Friday, January 24, 2014

If I Were In Charge of the Adoption Process . . .

If I were in charge of the adoption process (because I'm allowed to daydream, right?) I would develop a "Point System" for Prospective Adoptive Parents as follows:
For every miscarriage or stillbirth a couple has experienced they get 1 POINT.
For every fertility evaluation/treatment or surgical procedure related to reproduction a couple has undergone they get 1 POINT.
For every 2 Years a Couple Has Waited to Adopt they get 1 POINT.  (I would say one year- but as far as adoption is concerned that's hardly "waiting" in my humble opinion; 2 years seems a little more realistic of a waiting time to me before starting to get antsy)
For every child a couple fosters they get 1 POINT.
For every 10 Waiting Children a couple inquires about (because there are thousands of children waiting for permanent adoptive homes; inquiring about these children is the relatively "easy" part, it's being selected as the family best fit to meet the child's needs that is the hard part) the couple gets 1 POINT.
For every failed/contested adoption a couple goes through they get 1 POINT.  And for clarification, a failed adoption is not the same as a disrupted adoption.  To me a failed adoption means that a birthmother chooses to place her child with a family and then changes her mind (either before or after the baby is born)  If the birthmother changes her mind before her baby is born then technically it would be more accurate to call it a failed prospective adoption since there was no actual adoption in the first place whereas  a contested adoption is when a family actually adopts a child but a birthfather comes forward and says he didn't give his consent or in the case of Native American children, for example, the child's tribe contests the adoption because the adoptive family is not of Native American descent.
For advocating and volunteering for adoption and foster care (I'm not exactly sure how to scale this one- if it's number of years a couple has served on a board or number of activities and community outreach events one attends or number of editorials/articles or posts one reads, writes or shares with others) the couple gets 1 POINT.
Now here's what I would do with all of these "points":  Simply add up all of the points the prospective adoptive parents have and whomever has the most points is put at the "top" of the list to adopt a child.  Sounds easy enough, right?

Unfortunately, the adoption process is not easy, nor is it always fair.  And although there may have been a "top of the list" way of doing things years ago, it doesn't exactly work that way anymore.

If a couple is adopting domestically they are most likely at the mercy of a birthmother who has to make perhaps the most difficult and heart-wrenching decision of her life.  Not only that, but I think it's fair to say there's "competition" involved in adopting because the number of couples wanting to adopt FAR outweighs the number of babies and children available for adoption.
If a couple decides to adopt from foster care and fosters a child who is not yet legally free for adoption it is a huge gamble since the purpose of foster care is to support and ultimately reunite children and their birth families IF it is in the child's best interest (and sometimes reunification happens even when it is not in the child's best interest).
If a couple adopts a Waiting Child through U.S. Foster Care then there is no gamble about parental rights being terminated but the adoptive family better be very prepared and equipped to deal with behaviors common to children coming from backgrounds of trauma.  Families who adopt children internationally from orphanages may expect to deal with some of these same issues (reactive attachment disorder, sensory processing disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, etc).
Adoption is not only a gift but a HUGE responsibility.  And anything that requires responsibility also requires patience, determination, (a sense of humor most definitely helps as well) and trust that if you do your part God will do His part, too.
What about you?  If YOU were in charge of the adoption process what would you change?  Would you scale some of the scenarios from my "Point System" differently- more points or less points, etc.?


Kelley said...

What an interesting concept! In our licensing classes, there were many couples who had lived thought infertility and miscarriage. We are blessed by three little crazies, so you might wonder why we would have signed on for the foster adoption adventure. We signed up because we felt God leading us there. On day one, I was uncomfortable with the adoption process. I didn't want to "compete" with another family for a kid- it seemed crazy because we set out to adopt children who didn't have anyone else. If there was someone else wishing to adopt them, then I didn't want to stand in their way! BUT... the more I learned and prayed and listened, the more I came to know that adoption isn't about finding a child for a family. It's about finding a family for a child. If my family is the best fit for a child or sibling group, even if there are several other families wanting him/her/them, then we will be excited to welcome that child into our life.

I wish there were a point system with the kids more than the perspective parents- for every abuse instance suffered (1 point), for every day lived without a meal (1 point), for every time a placement was disrupted (1 point), for every day past TPR (1 point), for each sibling (1 point)... and then the parents would just line up and live happily ever after with the child at the front of the line. :-)

Thanks for your blog. It's been a real treasure during our foster care journey!

Mary said...

EXCELLENT POINT about having a point system for the children! When I feel like I'm getting impatient waiting to adopt I remind myself that there are children out there who have been waiting much longer than I have!

Shine said...

You've a complete right to feel antsy. I agree about failed adoption definitions. We called ours a failed match, even though the baby had been born. It wasn't the adoption that failed, or us.

Seems like there should be a point every time somebody makes a stupid comment about adoption, foster care, etc. to you. It could probably go under advocating for adoption/foster care....especially if you don't throat-punch them.

LOVE Kelley's comment about child points. With trauma kids, each good choice and triumph over their instincts should get at least five points (ie: Choosing to verbalize that he/she's upset and angry rather than punching holes in houses/peeing in closets/etc.)

Mary said...

Failed "match"- I like that terminology. But I hate the FAILED part because you're absolutely right that neither you nor the adoption failed! I once used the term "adoption miscarriage" to describe a situation where we met the child and began bonding with her but her family changed their mind about placing her with us. I also got a lot of slack for using that term but from my perspective that's what it felt like- attaching to someone and experiencing so much anticipation before anything officially had a chance to come to fruition.

Unknown said...

I read all the time but rarely comment. I actually have a series of posts about what I would change about adoption, if I were "Queen of Adoption Land". If it interests you, you can see the posts here:

That said, I don't agree with your point system. One family is not more deserving than another. AFAIK, I'm not infertile. I do, however, have a medical condition that is incompatible with pregnancy. I never tried to get pregnant, because a) I never wanted to and b) if I did, it would not end well. Same sex couples wouldn't get any points under your system. But all of us, I would imagine, feel that same need, ache even, for our children.

I guess it would be nice if there were some rhyme or reason to the adoption process. I'm just not sure that it really is desirable. What if the people at the top of the list are waiting for a black baby girl who wasn't exposed to drugs in utero, and the next baby available is a white baby boy born addicted to methadone? In foster adoption, the parents have to be prepared for specific needs, so choosing the family at the top of the list really wouldn't work.

I do agree with you that it isn't a failed adoption if an expectant mother chooses to parent before the baby is born or placed. It's just a failed match.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts! I think if I could change it I would just pick the families myself :) just kidding! But I know several precious families that are waiting and I would love to just go up to a birth mother and tell her all about how wonderful they are myself.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts! I think if I could change it I would just pick the families myself :) just kidding! But I know several precious families that are waiting and I would love to just go up to a birth mother and tell her all about how wonderful they are myself.

Unknown said...

I love this concept. And I love how it shows your heart of compassion and empathy for families who have experienced loss and have lived through the waiting. This is why I try to encourage people who have had biological kids to consider adopting waiting kids or older kids and let the infertile couples pursue domestic infant adoption since that may be the only way they experience the joy of bringing a baby home from the hospital.

c said...

I know that some agencies have "baby born" programs in which priority is given to those with failed matches so that is the only way I could see a point system working.

However, in the case of matches between expectant mothers and adoptive families, the emom is looking for a family in which she feels her child will be a good fit and also with whom she will feel comfortable as well - especially in the case of an open adoption since compatible personalities would probably be more likely to have a successful open adoption than non-compatible personalities. Her first thought is and should be for her child and for what it is in the best interest of that child. If she eventually does choose adoption (and in a truly ethical adoption she doesn't have to commit to an adoption plan until she has actually signed TPR), her choice of family should be the family that she feels is best for her child.