Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Making the adoption industry accountable

Until mothers can bring lawsuits for the return of their children, the adoption industry has no financial incentive to assure that mothers are fully informed before consenting to adoption. While adoption agencies are licensed by state authorities, the penalty for coercion or fraud is loss of license, not undoing illegal adoptions. State authorities move slowly and corrupt adoption agencies often continue their wrongful practices for years before states take action.
Additionally, independent adoptions, where the parties are brought together by an attorney or a facilitator, may not be subject to state regulation at all.

Our reader KimKim points out that mothers should have an attorney before
they consent to adoption. True, true. Again, however, mothers likely lack the wherewithall to pay an attorney and adoption agencies often discourage mothers from seeking legal counsel.

Some states allow attorneys who arrange adoptions to represent both the adoptive parents (who are paying the bill) and the mother (who is not). Clearly a conflict of interest.

In other states, the prospective adoptive parents’ attorney arranges for the mother to have an attorney paid by the PAPS. The mother’s attorney is often more of a facilitator, making sure the adoption goes smoothly than an advocate for the mother. The only way to assure a mother's attorney is an advocate for her is to have an independent source of funds which brings us back to where’s the money to come from?

Extensive media coverage and public appeals can raise some money but it’s a poor way to run a railroad. Governments can’t help. They’re laying off teachers and shutting prisons to balance their books.

Here are some ideas:

Add a surcharge to the adoption petition filing fee, the fee paid to the courts by prospective adoptive parents when they commence a legal action to adopt a child. The money raised by the surcharge could go to a fund administered by the courts to compensate attorneys for mothers.

Require prospective adoptive parents and adoption agencies or facilitators to pay the mother’s attorney fees if the mother wins in court. State and federal laws commonly allow victimized consumers to recover attorney fees in cases involving the sale of securities, insurance, and other products where the parties have unequal bargaining power. Of course, laws allowing victorious mothers to collect fees should be a one-way street. Just as a purchaser of securities who loses in court does not have to pay the broker’s fees, a losing mother should not have to pay the PAP’s, agency’s, or facilitator’s fees.

Create a foundation to raise money. Awarding attorney fees won’t help mothers if the PAPs lack resources or hide their assets. And of course, corrupt child purveyors may simply close their doors and move to another state rather than pay a judgment for attorney fees.

A pipe dream perhaps but we’d like to see foundation create a Mothers Wall website. Mothers would pay a small amount; say $10, to place a few words on the Wall. If the Wall attracted perhaps ten thousand mothers, the $100,000 raised would be a good start to helping victims of adoption fraud get their children back. The Wall would also help inform the public and women considering adoption about the pain of adoption loss.

19 comments :

  1. What a disgraceful state of affairs!Thanks for showing this side of the adoption industry in America, very illuminating and I'm linking your post if I may.

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  2. I like the way you are thinking.

    I think the funding has to come from a percentage of the profits made by adoption agencies, they would be required to fund separate legal counsel for the mother. The legal counsel would only represent the mother.
    The mother would be informed of all her legal rights.

    The lawyers would not be employed by the adoption agency, the funding would come from a government source.

    What really needs to be encouraged is the phasing out of private adoption agencies and introduction of state run non profit agencies like they have in Australia.

    That way there is no one person making money from this.

    There can be a more even and regular system set up so that one state isn't more or less ethical than another.

    What mothers can lobby for is to make the world a more child friendly place - more child care in the work places and in colleges, set up systems that enable teen mothers to finish school.

    What is also needed is to get adopted adults on board with this to educate people that adoption isn't always in the best interest of the child.

    I know this is a bit rambly and all over the place but you get the idea I'm sure.

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  3. Cat here.

    Sometimes mothers are tricked or blackmailed into agreements.

    I was.

    It was in the 1970's in Toronto.

    When I was in hospital, they drugged me up on goodness-knows-what in an IV, and wheeled me into a private room.

    A social worker came marching in and demanded that I sign a temporary, non-ward foster care agreement.

    She said that if I didn't sign, she would take my son anyway.

    I was not expecting this at all.
    I had planned on keeping my son.
    It actually states that in my hospital records. I wasn't a minor.
    I had paid my own hospital bills.

    I asked for a lawyer there and then. I was refused.

    The social worker would not get one for me. None of the staff would. In those days, there were no cell (mobile) phones, no e-mails, no internet.
    In the hospital where I was, the nurses had the power to lock down the phones - they carried a key for this. They would not let me phone out to get a lawyer.

    I was told if I left the hospital even for an hour to get a lawyer, I would be charged with abandonment. They threatened to cancel my hospital insurance if I stepped out of the ward.

    I was trapped. I was told that I would get my son back if I signed there and then, so I did. The social worker also said that if I hadn't signed, they would take my son without my consent, tell my son that they were forced to take him from an "unco-operative and possibly violent" person and imply they were saving him from me - a bunch of lies.

    They refused to let me read this agreement. They would not let me have a copy of it for 25 years. It was only when that social worker died that I was able to get a copy - she had repeatedly denied my request for years. She was not at that time legally obliged to let me have a copy, so there was nothing I could do.

    Now I see why they would not let me have this agreement.

    The whole agreement has been altered by hand with no initials by the changes. There is an important page missing which had my signature on it (possibly put into another document?) Some parts have actually been crossed out. There are things added in handwriting that I never agreed to.
    All of the changes were put in after I had signed.

    The word adoption does not appear anywhere.

    There is also a clause which states that if the mother requests a lawyer and that request is denied before signing, then the agreement is not legally valid!
    It is null and void in the eyes of the law.

    I took this to the UN who ruled that my son's adoption must be viewed as fraudulant, especially as my basic right to a lawyer was denied.

    I have also since found out that the other social worker involved has admitted to taking bribes for babies - I didn't stand a chance.

    I wasn't expecting someone to steal my son from me this way and I did try to get legal advice.

    However, when professionals use under-handed devices such as blackmail, bribery, phone lock-downs, etc. , what can you do?

    At least my son knows the truth.
    He was as shocked as I was when he saw that foster care agreement.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jane, ok - so, I think I can get someone to do the webdesign for free...having an artist and business man for a brother has perks...Do you really think if I did this "Mother's Wall" that it would help? And would you be willing to help me set up the logistics?

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  5. Lori,

    If you can get committed people with resources, a Mothers' Wall could be a real possibility. The internet is a great vehicle for sharing ideas and raising money. I don't think I could help with logistics; I'm totally ignorant when it comes to computers.

    Thanks for asking.

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  6. @Jane,

    Actually, once a domain is purchased and the page is initially designed. It pretty much can be something beautiful and huge - That is how a lot of AIDS quilts began.

    I will see what I can find out - I want to see this happen.

    Interesting thought....

    I will let you know what I need.

    Lori

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  7. I would love to be a part of a "Mother's Wall", and if all the donations go into a fund for legal defense I would donate more than $10.

    Susie

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  8. Ok - I am looking into the idea of a webpage - I know some awesome page designers and the owner of an internet company that might help me get the webpage cheaper - initially.

    I would like others to please speak up and let me know if they want separate pages or one page with multiple popouts - how would you like it?

    Also, Please note, the only thing outside of the legal fees that will ever come out of the fund - web fees to keep it going.

    If that is ok with everyone - Please, ideas on what you think it should look like - if you would like, click on my pic and you can email me from there.

    Lori

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  9. Count me in as well. I have no knowledge of website design, but glad to help in any other way..

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  10. Lori,

    I have some thoughts on how you might go about this. If you post a comment with your email address, I won't post it and I'll email you back.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I find this blog very interesting. I'm a Genetic Mom and placed my 12 embryos for adoption with another couple. I in no way really compare myself to a Birth Mom; as I consider them "sacred." I can't imagine what it would be like to place a baby for adoption and/or have it taken from you, whilst going through post-partum recovery, etc. Even worse, to be tricked into something you have no control over. I'm different, in that I made a very informed choice, but am sad nonetheless. I wonder how you feel about people in my position? A sign of the times with science and technological advances. I'm sure many in my position would just destroy their excess embryos, but due to my religious beliefs, I could/would not. We are making the best of our decision, but I agree that reform in adoption laws is a must. I wish you well. Sheila

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  12. Welcome to the blog, Sheila!

    As a birthmother, I have some understanding of your situation because I know what it is like to have a child "out there" without knowing anything about the child.

    I encourage you to do what you can to allow the children to find you and their biological father. The children are entitled to know their genetic history and to meet people who share their looks, interests, and talents.

    If you haven't seen it, catch "The Kids are All right" which Lorraine reviewed today. This can give you some idea of what your offspring may be experiencing. "Lethal Secrets" about donor insemination is another good source of information.

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  13. Shelia--tell me, did God also direct you to multiply by creating children who are unlikely to ever know their true heritage? To know whose DNA they carry?

    Do you plan on meeting them someday?

    Finding out if a dozen children were created from your embryos?

    Frankly, your attitude is disturbing and shows little concern for the "children" you are creating but buys into the attitude that the parents are the ones to be satisfied.

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  14. Cat here.

    Are thinking of making the Mothers Wall an official charity?

    I don't know what the tax laws are in the US but in the UK, businesses can claim taxes back if they donate to charity.

    Something else that is happening right now is that some billionaires like Bill Gates of Microsoft are giving money away to charitable causes.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65F5CC20100616

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  15. What do I think?
    I think people are sometimes held hostage by their religious convictions, against their instincts.

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  16. Again as in the other post is someone who has not lost a child to adoption is coming to this forum looking for attention and sympathy. I don't think it's appropriate.

    If you deliberately create embryos to give out to other people - 12 embryos!!! OMG 12!!!! How can that be in anyway the same as going through an unplanned pregnancy, having very little support and being coerced into relinquishing your child because you feel like you have no choice????

    No offence meant, really no malice intended but really how appropriate is this?

    It's bad enough reading the demands by a woman who wants to adopt and saying that she thinks it is fair enough for *her* needs.

    Planning to give out 12 children like they are lollies at a party is not the same as losing a much loved child to adoption.

    Sorry for being so impatient here but it's just not appropriate for people to keep coming here asking for attention and sympathy. Yes they are doing that in a covert way that is what they are doing.

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  17. As a New Jersey adoptee who, by the grace of God, found her birth families in early 2010, I have another heart-rending child theft to report.

    In August 1949, when I turned five, my adoptive parents realized I couldn't be registered for Kindergarten without a legal name-change. As their foster child since I was 18 months, my adoptive mother (who decided she wanted to be called "Mother") started every ball rolling to turn her foster pygmallion into her adopted swan. Mother thought of herself as the quintessential stage mother. I was legally adopted in my adoptive parents' lawyer's home office just days before I was enrolled in school.

    Now, at age 66, I learned through my 80-year-old birth mother's raspy, stroke-induced voice that she had been sent at age 15 (as punishment for having me) to learn and do housework at Totowa's North Jersey Training School. After five years there, when she was 20, the school authorities told her to sign long, legal-size forms with lots of small print that, they said, would allow her to work outside the facility, closer to her home rather than further away from her home!

    Taken in the early part of her confinement there, I have many photos to prove my birth father took her family to visit her in Totowa. The two were very much in love, wanted to marry and get me back, from where they didn't know, but her family forbade the union.

    Only a short time after she signed the papers she was released to go home, where her mother matter-of-factly told her that my birth father and her love, for whom she had so longed, had married her cousin four months before!

    Cheated out of the boy she loved and even a day in high school, she found a way to graduate from bible college and go on to an office career for the NJ State Police. She is today still in love with my birth father, fifteen years after his death, and she never married.

    While I will always have "Mother" yelling at me to be somebody famous in my head, I now have "Mom" in my heart, but don't you dare say 'all's well that ends well!' Far, far, far too much firstmother, firstfather and adoptee pain made up every day of these last 66 YEARS!!

    "Mom" is now virtually an invalid, my birth father died not knowing I existed and when I'm not working to make ends meet, I try to use what I've learned to help others.

    Louise Braul
    15134 Myrtle
    Harvey, IL 60426

    BobbeeB@Yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. As a New Jersey adoptee who, by the grace of God, found her birth families in early 2010, I have another heart-rending child theft to report.

    In August 1949, when I turned five, my adoptive parents realized I couldn't be registered for Kindergarten without a legal name-change. As their foster child since I was 18 months, my adoptive mother (who decided she wanted to be called "Mother") started every ball rolling to turn her foster pygmallion into her adopted swan. Mother thought of herself as the quintessential stage mother. I was legally adopted in my adoptive parents' lawyer's home office just days before I was enrolled in school.

    Now, at age 66, I learned through my 80-year-old birth mother's raspy, stroke-induced voice that she had been sent at age 15 (as punishment for having me) to learn and do housework at Totowa's North Jersey Training School. After five years there, when she was 20, the school authorities told her to sign long, legal-size forms with lots of small print that, they said, would allow her to work outside the facility, closer to her home rather than further away from her home!

    Taken in the early part of her confinement there, I have many photos to prove my birth father took her family to visit her in Totowa. The two were very much in love, wanted to marry and get me back, from where they didn't know, but her family forbade the union.

    Only a short time after she signed the papers she was released to go home, where her mother matter-of-factly told her that my birth father and her love, for whom she had so longed, had married her cousin four months before!

    Cheated out of the boy she loved and even a day in high school, she found a way to graduate from bible college and go on to an office career for the NJ State Police. She is today still in love with my birth father, fifteen years after his death, and she never married.

    While I will always have "Mother" yelling at me to be somebody famous in my head, I now have "Mom" in my heart, but don't you dare say 'all's well that ends well!' Far, far, far too much firstmother, firstfather and adoptee pain made up every day of these last 66 YEARS!!

    "Mom" is now virtually an invalid, my birth father died not knowing I existed and when I'm not working to make ends meet, I try to use what I've learned to help others.

    Louise Braul
    15134 Myrtle
    Harvey, IL 60426

    BobbeeB@Yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Sorry for a hijack here but... KIMKIM - please drop by and say hi. I miss you and don't have an up to date email address. Blog is still there.

    ReplyDelete

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