The consumer model

One of the biggest problems with the adoption industry is that it works on a consumer model, and the clients are prospective parents rather than children.

So often agencies reinforce the desires of the adoptive parents rather than looking out for the best interests of children. Here’s one recent example from the news:

David Clubb took maternity leave the first week of March to be with his wife when she gave birth to their son. Three weeks later he was on a plane to China to pick up their adopted daughter.

Three weeks. And they’re going to be taking care of a three-week-old baby as well as a daughter from China (probably another baby, given adoptive parents’ preferences for as young as possible). Raise your hand if you think this is a good idea.

Got your hand up?   Lots of parents and agencies would join you.  Remember the family with a four-year-old, a two-year-old and newborn twins who brought home a child from China?  I’ve heard tons of stories about parents adopting right after the mother gives birth.  Or the father going to China to pick up the adopted kid because the wife was due to give birth any day.  Or people adopting kid after kid after kid from different countries, with scarcely time to breathe in between.

What about those kids?  Are any of them getting a fair shake?

Part of this equation is the lack of power on the part of the birth parents and the children.  In China, birth parents are neatly removed from the equation.  In part, this has worked to make China the most popular source country for adoption.  In other countries, birth parents are removed from any say about their children.  Would an agency with domestic birth parents ever consider placing a child with a mother who recently gave birth?  I haven’t heard of it happening, but I suspect it is much less common.  Because those birth parents, by privilege of being U.S. citizens, are at least (hopefully) acknowledged.

What do many of the agencies say?  They have no formal policy against getting pregnant or having a newborn when you’re adopting from overseas.  Because they know prospective adoptive parents will scream bloody murder.

Similarly, issues in Guatemala are now coming to a head.  Guatemalan adoption has long been rife with fraud.  But parents are not clamoring for change.  They are clamoring to bring “their” kids home.

The hell with everybody else.  The right to parent surpasses the rights of everybody else.

5 thoughts on “The consumer model

  1. Raising hand to say BAD IDEA to mix newly adopted children with newborns. One really compelling reason for not doing it are potentially deadly combination of post partum depression with post adoption depression. (I’ve experienced the latter and would NEVER want to combine it with the former.)

    The other compelling reason is that bonding with a newborn is by biological instinct going to trump bonding with an older child, no matter what the intent, bias etc going on.

    It should be a no-brainer and a policy of every agency not to allow it, and yet it’s quite the opposite. And no, it would not happen domestically. Another thing that happens domestically, which does not happen in the international preadoption training is that parents are not warned about the magnitude of potential problems they may run into that could lead to disruption.

    When we went through the foster/waiting child training the attitude from the SW’s was adopt if you DARE. Could that be because the foster/waiting child programs are free? And it is more expensive for the program to place a child into an unprepared family than not?

    In international adoption, we pay to pass a homestudy (our SW on our second adoption introduced the whole process by assuring us we would have a successful homestudy). We pay for and have the “right” to complete an adoption.

    If it were all fees-free, the landscape would change dramatically.

  2. For what it’s worth, our agency required us to sign an agreement that if we became pregnant, we would inform them and put the adoption on hold. We understood the reasons and signed willingly. But you’re right, prospective parents often raise a huge fuss about requirements like that, and I’m afraid our agency is in the minority. Supposedly China does have a rule requiring 12 months between adoptions, but if the family adopts from another country and does not update their homestudy, the CCAA is none the wiser. As in the Amanda/Amelya case, the results are often disastrous.

  3. I think a newly adopted child needs time
    and attention that would be impossible to
    provide with a newborn in the house.

    Homestudies should be updated just prior
    to an adoption to prevent the unethical
    failure to report changes in family such
    as birth, employment, divorce, and health
    conditions.

    Due to the consumer model that you mention,
    the amount of money involved in adoption
    invites corruption. How to balance the
    needs of children against the huge amount
    of money/potential corruption?

    Also, as Carrie mentions, China does require
    12 months between adoptions, and CCAA does
    accept extension letters due to changes in
    the family (they did when I adopted anyway)

  4. [People are generally discouraged from using multiple usernames. It’s all just too confusing.]

  5. Our contract with our agency also specified that the adoption process would be put on hold if I became pregnant, and I was surprised talking with other PAPs to realize that’s not a standard provision — it made so much sense to me.

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