Indecent Disclosure

"Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken.  – Jane Austen"

One of the presenters at the Ethics conference that spoke at the Accountability to Prospective and Current Adoptive Parents session had some rather, um, interesting, views.

I will be candid and state that I greatly disliked this person views and the material presented. The individual was clearly pro family separation and even more so pro prospective adoptive parent. They seemed to be unaware that just because something is legal does not make it ethical.

The use of the “birth” term was used to refer to expectant mothers and a few interesting suggestions were made to prospective adopters when considering those birthmothers. When language was addressed to this person, they were asked to refer to expectant mothers as expectant mothers and not birthmothers. To me, the person appeared to find that suggestion amusing and appeared to mock the requestor and the terminology.

A list of things she suggests PAPs consider prior to placement:

  • Obtain a criminal background check on expectant mother or father. Purpose is to find out if the parent might be in jail or prison at the time of the planned consent.
  • Conduct a financial background check and obtain credit reports on expectant parents.  Check for bankruptcy filings – prior to placement.
  • Obtain prenatal care records and speak with the obstetric attending physician (she cites the need for a HIPAA release, how knowledgeable of her!)
  • Present the expectant parents with detailed questionnaires and tell them that they must be signed under oath and carry a penalty of perjury.
  • Test the fetus, in utero, prior to placement, for drug or birth defects.
  • The list goes on.

Additionally, to obtain this information, the presenter gives suggestions as to how the prospective adopters can “compel, cajole, persuade, coax or threaten” the expectant parents to provide the information.

Not surprisingly, many of us in the audience struggled with these suggestions. Sitting around me were both first moms and adoptive moms and even the adoptive moms were horrified at the suggestions. One adoptive mom sent me a text message on my phone that said “I don’t like her”.

When several of us started quietly objecting, I was approached by a nearby attendee who objected to our objections. 

“There is nothing wrong with what she is suggesting. She is merely doing the best she can to insure her adoptive parent clients obtain a quality product. Please quiet down.”

Yes, he actually said that to me.

Let’s flip this around. I wonder if we don’t have the cart before the horse here. It would seem to me that the person requesting bank, financial and drug test data should be the expectant parent. 

At a minimum, if such testing and checking must occur, on the “product” prior to placement, it should go both ways. 

Natural parents should be provided the same. Can we get our own psychological assessments on prospective adopters? How about legal filings? Credit reports? Family history data? Health history? Maybe a statement from a marital counselor on the chances that their marriage will survive? How about we send them through an obstacle course to see how nimble they are? How quickly can they run to a crying child?

Oh, I know many of these are part of a homestudy but is that information shared regularly, or upon request with expectant parents? I can tell you that I never saw anything like that on my daughters adoptive parents. I had a hand written profile that was later determined to be partially incorrect. I trusted (haha) the agency.

I understand the need to protect the interests of the parties involved but can we protect the interests of ALL and most importantly, can we protect our CHILDREN from unnecessary risk due to amniocentesis?

I realize the chance of miscarriage due to amnio is believed to be minimal (or exact risk unknown) but um, hello, why take the chance? Imagine an PAP paying for an amnio, the mother losing the child, what then? Can the mother sue the PAPs for wrongful death? Can we focus on protecting the child FIRST and not the PAPs?

Better yet, can we protect our mothers and children so that the need for adoption doesn’t event exist? And if it MUST exist can we please make it a bit more ethical?

And for gosh sakes, can we please, for the love of god, stop referring to our children as PRODUCT?

19 Thoughts.

  1. Obviously the message was – expectant and natural parents should have no rights. After all they are just immature, irresponsible kids/young adults who are in a bind. Push them down, hold them down, dehumanize them, make them feel thankful that you are there to take the “problem” away from them. Let them know that you are their salvation and don’t let them forget it. Hard to face the fact that there are people how actually think that way. I do like your response to her thoughts, to bad you weren’t able to present them to the group.

  2. Quality product!?!?! Un-effing-believable that someone would say that in public, even if they think in those terms. If the children are simply products, then I guess the mothers are manufacturers. This dehumanizes the children as well as us, which I guess is their goal. Everyone is chattle except the PAPs. I hope someone in charge of the conference noticed this behavior and will exclude them (and others like them) from future conferences, because, as Theresa said, they don’t belong there. Perhaps there was a conference evaluation form where attendees and presenters could express their displeasure (more like horror!).

  3. The person being referred to was likely included because they belong to the well known organization of adoption attorneys, and who is supposed to be knowlegeable about adoption law. Although this person was pretty incredible in her obliviousness to how she was being received, I think it was very valuable for people to actually HEAR this, because its almost unbelievealbe to some of us a-parents. We are told to seek these professionals out because they know what they are doing. I did so for our adoption and had some real questions and misgivings in the process about ours–although I hate it, I’m at least glad to know I wasn’t off the mark in my feelings at the time. My “guts” were likely right. I have not yet had the discussion with Woob’s mom about what happened during the relinquishment, what she was told, etc. by the attorney. I’m quite afraid to.

  4. Oh. My. God.
    No wonder we aparents get such a bad reputation with morons like this spewing such garbage. Yeah, I’m with Theresa — how did she even get to be a presenter?
    I would never dream of doing such things to expectant mothers, NOR would I call my child — or potential child — a “Product.” WTF??
    *shudder* Ick. Just ick.

  5. Agreed with Mama2Roo – while digusting in theory, it was good to listen to this person at an ethics conference. She was proof that unethical behavior is in existence. Also gave us a great example of what we are up against.

  6. Perhaps agencies need to start taking into account the needs of an expectant mother, since no child is born yet, there is not “best interest of the child” its the best interest of the expectant mother.
    Seems to me they are skipping steps here

  7. Another memory surfaced that I think is relevant to this discussion. Several years ago, an adoptee friend and I were shopping in a shoe store. waiting in line to buy some lovely shoes, and the mother of an adolescent boy (who was apparently acting up while selectring from the latest round of high-priced sneakers) turned to us and said, “I told him if he doesn’t behave, I’m going to put him up for adoption.” We were too stunned to respond. Later we wondered if he was adopted in the first place, how that thought came into his mother’s head. In any case, it sounded a little too much like adoption relating to a child’s badness. This brief encounger still makes me sad.

  8. For some reason this is reminding me of being in early reunion and my amom wanting to know if I had told my nmom how EXPENSIVE I was.
    I was very expensive.
    *snort*

  9. As adoptive parents, we were never told any of this crap, believe me, there would have been an up roar on our end. To even think, never mind say that a child is a product is sick, evil and just plain horrid. I can’t believe that someone would have the balls to stand up and say something like that.
    Suz, when you were told to be quite, is when I would have stood up and put that ignorant person right in her place. How F’n dare she!
    We were lied to, as was the natural mother. False statements were written, which we found out many years later, example: My husband was adopted and didn’t know his natural parents! What a surprise to us, especially to him! We were also told $$$ was going towards the welfare of the mother, which turned out not to be true as well. Lies, lies and even more lies!
    These agencies better get their ass’s in gear and start doing the right and proper things for all involved and more especially for the children – they are human beings, not products!!!!!
    AGHHHHHHHH, I agree with JustEnjoyHim/Judy and feel that everyone involved has and are still being given a bad rap, no wonder adoptive parents have been sneered upon – I’m starting to fully understand it now and it’s the agencies doing!

  10. I have to agree with suz on this one. The presenter clearly showed how much better adoption is these days. A transcript of her presentation should be given to all mothers considering relinquishing.
    I guess I’m lucky to have been adopted at all, being such a defective product. Maybe my aparents got a discount…

  11. I think a good PAP screening tool would be to gather those that would use such barbaric tactics and diqualify them from adopting.

  12. ummm..what is most scarey about this person is that 1) she is a quad A lawyer
    2) she was head of the birthparent ethics committee for 5 years ..yes Snort loudly
    3) she is likely going to be the president of the American Association for Adoption Attornies…
    So thats why she was speaking..perhaps not because she was soo good, but because she was SSSSOOOOO bad! It was awful, but this is what we are up against!

  13. Product….O.M.G.
    You know my parents paid big bucks for me so I guess that would mean I was quality product. They all better take a long hard look at how I turned out- just another ingrate! Goes to show even quality grade A can turn on you.

  14. Hmmmmm every time I think I can’t be any more sickened by the whole adoption system, well quess what…
    Quality product?, drug screens?, credit ratings????!!!!!!
    WTF??????
    I’m sorry but I am so sick and tired of all the media focus being protecting the PAP. When in the hell is someone going to start protecting the First Moms?????

  15. From the session, I remember the disgust expressed that some PAPs pay thousands of dollars in expenses and aren’t even allowed in the hospital room. What does one have to do with the other? Isn’t it basic that PAPs ought not to be at the hospital?

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