January 5, 2014
The Business of Adoption
© Photographer: Icefields | Agency: Dreamstime.com
(originally published 10/17/09)
I went to a meeting recently at the OK State Capitol regarding an Adoption Review Task Force that is meeting monthly to recommend changes in the adoption code. It was created mainly because of an OK Supreme Court report documenting gross unethical practices, including coercion of "birth mothers" to relinquish their children. The task force is mainly composed of adoption agency personel, judges, attorneys, and one birth mother. It is open to the public and there were 5 adoptees there.
A panel of adoptive parents spoke about a new law they want passed called "Cooper's Law." It would nix the current requirement for all relinquishing mothers to appear before a Judge, and allow for them to simply sign the papers in the hospital or somewhere else and it be notarized. Several people spoke out against it.
Anyway, I made the statement that "it isn't too much to ask of any mother to appear before a judge since they are making such an important, permanent decision". And also stated that the "counseling" given by those who work for an adoption agency whose business it is to complete adoptions may be a conflict of interest.
Sitting through these meetings and hearing a 2 hour discussion of how even "non-profit" adoption agencies (we all know "non-profit" doesn't necessarily mean no profit) don't want to legislate a "fee" cap or "expense" cap for adoptions because each case is so "different" ~ even though there is a case before the OK Supreme Court right now regarding an unethical adoption that cost over $120,000, makes it extremely hard to remain quiet.
We sit through these meetings feeling like this could be a discussion about the selling of cars, but certainly not people. The very people who must sit quietly and not dare speak about our legislated lack of medical history or roots. Even when several U.S. states have passed legislation restoring the right of adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates.
At this same meeting a comment was made by one of the task force members that she called the office of vital stats to see if they could track the number of adoptions in OK because it is so unregulated. She said they mentioned that some original birth certificates are coming in with the names of adoptive parents on them already, even before an amended birth certificate is created. I spoke up and asked if the members could address this issue because it is so important for adoptees to have an accurate obc, and it was as if it was such a minor issue they totally dismissed it, like it was so trivial it didn't deserve an answer.
Some would say that the new "open" adoptions are the answer to these issues. That adoptees will not "suffer" the same feelings of genealogical bewilderment because they will know their heritage and may even have contact with their original family. What the agencies fail to address is that "open" adoptions are not protected in law, and can become "closed" adoptions at any time, and many do. Even with "open" adoptions, the adoptee's original birth certificate is still "sealed" and an amended birth certificate created.
Some say WE need to get over our "issues"? The ones still being created, legislated, and dismissed.