Sunday, October 18, 2009

Due Process in Adoption? Hardly.

That's the conclusion of William H. Mild III, who served for 23 years as a deputy attorney general within the New Jersey Division of Law representing the Division of Youth and Family Services (sorry, you'll just have to indulge my geeky lawyer side for a moment!):

Adoption is generally perceived as a positive thing — hope, love and new beginnings. We prefer not to dwell on the negatives that usually precede an adoption — anguish, anger and severing of family ties. . . . [T]his piece will focus on the [domestic] adoption process arising out of non-agency placements with potential adoptive parents who are not part of the child’s original family, commonly referred to as private placements or private adoptions.

* * *

It seems to me that a significant number of New Jersey adoptions, particularly private adoptions, are on shaky legal ground. A court’s termination of parental rights based primarily upon the Notice of Intention to Place and the report of the approved agency is considerably weaker than the “clear and convincing evidence” required to pass constitutional muster.

Birthparents should not have been expected to navigate these labyrinthine statutes without independent counsel. Without counsel, birthparents have virtually no way of knowing the long-term effect of their relinquishment and the post-adoption sealing of the court’s file, including the child’s original birth certificate.

The child is an indispensable party and requires independent counsel to protect his or her own fundamental rights and interests — including adult rights and interests — from being needlessly compromised.

Due process in adoption? Hardly.

His concerns about New Jersey adoptions would apply to the other 49 states, since they all use essentially the same process. Click here to read more. (hat tip to ulb on twitter for the link -- follow for more great stuff!)


Anonymous said...

He speaks the TRUTH about adoption and its ugly underbelly that is hidden from society.

All children (newborns-18yrs) should be provided a representative in court (CASA) that fights for the RIGHTS that are so easily taken away from a human being when they are adopted.

Wendy said...

It is amazing that there is no representation for children in adoption. Children get a representative in divorce (I know not all states), so why not in adoption.