To the editors:
The article "Babies Wanted," by Bryan Miller (May 12) was one more disappointing misrepresentation of adoption, both private and agency. My spouse and I have joyously adopted two beautiful children through Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) in River Forest. Our experience being chosen by and meeting with birthparents is a typical scenario for this agency.
Miller has relied on incorrect information supporting the popular notion that agencies disrespect birth and adoptive parents and never allow meetings between them. On the contrary, LCFS allows birthmothers to select adoptive parents first by screening biographical letters and then by meeting face-to-face at the agency. This system offers the typical advantages associated with private, open adoptions, while decreasing many of the risks and increasing the preparation of birth and adoptive parents.
I certainly do not intend to suggest that agency adoptions and openness in adoption offer the most appropriate situation for all prospective adoptive parents. What I do want to emphasize is that many agencies do not fit the misinformed stereotype perpetuated by Bryan Miller.
LCFS and similar agencies across the country do at least deserve a fair assessment. Not only do they offer well-trained adoption professionals, but some, like LCFS, are also willing to serve as intermediaries and provide a full range of services for private adoptions in which adoptive parents have made initial contact with a birthmother.
In summary, throughout our experience with Lutheran Child and Family Services, all parties have been treated with honesty, respect, and concern in an atmosphere of cooperation and love. LCFS has developed an adoption environment that enables birth and adoptive parents to be true to themselves and to continue their lives following adoption knowing that they have been cared for as individuals and that they have developed a strong, lasting relationship with an advocate.
After all, if the best interests of the child are at the heart of any emotionally healthy adoption, then what better environment can any public or private agency, consultant, facilitator, or attorney offer?
Bryan Miller replies:
"Babies Wanted" focused on private adoption, not on agencies. However, I did call nearly a dozen agencies when I was preparing it, half of which never bothered to return my calls. One of these was Lutheran Child and Family Services; another was Lutheran Social Services. I called them two and three times, respectively, before giving up, figuring that I had a good representative sample. While I did not call a pair of small agencies in the exurbs that, it turns out, also permit open adoption, both of these larger outfits had ample opportunity to get their stories out. If I have "perpetuated" a "misinformed stereotype" of agency adoptions, the blame is to some degree theirs. Perhaps next time they'll respond to requests for information before the fact, instead of kvetching afterward.