Ethical Considerations in Adoption

Know_Your_Rights_ImageThe following write-up was included in materials that accompanied the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Funded Infant Adoption Awareness Training Project. Adoption STAR was a subcontractor on this initiative and was responsible for coordinating trainings across New York State. Also, we want to give a special “thank you” to Spaulding for Children for their important work in project creation and delivery.

Ethical Considerations in Adoption

In adoption, every state has certain laws that determine how adoptions proceed. We are now going to look at some broader standards that govern adoption practice. Some of these are addressed in specific state statues. Others are general standards recognized by most adoption practitioners.

Rights of the Birth Family

Right to:

  • Choose the adoptive family. The birth parent(s) also have the right to choose the adoptive family.
  • State their desires regarding the level of contact and information sharing from confidential to fully disclosed.
  • Financial support for legal fees, counseling expenses, reasonable living expenses and actual medical expenses related to the pregnancy or birth of the child. Birth parents are not responsible for paying back expenses if they change their mind and decide to parent.
  •  Social and legal counsel – Birth parents are entitled to have their own attorney. Adoptive parents are responsible for paying for the attorney. Most states actually require that birth parents have social counseling available to them.
  • Be free from pressure and coercion to place a child for adoption.
  • Develop an adoption plan and birthing plan. An adoption plan can include things like the type of adoption the birth parent chooses, the type of family the birth parent wants to choose, and the family the birth parent chooses. The birthing plan lays out what should happen at the hospital. For example, adoptive parents may come to the hospital, they may be in the delivery room, the child can be taken immediately to the nursery or stay in the room with the birth mother, the adoptive parents may take the baby directly home from the hospital or the baby may got into temporary foster placement. All of these are options for the birth parents to consider.
  • Terminate the adoption until the revocation period has passed.