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Considering Parenting

Ethical Issues in Adoption

The process of adoption can force us to confront complex ethical questions rarely considered by those who produce biologically related children. Why are home studies and other measures of parental fitness reserved only for adoption? How much control should we be allowed to exercise over the selection of a child? How can we be aware of, avoid, and work to prevent situations that might exploit or coerce birth mothers? How do we balance the potentially different needs of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents regarding the degree of openness in adoption? Are those of us who live in wealthier nations "entitled" to raise children left homeless in other parts of the world by poverty or social stigma? How can we help our children deal with the racial, cultural, and identity issues they may face?

In late 1999, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute sponsored a conference that brought together policy makers, birth parents, adopted adults, and adoptive parents to explore key ethical issues in adoption policy and practice. The conference, titled Ethics and Adoption: Challenges for Today and the Future, covered a wide range of topics, from ethics in a world ruled by law and the market to the role of ethnicity in adoption. The entire proceedings from the conference are available online.

Written by: Our Bodies Ourselves
Last revised: January 2006

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