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Should Adoption Be Illegal?

by Laura on January 2nd, 2014

There are many in adopto-world who take (what I call) a hard line on adoption (and I get why, I totally do). They believe that adoption should be illegal in 100% of cases.

I recently tried explaining why this is a slippery slope, that it’s a logical fallacy.

Any time you argue for 100% of anything—in this case that adoption should be 100% illegal—you’re opening yourself up to having your argument negated, not taken seriously, dismissed.

Freedigitalphotos.net “Yes No Maybe Signpost” by Stuart Miles

Why can’t we just say adoption should be illegal in 100% of cases and call it a night?

Because all you need is one—just one, example of when it should obviously be legal, and your argument goes right out the window.

I was told I was wrong, that slavery should be illegal in 100% of cases, and therefore adoption can be argued as such.

Well, it was late, and I checked myself. I don’t debate well while tired let alone after a couple of glasses of wine.

 

Slavery and Adoption

But I woke up ready to go. The first thing I did was make sure I’m not talking out of my place-which-it-would-be-uncouth-to-name.

Important note: the parallels between slavery and adoption are not lost on me. I even wrote an article in The Perpetual Child: Adult Adoptee Anthology: Dismantling the Stereotype, part of The An-Ya Project, that discussed how, as a ten-year-old, I accused my adoptive parents of buying me, like a slave. Talk about awkward dinner conversation.

However, the forced, institutionalized enslavement (including disenfranchisement, beating and torture, rape, family separation, lack of self-determination, and forced labor, among other injustices) of a race of people for the socio-economic benefit of another race(s) … is not the same as what happens in adoption. Sorry, but it’s true.

So that’s Logical Fallacy #1:

Comparing slavery to adoption is an inductive fallacy (totally got that off of Wikipedia, I’m no expert), specifically a “hasty generalization”

A hasty generalization is the fallacy of examining just one or very few examples or studying a single case, and generalizing that to be representative of the whole class of objects or phenomena.

 

Should Slavery be Outlawed?

In the case of slavery in what-would-become the United States, including the forced exodus of people from the Africa—yes, of course. I’m totally anti-slavery. No argument there.

But what about this? … What if you’re in say, ancient Rome or pre-colonial Aztec America?

What if you have the option to be a slave or put to death?

Yeah, in those cases, maybe you’d choose to be a gladiator (form of slavery) with a chance to win freedom. Maybe you’d choose to keep your head down and be a slave, as opposed to ending up sacrificed on an altar.

There you go: Logical Fallacy #2. [Note: my mild sarcasm should not overshadow the reality that I did just oversimplify examples of slavery at various points in human history. I totally just did that! Shame on me.]

Oh Laura! You’re being sooo extreme!

Yes. Yes I am. Because like I stated earlier, all you need is one example (for what it’s worth, I found 2 off the top of my head) of when slavery should be legal for your argument to lose its weight.

In this case, arguing that adoption should be illegal in 100% of cases, because slavery should be illegal in 100% of cases is an example of a false dilemma (thank you Wiki), otherwise known as black-and/or-white thinking, the either-or fallacy.

 

Personal Experience

Then you have my personal experience. (And I think you’ll find others like me.)

Yes, my adoption had wide effects on me; yes, a lot of that was not positive. <—— gross understatement.

However, being adopted as an infant—into a safe, loving home in which I was wanted (because there wasn’t anyone in my first family at the time who was willing to take me) was much better than bouncing from foster home to foster home.

I’ll state it clearly: As much as I don’t like adoption practices (then and now), it was necessary and yes, good, that I was adopted. Oh my goodness! She did not just say that!

I would not like for adoption to have been illegal when I was born. I would have been worse off if adoption had been illegal. The system worked for me, given the (shitty) circumstances I was put in as an infant.

So what? Why is all this important?

 

Advocating for change in adoption

If we engage in logical fallacies, our statements lose credibility.

If we insist in the extreme only and in all cases, our arguments become invalid.

If we lose credibility by arguing with logical fallacies, we will make no change. To be blunt, no one’s going to take us seriously.

Adoptees especially, and those who have lived adoption, must have a voice to balance the adoption-positive First-World viewpoint.

If we want a seat at the table, if we want change in the way adoption is practiced, we must engage on equal footing with the powers-that-be—adoption agencies and adoptive parents (i.e. the paying clients).

Arguing that adoption should be illegal in 100% of cases does little-to-no-good in working toward 1. Change in the hearts-and-minds with regard to the potential negative impact of adoption, and 2. Actual change in the way adoption is practiced—legally and ethically.

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79 Comments
  1. Adopted permalink

    Comparing adoption to slavery is not a fallacy. Being adopted IS a form of psychological slavery. It FORCES the child to pretend he or she is NOT for the good of the slave owners, I mean adoptive parents.

    • Adopted 2.0 permalink

      What the fuck are you saying? You can't just bring every adoptive parent over the line just because YOU have had a bad experience!

  2. Adopted permalink

    Comparing adoption to slavery is not a fallacy. Being adopted IS a form of psychological slavery. It FORCES the child to pretend he or she is someone's biological child which NOT for the good of the child, only good for the slave owners, I mean adoptive parents.

  3. familyadvocate permalink

    I think you have missed the point entirely – and/or the person you were debating/discussing this was not explaining it properly. I would never phrase it as adoption should be 100% illegal, nor would I compare it to slavery for proof. To simply say that all adoptions should be illegal makes one sound like a fool who is advocating leaving children in harm's way, in orphanages or in foster care.

    The comparison to slavery is a poor fit because (as you pointed out) of the beatings involved in slavery in many cases. The comparison it is made, however, as you know, because of the family separations and loss of true identity of people as a result of the practice.

    The fact is this: Adoption, as it is currently practiced in the U.S. – with the issuance of a falsified birth certificate – needs to STOP! It is the falsification of one's VITAL records – and the sealing of the truth – that should be ILLEGAL!

    The history of why this was done is clear. It was "allegedly" to protect adoptees from the stigma of illegitimacy but it was done at the behest of baby brokers like Betsy Bernard who wanted – and who still want – to please the only paid customer in the adoption transaction, the adopter. It was done to protect adopters from the "intrusion" and possibility of extortion of birth mothers. Note that first all adoption records were sealed FROM THE PUBLIC and LATER they became sealed to the adoptee himself.

    *** It is NOT in any child or adult's best interest to have this information falsified and the truth hidden from them.*** And, to falsify vital records and identities by listing adopters as parents of birth should most certainly always be illegal. If you or I falsified a state issued document or any ID, we would be arrested and jailed for fraud. But states are allowed to commit fraud every day in changing adoptees vital records – the names of their parents are changed, their names are changed, and even the date and place of birth are changed. This is a CRIME, or should be.

    Does ending that in turn make adoption illegal? Well, it CHANGES adoption as it is practiced currently in this country. It ends a practice designed to keep adoption a shameful secret and and a practice which it is totally unnecessary in order to provide safe care for children in need.

    But that does NOT mean doing away with finding safe alternative care for children when it is necessary and no extended family can provide it. It means REPLACING what we now know as adoption with Permanent Legal Guardianship, Simple Adoption, or Guardian-Adoption.

    This – as is explained in my book, THE STORK MARKET in detail – was suggested by Jean Paton, adoptee/social worker the matriarch of adoption reform; by Annette Baran, social worker and author; and Carole Anderson, social worker, attorney and president of concerned United Birthparents. And it makes perfect logical sense.

    Adoption should always put the best interest of the child first and foremost. if this is done, then it becomes clear that there is absolutely no reason to sever the child's true identity from him in order to provide care. In today's society many children bear different names than their parent(s) – with no stigma – and any child who prefers to share their name can make that choice when he or she is old enough and have his or her name changed to be the same as a parent he choses. To change it by one's own choice is very different than having it changed and having no access to what it originally was. The later creates an emotional challenge as well as possible physical, medical crisis and is an inequality that discriminates against persons simply for having been adopted. All forms of inequalities and discriminatory practices should be ILLEGAL! So to be clear: One hundred percent of the secrecy and changes to one's vital, original birth certificate in adoption should be illegal.

    I hope this clarifies the issue for you and your readers. More can be read in my book, and also here: http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/p/faqs.htm… and here http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/p/what-is-

    Mirah Riben, author, THE STORK MARKET: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Thanks, Mirah — you provide so much for us to think about.

      Yes, I agree that *aspects* of adoption which are unethical and not in the best interest of the child must be changed. This is a distinct argument from the blanket statement, which yes, I think some people make in anger and pain–that adoption should be abolished 100%. It's just that my point in the post was to state that we get nowhere with actual change–such as unsealed records, access to OBR–if we make arguments that can easily have holes poked through them.

      I appreciate all of your comments!
      Laura

  4. Here is the question I have, Is the need to provide children with homes or is the need to provide children with families? The reason I ask is that if the need is that children need homes then the concept of Guardianship provides a child with a home and someone to provide for them because their parents for whatever reason are unable to. Then adoption would never be necessary under any circumstance. You’d provide those children who are abused and neglected in Foster Care with parents whose parental rights have been terminated with Guardians rather than Adoptive Parents. However, if the need is for a child to have a family then adoption does fill that need and shouldn’t be outlawed.

    So for me it’s whether a child need to grow up with two people that act as parents who take their last name and become a part of their family (in addition to their biological family)? I think those adoptees who were adopted and those people who aged out of Foster Care are best able to answer the question.

  5. This is a home run post, Laura. So much to unpack.

    At the heart of it for me:

    "If we insist in the extreme only and in all cases, our arguments become invalid.

    If we lose credibility by arguing with logical fallacies, we will make no change. To be blunt, no one’s going to take us seriously."

    People are always going to be able to point to a case where adoption really was the best option all things considered, so we have to find a way to dialogue within adoption but I don't believe that means we have to accept adoption-as-it-stands-now. I know you don't either.

    Thank you for this much needed post.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Exactly. We don't have to accept it as it stands now. I've been thinking a lot — not only about what I think should be changed from a legal rights standpoint, but also from a "hearts and mind" perspective. You're right — so much to consider. <3 <3

  6. I think the only comparison between slavery and adoption is in the legal stripping and sealing of names and heritage. The legal process needs reformed in order to ensure an environment that honors and meets the needs of children who need homes.

    • No matter how respectfully it is communicated, some people will take offense to the truth regarding the need for adoptee rights and the end of unethical practices in adoption. Marginalizing and accusing adoptees as being "bitter" or "angry" when speaking about adoption issues/rights has been an effective way to keep adoptees from the "table" and continuing the status quo.
      Of course there will always be a need for families and homes for children who need care, we all agree. But with tragedies like Baby Veronica and others being legally and morally applauded in our country, maybe it would not be such a bad idea for "adoption" (the unregulated industry, societal myths, and unethical practices and laws) to be either redefined or replaced with a legal process that protects human rights.

      • The fact that the only other time in American history where names were changed and heritages stolen in exchange for money was during slavery, truly does shed a bad light on the way adoption is practiced today. Saying that as a truthful fact doesn't necessarily mean an adoptee is "bitter" or "angry", that they want to do away with adoption as
        providing homes for children in need, or that they are equating adoption with slavery in every aspect. Martin Luther King, Jr., Susan B. Anthony, and so many others were angrily accused as "extremists" in their time, but later their communication and ideals were broadly accepted by society and people realized those who vehemently accused them were actually the "angry" ones who were comfortable with the status quo and who were opposed to the rights of whole people groups. Much like adoptees today, without the right to our own identities.

  7. For me, it's very simple;

    IF we take the standpoint that ALL adoptions MUST be Illegal, then no one in their rights minds are EVERY going to hear ANYTHING we say because we are too easily dismissed as extremists.

    And then, as you pointed out, there will ALWAYS be the exception where even I have to admit that "so and so WAS in danger with their original family and SOMETHING did need to happen and they DID need another family" and since we call THAT "adoption" then adoption is not 100% bad all the time, but sometimes necessary.

    However, if we continue to point out that certain practices are completely unethical and need to be changed in order to make adoption be the "good" thing ALL THE TIME, then people HAVE to AGREE that the changes should happen. ( Yes, I cringe internally when I say it this way, but to gets the job done.)

    And that is the way we get others to accept, understand and support what we know needs to happen.

    It's all in the delivery. Go to make bite sized tasty agreeable morsels or people puke on you!

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Claud,
      Exactly. I get it. If adoption does work some of the time, or even ONE time, then the argument that it should be completely outlawed becomes baseless. Yes, I agree it's in the delivery–and so much of the change in adoption has to do with changing how it is viewed by the general public.
      <3 Laura

  8. JavaMonkey permalink

    Laura, you're 100% right. Comparing adoption to slavery is wrong on so many levels and only serves to weaken our standing. However, even though I agree that adoption has (hopefully tiny) a place in our society, everything about the way it is practiced needs to change.

    * Falsifying birth records should ALWAYS be illegal.
    * Sealing or destroying original documentation should ALWAYS be illegal.
    * Nullifying a father's rights in order to steal children who have willing and loving families should ALWAYS be illegal.
    * Coercing or bribing mothers to place their children instead of parenting should ALWAYS be illegal.
    * Closing a formerly open adoption should ALWAYS be illegal.

    I could go on for a long time. The big problem is that all of these things that need changing are the FOUNDATIONS of how adoptions happen in the USA. Ugh!

  9. Sometimes you can determine the quality of a blog post by the conversation it generates and this is an excellent example of that. Yes, Laura, I agree it took some cajones to say these things and you'll get some blowback, but it's nice to see that for the most part your audience really heard you and what you said provoked a lot of thoughtful response.

  10. familyadvocate permalink

    Greg – you need to understand permanent legal guardianship (PLG) or simple adoption aka guardianship adoption. It provides everything traditional adoption does without the necessity to DENY an individual access to their own legitimate identity! it is superior to traditional adoption, not less than. Adoption gives with one hand and TAKES with the other. PLG allows the child to have BOTH: a family AND his identity!!

    • Question: When you say PLG provides a child with a family are you referring to their family by blood or the people that would care for them?

      If you are saying that PLG would allow the child to keep their identity as well as their biological family, I agree especially if the PLG is in place with blood relatives. That’s what I was referring to in my question is that does all a child need is someone to provide for them until they turn 18 and become a legal adult. It’s basically legalized babysitting. The PLG if I understand it correctly provides that.

      However, if you are arguing that it gives the child a non biological family to join, I disagree. Guardians unless blood relatives are not family. They are providers, nothing more. Calling them families is making them out to be something they aren’t. Guardianship Adoption as a term doesn’t make sense. You are either a Guardian which is a provided or you are Adopting someone into a family.

      If what these children need are families to become a part of then I believe you keep adoption but you make adjustments to its current practice. Keep the OBC as it is for everyone, add an adoption decree that states who are the legal parents of that child instead of replacing the OBC and get rid of the profits in adoption. I’m not sure if you put all adoptions through the state would solve the problem with all of the corruption in Foster Care. But putting them with private agencies that are for profit is not the alternative either.

      But maybe you can clarify

  11. familyadvocate permalink

    Deanna, JavaMonkey, at el — PLEASE, please, please read my lengthy comment above. The one with two likes!

  12. " Keep the OBC as it is for everyone, add an adoption decree that states who are the legal parents of that child instead of replacing the OBC and get rid of the profits in adoption."

    Greg – we are saying the same thing: Adoption without a falsified birth certificate *is* PLG! One and the same. PLG is NOT foster care or long term babysitting. It provides a non-biological family that a child fells part of, and provides the guardians ALL RIGHTS any parent would have in regards to school, medical, etc…without severing or eradicating the child's connection to his truth, his origins. Whatever you call it, every child deserves safe, loving care AND his original name!

    Mirah

    • gsmwc02 permalink

      Mirah,

      Two questions: First are you an adoptee or someone who was in Foster Care? The reason I am asking is to better understand your perspective. Aimee provided her perspective and Laura did to a certain extent as an adoptee and was curious if you were an adoptee as well or even a Foster or Adoptive Parent.

      The second question I had is regarding the original name, are you referring to the first, last or both? If you are referring to the first name, I agree that shouldn't change. But if you are also referring to a last name not changing, that I don't agree with. If an a child is joining a family then their last name should change to the family they are joining, IMO. That's where they are adopted into a non biological family. When a woman gets married in most cases (not all) she changes her last name as she is with her husband joining a new family but her OBC never changes. Similar concept here.

      But I think what you are describing is the adult being a guardian which is similar to a Foster Parent which is a legalized babysitter. There is nothing wrong with that either. If what the child needs is someone to just provide for them until they turn 18 then a Guardian fills that need. They aren't Parents who the child feels are mom and dad to go along with their biological parents. The Guardians aren't family who will be there for them for the rest of their lives. A Guardian is just someone who provides for them until they turn 18 and then they are on their own.

      I am not talking about what rights a Guardian would have. That's not important if we are talking about providing the child not the people taking care of the child. The bottom line for me is a Guardian is not a Parent. If PLG provides the child with a Guardian who provides safe loving care w/out Parents or a family and that's what the child needs then it works. But if the child needs Parents and a family to be a part of their lives forever then PLG doesn't provide that. But that's just my opinion.

      -Greg

      • Laura Dennis permalink

        Greg,
        Thanks for all of your comments. I can see that you're trying to work all this through, and I appreciate that. I think that we could separate out what happens with a PLG vs. traditional adoption — from a legal standpoint vs. an emotional standpoint.

        In American culture these days, kids are considered "on their own" once they turn 18, although parents whose economic situation allows do provide for kids after that–college, getting established as an adult. Whether an adult was/is a foster parent, guardian, adoptive parent or original parent — nothing guarantees a kid to help after they turn 18, financially or emotionally. So, I think if practices within adoption could be modified to eliminate sealed records–across all 50 U.S. states–a lot would change in this country.

        There's a lot to think about …
        Laura

  13. Aimee permalink

    I’m an adult adoptee and my adoption was also necessary. I deserved parents, not guardians. I deserved a family, not just people who provided care. My first mom would whole heartedly agree with this statement. I work with at risk/foster kids. They don’t ask for guardians, they want parents and a family. Now, that being said…. Adoption practices are in need of a total overhaul. Documents should not be falsified and sealed. There had to be a common ground that protects AND provides more than guardianship paperwork for children who are truly in need of being adopted. I would have been fine with an amended BC IF I had the original along with it freely.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Aimee — I've been thinking about this too. Like you say, kids in foster care don't want a "guardian," they want parents and a family. I wonder … can the legal papers state "guardianship" and the foster parents still maintain that they are parents, and love them as such? I mean to say, can't there be both? One is a legality, the other is a way you live your life.

  14. Lavender Luz permalink

    Great discussion here following a well thought out post.

    If we can simply be guided by Truth, things will be so much more ethical and beneficial. All the shame and denial we put into place during past decades has really mucked things up.

  15. eagoodlife permalink

    It goes without saying that adoption for some, a tiny number, will always be necessary. If we could make it honest, truthful and reduce the trauma, loss and grief of mother-loss, we would wouldn't we? While adoption has some similarities with slavery around choice, money and possession, commodification and ethics, those things could be removed in an ethical society not driven by the profit motive. Comparing slavery to adoption does a grave dishonour to millions of slaves and to millions of adoptees who have vastly different stories all of which have a right to be heard.
    In the spirit if full disclosure I'm an adoptee raised by an afather who was the descendent of a slave. I'm not pushing a book and don't have any other agenda other than rights for adoptees of all ages.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      And I love you for that, Von! Yes, I love your agenda of rights for adoptees of all ages! Wow, I didn't know that about your a-father. I agree — comparing slavery to adoption does dishonor the different voices and experiences of those who have lived it.

  16. Greg, et al.,

    I know I have presented a great deal of information, but I do wish you would read it before replying to it. Some of your questions about name change were answered if you'd read what i wrote.

    I am talking about NOT FALSIFYING birth certificates. This means leaving the ORIGINAL: and true records of their BIRTH – which is what a birth certificate is supposed to be – intact and unamended, unchanged! That would leave first and last name intact.

    I already addressed the issue of a child feeling he wanted to share his family's surname — a legal name change is very simple and does not require an atty, just filing papers!

    Who am I? Mirah Riben. I am a birth mom who has been researching, speaking and writing about adoption for nearly 40 years. I am author of two books: shedding light on…The Dark Side of Adoption (1988) and THE STORK MARKET: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry (2007). My second book outlines all of this, including PLG in great detail. I have authored DOZENS of articles and presented at many conferences etc. My full bio and works are at: works.bepress.com/mirah_riben

    I am not adopted nor a former foster child but I am a former foster mom who is currently working to help a former foster son obtain his birth certificate. Check out my Facebook page and you can also browse my blog: FamilyPreservation.blogspot.com

    • gsmwc02 permalink

      Mirah,

      I apologize that you feel that I am not reading you. I am reading what you are writing, I am just asking you to clarify certain things to make sure that I am understanding you correctly. These are sensitive topics and it's so easy to incorrectly assume a person's intentions and then things get ugly. I just checked out your site, very intense stuff with lots of emotion. I respect your work for something you have a strong passion for. I'd love to comment on some of your pieces but I've gotten into trouble in the past in those types of discussions (just ask Claudia).

      I do see what you mean by PLG but I still don't believe Guardians fill a parental or family need. They fill the safe providing need, which is still vital in some cases. I do believe that you can still keep the OBC as is, change the child's last name upon adoption not altering their OBC and provide them with parents and a family that they need. While for you and I who haven't been adopted having someone who are our parents raising us might not be viewed as a big deal but for those children, it sounds like it is a big deal.

      I do believe children can differentiate who are there parents and who are their Guardians. I do believe they are perceptive enough to realize that a Guardian is lesser than a Parent no matter whether that parent is biologically related to them or not. Semantics may not matter to us who are not adopted who might take it for granted but it does matter to those who are adopted.

      The reason paperwork says Parent or Guardian is because they mean two different things. If they meant the same thing it would say Parent/Guardian or just Guardian. The reality is they are very different in the eyes of the people raised by them. One means Mom or Dad the other means Mr. or Mrs.. One is family to the child while the other isn't. One is lesser than the other. If one wasn't lesser than the other no one would be trying to have kids to become parents they would instead work towards becoming a Guardian.

      I don't think anyone even the biggest adoption reform advocates who want to make adoption illegal want abused children to stay in those homes. For me as an outsider I just understand them as wanting those children to have an alternative form of care. That alternative form of care is either some to provide for them or for someone to become their parents. As I said before for me it comes down to providing them what they need. If what they need are parents and a family, PLG doesn't do that IMO.

      I wish you the best on your journey.

    • marilynn permalink

      I agree with never messing with the birth certificate. I wonder if I'm that extreme person not touched by adoption that you wrote about. I mean I am a search angel so I started to get really mad at how adopted people are treated differently. so I comment a lot.

    • marilynn permalink

      "I already addressed the issue of a child feeling he wanted to share his family's surname — a legal name change is very simple and does not require an atty, just filing papers! "

      I totally love you.

  17. FOLKS –

    PLG provides a FAMILY in every way adoption does with one exception: NO FALSIFIED BIRTH CERTIFICATE.

    Does anyone really think a child can differentiate whether MOMMY and DADDY are their ADOPTER or guardians? Mommy and daddy are the people who raise you! Period! And your family is your family. Semantics do not make a family, love does!

    PLG is just one term. AS I HAVE SAID, it also called simple adoption or guardian adoption. Just think of it as HONEST adoption — adoption without the lies and secrets and sealed records. The child gets all the care he requires, all the LOVE…without having his birth cert sealed. PERIOD!

    LAURA – I agree totally. I don't know who you talked to because I RARELY hear anyone peak so dogmatically about outlawing 100% of adoptions. Anyone who does is fringe and makes a fool of themselves because they won't be taken seriously and as I also said, it makes it appear that they are advocating leaving children in harms way or foster care or orphanages rather than providing them safe care.

    The most vehement anti-adoption rhetoric I've heard is from one woman who is not personally touched by adoption in any way, nor is she a professional in adoption. Just odd that she took up this campaign and has done it with an EXTREME vengeance.

    Mirah Riben, author, works.berpress.com/mirah_riben

  18. Laura – you said kids want parents and families not guardians.

    This is equivalent to saying to children want parents not adoptive parents or step parents. Do you who are adopted love your parents less because they are your adoptive parents?? Of course not!! If they have been good, loving, caring parents, do you feel any less a part of your family because you are adopted not born into your family? NO!

    It would be the same if the legal title of those people loving and caring for you is "guardian." You're hung up on semantics which matter not in practice.

    These are legal terms. Mommy and Daddy are the people love and care for us…the rest is legal gibberish!! All school and medical paperwork for minors says "parent or guardian" because they are interchangeable and totally equal.

    Here's some reading:
    http://familypreservation.blogspot.com/2009/12/cu

    • Gaye permalink

      Mirah, your points about language being interchangeable surprise me. Language is power as much as having access to making you voice heard is power. These terms are not interchangeable as they have connotations attached to their source or origins.

      As an adult adoptee who did have a relatively good adoption – evenn if quite ironic that I was taken from my birth mother to avoid the sole parent stigma to end up with the sole parent stigma – I find your assumptions about my needs and wants as a child simplistic to say the least. Was I treated differently as an adopted child by my family? Oh yes – most basically being identified as the adopted child – labelled as different which had massive impacts on who I was and my self confidence. The guilt created by the society that said this was better for me also held me in the fog as a child and until early last year kept me there. The pain and anguish experienced since then as a realise the impact of adoption on me (because I was supposed to be grateful for having a mummy and daddy) pushed me into seeking professional support.

      I understand the arguments for ethical adoption practices, for guardianship over adoption and for unqualified access to OBC as a right. But for me the last resort is removal of child from family and the first option is spending the finances to support families to stay together rather than supporting any other form of constructed family "in the best interest of the child" – determined by someone else based in their values and beliefs. And what is in the best interest of the child frequently changes definition according to the prevailing politics and social mores of the day – a dangerous combination at times.

      But concluding with where I started, language is not interchangeable – it matters. And as adoptees we where the attached meaning for our whole life.

  19. Mirah — Just curious if PLG is actually currently available in all the states? I am not familiar with it in my home state of Ohio. Like Laura, I can see many times when adoption is needed — the positive in adoption as it is currently practiced is the permanence it provides the child in his new family. (of course as an adoptee myself, I am never in agreement with falsified OBCs or hiding original identities). Legal Custody (the only basically permanent legal status I am aware of in Ohio) can be changed when a child's circumstances change, making it not as permanent as adoption legally. Legal custody is under the jurisdiction of Juvenile Court whereas in adoption is under Probate Court. We chose adoption of a family member for its legal permanence. We have the original OBC and identities are not hidden as we are family. If PLC was available, it sounds like a win-win; however, I've never heard of it being practiced in Ohio.

  20. THE POINT IS that adoption "reform" – at best – reforms it from the top down.

    Even in states that have granted adoptees access, far too many have hoops to jump through that apply only to adoptees. That leaves adoptees still second class citizens. Equal is equal and only Alaska and Kansas – where records were never sealed – treat adoptees totally equally.

    Adoption needs to be DECONSTRUCTED from the bottom up, not reformed. No legislation has ever been proposed to end the practice of falsifying birth certificates to begin with. Adoption reform groups simply accept that birth certificates are sealed FROM THE ADOPTEE until he or she is an adult and this is a preposterous situation to accept!

    States are committing fraud by falsifying birth certificates stating the child was born to his adoptive parents. This needs to be OUTLAWED!! Keep calling it adoption. The name doesn't matter. The point is to stop falsifying birth certificates.

  21. I would hasten to point out that the “logical fallacy” is found in this post. By simply replacing the word “adoption” with “slavery” you can see how hollow this rings; who would argue that there was any validity in slavery? Well, the anti-abolitionists for one, who cited, as here, those slaves who were “happy” on the plantation, etc. And there are currently many who still think this way.

    But this is minor. More problematic is ignoring the actual history of adoption, which stems from indentured servitude. Adoption is, as an institution, based and premised on the servitude of human beings. There is no escaping this historical fact, which is still brought forward when we say “put up for adoption”—as the children of the Orphan Trains were “put up” on blocks, exactly similar to the slaves during the heyday of that other heinous institution.

    So much of the two institutions resonate and echo with each other, from the “renaming” to the pricetag to the advertising based on race, gender, and health of the “available” goods. I fear you completely miss the point in the comparison, and further miss the point of why someone might call for the abolition of adoption (as I do): This is a utopian ideal which, once adhered to, will actually lead to reform. As opposed to the decades of useless debate about reform that leave us nowhere. This is a philosophical, moral, and ethically reasoned argument, as was abolition (which also had its “reformist” detractors). To call it fringe is very insulting. To insinuate that anyone wants children to live horrible lives in the name of some ideology is really a filthy thing to put forward.

    Finally, to distance those who are as you offensively refer to them as “extreme” from the debate on adoption is to do the work of those in power who have done the exact same thing; this is the work of the “house slaves”, I’m sorry to say. And so the metaphor works on all levels. I’m quite astounded to see so many gathering up the wood; seems like there are witches to burn.

    • S.E.L.S permalink

      All very well if you believe adoption is synonymous with slavery – and slavery with indentured servitude.
      Those to whom you offensively refer as "house slaves" (saying you are sorry for describing them that way doesn't let you off the hook) would disagree. "Extreme" is by far the lesser insult.

      • We aren't talking a difference in belief. And I don't want to be let off the hook. I'm not trying to be offensive, and I didn't take offense (this is your projection); I'm making statements of fact, historical and otherwise. Pointing out house slaves, compradors, kowtowers, and "smiling foxes" does not exclude them from the debate, quite the opposite. It engages them, but puts them on the defensive. Yet they rarely rise to this defense, they continue to go after form and not content, and put words in others' mouths. So be it. This is the lot of those who believe they somehow control the debate. Obviously, this rubs you the wrong way. Dismissing valid arguments as "fringe" and "extreme" is Orwellian in its hypocrisy when coming from such quarters.

        Here's a philosophical, economic, and political argument for the abolition of adoption:
        http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/08/the-new-aboliti

        Please frame your reply as a valid counter-argument, and not this tired passive-aggressivism.

      • S.E.L.S permalink

        "We aren't talking a difference in belief. And I don't want to be let off the hook. I'm not trying to be offensive, and I didn't take offense (this is your projection)"

        Hardly my "projection", Daniel. You wouldn't have said "those who are as you offensively refer to them as "extreme"" unless you yourself considered the word "extreme" offensive.

        "Extreme" is not offensive, nor does it "dismiss the arguments as invalid". It simply means furthest from the center. But to accuse someone of having a slave mentality because they support reform rather than abolition is offensive – not only to them, but also to actual slaves, historical and contemporary. It's the ultimate go-to for post colonial theory, a lazy thought-stopping cliche designed to shame people into silence and put an end to the possibilty of gainful discussion.

      • Laura Dennis permalink

        Thanks so much for your support; S.E.L.S. … I'll have to think more about this slave mentality/house slave issue, but wanted to say "thanks" for your comments :) <3

      • MNS permalink

        Perhaps it is less personal than you make it. In rhetoric there is offense and defense.

        Perhaps Daniel was reframing the issue: saying that Laura and others were labeling certain ideas as extreme. That is an offensive approach, as in taking control of the argument. Not as in insulting. You make it more personal than it has to be in a debate. You used the word "insult"; *Daniel* did not. He suggested that perhaps the entire house of adoption needs to be seen as corrupt from its foundations. That socio-economic inequalities (and racism, in many cases) have wrought adoption, just as they wrought slavery in the past.

        We need to think about who holds the power, who names the game, who writes the tickets, etc. in any situation. And in any argument. If we align ourselves with the existing power structure, we need to be honest about it.

        What Daniel has done is not being "offensive" as in being insulting: he has taken the ball, he has reframed the discourse once again. Clearly causing discomfort. Perhaps ask yourself why this is.

        If you don't like the slavery metaphor, fine. But please stop with the personal stuff. Daniel is applying the metaphor. He is also arguing that it's not beneficial in debates to exclude those who are considered "extreme" or "fringe"; that type of labeling is equally a power play, "insult" or not.

        If we cannot engage with all viewpoints, we are not engaging in fair play. If we say that the "extreme" people need to be shut down, that's a sad commentary on this community, such as it is.

      • S.E.L.S permalink

        We can disagree on this but I don't think my response to Daniel was any less personal than his to Laura, and of course I understand that in rhetoric there is offense and defense. I guess part of the problem is that "offensively" used as an adverb is uncommon, except in military language, and that is why it confused me. However, the "house slave" comparison is insulting by any standards and it comes in the same sentence as the word "offensively". Saying that person is doing the work of a "house slave" reeks of contempt.
        I see that another commentator has played the Stockholm Syndrome card, which can be another way of saying someone is deluded.

        I know that there are people who do not accept that adoption has any redeeming aspects, that it is corrupt from the core out, and that the only right way to serve the interests of children without family who are able care for them is for them to retain the legal identity of that family. I am glad that Daniel recognizes this as an ideal. Idealists are necessary to bring about positive change. Nevertheless it would have helped if he had offered (on this blog) some alternative solutions for children who have no recorded identities or who come from severely abusive families, etc. However, I am confused (again) that he wrote "This is a utopian ideal which, once adhered to, will actually lead to reform." because abolitionists do not want "reform". They want to dismantle the structure and replace it with a different model that conforms to their ideal. In the case of slavery the abolitionists were vindicated. I do not foresee that happening with adoption. There are things about adoption that when done right can work to the advantage of some children. Abolition seems to me to be a throwing-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater kind of thing.
        At least Mirah has made suggestions in that direction, although I disagree with her that guardianship, even permanent legal guardianship, is suited to all situations where children need permanency outside of their original family. I think that being excluded from sharing the legal name of the family one is raised in can contribute to even greater insecurity for some. I know several people who have been raised in the knowledge that they are adopted and who fully recognize their right to their records, original birth certificates and original familial history, but who have expressed that sharing their adoptive family's surname has been a positive that has helped rather than hindered their development into adulthood. Information that is state sealed can't be gotten (at least not without a fight), but surnames can always be changed back.

        I also think that "if we want a seat at the table, to change the way adoption is practiced, we must engage on equal footing with the powers-that-be" it doesn't mean, as Daniel implies it does, that Laura is a kowtower or "smiling fox". I understand it as meaning that adoptees should go on the offense :) as equals and take back their human and civil rights.

        When you say that Daniel has reframed the discourse "once again" it makes me wonder how often he has taken this particular approach. And for you to tell me that this is "clearly causing me discomfort" is rather condescending, don't you think? I think you are seeing something that is not there. You might want to ask yourself why this is. For myself, I actually enjoy debate. As for me not liking the "slavery" metaphor", you are quite right about that. Traditional slavery is a very different kind of institution from adoption, even from adoption as it is practiced in America today,, and although there are several strong parallels that can be drawn between the two institutions, they are not the same. I know I'm repeating myself, but likening someone to a "house slave" *is* personal. Furthermore, some people don't take the "slavery" comparison as a metaphor. They take it literally.

        If what Daniel is saying that it isn't not beneficial in debates to exclude those who are considered "extreme" of "fringe" and to try to do that is a power play, I agree, but it seems to me that he is doing the same thing he is attributing to others. Maybe this is what you call reframing the argument, but I think it is just going round in circles.

        You said that if we cannot engage in all viewpoints we are not engaging in fair play. I agree – but we're talking, aren't we? Besides, several people who disagree with Laura have commented. So there is no attempt being made here to shut discussion down.

      • MNS permalink

        We will indeed have to agree to disagree.

        I don't see it as Daniel's job to provide a solution *here* to the problem of child abuse or who have no recorded identities. You could read his blog to understand his position on these things.

        Several people on this thread have said that "extreme" thoughts are damaging to reform. I disagree. We need to engage with everyone or else we are reifying the existing power structures that say that mildness is the preferred form of discourse for fear of overwhelming those in the center. I agree that the strictures put on discourse in this way are Orwellian. It sure makes dissent easier to handle if even within the marginalized groups, the "fringe" are treated as pariahs.

        You agree that there are parallels between slavery and adoption but dislike the analogy? I think that both institutions are based on taking advantage of people, on huge disparities of power, and on ownership of other human beings.

        We tend to focus in the United States so much of infant adoption, but there is also international adoption and human trafficking and racism all blended in. What makes it all right for one group of people to leverage another group of people's misfortunes, or to make them feel lesser? By focusing solely on adoption, moreover, we miss the larger socio-economic contexts that bring about the social/familial tragedies that in turn lead to adoption.

        In the United States adoption is given power by the idea that *best* type of home for a child is the nuclear family. This is a (Western) Eurocentric conceit but not necessarily preferred in other places in the world. I am not convinced that all children would *choose* a nuclear family, far away from/different from their family of origin. Yes, some children might like the legitimation that an adoption gives, and the ability to hide in plain sight as not "other," at least legally: it's a social norm. It *would* probably be hard in today's United States to have a guardian, not a parent. But to focus on that is to suggest that legal comfort (and for whom?) trumps loss of original identity, and that isn't necessarily a good reason to say that adoption is better or preferable than legal guardianship. Norms can change, and have changed. Adoption was *not* the norm 100 years ago in the United States.

        No one is forcibly shutting down discussion here, but as Daniel wrote below, why is one side given latitude to call extremism while the other side is not free to suggest that the other is reactionary and averse to change?

        I believe that if we spent more time as a community trying to consider ways in which we as adoptees could call the entire power structure into question (i.e., not asking for/"winning" a seat at the table, but questioning the table *itself* and the necessity to jockey for a seat with the "grown ups"), we would be less accepting of the crumbs proffered by the so-called "powers," less likely to launch defenses for the crumbs and to expect the adoptees left behind to be satisfied with being marginalized, and more likely to effect change. Those people who insist that we deserve more, and not incrementally, shouldn't be ostracized as "extreme" or "fringe." Who knows what they will be able to do? Who knows what would happen if we all joined together, rather than worrying about finding common ground with agencies and the industry, and making it palatable for the majority?

        It's all about the questioning. I don't see it as going around in circles, unless there is one preferred point of view from which all others emanate, or can be judged.

    • Marilynn permalink

      you are right. Adoption would be fine if the adopted person lost nothing by being adopted. They'd already lost their family's care for whatever reason, the care offered by the adoptive family should be at no cost to the adopted person's identity, freedom, rights to identifying information about themselves and their family or their families right to identifying information about them either. They should not be sequestered from their family at all. There are people who would provide safe loving homes to kids whose families were in crisis and would commit to being additional permanent family that they could inherit from etc without a cost to the kid in any way. Frankly those are the only kinds of people who have the proper character and motives to offer their care to displaced minors.

  22. Adoption can never be 'legal' as it involves three parties, one of whom has no say in the decision that will ultimately impact on the rest of their life – not just their infancy and childhood years. Ownership should never be passed, as in a property transaction, but love and nurturing can be offered for life without the need for deeds of ownership if the true intention is to offer a child a loving home. Only when that child reaches their majority should any contract be signed – that would be the only way to make any adoption 'legal'.

  23. Lil lost mink permalink

    You all are making me want to go to the White House to hold up a sign I want my original birth record. Catholic Church should pay for my trip. The church is one of the biggest profits off adoptions and they are busy selling babies to this day hiding obc like we are pieces of meat for the wolves to take and raise as possessions. Hiding someone’s birth info is a lie and putting the persons who raise them as birth parents should beefy to adoptees choice if they want their name on their birth records. May God bless you all my pain of this issue bleeds change

    • Marilynn permalink

      Hi I said below that I reunite families and some of them are trying to get their current birth records corrected to be medically accurate (matching the original with bio parent names) because Hippa allows says you have a right to have errors in your medical and health records corrected. The birth certificate is a health record issued by the dept of public health. The Department of Health and Human Services mandates the collection of information at birth and the CDC uses information from birth certificates for statistics on fertility rates in the population and your amended certificate is not a true record of fertility and reproduction of the individuals named parents. Its a false health record for them and for you. The content of the birth record falls under Hippa. Nobody has been trying this approach yet but I am hoping if enough start approaching their health departments not as adopted people but as regular citizens whose medical records contain errors, to be corrected it will start establishing a right to medically accurate birth records. You won't need the originals unsealed, they can get the info from the original and correct your current record. There can be no privacy arguments as you are not expecting anything with regards to a health record not already expected of anyone with offspring. There is no special class of people who don't have to be named parent of their offspring except those classified as donors and we are working to show that is unfair as well. Correcting your birth record won't undo your adoption. Also this makes you equal to everyone else with one birth record one identity. Not open records, accurate records on the basis that you are equal and expect equal treatment. This is a good approach as it does not require getting people to pass new laws since that has not worked. If they can allow transsexuals to change their gender on their birth record and rewrite history falsely (erasing the facts as they stood at birth) certainly they could not look you in the face and say we can't correct it to be accurate as the health record it says it is at the top of the certificate. Get angry and expect equal treatment. Don't ask. Tell. Try it its worth a shot. What are the chances they'd unseal your original record anyway. Spread the word I think if lots of people try it they will have to come up with a reason why they are again making an exception and not allowing adopted people to be treated equal.

  24. Sharyn permalink

    I'm so honoured you used my argument, Laura. But (besides not actuallly addressing the argument) you didn't use the example of Female Circumcision that I used with the Slavery analogy. Just change the words where you used Slavery and use Female Circumcision and see if it makes sense yet? There are actually some things that are just wrong wrong wrong. You may have Stockholm Syndrome, but possibly looking at these concepts in a different framework will make them more obvious to you.

    • Laura Dennis permalink

      Sharyn,

      Thanks so much for your comments, I really appreciate you taking the time to read. I'm so sorry, but if I had used your argument exactly as we had discussed recently on a Facebook forum, I would have had to re-engage you to ask your permission. You'd said that you needed to take a step away from all the adoption talk, and so I decided to respect your needs as far as I understood them. I felt that I'd touched a nerve and didn't want to make things worse. We all have our own personal triggers and have to work them through in the way we see fit.

      It's important to note that I've had this discussion with others–not just you. To repeat, you're not the first person I've come across who believes adoption should be illegal in 100% of cases, just the most recent. I felt it was time for a blog post about it — and I sure have made some waves!!

      I left out the bit about female circumcision 1. because I felt that was an argument that I hadn't seen before (and see above, I would have wanted to ask your permission and you said you needed a break), and 2. because I like to keep my blog posts under 1000 words. Addressing how female circumcision is an abhorrent practice might be interesting, but I would open myself up to the issue of male circumcision–and then I would be WAY off topic, not to mention super-long!

      To address your other comments–some of which were repeats so I removed them–if you don't like my writing style, I welcome you to "x" out of the browser. No need to increase your annoyance on my behalf!

      Final notes: just to be clear, as I guess I didn't make it obvious enough in the original post: I'm not "okay" with slavery. Far from it. I'm also not "okay" with the way adoption is practiced in the United States (and elsewhere) today. I'm not okay with secret, destroyed or closed records that adoptees can't access. I'm not okay with coercion. I'm not okay with the adoptee not having a representative in the legal transaction. I simply believe that saying adoption is akin to slavery is a good way to argue for change within adoption. On that point, we obviously disagree. I even stated that I'm not a logical expert; and that I knew I committed errors even as I was writing!

      It's just that I decided to take the discussion to my blog, and I'm far from perfect! In general I do welcome you to comment. However, please refrain from making assumptions about my mental health (I do enough of that on my own already!), i.e. Stockholm Syndrome, or name-calling in general–of myself or others.

      I hope you'll continue to read and comment, as I do think that adoptees need to stick together to the extent that they are able!

      All my very best,
      Laura

      • You don't owe anyone an explanation, Laura.

        First of all, no one "owns" this slavery argument. I've seen it discussed on several boards, among different individuals, unconnected.

        You weren't quoting anyone in this post, rather discussing a belief/concept.

        You are entitled to add what you want to add, leave out what you want to leave out.

        This is your blog.

        I am really amazed at the cajones of anybody to infer that your posts must include certain things.

        smh.

  25. Sharyn permalink

    and I didn't say that slavery was like adoption ( though it scarily is) but I used it as an example that there are things that are 100% wrong!! in opposition to you saying there are things that are *not* 100% wrong. I really don't care that you decide that there are some periods of history that you would prefer to be a slave in. Can you really say that slavery is not a human rights abuse? Jeez Laura – are you OK with slavery? My point was to use it as an example of something that is not ok. You said that if there was one thing to disagree with an argument then the argument itself was in doubt. Then you called on your subjective impression that adoption was ok from your experience. Um. Shit. Well. I'm bamboozelled – you've got me there hon. Um, am I supposed to say there is one time, ever, when slavery is ok? Or one time, ever, when female circumcision (my other example which I note you haven't addressed at all – bit hard love?) is OK? Tell me, I challenge you, to say when your what is it? Some sort of Philosophy Logic 101 Argument you've got going on there? Tell me when you can answer that one Sweetums.

    • Marilynn permalink

      There are no circumstances where it is ever OK to relegate any human being to a lesser class with fewer rights. Certainly there have been times in history where someone might have had to choose between being a slave or being killed – in fact, isn't that the whole of slavery and indentured servitude? That's the idea right? Where they are not free to do anything other than live a life of service or be killed? Not free to choose and so are relegated to a life of servitude. It's not fair or just to do that to people. It's not fair or just to have laws that take away rights from minors who have already experienced the complete loss of their parents not being able to do for them what parents are obligated to do. The LEAST society can do for a minor whose parents are unable to meet their obligations, is protect the child's rights and their bodies by providing them with a safe and loving home to grow up in, at no cost them. That child should not have to do a GD thing to receive that care and support. The government has fashioned modern adoption after an indentured servitude model of care. It's not much different than the model of a couple of hundred years ago only they are not letting you ever buy your freedom the way they use to. At least then it was not a wolf in sheep's clothing it looked like the wolf it was. Adoptive parents just want to be parents generally and take good care of kids not work them in the fields. But nobody is seeing that by re-identifying the adopted person and getting rid of their rights in order to be adopted that it actually means they are paying for the care they are receiving from the adoptive parent. It probably is not even the intent of the adoptive parent that the child have to do anything in exchange for being raised, but that is in fact what happens in current adoption law.

      If the author of this post does not think modern adoption law parallels slavery I'll say this: Where do you think all the black people named Washington, Jackson and Jefferson got their surnames? Kenya? They carry the surname of the people who either purchased their ancestors or received their ancestors as gifts or inheritance. The re identification of the adopted person is the very hallmark of objectifying human life. Yes names are passed down generation to generation and now the passing of those names is genealogically accurate but the origin of them is historically significant because their names used to be changed as they were transferred master to master. They did not keep the name they inherited from their father. Their identity was secondary.

  26. jmari permalink

    Adoption should be illegal 100% of the time. Vital document falsification defines 100% of US adoptions. Vital record falsification is illegal.

    Adoption is human trafficking. Money changes hands, birth records amended, the facts removed, adoptees working hard, always acting to meet seemly impossible expectations. Adoptees are not free to be the person they were born. That person was killed. What remains is the slave of the adoption system. And for them there was no choice, death or slavery.

    One cannot assume that slavery would be chosen over death 100% of the time anyway.

  27. sharyn42 permalink

    I'm so frustrated with the circular reasoning used here.

    Spelling it out:

    Your original argument was that adoption cannot be wrong because there are cases where it is right. As 'proof' of this claim you cited your subjective experience that adoption was ok for you.

    To add to this 'proof' you somehow decided that if someone ever dared to say that a thing was ever 100% anything then it was easily proven to be wrong if a single case against it could be made.

    Having cited your happy adoption experience you decided this sounded the death knell for the case of adoption being 100% a bad thing.

    Again, using Philosophy 101 logic (actually not even) the process is this – Something cannot be 100% wrong. Um – yes it can and I used slavery and female circumcision as EXAMPLES of things which are 100% wrong. I didn't overtly compare slavery to adoption and this is where you've got completely twisted up.

    Forget slavery. Use female circumcision as an example of something which can never be justified – and unless you can come up with any reason why this is ever a good thing, I don't think you can conclude as happily that you've overcome that argument.

    So unless you get onto another tangent Laura your argument just plain doesn't work. "Adoption is 100% wrong" is a valid statement. It's not a 'logical fallacy'.

    And yes, adoptees should stick together but I see your position as an apologist for adoption and if people are still in the fog then they do WAY more damage to the cause by discussing adoption than if they just left the subject alone.

  28. Laura, I'm your bff and apparently I never realized you had a happy adoption experience. WHAT???!!!

    Sitting here in shock.

    Oh….wait a minute.
    Hold up…

    Doing a re-read of the post…

    You say:

    "Yes, my adoption had wide effects on me; yes, a lot of that was not positive. <—— gross understatement."

    Whew.

    For a minute there I was thinking I didn't really know you at all.

  29. I feel compelled to add the following. To me it comes down to framing of the debate/discussion; who is able to do that, and who isn’t? The very fact that it is possible to call into question the comparison of slavery to adoption shows us a power differential. That it is okay to call someone “fringe” or “extreme” but to reverse the accusation is not shows us a power differential. Most importantly, I want this debate to take place, and I cringe when I sense a growing exclusion of those who might take up what are seen as “outside” viewpoints. Outside according to whom? More importantly, how do we determine that saying someone’s viewpoint is “extreme” is not offensive, but that the “return volley” (directed personally or, as here, more obliquely and theoretically) is not?

    Of course calling someone’s viewpoint “extreme” is a dismissal of the validity of that view as well as the person. And it has a “flip side”, which is always taken more personally, for being outside of the accepted direction if you will of the discourse (from the top down). This distancing does more damage in the long run, undermining a lot of work from a lot of people, on all sides of the debate. But I want it to be known that I’m trying to “expose” the positions of power we might come from more than anything, in an effort to get to a debate. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Perhaps it didn’t work here. Awareness of this attempt, and an inclusive debate are requirements to get anywhere on the subject. I’ve yet to see an even playing field anywhere as the subject is concerned. I’m not even sure it is possible. This is disturbing, to say the least.

    Finally we need to admit there is a growing “accepted discourse” which requires that the more radical viewpoints be expunged. We’ve seen this happen a million times; and it is no less distressing each time it happens. I’m not defending myself, I’m asking as a question of commonweal: How do we even out the playing field? How do we take all of our input and move it to a productive neutral zone? Or a productive “free for all” zone? How do we not mirror our own “colonization” in our relationships with each other? This to me becomes the primary problematic….

    • MNS permalink

      I agree, Daniel. We absolutely mirror our relationships vis-a-vis our colonization in other discussions. I believe some people are aware of their positions, others less so; those who are more unaware tend to be bewildered or antagonistic when confronted by dissent.

      I very much appreciate the idea of a "free-for-all" zone for adoptees, apart from the other stakeholders, in which we could work out positions. I know none of these discussions are easy, but they are important. I am so tired of the derailing tactics. So tired. They are entirely predictable.

  30. gravatar21 permalink

    As an International Adoptee and from studying both domestic and International adoption I can see how case managers, social workers, agencies and orphanages 'sell' the term 'adoption' and having a 'mom and dad' as the best saving grace option for the child. The child, being of innocent mind and easily influenced believes that having an "All-American family" is their life goal. Many children are given this type of propaganda that having parents in the rich land of America will provide them with roads paved with gold. In reality, Adoption stinks of all kind of myths and propaganda. It's really taking from the poor and giving to the rich. It's forgetting and suppressing real families who are vulnerable and poor. Adoption is a quick fix to a very deep wound. I would rather have Guardians and know the truth then parents and be left in the dark. Lies may make 'happy adoptees' on the outside but it makes a deep open wound in your soul, your identity and your self worth. The disappointing thing is that IF my natural mother was supported then our family would never have been torn apart. Adoptees are left to feel 'grateful' for a system we had no decision in. We are 'matched' in a family who we are to 'honor and obey' and if we don't we will get punished. It's slavery, emotionally and physically. We had no choice and we will never get to know our roots. It didn't have to happen this way.

  31. heatherrainbow permalink

    I have a couple of comments. First, the issues around "adoption" are already illegal. It's illegal for people to falsify state documents. Therefore, in technicality, it is illegal for the state to alter documents. It's illegal to coerce women and men into relinquishing their children to adoption. It still happens. It is still called adoption, yet I would state that it is baby and human trafficking. Since records are sealed, there is no way to determine if even any adoption has any legal bearing, which is why they keep these records closed, folks. So, what would we "reform" the system to be? There is a problem in the Enforcement of these laws. Who would normally enforce them? The police? The FBI? The CIA? The government? The problem, is that history also tells us that Georgia Tann did a wonderful job at incorporating the governmental hands into participating in the illegal transporting of babies and children. Folks, this is also what the adoption system is based on, and is a not too far away history.

  32. heatherrainbow permalink

    Now, I understand the tactic of not being "extreme" in attempting to make changes, but I would add that the extreme viewpoints need to be considered valid in these conversations. It is usually extreme viewpoints that help shift the societal change left of the status quo.

    Another part of the conversation that was left out, and this is something I've had many conversations about, is that adoption doesn't answer the societal problems of foster care, abused children, etc etc etc. All the children that are in foster care are being abused systematically. Read: Beyond the Foster Care System, the Future for Teens. The most costly of adoptions are domestic, infant adoptions, whose mothers and fathers are coerced by the NCFA PR machine and do not have risks for being abused or neglected.

    • heatherrainbow permalink

      The children who are in orphanages all over the world, and who are aging out of foster care were not adopted, therefore, weren't "saved" by adoption, meaning it wasn't an answer to their situation of abuse / neglect. In addition, to many situations in which people adopt children and revoke their adoption sending them back into the system did not work as a "permanent" solution, nor give these children "a family". Until "adoption" is an actual answer to these problems, it is still a work in progress, and not an answer. For those whom it was an "answer", I would argue that due to the lack of transparency of the system, that these people are "tokens" of a colonial power that systematically destroys families and identities of those that they are attempting to dominate. They also control the language….

      • heatherrainbow permalink

        And, that brings my last point, that we are in the PR Paradigm of the dominant culture controlling our language, our definitions, our perceptions, et all of adoption. Media, the tool of the colonial power, is used to keep these perceptions from falling into "extreme" or alternate paradigms. When we look at the premise of a dialogue or discussion, we can start to pick apart the dominant culture's attempt to continue to control our perceptions and find truth outside of this enclosed debate.
        I want to pay honor to Mirah, in discussing an actual alternative to adoption as it stands, as legal guardianship, in which the parents retain parental rights. This is available in every state. People who are adults with disabilities sometimes need legal guardians in order to assist them with legal, financial, etc affairs, and therefore, is available. Without alternatives to the system, without extreme views outside the normalcy of the dialogue of colonial domination, things will shift as long as it stays within the boundaries of colonial acceptance.

  33. Linda permalink

    You aren't everyone Laura. Many adoptees are WORSE off because they are adopted. Many adoptees are abused when they would not of been by their real parents. Hell, the system itself is abusive. I don't understand why so many of you are saying adoption isn't like slavery, because it is and those who feel that way have every right to.

  34. Linda permalink

    I also think that adoptees should have the right to a legal termination of their adoption if they are being abused by or do not like their adoptive parents. Why should we have to live with people who are not good for us or be bound by a system that only makes us miserable? It is wrong too that adoptees are refused the right to be emancipated from a couple who adopts us when kids who aren't adopted have the right to do this in relation to their natural parents. The differences in being binded to parents in general ARE similar to the slavery laws that once plagued America.

  35. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for adoption

  36. Marilynn permalink

    I reunite all kinds of separated families for free and I advocate for a radical departure from the open records movement – accurate records movement and a movement not for adopted people's rights but for equal rights and freedom generally. Adoption laws as they are currently written restrict the freedom and rights of the adopted person not just as minors but as adults as well; you don't have the same rights to medically accurate vital records and identifying information about your relatives and your relatives don't have the same rights as others to identifying information about you. You loose YOUR rights when your adopted instead of your parents simply loosing THEIR authority and that is not fair nor is it necessary.

    Everyone born has a right to care and support from their bio parents or their would not be paternity suits or support orders based on DNA evidence. If your parents fail to care for you and it appears that being in their care jeopardizes your safety the state can come along and terminate THEIR parental authority, but not YOUR rights to their support or your rights to your identity, inheritance, support, records access etc. That is when you become a ward of the state. You are entitled to the state's support and care until you turn 18 without any loss at all to your rights within your family. They don't change your birth certificate when your parents loose their rights do they? They don't replace the name of mom and dad with "State of Colorado mom" and "State of Colorado dad". There are many times when only one parent will loose their parental authority but still have to pay support and won't have their name removed from your birth records. When you are a ward of the State, your parent can die and you'll still get their Social Security and Military Death Benefits, still get a copy of your real birth certificate, still get copies of your relatives birth, marriage and death certificates. You have a right to be taken care of without having your identities rewritten, without loosing any rights. The state however does not wish to carry the financial burden of raising you and so seeks to offload that burden. It is typically written in the family codes of most states that 'the State has an interest in finding permanent adoptive homes for children." The phrase "interest in" is a financial term if you look it up in the definitions within your state code. It's not a fuzzy warm cozy interest hobby like interest, its a financial interest in offloading their financial burden. Which is reasonable but they feel that nobody would be willing to take on that burden if they did not get to actually BE CALLED PARENTS. Not just for 18 years either, FOREVER. They think they have to sell off your identities and turn you into the children of the people who adopt you. You are given over into servitude by the state to play the roll of child to the people who adopt you and they falsify your medical records in order to keep you playing that roll. Your records are altered so that you can't leave the adopted family and go back to being who you really are ever, not even at 18 and not even when you are in reunion. You must forever serve as the child of the people who took on that burden of raising you as if you were their own. The state allows them to rename you. The state hides you from your relatives and your relatives from you in order to keep you in that position of servitude.

  37. Marilynn permalink

    As this article points out, no it is not grave physical abuse and hard labor that adopted people are providing as a service. Which is why its so difficult to get people to see the injustice in it. The injustice lies in the inherent inequality between yourselves and the millions of minors that don't have to do anything, or be anyone they are not already, in order to receive care and support until they reach the age of majority. You can already see that a person in foster care does not have to loose any rights or their identity in order to have their basic needs met until they reach adulthood. No it is not ideal and there is a tremendous amount of loss incurred by the minor who is in foster care but that loss is the outcome of their own family dynamics and their own parent's choices or inability to provide a safe home for them. The safety net of care that every minor has a right to does not involve them having to work in order to get their needs met. They are children who are owed the support of their parents or the state without any sacrifices expected of them. Adoption however requires sacrifices on the part of the adopted person in order to receive the care. In fact the investment of the Adoptive parents is so great, thinks the State, that adopted people have to continue in service long after they are no longer receiving care. They can't go back to their original names and families legally once they are adults and no longer receiving care, they must remain in service for the rest of their lives for the care they received during the first 18 years. In some cases when the adopted person was adopted as a teenager, they may remain in service for 70 years for the care and support received for their last couple of years as a minor.

    I believe it falls under the portions of the 13th amendment that deal with other forms of slavery called peonage and indentured servitude. There are in fact specific provisions that talk about withholding people's identifying papers to keep them in servitude and prevent them from leaving. Even when the papers are false. This is generally intended for undocumented alien workers to keep them working and unable to leave. This is what happens though to adopted people when the state withholds your original certificates.

    The first thing we need to do is stop altering birth records when people are adopted. You just would keep your original birth certificate un-altered. There is no need to change your identities, or your kinship rights. Adoption decrees are proof of the adoptive parents authority over the person named on the birth certificate. They'd enroll you in school using your original birth certificate with proof of their authority provided by an adoption decree. I'm starting to have people I helped reunite go with their parents to the vital records office and request correction of their current birth record to be medically accurate and name their bio parents. This is allowed under Hippa law the right to correct errors on your medical records. Don't approach as an adopted person, approach as a normal person with errors on your medical record. It won't undo the adoption which was signed by a judge, the adoption decree does that. Also you wind up even and equal to the rest of the population who has one identity and one birth record. People change their names without changing their birth records. In fact your name change is in your adoption paperwork. You don't even have to change the name on your amended certificate because the name change was legal and done separate, just change your parents names to be medically accurate.

    Accurate medical records not open records. Open records keeps you unequal accurate records is what everyone has a right to and it will make you free from servitude instantly. It is a form of slavery please look it up and go set yourself free, they won't ever do it for you. It's not in their best interests to help you.

    Peace.

  38. Marilynn permalink

    As this article points out, no it is not grave physical abuse and hard labor that adopted people are providing as a service. Which is why its so difficult to get people to see the injustice in it. The injustice lies in the inherent inequality between yourselves and the millions of minors that don't have to do anything, or be anyone they are not already, in order to receive care and support until they reach the age of majority. You can already see that a person in foster care does not have to loose any rights or their identity in order to have their basic needs met until they reach adulthood. No it is not ideal and there is a tremendous amount of loss incurred by the minor who is in foster care but that loss is the outcome of their own family dynamics and their own parent's choices or inability to provide a safe home for them. The safety net of care that every minor has a right to does not involve them having to work in order to get their needs met. They are children who are owed the support of their parents or the state without any sacrifices expected of them. Adoption however requires sacrifices on the part of the adopted person in order to receive the care. In fact the investment of the Adoptive parents is so great, thinks the State, that adopted people have to continue in service long after they are no longer receiving care. They can't go back to their original names and families legally once they are adults and no longer receiving care, they must remain in service for the rest of their lives for the care they received during the first 18 years. In some cases when the adopted person was adopted as a teenager, they may remain in service for 70 years for the care and support received for their last couple of years as a minor.

  39. Grace permalink

    The day that adoption becomes illegal is the day that society recognizes and respects the mother-child bond as a God-ordained relationship. Severing it unnaturally only causes pain and guilt.

    Because adoption has for the most part been exalted as the win-win-win solution to an unplanned pregnancy, young mothers who found themselves in a "crisis" pregnancy (meaning that their parents were too ashamed to offer them the temporary support they would need to finish their education) were encouraged to "place" their babies for adoption. They were told that if they loved their baby, they would do what is "best" for him. And in cases where the woman is finished with her education and perhaps even has other children, adoption is even more tragic and unacceptable. A woman should NEVER feel forced to lose her child just because of a financial situation which can change at any point in time. Money comes and money goes, but bloodlines are sacred. A baby should not lose his mother, father and siblings for such a reason.

    I don't think that it was a case of nobody in your first family wanting you; I think it was a case of your first mother not being permitted to want you. I for one believe that adoption should be 100% illegal. If there is an extreme case, such as the mother being in prison or so addicted to drugs or alcohol that she is non-functioning, then kinship care can be set up.

    Babies need to stay with their original families. That is their right, that is their heritage. Adoption is a business, and family relationships can't be severed for money's sake. The only reason the adoption industry is still around is because its spin doctors are so skilled. Now they try to say that "open" adoption is so wonderful. Yeah, right. I can't imagine how it must feel for a child to be on the outside actually looking in and seeing and knowing their original family, yet not fully being a part of it. So sad.

    And the funny thing is: it's mainly the church which encourages adoption, touting it as "God's plan" for a young, pregnant woman's "problem" and viewing the adoptive parents as the parents "chosen by God." Really? How many adopted babies are there in the Bible? Moses? Uh…no….once he grew up, he was commanded by God to go back to "his people." Moses rejected the falsified family and returned to his roots. (BTW, his mother only "gave him up" to save his life….not unlike young women today and in the past decades who "chose" adoption. We were told that our babies would "suffer" if we kept them. Many of us were college students who made good grades, were smart, personable and had a lot of potential. Our children's fathers were our boyfriends who cared about us, NOT one-night stands. Our children would have NEVER suffered with us — quite the opposite, actually. We succumbed to adoption because shame was more powerful than the mother-chid bond.)

    Other than Moses, only Hannah "gave up" her baby, Samuel. And she gave him directly to God, to be of service to him, not to a childless woman/couple. In fact, there are unwed mothers in the bible (take Hagar, for example) and God NEVER tells these women to give up their children. Heritage and bloodlines are VERT important in the book which the church claims to believe, but at the same time ignores when it comes to making some cash off of a vulnerable young woman's "predicament."

    So as I've already mentioned, the day that adoption is 100% legal is NOT the day when babies will suffer from being unwanted, but rather, it will be the day when the mother-child bond is treated with the respect and with the reverence it deserves. Women will be empowered to keep their babies and will be fully permitted by society to want them, to love them and to cherish them.

  40. Stephanie permalink

    Adoption has nothing to do with slavery. It has to do with kidnapping, coercion, and child trafficking. Social workers will skip over the signed legal approval of an adoption by the biological father, thereby negating his rights to his own offspring. They arrange court-approved closed adoptions that deny access to bone marrow, organs, blood, genetic history, family medical history, and genetic screening practices. The adoptee loses inheritance rights and the right to leave money, property, or other assets to the biological family. The extended biological family is cut off from the child, who does not know his or her ethnicity, religion, language, culture, race, history, or anything. It is impossible to visit or have contact including letters, emails, and phone calls to the parent(s) and other members of the family. The adoptee's identity is replaced with a fake birth name and ancestry. Even birthdates have been manipulated. Sometimes, adoptive parents hide the ancestry and story of the biological parents. Married white heterosexual couples with a high income and education over the age of thirty with a stay-at-home mother are favored and that is discriminatory, unscrupulous, classist, and elitist. Young mothers and the working class are treated as baby incubators for the rich. Someone else's infertility or age becomes the issue of a completely unrelated person whose baby is snatched in the process. Some adoptees are made to feel second best by adoptive parents due to their lack of biological relation and have to be told to be thankful for an unwanted arrangement. Though they are snatched and sold, as social workers make $6000 per placement of children, they are told they are lucky. Kidnapping involves coercion, forced surrender, and taking advantage of underaged women, including economic pressure, psychological warfare, threats, harassment, and jail. Babies have been literally snatched after false accusations and charges have been laid. The option of financial support, foster care, and abortion are not offered. Biological parents can have no say in the process of choosing the parent. There is no genetic or biological connection between parents and child. People rudely violate privacy by asking questions about the matter when it is a private detail. Interracial adoptions are awkward at best and identity crisis inducing at worse, causing others to stare and make comments. Adoptive parents have been known to circumvent international law through international adoption and babies or kids with living relatives, people in their own community who want to adopt, and friends of the family who are willing are denied the first options of taking the child. The child has no say in parenting. It is impossible to help out or support siblings including babysitting, financial support, emotional support, attending funerals, dances, plays, sporting events, parties, and other connections people in regular families have. Adoption agencies discriminate against working class people, older people, disabled people, single parents, gays, gay/bisexual couples, couples where the man stays at home, men in general, and take children from Native or Black families to place with white families which denies them knowledge of their race and ancestry, and treats race as an inconvenient non-entity.

  41. Robert Irwin Newman permalink

    Adoption in the State of Illinois should be considered to be on par with extreme child abuse. To not know the circumstances of one's birth, ones’ heritage and one's legal rights as given by birthright should be condemned and vilified on a worldwide basis. There is NO logical reason why this abominable Patronization should be allowed, much less condoned. To be told by a 'judge' who is younger than I am that I have no reason to look at my records (as they "only contain name and dates")is tantamount to conspiracy and should immediately mandate the disbarment of said 'Judge".

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