There was an interesting post going around an adoptive family facebook group during National Adoption Awareness Month that I haven’t seen before. It got me inspired to share from the intercountry adoptee perspective what I would change IF we could.
The question was: “If you had the power to change any adoption laws, what would you change?” As you can imagine in an adoptive parent forum, many of the answers were adoptive and prospective parent centric. I did share a few of my initial thoughts, which unsurprisingly, in that group, not very popular. So let’s share my thoughts here as essentially this is the crux of what ICAV tries to do – we speak out to help policy makers and implementors think about what their processes and practices do to the child, the adoptees for whom it’s meant to be about. Some of the responses from ICAV members are incorporated as we did have quite an active discussion in our facebook group for adult intercountry adoptees.
If I could change adoption laws as an intercountry adoptee, in no particular order, I would:
- make it illegal to traffic children via intercountry adoption and ensure a legal pathway for reparative & restorative justice — such as allowing us to return to our homeland and/or original family, if and when we desire;
- make it illegal to rehome or return us;
- make it illegal to change or falsify our original identity that includes DNA testing the relinquishing parents to confirm their parentage of us;
- make it illegal to abuse us;
- create a legal pathway to prosecute the agency for failing to adequately psychologically assess our parents to ensure no further harm is done via the adoptive family environment;
- make it a legal requirement for all the actors who participate in the facilitation of adoption to provide lifelong post adoption supports that are free, equitable, and comprehensive, arising from a trauma informed model. It needs to be itemised what Post Adoption encompasses e.g., full search and reunion services, translation of documents, language courses, cultural activities, psychological counselling, return to homeland services, open access to our identity documents, etc.,
- make it illegal to trick birth parents, to ensure they fully understand what relinquishment and adoption means;
- make it illegal to adopt a child until it is proven beyond doubt that no immediate family, kin or local community can support and raise the child; this must include proof that the provision of a range of financial and social welfare supports have been offered;
- create a legal pathway for orphanages, agencies, lawyers and judges to be prosecuted by birth families who are prevented access to their child, especially in situations where they change their minds;
- create a legal pathway to prosecute countries who fail to give citizenship or deport intercountry adoptees; this includes removing these countries who accept or send deportees from any international convention;
- make it illegal to separate twins;
- centralise adoption, bring back full accountability of adoption to the State and remove the privatised model of intercountry adoption agencies to remove the conflict of interest and the blame shifting;
- remove money and fees;
- make it illegal for private lawyers to facilitate intercountry adoptions;
- make expatriate adoptions go through the same process as intercountry adoptions in the adopting country rather than being able to by-pass the tougher requirements.
- make all plenary adoptions illegal;
- legalise a new form of care internationally that incorporates the concepts of simple adoption, kinship care, stewardship, permanent care, and guardianship models that provides for our care but not at our cost in identity and removal of connection to ALL kin;
- create a law that allows adoptees the right to decline their adoptive parents as an adult if they wish;
- create a pathway to ensure Dual citizenship for all intercountry adoptees that includes citizenship for our generational offspring, should they wish.
This is just a starting list for thinking about what laws would need creating or changing in order to protect the rights of adoptees! I haven’t even started to discuss what laws would be needed from our original family perspectives. It would be interesting to hear their perspective. One has to question the current bias of existing laws that are skewed and mainly protect the interests of the adopters instead of a balance between all three and prevent intermediaries taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of each of the triad members.
There will always be vulnerable children who need care but today’s existing Plenary adoption laws are archaic and outdated. We adoptees know from living the experience that there are many gaps and pitfalls in the current plenary adoption laws used in intercountry adoption today.