The recent news stories on “re-homing” adoptees are very disturbing; no child should have to suffer the trauma of being separated from their birth family and then again from their adopted family.
While upsetting, it is important to understand that these articles are not about adoption practices. The transfers referred to in the recent press happened outside of procedures and safeguards set forth for adoption. In many ways these eye-opening events underscore the need for additional safeguards to be put in place for all children, whether they were born to the family looking to find them a new home, or adopted internationally or domestically. Federal/State child protection laws need to be improved so children are protected from this and other child-trafficking practices.
What these stories do highlight is the need for family assessment, parent preparation and post-placement support. We know that adoption is a lifelong commitment and that it is important that families always have access to post-adoption services. “Adoptive families work hard to support their adopted children despite the inevitable challenges that will arise,” said Emily Forhman, Spence-Chapin’s Executive Director. “Having access to qualified adoption clinicians who can counsel parents as well as children is a key component to creating healthy families.” Given the right training and post-placement support, virtually all adoptive parents will be able to provide their children with the permanent and loving home they so deserve.
It is the responsibility of adoption agencies to ensure that parents are properly vetted, trained, and supported and every agency must embrace this responsibility seriously. In the rare situation where an adoptive placement can’t be permanent, the child’s best interests should be paramount. The agency(s) involved with the placement of the child with the disrupting family should take on the responsibility of finding a suitable and permanent home for the child; under no circumstances should a family be in a situation where they need to privately transfer the custody of an adopted child to a stranger.
The articles spotlight a real problem and we deplore these situations and the unspeakable hardships that have befallen these children. At the same time, we are always concerned when the press sensationalizes the circumstances of a handful of misguided families. The unfortunate reality is that most people gather their information about adoption from hearsay or biased media outlets and tragically, their mistaken views add to the growing number of children left without families and stigmas that adopted persons and their families face to this day.
Note to families:
Despite their critical importance, there is little to no dedicated federal funding for post-adoption services. Please contact your congressional leader and ask then to make post-adoption services funding a priority.