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The Controversy Around Adoption Fundraising

The cost associated with the adoption process is often too much for the average American family to handle on their own.

While adoption costs vary — from case to case and based on the type of adoption — the average agency-assisted adoption today can cost from $30,000$50,000. The reason for those costs is a topic for a different article. What we’re here to discuss today is the response many families have to these expenses: adoption fundraising.

There are several possible sources of funding for an adoption, and adoption fundraising is common among hopeful adoptive parents.

But, there is an increasing amount of talk about the ethics of adoption fundraising. It’s a delicate subject. If you are already on one side or the other, you may feel passionately about  your opinion.

Our goal here is not to tell you which is right and which is wrong. Rather, we’d like to examine each perspective, highlighting the valuable observations from each side — leaving you in a better position to decide for yourself what you think of the ethics of adoption fundraising.

Arguments Against Adoption Fundraising

Let’s begin by taking time to consider the perspective of individuals who believe that adoption fundraising is an unethical practice.

Funds Could Go Toward Family Preservation

At the heart of the opposition to adoption fundraising is another debate of its own: the importance and prioritization of family preservation. Family preservation is the idea that everything possible should be done to keep children connected to their biological family.

If creating the best situation for the child is the goal, this argument goes, then the funds raised for adoption could have been given to organizations that help keep families together with support and assistance, so that the child would not need adoption in the first place.

There are organizations worldwide working against poverty and hunger, working to establish better healthcare access and educational opportunities, and more. Why not donate funds that would’ve gone to an adoption to these organizations, instead?

Adult Adoptees Have Concerns

Some adult adoptees have expressed concerns about adoption fundraising. This includes feeling that adoption fundraisers turn them into charitable causes, that fundraising could be put to better use, and that adoption fundraising can be a form of colonialism in international adoption.

There’s a lot to unpack with those concerns. What matters, for this space, is that we acknowledge and listen to what adoptees have to say. The child, especially during the process, has the least say in the matter. When we listen to the voices of adoptees, we create space to make the adoption process much more ethical.

There are Accountability Issues

Adoption agencies are licensed organizations. Adoption attorneys must pass the bar exam for their state. Financial assistance for prospective birth mothers is regulated and reviewed by courts.

But, no such mechanism of accountability exists for adoption fundraising.

Fundraising, proponents of this position would say, is basically an honor system. We can’t be absolutely sure that the money will be used in ethical ways. And when it comes to the well-being of a child and the treatment of a prospective birth mother, that’s not good enough.

Arguments for Adoption Fundraising

We’ve examined some of the thoughtful and important points made by those who believe that adoption fundraising takes funds that could be put to better use. Now, let’s take a look at some of the arguments raised by those who support adoption fundraising and see it as a necessary aspect of the adoption process. 

Adoption Is a Good Thing

It’s a broad point, to be sure, but we can’t skip it. Many people believe that adoption is inherently good — for birth parents, adoptive parents and children. An adoption conducted in a legal, ethical way that carefully considers the needs of everyone involved can create a better future for each member of the triad.

Therefore, this point says, if fundraising is required in order for hopeful parents to afford adoption, it is a good thing.

Any Hopeful Parent Should Have the Opportunity to Adopt

Since adoption costs do exist, adoption fundraising makes this process possible for parents from many different walks of life. Without it, adoption could become a classist venture, restricted to only the extremely wealthy. This would not only dash the dreams of many hopeful parents, but also provide fewer adoption situations for prospective birth mothers to choose from.

Adoption is a popular family-building option, and taking away a key means of affording it would damage the dreams of many families, according to this position.

Family Preservation Is Not Always Possible

Very few people, if any, would argue that family preservation is a bad ideal. However, those who support adoption fundraising point out that family preservation is not always possible, and there is mounting evidence that finding permanency and security for a child in a timely manner are equally as important to healthy development.

Additionally, the voices of many birth mothers who are proud of their adoption decisions deserve to be heard on this point. They love their children, and they also know that adoption was best for everyone. While this is not the feeling of every birth mother, it is the feeling of many.

What Do You Think?

This is an ongoing conversation. Would you like to add your voice to the discussion? We’d love for you to leave a comment below. Please be mindful that others may disagree with your views, and we simply ask for respect from all involved in the conversation.