When does a child “belong” to their adopted families?
This is a question I’ve been contemplating the last few days because I think it's a question that is at the heart of adoption ethics.
I think often times an adoptive parents finds themselves in the middle of a very unethical situation because they have come to view the adoptive child as theirs and will go to any lengths to get their child home.
They’ll lie on documents or to the courts.
They’ll bribe officials.
They’ll ignore red flags.
They’ll view the birth parents as threats.
Because in their mind this child already belongs to them and naturally we would do whatever it takes for our children.
So is this wrong? Many waiting adoptive parents do believe the children they are matched with belongs to them. They believe that God has ordained them to be their son or daughter- that the day they were born they were meant to be a part of their family. They get that referral picture and they believe that all their dreams have come true. They look at that picture and see their son or daughter.
I get this. I walked through an international adoption with my aunt a few years ago. When we got that referral she was ours. The moment that picture was in our hands she was a beloved daughter and granddaughter and niece and cousin. I know about sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night to watch the two minute video of the waiting child on repeat over and over again. I know about tracing the lines of the one photo you have until it's worn around the edges and there isn't a single detail you haven't dissected. We hadn't met her but we already loved her as our own. She was ours.
This is a natural reaction but is it a right one?
At what point does the child belong to the adoptive families? If there is birth family involved when does their ownership end? Officially it would be in court, but for many adoptive families it is much earlier than that.
What do you think? Should adoptive families view children they are matched with as “theirs”? Is it wrong to have a sense of ownership over a child with birth family or parents?