Sunday, October 21, 2012
I called up talk radio this week! First time ever and it was on the hot topic of adoption. A caller was blatting on about how fabulous closed adoptions were and for a moment I wondered if he was sane. We have seen first hand the effects of closed adoption with Dida's father (adopted) and Dida's aunt (a birth mother). And I can promise anyone who wonders that a closed adoption equals some measure of heart break for all parties.
So I called up and it went really well. It was intense but very good and I got my points about the benefits of open adoption across. The host asked a couple of questions though that made me realise that adoption myths are still alive and kicking.
So here is a bit of debunking (please note that this applies to New Zealand only. Each country has it's own rules and regulations)
1. The birth parents cannot change their mind later.
The host asked what would happen if Sweetpea changed her mind and "wanted Rupi back". I said that I hope Sweetpea would be able to come and talk to us about it and we'd look at what we could do in terms of contact but the reality is that she cannot take Rupi back. Ever.
Once the adoption papers were signed by the birth parents 12 days after the birth, Rupi became a ward of the state for about 12 months. He came home to us on day 12, and an interim adoption order was given. Roughly 12 months later the adoption became permanent and at that point his original birth certificate was destroyed and a new one with our details was issued. I am listed as his mother and Dida as his father on his birth certificate.
But even during the interim process the birth parents CANNOT take the child back. Once the papers are signed when the child is 12 days old that is it. The birth parents relinquish all rights to the child and the child goes to live with the adoptive parents. This is why CYFS (Child Youth and Family) ensure that the birth parents make the right choice for them. There is no pressure placed on the birth parents and they have 12 days after the birth to consider all their options.
2. Contact agreements are not legally binding.
CYFS get all parties to sign a contact agreement outlining how much contact the birth families will have with the adopted child. CYFS make this agreement as serious as possible but it is not legally binding and cannot be enforced by the courts.
One birth mother called up and had been devastated by this. She thought that contact agreement was binding and agreed to the adoption on the basis that she would have contact with her birth daughter. All parties signed the agreement but the moment the papers were signed the adoptive family cut off all contact. The birth mother has not laid eyes on her daughter in 20 years. My heart broke for this woman, the grief in her voice was hard to hear.
I do think that this case is unusual but it can happen. Birth parents need to pick very very carefully as they are placing trust in the character of the adoptive parents that contact will be given, as per the agreement they signed.
It was so interesting to hear people's view points and I think overwhelmingly people supported adoption. With our giant welfare net, adoption is rare in New Zealand. Most birth parents chose to raise their child with the help of welfare/ family/ friends. So I guess it's not hard to have myths about adoption as it's happened to so few of us!
I love our adoption. The open nature of it is bringing such joy into our lives. We have a huge extended family who all love our children to bits. We are very blessed!