Adopted Children’s Rights – Part 2
The following is an excerpt from the now out-of-print book, Cooperative Adoption, by Sharon Roszia and Marri Rilera
The fundamental inequality of a child is simply that he/she is a child. There is a tendency in our society to keep our children weak, innocent, helpless and dependent. At times, we patronize, ignore, dominate, prohibit, coerce, belittle and manipulate them. Often, we deny them the opportunity for self-determination, self-education, self-discovery and justice. After we discriminate against them in so many ways, we have the audacity to express concern over their developing a healthy identity, a positive self image, independence and self worth.
Children are often placed in a position where they are victims of a social system over which they have little or no control or influence. Adoption in most forms places children in a victimized position. They are surrounded by professionals who purport to devote their lives and careers to helping children, but in fact, may perpetuate oppression, exploitation and helplessness.
As an aside, I do know that children may also gain in adoption; may even live because of an adoption. However, unless they are old enough to have real input into their life journey, they are still at the mercy of adults as the adoption unfolds. If the adults see themselves as protecting the child’s heritage; understand what it “costs” the child to be placed into adoption; and carefully consider the child’s future questions about the choices made on their behalf, the child’s rights are being addressed.
Children learn helplessness because it is how they are viewed for many years. In assuming that children cannot take progressive responsibility and become progressive participants in decisions that affect them, we teach them that they are not capable.
Because many parents who consider placing their children into adoptive homes are young themselves, they too are seen as helpless, unfit and incapable. The adults in their lives often describe to these young parents all that they cannot do instead of nurturing their capabilities and explaining their long term value in their child’s life whether they place for adoption or not.
Parents should attempt to see children as partners in life, much the same as marriage, friendship and a family are partnerships. We have developed a generation of adopted individuals who are still being treated by society as non-participants. No matter what their age, courts, states and agencies refuse to give these individuals vital information about themselves basing their refusal on other’s rights. The adoptees individual rights are never seen exclusively, but only in the shadow of the rights of the other adults involved.
What rights? Many adoptees grow up with limited or outdated information about their genetic histories, medical histories, physical characteristics and development patterns. They had no participation in the decision to be shifted from one family to another or to have their records sealed; and they remain bound by these decisions. Under the guise of protection, adoptees have more birth certificates than other citizens, and more records sealed in courts, agencies, and state departments than other citizens.
Basically, children’s rights are everyone’s rights. We were all children and we continue through our children. There is no greater pleasure than observing the accomplishment of another with the knowledge that you were a supportive, nurturing adjunct. We cannot take credit for what any other human being accomplishes but we can take credit for what we have given that the person (knowingly or unknowingly). If we can nurture our children as unselfishly as that, we will have done a good job.