Issues and Perspectives in Adoption: Then and Now (Part 1)

The field of adoption has changed throughout the years. Before the 1980’s, almost every adoption was closed and there was no contact between birth and adoptive families. Today, according to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 95 percent of all infant adoptions involve some form of contact between birth and adoptive families.

Adoption STAR will be sharing a section of the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program book (written by Spalding for Children), which goes into detail about adoption “then” and adoption “now”, in a three part series.

Adoption Viewed as an Event

Then: Adoption was seen as a single event that occurred at a point in time.

Now: Adoption is seen as a lifelong process. Adoption is viewed as impacting the lives of birth parents, adoptive parents, the adoptee and future generations of all of the above. Adoption STAR firmly agrees with Spalding, that the adoption journey is lifelong. This is why Adoption STAR offers counseling and education to all members of the adoption journey both pre-and-post placement.

Adoption as a Legal Process

Then: Prior to the 1850’s adoption was usually an informal process. Children were viewed as property and formal or legal adoptions were not considered necessary.

Now: Adoption is viewed as a legal process regulated by state and federal laws. Statues vary from state to state. To view the adoption laws in your specific state, please visit Adoption STAR’s adoption law section.

Informed Consent

Then: Birth mothers were often coerced into placing a child with someone else due to financial situations and/or other social factors. Birth fathers were not required to consent to an adoption. These were tactics were famous used in by many in the Baby Scoop Era from the 1940’s-1970.

Now: More help is available to prepare and support birth bothers throughout the process. Birth fathers are required to consent to adoption or have rights terminated. Court oversight is required to ensure that birth parent decisions are informed and voluntary.

Full Disclosure

Then: Agencies kept vital information about the child’s history from adopting parents. Many wrongful adoption suits were filed against agencies.

Now: Most states now specify what non-identifying information (medical-psycho-social) must be shared with adopting parents. Most agencies provide full disclosure of required information. Agencies require adopting parents to sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the required information and, in some cases, a waiver absolving the agency of liability for information received after the adoption. Adoption STAR works hard to provide as much medical and birth family history as possible to prospective adoptive parents before they make a decision on a match.

Tune in next Thursday (8/23) for part two of “Issues and Perspectives in Adoption: Then and Now.”