To the editors:
The article entitled "Babies Wanted," in your May 12, 1989 edition, contained much misinformation about the advantages and disadvantages of adoption through a private placement or through a licensed adoption agency. For example, regarding adoptive parents, your article stated, "all prospective adoptive parents are screened--financially, medically, and for character--by a county agency or by a private agency, and their homes must be licensed." The truth is that only families who adopt through an agency are required to be screened for criminal records and child abuse or neglect charges, and to open their home to inspection in order to be licensed, BEFORE a child can be placed with them. In private adoption the Court orders placement of the child with the family and then orders an investigation to be done some time in the next six months, after the child is already in the adoptive home.
Your article states that agencies want adopters to be under 38 years of age and will not place with families of mixed religion or with Jewish families. Of course you will get those answers if you interview only sectarian agencies supported by a particular religion! Our agency, Family Counseling Clinic, Inc. is a non-sectarian licensed agency which places babies with Jewish families, with mixed-faith families, with families of any faith or no faith, as the birthmother chooses. We accept applications from couples into their early forties.
Your article describes the feelings of a couple who underwent an agency adoption process "three decades ago" and says that agencies apparently have not changed over the past thirty years. Mr. Editors, do you really believe that statement?
Vivian Soballe says that agency adoptions cost more than average private adoptions. Family Counseling Clinic's average adoption fee, including payment of medical and legal costs, amounts to $1,200.00 to $4,200.00 less than her stated averages for private adoptions. Why do those private adoptions cost so much more?
Regarding birthparents, your article says that agencies leave birthmothers out of the planning and show no interest in their needs. Family Counseling Clinic, Inc. began encouraging the exchange of letters and pictures between birthparents and adoptive parents in 1974. Since 1981 Family Counseling Clinic, Inc. has encouraged birthparents to select the family with whom they wish to place their child and has arranged meetings between the two sets of families when both families agree to this. Our agency asks birthparents and adopters to make adoption plans that are comfortable for them.
Just a few more points have to be made to set the record straight. Both Lawrence Raphael, adoption attorney, and the Adoption Connection facilitators speak in your article of "screening the calls from birthmothers" to keep out substance abusers. At the same time they claim to be the only service designed to meet birthmothers' needs! Mr. Raphael and The Adoption Connection are in business to find babies for families that seek a child to adopt and to serve some birthparents. They are not in business to provide counseling and education to adoptive families about the very complex issues of adoption they must deal with throughout their lives with their children. Agencies are available to serve adoptive families, birthparents, and children before, during and after adoption placement.
We cannot speak for all agencies. We can only try to tell your readers that "Babies Wanted" makes statements and implications about licensed agencies that in no way describe our licensed agency's program. We know we cannot fix all the pains and sorrows suffered by all yearning birthparents and would-be adopters of this world. We can only keep working to do our best to help our clients do their best. Unlike Mr. Raphael and the ladies of The Adoption Connection, agencies such as Family Counseling Clinic, Inc. will continue to be available to birthparents, adoptive parents, and adoptees, all of whose records will be kept intact for 99 years and used to help them deal with issues such as searching for each other not, as your article says, through establishing "an adoption network," whatever that means, but through use of signed Consent forms created by Illinois law in 1984 and attached to every agency file.
Thank you for printing our efforts to correct some of the article's misinformation.
and the Adoption Staff
Family Counseling Clinic, Inc.