Legal and Ethical Issues in Adoption

Legal and Ethical Issues in Adoption


The idea of family in American society has dramatically evolved over the past several decades. A diverse spectrum of family dynamics is emerging in society. Single parent households, same-sex parent families, and ‘adoptive families,’ which refers to any family that lawfully adopts one or more children from other families, are among them. Adoption is one of the newest developments in American families. Adoption is becoming more common in American society. White parents and non-white children are common in adoptive communities, as are non-white families with white children. Adoption is the mechanism through which an individual assumes parental responsibility for a child who is not his or her biological child, thus transferring all parental rights from the biological parents (Brodzinsky & Jess 37). After the 1900s, statistics show that the acceptance rate has increased. In 1944, for example, there were 50,000 adoptions completed in the United States. In 1970, the United States has the largest rate of adoptions, with 175,000 children being adopted. According to the US Census Bureau, about 128,000 Americans were adopted in 2000 (Brodzinsky & Jess 44). The overall adopted population of the United States was 2,058,915 in the same year.

Legal and Ethical Issues in Adoption

An Overview of Adoption and Its Effects

Adoption is divided into two types. There are two types of adoption: transparent adoption and closed adoption. Adoptive and birth parents collaborate during the parenting period, which is known as open adoption. With this form of adoption, the adoptive child has the opportunity to meet her biological parents and can receive visits from them on a regular basis. This, though, must be decided upon by both the adoptive and biological parents (Healey 56). There could also be a formal agreement between the two sets of parents about how the infant should be cared for. The two sets of parents will communicate and exchange details regarding the infant through an open adoption. Open adoption provides an infant with an immediate family in which both the adoptive and birth parents are involved with the child’s existence. Despite the difficulties that come with open adoption, statistics show that it is becoming more common in the United States (Healey 60).

Closed adoption hides all identification information. No information on the biological parents, the child, or the adoptive parents is divulged to the other party. The biological parents never know who adopted their child while the adoptive parents also do not get to know the biological parents of their adopted child or children. To ensure total secrecy of the adoption process in the closed type of suggestion, there was a practice where parents who wanted their children adopted were asked to leave their babies somewhere where they can be picked and given to parents who want to adopt a child (Brodzinsky and Jesús 24). Closed type of adoption works best when the adopted child is still an infant. This ensures that the child has no knowledge of his/her biological. This is normally done to avoid distress among the adopted children because of being taken away from their families.

Legal Issues Involved With Adoption

A host of rules governing the adoption process have been passed by the federal government. One of the laws concerns the consent to adoption. The law provides that the biological parents are the one who possess the right to consent on the adoption of the child. However, in the absence of the parents, or in a situation where the parents are not a capacity to make decisions, other legal entities such as an agency that acts as the custodian, a guardian of the child and the ruling by the court. There are however also other instances where the adoption of a child can be revoked. The law allows the revocation of an adoption under certain circumstances (Verbrugge 95). One of the circumstances under which the law provides that the adoption is revoked is when the adoption is through fraud. This is can be a case where there is false provision of information pertaining the child or the parents. Another circumstance where revocation of an adoption is allowed by the law is when there is mutual consent between biological and adoptive parents that the adoption should be revoked. This works only under open adoption.

A judge may still seek to cancel an adoption if it is determined that it is not in the child’s best interests. For instance, adoption may affect a child negatively. This is especially if the child is adopted at an older age. If it is realized that the child is finding it hard to fit in the new family and it is stressing him/her, the court may allow the revoke of the adoption (Jerry & Bacon 78). Revocation of an adoption can also occur in a situation where there was an agreement between biological and adoptive parents that the adoption can be revoked within a certain period. If one of the parents feels that it is necessary to revoke the adoption within that time frame, then court allows for the adoption to be revoked.

Another law that pertains adoption is the infant safe haven law. This law provides that mothers can leave their babies at designated places for adoption. Throughout the US in all states, there are specific places where mothers can go and leave their babies if they wish their babies to be adopted. These places are known as safe havens for babies. The law provides that it is only mothers who can be allowed to take babies to the safe havens (Fisanick 74). This allows the babies to be given to good families for adoption. There are also laws that protect adopted children against child abuse. They include Adoption and Safe Families Act, Child Abuse Amendments, Child Abuse Prevention Act, and Keeping Children and Families Safe Act. These acts and laws are aimed at ensuring that children, whether adopted or living with their biological parents are protected from violence and abuse. Such laws ensure that adoptive parents do not abuse and mistreat their adopted children.

Ethical Issues in Adoption

Adoption has a number of ethical issues that normally emerge. In a society where adoption is an accepted practice, some people go to great lengths to adopt a child. This includes using dubious means to obtain a child. One of the ethical issues in child adoption in the American society is baby buying and selling. Some desperate couples resort to buying babies in the name of adoption (Verbrugge 34). Unscrupulous judges who give couples the go ahead to adopt children without even assessing their suitability as parents normally aid this. Other people also engage in baby trade in the pretense of offering their babies for adoption. Young women, for example, take advantage of this chance to profit from unexpected pregnancies. Young people get pregnant solely to sell their babies after they are born. Some dishonest individuals have turned the adoption problem into a corporation (Verbrugge 38).

There’s still the question of federal assistance. Adoptive parents often receive financial assistance from the federal government when they adopt an infant. Any citizens are taking advantage of this chance to take advantage of the government. Some pass themselves off as true adoptive parents. Any of them are eventually allowed to adopt an infant. However, their primary goal is to obtain welfare support rather than to adopt the boy. Such parents end up neglecting their adopted child because the money given to adoptive parents for fostering society’s unfortunate children is more important to them than the child (Brodzinsky and Jesus142). Adoption expenses have also been listed as an ethical concern in the adoption process. Adopters would pay the sliding rates in order to adopt an infant. Some contend, though, that this is a kind of baby sale since it entails the paying of a fee to adopt an infant. As a result, several states have outlawed this charge. In the state of Pennslavania, for example, couples do not have to pay anything to adopt an infant.

The problem of transracial adoption remains the most contentious topic in the adoption process. This subject has ignited a lot of debate on whether or not it is the right course of action. Couples raising children of different races was known as transracial adoption. This is particularly true for white parents who adopt children of other races. Some claim that in order to raise an infant, the parent must express unconditional affection to the child. Some contend that love alone is insufficient, especially when the adoptive child is of a different ethnicity. Transracial adoption proponents contend that there is little inconsistent with the procedure, claiming that infants will quickly transition to a situation in which their parents are of a different ethnicity (Hiber 96). They claim that it is the adoptive parents’ responsibility to guarantee that the adopted child blends in along with the rest of the family. They often contend that an adopted child, particularly if adopted at a young age, would not experience any lack of identification or culture. This is since, according to them, culture is not about an individual’s origins, but rather about the setting in which he or she is raised.

Opponents of transracial adoption contend that it separates the adoptive infant from his or her familiar life. As a consequence, the infant loses his or her culture and personality. Another effect of transracial adoption, according to this community, is emotional distress. They say that infants who are raised by parents of various races are usually overwhelmed when they grow up. This is because they are mindful of the gaps that exist between themselves and their adoptive parents (Brodzinsky and Jesus 37). This difference makes these children to start seeking for identity and this leads to distress. Other people see transracial adoption as a way for white people to get double benefits. These people view the move by white people to adopt children as a hypocritical way of trying to show that they are good and virtuous. These skeptical groups read mischief in this gesture rather than just a kind gesture of wanting to take care of an unfortunate child (Russell 93). Others go to an extent of claiming that this is a move to atone for the mistreatment the whites have subjected the black people to. Generally, the issue of adoption has resulted to a number of ethical issues and debates on how best the process should be carried out.

Apart from adoption that is done on children with their biological parents and abandoned children, there is also adoption from foster homes. Some people look for children in foster homes for adoption. Most of the children who end up in foster homes are the ones that were mostly abandoned or those who lived with abusive parents (Verbrugge 60). Some of the parents who give up their children to foster homes are drug addicts, making them unfit for taking care of these children. Some of these parents are forced by the government to relinquish their rights as parents (Verbrugge, 66).

Adoption from foster homes has also its benefits and challenges. One of the benefits is that it eases the burden of the government. The government spends a lot of money to run children homes. Adoption of these children therefore the burden on the government because the care shifts from the government to individuals.


In conclusion, adoption has become a part of everyday life especially in the American culture. A lot of children are adopted and raised in the normal families. Any of these children would have been abandoned and destitute if they hadn’t been adopted. Adoption takes legal processes meaning that it is being advocated by the government especially from the Acts mentioned in the paper. There are some advantages of adopting a child. However, there are few set backs especially on the issue of transracial adoption where critics argue that it removes these children from familiar environments. However, there have been several instances of effective transracial adoptions. All in all adoption is aimed at giving these kids a better life in a normal family. They grow in a healthy manner and eventually become responsible adults.

Works Cited
  • Brodzinsky, David, and Jesús Palacios. Psychological Issues in Adoption: Research and Practice. Westport: Praeger, 2005. Print. Brodzinsky, David M, Anne B. Dudley,
  • Fisanick, Christina. Issues in adoption. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.
  • Healey, Justin. Adoption Issues. Thirroul, N.S.W: The Spinney Press, 2011. Print.
  • Hiber, Amanda. Are Adoption Policies Fair? Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Print.
  • Jerry, Johnson. Allyn& Bacon Casebook series, ISBN 0205389546, xii, 122 Adoption, Social case work, Child welfare, Family social work 2007, Print.
  • Russell, Marlou. Adoption Wisdom: A Guide to the Issues and Feelings of Adoption. Santa   Monica, Calif: Broken Branch Productions, 2006. Print.
  • Verbrugge, Allen. Adoption. Farmington Hills: Greenhaven Press/Thomson Gale, 2006.   Print.