I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes an adoption ethical -- in both U.S. domestic adoption and international adoption. I'm starting from the proposition that "ethical adoption" is NOT an oxymoron, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise! I'd like a lot of input, so I thought I'd "incentivize" you by adding a poll asking your opinion of your own adoption -- was it ethical? I've divided it up for birth family, adoptive family, and adopted persons.
Here are some questions to help in thinking about some of the issues, but I'm sure I've overlooked a lot, so point out what I've missed, please!
What does it mean to relinquish voluntarily? Does poverty and powerlessness call into question voluntariness? Or does coercion only matter if done by APs and/or agencies? Lies and false promises to birth parents are coercive, yes? Should birth families be offered help to parent before a relinquishment is deemed voluntary? Does China get a "pass"in terms of ethical issues since birth parents choices are constrained by law? When, if ever, is it justified to give birth parents money in relation to relinquishment? Should minors be allowed to relinquish? Should psychological counseling be required both prior to and following relinquishment? Should relinquishments be signed in the presence of a judicial officer? Is openness -- continuing contact and/or sharing of information -- necessary to make adoption ethical?
What is an orphan? Does the existence of extended family make a difference? Is foster care always inadequate to adoption? Should there be a preference for domestic over international adoption? for same-race over transracial adoption? What steps should be required to ensure children are not trafficked? Is "best interest of the child" adequate protection for children in adoption? When children are abandoned, is there an obligation to search for birth family before the child is adoptable? Whose obligation is it? Is openness -- in terms of both information and continuing contact -- an ethical imperative in adoption? How should matching happen? Is centralized government matching preferable to pre-ID'd matches? Does private adoption adequately protect children? Should there be different rules for newborn adoption and older child adoption? Is it ethical to have different fee structures depending on the race of the child?
What screening is necessary for ethical adoptions? Should adoptions by single parents and gay and lesbian couples be allowed? What pre-adoption education requirements are appropriate? What information should APs be able to access about adoption agencies, social workers, attorneys, etc.? What disclosure about fees and fee changes are appropriate? What information about the child should be available before an adoption decision is made? Can there be ethical adoption without post-adoption services -- like counseling, parenting guidance, medical and educational information, etc. -- being made available to adoptive families? Should adoption agencies provide reunion services?
Well, there's a start! Help me out in the comments. And vote in the appropriate poll!