Friday, June 3, 2011

Adoption - An Unregulated, Multi-Billion Dollar Industry

Adoption in the United States is a Big Business.  It is for the most part an unregulated, multi-billion dollar a year industry.

The adoption industry relies on the vulnerability of women facing an unplanned pregnancy, a crisis moment in their lives.  Poor, young and/or unmarried women are especially vulnerable to the high-pressured tactics of the adoption industry.  Without resources or support, they believe that their sacrifice will be worth it if their child can benefit from being raised by a "more worthy" family.  These mothers, desperate to give their child a "better" life, are never told of the life-long effects on herself, the infant given up, or the children they are currently or may raise in the future.  These mothers are not told that adoption does not guarantee a better life, it just guarantees a different life.

The adoption industry has spent millions of dollars researching how to use the vulnerability of these mothers to their favor in order to meet the high demand they have for newborn infants.  These newborn infants bring prospective adoptors willing to pay large amounts in order to become parents.  The adoption industry also spends large amounts of money on promoting adoption as a "loving choice", as well as an alternative to abortion.  This image of adoption is necessary in order to keep the supply and demand high enough to keep the industry wealthy.  The adoption industry exploits the mothers as well as the prospective adoptive parents who believe that adoption is only good, is only in the best interest of the children. 

The adoption industry is also a big player in limiting adult adoptees access to their birth records and original birth certificates.  The big business interests of adoption has laid the blame for sealing the information on the mothers, stating that they were promised privacy and anonymity.  In actuality, most mothers are never told that they will remain anonymous; they do not expect nor do they want to remain a secret from their children.  The reality of the industries desire to keep records sealed has more to do with promoting the secrecy, limiting their liability and preserving their profits.

The adoption industry is not alone in their quest to continue bringing in billions of dollars a year to their bank accounts.  The adoption industry employs full-time lobbyists in Washington, D.C. in order to promote adoption and encourage the relinquishment of infants.  The National Council for Adoption is a private lobbying group whose members include twenty-eight adoption agencies and represents 3.5 percent of U.S. adoption agencies. The N.C.F.A. and three adoption agencies received $8.6 million from the federal treasury in October 2001 to promote adoption to pregnant women at health centers and clinics.

Many state laws encourage the adoption market by valuing the desires of the industry and prospective adoptive parents over the rights of the vulnerable expectant mother.  In some states mothers are allowed to sign relinquishment papers BEFORE the infant is even born, others allow signatures immediately after birth ~ even while the mother is still suffering from the labor and delivery of her baby.  A few states do require 24-48 hours after birth before a mother can sign relinquishment papers.  States also have varied revocation periods.  Some states are irrevocable immediatly after signing, others allow a mother to revoke their consent anywhere between 24 hours to 20 days after signing.  Jane Edwards has a great post that sums up the different state adoption consent laws.  If you have time to read them, there are many great comments on her post.

Sadly, the differences in the states adoption consent laws leads to more corruption.  There are adoption agencies that bring mothers to states with less revocation time, to states that make it almost impossible for a father to stop the adoption of his own child.  There have been attempts to make adoption federally regulated, but the argument against it has been that adoption is a state law issue.  The American Adoption Congress has a great article "Why The Federal Government Must Regulate Adoption".

Are you doubtful that adoption agencies truly have an income exceeding one billion dollars a year?  But what about the "non-profit" adoption agencies?  In order to be a "non-profit", adoption agencies pay exorbitant salaries to their top executives.  Take a look at this report showing some of the top executive compensations at adoption agencies.  Granted, these amounts are from 2007 and 2008, the latest figures I could find.  I am going to guess that the salaries in the following years were as high if not higher than these years.

In researching this subject, I found much more information than could possibly be used in one blog post.  Here are some links to some more great articles I found:

Amanda recently wrote a great post about the money behind adoption "Dollars and $ense of Family Building: An Adult Adoptees Response".  There are some great comments on this post that are worth reading also.

Infant Adoption is Big Business in America is an article I just found as I was finishing this post.  If I hadn't already written this, I would have simply posted this article ~ it is excellent and far more thorough than what I have written here.  It is worth the time it takes to read, I am adding it to my "Learn" page.

Who Cares If People Are Exploited By Adoption?

The Baby Business explores how large sums of money have led to corruption in many countries from which Americans adopt.

The Stork Market

When Children Become Commodities

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