CCNM Position Paper on the Primacy

of Family Preservation over Adoption

Canadian Council of Natural Mothers

In keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 7(1) , which states that children have the right to know and be cared for by their parents, the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers supports the right of children to be raised by their original parents. Where poverty, natural disaster or other factors make this difficult, families should receive support to allow them to remain together as a family and to develop independence as a unit.


In those rare circumstances where a child is not safe in the care of his or her natural parents, alternative arrangements must be made for those children. Where issues of abuse of children or true neglect make it dangerous for a child to remain with his or her parents, safety of the child should be the first consideration, and the second should be assistance to the family, wherever possible, to heal and stay together. If this is not possible, kinship care or the care of those already known to the child should precede any attempt at stranger adoption. Children will be less traumatized and experience less dislocation if they can remain within their extended families, communities and ethnic groups. Even in these situations, monitoring their growth and development is essential. In general, outcomes for children are best when they are raised by their parents, and other forms of care have risks that must be monitored and alleviated.


 In no case should the identity of the child be hidden or kept secret from that child. From the moment of separation, the child should have access to all information regarding her/his natural parents and natural family. From the moment of separation, mothers should have legally binding information and contact agreements providing them with the whereabouts, well-being of and terms of contact with their children. Only in circumstances where harm from a child's parents has been documented should these terms be altered. Existing harassment laws are sufficient to protect children and adults from the unwanted interactions.


Guardianship


Guardianship is preferred over adoption, because in permanent guardianship, children's identities are not masked or changed, their living arrangements are stable and they are able to grow to adulthood within a family context. Adoption differs from guardianship only in hiding the identity of the child and seeking to make the adoptive family appear to be what it is not: a natural family. In these times, many family configurations exist, and with the increasing diversity in society there is no need now, if there ever was, to disguise the fact that some families are created when children are separated from their natural parents.

When Adoption is Necessary

Adoption is seldom necessary—the desire to raise other people's children does not justify separating children from their parents. When children have been moved from their homes for reasons of safety or because they are truly orphans, then establishing alternative families for them may be justified. It is important to note that 90% of children in orphanages in other countries are not truly orphans. Most often, poverty-stricken or overburdened parents have placed them in the orphanage with the intent of returning for them when times improve. It is not justifiable to take these children to far away countries, losing all contact with their mothers or fathers and other kinfolk, to satisfy wealthier individuals' desire to parent.


Should adoptions occur, every effort should be made to ensure that the child's identity, including his or her name, is maintained, and the child maintains contact with his or her community, culture and language. Domestic adoptions of children in long term care, where all avenues for family preservation have failed, are more justifiable than any infant adoptions requiring the separation of newborns from their mothers, particularly if the grounds for such separation are that the mother is young, single or poor.


Where an adoption occurs, the mother and child should have some form of ongoing familial contact. All sharing of information can and should be ongoing and flexible between the parties involved from the moment of separation. Guardianships or adoptions should have significant openness as a part of any guardianship or adoption arrangement.

Protection for mothers and children needs to be enshrined in law. Protection is needed to prevent undue promotion of adoption and the coercion of mothers, as well as to safeguard mothers' and children's rights during and after adoption, including the enforcement of open adoption agreements. Issues of legal and ethical protection of mothers are set out in the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers' position statement available at www.ccnm-mothers.ca/English/Position/Protection.htm

Infertility as a Reason to Adopt, including Gay or Lesbian Adoption

While it is sad that some people are infertile for a variety of reasons, including simply delaying child bearing to later in life when fertility has naturally declined, this is not sufficient reason to justify separating babies from their mothers. Similarly, while the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers supports the right of gay and lesbian couples to cohabit and marry, the facts of their situation do not entitle them to separate mothers and children in order to raise other people's children. Should people unable to have their own children wish to raise children, they can seek out children who really do need families, such as those in long term foster care. There are many children in such circumstances who would benefit from permanent guardianship. The fact of wanting a child is not sufficient to entitle a person or couple to break up a family in order to free a child for adoption. Desire does not equal entitlement, however unhappy a person might be at not achieving their desire.

Embryo Adoption, Sperm and Egg Donation

In the process of in-vitro fertilization, it is common to create a large number of embryos so that repeated cycles of implantation can be done, in the hope that one of them will develop through a complete pregnancy to a healthy infant. Recently, agencies have been established to implant these surplus embryos of strangers into infertile women's wombs to allow them to have the babies they cannot themselves have. Other forms of artificial reproduction involve the combining of the sperm of a stranger with the egg(s) of a woman who wants to become a mother, or the combining of a stranger’s egg(s) with the sperm of the father who intends to parent the resulting offspring.  In both of these situations, it is usual for one of the genetic parents to be unknown to the child born of such a union.
It is incumbent upon professionals and couples in these situations to consider the needs of the child so created above their own desires. In particular, it is essential that these children have the right to all the information about their conception, including the names of their genetic parents. Their genetic parents also have the right to know their children, and to contact them through the social parents or when they reach adulthood. Fertility clinics, medical personnel and other professionals are ethically compelled to maintain records of donors’ identities, patients' identities and matches in perpetuity. It is imperative that laws be created and enforced to ensure the best interests of the child are entrenched in fertility business practices—meaning that every child’s human right to know his or her genetic identity, social background, ethnic identity and racial heredity are a priority in any consideration of the maintenance and distribution of these medical records.

Surrogacy

The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers deplores surrogacy arrangements, regardless of whose gametes are used (the surrogate's, the potential adopting couple's or strangers' gametes). Surrogacy uses mothers as brood mares, selling their fertility and potentially their emotional and physical health for the desires of those who would like to raise someone else's baby. It is dehumanizing for women and children. Any children created through these arrangements must have the right to all the information about their conception, including all the names of their surrogate and genetic parents. Surrogates and genetic parents also have the right to know their children, and to contact them through the social parents or when their children reach adulthood.

Conclusion

There are no adoptive parents until a natural family is destroyed to free the child for others. Only upon their acquisition of someone else's child are adoptive parents created. Until then, they are simply strangers to the natural family. Thus, discussion of any rights for adoptive parents cannot occur until after the moral and legal requirements of natural parents and their child(ren) are dealt with and satisfied. Only after the adoption occurs are there three parties to any guardianship or adoption situation: the parents and family losing their child(ren), the child or children, and those who have taken these child(ren) from their parents.


In particular, as children cannot give consent to the action of removing them from their natural parents, it is incumbent upon all involved in the process to consider their interests and separate these from those of the people wishing to take them from their parents. The UN Statement on the Rights of Children clearly lays out their interests as remaining with their original families and as having access to their original identities, communities and cultures.  If we cannot ask young babies about their wishes, we can certainly listen to the voices of adoptees and those conceived by reproductive technologies who have experienced the loss of their original families. Adopted babies do not remain children forever: they become adults competent to speak and act for themselves.They are united in confirming the UN Statement on the Rights of Children in requiring access to their original identities.

The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers supports family preservation first.Were children have been separated from their natural families, the Council supports their right to knowledge of their own identities and names and the rights of their natural families to know their names and to have contact with them through legally binding agreements from the moment of separation.

 

June, 2010

© The Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, February 2003. This document is the property of the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, www.ccnm-mothers.ca. You may copy and distribute this page provided that you copy it in its entirety.