  • Elimination of adoption coercion. Just as coercing a partner into marriage is void of integrity and not conducive to long-lasting relationship health, so is coercion in adoption. We recognize that coercive language and practices are harmful to all parties involved in adoption (first parents, adoptees and adoptive parents).
  • Prosecution of adoption scammers.
  • Education of the general public about the true faces of first parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees.
  • Adherence to Best Practices in adoption by agencies and other adoption professionals.
  • Integrity — integrating truth and informed choice in language, intentions and actions.
  • A uniform and reasonable period between birth and Termination of Parental Rights (TPR)
  • Access for adult adoptees to their original birth certificates. Such information on one’s own DNA is a fundamental right which affects one’s physical, emotional and mental health.

Best practices:
First parents

  • People in crisis pregnancies are considered “expectant parents” or simply “parents” until TPR is signed. Only after this occurs do they become birth or first parents.
  • Expectant parents considering adoption are presented with resources for parenting (WIC, etc).
  • Appropriate counseling helps people in crisis pregnancies to accurately envision both avenues open to them: parenting (and all available resources) and adoption.
  • An expectant mother considering adoption is given the opportunity to be paired with a first mother mentor, someone who has been through the process herself. This mentor serves as a volunteer. This community maintains a list of qualified (i.e. not having an adoption agenda) first parent volunteers.
  • Agency/professional provides ongoing grief counseling for up to two years after placement.

It is acknowledged that adoption is a loss for the child, a tribal severance from one’s clan. Adoption must be freely chosen by expectant parents, only when they deem it is a better option than parenting, taking into account issues of safety, security, finances, familial relationships, desire to parent, and other pertinent factors.

Pre-adoptive parents

  • No less than 1/3 of the total cost is due after placement.
  • Agency/professional supplies accurate statistics on number of placements, number of waiting couples, average wait times, and reclamations during a recent time period.
  • Agency/professional discourages matches prior to six weeks before due date.
  • Agency/professional provides grief counseling to pre-adoptive parents who have experienced infertility.


So now what? If you see there is a problem, want to be part of a solution?

Adoption: What do you consider “Best Practices”?

Jan Baker’s post on Adoption Reform got me thinking about what ethical adoptions look like. There are probably as many opinions as there are people who care.

We call it an adoption triad because of the three groups: the child adopted, the firstparents, and the adoptive parents. But there is a fourth element: the agency/facilitator. Choosing the adoption professional is a HUGE decision for both hopeful adoptive parents (click here for my article) and expectant mothers considering adoption. But after the matching and legalities are done, the agency fades away leaving the triad to deal with the lifelong outcomes (good and/or bad).

I’ve often thought that the adoption community should come up with a benchmark document, “Best Practices in Ethical Adoption.” This list would need to meld both the “wish lists” from all parts of the triad and their sometimes competing wishes, as well as practical realities that come with running a business (either for- or not-for-profit). These include (1) reasonable salaries and expenses for legitimate services; and (2) the need for marketing so that people who might use the agency’s services know about the agency.

This wiki-ish document could then become the “Good Housekeeping” seal for adoption professionals — benchmarks against which to measure ethics.

What would you consider the 3 most important points in ethical adoption? You, the person reading who cares about adoption. Let me know in a comment.

To help, here are some resources:


The Evan B Donaldson Institute

We may not find agreement on small points, but let’s see if we can reach consensus on the big points.

(Next I’ll post my recent attempt on a cross-forum board to clarify my own thoughts on this issue.)