Adoption: An Alternative Way to have a Family

Adoption is an alternative way to have a family; it is a lifetime decision that should be made very cautiously. Adoption is a process where parents are supplied for children whose biological parents are deceased, or for those children whose biological parents are unable or unwilling to provide for their care. “Adoption creates a parent-child relationship recognized for all purposes including child support obligations, inheritance rights, and custody”(Aigner p 10). The children are provided for childless couples or individuals interested in becoming parents. “According to Dr. Ruth Mc. Roy at the UT School of Social work, there are approximately 5,000,000 US births each year. Out of that approximation 118,000 are adoptions.” Adoption is traced back to the bible. It is known that the Pharaoh’s wife adopted Moses, and Jesus was even adopted by Joseph. Adoption even goes as far back as the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and even the Babylonians. There were guidelines for adoption written in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, the oldest set of written laws, and the practice of adoption gradually became the institution of adoption, as the legal guidelines evolved through the Holy Roman Empire, the kingdoms of Europe and Asia, and finally, the United States and the Americas. It is recorded that Judaism and Christianity were founded on the idea of open adoption. Before 1850, there were no laws governing adoption. Kids would just be given away without any questions; it was economically motivated because of the circumstances that existed. People living in the city would give up their kids because they couldn’t afford to take care of their children. Farmers loved to receive them because they were able to make them help out on the farm. In 1850 adoption became legally recognized in the United States.

The government began making minimal standards for adoption, hoping that the old way of adoption would die out. In 1851 the government made a law stating that you had to have consent from someone to adopt. This process really did not help the adoption movement because it did not specify who was to give consent. In 1917, different states began to make more laws. For example, Minnesota required the intervention of the welfare department and recommendation from the court. Soon all states required that law. The year 1928 began a period known as the Butter box Babies. A home was established to allow illegal trading between Canada and the United States. The home was operated by a couple named the Young’s. Parents brought their infants to the house. Depending on the way the infants looked the Young’s either starved them or sold them for big money. The children who died were placed in a box that was meant for dairy products and then buried. It is estimated that out of the sixteen hundred kids that came there, four to six hundred died and the others were sold. The babies were buried on the property across from a cemetery; some were even burned in the furnace. Closed adoptions came about in 1938. It was also known as the “60-year experiment”, an experiment known for its failure. Closed adoptions are adoptions that seal the original birth certificate, leaving no chance in finding anything out about their natural parents. When the baby boom period began there was a shortage of adoptable children for a childless couple, especially because of how hard it was to give up a child for adoption. This began what was known as the Black Baby Market. You could get an adoptee to be finalized by sealing the birth certificate. In 1955, this conspiracy was brought to light; the amount of money being made from the Black Market was incredibly high. Corrupt public officials declared mothers unfit so that they could get the profit from the baby. Doctors took babies and sold them if they weren’t able to pay off their hospital bill. Records were forged.

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Adoptive couples never knew if the adoption was legal or not. Committees started and led hearings for stricter controls on adoption. This led to the Uniform Adoption Act. The uniform adoption act over all states all requirements that have to be followed to adopt a child. Since then laws were added to the Uniform Adoption Act and many different types of adoptions have come about. There are now five different types of Adoptions: Agency Adoptions, Private Placement adoption also called independent adoptions, Step Parent Adoption, International Adoption, and open agency adoption. Agency Adoptions, for the most part, are free. They are funded through the state by federal taxes. Agency Adoptions are known to place infants and toddlers although their specialty is special needs children, children who were usually the victim of emotional, physical and or mental problems. Private placement adoptions also known as independent adoptions are sometimes complicated. When choosing a private placement adoption you should check with the Better Business Bureau to see if it is legit. They should have a license and be approved by the state in which they operate. A private Placement adoption entails finding parents interested in putting up their child for adoption. Usually, the birth mother is contacted. You can contact the birth mother or natural parents by looking in some newspaper. You can also send letters of your family to such places as a crisis pregnancy center. You may also use sources over the Internet. The agency should help identify a child for you and assist you with all the legal proceedings. They should help you make the process go as smoothly as possible. Some agencies even go as far as providing counseling for all the parties involved. An extension of a private placement adoption is when the natural parents or birth mother find a family looking to adopt get together and go to an agency. A Step Parent adoption is when one spouse in a remarriage adopts the child of the other parent. One of the natural parents relinquishes all their rights to the child. Open adoptions are agreements and commitments between the birth parents and adoptive parents. In an open adoptio, there are open lines between the birth parents the adoptive parent and the child. Arrangements should be made beforehand to avoid conflicts later on. International adoption is when a United States resident adopts a child born and living in a foreign country. This type of adoption is becoming popular. In the March eighth New York Times edition of the paper, they say that international adoptions are rising steadily, to 16,396 in 1999 from 7,093 in 1990. International adoption has been one of the most growing trends when adopting. Most people think that when they adopt internationally that all countries follow the same rules for adoption that the U.S. does. Many countries have different rules on allowing people from other countries to adopt their kids. “Many think international adoption is too expensive. Dillon’s Director Margie Wasielewski says adopting from many countries can cost less than adopting a child in the USA (Harty 4).”

In comparing Haiti to Hong Kong I have found some similarities and differences. Some similarities are as followed: You must follow the U.S. Immigration Procedure. This is run through the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the United States. You must contact whoever has jurisdiction over your location and fill out forms for a visa. You have to fill out the I-600 and I-600 A form, which allows the Immigration and Naturalization Service to evaluate the prospective parents. If you have to travel to get the child you must have a medical examination. In order to meet the requirements for a visa for the child, you must meet the definition of an orphan under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. Other things you’ll have to do is compile a dossier that includes a Justice Dept. fingerprint check, certified birth certificates, and a letter from the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service allowing you to bring a foreign orphan into the U.S. You must also arrange a home study, in which a social worker interviews you and writes a report on your motives, finances, and general fitness to adopt. The document gathering process takes six months or more. ( Joan Oleck, with Patricia Kranz; Amy Dunkin p. 200). This is done to make sure that you are not only financially stable but emotionally stable also. You do not have to live in Hong Kong to adopt or be in Hong Kong for the adoption process to take place. Most of the children that are available for adoption are two years of age or older. They might also be a special need baby. Chinese people have a better chance of receiving a child than non- Chinese people. To adopt a child you must be between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five. If you are between the ages of twenty-one to twenty-five or over forty-five you may be allowed to adopt with the consent of the Social Welfare Department. You must be married for at least three years if it is the first marriage. If it is the second marriage you must be married for at least five years. You also have to be financially stable. All of this is required to ensure that the child will be cared for properly and to show that the couple adopting is financially stable. The average waiting time to adopt is at least ten months. On the other hand in Haiti, you have to be in Haiti to adopt a child. You have to be over the age of thirty-five if you are married. If one person is younger than thirty-five you have to be married for at least ten years and have no children together. If you are a single parent you are not allowed to adopt a child from Haiti. You must have consent from both prospective partners to adopt. You are not allowed to take an abandoned child until it has been adopted into Haiti. There are three basic steps that should be followed when looking to adopt from Haiti. You first have to get release papers from the surviving parent(s) or whoever has custody over the child. You can get these release forms from the Justice of Peace. Then you have to submit the birth certificate of the adoptive parents, the child’s birth certificate, the marriage certificate of the adoptive parents, and if the natural parents are dead their death certificate, tax returns, and police clearances from the prospective parents. You also need medical and psychological reports from the adopting parents and the child.

Haiti’s consulates in the United States must translate all of these documents into French and authenticated. They will, in turn, investigate the prospective parents and the child to see if the parents meet their standards. If they approve they will send you a document known as the Authorization of Adoption. This can only be from the Port-au-Prince office. No other office can authorize an adoption. Last but not least you have to submit the Authorization of Adoption to the Tribunal Civil Court having jurisdiction over the child and get a legal document to know, as the Act of Adoption which is the final decree of adoption. This process can take an average of six months to more than a year. The cost to adopt a child from Haiti is approximately three thousand dollars or more not including airfare to the United States. As you can see there are many similarities and differences when adopting from Haiti and Hong Kong. Since international adoption is becoming a big trend here in the United States it is preferred that you only use well reputable agencies or lawyers to prevent fraud. You should always know something about where you are adopting from; also learn the laws in that country to avoid problems. There are many differences as there are countries. Although you have a choice in the United States to either have a closed or open adoption you should still be careful. Always remember “Careful planning is the key to safe and swift travel “ (Ulysses). How do we decide whether adoptions should be open adoptions or closed adoptions? “ In the past twenty years, the sealed record issue has become part of the public discourse on social problems” (Brodzinsky & Schechter 72). We must now make a stand and move to open adoption; it would surely benefit all persons involved. “Open Adoption is a process in which the birth parents and the adoptive parents meet and exchange identifying information. The birthparents relinquish legal and basic childbearing rights to the adoptive parents. Both sets of parents retain the right to continuing contact and access to knowledge on behalf of the child. (Brodzinsky & Schecter) That is the basic definition of open adoption, although there is room for either more or less contact between the parents involved. Communication tends to vary during different times in the child’s life. This all depends upon the parties and whether they are willing to cooperate. To really understand why we should move to open adoption you have to understand the history. Open adoptions went as far back as the. Adoptions were never closed and secret. Secrecy or anonymity was seen to be morally wrong. Over time to supposedly prevent abusive adoptions, they were made closed. Closed adoptions lead to the yearning of information by both parties. The birth parents wanted to know what happened to the child they gave up. The child wanted to know things about their birth parents. They wanted to know who were their birth parents; why they gave them up; do they have any brothers or sisters; do they have a medical history, and the list goes on.

Not finding this information out has a negative impact on their lives. It affects their self-esteem, and their own childbearing years. This is clearly stated in the Opposition of Adoption magazine. Statistics support claims that knowledge about our genetic past, our roots, plays a vital role in who we are, and that the lack of such information can be detrimental to the adopted child. Here is an example of a child who has been affected by a closed adoption. My friend Lionel lives with his father. He has an older stepbrother named Antoine who lived with Lionel’s mother until their grandmother died. After their grandmother died Antoine was given up for adoption. It was a closed adoption. After this Lionel lost all contact with his mother. He still does not have contact but knows a little about his stepbrother adoption. He would love to contact him and create a bond with him again but because it was a closed adoption he cannot have any information. This has affected Lionel periodically throughout his life. Although it has been some years the memory never fades of his stepbrother. Some parents who gave up their child using closed adoptions live in fear that one-day adoptions may become open. Some think that they are not emotionally ready to handle the situation if approached with it. Many also fear what their family might think if they did not know that they gave up a child for adoption. They are also fearful of resentment. They think that the child may not want them. Some think that the child only wants to see the life they would have had. Many who are for opening adoptions feel that they have the right to know things about their own past; especially because they did not have anything to do with the agreement to withhold their past. Adoption was supposed to protect the children not the adoptive parents or the birth parents as it is today.

Open adoptions let the child understand why they were adopted instead of them fantasizing why they were. They understand why they have green eyes and black hair for instance. Most adoptive kids birth certificates were taken away from them and were sealed, leaving them with not even a name. Some kids were not even given a race, whether they were black or white. We should not deny a child of their heritage. They have the right to it. If the open adoption were put into place it would allow every kid over the age of eighteen to decide whether they want to see their birth records. Those whose records were closed would be open upon request. It would also allow special adopted kids to keep with them memories they carry from previous associations. Those who want adoption open have already begun forming agencies to help find their lost ones. They have to pay hundreds of dollars just to find their birth parents. Some even get scammed out of money. Should it have to be taken this far; is a birth certificate and some information from the company they were adopted from too much to ask? No one should have to resort to this. Adoptee’s do not want to disturb their birth parents’ lives. They just want answers. Should they have to learn that a deadly disease is inherited through their family by being diagnosed, knowing that it could have been treated earlier if known? In order to continue to keep in the best interest of the child, the community must keep aware of the ongoing effects society has on adopted kids. Open Adoption is not a plan to cure all the problems that exist with adoptions, though it helps all parties involved to handle the situation in a healthier way. Adoption has undergone many changes and we must continue to fight for the child’s right. In all of us, there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, to know who we are, and where we have come from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning; no matter what our attainments in life, there is the most disquieting loneliness.

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