Lots of people have reached out to us this month to ask how we feel about the recent Maricopa County indictments related to adoption fraud. Our first response is that our hearts break for the birth mothers, children and adoptive families who were impacted by this horrific scheme.
Adoption is supposed to be an ethical, legal process that connects people in healthy and safe ways. Best practice “open adoptions” should be based on honesty, informed choices and informed consent, with case managers who advocate for all of the parties in the adoption triad (birth parents, children and adoptive parents).
The root word for adoption is “choose”, but when triad parties are not well informed or not provided with ethical advocates, they cannot make good choices. Then the result of the adoption process may be confusion, frustration, resentment and shame. When this occurs, lives are negatively impacted and outcomes are poor for everyone involved.
So what can we do when our hearts are broken? We can work together to repair and rebuild the broken places in our hearts and communities by providing accountability, comfort, encouragement and resources to every person who is touched by adoption.
Repairing and rebuilding is a collaborative effort that includes and empowers individuals, agencies and entire communities. We’ll know we’re making progress when opportunities for deceit and fraud are reduced or eliminated. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Understand and respect rights of birth mothers, birth fathers and adopted children.
- Support adoptive families by praying and fundraising with them, so that the temptation to pursue “quick and easy” adoption schemes is less attractive.
- Seek out ethical adoption service providers and ask lots of questions about the process. If you have concerns, voice them to your adoption provider and to state child welfare officials.
Here are some of the things Agape does to help:
- Birth parent and adoptive parent supports: provide well-trained adoption case workers and licensed counselors with extensive adoption experience, certification in evidence-based SAFE family assessment tools.
- Agency accountability: licensure by the Arizona Department of Child Services Office of Regulation and Compliance and affiliation with local and national organizations like the Arizona Adoption Coalition, National Council for Adoption and Fathers and Families Coalition of America that provide review processes, policy standards and advanced training for participating agencies. ** Did you know that attorneys do not have to be licensed to provide adoption services, but agencies are required to have this layer of operational oversight?
- Equipping the community: offer education about positive and ethical adoption and how to be a healing parent (we will be sharing more about this in upcoming blog posts…)