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Child Centered Adoption- Maintaining Connection After Placement

What does Contact Look Like with the family that adopts my baby?

There are many ways to answer this question. Historically, the phrase was “pictures and letters indefinitely.” Well, what does that mean you wonder? It means whatever the adoptive parents decide. And this is where it gets sticky. Families would write this statement in their family profile and an adoption counselor repeated it. At time of signing, the attorney representing the adoptive family said verbatim to a woman considering placing her baby for adoption, “There is no legal obligation for this family to send you the updates, it’s a moral obligation.” The attorney would follow with, “now have you met this family? Do you think they will do what they say? The agency talks with them about the importance of keeping you updated but if you do not believe that they will, then you should not continue.”   

The post placement team was recently in connection with an adoptive mom of 19 years who was getting some support for her adult adoptee daughter. This adoptive mom discontinued sending updates to her daughter’s biological mother after some years saying, “After we divorced (she and the adoptee’s adoptive dad) I just had too much on my plate and I didn’t agree with sending them any certain amount of time anyways.” She continued by saying, “besides, we were told that it was not a legal obligation.” I stopped her and repeated the phrase to her, “I know it was not a legal obligation, it was a moral obligation and one that was made in good faith.”

This is just one of many conversations that no one wants to have.

Because of the history of the adoption industry, where it began, and how adoptees are hurting, I want to bring some light to the way the industry has failed families and adoptees. Most families that adopted over 15 years ago thought no further than getting the baby in their home. They would love the child enough and provide for the child enough and they knew what would be best for their child. But you see, they did not do enough. We as an agency and other adoption professionals did not do enough. We allowed this. We funneled this way of thinking and doing as we let the adoptive parents have all the power. This was not child-centered adoption.

When I think about the hurt and pain caused, it makes me physically ill. The adoptee is the one that suffers most. There are many excuses we’ve heard over the years as to why adoptive families stopped sending updates or keeping connection with their child’s birth family. Does divorce suck, yes. This adoptive mom used that as an excuse to get out of her moral obligation, to discontinue the thread of the connection that this adoptee could have had, with her roots and DNA. Well that sucks! And that is what drives our continued passion to better educate, support and maintain relationship and connection pre and post placement because adoption is a lifelong journey. 

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