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Adoption Information

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 @ 09:09 AM Karen Jean Matsko Hood (services provided)

Dental Health and Nutrition Store

c/o Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, P.S.

Family and Cosmetic Dentistry

Dr. James G. Hood, D.D.S., M.A.

Adoption Information

Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, P.S. and Dr. James G. Hood promote adoption on all levels.  Dr. James G. Hood and his wife have adopted 12 children from the U.S. and from international countries.  Dr. James G. Hood works to bring awareness for the growing need for adoption.

Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another who is not kin and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities from the original parent or parents.  Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction.  Historically, some societies have enacted specific laws governing adoption whereas others have endeavored to achieve adoption through less formal means, notably via contracts that specified inheritance rights and parental responsibilities.  Modern systems of adoption, arising in the 20th century, tend to be governed by comprehensive statutes and regulations.

Adoption has a long history in the Western world, closely tied with the legacy of the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church.  Its use has changed considerably over the centuries with its focus shifting from adult adoption and inheritance issues toward children and family creation and its structure moving from a recognition of continuity between the adopted and kin toward allowing relationships of lessened intensity.

Forms of adoption: Contemporary adoption practices can be open or closed.

Open adoption allows identifying information to be communicated between adoptive and biological parents and, perhaps, interaction between kin and the adopted person.  Rarely, it is the outgrowth of laws that maintain an adoptee’s right to unaltered birth certificates and/or adoption records, but such access is not universal (it is possible in a few jurisdictions – including the U.K. and six States in the U.S.).  Open adoption can be an informal arrangement subject to termination by adoptive parents who have sole authority over the child.  In some jurisdictions, the biological and adoptive parents may enter into a legally enforceable and binding agreement concerning visitation, exchange of information, or other interaction regarding the child.  As of February 2009, 24 U.S. states allowed legally enforceable open adoption contract agreements to be included in the adoption finalization.

The practice of closed adoption, the norm for most of modern history, seals all identifying information, maintaining it as secret and barring disclosure of the adoptive parents’, biological kins’, and adoptees’ identities.  Nevertheless, closed adoption, may allow the transmittal of non-identifying information such as medical history and religious and ethnic background.  Today, as a result of safe haven laws passed by some U.S. states, closed adoption is seeing renewed influence.  In safe-haven states, infants can be left, anonymously, at hospitals, fire departments, or police stations within a few days of birth, a practice criticized by some adoptee advocacy organizations as being retrograde and dangerous.

How adoptions originated

The New York Foundling Home is among North America’s oldest adoption agencies.  Adoptions can occur either between related family members, or between unrelated individuals.  Historically, most adoptions occurred within a family, though.  The most recent data from the U.S. indicates about half of adoptions are currently between related individuals.  A common example of this is a “stepparent adoption,” where the new partner of a parent may legally adopt a child from the parent’s previous relationship.  Intra-family adoption can also occur through surrender, as a result of parental death, or when the child cannot otherwise be cared for and a family member agrees to take over.

Infertility is the main reason parents seek to adopt children they are not related to.  One study shows this accounted for 80% of unrelated infant adoptions and half of adoptions through foster care.  Estimates suggest that 11%-24% of Americans who cannot conceive or carry to term attempt to build a family through adoption, and that the overall rate of never-married American women who adopt is about 1.4%.  Other reasons people adopt are numerous, although not well documented.  These may include wanting to cement a new family following divorce or death of one parent, compassion motivated by religious or philosophical conviction, to avoid contributing to perceived overpopulation out of the belief that it is more responsible to care for otherwise parent-less children than to reproduce, to ensure inheritable diseases (e.g., Tay-Sachs disease) are not passed on, and health concerns relating to pregnancy and childbirth.  Although there are a range of possible reasons, the most recent study of women who adopt experiences suggests they are most likely to be 40–44 years of age, currently married, have impaired fertility, and childless.

Unrelated adoptions may occur through the following mechanisms:

Private domestic adoptions: under this arrangement, charities and for-profit organizations act as intermediaries, bringing together prospective adoptive parents and families who want to place a child, all parties being residents of the same country.  Alternatively, prospective adoptive parents sometimes avoid intermediaries and connect with women directly, drafting contracts through a lawyer (these efforts are illegal in some jurisdictions).  Private domestic adoption accounts for a significant portion of all adoptions; in the United States, for example, nearly 45% of adoptions are estimated to have occurred through private arrangements.

Foster care adoption: this is a type of domestic adoption where a child is initially placed in public care.  Its importance as an avenue for adoption varies by country.  Nevertheless, the example of the United States is instructive.  Of the 127,500 adoptions that occurred in the U.S. about 51,000 or 40% were through the foster care system.

International adoption: involves the placing of a child for adoption outside that child’s country of birth.  This can occur through both public and private agencies.  In some countries, such as Sweden, these adoptions account for the majority of cases (see above Table).  The U.S. example, however, indicates there is wide variation by country since adoptions from abroad account for less than 15% of its cases.  More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted in the United States since 1992, and between 1995 and 2005, Americans adopted more than 60,000 children from China.  The laws of different countries vary in their willingness to allow international adoptions.  Recognizing the difficulties and challenges associated with international adoption, and in an effort to protect those involved from the corruption and exploitation which sometimes accompanies it, the Hague Conference on Private International Law developed the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which came into force on 1 May 1995 and has been ratified by 75 countries, to date.

Embryo adoption: the state of Georgia in the United States of America is the first jurisdiction to include human embryos in it adoption laws.  Conservative evangelicals are the primary supporters, considering it a recognition of embryo life and a mechanism to save that life.  These developments in adoption law are not without critics, however, even among religious communities.  While the Catholic Church has not announced its support or opposition to the adoption of embryos, its theologians are divided on the issue with some deeming it a “grave violation of nature,” and others viewing it as an act of charity.  In the absence of adoption laws, embryo relinquishment has occurred under property laws, being transferred from one set of individuals to another.  As of 2003, 400,000 embryos had been frozen in the United States alone and an estimated 2% or 9,000 were available for donation; the rest were reserved for future use by the parents or for medical research.

Common law adoption: this is an adoption which has not been recognized, beforehand, by the courts, but where a parent, without resort to any formal legal process, leaves his or her children with a friend or relative for an extended period of time.  At the end of a designated term of (voluntary) co-habitation, as witnessed by the public, the adoption is then considered binding, in some courts of law, even though not initially sanctioned by the court.  The particular terms of a common-law adoption are defined by each legal jurisdiction.  For example, the U.S. state of California recognizes common law relationships after co-habitation of 2 years.

How adoptions can disrupt

Disruption refers to the termination of an adoption.  This includes adoptions that end prior to legal finalization and those that end after that point (in U.S. law, the latter cases are referred to as having been dissolved).  The disruption process is usually initiated by adoptive parents via a court petition and is analogous to divorce proceedings.  It is a legal avenue unique to adoptive parents as disruption/dissolution does not apply to biological kin.

No known official statistics track the number of disruptions in any country.  Some ad hoc studies, performed in the U.S., however, suggest that between 10-25 percent of adoptions disrupt before they are legally finalized and from 1-10 percent are dissolved after legal finalization.  The wide range of values reflects the paucity of information on the subject and demographic factors such as age; it is known that older children are more prone to having their adoptions disrupted.

Parenting and development of adoptees

Biological ties are the hallmark of parent-child relationships, and its absence has caused concern throughout the history of adoption.  No less an authority than Jessie Taft, a pioneer in the professionalization of adoption services and herself an adoptive mother, commented on the difference in adoptive parenting, “No one who is not willfully deluded would maintain that the experiences of adoption can take the place of the actual bearing and rearing of an own child.”

Along these lines, a Princeton University study of 6,000 adoptive, step, and foster mothers in the United States and South Africa from 1968-1985 indicated that food expenditures in households with non-biological children (when controlled for income, household size, hours worked, age, etc.) were significantly less, causing the researchers to speculate that, instinctually, people are less interested in sustaining the genetic lines of others.  Moreover, the perception of similarities between adoptive parent and child appears important to successfully parenting.  In relationships marked by sameness in likes, personality, and appearance, both adult adoptees and adoptive parents report being happier with the adoption.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that adoptive relationships can form along other lines.  A study evaluating the level of parental investment indicates strength in adoptive families, suggesting that parents who adopt invest more time in their children than other parents and concludes, “…adoptive parents enrich their children’s lives to compensate for the lack of biological ties and the extra challenges of adoption.”

Beyond the foundational issues, the unique questions posed for adoptive parents are varied.  They include how to respond to stereotypes, answering questions about heritage, and how best to maintain connections with biological kin when in an open adoption.  One author suggests a common question adoptive parents have is whether, “Will we love the child even though he/she is not our biological child?”  A specific concern for many parents is accommodating an adoptee in the classroom.  Familiar lessons like “draw your family tree” or “trace your eye color back through your parents and grandparents to see where your genes come from” could be hurtful to children who were adopted and do not know this biological information.  Numerous suggestions have been made to substitute new lessons, e.g., focusing on “family orchards.”

Adopting older children presents other parenting issues.  Some children from foster care have histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, are at risk of developing psychiatric problems.  Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment.  Studies by Cicchetti et al. (1990, 1995) found that 80% of abused and maltreated infants in their sample exhibited disorganized attachment styles.  Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms, as well as depressive, anxiety, and acting-out symptoms.

Cultural variations in adoption

Attitudes and laws regarding adoption vary greatly.  Whereas all cultures make arrangements whereby children whose own parents are unavailable to rear them to be brought up by others, not all cultures have the concept of adoption, that is treating unrelated children as equivalent to biological children of the adoptive parents.  Under Islamic Law, for example, adopted children must keep their original surname in order to be identified with blood relations, and, traditionally, observe hijab (the covering of women in the presence of non-family) in their adoptive households.  In Egypt, these cultural distinctions have led to making adoption illegal.

Dr. James G. Hood can help give you further information about adoption from his own experience.  There is a growing need for loving foster families and children to be adopted.

Our dental practice welcomes adopted children, foster children, and foster or adopted children and their families as patients.

We also are one of the few dental practices that accept Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) coupons as full payment for our services.


Dental Health and Nutrition Store

c/o Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, P.S.

Family and Cosmetic Dentistry

Dr. James G. Hood, D.D.S., M.A.

507 N. Sullivan Road Suite A-1

Spokane Valley, WA 99037-8576 USA

Dental Health and Nutrition Store Phone: (509) 928-4200 / Fax: (509) 928-0414

Dental Office Phone: (509) 928-9100 / Fax: (509) 928-0414




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