“Birth Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities” is a document that was created by the State of Illinois Department of Children and Families Services. The document must be given to a client working with an adoption agency “as soon as is reasonably practical.” In most cases, a copy of the document is given to the client by their social worker so the client is able to read and mark any questions or concerns on the document. At the following session, the document is read out loud, in its entirety, by the worker. Each page is initialed by the birth parent and worker, and then lastly signed.
I believe one purpose of the document is to make sure birth parents are educated on their choices for making an adoption plan. The list of rights includes choices such as requesting open or semi-open adoptions, requesting to meet the prospective adoptive parents, and deciding on a hospital plan.
I also believe that the document exists to keep agencies responsible. Other rights listed on the document promote responsible practices for agencies which include treating birth parents with dignity and respect, and the birth parents’ right to make a decision without coercion or pressure.
My hope is that the existence of this document not only protects birth parents, but also provides education to other parties. Poor adoption stereotypes remain, even as policies and practices have made many positive, beneficial changes and continually make these changes. It is important that education exists about current adoption policy and practice, and that these changes are recognized by society. This recognition is important in promoting support to birth parents and adoptive families as they make important, loving decisions for the child. Recognition may also create opportunities for further growth in the field of adoption.