Making the decision to adopt a baby is a big deal and comes with a lot of responsibility. One of the most critical of those responsibilities is to ensure you’re proceeding with the adoption process in a manner that is ethical and transparent. At Angel Adoption, this is one of our core values, which is why we put together this helpful guide to give you a better understanding of ethics in adoption. Read to learn more about the importance of ethics and transparency in adoption, and our top tips for ensuring your adoption is ethical.
What is ethical adoption?
Ethical adoption is the practice of adopting a child in a manner that is legal, transparent, in the best interest of the child and birthmother, and free of force, fraud, or coercion at any point throughout the process. Additionally, no individual should be excluded from the process due to race/ethnic background, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Everyone involved in the adoption process should approach it in a responsible, ethical, inclusive, and transparent manner.
To learn more about current discourse in ethical adoption, this academic article published by Bibiana D. Koh and JaeRan Kim in Adoption Quarterly covers the intersection of adoption and ethics in a nuanced, accessible way.
Unethical Adoption Red Flags
It’s important that most adoption professionals and adoptive families operate in an ethical and transparent manner. However, the unfortunate truth is that not everyone adheres to these standards. Some red flags that unethical behavior might be happening include but are not limited to the following:
- Lack of informed consent and full understanding of the adoption process communicated to the prospective birthmother
- Use of force or coercive language when communicating with a prospective birthmother about adoption
- Lack of transparency of the rights and options available to prospective birthmothers
- Promise of a specific timeline, particularly a short turnaround, to prospective adoptive families
- Giving false information or purposely withholding critical information
- When the nuances of race and ethnic background are not considered in the child’s best interest
Why is it so important for an adoption to be ethical and transparent?
The nature of adoption means it is a delicate process that requires all parties involved to be transparent and ethical. We recommend being clear and honest throughout every step of the adoption process.
This is really important when it comes to the home study portion of the process as this is when a social worker evaluates if a prospective adoptive family is well suited and qualified to adopt a baby. Since social workers assess different facets of family life, such as financials, interpersonal relationships, references, this is the time to be extremely honest and open. The results of the home study can impact whether or not a family will be qualified to adopt. In addition, if a family were to exclude pertinent details or give falsified information about themselves during the home study process, it could ultimately disqualify them from getting a home study. Beyond the home study, if at any point, there are unethical or non-transparent actions conducted it can seriously jeopardize the final outcome of the adoption plan.
Top Tips for Ensuring your Adoption is Ethical
1. Choose an adoption professional that inherently values ethics and transparency.
Choosing an adoption professional to guide you through your adoption journey is one of the biggest decisions you will make as you go through the process. One of the most important things prospective adoptive parents and birthmothers can do is ensure that the adoption professional they are working with values ethics and transparency throughout the entire adoption process. In fact, it is paramount that the adoption professional show that they value ethics and transparency through action. For example, having a Birthmother’s Bill of Rights like ours can indicate that your adoption professional is committed to upholding transparent, ethical practices that put emphasis on the dignity of all involved.
2. Get educated on the adoption process.
Something we recommend to both prospective adoptive parents and birthmothers is to educate themselves about all aspects of the adoption process. Doing so allows everyone to go through the process as prepared and informed as possible. There are many helpful resources available online from child welfare organizations, adoption professionals, support groups, and families who have gone through the adoption process
Not only does educating yourself ensure you have all of your proverbial ducks in a row, but it also ensures you aren’t doing anything that would accidentally impact your chances of a positive adoption outcome. While you are educating yourself about the adoption process, you should also take some time to learn more about ethics and transparency in adoption. Understanding what constitutes an ethical adoption and what doesn’t can help you put your best foot forward as you move through your adoption journey. By reading this article, you are already off to a great start!
3. If you’re unsure, ask questions.
The adoption process is complicated with many moving parts, which is why we encourage prospective adoptive parents and birthmothers to ask as many questions as possible of their adoption professional, lawyer, and social worker. This is particularly important considering the state and federal laws surrounding domestic adoption. As we know, adoption laws vary from state to state making it critically important to follow all legal advice carefully and ask clarifying questions if you are unsure about anything.
4. Be transparent and honest with the birthmother.
If you are a prospective adoptive parent, it is essential that you be as transparent as possible as you move through the adoption process. This means being transparent and honest with everyone involved from your adoption professional, your lawyer, your social worker, and most importantly, the prospective birthmother. It is particularly important to be transparent and honest with the birthmother as her decision to place her baby with you requires an extraordinary amount of trust. If that trust is broken, it could ultimately change her mind about placing her baby with you and even about adoption in general.
5. Remember why you are adopting in the first place.
At the end of the day, the best interest of the child is at the crux of the adoption process. They are the reason why it is so important for the adoption process to be ethical and transparent. The child’s physical, emotional, and financial welfare makes adoption a profoundly ethical obligation for birthmothers, prospective adoptive parents, and adoption professionals alike. While the adoption process can be a complicated rollercoaster of emotions for all involved, it is important to keep in mind that it is worth it when everyone approaches it in a good faith, ethical and transparent manner with the child at the forefront of every decision.