Prospective adoptive parents are frequently advised to choose agencies and lawyers that abide by ethical adoption practices. But what does that mean exactly? And what are the unethical practices you are being advised to avoid?
The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys (also known as Quad A) has an ethics code for its members, that supplements state ethics rules for attorneys who specifically practice in the area of adoption. The code prohibits fraud or misrepresentations by lawyers (Rule 4) or inducing birthparents to make an adoption plan by paying money or giving anything of value (Rule 5(b)). The ethical code permits adoptive parents to provide assistance to the birthparents, within the parameters allowed by state law (Rules 5(a) and (c)). Where allowed by state law, a lawyer can represent the birthparents and the adoptive parents (Rule 3). New York requires independent counsel for birth families, and in some instances a birthfather and a birthmother might need separate counsel.
These requirements form a strong foundation for ethical practices, but there are other practices that are not specifically prohibited which I personally find to be questionable. Some of them include:
I personally believe that adoption is about two families coming together to do what is best for a child. And I believe that a family should not be formed with deceit or coercion. I do my best to adhere to these core values as I counsel my clients through their family processes.