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Adoption after Altruism

by Paul Sauer — March 02, 2009

Vietnam, Marshall Islands, Russia, Nepal, Guatemala, Vietnam again. For those who follow the world of international adoption, they have seen history repeat itself in country after country and sometimes even within the same country. A country opens to international adoption, the number of international adoptions soars, leading to an increase in unethical practices, in turn leading to a shutdown in international adoptions...

Vietnam, Marshall Islands, Russia, Nepal, Guatemala, Vietnam again. For those who follow the world of international adoption, they have seen history repeat itself in country after country and sometimes even within the same country. A country opens to international adoption, the number of international adoptions soars, leading to an increase in unethical practices, in turn leading to a shutdown in international adoptions.

As the father of two internationally adopted children, I have little patience left for the altruistic picture that is so often painted of international adoption—hopeless children destined to live as orphans or in third-world poverty so generously adopted by individuals who will provide a better life for them. Adoption agencies perpetuate the picture, adoptive parents are manipulated by it, and the children are silent third parties. Sadly, when it comes to international adoption, no one speaks for the children.

People who find out that I am an adoptive parent often say, with the best intentions, “Your girls are so lucky.” While I understand that intention of the statement, it is based on that altruistic image, not reality. A “lucky child” would be one where there would be no need for adoption because the biological parents would have the resources and a sufficiently positive situation in life in which they would be able to raise the child themselves. There are no children who are winners in international adoption, only children who have been given a chance to make something better out of a bad situation.

Often lost in this altruistic adoption image is the importance of biological ties. Studies of older adoptive children bear this out.1 Yet again, in the world of international adoption, little is generally known about the biological parents, leaving children with little to no sense of their own history unless the adoptive parents make an extraordinary effort to at least connect the child with the birth culture. A second problem with the altruistic image of international adoption is that it is too easy to manipulate the needs of children into unethical behavior on the part of adults, done in the name of the “greater good.” Once again the children in need suffer silently.

One does not have to search too far on the internet to find “gay adoption-friendly” websites which describe how to “get around” the regulations which limit adoptions to heterosexual couples or singles.2 A common approach is to have one member of the gay couple file as a single parent, and then both individuals readopt the child as a couple once they are back in the United States. But in order to facilitate this adoption, the couple needs to either omit information on their homestudy (the required document which describes the home life the child will have, securing state approval for adoption), or else outright lie on the document by claiming that no one besides the single adoptive parent lives in the house (even though all adults who live in the house are required by law to have a criminal and child abuse background check as a part of the homestudy). The altruistic argument goes like this: “We know what the country’s laws are, but isn’t it better for this child to be in a loving home than suffering in an orphanage?”

The problem with such a question is that it immediately denies the cultural morés of the child’s birth culture. The very act of this unethical type of adoption severs the rights of the members of child’s culture to determine how that child will be raised. The argument that “it was illegal, but we did it for your own good,” is bound to create problems as the adoptive child grows into an adult. Even worse, it has caused countries like China to impose additional restrictions on who can adopt, such as limiting the number of single adoptive parents, in an attempt to close the loopholes. In the end a gay couple rescues “their child,” but other orphanage-bound children have a longer wait for “their rescue” as the process becomes even more complex.

Sadly, agencies unethically assisting homosexuals seeking to adopt where they are not legally allowed have not been the worst violators of ethics in international adoption. That dubious distinction goes to many so-called Christian adoption agencies. Most of the great scandals in the international adoption world over the last few years have been perpetrated by religious agencies (both Mormon and Christian)3 who were willing to bend or break the rules of a country, through bribery, coercion, and other attempts to circumvent in-country safeguards for the children, in an effort to rescue “God’s children.” The altruistic attitude here is that the Christian agency knows better than a secular government what a child needs. What matters in the end is not how the adoption occurs, but that these “helpless children” find good Christian homes, where they will be much better off than in the care of the state. In some instances the act of adoption is seen not only as physically rescuing a child, but also of rescuing the child’s soul for salvation.

While the agencies may be the ones who provide the means for facilitating unethical adoptions, it is those parents who buy into the altruistic picture of adoption that drive the whole unethical process. It is hard to blame them. Many parents, already devastated by the news that they are unable to have children biologically, quickly fall in love with pictures or descriptions of children available for adoption in other countries. Once matched with a specific child, it is easy for Christian would-be parents to begin to believe that, since God did not allow us to have biological children, then the adoption of this child was meant to be.

But what is that adoptive parent to do when an agency asks them to bring large amounts of money (in cash) to pay an in-country facilitator (without a receipt)?4 Or if the adoptive parents are asked to lie about which agency they work with?5 Or when irregularities are discovered about the relinquishment of the adoptive child and there is doubt as to whether the child was truly orphaned?6 Or when it is discovered that the child has been illegally brought to the United States for the purpose of being put up for adoption?7 These questions may be easy to answer before the process begins, but after waiting months for the adoption to go through, and investing tens of thousands of dollars in the adoption and coming so close to the dream of parenthood, sometimes it is easier just to look the other way, especially knowing that the good end, whatever the means, is helping a child to escape the poverty of an orphanage.

Ultimately, the current system for international adoption is broken. Despite recent attempts, like the Hague Adoption Convention,8 to safeguard the rights of children, abuses and corruption in international adoption are still far too common, as can be seen in the recent ethics-related shutdowns of international adoptions in Guatemala and Vietnam. It should not be surprising that corruption is going to happen when emotionally vulnerable adoptive parents get caught up in a billion-dollar adoption industry.9 Systemic failures are built into the process. For example, adoptive parents directly pay the individuals who do their homestudies and have been known to move to another agency or sue10 if their homestudy approval is denied. If word gets out that a particular homestudy provider scrutinizes too much, that agency will lose business and clients will go elsewhere.

None of this is to say that international adoption is not necessary. In our world broken by sin, in which broken families and broken people often find themselves in need, there will always be a need for adoption. But it should not continue to happen through a broken system. Greater concern needs to be given to the needs of the child, as determined by the child’s birth culture. Greater respect needs to be paid to the child’s birth culture by adoptive parents; the adoption of children can make them part of an ethnically different family, but it does not change their own ethnicity.11 There is not, nor should there be, an automatic right of adoption for every individual. Greater scrutiny needs to be given to adoptive parents by a system that is not tainted by financial conflict of interest. A centralized u.s. Adoption Authority ought to be implemented, taking the responsibility from the hands of individual states which often are not in communication with one another.12

Caught in the middle of the adoption crisis are church-related social service agencies that often are forced to chose between their own ethical standards and being able to facilitate the adoption of children in need. A recent mandate by the state of Massachusetts, legislating that adoption agencies may not take into account a prospective adoptive parent’s sexual orientation, caused Catholic Social Services of Boston to shut down their adoption program rather than compromise their ethical standards. Is this really best for “children in need”?13

The Missouri Synod, in a similar move at its 2007 convention, passed a resolution that strongly encourages social service agencies of the church to remain faithful to a biblical model of family when placing children (i.e., married heterosexual couples should get preference).14 While such declarations may be seen as a positive first step, they only address a small part of the issue of ethics in adoption. The crisis is not caused primarily, or even significantly, by homosexual adoptive parents. As such, it is important for the church to move beyond simply opposing adoption into homosexual families, and to begin advocating for adoptions that are done ethically with the best interests of the child at heart. Such an approach will not simply focus on the sexuality of the adoptive parents, but also their appreciation and respect for the culture from which their adoptive child comes, and their willingness to incorporate that culture into their own family’s traditions. It will demand transparency in the adoption process on the part of governments and agencies. Ultimately, it will shatter the altruistic myth of adoption, which makes unethical manipulation far too easy, in favor of an understanding that adoption is a tragic necessity, coupled with a commitment to social service that seeks to eliminate the factors that make adoption necessary at all.

Notes

1. See, for example, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s extensive study on adult Korean adoptees at http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/proed/korfindings.html, accessed October 25, 2008.

2. To my knowledge, there are no countries open to international adoption that allow gay couples to adopt. The state of Florida has explicitly forbidden homosexuals to adopt.

3. Legacy Adoptions of Utah (with Mormon connections) was sanctioned in 2007 for illegally facilitating Marshall Islands adoptions. Focus on Children in Utah was shut down in 2007 for illegal adoption practices in Samoa. Among other things they were falsely promising biological parents that the children they were giving up for adoption would be returned to them. It was not until a child in their care died that their unethical practices were exposed. Tragically, as a result Samoan adoptions are no longer happening. Adoption Blessings Worldwide (Christian) was shut down by the state of Georgia in 2008 after numerous failed adoptions and accusations of deceptive practice. While families left without children and swindled out of tens of thousands of dollars tried to make sense of the terrible experience, ABW’s director was quoted as saying, “I’ve been praying that God give [me] direction in regards to the future… with Adoption Blessings Worldwide.”

4. As was common practice in Russia and other east European adoptive countries.

5. Again, this was common practice in both Russia and Vietnam, as many agencies that were not licensed to do adoptions in these countries would nevertheless illegally perform adoptions in Russia under the “umbrella” of another agency. This practice came crashing down when the main facilitator of the “umbrellaing” process, amrex, filed for bankruptcy, leaving a number of adoption agencies, including at least one branch of Lutheran Social Services, with clients whose adoptions they could not fill after having taken their money.

6. This became an issue this year in a number of Vietnam adoptions which led the U.S. embassy in Vietnam to further scrutinize a number of adoption visa applications. The result was a widespread outcry by adoptive parents who were upset that the processing of their adoptions was being delayed, rather than gratitude that they could be certain that their prospective child was truly orphaned.

7. This is a particular problem with Marshall Islands adoption, where biological mothers are illegally flown over to the United States, in order to give birth to a child who would then automatically be a U.S. Citizen. In one particularly egregious case, Legacy Adoption in Utah was found to be operating what the Marshall Islands government described as a “sweatshop” of pregnant Marshallese mothers who had been falsely promised that their children would be returned to them in the Marshall Islands when they grew older. Here, again, adoptive parents inexplicably defended Legacy Adoptions for helping them to find their “forever child.”

8. See http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php, accessed October 25, 2008.

9. The amount of money that changes hands in international adoption has also led to instances of governmental corruption, particularly in third-world countries like Guatemala, where a government employee can make far more money in a few adoption kickback fees than in a whole year at a civil service job. The problem also occurs in Vietnam and China where orphanage directors have been accused of placing non-orphaned children for adoption, either under governmental pressure to provide children for adoption or in return for adoption-related fees that are necessary for the ongoing operation of the orphanage. See http://research-china.blogspot.com/2008/10/what-are-problems-in-china.html, accessed October 25, 2008.

10. Lutheran Social Services of Southern Illinois is one such agency that has been sued. In Cade vs. LSSSI the agency was sued for, among other things, denying approval for an adoption based on information that they had discovered about the prospective adoptive parents, and then releasing that information to the prospective adoptive parent’s new homestudy provider. Under law, that information should have been kept confidential. In other words, even though LSSSI had information indicating that the prospective adoptive parent should not be approved, it was still not allowed to share it with another homestudy agency! Case 2006CH147 in Williamson County, Illinois Judicial Court.

11. One of the most tragic quotations from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’s survey of adult Korean adoptees is this one: “Many of us were from the same orphanages. Many of us came over the same flights. Many of us were adopted into predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon communities, many rural. Many of us considered ourselves white trapped in Asian bodies.”

12. Amazingly, while under investigation for fraudulent adoption practices, Tedi Bear Adoptions in Florida chose to relinquish its Florida license in 2003 before it was shut down. As a result of it not being shut down by the state of Florida, it was able to reopen in Georgia under the name Adoption Blessings Worldwide, where it continued its unethical practices before finally being shut down in the summer of 2008.

13. See http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/03/11/catholic_charities_stuns_state_ends_adoptions, accessed October 25, 2008.

14. See the 2007 LCMS convention resolution 6-03a: “To care for foster and adoptive children in a pure and undefiled way,” http://www.lcms.org/ca/2007_convention/proceedings/143-148.pdf, accessed October 25, 2008.

a solution

Posted by Norma at May 14, 2009 02:20
"A centralized u.s. Adoption Authority ought to be implemented, taking the responsibility from the hands of individual states which often are not in communication with one another." Obviously, President Obama needs to take over this "crisis" as he has the banks, the mortgage system, the auto industry, health care, etc.

What is your solution?

Posted by Paul Sauer at May 14, 2009 13:23
Norma,

One need not agree with the centralization of all things into the hands of the government to believe that a central agency for adoptions is appropriate. Regardless of one's views on the advisability of a centralized government, there are certainly benefits (for example, to a centralized law enforcement agency like the FBI so criminals cannot simply move from one jurisdiction to another) to standardized oversight and policies regarding the adoption of children. The current situation is akin to the lawless old western frontier where anything goes. The current adoption situation is clearly broken. If not a Central Adoption Authority, what steps would you take to ensure that birthmothers and their children are protected?

adoption scam in Utah

Posted by stop the adoption by owners of Focus on Children at May 18, 2010 18:34
Monday, February 22, 2010
Call for Full Investigation into Amelya Frances Kirkpatrick's Adoption in Utah

According to a court document obtained by PEAR, on February 9, 2010, Scott and Karen Banks, former owners of adoption agency Focus on Children, were allowed to adopt another child, originally from China. The Banks were indicted on 135 Federal counts in 2007 for a fraudulent adoption scheme in Samoa. In 2009, they pled guilty to Aiding and Abetting the Improper Entry of an Alien in a plea deal made with the US Attorney's office in Utah. They were given a sentence of five years probation during which time they are forbidden to participate in the adoption business and are required to make payment into a trust for the victims.

The recent adoption occurred after evidence of their illegal activities with their Samoan adoption program were put on record in Utah courts. Also supplied was information regarding the Banks two previously adopted Romanian children.

According to numerous media sources and their now-adult Romanian daughter's own affidavit, this child and her sibling were flown to Samoa by Scott Banks and left without legal documentation in 2000, leaving these adoptees in a legal limbo. In addition, according to an affidavit given by their caregiver in Samoa, the Banks have had no contact with either child since their arrival, nor have they supported the children in any way since abandoning them in Samoa.

Furthermore, a third child of the Banks, suffering from cerebral palsy and also adopted from Romania, has been alleged in various documents to have been severely neglected in their home. This child was placed in a group home in Utah.

PEAR believes that anyone convicted of crimes involving children should be barred from the possibility of adopting any other children. We also believe that any parents convicted of or with a history of legitimate allegations of child abuse and neglect should be barred from adopting children.

PEAR opposes any practice that does not protect the rights of the child to live a life free from abuse and neglect with qualified and loving adoptive parents. To not hold these rights paramount in an adoption proceeding undermines every moral and ethical standard that each child deserves.

We are sponsoring a petition to be sent to the Governor of Utah asking his office to open an investigation into how and why this family was allowed to adopt another child given their dubious history. If you agree with the statements made please take a moment to sign the petition.

The petition can be found at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/utahadoption/

Measure passed by PEAR’s board 2/19/2010



altruism in adoption blog entry

Posted by Paula at December 29, 2010 19:07
Gee, Rev, you could at least commented on the correct lawsuit against Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. The case number is of the case in chief is Williamson County 03 L 98. The 2006 CH 147 injunction case you included in your footnote 10 was never served on LSSI and not pursued since the case in chief was on appeal. No ruling ever occurred on the CH case as you are incorrectly reported. So, now having established your footnote is based on the wrong case number, let's correct the misinformation you put out there.

This case is headed for trial. In fact, we had a trial date December 7 that had to be postponed because LSSI have violated discovery repeatedly and cancel depositions. We have a hearing on January 31 to resolve the discovery dispute and other matters pending before the court. The Smith-Cades have not lost this lawsuit yet.

I really question the propriety of a Lutheran blog such as yours opining on legal matters they know nothing about. First, it's pretty obvious to me that you have a biased opinion being Lutheran and all. Just reading your footnote tells me you didn't retrieve a copy of this court file and investigate it before you blogged. Third, what you wrote about a ruling is untrue. There was no ruling about confidentiality in that CH case period, whatsoever. The other case, the judge cited a confidentiality law that applies to foster children, not adoptive clients and the appellate court addressed that issue quite well Oh wait, you couldn't be bothered to do your homework before shooting your mouth off on your blog, could you?

Oh, we won the appeal and you can read for yourself what the appellate court ruled at
http://www.scribd.com/doc/2872062/SmithCade-v-LSSI-appellate-decision

The appellate brief describes the merits of the lawsuit against LSSI and here's a link to it as well. http://www.scribd.com/doc/2872121/SmithCade-v-LSSI-appellate-brief

Since we exited the appellate process, the court granted leave to amend for a Sixth amended complaint which you can read at http://www.scribd.com/doc/46030049/Smith-cade-6th-amend-complaintwpd

Paragraph 62 in the Sixth Amended complaint, very informative.


Since I doubt you will take down this untrue blog entry or offer an apology for it, I'm providing information so people can see it's not quite as you make it appear. Adoptive parents don't waive the right to confidentiality, especially when the allegations in the home study are poorly investigated and FALSE.

Altruism

Posted by Paul Sauer at December 30, 2010 19:08
Paula,

I am sorry for what you have gone through in your adoption experience. Thank you for providing updated links to your ongoing court case. For the record I live in New York and have no relationship with LSSSI or any other Lutheran Social Service agency for that matter. Regular readers of Lutheran Forum know that I have no shortage of criticism for Lutheranism or Lutheran agencies. You may well be the first person who has ever accused my writings of having a bias toward Lutheranism in its current manifestations. Given your experiences with a Lutheran agency I can understand your skepticism.

As a Lutheran and an adoptive parent, however, I believe this is precisely the kind of thing that upon which I should be commenting. Lutherans need to be critical of our own social service agencies and the way they operate. If you read the comments about your particular case within the context of the full article you will see that I am calling for significant re-evaluation of the way that individual Lutheran Social Service agencies, and indeed all social service agencies, handle adoption related cases. Leaving beside all of the complexity of specific allegations of unethical/illegal behavior on the part of LSSSI, your case IN PART highlights that the system for approving families for adoption is riddled with conflict of interest which benefits neither the agency NOR THE PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE FAMILY. It was that particular aspect of your case alone that I sought to highlight. As a case that involves a Lutheran Social Service agency, your case makes that point more personal for our Lutheran readers who otherwise might think that these adoption related issues don’t affect the church.

I had nor do I have any intention of debating the merits of your particular ongoing case. A Lutheran Social Service agency is being sued, and rightly or wrongly part of their defense is that they made a justifiable denial of a homestudy approval. You dispute that, and ultimately the courts will decide. MY POINT IS THAT AN ADOPTION AGENCY SHOULD NEVER BE IN THE POSITION OF HAVING TO GIVE APPROVAL OR DENIAL TO AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY THAT IS ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING THEM! This leads to too much graying of too many important ethical boundaries. If I had to make a correction to this blog post (which actually ran as an editorial for the print journal Lutheran Forum) which is now over a year old, I would have written in the footnote that “even though LSSSI CLAIMS THEY had information indicating that THEY BELIEVED the prospective adoptive parent should not be approved.” (additions in bold)

Again, I am sorry for what you have gone through and for the anger that you have. I in no way meant to further add to it. I am sorry that the larger point of my article got lost in the footnotes of your particular case.

altruism in adoption blog entry

Posted by Paula at December 31, 2010 16:42
Paul, first I'm surprised you actually responded. For the record, there is no Lutheran Social Services of SOUTHERN Illinois. LSSI has a branch office in Marion, Illinois which is in the southern part of the state but they are still part of LSSI. It's not a separate corporate entity. LSSI has another 31 or 32 separate corporate entities as well for their assisted living, rental properties and office equipment. All that information is available at Guidestar.org.

Second, I had no idea this was published in print form. That's sort of disturbing.

Oddly, one of the Lutheran social service websites discusses the parable about the widow who keeps asking for justice and is persistent about it on one of their websites. I really identify with the widow.

I'm not the only "widow" out there. There is a new trend where aggrieved adoptive clients are taking their matters to court to get justice. Ethica and Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform are gaining ground. Problem is, the triad members like adoptees, first parents and adoptive families don't have the financial resources to lobby, fund raise, advertise, form marketing associations and get the media attention that the adoption agencies do. Rarely do members of the triad get included in the discussion about ethical reform of adoption.

How many adoptive parents just gave up since litigation is so expensive and the problems got swept under the rug? I know many did. How many gave up since doing an administrative complaint with state licensing authorities is a lengthy and difficult process? Many did.

I'm hoping to see improvements now that Hague is in effect. I've witnessed the closure of Guatemala and Vietnam due to unethical practices that you mentioned in your blog entry. It appears Ethiopia is headed in the same direction.

On a personal note, whenever someone says "I'm sorry you feel that way", my experience tells me that is not an apology but a shaming statement. I feel the way I feel for a reason. So do families like the Kirkpatricks, the victims of Adoption Blessings Worldwide, Tedi Bear, Focus on Children, Orson Mozes, Waiting Angels, Project Oz, and other agencies who filed suit. I am friends with many of these families since we share a common goal and bond. We are not looking for pity but change and justice. Frankly, getting a license to do adoptions is far too easy in some states.

The other trend is prospective adoptive families are gathering on yahoo groups and other websites to share information about agencies. One of the problems is if an adoptive client has trouble, they worry about the agency threatening them for telling the truth. Lawsuit were filed against some whistle-blowing adoptive clients and because the agencies have the financial resources to sue, it keeps the secrets buried.

Some adoption contracts have clauses in them prohibiting communication about their agency with the threat of disrupting a pending adoption if the adoptive client complains. There is a power imbalance and conflict of interest demonstrated by these contracts. Rock the boat and lose your chance to adopt. Question your caseworker and risk having your referred child taken away. Common thread in all these other lawsuits I mentioned.

FYI, Tedi Bear was administratively closed in FL. It's all documented online. ABW surrendered their license to avoid the consequences and the State of Georgia just let it go.

The lack of reciprocity in reporting between states was part of the reason Tedi Hedstrom could get a license in Georgia. There is much more to the story than your footnote lets on.

One reform I would suggest is better data sharing between states and more openness regarding agency operations where prospective adoptive parents can learn the agency's history before becoming clients. I also think the caseworker's work history and qualifications must be shared with adoptive clients.

Only four states publish a private agency's licensing history online where meaningful information is made available. Illinois is not one of them, even though legislation passed in 2005 to set up an adoption agency complaint register. IL DCFS hasn't bothered to do so and any information they do have on their website about licensed agencies is out of date. If anyone attempts to FOIA request information in order to make a wise consumer decision, DCFS denies the Freedom of Information Act request routinely.

Now, until there is openness in how agencies operate and that information is shared with social service clients, how can the system be improved?


altruism in adoption blog entry

Posted by Paula at December 31, 2010 18:44
I did read the footnote in the context of the article, for the record.

One solution to your presenting problem in your blog entry is to have a secondary party as part of the home study approval process. Private agency making the cash isn't the only one providing evaluation, training and oversight that way.

Illinois is one of the few states, perhaps the only state, that requires foster home licensing for adoptive parents. No money changes hands to get a foster home license. IL DCFS serves as a secondary party for the approval of any adoptive home study. DCFS issues the license and therefore has ultimate control over things. The foster home licensing process is a form of evaluation incorporated into the private agency's final home study document under normal circumstances. The foster home license requires the home to be monitored regularly during the wait for an adoptive placement so any potential problems are promptly addressed (at least in theory but if the private agency supervising the license drops the ball, there can be lapses). It's not foolproof but it's a start.

The other solution is to use a standardized method and format for adoptive home study preparation and training instead of leaving it up to the individual agency or a caseworker who might have a bias. In international adoption, there is a standard for home studies under federal law but not so much for domestic adoption.

Third, there isn't one school of social work that I've found that even offers much of a curriculum on child welfare issues. Is taking a newbie caseworker out on a couple home study visits training enough? Is sending the agency owner's husband who is a used car salesman out to do a home study good enough? (see the Tedi Bear adoption FL DCFS investigation for more details). The caged kids case in Ohio, the Gravelles, the caseworker didn't even inspect the upstairs to find cages for the adopted children already in the home. Masha Allen, the caseworker didn't question why there was no bed for the waiting child. Masha later was exploited in child porn by the adoptive father who had a history of sexually abusing an older child. Caseworker didn't interview Manuscu's daughter in the home study.

Fourth, a lot of home study evaluation is subjective, not based on measurable, objective social data. If an agency is conservative and has an anti-gay bias, they need to be upfront about it. If they are accepting government funds, any religious bias should disqualify them from the state and federal funding for being discriminatory. Some agencies, unless you submit proof of regular church attendance and a statement of faith, they won't even take your application. Knowing about any potential philosophical differences during the application process matters.

Finally, what's so wrong about adoptive clients being selective about their agency based on that agency's track record? If an agency has poor client policies, poor placement statistics, poor client service, adoptive clients should know what they are dealing with and take their business to the most effective agency for them. It is after all, an open market place with plenty of competition.

In fact, I would advise adoptive parents to do a background check on their agency during the selection process. Check court records, check with state licensing, check news articles and check to see if the agency operated under another name in the past. Know who the agency uses overseas as a facilitator too or which orphanages they are associated with. In these hard economic times, check to see if the agency has the financial resources to keep the doors open until your adoption is final. Lot of agencies have taken bankruptcy lately and I do believe 60 Minutes addressed how Illinois's late payment for social services is putting some agencies close to insolvency. Sure that's happening in other cash strapped states as well. Get a copy of the agency's tax return and see how they spent their money in the past. Check out your individual caseworker too. It's a bitch to have a good caseworker and get reassigned mid-adoption process.

Adopting a child is a huge financial risk and protecting yourself as a consumer matters quite a bit.

There is a lot of puffery on adoption agency websites which are advertising. Of course any agency is going to promise to make your dreams come true. Looking for outside sources and talking to former clients, not just the ones the agency puts out as references is essential. That's common practice, by the way, to hand prospective a list of happy clients as references but never mentioning the unhappy ones. Of course, the unhappy clients are usually so intimidated that they don't come forward.

If the clients of Orson Mozes who was licensed in PA but actually operating out of CA had known he had been sued by a former employer in Texas for abusive practices as an adoption counselor, do you really think those adoptive clients would have chosen his agency? If the Project Oz clients knew that agency was administratively closed under another name, would they have signed a contract? If the Waiting Angel's clients knew the owner was a former stripper and drywall hanger dealing with a Guatemalan facilitator with a history of corrupt behavior, would they have signed a contract? Especially if this agency and its owners lacked an license whatsoever? There are a lot of agencies out there where a couple adopted, realized the income potential and hung out a shingle. Completing an adoption is not qualification enough.

This is a consumer issue as much as a social service issue. IL did start a new practice where licensed agencies are required to put annual reports on their websites about any pending lawsuits, malpractice actions and other serious licensing violations but DCFS really isn't monitoring this practice. At least GA and MI has a data base where a consumer can read about any licensing violations or client grievances but that's the exception, not the rule.

Illinois also enacted an adoptive parent bill of rights, a maternity client bill of rights (I don't like the term birth parent since they might decide to parent) and prohibited waivers of liability in adoption contracts in 2005. How effective this is or if DCFS is monitoring and enforcing this law, no information is available to the public. The law was passed but allegedly no funds were appropriated to put it into action.

I would also propose ending any agency policy that prohibits clients from discussing their agency with other adoptive families. Orson Mozes' scam was exposed by agency clients reading each others blogs. Lo and behold, several waiting adoptive parents posted the picture of the same child on their blogs and how could three different couples be adopting the same kid? He ended up in jail and on America's Most Wanted.

I also happen to agree with you on the ethics of photo listing. Most of these photo listing sites are paid by the agency and they don't investigate the agency, just collect the fees for posting the child's photo. Photo listing services are not regulated either.

Many agencies farm out adoptive parent marketing out to an advertising company who publishes their "dear birth mother" letter and arranges the referrals in domestic adoption. Adoption.com and other websites sell this service to adoptive families but how much involvement there is by a licensed social worker facilitating the matches is unknown. Lot of stories about adoptive families advertising and then being defrauded by a woman who isn't pregnant at all or who is collecting expenses from multiple families. It's also uncertain if these private matching services provide sufficient counseling or support to maternity clients.

Overseas, plenty of documented instances where impoverished families are coerced into placing for adoption without any meaningful counseling or legal oversight. Some of these children in Guatemala were actually kidnapped. Don't get me started on the baby farming discovered in Guatemala or the corrupt orphanages. It just breaks my heart and I've heard more than you want to know directly from the adoptive families who walked away with empty wallets and empty cradles.

Not to mention, how is that adopted child going to feel in a few years to know that he was marketed much like a dog breeder markets puppies for sale? It's rather distasteful.

gay adoption

Posted by Paula at December 29, 2010 19:19
LCFS just got stripped of a case on their case load by DCFS for refusing services to gay potential adoptive parents. http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/special_report/matt-nalett-fred-steinhauer-lutheran-child-family-services-gay-dads-adopt-adoption-20101108

Time to get out of the adoption racket

Posted by Peter Meyer at February 05, 2012 01:19
The answer is simple, if the government is forcing, if the courts are forcing LSS to accept gay adoption, then GET OUT!! Get out of this racket!! Sure we may have to lay off a few LSS workers, but nothing is forcing us to be part of this liberal political correctness. Which I believe is the main reason for all of this anyways.

Homosexuals and lesbians want us to respect their "lifestyle" yet when it comes to offending our conscious, our religious beliefs, they don't care at all. They are wicked, depraved and spiritual dangerous. Romans 1:18-32!!!

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