Here’s Abrazo’s list of the Nine Cardinal Sins in Adoption.
There are different ways to excel at or fail in adoption, of course.
But if you want to do the sort of adoption that makes Abrazo especially proud of you and which helps you sleep well at night, then here are the nine cardinal sins in adoption that you should avoid.
Thou Shalt Never…
Match in the first trimester.
It doesn’t matter how “sure” you are about adoption; fetuses don’t need anyone making adoption arrangements before they’re even the size of a lemon. Expectant mothers need time to consider all their options before getting involved in committed adoption plans. And adoptive couples need to be able to consider other placement possibilities, too, that early on.
Fail to raise an adoptee to know their own adoption story from the start.
We harp on this one a lot, we know. And we’re not apologizing, either. Every adoptee should be told the age-appropriate story of their adoption from Day One. No exceptions.
Offer to have another baby for someone after you place with them. (Or ask someone to produce a sibling for you to adopt.
We get it: you like each other. And most adopters love the idea of raising siblings. But no birthmother should ever have to intentionally endure the loss of placement more than once. She doesn’t owe the adoptive couple another baby, and trust us, no adoptee wants to have been “made to order.”
Change the first name of a child old enough to know it already.
This seems like a no-brainer, but a shocking number of folks don’t get it, so we’ll say it again: if a kid is old enough to know their own first name, it’s not right to change it. (Full stop, folks. If you can’t live with that name, maybe you’re not really ready to offer that child the unconditional love every adoptee deserves?)
Ask a prospective birthmother (or hopeful adopter) to promise not to change their mind about placement before it happens.
You may be nervous, and that’s normal. But in any ethical adoption match, both parties have the right to change their plans, if need be. And to ask someone for assurances that they wouldn’t or won’t is coercive. Plus coercion is illegal. So you don’t want to do this, okay?
Promise post-placement contact and/or visits then not follow through.
Seriously, people: don’t make promises you can’t keep. Do what you say you’ll do. It’s that easy. (Remember, your child will learn by your example.)
Exchange gifts of value in conjunction with an adoption plan.
No child ever adopted wants to have been bought or sold. (Ever.)
Withhold an adoptee’s truth from them.
It is not kindness to deny an adoptee access to that which should be theirs to begin with. Whether this means the facts of their family medical history or access to their original birth record or the chance to view photos of their ancestors or whatever, we must support every adoptee’s civil right to his or her own truth. Honoring the best interests of the adoptee means putting their needs before the wishes or preferences of the parent/s, even when it’s hard.
Force a child to choose between loyalty to their birthparents and their adoptive parents.
Adoptions work best when the birthparents and adoptive parents know, appreciate and respect each other. (Adoption works even better when the participants see adoption as being something that makes relatives of them, for life.) And adoptees grow up happiest when they see their forever family as being inclusive of everyone. Forever.
How you do adoption truly does matter; that you do it right will matter more and more to you and to your child as the years go by.
Please remember the nine cardinal sins in adoption, and commit yourself to doing the kind of adoption you will always be proud of– so you and your child/ren won’t end up doing penance, until kingdom come.