We don't like to think of it, but we have to. Adoption is a business, and the ease with which adoption can cross the line from ethical to unethical practices is something everyone should understand.
Ethnically Incorrect Daughter is an artist, also a Vietnamese transracial adoptee who writes on many issues, adoption being one of them. She has just finished a multi-part series entitled The Baby Market, in which she tackles this topic. In the second of the series (links to all are at the bottom of this post), Ethnically Incorrect Daughter says what has been rolling around in my mind for some time: "One of my problems is that adoption seems to center more around supplying children for parents rather than finding parents for the children who need them."
Perhaps it's the attitude that adoption "fixes" so many problems - the unplanned pregnancy, the child's need, the adoptive parents' infertility - that has set us on our current path. Or, perhaps society's efforts to destigmatize adoption have gone overboard. The social institution of adoption is now positioned so positively in the public eye that little, if any, criticism is tolerated.
To be fair, there is good in adoption, especially when it is guided by openness and real concern for children and their families. But just knowing that unethical behavior, even disregard of human rights, exists should be motivation enough for the adoption community to revisit its policies. This isn't pointless criticism, its constructive change.
I like to think of ways we might improve current adoption practices, and what I imagine is dead simple: separate agencies providing pregnancy and early parenting support, adoption placement and post-placement services, and post-adoption and parenting support. Each agency's focus would be on a specific purpose and client population, rather than on "balancing" different demands. And adoption information - ethics, laws, risks, benefits - would be the same across the board.
Undoubtedly simplistic, but I honestly think it's time to get back to basics. Our first concern should be to protect mothers and children from separation and to support them as they start their lives together. When adoption is appropriate, we should ensure it is ethical and legal and that adoptive parents are prepared for adoptive parenthood. And post-adoption support must be there for first parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents when they need it.
Maybe when these are our focus, we'll get away from the supply-and-demand attitudes that drive much of adoption practice today.
Links to the entire baby market series follow. Thank you, Ethnically Incorrect Daughter, for sharing your thoughts on this important issue.
The Baby Market, Part 1
The Baby Market, Part 2
The Baby Market, Part 3
The Baby Market, In Conclusion