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Many thanks to Mia for sharing this information.
A adoption agency maintains two websites. One, whose name makes it clear that adoption is their goal, has a photo of a pregnant woman in its header captioned with the words The Greatest Gift of Love. The other shows a picture of a blissfully sleeping baby, and has the words Helping Couples on their Adoption Journey as its tagline. The website's designs and styles make it clear that they work in tandem, a joint effort targeting pregnant women and couples seeking to adopt.
The site targeting pregnant women offers them these services:
The one focused on adoptive parents offers this :
- We offer a toll-free phone number where our staff is available to you 24 hours a day/7 days a week- 1-800-807-0848.
- We can assist you in making a personal adoption plan. We realize that you want to provide the best life for your baby and we can help you do that.
- We will support you during your pregnancy and birth of your baby. We will offer you counseling, medical care and legal assistance.
- We have a caring, supportive, and dedicated staff that desires to give you the respect and level of service you deserve.
- *NEW* Caucasian/African-American Boy, 2/10/09, UT, $23K + potential medical expenses, *BM used marijuana during pregnancy and wants open adoption with poss visits
- *NEW* African-America/Hispanic Girl, 2/28/09, Maryland, $20K, Alcohol exp during pregnancy
- *NEW* Caucasian/Hispanic Unk Gender, $35K, May
- Caucasian Unk Gender, $37K, June
- Caucasian/African-American Boy, $30-35K, Apr
- Caucasian/African-American Boy, $30-35K, June
- African-American Boy, 2/23/09, $20K, GA
- African-American Girl, 3/10/09, $20K, AL
- African-American Boy, 3/13/09, $20K, GA
- African-American Boy, 3/25/09, $24, UT
- African-American Girl, 4/11/09, $24K, UT
Please go over and take a look, first from the point of view of a frightened, pregnant woman, and then from that of a prospective adoptive parent. I did, and here are a few of the things that kind of smacked me in the face. They would send me running to the hills if I were looking for pregnancy counseling or adoption services:
Minority Adoption Program Services:
- Personal Adoption Consultant that will guide you through your adoption from start to finish
- Discounted Home Study Fees* (Minority Adoption Program savings of $250.00)
- Discounted Family Profile Services (Minority Adoption Program savings of $200.00)
- Discounted Consulting Services and access to our nation wide agency network (10% off all consulting services- except Do It Yourself Consulting Package- $100 off)
- I saw no mention of 501c3 status, which if correct would mean these are for-profit agencies.
- Beyond the licenses these agencies claim to possess, I saw no affiliations or connections to any reputable non-profit adoption organization, nor any reference to any involvement with the wider adoption ethics community.
- Language on both sites, and particularly the clearly-worded names of the agencies and the taglines The Greatest Gift of Love and Helping Couples on their Adoption Journey, make it clear that the end goal of any pregnancy counseling is adoption.
- Pregnancy services appear to offer support for medical fees for pregnancy and support.
- I did not see a fee breakdown anywhere, although it could be buried on one of the pages I didn't see.
- Photos of pregnant women on both sites are either generally faceless or avoid direct eye contact. What appears to be a post-adoption photo of a young woman who has used this agency's services shows her with books in hand and smiling, and is placed next to a paragraph that talks to her "hopes and dreams." This use of photos dehumanizes the pregnant woman and skews her decision toward adoption, which is presented as the way for her to achieve non-related goals.
- Photos of prospective adoptive parents and staff are of smiling faces making direct contact. Photos on the site targeting prospective adoptive parents are largely of babies.
- No post-adoption support are offered for mothers, adoptees or adoptive families.
- Fee scales differentiate prospective adoptive parents by race, rather than income.
- Fees for advertised "situations" are applied on a per-child basis, and are also differentiated by race, with African American children offered at lower rates than white children.
As long as dollars change hands in adoption, we have to be vigilant to the potential for abuses that could lead to human trafficking. Although I'm jaded enough to believe that there are plenty of agencies that purposely use this potential to their advantage and for their profit, I also believe that even well-meaning agencies can become complacent and leave the door open to the very corruption they are trying to avoid.
I therefore sent an example of the fees on this agency's site, which are there for the public to see, to the Change.gov "share your ideas" site. Although adoption reform isn't at the top of the new administration's to-do list, you never know when you might reach someone with an open mind and willing ear.