When society recognizes the need for standards in the adoption field that protect the child: placing adoption practice in the hands of unbiased child welfare specialists, trained in the psychology of the adopted and without a profit motive. This would eliminate the need to advertise for babies and safeguard their interests.
When the child is seen as a real person--not a fantasy child, not an idealized child, not a special child, not a comodity--but a child with his own genetics, talents, and his own identity.
When the child is allowed to grow up in an open environment without secrets about who she is or where she comes from, including the right to an unamended birth certificate and to contact with her birth family.
When everyone recognizes the adopted child for what he is: a child with two sets of parents that give him a dual identity.
When the adoptive parents and the birth parents respect how they have filled each other's needs so that they can come together in some form of extended family for the sake of the child.
When everyone realizes that the best interests of the child are in the best interests of the adoptive family, the birth family, and society.Lifton's book was published in 1994. How are we doing so far?
Open adoption addresses some of these issues, in cases where a truly open relationship exists. Unfortunately, many so-called open adoptions are only "semi-open," consisting of a restricted exchange of information (occasional letters and pictures) rather than an extension of the family circle to embrace both biological and adoptive members.
Many adoptive parents have come to recognize the importance of the child's birth family and of his or her genetics and history. Adoptive and biological parents are both more likely to be aware of the harmful affects of secrecy. But all not all have made the shift.
Unfortunately, open adoption is one area in which the concept of "best interest of the child" gets tricky. Many adoptive parents justify keeping the biological family at a distance because they believe that a relationship would confuse the child. I believe that most such parents do sincerely believe they have their child's best interest at heart but may be unaware of they ways that their own fears or insecurities are influencing their views.
In the area of birth certificate rights, some progress has been made but we still have a long way to go.
Images courtesy of photostock and renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.