Broken chain.

The Indian Child Welfare Act: Preserving Families Is in Children’s Best Interests

By Kathryn E. Fort

On February 28, 2022, the Supreme Court accepted one of the most consequential federal Indian law cases in decades, a direct constitutional challenge to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). This challenge, brought by three states and three foster families, intends to not just dismantle a gold standard law in child protection, but all of federal Indian law. The plaintiffs who brought this case are not interested in improving the child protection system, or finding ways to support promising practices, or ensuring the resiliency for Native children affected by trauma. This case is about an attempt to dismantle the current federal protections for tribal governments, tribal citizenship, and tribal sovereignty. The case does so by ignoring the best interests of Native children and the voices of a uniquely unified Indian Country

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Baby feet in hands

Striving Towards Ethical Adoption Practice

By Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander

In the United States, the practices of adoption are rarely oriented towards the goals of anti-racism, child-centeredness, and reproductive justice.

In this article, I present a model that strives to fulfill these goals. At Pact, an Adoption Alliance, the non-profit organization where I work as agency and clinical director, our mission is to serve adopted youth of color, and our approach to domestic infant adoption emerges from 30 years of serving Black, Latinx, Asian, and multiracial infants and their families. Based on our work with adopted children and adults of color, first/birth1 and adoptive parents, and adoption professionals, I will share our tenets of ethical adoption practice.

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Monarch Butterfly, pupae and cocoons are suspended. Concept transformation of Butterfly.

Understanding Transracial Adoption: Life-long Transformations, Not Frictionless Transactions 

By April Dinwoodie

I took a long, slow, deep breath when I heard Amy Coney Barrett, the adoptive mother of Black children, describe adoption as a “frictionless alternative to abortion.” As a Black/bi-racial transracially adopted person in mid-life, adoption has been and continues to be many things, but “frictionless” isn’t one of them.  

On the contrary, being adopted into a white family and raised in a majority white community has been filled with the tension between the realities of what I was experiencing and feeling, and what others thought I should be. For me, Amy Coney Barrett ridiculously over-simplified the most intricate experience of identity one can have, being born into one family and raised by another. This is especially complex when the separation includes differences of race, ethnicity, and culture. 

What I have learned over time is that Amy Coney Barrett is not alone in her desire to categorize adoption as uncomplicated and a good solution for everyone connected to the experience. What I have also learned is that this kind of thinking more broadly is unrealistic and often results in gaps in services and support for all parents (expectant, birth, and adoptive) and leaves adopted persons without the tools they need to navigate this lifelong, transformational journey.  

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woman with iv in her hand in hospital. Labor and delivery preparation. Intravenious therapy infusion. shallow depth of field. selective focus

A Birthmother Reflects: The Perpetuation of Adoption Myths

By Angie Swanson-Kyriaco

During opening remarks for Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on December 1, 2021, Justice Amy Coney Barrett stated that the “obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy” and the “burden” of parenting are eliminated through adoption.

It is no surprise that a conservative, anti-abortion, adoptive parent would have an over-simplified opinion about adoption, expectant parents, and birth parents. In her remarks, Justice Coney Barrett demonstrated a common lack of understanding about the complexities of adoption, and a blithe unawareness about adoption ethics and the need for adoption reform.

As someone who worked for over a decade in the field of reproductive health and rights, and now as the executive director of one of the only nonprofit organizations in the country that exclusively serves first/birth mothers who have relinquished infants for adoption, I know both how detrimental the lack of access to abortion can be, and how significant the lifelong impact of an adoption can prove.

And, as a first/birthmother, I have a deep personal understanding of the significant trauma of placing my own child for adoption, and the lifelong grief and ambiguous loss that follows relinquishment. 

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Nurse weighs baby in the nursery of the Cairns General Hospital at the FSA (Farm Security Administration) farm workers' community. Eleven Mile Corner, Arizona.

The Racialized History of Adoption Practice

By Rickie Solinger

The racial and gender coercions at the heart of adoption clarify the violence inherent in Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s wish to revitalize adoption in America as a substitute for abortion.  

The mass practice of adoption, which started in the U.S. in the post-World War II era, pressed white unwed mothers to surrender their babies to a four-faceted cause: preserving the face of white chastity in the era of emergent feminism; bolstering the fraying institutions of white male authority; reinscribing the hegemony of the white family (as this institution, itself, began to weaken); and crucially, underscoring the difference between Black and white.

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Lexington, Kentucky / United States - 06 28 2020: Fire Station 22 in Lexington, Kentucky in the early morning idle hours.

Safe Haven Laws and Anti-Abortion Politics

By Laury Oaks

During the Supreme Court oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, Justice Amy Coney Barrett acknowledged that previous cases addressing abortion rights relied on a consideration of the burden of parenting and forced motherhood. For Justice Coney Barrett, this consideration was a non sequitur: “Why don’t safe haven laws take care of that problem?”

The so-called “safe haven” laws to which Justice Coney Barrett was referring were passed in every state from 1999 to 2009, to designate places where or people to whom an unharmed baby may be legally and anonymously relinquished and then adopted. A Florida safe haven advocacy group argues, “Safe Haven babies are given a chance for a future. A Safe Haven baby might become the President of the United States, a Supreme Court Justice, a scientist finding a cure for cancer or most important, a great mom or dad to their children.”

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WASHINGTON D.C., USA - SEPTEMBER 27, 2020: A Protestor carries a sign that says "Our Vote, Our Voice, Our Choice," at a protest against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The False Choice: Adoptee Voices in the Fight for Reproductive Freedom 

By Michele Merritt

As legal scholars have predicted since the current composition of the United States Supreme Court became apparent, abortion restrictions are increasing; if Roe v. Wade is overturned with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision this coming June, over half of the states in the country will likely ban abortion entirely

During the Dobbs oral arguments, Justice Amy Coney Barrett suggested that adoption is a viable alternative to abortion. Her defense of overturning Roe, in other words, amounted to a belief that it’s not a violation of women’s rights to increasingly restrict access to abortion because adoption is always an option. 

But adoption is not a viable alternative to abortion. This is why several adoptees and I founded Adoptees for Choice, a coalition of adoptees speaking into the reproductive rights debate and rejecting the appropriation of our lived experiences without our consent. 

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