Adoption Laws and Practices in 2000: Serving Whose Interests?

Ruth Arlene Howe; Professor, Boston College Law School

February 8, 2005

After enactment of the first “modern” state adoption statute in 1851,adoption in the United States evolved as both a state judicial process and a specialized child welfare service to promote the “best interests” of children in need of permanent homes. During the last quarter of the century, however, developments have occurred which force us to ask whether U.S. adoption is meeting the needs of children, its original child welfare intent, or serving the interests of adults?
The most significant developments are: (1) the increased involvement of the federal government in promoting adoption for children in our child protection system; (2) the federally mandated elimination of race from all adoption or foster care placement decision-making; (3) the opening up of the adoption process, allowing adult adopted persons
access to their records and according birth parents post-adoption visitation rights; and (4) the growth of private adoptions as a business to place infants.

This essay shall focus on developments (1), (2) and (4).

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About the Author

Musings of the Lame was started in 2005 primarily as a simple blog recording the feelings of a birthmother as she struggled to understand how the act of relinquishing her first newborn so to adoption in 1987 continued to be a major force in her life. Built from the knowledge gained in the adoption community, it records the search for her son and the adoption reunion as it happened. Since then, it has grown as an adoption forum encompassing the complexity of the adoption industry, the fight to free her sons adoption records and the need for Adoptee Rights, and a growing community of other birthmothers, adoptive parents and adopted persons who are able to see that so much what we want to believe about adoption is wrong.

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