Post-Adoption Ethics – the What If post

21 10 2011

While Claudia is having a Fascinating Life talking about ethics in the adoption process, I am thinking about ethics post-adoption. I am thinking about them as they pertain to Ethiopia specifically, but probably as they pertain to most adoptive situations (I don’t really know that yet – but maybe I will by the time I am done typing.)

Let us assume for the sake of not rehashing what is being discussed at Claudia’s blog, that an AP entered the adoption process through all the appropriate, legal channels.
Let us assume that for all intents and purposes all the adults involved in the process understood the ramifications of their actions, and entered into the relinquishment and adoption process with forethought, knowledge and a belief that adoption was the proper choice (for whatever reasons). Let us assume that from the on-set the relinquishing/first family had no intention of gaining monetarily/resource wise by placing their child for adoption. Let us assume no-one crossed Claudia’s wall.  (If for some reason you haven’t read Claudia’s posts on this subject, you probably want to.)

Before I go any further I want to say two things: first, I hate the slippery slope argument. Hate it. Seems to me it is usually employed by people who are making the slope slippery just by slinging feces. On the other hand, most discussions about ethics require examining the slippery slope at such a close level that your nostrils burn from the sting of the smell. Second, I hate it when people try to make rules/laws/policies based on what I refer to as “the lowest common denominator.” You will never write guidelines, laws or even treaties that will stop the slimiest of people from behaving the way they do. Rules provide lane-markers for those who are trying to do things the right way. They provide deterrents for those who might accidently cross lines. But people who steal babies to sell them, won’t read the Hague guidelines and decide to give the babies back.

I am not sure if the preceding paragraph has any bearing on this post or not. But now you know a little more about me, and I got to use the word feces.

Okay, where was I?

Right, assuming no-one crossed Claudia’s wall…

What next?

Is it ethical for an AP to search for their child’s first family even though the contract they have with their adoption agency says they cannot until the child is 18-years-old? Does it matter if life expectancy in the child’s birth region is between 40 and 50 years? Does it matter if there is an impending war in the country and it is likely that communication will be limited in the future?

Is it ethical for an AP to have an ongoing relationship with the first family, by-passing the agency as an intermediary, even if the agency contract says this is not allowed? Does it matter if the agency is no longer working in the region where the child was born so is no longer facilitating communication between the parties?

If the AP and birth family are maintaining an ongoing relationship and the birth family is facing a crisis, is it ethical for the AP family to help them? It is ethical for them not to help?

What types of help are ethical? Providing money? Providing food? Offering the birth parent a job? Connecting the birth parent with a training program? Securing medical assistance?

Is it ethical to help the biological siblings if not the birth parents? What about providing education funding for bio siblings who are still living with the first family?

Is it ethical to build a school? a well? a library? in the village where an adopted child was born? Or do you have to build it in the next village over? What if an AP inadvertently contributes to a project in the village where their child was born?

Is intention part of the criteria in evaluating the ethics of a situation?

Does it matter if help is provided “anonymously” versus “on-the-record’? Does it matter if the help is provided from a distance versus face-to-face?

Is there a time lapse that must occur before certain activities take place? If it isn’t ethical to provide help the first time you meet the birth parent, does that change when
a year has elapsed? Three years later? Ten years down the road?

What about a change in circumstances?  Does help become ethical when the country is facing the worst drought in 60 years? When civil war is knocking on the family’s door? When one of the first parents dies?

What if a AP family works for, or volunteers with, or even creates, a non-profit organization that benefits people in situations similar to the first family’s? Wouldn’t we all applaud this action? What if they do it a community away from where their child was born? What if their child’s parent then relocates to the community being served?

Is it incumbent upon an AP to anticipate every possible down-stream ramification and base her decision on that?

If some first families already place their kids up for adoption hoping to get something in return, is an AP who helps the first family of their kid responsible for what the other parents already do? Or are they just responsible for every person who does it in the future? Or do they hold no responsibility for other unethical adults’ behaviors? What if the next unethical parent is from the same village? What if he is from the same family? Has the AP added to a “culture” of unethical expectations even if their intentions were pure?

In 24 years can an AP look at their child and say, “Yes, I knew your mother was going to die, but the contract I signed said I couldn’t help”? Will the child think, “Wow, my
Mom is so ethical”?

Do some people gravitate to closed adoptions so they don’t have to think about this stuff?




36 responses

21 10 2011

YES! Asking myself ALL of these questions. Mostly in the middle of the night while I stare at the ceiling. Thank you for saying them out loud (well, sort of…).

21 10 2011

So well articulated, as always. Having found my older daughter’s birthmother on Facebook, I wrestle with these types of questions all the time. Except that my daughter is 19 and has chosen, thus far, not to initiate contact. Which, of course, she could do with one little mouse click. And does it make me crazy? Yep. Because you bet your little brass booties I want to click that mouse myself for many of the reasons you enumerated here. But, she’s 19 and its her mother not mine, so, it’s not my call (**wringing of the hands)

Now my 7 year old? Should I find her birthmom on FB…well, now that’s just another can of worms.

21 10 2011

You have wonderfully expressed the thoughts that I think so many of us battle with! My daughter is not from a country that has conflict like war or high death rates, but I wonder the same things about her first parents. I wonder about the fact that she eventually may have siblings that she deserves to know.I mean right? Does she deserve to know? I think about how much her life could be enriched by knowing her story from a different angle. How much she could learn about where she came from by the people that actually live there….

It’s just so hard to know what to do!!!

21 10 2011

Good questions…

21 10 2011

I’m expecting an email with the answers to these questions. And then maybe I’ll respond to the last thoughtful email that you sent me… (I suck)

21 10 2011

I am glad you wrote this…it’s making my head hurt. But it’s a good thing.

21 10 2011

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time thinking about these verythese questions. I even have a blog post of my own but for now it sits it my brain, festering.

21 10 2011
The Lost Planetista

Ahhh..,Semi-fera- you have so eloquently and perfectly articulated what my next question to Claudia is…”what about that wall later or nor so later? what about when there are windows in that wall? what then? Wall translucency is something we need to talk about. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We REALLY need a map for THAT!”

*kudos to you- but could you please include a Justin Bieber anecdote in your next post concerning this? Preferably a Justin Bieber ear-muff reference? Seriously?!!! LOL!

**Really, brilliant and brave post- once again my friend. I’m way too chickenshit to even go there on my blog. Then again I suffer from adoption psychosis or whatever the clinical name of that is. Yup.

***sorry for the ‘chickenshit” word on your blog. Don’t know what your swearing on comments policy is. I’lll try to refrain myself in the future. I just get fired up sometimes.

21 10 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

I am quite sure I used the word half-assed in a comment I posted on your blog, so you can imagine that I don’t have a policy. And I had to edit my post three times before the final word changed from Shit to Stuff.
I think I am too old to include a Justin Beiber reference except when responding to another JB reference.

22 10 2011

Surely, there was never a country that has an adoption program before that has so much influx of aid, NGO’s, missionaries….etc as Ethiopia or Uganda. I mean, historically speaking. So a lot of this is uncharted territory, right? So much to think about and I like that you phrased everything as a question.

22 10 2011

My response is not directed at the quandary that is what kind of help does/can one provide a birth family post-adoption, if at all. Although I understand that is an important and complex ancillary issue.

It might be unpalatable or unpopular to say the following, and I’ll just speak for myself here, but I have a strong hunch that most people who deeply love their children feel the same way. Once our son was united with us, the paramount importance became what’s in his personal best interest, becomes of subordinate importance the larger what-happens-to-intercountry-adoption question along with the consideration of are-my-actions-deleterious-to-the-larger-cause-that-is-children-finding-loving-safe-homes.

I believe, and people might claim to the contrary who knows, that most people are first and foremost protectors/supporters of their nuclear family, especially their own children, and with what they have left, they then reach out beyond that boundary with concern or action.

I care about all the other children/people in the world. But I first care about my son, not to the exclusion of others, but he’s my priority, undoubtedly.

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) says that a child has a fundamental human right to preserve his or her identity.

Incidentally, a rather large contingent out there takes international law and uses it to categorically argue against intercountry adoption, arguing that the very act of placing a child outside the bounds of their country with a dissimilar family violates the child’s human rights on many counts.

That said, as to being ethical post-adoption, as it means specifcally in compliance with what I personally told my agency I would or wouldn’t do regarding birth family, when it comes to the best interests of my son as it pertains to the issue of adoption/birth family, best interests as determined both by what I feel instinctively as his mother who loves him with her whole life/heart and what human rights law says, I couldn’t give a shit what I told my agency or what I signed off on. What I most care about is my son and his identity and my moral obligation in connection thereto, specifically trying to preserve/nuture it for him until he’s mature enough to understand and/or do it himself.

22 10 2011

SUCH an interesting set of questions! I really want to write a proper response but I can’t at the moment, later, I promise! The one thing I would say is – personally, I could care less about agency contracts. (We didnt’ have one, so that’s easy for me to say!) Hopefully an agency will give good ADVICE about post-adoption, but I can’t possibly see that they should own anything about it. Agencies asking families not be in contact with first families? That reeks a bit, to me. I don’t think that good ethics is necessarily always about obeying all of the rules, if the agency has only put the rules in place to protect itself. I don’t think there’s anything unethical about making contact with first families (although I think that what happens next can require a great deal of wisdom). It should be done carefully, but I disagree with any agency that says it shouldn’t be done!

22 10 2011

…”what happens next can require a great deal of wisdom”. Yes. And, I have to go with in your face honesty of Cazadora. There are some good questions resonating here!
One tension I face is that sometimes money makes things happen on the right side of the dilemma – because most of us, let’s face it, aren’t just talking about making nice ‘talk’ in a few letters a year. If, as in the case of Ethiopia, we’re making contact with first familes/finders, we’re often, not always, engaging poverty, although that may be a sliding and changing situation on account of inflation, rain fall, access to fertlizer,…. (why do folks so often leave finders off of the discourse? If we have finders WHO ARE finders, then that’s all the ‘family’ we got…It irks me BIG- – got a writer who wants to take that on?). So how does wisdom fit here?
Here is a scenario..that I made up in my head (or not); I have a contact who works with an indigenous/local agency (let’s say a local community center that is funded by local community; I’m not talking about an NGO like World Vision – I’m talking on the ground local people helping local people) doing small business keva style loans for famiies (let’s say 90% of these families are women headed household families) in need. I get an agency contact name, correspond, evaluate programs, and then send the agency $1000. That money is enough for about 130’ish small biz loans serving a pretty darn vast geographic area. When I send the funds I ask for one small ‘favor’ as a donor – I want the organization to visit ____ and check on her situation. I give the contact information. I ask to remain anonymous in this contact (or maybe I don’t – – ) If she is in need of support to create a sustainable future, I’d like her to have access to one of the loans w/the standard services of the agency. The agency does this – the small biz grant (because they turn out to be grants, not loans – -) comes to about $60. Let’s say she buys chickens for eggs – she plans to sell the eggs. It’s her dream. What stood between her and her dream (and ability to end the long days of walking the neighboring farms in search of work or begging for food) is about $60 for the chickens. $60 that was NEVER going to be a reality for her, except that someone came to see her – and that someone had her on a list for a small business grant. Done.
Is this an elitist butt covering make me feel good and use my privilege to get what I want, or is it wise and encompassing?
I’d be interested to know what y’all think. (I think I know what I think – but you are a smart crew, and I always learn from you!)

22 10 2011
Unsigned Masterpiece

Before you get to what I have said below, I just want to say I found the questions and the discussion interesting and thought-provoking.

“I couldn’t give a shit what I told my agency or what I signed off on. What I most care about is my son and his identity and my moral obligation in connection thereto, specifically trying to preserve/nuture it for him until he’s mature enough to understand and/or do it himself.”

Cazadora, as a First Mother I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The whole time I was reading the questions I kept thinking if we mothers had followed everything the agency told us to do none of us would know our kids.

22 10 2011
Scooping it up

I didn’t even read past the first question. I think it is utter bull $%!# that an agency would ask a family to NOT look for a first family. I think all adoptions should be open for the sake of the child and I would think the vast majority of first families. Some contact and information should be available, if not regular communication however tricky to manage should be one of the primary concerns and wishes of adoptive families and agencies in my mind. I will now go back and read the rest of the post. – BTW, I have friends in contact with birth families in ET. The relationships are hard and messy and sometimes sad. But the truth is everything. Contact is everything. And I feel comfy saying this on another adoption blog, in six weeks Hubs is going looking for our kiddo’s family in ET. (I can’t go as well because someone has to deal with the little people here and it makes sense for it to be me. They aren’t ready for both parents to leave yet.) We do this because we haven’t felt settled since the day we got on a plane to the US and won’t until we have done everything we can to locate them. Our agency never discouraged it but didn’t have the resources to help us look. We are going on our own.

22 10 2011
Scooping it up

blueberry buzz. I think your scenario is a good one to talk about. I like your scenario. I read recently that using our privilege to make mountains move for good isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not sending a check. It’s empowering a family. It’s being able to look a child in the face and say “we are doing what we can.” It’s hard to see that in a bad light from my perspective. I am sure someone disagrees but I wanted to give you and your scenario a high five.

22 10 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

I hate Devil’s Advocate arguments as much as I hate slippery slope arguments. So I am not arguing that this is correct. And I am not saying it is unethical to pick-and-choose what part of a contract you chose to honor. But I will say this… I can see why an ethical agency would facilitate communication between APs and First Families, but try to minimize direct contact (beyond meeting for the first time). The reason would be to preserve the wall that Claudia has articulated. With a likely huge resource discrepancy (think American AP versus rural, Ethiopian family) the scenarios that would lead to an AP in some way supporting a First Family are innumerable – my list of questions was clearly in no way comprehensive. An agency interested in removing that temptation thereby ensuring things remained “ethical” might want to exercise some form of control.
Cazadora made a great argument that the average AP is focused on what is best for his child. An agency is HOPEFULLY focused on what is best for children/ first families as a whole in the area where they work. They are, therefore, the gate-keepers at the wall. We all want agencies to be working on behalf of children not APs. Maybe, sometimes, there is a direct conflict post adoption on working in the best interest for a child that is already adopted (open, frequent communication between A family and first family) and the best interest for other at risk children from the same area – minimizing temptation caused by resource gains post adoption.

23 10 2011

SF, yes, I think that second paragraph is the nub of the whole difficulty! (And it’s not often I get to use the word ‘nub’). I think that temptation is something we definitely have to take into account.

23 10 2011
Scooping it up

Ooh, ok, touche, Semi. I think my heart tends to be moved by the adult adoptee and first parent blogs I read that pound over and over and over again how information, contact and relationships, again, even tricky and difficult ones, are vitally important and sought after and fought for by these two members of the adoption triad. And how agencies and adoptive families and laws tend to favor closed, uncomplicated adoption situations.

I am not immoveable on this, I am certainly someone who changes her mind and shifts philosophies over all things adoption and ethics as I learn more, But right now I think my priorities are wrapped up in that family contact and identity preservation. I look forward to reading more!

23 10 2011

I understand the alleged justification in what an agency does to ensure ethical boundaries post-adoption- by doing stuff like wanting to control or be involved in the post-adoption direct contact between birth families and adoptive families.

But I think we all know, and a few above mentioned or alluded to in different ways, there is the theoretical way of doing things and then there is reality.

Stuff our agency did or didn’t do during the adoption process, critical stuff I personally feel was absent or lacking detracted from the amount of credibility/trust/deserved privilege of post-adoption involvement I personally attribute to my agency. (Not absent or lacking necessarily to an unethical degree at all, it’s just that I have a very high standard of what information I want / preparation I think we should have had. e.g. Prepping APs for what critical, down-stream positive-effect, non-direct-contact-info questions should have been asked of the birth family member at the birth family meeting upon relinquishment/union with child. My agency stupidly did none of that, and after reading the very-accessible O’Malley book about lifebooks, O’Mally was also adopted and is now an adoption professional, it became clear to me how so very important asking certain/many questions, gleening information that is not always intuitive, is, and an institution that specializes in adoption and has done so for over 100 years should understand and incorporate this into their way of doing things, that is, if they truly have the best interest of the child as objective numero uno.) Re my agency and it’s lacking, I don’t necessarily think it was anything any agency doesn’t as-a-matter-of-course drop the ball on (like agencies are notoriously thrown under the bus for crappy post-adoption services, esp with issues like RAD), my experience nevertheless puts a damper on my desire to go to them versus entirely taking matters into my/our own hands.

As to Blueberry Buzz’s proposition, I first of all think that everyone, privileged or not, does stuff that makes them feel good if they can, that no one is a pure altruist. I’m pretty much fine with that loan/grant scenario in the sense described. Although it’s using privilege, it’s also an investment (as opposed to a hand out or something that arguably only creates co-dependance), an investment in people, an investment in the world, an investment in progress, so what if the motivation to invest begins with the seed that is love for your child that was adopted from that village or country – that might in theory be an only reason why anyone invests in that particular locale. It’s an investment and it’s also a re-allocation of world resources. I’d like to hear arguments against the idea though to flush it our more, it’s a very interesting topic.

23 10 2011

We didn’t have to look for our kids’ Ethiopian family. Our agency took us to meet our kids’ father. We exchanged information in front of the agency social worker, who has since become a family friend of ours.

We maintain contact, have taken our children back to visit, and do provide financial support. I don’t care if people think it’s unethical. It’s absolutely the right thing for us to do for our children and their father. I could never look my children in their eyes and say, “Sorry, kids. We can’t help your dad. It’s unethical.” I can’t imagine NOT helping.

We are also applying for a nonimmigrant visa in hopes that their father can come visit. I want him to see where his children live, learn, and play. He is old, especially by Ethiopian standards. The US government may say no, but it is worth a try. Absolutely worth it.


23 10 2011

Minimizing the potential of “resource gains post adoption”….that is where I get stuck and more stuck and then a tad bit unstuck – only to go ’round the stuckness again. Sarah, it’s what makes me wince ‘just a little’ at declaration of not caring who calls support unethical. On the other hand, I think semi-feral already challenged us to pay attention to the ‘slippery slope’ argument. And, thus, my scenario really isn’t all thad different from Sarah’s, is it? And so, I think I landed right there, sliding down that slippery slope. Agh!

23 10 2011

My children’s feelings and concern about the welfare of their Ethiopian father – who did, after all, love and care for them for over ten years until he hung on the verge of death for two years – is more important to me than the opinion of the adoption community.

That’s what I meant by not caring.

Wince away!

23 10 2011

Feelings ARE more important, not “is.”

23 10 2011

Sarah, I certainly hope you read that I hear you – and in the end – I don’t disagree.

24 10 2011
Sam's Mom

So, we found out AFTER our referral that our agency doesn’t facilitate contact w/ birth/first family If your child was relinquished and EVEN IF the birth/first family lives 0.5 miles from the orphanage in Addis, the agency WILL NOT facilitate a meeting when you are in-country. I would have to check to see if its in any contract we signed. This did not become an issue for us, as our son was abandoned…
I say F*&! an agency contract. The agency contract is to PROTECT the agency, not to protect the child or the adoptive family. I’m saying this as an attorney: screw the contract. You need to do what is best for YOUR CHILD and YOURSELF.
I know many families from our agency/orphanage who have contracted in-country to local first/birth family. I know some who received a q/a report and some who had a face-to-face. I can only imagine how difficult this would be. But at the same time, it would provide answers to questions your child may someday have. It would provide peace of mind to the child knowing that you did all you could to find out all you could. It could also give some information that will prove helpful to your child in the future (health history, disease, etc.)
I don’t like the agency controlling all of this. I know families who had birth meetings set up through the agency with the agency people serving as translator and the agency blatently lied and did not translate properly (the meeting was video taped and later reviewed by a native Amharic speaker) and the mother disclosed certain IMPORTANT health and history re: the children but the agency did not relay that information. Should you follow THIS AGENCY’s contract? HELL NO.
Then when I was in-country some of the families were approached by someone working for the orphanage who said “I found the birth mom” and showed them a picture and then said “she is destitute, could you give her some money.” And wanted to be the go-between and personally give the money to the mother. Was this accurate information? Was that picture even that child’s birth mother? Would any money actually reach her? Who knows. You are at the mercy of the agency…a whole slew of questions comes up for me with an agency (who has just made money on the adoption) facilitating a birth family meeting. I personally would trust an independent in-country investigator (we would say PI here, but I don’t know if that’s the word that would be used in-country) to try to locate information/birth family. I know some who have done this with positive results.

Okay, here’s the kicker and judge me if you will. My husband and I did not adopt locally precisely because we did not want to have contact with a birth/first family. My husband and I were selfishly … at ease because my son was abandoned. This sounds horrible I know. If feels horrible to type. I feel like a horrible person. But honestly WE could not deal with “another family” and I have family and friends who are now adult adoptees and have no desire to know birth/first mother/family … I know several who were semi-stalked by birth/first mother/family and it was a horrific experience. I have read of people having Oprah moments with birth/first family and it was wonderful and spiritually healing. But I personally know many many bad stories and/or adults who say “why would I want to know, X (AP) is my mother and Y (AP) is my father and that’s the end of the story.”

Ugghh. This is awful/difficult/terrible/painful to write about. Maybe I should write in my own blog but honest-to-goodness I’m petrified by the potential responses and felt it safer here…

In the end, for our son, we will have to give him the paperwork we have and explain that we really don’t have answers but were told XYZ and have no information on birth/first family. In the end, we don’t have to “deal” with this messiness … how terribly selfish of us. What would we have done in another situation … relinquishment … an agency who sets up in-country birth meetings … a birth/first mom who asks for money…

As to other issues you’ve brought up in your eloquent post: I don’t think money to the birth/first family is the answer. I do believe its a sticky situation and from an outside perspective could be seen as highly unethical. I do believe projects for the community would be better and more far-reaching. That said, I DO BELIEVE YOU SHOULD DO WHAT YOU FEEL IS BEST just as in ever other aspect of your life.

Thank you Semi-Feral for this post. Thank you for making us all think and examine. Thank you for prompting me to respond, however painful that was.

24 10 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

I appreciate your honesty, Sam’s Mom.

31 10 2011
tamara b

I’ll do a full reply later (since I still haven’t showered after 45 hours of travel to get home from Ethio), but I wanted to give my two cents here. Like you, I selfishly didn’t want to deal with a first family. I didn’t want that bio mom to want to take my role – MOM. And when we did an adoption meeting, my heart softened to that idea a bit. Several years later when we adopted Judah, I wasn’t so sure of meeting his mom. But I did it for him. And now, having been back to Ethiopia twice and seeing her both times, I can’t imagine life without that little bit of a relationship. Then again, Judah has two bio brothers which I’ll get more into in my full reply when I finish reading the comments.

24 10 2011

Finally able to leave my two cents…

I think it’s well and good to assume that agencies have the children’s best interests at heart. However, my agency did some shady things, treated my husband and I poorly, and have not given updates to my son’s birth family. When I sent them a detailed letter explaining why I was unhappy with them AND a follow up letter asking for a reply, I never got one. That said, I feel no obligation to maintain a relationship with them, adhere to a contract that, like Sam’s Mom said, exists to protect the agency. I have basically severed all ties with our agency and have requested that they only contact my family if it is necessary for our post adoption updates. Do I feel guilt about this? Nope. Not one bit. I’m of the mind set that they got their money and could careless about a relationship with my family which was evidenced by their refusal to address my concerns.

I have zero problem with using my own resources to maintain contact with my son’s birth family because my husband and I promised that we would. If my agency is not going to assist me in keeping this promise, which we were led to believe they would when we were prospective adoptive parents, then I have no problem in finding my own way to get information to them, trying as hard as I can to ensure there are no negative ramifications on TK’s birth family or the person who may be the laison for us.

As to Blueberrybuzz’s hypothetical situation, I would love it if I could use my class privilege to help TK’s family in that way. I would love it if I could use my class privilege to help them in any way, including monetarily. Do I understand how some APs could find this unethical and that it would cause anxiety about future adoptions being jeopardized, absolutely I understand. But my duty is to my son. I can’t imagine saying to him that we could have helped his birth family but we chose not to because of some contract that our crappy agency wanted us to stick to.

Thanks SF for this post. It’s a great one and you posited questions that I wrestle with all the time.

24 10 2011

@Blueberry Buzz – I am surely guilty of leaving out finders and will try to be more sensitive. Maybe the abbreviation BF/F would work? Or is that too close to texting lingo? FF/F?

@Semi-Feral – These questions swirl about in my brain, too. Agree the intersection of the needs of those already adopted and those at-risk is where so much of the tension lies.

I admit to feeling uncomfortable at first at the thought of going against the contract I had entered into. There’s a bit of a Do-Bee in me. I feel more righteous (self-righteous?) about it now because of changes on the part of my agency – their rules/services have changed and I feel less compelled to adhere to the letter of the contract. At the time I signed that contract, my agency was facilitating back and forth communications between APs and BF/Fs. While I was in process all communications were suspended based on my agency’s very conservative interpretation of US Embassy guidelines. Now APs can send letters to BF/Fs, but unless the BF/F specifically requests it, the BF/F cannot send letters back. It is not a given that all BF/Fs know that they can request this. Added to that, orphanage closures have affected my agency’s work in the region and it is not clear that letters I send would be delivered. This has led me to wanting an avenue for independent contact.

The NYTimes ran a piece a few years ago about an AP’s search for her daughter’s Guatemalan mother. It raises more ethical/moral questions surrounding post-adoption contact: Should you wait until your child is old enough to have a voice in the matter? Do birth mothers want to be found? What about APs who initiate contact, the BF/F agrees to on-going contact, and then the AP doesn’t follow through? What if corruption is discovered? The article is here:

24 10 2011

I truly, truly, have no idea where to even start. Percolating. Can I send a massive email to you all about a very private question I’m currently losing sleep over? mmmk that would be wonderful.

*facepalm, shuffles to bed and hides under the covers.* Let me know when you guys figure all this out, please.

24 10 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

You can always email me semiferalmama at yahoo dot com But, as Jamey, mentioned above, I will in all lilkelyhood send you a very lengthy reply, even if your question is yes/no. So if you want a basic answer, you should write a note with check boxes and put it in my locker after gym class.

31 10 2011
tamara b

Where can I find your locker? Kidding, I like the full blown thoughts. I need someone to think for me sometimes 🙂

24 10 2011

I am a cat chasing it’s tail on this issue. I can’t come up with a firm right/wrong answer either. There isn’t one. I see the validity in not providing financial assistance to birth family and I get why our agency encouraged us not to go there. But when/if I am face to face with birth family and I see sickness, desperation, a request for help, or some way that we can give to help, and it’s wanted by the birth/first family…well, I wouldn’t turn my back. No way. Because they are *our* extended family. And I get why that is possibly short-sighted to the big picture of these countries who are vulnerable to more privileged countries. But when it comes down to it…face to face…we are human beings…and we can’t turn our backs. At least I wouldn’t be able to do so.

25 10 2011

I was ready to be all righteous and indignant about your first two questions – how dare an agency make you sign a contract like that! – until I read your further explanation in one of the comments. It sort of makes sense when you put it that way…

The rest of your questions just make my head hurt…maybe it’s the smell coming from the slippery slope.

Great post, and great discussion in the comments!

31 10 2011
tamara b

okay, my full comments didn’t show up. stupid internet. i’m mad.

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