For starters, the law mandates that mothers must have a minimum of three hours of counseling that includes information about keeping the baby, resources to help them keep their baby, options for continuing contact between the birth and adoptive families, and post-adoption grief and loss.
This is information that segments of the adoption industry don't want parents to know. For a close up view of what happens when adoption decisions are made without full information, just watch Catelynn Lowell
and Tyler Baltierra of Teen Mom fame. After almost six years, they are still grieving over the loss of their daughter Carly to adoption. The limited amount of contact they have had with her may be cut off at the whim of the adoptive parents, Brandon and Teresa Davis.
IRREVOCABLE CONSENTS TO ADOPTION
Four years ago, I and other intrepid Oregon first mothers had a bill introduced into the legislature to reform Oregon's draconian adoption laws. Here in uber liberal Oregon where pot and gay marriage are legal (and sales tax non-existent), mothers may sign irrevocable consents to adoption immediately upon delivery without any information on ways to keep their babies or the long term consequences of giving their babies up. Our bill would have given mothers eight days after birth to decide upon adoption and assure that mothers be informed of resources and the effects of adoption.
Segments of the adoption industry, seeing a threat to their flow of babies, rushed to the legislature, with lies and distortions about the bill, much as the tobacco industry thwarted efforts to inform the public of the dangers of smoking. The adoption industry knew that if mothers were fully informed, more would keep their babies, and those $35,000 fees would be snuffed out. The industry brought out adoptive parents in full force and, with their Svengali-like skills, even pressed a few gullible women into proclaiming that the bill would interfere with their God-given right to give away their babies. The bill did not pass.
I'm pleased to report, though, that our zeal for reform did not dissipate. In 2013 a law allowing adoptees and first mothers to access the court adoption file was enacted. We're continuing to work on core reforms in adoption, including an information requirement for teens and women considering adoption.
Following is the Montana Counseling Law. While not perfect, it goes farther to protect mothers' rights than any other law I've seen. In addition to telling expectant mothers about keeping their baby, resources, open adoptions, and the grief and loss they will experience (although not the grief and loss their child may experience), the law requires informing mothers of the finality of adoption. It also requires they be informed about the types of adoptions (independent and agency), the right to an attorney in independent adoptions, the state's confidential intermediary program to facilitate reunions, and the importance of providing accurate health information. Expectant mothers must be advised that their child may receive his birth certificate at age 18 unless they file an objection. While we oppose first-mother vetoes, we recognize that if the law allows, mothers must be informed about it.
Counseling must done by an employee of the state child welfare department or an employees of an adoption agency. While some counselors may be biased towards adoption because they are paid indirectly by the prospective adoptive parents, there is no other practical way to provide the counseling. Governments are unlikely to create certification programs to assure counselors are qualified or pay for counseling.
Readers interested in adoption reform should read the Montana law and give a big shout out to the Big Sky state.
MONTANA COUNSELING LAW
1. Counseling of the birth mother is required in department, agency, and direct parental placement adoptions. If any other parent is involved in an adoptive placement, counseling of that parent is encouraged.
2. Counseling must be performed by a person employed by the department or by a staff person of a licensed child-placing agency designated to provide this type of counseling. Unless the counseling requirement is waived for good cause by a court, a minimum of 3 hours of counseling must be completed prior to execution of a relinquishment of parental rights and consent to adopt. A relinquishment and consent to adopt executed prior to completion of required counseling is void.
3. During counseling, the counselor shall offer an explanation of:
a) adoption procedures and options that are available to a parent through the department or licensed child-placing agencies;
b) adoption procedures and options that are available to a parent through direct parental placement adoptions, including the right to an attorney and that legal expenses are an allowable expense that may be paid by a prospective adoptive parent as provided in 42-7-101 and 42-7-102;
c) the alternative of parenting rather than relinquishing the child for adoption;
d) the resources that are available to provide assistance or support for the parent and the child if the parent chooses not to relinquish the child;
e) the legal and personal effect and impact of terminating parental rights and of adoption;
f) the options for contact and communication between the birth family and the adoptive family;
g) postadoptive issues, including grief and loss, and the existence of a postadoptive counseling and support program;
h) the reasons for and importance of providing accurate medical and social history information under 42-3-101;
i) the operation of the confidential intermediary program; and
j) the fact that the adoptee may be provided with a copy of the original birth certificate upon request after reaching 18 years of age, unless the birth parent has specifically requested in writing that the vital statistics bureau withhold release of the original birth certificate.
4. The counselor shall prepare a written report containing a description of the topics covered and the number of hours of counseling. The report must specifically include the counselor's opinion of whether or not the parent understood all of the issues and was capable of informed consent. The report must, on request, be released to the person counseled, to the department, to an agency, or with the consent of the person counseled, to an attorney for the prospective adoptive parents.
Tyler Beltierra's adoption regrets
Are Laws Titled Towards Adopting Parents? Well, yes, even in Oregon
Reforming Oregon's Adoption Laws
Opposition to birth parents rights bill, distortions, lies, and more lies
Oregon to allow first mothers easier access to child's adoption records
JUST A DAMN GOOD READ
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
If you haven't read it yet, like big meaty novels that can't be read in one sitting, and like historical fiction, this is a great one. While the BBC series based on Wolf Hall is on Sunday evenings now, nothing compares to this wonderful book. Okay, some find the number of characters confusing, and the writing is dense, but it does come with a handy chart at the beginning that I referred to numerous times. It's chock full of details the historians praise as accurate, some passages are luminous and memorable, and I was sorry when I came to the last page.
Lest you forget, Henry VIII had bastard sons with various women; while not adopted, they could not inherit the throne, which started all the nasty business. Then of course, Anne Boylen got the best of the situation: she lost her head in trumped-up adultery charges but her daughter Elizabeth did reign. I recommend getting this in paper, it's not for the Kindle.--lorraine
THANK YOU FOR ORDERING ANYTHING AT ALL FROM AMAZON THROUGH FMF. JUST CLICK ON THE JACKET OR TITLE OF ANY BOOK LISTED HERE AND YOU WILL BE AT AMAZON, AND THE BLOG IS CREDITED.