Getting the devil out of the details

Let's eat dessert first - and talk about the town hall meeting that ended the Adoption Ethics and Accountability Conference by bringing the attendees together for a brainstorming session. The object? Figure out what it would take to put adoption right.

The conference sessions focused on specific issues, but this one let the attendees cut loose a bit. They were given four broad questions about the future of adoption (like What is your vision for adoption in the year 2020?), and were asked to come up with ideas for two of them.

The responses confirmed what I think we all know: that trying to fix adoption by straightening out the details won't work. Getting to truly ethical adoption will take a clean sweep, a paradigm shift. It will take starting from a place of truth, not one of secrecy and lies.

The suggestions that came out of the town hall session were broad-brush solutions. Focus on the preservation of families and turn to adoption only as a last resort. Remove adoption fees and for-profit agencies. Provide better pre-adoption preparation and post-adoption support. Create uniform laws at the Federal level. Open adoptee records and keep them open.

Adoption is proof that the the devil is indeed in the details. Adoption laws have become a conflicting hodge-podge that serve adoptive parents above all, even at the cost of the rights of the very children they adopt. The endless tinkering has led to practices that defy logic. It's insane, and I was heartened to see that the attendees of this conference weren't buying any of it.

Well, most of the attendees, I should say, for there were a few that clearly had a different view than the majority. What is particularly frustrating to me is that there are some who simply cannot let go of the notion that ethical adoption = anti-adoption. It does not.

The ideas that came out of that closing session are worthy dreams, and believe me we all left fired up to make them a reality. But now, a week later, the sobering reality has returned that there are still plenty of people who just don't get it. Many of them belong to powerful adoption organizations and lobbies that have cultivated the ears of lawmakers. And many others provide the fuel, the dollars, that keep the machine oiled.

And they, of course, are the adoptive parents. As I've said many times, it would be hypocritical of me to criticize any person's desire or decision to adopt. But I think I can encourage those who are considering adoption to do so with humility and accountability. Infertility, if that is what brings us to adoption, gives us no right to another's child. Finalizing an adoption gives us no right to dismiss the connections between a child and a family.

Ethics and accountability were the themes of this conference - powerful words to guide us. For adoptive parents, I would add humility, for with that we can recognize the role we play in perpetuating unethical adoption practices, and help turn the tide against them.

Comments

Kahlan said…
I agree that a clean sweep is in order. But how do we start?

p.s. Come celebrate with me!
Celera said…
Hi TM!

Glad you found the time at the conference so useful. I found many of your comments insightful and (sadly, in some cases) unsurprising.

Humility. What a wonderful word! It is not a very popular concept in these times, or perhaps in this country. I think people believe it to be the same as guilt, or shame, which it is not. Nor is it the opposite of self-respect. In fact, humility is very powerful in dealing with others, although of course if you exercise it with that intent, it evaporates on you.

Not sure if that makes sense. I have a bad cold. Great post anyway.
It is so good to read this post. I have been wondering about the conference and what all was said. I hope you will keep blogging on these topics because I'd love to hear more. You are so right about the humility! I believe it takes courage and willingness to tolerate ambiguity as well. (Adoptive families are both happy and sad, etc.)

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