We were excited when Adoption Mosaic was recently contacted by a representative from a large international, Oregon based, adoption agency asking us how they could support our new adult adoptee group Common Threads. We started to explore possibilities, but ultimately the agency wasn’t prepared to lend a hand. The situation got me thinking about adoption agencies and about what exactly the adoption community should expect from them in terms of adoption support and resources.
When it comes to adoption support, education, and resources, there is a huge gulf between what is readily available and what is needed. This varies from state to state, and town to town, but for the most part, many adoptive families only have access to the resources their agency provides (less in the case of lawyer facilitated adoptions). There are exceptions, but generally, the education most agencies provide is limited to informational meetings, and possibly a pre-adopt class, much of which focuses on navigating the process of adoption, including paperwork, home studies and state/country requirements. 99 % of the time the resources provided do not include ongoing adoption support, or any support for adult adoptees or birth parents.
Even in the best of situations, adoption is not simple. When things get complicated in adoption, as they often do, where can you go for support? There is often the expectation that agencies will provide the resources the community requires. However, very few are prepared to meet this demand. Then, when things go wrong in adoption, often agencies are blamed.
Adoption agencies are not the “bad guys.” There are many agencies, staffed by conscientious people, that provide a necessary service to the community that helps make the world a better place. Others, well… But either way, even the best and most comprehensive agencies are not providing nearly enough resources, education, or support for their families. Maybe it’s about time that we stop expecting them to.
Maybe it is time to change the paradigm. We have realized that the system is flawed but keep trying to make it work. We’ve come a long way, but not nearly as far as we should have in the last 160-odd years that formal adoptions have taken place. Adoption agencies provide an important service to society, however, maybe it’s time that we narrow their job description, and lower our expectations. Then we can stop relying on sub-par adoption support, resources, and services and start expecting and receiving exceptional services provided by organizations that specialize in adoption support, rather than adoption placement.
All adoptive families and members of the adoption community should receive, and have access to, the services and education that will ensure the most positive outcome for themselves and their families. We deserve it.