Open Adoption

Adoption in the Best Interest of the Child

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A Statement of Beliefs - Open Adoption

CHS-Catholic Charities
(616-947-8110, Fax 616-947-3522)
1000 Hastings, Traverse City, Michigan 49686

Values Based Open Adoption Program - A Statement of Beliefs

1. We understand open adoption to be a transfer of parental responsibilities which preserves the relationship between birthparents and the child they entrusted to the family they painstakingly selected. It necessarily includes a full disclosure of identifying information and features a commitment to lifelong relatedness.

2. We believe that every form of adoption must center on meeting the needs of the adoptee. We believe that children are best served by preserving their connection to their family of origin.

3. We believe that the appropriate perspective on adoption views adoptive parents as a resource to the birthfamily, not vice versa.

4. We believe that birthfamilies and adoptive families deserve equal respect and courtesy. Services offered to one should also be offered to the other.

5. We assert that there is a tragic dimension to adoption. Every participant in adoption experiences pain and loss. Any significant description of the adoption experience must recognize the theme of loss.

6. Recognizing that untimely pregnancy generally defies cheerful resolution, we support efforts to prevent it.

7. We believe the first effort in working with pregnant families must be to preserve that family.

8. We are committed to protecting the rights of birthfathers. We recognize that they are important in the lives of their children and seek their full participation in the open adoption experience.

9. We believe birth families require at least fourteen days following the birth of the child to consider their options before legally committing themselves to an adoption plan. We will respect a birthfamily's sense of pace.

10. We recognize a professional obligation to assist clients to reach fully informed decisions. We will defend families facing the challenges of untimely pregnancy from premature feelings of obligation, and will defend their opportunity to change course in timely fashion.

11. We recognize that geographic distance makes open adoption more difficult to plan, implement, and sustain. Professionals are obliged to alert clients to reliable resources which may be more conveniently located.

12. We recognize that adoption is a lifelong experience and that adoption organizations must remain a resource to our clients through the years.

13. We believe adoption services must not yield personal or organizational profit.

14. We will operate our programs with fiscal integrity and openness. We will work to keep our fees affordable so participation in our program does not require financial prosperity.

15. We recognize an obligation to share significant results, positive and negative, with other professionals in the field.

16. We recognize that the spirit of candor which characterizes open adoption needs to be applied to adoptions from the past. We actively support open records and the right of adoptees to their original name.

17. We believe our efforts are best evaluated in terms of services provided, not in terms of the numbers of placements made.

18. We recognize an obligation to contribute to the public's understanding of adoption issues.

19. We believe that efforts to promote particular programs must never offend the general public's sense of propriety. We believe the commercialization of adoption diminishes the dignity of children.

20. We believe the vitality of the institution of adoption is directly linked to its commitment to candor. We approach every adoption with the presumption it will be open. Any departure from candor is considered extraordinary and requires documented justification.

21. We believe the spirit of openness and candor begins with the professional. It is his or her responsibility to create a climate in which client honesty is encouraged and reinforced.

22. We believe the most promising context for the delivery of ethical adoption services is the nonprofit agency. We acknowledge that our organizations often fall short of our ideals. To live up to their potential, agencies must relentlessly root out inconsistencies and self serving practices.

23. We recognize that we are powerful because we hold significant information. We recognize our responsibility to pass this power to our clients throughout the adoptive process by emphasizing the educational features of our program.

24. We recognize that integrity requires consistency in our beliefs and actions. We will select our affiliations carefully, supporting organizations whose purposes and practices are consistent with ours, and working to reeducate organizations whose practices are in direct opposition to our beliefs.

25. We believe that dynamic adoptive practice engenders a spirit of community. We strive to provide adoption cultures in which financial and emotional risks are shared. There should be no monetary connection between adoptive parents and birthparents.

26. We believe adoptions of quality are adaptable. Every adoption will be a unique expression of the original and continuing creativity of its participants.

27. We believe the practice of open adoption is dynamic and continually evolving. We are receptive to responsible innovation.

(version 1.6 1-95)

This Statement of Beliefs is the work of Jim Gritter at Catholic Human Services in Traverse City, with the input of participants at the five National Open Adoption Conferences he has managed over the past 14 years. This specific version was presented at the Fifth National Conference on Open Adoption, May 3-5, 1995. This copy was typed by Bill Betzen, Dallas, Texas, and is reprinted here with Mr. Gritter's permission.

If you would like to send any comments or questions to Jim Gritter his E-mail is

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