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Adoption stories


Tammy McKanan
Saint Joseph, MN

Birth Country: United States
Decade of adoption: 2000 or later

My spouse and I attended an informational session on adoption through Lutheran Social Services in central Minnesota. The room was packed and the adoption worker mentioned several times that she should have secured a larger room to accommodate the 60 or so people in attendance.

The counselor, who indicated that she worked for many years counseling women regarding their pregnancy planning, spoke mostly of open adoptions because most [birth mothers] in this country choose this option. Many people grumbled about this, making it clear that they had no interest in connecting in any way with the birth mother. They also didn't like the uncertainty of perhaps not being chosen. To this, the counselor responded, "If you want a child, you should choose an international adoption; I can guarantee you a child." This was an information session. None of us had been vetted in any way, and yet she was promising us all babies.

The counseler also described the way she counsels birth mothers considering putting their children up for adoption about their choices, and how she advocates for their interests and makes their wishes known in open adoption. I asked what kinds of counseling and advocacy were available for the birth mothers in an international adoption. She looked at me blankly and said, "I don't know, and in ten years of working in this business, no one has ever asked."

This raises profound questions about international adoptions. If agencies believe that best practices include extensive counseling for the birth mother prior to relinquishment, and as much contact with the child as possible after relinquishment, why are these practices not applied to international adoption? And if international adoption is conducted without regard to the well-being of mothers, how can we be sure that even domestic best practices are up to snuff?

This gave us great pause about the adoption industry, and we went no further in pursuing our own adoption.



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