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Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Adoption Option Needs to Be Promoted

Sad news for prospective adoptive parents as Russia has just announced it would drop the curtain on independent inter-country adoptions.

Child, Youth and Family temporarily suspended its family assessments for Russian adoptions yesterday in response, saying the process was now surrounded by uncertainty.

Acting deputy chief executive Bernadine MacKenzie said Russia had signalled future adoptions could be done only through accredited agencies.

Because the only New Zealand agency facilitating adoptions in Russia was not accredited, it would be unfair to raise the expectations of prospective adoptive families by continuing to do home studies, she said.

The suspension would be lifted when and if the situation changed, Ms MacKenzie said.

Approximately 600 Russian orphans had been adopted by New Zealand families since 1992. As there are only about 100 adoptions of NZers by NZers per year, this will clearly make the very difficult path of adoption, even harder. It is also worth noting that many of NZ's tiny number of adoptions are not couples adopting newborns, but men adopting a new wife's existing children.

Thirty years ago there were around 4,000 adoptions every year in this country.

Why is it, with abortions running at 17,000 a year, thousands of unwanted pregnancies and an infertility "epidemic" that adoption numbers are so low?

Why is the "market" not working here? Why is supply not matching demand?

Part of the reason is of course, the Domestic Purposes Benefit, which has made solo motherhood a viable option for more women. While I don't believe in the DPB, I certainly don't advocate the state confiscating children from mothers who wish to keep them.

The other reason is sheer ignorance, combined with overly PC adoption unit policies

To adopt a child in NZ you must be OK'd by the state adoption unit. You may arrange an adoption privately, or go on the state waiting list, but you cannot proceed without the adoption units permission. While this is understandable from a child welfare viewpoint, I believe this power, or rather the over restrictive use of it has created a supply/demand imbalance.

Adoption unit social workers are expressly forbidden to recommend to an expectant mother, the adoption option.

Hence, unless an expectant mother demands that her baby be adopted out, most babies will be aborted, fostered out or consigned to an upbringing on the DPB. As there is very little awareness of adoption in NZ these days, many expectant mothers don't even consider it as an option.

All adoptions in NZ are now "open", that is, there may be ongoing contact between the "natural" family and the adopted child. Therefore no young mother need fear that she will never see her baby again.

Adoption is no longer shrouded in secrecy as it once was. If a birth mother, or birth father wishes to maintain regular contact with their adopted out child they may do so.

Therefore with a bit of a marketing campaign (something that pro-life groups might like to consider) and a change in adoption unit policy to actually promote the adoption option, the current imbalance might begin to be addressed.

There is a huge shortage of babies available for adoption in this country. Large numbers of children, birth mothers and adopting parents could benefit with a bit more education and a loosening of state direction over the adoption process.

A swing back to adoption would mean;

Fewer abortions.

Less pressure on a very stressed fostering system.

Less pressure on the DPB and the taxpayer.

More kids raised in loving two parent homes, with the benefits that accrue from that.

More young mums and dads free to build lives and careers while still maintaining contact with their children.

More happy adoptive parents able to enjoy family life.

With a bit of promotion and a slight change of emphasis in the state adoption system, great things could be achieved for all concerned.


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