Adoption Ethics

We find at last that the good news is beginning to spread and that adopters are beginning to see the light about the ethics of adoption. Of course I’m not including those early birds, the exceptions who discovered early that adoption is all smoke and mirrors, people like the Smolins.(!/notes/desiree-smolin/fix-the-system-david-smolin-in-the-nytimes-opinion-blog-how-to-prevent-adoption-/385655404580) I’m sure there must be others, although I’ve not had the pleasure of discovering them. Here’s what Jen Hatmaker says on her blog in her post on ethics – What would happen if we reallocated a percentage of the millions we spend on adoption toward community development? What if we prioritized first families and supported initiatives that train, empower, and equip them to parent? This would absolutely be Orphan Prevention, not to mention grief prevention, loss prevention, abandonment prevention, trauma prevention, broken family prevention. What if we asked important questions about supply and demand here, and broadened our definition of orphan care to include prevention and First Family empowerment?<
p>Jen Hatmaker – Examining Adoption Ethics: Part One.
Post like this give great encouragement to those of us who have long posted on the lack of ethics in adoption and who know there are many solutions, some of which Jen goes into in her post.
Amongst the comments considering the realities of the orphan trade, this one clearly indicating that troubling hot spot of the adoption trade, the religious orphan saving, for which no rational argument, no facts, figures or appeaL to reason, compassion or deeper feelings will ever be sufficient – “But what of the Gospel? I have been separated from my family because I believe the Gospel… but I feel that I have gained everything. Is our mission to keep families together? What about in families where they’ll never hear the Gospel? What is of more value? Could God not be using any of this to His Glory? Salvation requires a cost… to follow Jesus means leaving affections for things of this earth. My adopted son will be much better off with me… but it’s not because of my wealth.. it’s because in my home he’ll hear the Gospel where he probably wouldn’t have with his birth parents.”
I read yesterday. although didn’t save the links, of a prospective adopter who did their research into adoption and was so disgusted by the lack of ethics that she decided to abandon the idea and became a foster carer instead. In writing about it, she is helping to expose the rotten underbelly of adoption and to bring to light the questions which need to be raised, often, with tenacity and need to be answered honestly by the many who have inside information and experience, those who have experienced disquiet but been afraid to speak out – there are many, a few have emailed me privately about their concerns and about the difficulties of being heard and taken seriously within their community of adopters.
There is PEAR – Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform is a 501(c)(3) public charity. We are dedicated to representing, and providing a voice for, prospective and adoptive parents. As part of our mission, we hope to provide prospective parents with all of the resources and information necessary to make an informed decision to adopt. We also hope to provide adoptive parents with support, education and resources to be the best parents they can be. Our new country-specific blog pages have been created to provide Prospective Adoptive Parents (PAPs) and Adoptive Parents (APs) with a go-to source for news, information and support. Ethics, transparency, support – what all adoptions deserve. As you see, dedicated to adoption, not to family preservation and the prevention of adoption. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong on this one!
Dr Trevor Jordan writes – I think we need to give closer attention to some matters often overlooked in traditional ethical approaches such: (1) an understanding of ethics as something quite distinct from imposed systems of morality; (2) the ethical significance of relationships as distinct from abstract sets of principles; and (3) the ethical dimensions of institutions. Indeed, the lessons of the past suggest that the future ethical possibilities in adoption will be better addressed by giving closer attention to caring for the plight of all participants, than it will be from seeking impartial and universal solutions.
And another quote from Trevor – As we get to more intimate levels we come to appreciate how universalising grand theory is often experienced as an imposed system of domination. Druscilla Cornell (1992) has written of the need to understand this experience of morality as a system of domination, which constrains and limits others (effectively rendering them invisible or marginal) and to clearly distinguish it from what she calls ethical relations; that is, relations based on the non-violation of others.
A blogger writes- I am disturbed when I hear Christians talk about adoption as a mission field, or as saving orphans, or being a means to spread the Gospel. Of course I will teach all of my children about loving Christ, but first and foremost, adoption is about committing to parent and love a child — a real, flesh-and-blood child. When we make it about a cause, we turn a child into a project, which is just dehumanization, plain and simple.
Here we have the Encyclopedia of Adoption pondering if the varying prices of adoptees is ethical and later in the entry, concerns about information and lawsuits. How far those who write this stuff have to go!
Some people believe INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION presents many ethical issues; for example, they wonder aloud why it costs $20,000 or more to adopt an infant from a foreign orphanage (where costs are far lower than in the United States) when fees to adopt a healthy white baby in the United States may be less
And some other links of interest –;
Just to sum up, the ethics of adoption is not about comparing the prices of babies, denigrating biological parents because they don’t teach the gospel, looking at which countries seem to offer the best deal or complaining about the treatment of adoptees in their home country after the adoption! It is surely about so much more, covers a much wider spectrum and involves all countries, all adopters, all adoptees, all prospective adopters and all who write and think about adoption including journalists, writers and film makers.It must surely include the many ways in which adoption is conducted by all the countries which engage in it, either as senders or receivers; the multiple ways in which adoption is viewed and ‘performed’ by adopters and adoptees; attitudes of our various cultures and communities to adoption and adoptees; it includes the principles, or lack of them, in how we view and carry out adoption at both micro and macro levels.
To be clear The Oxford Dictionaries has this entry on the Definition of Ethics
a noun
1 [usually treated as plural] moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity:medical ethics also enter into the question
2 [usually treated as singular] the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles: neither metaphysics nor ethics is the home of religion
Schools of ethics in Western philosophy can be divided, very roughly, into three sorts. The first, drawing on the work of Aristotle, holds that the virtues (such as justice, charity, and generosity) are dispositions to act in ways that benefit both the person possessing them and that person’s society. The second, defended particularly by Kant, makes the concept of duty central to morality: humans are bound, from a knowledge of their duty as rational beings, to obey the categorical imperative to respect other rational beings. Thirdly, utilitarianism asserts that the guiding principle of conduct should be the greatest happiness or benefit of the greatest number

We can see from this that adoption at both micro and macro levels as carried out by Governments and countries and by families, is sadly lacking in ethics. Adoption does not show respect for ‘rational beings’, bring the ‘greatest happiness’ or benefit ‘the greatest numbers’, nor does it’s execution uphold the virtues to benefit the society or the individual. It brings grief, trauma and loss to mothers and often their families and communities; it brings life-long trauma, suffering and loss to adoptees; it is said to bring joy and happiness to adopters, although we read so often of disruption, rehoming, trauma, harsh correction, torture, murder, abuse, loss, disorientation, disappointment, depression and disenchantment. Adoption will always be necessary for the few, but when greed invades, corrupts and destroys and the true purpose is to make money from the sale of children, often deemed as ‘orphans’ for the purpose of promotion and acceptance, then ethics go out the window and the victims are the consumers, the suppliers, the commodities and ultimately their communities, organisations and countries.


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