The big buzz in the adoption community is about the recent Reuters article about the “re-homing” of adopted children. This has created outrage among professionals and parents everywhere. However it is important to point out that these unethical practices are not the majority. Since this article has been released there has been a lot of finger pointing. Agencies are being blamed for not providing enough post-placement services, the government for not doing anything to shut these websites down and the child welfare system and the interstate compact for not providing the resources to stay on top of these situations.
We pay our professional athletes more than we budget for child welfare programs. In many situations parents are forced to terminate their parental rights to the state or quit their job so they don’t have an income in order to get their children the costly help that they need. A reliable system of support would help provide a safe place for families to turn before they reach the level which may sometimes cause them to turn to unethical placements.
The Universal Accreditation Act passed by congress in December and due to go into effect in July 2014 will help increase education and professional requirements for international adoption agencies and will help create support services for adopted children. The Child and Families First Act due to be introduced in congress would potentially improve the ability to track placements of children adopted internationally for the purpose of post adoption reports. Both of these are a steps in the right direction but we as a society seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle. The judgments we as a society place on parents often leaves them feeling hopeless and inferior.
So often parents are judged for the way they parent, what they “aren’t” doing, and sometimes even for what they are doing. Instead of putting ourselves in someone elses shoes as they are seen dragging a screaming toddler through the store or when they talk about the difficulties they are having with a child at school, we often pass judgement on the caregiver. Instead of being supportive or helpful we are critical and often blame the parents. So many parents feel that they have to do things themselves, for fear of being judged. They feel asking for help is akin to failing. So is it any wonder when an adoptive parents who is struggling with parenting that they are scared to seek outside help? The stigma of a failed adoption is often seen as “failed parenting” but maybe its more of a fail of society to help support the parent that is struggling.
The new legislation is a step, the awareness that this is happening will help monitor it, the awareness that parents who adopt older children may need additional training and support is helpful but we also need to start changing the way society views parenting. In many cultures it is the responsibility of the whole village or family to care for the children, to protect them, take care of them but in our culture we are supposed to be able to do it on our own. We aren’t supposed to need help. Society needs to change this view and not see receiving help as a stigma or a taint on their parenting or even themselves as a person. Parenting is hard work and sometimes you need a hand.