Bye-bye, Baby: Un-adopting a Child

"You don't want to throw somebody away, but sometimes you have to."
Helen Briggs, Virginia foster parent currently trying to unadopt her adopted son.

The Washington Post ran a story yesterday about a Helen Briggs, a foster mother in Virginia who is trying to rescind her adoption of one of her former foster children on the claim that caseworkers for the boy failed to disclose the extent of his troubled past.

Briggs case is a complex one that reveals some serious flaws in the systems that rule and regulate our country's adoption process. Per the WaPo article, states have "a patchwork of laws and written disclosure policies. Some states, such as Texas and Ohio, give adoptive parents access to a child's entire case file. In Maryland, social workers are required to prepare a written background summary and ask adoptive parents to sign it. Virginia's disclosure policy has no written requirement."

Because Briggs is in Virginia, this case is one of "she said - caseworker said." Briggs claims the state didn't provide full disclosure; some caseworkers for the state feel she is lying.

What do bloggers think?

A comment left on the Jewish Adoption Blog:
"I think the system is SO bad that the Social Workers in some places have started to lie to place kids."

Michelle Vandepas of the Foster Adoption Blog reveals that she was interviewed for the WaPo article although her interview wasn't used. She writes:

"During my interview with the reporter, it came out that many foster adoptive parents don’t get to see case histories of their children. The parents may know that a child has been in many previous placements, but may not have the information about why the child was moved so many times."

Vandepas admits that she doesn't know the whole story and can't make a judgement on this particular case. What Vandepas does know is this:

  • We need open records for adoptive parents.
  • We need post adoption resources.
  • We need better counseling and services available for at risk mothers during pregnancy.
  • We need a better system.

Polimom blogs about the legal and social, as well as the personal aspects of this case:

"we want to welcome children into our home — to give them structure, consistency, and opportunities. However, this story makes clear that there are very real risks, to lives and to hearts."

Elisa Poncz of Children's Rights & Laws tackles the question: Does Unadoption Signal a New Lower Tier Adoption? She writes:

"I'm concerned about the idea that parents can adopt a child and if that child is not exactly what they hoped and dreamed for that the parents can return the child. This denigrates adoption, parenthood, and the security that adopted children obtain."

Keri of Adventures in the Life of Keri asks,
"How do we as a society balance the interests of a troubled and abused child with the rights of adoptive parents?"

How do we, indeed. Because at the heart of this matter is a child whose existing problems surely aren't being solved with the abandonement by the woman he calls mother. Regardless of the outcome of this case and who wronged whom, it's unfortunate that the troubled boy will ultimately end up its true victim.

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mary Tsao also blogs at Mom Writes.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art.


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