Sunday, December 18, 2011

Public versus private facilitation of adoption

One aspect of NZ life, adoption, has changed a lot in fifty years. There are far fewer of them and they are now 'open' - the adopted child is aware of their birth parents who often remain in contact with the child. But NZ differs from some other jurisdictions in that - apart from whangai (Maori adoption) - the state monopolises the process. CYF has jurisdiction over adoption and tends to work against the prospects of it occurring. For instance they advise young women to go on a benefit and they make the child stay with the mother for a minimum of ten days after the birth - an enforced 'cooling off ' period. I think that is a cruel requirement on all parties. There is a group of women who are actively pro-adoption, have each experienced adopting out a baby and have an interesting website here.

It's a subject I want to learn more about in respect of those other jurisdictions, particularly the US, so accepted the following guest column from Elaine Hirsch. I will accept columns that are obviously leveraging for other pruposes if I think they offer new and sound information on a subject that interests me and hopefully readers.

Public versus private facilitation of adoption

The adoption process remains one of the most mind-numbing aspects of would-be parents. Adoptive parents must first choose between foreign or domestic adoption and then decide between state agencies, charitable organizations or private adoptions. Costs vary tremendously and so do the areas from where children are available. To decide whether utilizing a public agency such as a state organization, going through an overseas organization or arranging a private adoption through a lawyer, adoptive parents must understand the benefits and risks of each.

International adoptions were for many years one of the fastest routes to adoptive parenthood, with children of various genders and ethnicities up for adoption. Unfortunately, foreign adoptions have decreased in recent years,
dropping to just over 11,000 in 2010 compared to nearly 23,000 in 2004. This decrease is worrying masters degree candidates in demographic studies as it marks inefficiencies in the adoption market. Increases in the cost of foreign adoption, uncertainty about adoptions in countries once well-known for foreign adoptions, such as Guatemala, and bad press, such as the case of the American family that returned a 7-year-old Russian boy back to Russia, have adversely impacted foreign adoptions.

Both private and state-run orphanage adoptions are possible in some foreign countries. Going through a well-established charity such as Holt International is the safest way to pursue a foreign adoption. Using a private lawyer in a foreign country to facilitate adoption can increase the risk of not ending up with a child and losing large sums of money to unscrupulous foreign lawyers. Some adoptive parents prefer pursuing a foreign adoption because of the distance it creates between the natural parents and the child, which decreases the risk of the parents reclaiming the child at a later date.

Domestic adoptions run the gamut from private adoption of a newborn through adoption lawyers to adoption of older children through the state foster care system. Although 491,000 children were in the foster care system in the United States in 2007,
not all were available for adoption. Many of those available for adoption were older children or those of minority race. While transracial adoptions do take place, most caseworkers prefer to place children with parents of the own race, when possible.

Private adoptions have the advantage of allowing the adoption of a newborn, something no foreign adoption and few public adoption agencies can provide, due to the amount of red tape that must unravel before a child be adopted through these agencies. The disadvantage is the higher cost of private adoption through a lawyer. Well-publicized court cases where natural parents have later petitioned for the return of their child and won the case may also give some adoptive parents pause.

Adopting through state organizations is usually inexpensive. In some cases, adoptive parents receive subsidies to adopt hard-to-place children. The disadvantages to this type of adoption is that many of the children available come from traumatic backgrounds and are older, making them more difficult to parent, especially for inexperienced parents.

Adoptive parents must weigh the pluses and minuses of each type of adoption, as well as their own strengths and weaknesses. Privatized adoption systems certainly have their advantages; efficiently-ran facilities and streamlined systems provide for better adoption experiences. Regardless, publicly-run adoption centers still provide value through facilitating a huge amount of adoptions every year.


Anonymous said...

Still no comments Lindsay.

Lucia Maria said...

Thats terrible that adoption is made so difficult. Those poor mothers who want to give their babies up most likely end up bonding with them during that time.

Anonymous said...

It's worse than that in NZ. After the mother has kept the baby for a period, the grandparents, then siblings of the mother, then the father, then the father's parents, then the father's siblings must all take a turn caring for the baby as an adoption trial, and only if none of these want to adopt after they have all had a trial, can the baby be adopted to non-family. In the case where the father has taken advantage of the mother, this still has to be the case, and someone in the mother's family can feel pressured to adopt the baby simply to prevent putting the child at risk by allowing the father access to the baby even for a trial. The whole process is extremely harmful to the baby, preventing bonding with any of the trial people. By the time the baby might be adopted outside the family, the baby could be six months to a year old and the critical time for forming a strong attachment to one safe carer almost over.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon (2), Thank you for your input. Is this 'process of elimination' constant across ethnicities?

Anonymous said...

This comment is from my knowledge of the experience of one family (the mother was NZ European) who was in this position. I have no idea of the father's ethnicity.

Lucia Maria said...

I'm even more horrified if what Anon2 is saying is correct.