Open Adoption as a Marketing Tool

I’m feeling riled up this morning.  Perhaps I need to step away from the ol’ laptop for a bit.  But first, I need to express my distaste for ignorant, dishonest, coercive things I have seen on many comments around facebook and adoptoland.  I can’t possibly respond to every ridiculous thing that is written so I am just going to vomit up my distaste for the open adoption lie here.  Get your buckets ready.

The Birth of Open Adoption

The number of infants available for adoption in the US has steadily declined in recent years.  The reasons behind this include better access to birth control, legality of abortion, and acceptance of single-motherhood. The number of people who want to adopt infants has increased partially due to women putting off having children in favor of careers.  Unfortunately, biology hasn’t caught up with women’s rights yet.

This disparity in supply and demand of infants has created quite a problem for the adoption industry.  The adoption industry could no longer scoop babies up in record numbers and hand them over to the piles of money waiting for an infant anymore.  They needed to come up with a marketing scheme to persuade women to hand over their children.  In walks open adoption.

Open Adoption is a Marketing Tool for the Adoption Industry

The promise of open adoption is a powerful tool in the adoption industry’s arsenal.  They recognized that a major obstacle to convincing women to give up their babies was the fact that there was no contact.  Not surprisingly, most mothers want to know how their children are being raised.  Open adoption was the solution to that.  Yes, mothers, you can still see your children grow up.  You can still have a relationship with them, just hand them over and the adoptive parents will make sure you are still a part of their life.  What the adoption industry fails to advertise is that open adoption agreements can become closed at any time. Just take a look at one example on the Bethany Christian Services site.  They never state that the adoption could become closed at any time.

Open Adoption Agreements are Not Legally Enforceable

Some states do recognize open adoption agreements as legal documents however, these agreements can be voided if found not to be in the best interests of the child.  In no state does the penalty involve nullifying the adoption.  It should also be noted that many first families do not possess the necessary financial resources to fund a legal proceeding and so are left with no way to argue against closing an adoption.

It is my position that all open adoption agreements should be legal and binding.  If the adoptive family chooses to close an adoption without the consent of the courts, it should be considered a criminal case.  Perhaps this is extreme, but slapping an adoptive family with a fine because they closed their adoption is not exactly a deterrent.

Open Adoption is a Bait and Switch Technique

There are many adoptive families who take their responsibility to keep their adoption open seriously.  I applaud these people.  That being said, there is a special place in hell for adoptive parents who enter into an open adoption agreement knowing they have no intention of keeping it open.  For many women, being able to have an open adoption is the deciding factor on whether they will relinquish their baby.  It is akin to stealing a baby from its mother when adoptive parents cut off all communication.

I have seen so many comments on various forums, facebook and articles singing the praises of open adoption.  I am sure that those of you out there (first mothers and adoptive parents alike) who are keeping up your end of the agreement have a very positive view on open adoption.  I, too, think if adoption must exist, that fully open adoptions should be the norm.  However, to these same people who talk about their wonderful open adoption experience, I ask you, would you not feel more in control if you knew, without a doubt that your adoption would stay open?  How can you praise open adoption if there is no way of knowing that others’ agreements will be honored?  If anything, you should be pushing for more regulations to be put in place so that all future agreements are honored.  How can we take something as important as our children and leave it up to flawed individuals to keep that agreement in place?

Until open adoptions agreements are legally enforceable they should not be mentioned in adoption advertisements or presented as fact to expecting mothers.  It is morally reprehensible for agencies not to disclose these facts to expecting mothers before entering into agreements with adoptive parents.




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