“Adoption policies and practices have not yet progressed sufficiently,” says Adam Pertman, president of the Donaldson Adoption Institute. And he’s right. In a recent opinion piece in the Huffington Post, Mr. Pertman draws upon lessons in the Oscar-nominated film, Philomena, to advocate for reforms in national adoption policies and practices.
First and foremost, shaming or coercing parents into parting with their children or, worse, removing their children without consent (even when that’s necessary), inflicts profound and lasting psychic wounds.
There unquestionably are circumstances in which children need new families, especially if remaining in their original ones puts them in harm’s way; furthermore, there certainly are women and men who willingly place their infants for adoption. Given what we know about the enduring repercussions of being separated from one’s child, however, policy and practice must do a better job of ensuring that families can stay intact when possible, and that parents receive the help they need when that goal cannot be met. Moreover, women and men who do consider adoption for their children should be enabled to understand all of their options beforehand, so that they make genuinely informed decisions, and should receive pre- and post-placement counseling and support as well.
Mr. Pertman is correct, in far too many instances women considering adoption are not given counseling about all their options. Others are not supported during and after placement. While national legislation to correct these issues is needed, adoption agencies should take the lead in utilizing known best-practices in adoption counseling.