What We Mean When We Say Adoption Reunion

A little while ago I noticed an article about New Jersey holding a family reunification day to celebrate parents who’ve been able to make changes in their lives and get their kids back after having them taken away due to neglect or abuse. I was struck by the use of the word “reunification” as opposed to “reunion,” which is the standard term used for cases in which adopted people and their biological relatives come back together after being separated for many years.

“Reunification” strikes me as being more serious and more lasting than “reunion.” We talk about reunification of countries, such as Ireland and Korea, that were long ago split in two due to political disagreements and war. We speak with optimism about one day in the future when the people of these nations will again be brethren under the same flag, participants in a newly mutual society reminiscent of one that actually existed once upon a time.

It makes sense, then, to talk about reunification in relation to children who had become wards of the state returning to their biological parents. These are family units that had been torn apart by disease and dysfunction, that are being restored as a result of hard work and healing on the part of the parents along with compassion on the part of the government officials involved.

Contrast this sense of potential for ongoing unity with scenarios in which we typically use the word “reunion:” high school reunions; workplace reunions; neighborhood reunions; cast reunions from our favorite old TV shows. Sure, sometimes old friends or colleagues keep in touch long after the reunion event has ended, but no one really expects relationships to return to what they once were in any of these situations.  Continue reading “What We Mean When We Say Adoption Reunion”

Fathers’ Rights in Adoption

I began composing this post a while ago and planned for it to be mainly a research-focused article highlighting the rights fathers do and do not have when it comes to their children being adopted out. Then the unfathomable happened: Dusten Brown was forced to relinquish his four-year-old daughter, Veronica, to the couple who have been trying to adopt her since before she was born. Even though she has lived with him for the past two years. Even though he began fighting for her as soon as he found out about the adoption plan, which was when she was four months old. Even though he is her biological father and provided a stable, loving home for her.

I am outraged, as an adoptee and as a mother.

As an adoptee, I sympathize with Veronica, who is now losing her family once again and, even worse, losing precious time with her own father to satisfy the needs of an infertile adoptive couple who are not related to her biologically. Let me state here for the record that I am not anti-adoption. There are many kids out there who have lost their parents, either because their parents have died or because their parents are incapable of caring for them. I believe adoption is the best option for these kids who need loving, stable families. But Veronica is NOT one of those kids! Veronica has a father who is willing and capable of raising her. In fact, he has been fighting to raise her for almost all of her life. Those who are not adopted do not know what it is like to grow up without your blood family. Even under the best of circumstances, in the best homes with the best adoptive parents, many adoptees still struggle throughout their lives because of that lack of connection to their own biological relatives. Not all, but many. And these are not the best circumstances. In fact, Veronica is being adopted under the worst imaginable circumstances — against the will of her own family. She has literally been removed from the safe, loving home of her own father in order to uphold a law that grants the biological strangers who want to adopt her more rights than her own blood relatives. Continue reading “Fathers’ Rights in Adoption”