In November 2006, The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute published an article titled, Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birthparents in the Adoption Process. This work highlighted the changes that have taken place in adoption practices and how it is important to protect the rights of birthparents along each step of the adoption journey.
Adoption laws and practices are changing and with decades of experience the Adoption Institute established a list of rights that are in the best interest of men and women who are considering an adoption plan for their child which include:
• Make the placement decision in a fully informed manner, without pressure or coercion.
• Reconsider an adoption plan PRIOR to the legal finalization of the relinquishment.
• Be informed from the very beginning about any financial expectations, such as repayment of assistance if you are to change your mind about placement.
• Exercise all parental rights prior to placement.
• Make sure you are being treated with dignity, respect and honesty.
• Consider having independent legal counsel to protect your best interests during the process.
• Receive nondirective counseling to help you understand all of the options and resources available and the implications of your decision to place.
• Be legally assured that promises and agreements regarding ongoing contact and information made during the adoption process will be adhered to.
The Adoption Institute also created a list of seven recommendations for those who are practicing adoptions and for the adoption community.
1. Establish legally enforceable post –adoption contact agreements in all states and permit adults who were adopted to regain access to their own records.
2. Require all adoption practitioners to provide a document of birthparents’ rights and responsibilities, which should be signed by the clients and the professionals near the beginning of their work together.
3. Require at least two counseling sessions with a qualified professional for all women who are placing children for adoption, during which they are fully informed about their options, including parenting and various types of adoption, as well as about the resources available to them.
4. Modify state laws on the timing of relinquishment and revocation so that parents have several weeks after childbirth before an adoption decision becomes irrevocable. Ideally, this would include a minimum of one week after birth before a relinquishment can be signed and then a substantial revocation period.
5. Require more aggressive protection of birthfathers’ rights by mandating their identification by birthmothers whenever possible, and by personally notifying all possible fathers of adoption proceedings. In states where putative father registers exist, they should be widely advertised, and a failure to register should not be used as an automatic reason for not notifying or involving men. A national registry would help to alleviate some of this system’s inherent problems.
6. Address the critical gap in knowledge about birthparents’ needs and preferences through research on questions including:
a. What are the characteristics of women (and men when they are involved) who choose adoption for their children today and what are their perspectives in relation to the choices they make-i.e., abortion, parenting or adoption?
b. How do they decide on a specific type of adoption, if that is the road they choose, and what laws, practices and policies can best meet their needs and desires?
c. What is the emotional and psychological impact of adoption loss for birthparents, and what practices facilitate grief resolution and healthy long-term adjustment for them?
d. What practices are needed to support all of a child’s parents in working out their relationships after placement, including open adoption arrangements?
7. Develop a broader array of post-adoption services to serve birthparents, including counseling or mediation services to facilitate open-adoption arrangements.
Do you agree with the conclusions that the Adoption Institute came up with after their research? We would love to start a conversation with our followers about the importance of birth parents’ rights, so join in and share your opinions!
Source: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute