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The Basics of Adoption Practice
Series: Bulletins for Professionals|
Child Welfare Information Gateway |
|Year Published: 2006|
4. Birth Parent Involvement
Regardless of the circumstances that led to the placement of a child for adoption, many birth parents desire to be involved in the adoptive planning for their children. Traditionally, birth parents involved in voluntary placements have been allowed more active participation and decision-making responsibility than in nonvoluntary placements. These parents are often involved in preplacement counseling and planning, the provision of medical and social history, the selection of an adoptive family (a relatively new development), the determination of the level of ongoing contact with the adoptive family, and activities to help children understand the transition to adoption.
Current adoption practice may include similar kinds of birth family involvement, even in cases of nonvoluntary placement. Nonadversarial adoption planning is in the best interests of the child and the birth family. If appropriate, birth parents who did not voluntarily place their children may still have an important role in the provision of medical and social history, the placement process, providing necessary closure for the child, decision-making about future contact, and beginning their own grieving process.
Birth parent services. Most birth parents grieve the loss of their role as the child's primary parents. In many types of adoption, there are services to help birth parents. Depending on the adoption worker's role and the type of agency, services to birth parents may be integral to the adoption process (as with many private agencies), may be conducted by child welfare workers (as with some public and private agencies), or may be essentially nonexistent (as with many intercountry placements or private adoptions completed without the involvement of a social services agency). The goals of these services are to:
- Empower birth parents to have as much input as possible in plans for their child
- Assist the birth parents in maintaining their dignity and self-worth throughout the adoption process
- Ensure that the main focus is the child and his or her best interests
- Help birth parents make responsible decisions throughout pregnancy, parenting, or adoption planning
- Acknowledge the parental role in cases of involuntary placement and to garner their assistance in gathering pertinent information, preparing the child, and assisting the agency in adoption planning for the child
- Facilitate communication (and mediation, if necessary) among members of the birth parents' extended families and between birth and adoptive families, as appropriate
- Help the birth parent understand, accept, and manage the pain of an adoption decision, whether that decision is made by the parent or by the court
Information about how adoption affects birth parents can be found in the Information Gateway factsheet Impact of Adoption on Birth Parents.
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