In the course of these investigations,
the clinic was called upon to assist in the evaluation of the child.
At first the idea of indiscriminate placement of children in adoption
seemed primitive. As, however, most babies are pretty normal and
most people pretty decent, it became apparent that many of these
placements seemed perfectly good. And then an extremely bad placement
would turn up and point out that adoption is a serious matter, profoundly
affecting the lives of at least three people, and that it does not
seem right that it be entrusted to the law of averages. To test
this point of view a series of both agency and independent adoptions
was reviewed. . . .
THE INDEPENDENT ADOPTION
If agency placements are so much better, then why
do independent placements occur? There are many and good reasons
such as ignorance of the value of the agencies, and the naïve
assumption that any person who wants to adopt a baby is fit to do
so. . . .
Independent placements entail a far greater risk, both to the child
and to the adopting parents. The advantages to the parent are that
they can get babies this way, and they can get very young babies.
The only advantage to the infant is that he is placed early and
thus spared possible institutional placement for long periods, or
the possible necessity of making adjustments to a series of foster
homes. The advantages to the natural mother are that she is relieved
of the responsibility of her child, quickly, cheaply, and easily.
These are some of the reasons why independent placements are made,
risk or no risk. . . .
1. The present study shows that the social agencies do better
adoption placements than does the well-intentioned or expedient
2. Agency adoption placements are well done, on the whole, but
they do not place enough babies, they do not satisfy enough adopting
parents, and they work too slowly. Independent placements will continue
as long as the agencies operate as they do now, which will certainly
be until they have much more money and many more workers.
3. The probationary period should be, among other things, an escape
clause. It should be implemented not only by the power to remove
the child from the home, but by the courage to do so when necessary
in the child’s behalf, over the protests of the adopting parents
if need be.
4. Our efforts must continue to educate the public, which will
include potential adopting parents; lay persons who tend to become
involved in arranging independent placements; the legislators who
frame our laws; and the courts which render decisions on each adoption
situation. Thus there will be a wider understanding of the great
risks involved and of what constitutes good, safe, and decent practice.
5. The alternative to a bad adoption placement is not homelessness
or the orphanage but a good placement.