Under the Umbrella: Adoption through the Years

iStock_000018653451_Small.jpgMuch like everything else around us, adoption has progressively changed and will very likely continue to evolve over time. The earliest adoptions consisted of informal kinship or other informal adoptions of children into non-relative families; there were few to no laws or guidelines in place to protect children or families. Over the years, all 50 states in the US and even many international countries have since developed their own adoption laws and guidelines to be able to ensure best practice. Adoptions have also expanded over the years to include several different types of adoption: traditional independent/infant domestic adoptions, adoption of child from foster care (or Special Needs Adoption), international adoption, and step-parent adoption.
For a long time, adoptions were almost always closed, meaning birth parents and the children they made adoption plans for would have no way to ever access information that might lead to search and reunion or reconnection. It was uncommon for adoptive families and birth families to voluntarily stay in touch. In fact, many children who were adopted didn’t find out about their adoption until well into their adulthood, as adoptions were not talked about openly and sometimes even kept secret because of strong associations with feelings of guilt and shame. Nowadays, there is so much adoption education, support, and awareness in our communities that have helped society embrace and celebrate adoptions more openly than ever before.
In addition, today we have several states in the US who have varying degrees of openness written into state law. Despite Wisconsin not being one of those states, there certainly appears to be more genuine openness with Wisconsin adoptions that usually involve some sort of “gentlemen’s agreement” between birth and adoptive families around what that might look like. Many families we have talked to over the years who made the commitment and chose to continue honoring those connections have reported it to be one of the best decisions they could have made for their child.
When it comes to search related to adoptions, modern technology has paved the way for innovative ways for individuals to identify and make connections. This can include paying private detectives, using social media, the Internet, and even DNA testing to help uncover information. We can only begin to imagine what the next 10-20 years will bring!
To learn more about adoption, please feel free to contact the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families to speak with a Resource Specialist. You can reach our team at 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, or via email atinfo@coalitionforcyf.org
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