Response to NCFA’s “In Defense of Adoption”

The National Council for Adoption (NCFA) puts out a monthly bulletin called the Adoption Advocate on various issues (recent publications were on the Foster Care Bill of Rights and on helping adult adoptees with their birth parent searches).

When it comes to international adoption, NCFA is known for its stance on promoting international adoption and fighting its decline, à la Joint Council, CHIFF, and Stuck.

So my interested was piqued when an issue called “In Defense of Adoption: Reforms that Ensure Adoption Meets Its Full Potential” came through my email inbox last week, authored by NCFA CEO Chuck Johnson.

Johnson was inspired to write this piece out of  “frustration that the national discourse on adoption is often negative in tone.” “[D]espite millions of successful outcomes…” he says, “[w]e spend much of our time answering questions and explaining to domestic and international policymakers the reasons for some of the rare negative outcomes in adoption.”

It’s a classic complaint, but instead of simply decrying the “anti-international adoption” crowd’s singular focus on “the bad side of adoption,” Johnson actually “suggest[s] that the adoption community should instead take collective responsibility for each and every negative outcome.” He outlines ways that the adoption industry needs to improve itself, adhere “rigidly” to higher standards of ethics and integrity, and the development of national best practices around home studies, birth parent counseling, and pre- and post-adoption education. (It almost sounds like he’s advocating for more–gasp–red tape!)

I like this. I may not agree with all of NCFA’s policy initiatives or their ideological stances, but I think many of us on “both sides of the aisle” agree that family preservation is important, adoption is a valid option, and the adoption industry needs to be well-regulated and law-abiding. I’m tired of adoption advocacy groups afraid to admit that corruption and poor practice exist, for fear of giving adoption a bad name. It’s important for constructive criticism to come not just from outside the adoption industry, but from the inside as well, if groups like NCFA wants to convince skeptical parents and adoptees that they represent their interests.

It is only Johnson’s tone that I disagree with. He adamantly emphasizes that adoption is good and necessary in the vast majority of cases, and I tend to linger on the fact that adoption is always and without exception born out of social justice. But our two viewpoints don’t necessarily contradict each other  in practice. In this piece of writing, we agree on the next steps.

I like where this is going.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *