At South Asia Wired, a woman who has adopted from India talks about cases of corruption in Indian adoption, and comments on the Indian family seeking a DNA test to prove that a Dutch child adopted from India is in fact their kidnapped child (I blogged about the case here):
The Indian couple say they understand that it may not be in his best interest to go back with them if it’s eventually proved that he’s their son. He’s a Dutch kid, attached to the only parents he remembers and can’t suddenly be expected to live in an Indian slum.So the adoptive mom wonders if the Indian family is interested in a DNA test because they see the child as a cash cow. And her adoption agency refuses to give information they have about her daughter's birth parents for fear that it will traumatize the child in the future to meet them and discover that they see her as a cash cow (and what happens when that child discovers that the information was available and her parents refused to fight for it?).
They just want to see him. And to keep in contact.
It’s indeed an incredibly generous and loving gesture on their part. But here come the what if’s again. And they were formulated for me very early on by the deputy director of the agency I got my daughter to explain why she categorically refused to give me any information about my daughter’s biological family.
“What happens when she’s 15 and maybe she finds her biological parents” the lady said to me. “And these people just see this girl who’s dressed very nicely and looks like she has a lot of money, and they start demanding that she gives them money because they’re poor and she’s their child. I’ve seen it happen before, and believe me, it’s very traumatic for the child to be put in that position.”
Yes, it would be hurtful if the birth parents seem only interested in financial support from the child. But that's an issue that can be dealt with before any meeting. I think the adoptive parents and minor child (once the adoptee is an adult, the adoptive parents fall out of the decision-making) need to think about what they want to do about financial assistance for poor birth parents before meeting them. And there needs to be an exploration of the birth parent's culture -- expectations of financial assistance will be driven by cultural understanding of adoption (in the culture, is the adopted-out child still viewed as the family's child?), of family dynamics (what is the obligation of children toward their parents in the culture?), and of social obligations of rich to poor. That cultural understanding can help in shifting perceptions so that birth parents aren't viewed as avaricious schemers.
I've known adoptive families who do not want to offer money for fear of incentivizing adoption placement by other poor parents in the neighborhood. I've known adoptive families who want to give financial help, particularly if their child has siblings living with the birth parents. I've heard of birth families who are insulted by the offer of money; I've heard of birth families thankful for the offer. And yes, I've heard of birth families in poor sending countries who see dollar signs when their child finds them.
But it certainly isn't the agency's call whether to share birth family information for fear of something that may never happen, or if it happens, may not be quite as traumatic or unacceptable to the adopted child as the agency thinks.