About: Principles & Values
In order to frame our work, the Adoption Institute developed these guiding principles and values based on research and best practices in the field of child welfare.
Every child needs and deserves a permanent family
Children should be raised in families, within their own cultures and/or communities of origin whenever possible. When they cannot remain with their relatives, and new parents within their communities cannot be found in a timely manner, children must have the opportunity to be cared for in other permanent families rather than temporary placements such as foster care or institutions. Adoption is a positive, loving option for children to achieve permanency, and a wide range of family types can meet this need. Children's best interests should be the paramount factor in guiding decisions related to permanency, with due regard for the legitimate concerns of birth relatives.
Adoption is a natural, beneficial way to form a family
Adoption is as normal a way to form a family as any other. Its paramount goal is to provide permanency for children in need of security, safety, love and nurture - even as it creates families for adults seeking to become parents. Law, policy and practice should protect members of the extended family of adoption from bias, and should put them on a level playing field with those in biologically formed families. Advocacy is needed to educate the media, schools, professionals and the public about adoption's realities and to prevent stigmatizing or insensitive treatment. Professionals who deal with adoption should be trained to provide their services with knowledge, sensitivity and skill.
Everyone's needs in the family of adoption must be respected
Adoption is a complex process that requires balancing the rights and needs of many parties. The best interests of everyone involved - by birth or adoption - must be considered and supported in law, attitudes, social institutions and practice. Adoption procedures should respect biological, historical and spiritual connections that are not terminated by legal processes. Recognizing that all members of the extended family of adoption encounter developmental, emotional and social issues throughout the individual and family lifecycles, they should have access to services before and after an adoption's finalization. This is particularly vital for children who have experienced loss, deprivation or trauma. When the needs of one party are perceived to be in conflict with another, the resolution should be achieved with the adopted person's best interests taking precedence.
Openness and honesty are critical, deception and coercion are undermining
Openness and honesty should be cornerstones of adoption. All members of the extended family of adoption are best served by optimizing their access to legal documents and other information needed for their physical and emotional well-being. They should have the same rights to information relevant to their lives as all other citizens. Adoption also should be free of deception and coercion. Representation and counseling by trained professionals maximizes the informed consent and full participation of birth and adoptive parents, and enhances their ongoing adjustment before, during and after a child's placement. Practitioners should gather and preserve as much important information from the child's history as possible, then provide and interpret it to the child's new family.
Practices must adhere to high ethical standards and be free of profiteering
Policymakers, practitioners and all other involved parties have an obligation to ensure that adoptions are conducted ethically, thoughtfully and with the best interests of children at their core. They also must work to remove legal, social and economic barriers that prevent children who need permanent homes from getting them. The greater the commercialism or concern with profits, the greater the risks become for coercion, unethical practices and other abuses. Society has the responsibility to protect children and other participants in adoption through effective regulation and monitoring.