By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Michelle Dally Johnston's April 25 story, "Adopting an Attitude," was disconcerting to read, for three reasons:
1. If not for private adoption agencies, some of which are highly ethical and caring agencies, the only options left for Coloradans would be Social Services adoptions or attorney-led private adoptions. Social Services adoption workers are often overwhelmed with very damaged children needing homes, or they are so poorly trained that their poor choices and sloppy practice hurt children and adoptive families. The negative image of private attorneys doing this work requires no further examination.
2. Many adoption agencies show practice of the highest caliber and are careful to be sensitive and supportive to every person in the adoption triad. It is a shame to have them all lumped together. As a longtime "veteran" of work with both Social Services and a private agency, I have been witness to good, solid practices displayed by the skilled and empathic staff at Adoption Alliance.
3. Most important, potential adoptive parents who complain about unfair treatment need to look within themselves for some of the solutions. The abiding principle surrounding adoption should be that any practice with high standards considers itself a conduit for locating the best home for a child and not a means through which children are found for adults. The most important question one can ask when worrying about a children's system that doesn't seem to be working is: "What would be best to do for the child?"
I am hopeful that the article did not scare away potential parents for children who very much need a good home. Many fine, caring people within adoption agencies have helped build families that positively enhanced many children's lives.
I am writing on behalf of the staff at the Adoption Option. We are a nonprofit adoption agency, licensed since 1981, with a staff of sixteen covering the whole of Colorado. We have placed almost 800 children during the past fifteen years. Our salaried professional staff of seven has over 83 years of combined adoption experience! (Amy Diller is not a rarity in the adoption community.)
We are extremely saddened by your article. Not only was it peppered with factual inaccuracies, but it promoted the involvement of attorneys in adoption, negated all adoption agencies (along with a few poor ones) and failed miserably to consider the best interests of the children. It is likely that you have raised the anxiety of many adoptive families through your desire for sensationalist reporting rather than accurate, factual reporting.
Two absolute inaccuracies are worthy of note: There is nothing in the statute that says "a birth mother cannot relinquish until two weeks after giving birth." Some of our clients choose to go to court in less than two weeks, if the court schedule can accommodate them, because they want the baby to be placed with the adoptive family, free of legal risk. It is their choice.
A further and more serious inaccuracy: The statute in Colorado does not allow a "six-month window after adoption during which the birth mother can change her mind about giving up the child." Once a birth parent has relinquished rights or had them terminated by the court, it is final. There is no "change of mind" legislation in Colorado.
The increase in expenses to birth parents and the expectations of these birth parents to be "paid for their trouble" has been fueled by the involvement of attorneys, not by the involvement of the adoption agencies. Out-of-state attorneys advertising in Colorado, in particular, are offering large sums of money to birth parents--and few of these "expenses" are, strictly speaking, pregnancy-related. Attorneys are making large sums of money as "brokers"--they consider little of the needs of the birth parents and even less of the needs of the child. There are, by comparison, few social workers in the adoption field making large sums of money!
Nonprofit agencies that are concerned about good practice, ethical standards and professional oversight are members of the Colorado Association of Families and Children's Agencies. While there are some isolated for-profit and nonprofit agencies whose practice is questionable, whose fees are too high and whose ways border on the unethical, there are many that, like our agency, work to maintain high standards of practice and professionalism.
Your article, sadly, has done a disservice to good agencies. Moreover, it has done a tremendous disservice to children.
Carol Holliday, executive director
The Adoption Option
We are concerned about the many factual errors in Michelle Dally Johnston's article "Adopting an Attitude," which certainly seems to reinforce the "child as property" mentality.
Johnston first relates "Joley Cole's" sad experience with adoption agencies and states that the Denver woman and her husband spent more than $12,000 in order to adopt. In reality, the CAFCA member agency with which they worked charged them only $2,450 for homestudy, interstate processing and post-placement services. Where did the other $10,000 go? To attorneys? We wish Johnston had clarified this in her article rather than implying that the agency charged in excess of $12,000.
Johnston states, "Almost all of the agencies require adoptive parents to be under age forty." This is blatantly false. Most licensed agencies are very flexible in their age requirements.