Saturday, June 7, 2008

Family Preservation? Or Murder?

I found it interesting that, once again, we hear the cliche that "it take a village to raise a child..." in this video. Kudos to the social worker who pointed out that is also takes a village to protect a child. Here is what Patrick T. Murphy states about the "village" in his book Wasted: The Plight of America's Unwanted Children:

Self-described child advocates have sloganized "it takes a village to raise a child" in order to relieve bad parents of blame for abusing their children or of the responsibly, even for overwhelmed adolescent parents who should not have had children in the first place. The argument that "they're just poor victims," as a defense of the crimes and foibles of a minority underclass and a tinier percent of the poor, leaves the public to infer that all poor people are criminals, welfare junkies, and child abusers. The village must protect children whose parents have failed them either purposefully, because of neglect,or for reasons beyond their control. And the village should help poor families with programs, funds, and jobs. The village can indeed provide a family with a friendly environment, but only a parent can raise a child.

In my opinion ~ I don't care if the foster family is black, white, yellow, lesbian, or gay ~ it is NOT in the child's "best interests" to return him or her to a blood relative simply upon that basis. Children should be placed in loving, nurturing, protective environments as soon as possible and the race or sexual orientation of the foster parents should NOT be a factor. What is wrong with this country that we discriminate against loving people who want to parent while encouraging, supporting, and coddling people who abuse the most vulnerable people of all ~ the children? All in the name of family preservation? You can't preserve something that was never there to begin with! Sadly, far too many people would rather allow a child to be abused, neglected or even killed than run the risk of being called racist, elitist, or classist. I would take any of the latter labels over being a murderer!

Friday, June 6, 2008

WOW! America's Most Wanted Contacted Us...

I am really excited ~ I opened my e-mail to find a message from the production manager of America's Most Wanted who found my e-mail address on He received a dossier on Orson from Laura (her hard work continues to pay off even in death) and said they are interested in developing more on this case. I am sooo excited that Orson may indeed have to face the consequences of his actions. God, I pray this show is able to bring that low-life dirtbag to justice!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Children Paying the Ultimate Price ~ Their Lives

The above picture is linked to a story about the lethal lapses in the Illinois DCFS that have lead to the deaths of 53 children. However, these are the cases that make me cringe at the phrase "family preservation" and the cries of anti-adoption advocates for reunification of parents and children after removal by the "system". As Patrick T. Murphy, (1997, p.83) author of a book titled Wasted: The Plight of America's Unwanted Children states "...proponents of family preservation correctly press these issues (the adverse affects of removing a child from their family) to advance their cause. But there is another side of the coin: the nature of the parents."

Murphy offers one of the most poignant illuminations of the other side of the coin:

The trauma a child will experience in breaking a bond with the parent must be balanced against the trauma the child will experience in remaining with a parent, or being returned to a parent who is simply unable to nurture a child, or, worse, uses his or her power to destroy the child....Our natural inclinations are to sympathize with the parent or parents, particularly those mired in the hopelessness of the underclass. But at some point we must consider the child, particularly since the child's time frame is entirely different from ours [emphasis added]. Family preservation has often failed because it has been pushed vigorously by conservatives who see it as a way of saving money, and by liberals who consider only the parents' discomfort. Neither conservatives nor liberals take pains to view the abuse from the child's point of view. (p.84)

Babb's book Ethics in American Adoption admonishes the fact that adoption is not professionalized and cites the fact that "...only 2 percent of master's degree level social workers who were field instructors in the discipline could identify ethical dilemmas in their case studies or based their interventions on ethical issues that had been correctly defined" (p.129). Babb concludes that "if any practice in the country merits regulation, it is adoption" (p. 191). It can be inferred that she includes the entire field of child welfare as the book pinpoints the social worker as, typically the first "professional" in social services to confront a family in trouble usually under the circumstances of child removal.

I support the creation of a specialization in child welfare, foster care and adoption. The teaching profession was not always considered a "profession" and yet took the necessary steps toward professionalization initiated by both the professionals in education and the state. Teacher preparation is standard, including an "apprentice" period and the application for certification and licensure which is dependent on the satisfactory completion of coursework, fieldwork and a state examination demonstrating competency. Our current system appears to be the epitome of what Albert Einstein defined as insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. How many more "lethal lapses" are needed before citizens DEMAND safeguards against the capricious decision-making of laypersons empowered as "professionals" in child welfare with the capacity to sentence children to death?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Adoption Utopia (LONG)

First, I am going to start with these assumptions:

  • Both the natural mother and father agree that adoption is an option for consideration.
  • The natural parents are not under 18 years old.

I have been researching adoption extensively and like anyone interested in conducting true research I have been exposing myself to multiple perspectives within the adoption triad. Let us begin with the adoption “system” in my adoption utopia. Adoption would be a true profession adhering to a uniform code of ethics as outlined by L. Anne Babb (1999). Ethical principles would therefore govern and dictate the practices of adoption professionals who would hold a degree in Social Work with a specialization in adoption. They would be certified as such a professional and hold a license to practice in their state just as an educator must hold a degree, specialize in an area, pass a state exam demonstrating competency and apply for a license. Furthermore, again using education as a model, the adoption professional would be required to obtain a specified level of CEU’s (continuing education) to maintain their license. Adoption would be a state public service and fees would be acquired in much the same way as public school funding (trust me – as an educator and a certified Principal I know the polemics pervading public school funding too.)
Under the professional ethics of the profession, an adoption professional could not serve members of the triad pertaining to the same adoption. In other words, an adoption professional could not ethically, morally, or legally council both the birthparents and the potential adoptive parents. The clients would each have their own council respectively.

Once the child is born, he or she would have an advocate assigned to oversee that the best interests of the child are considered. There would be no pre-selection of adoptive parents before the birth of the child. There would be a period of time after the birth during which the natural mother or father can revoke their consent to adopt without cause. However, in my utopia it would be no longer than two weeks from the birth. After this time period, up to six weeks, the natural family would have to have just cause and the advocate for the child would have to consider the best interests of the child with the ultimate determination made by the court. The child could not be returned to the natural parents without consideration of the best interests of the child, with equal consideration given to both the natural and adoptive parents and no preference to biology as a contributing factor. After the six week period after the birth, the natural parents could not contest the adoption or consent to adopt under any circumstances other than fraud or coercion.

In my adoption utopia giving birth to a child does not mean you own it as your property and can do as you wish. You have responsibilities and obligations to the child to whom you have given birth. If you do not fulfill your obligations as a parent such as feeding your child, clothing your child, educating your child, providing health care, as well as emotionally nurturing your child the state has an obligation to step in and remove that child. Children cannot afford to wait around for a parent to clean up their act, get sober or off drugs, and the numerous other ills of society. Childhood happens ONCE, brains are wired ONCE, synapses are created during a critical period of time ONCE and then the opportunity is gone. I do not support family preservation at the cost of a child who will then grow into an adult and be profoundly and irrevocably affected by the decisions of his parents. Our society clearly understands what a child needs physically, emotionally, cognitively, spiritually, and psychologically in order to develop into a self-sufficient individual of true character who will be a productive citizen in the world. We should not support ADULTS in their abuses of children simply because they gave birth to them. Children are not chattel! Adults have responsibilities in our society. Yes, we should offer social services to assist those in need. Every person on this earth has worth. But the rights of an innocent, helpless child cannot be discarded in the name of family preservation.

Considering I was a PAP through international adoption I feel compelled to include that part of my utopia as well. Orphanages would not be somewhere to store your child with no intention or plan of action. In our case, the natural mother had not seen Andrey in a year. The same applies to the natural mother of Stas. Yet, she was able to come forward AFTER we bonded with the child and AFTER the courts granted the adoption to contest it IN SPITE of the fact that she was homeless, did not want to take him out of the orphanage and never visited him. This is absurd. It was absurd for us to be shown a child who was not truly and legally available for adoption and it is absurd that a child can be abandoned for a year or more and NOT be legally free for adoption. In the case with our second child, Stas, the natural mother supposedly returned on the tenth day of our bonding period after abandoning him in the hospital at birth one year prior. She had no contact whatsoever for an entire year. She pops up while we are bonding with him because she was feeling nostalgic about it being his birthday. She says she does not want him to be adopted and states that she will return in July to get him (it is March 1 at this time.) Not only did they allow this, but she NEVER came back in July to get him and he is STILL in the orphanage today. He is 27 months old. Andrey, our Stephen, is also still in the orphanage as well as his now one year old baby brother who was placed in the orphanage directly from the hospital. Anti-adoption advocates lament over the rights of the poor birthmother and yet SHE was the one trying to bilk us for money in order to stop protesting the adoption. Her sons paid the ultimate price and will continue to pay throughout their lives.

Sorry that my description turned into a bit of a rant, but this is obviously a topic I feel passionately about.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

2Lyrical's Adoption Utopia

We are Pro Choice. Although the subject of abortion is not really an issue when it comes to adoption - after all, we're talking about children who have already been born - there is always the question "Why didn't this woman get an abortion?"

Which is understandable in the United States and other countries where abortion is legal. However, many persons feel having an abortion is truly the killing of a baby. Women in a crisis pregnancy situation may very well be pro-life, but yet, do not feel they can raise a child for whatever reasons.

Therefore, our adoption utopia would be, for women all over the world, who are faced with a crisis pregnancy situation, to have access to counseling, good prenatal care and NO COERCION with respect to her unborn baby. If a woman feels, after counseling, after speaking to medical professionals, her family, the father of her unborn baby or children, that she cannot care for this child, adoption would be, in our opinion, the best option for her.

A reasonable amount of relinquishment time is needed for these women to make a decision, after the baby is born, if they can parent or not. By "reasonable amount of relinquishment time" I mean two, three, four months. Not right out of the womb.

Yes, there are some women who, upon birth of the child, have bolted from the where the baby was born, leaving the baby behind - this happens - if in that case, well, a home is needed ASAP for the baby. Not a baby dump law either - and that's a whole other argument.

AFTER ALL OPTIONS HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED, if the woman chooses to parent the child, there should be no guilt associated with her choice. There should be resources made available to her to keep the baby IF she feels she can handle it. Raising a baby is a daunting task.

And if after the woman has had the child & she feels she still cannot parent the child, she should relinquish the child with no guilt or harassment.

We don't believe in parenthood by coercion. It haunts us that our own son's birthparents may have been paid off. Quite honestly, we never wanted to be parents because we thought it was our god-given right to adopt a child.

Adoption without GUILT and without coercion. Money, of course, is another issue for another day.

We Can Dream

What is your "adoption utopia"? In other words, what would adoption look like in a perfect world?

In a truly perfect world there would be no need for adoption. Young girls would not have sex and therefore not get pregnant with an unwanted child. Young women would not make stupid mistakes that lead to unwanted pregnancy. There would be no families so poor they can not take care of a child they would otherwise care for. There would be no infertility. People who wanted children could have them, and people who did not want children could not. In a perfect world... but that does not exist.

Perfect adoption certainly does not exist either, but since we are allowed to dream... here is my idea of adoption utopia.

All agencies would truly be non-profit. Money would go only where it is needed. Governments would not charge outrageous fees for the processing of paperwork. (there also would not be as much pointless paperwork required, but more on that later) I do think there should be an orphanage donation but it would really go to benefit the orphanage. None of it would end up in the pocket of orphanage directors or adoption coordinators. Instead the money would be used for food, clothing and supplies for the children in the orphanages... where it belongs.

There would be no need to bribe judges or other officials to make things run smoothly. Paperwork would not get done quickly only if someone was paid to make that happen. There would be no threats and no fear involved for the PAP's either.

How about the agencies? They would be strongly regulated and observed by the government. Agencies could not charge hidden fees or inflate their prices. Non-profit means non-profit! Agencies would not charge PAP's more for an apartment in country than they are actually paying. Yes, this happens. I know from experience, having paid $175/day for an apartment that was costing the agency less than that for the month!!! This would significantly lower the cost of in-country stay allowing more people to do one trip rather than two. (this is likely a Kazakhstan thing only) Background checks would be mandatory for all agency employees and owners!!! Agencies would be required to offer post-adoption support groups and classes.

As for the paperwork... Documents would not expire in a mere 3 or 6 months. Once a dossier is submitted to the Embassy or Consulate it would not expire. It is beyond the PAP's control how long it sits untouched on someones desk. Why should we have to pay even more money and have to do even more paperwork because someone else did not do their job in a timely manner? Only necessary papers would be required. Let's face it, a lot of the paperwork they are requiring is not truly necessary. Also, why do we have to have state clearance, FBI clearance AND USCIS clearance? They all check the same things, and if one of them says you have a clean background... they all will. It's just one more way to get money out of us and waste our time.

I do believe that the children should not be handed over to complete strangers. It is frightening and stressful enough on them without that. Because of that I believe a required bonding time is a good thing for the sake of the children. However, I think it is wrong that once a family starts bonding with a child that officials are required to contact the birth family to be sure they really don't want the child. If they have not bothered to see the child in over 6 months, they obviously do not want the child. This practice of notifying them only allows for the opportunity for threats and extortion of the PAP's. Finally, in my adoption utopia a court decision would be final. NO waiting period after court allowing for someone to contest the decision!!!