A child has justifiably been removed from their home, parental rights have been terminated, the child is within the foster care system…it is now time to consider needed reforms to the adoption system.
As with CPS and foster care, adoption MUST be done with the best interest of the child as the one and only priority.
If a child has been matched with the best possible foster family with potential adoption in mind and the family wishes to adopt the child, the adoption process should be expedited to allow the child to establish a permanent family, obtain stability in life and be removed from the quagmire of the foster care system.
If the child has been placed, though best matched, with a family not interested in adopting, immediate matching with a potential adoptive family should begin. The child should remain with the current family until such a family is found.
Once that family has been identified and a thorough check has been done as required of foster families are required to undergo, a slow transition to move the child to this family should begin. One can begin with visits; overnight stays, etc. until all parties are comfortable and then the child should be moved to this family.
A reasonable period of transition and bonding should follow prior to commencement of adoption proceedings beginning.
Prior to adoption, a document should be prepared by the responsible agency, detailing once again, all information that was earlier made part of the record concerning birth family and child. Again this document is prepared under the threat of perjury.
The document should be signed by both parties and made part of the permanent record after copies are made available to both parties.
The adoption process can be very stressful for potential adoptive parents, whether from the public or private sectors. Support groups should be established to allow potential adoptive parents to come together in support of one another . They can discuss the process, the stresses, and what to expect in the first few years, etc. This, I believe, would be quite helpful in making the adoption a success.
Adoptive families, who for reasons of their fault, fail in their adoption (IE: child removed at their request, have alleged charges of abuse or neglect) not only MUST face the same process or criminal charges as biological parents, but they also must be placed on the National Registry so they may not move to another jurisdiction and attempt to adopt more children.
Other than a foster placement and adoption at an age where the child does not understand what is happening, or if proved not to be in the best interest of the child at the time, adoptions should be open as much as possible. The degree of openness should be left to the comfort level of the adoptive parents and can change over the course of years that follow.
Federal adoption subsidies must be enforced in all states. There should be not a question of whether or not you receive it, but simply “Here, your children qualify, sign this form.”
Children need to know their roots. A major change I would make in adoption law is for OPEN RECORDS. Any adopted youth upon reaching the age a majority MSUT have access to their original th family if they so desire.
Every child, at some point, questions who they are, where they came from and so forth. Most are able to have the answers easily provided by a parent or other member of their family. Adoptees or many children of the foster care system, such as I, do not have that available to them. For adoptees in particular, of my generation, it is denied them by law.
We are expected to go through life never knowing the answers to those questions. Many are even ridiculed for entertaining such questions.
Why search? Why not leave the past alone? What do you hope to gain from your search?
These were just a few of the questions asked of me during the course of my search. Most questions came from people who were raised by their birth parents. They knew their heritage. They had extended family to share their lives. They knew of potential medical problems that might arise in their lives. They had no understanding or appreciation for those of us who have gone through life, without any of the above or the void it left within us. They do not know what it would be like not to have any of the above.
I searched for the answers to all those questions because I am like any other normal individual. More importantly, I had the right to know! I searched first for information and then to fill a void in my life. I would like to think if the search had ended with just information, I would have been satisfied. Of course, knowing all I do today, it might not have been. Each person searching needs to know when enough is enough for them.
This is why I searched. I had the desire to be made whole. The desire to know, that even when your birth parents may reject you, you still are a part of a family and a heritage. I spent thousands of hours and dollars during my search, and I was only a foster child never adopted. Thus, I was able to obtain my original birth certificate. These expenditures of time and money should not have been necessary.
Agreements made while a child is a child should not be allowed to hold once the child reaches the age of maturity. Adoption records should be opened.
Twenty years ago, I knew nothing of my birth parents, my heritage or my family history.
Today, I know more than I had ever expected to be able to know. Even though I feel I have had a successful life to this point, it is only today that I can declare…I am whole! I finally have a sense of belonging, of knowing who I am. I am finally proud of who I am, where I came from and of those within my family who came before me. I am proud to be able to proclaim my Polish heritage! This is why anyone would search.
Why, when millions around the world who were raised by their birth parents do genealogical research to learn more of themselves and their heritage, is it considered normal? When an adoptee or person in my situation does the same, it’s considered “abnormal”? Seems hypocritical to me!
I firmly believe ALL have the right to know who they are, where they came from, family heritage and genealogy, no matter the circumstances under which they came into this world. It is THEIR information locked behind vault doors and THEY have a right to it!
As I stated at the beginning of this series of chapters; I do not claim to know all the problems of our child welfare system nor do I claim to have all the answers. I DO know our current system is broken and youth are paying the price today and we as a society are and will continue to pay for this failure.
I have attempted to lay out many of the problems I see about the system. I have gone a step further and also attempted to provide some potential solutions as it does no good to just say what is wrong and not provide some answers.
We desperately need to begin a dialogue within society and demand reform of those responsible for this failed system. I hope this may be the start!