After I posted yesterday’s entry on agency searches as a form of humanitarian intervention (see directly below this blog), I received several comments regarding expensive and unethical search and reunion practices at Catholic Charities and DePelchin Children’s Center, Houston, Texas.. (As a point of interest, DePelchin, a major safe haven pimp in Texas, had a special “Baby Moses door” installed at the back of its facility to assist “desperate mothers” dump and run on their way to work or school. I have a picture of the door in my files, but I can’t find anything online)
Our friend Jim Hamilton, who has guest blogged here on several occasions, posted a link on the same piece to the 2006 Post adoption search services : evaluation and best practices : report to the 2006 Minnesota Legislature. I had never heard of this report, and I have no idea if other states issue similar reports. While it certainly gives the lie to Allentown Catholic Charities’ claims that “thousands of staff hours” can be used up on a search, (the maximum search time listed for active searches in this report is 34 days,) it is certainly a condemnation of the poor state of post-adoption services in Minnesota. I can’t imagine that other states are any better.
I won’t quote a length here, but this selection from “Observations and Recommendations” in the Executive Summary sets the dismal tone on the status of adoption agency search requests in Minnesota and highlights two” problems” which we as adoptee rights activists throughout the country hear continually about from individuals who contact us directly or who write about their frustrations on discussion forums and Facebook: payment demands (pay to play) and agency “inability” to locate records.” Do adoption agencies still claim records were lost in a fire or flood?
Of the 361 service requests, 19 were medical emergencies. Most were individuals who had medical conditions and in a few cases, a genetic relative with a medical condition. During the five month review period, 63 percent of the medical emergencies were completed. The remaining cases not.completed included:
• 26 percent of the requests were initiated in January
• Five·percent (one request) were received in December
• Five percent (one request) were received in October.
In two cases, the county agency reported that they were unable to proceed due to payment issues. In both cases, the services were requested by an individual with a heart related medical condition.
For medical conditions where a physician is able to document the diagnosis and the need for a genetic medical history, the information should be provided expeditiously by the agency and payment arrangements made with the client. Medical emergencies comprised less than five percent of the overall.requests reported. Of the five percent, payment was noted to be an issue in 10 percent of the cases.
Agencies’Policies Regarding Documentation of Post Adoption Search Services
Some agencies asked the department how to locate information regarding post adoption search services requested for the time between December 2004-June 2005. Other agencies reported that no formal records were maintained for these types of services. Yet other agencies reported that records may have been kept, however, the information was not a part of the adoption record. Minnesota Ru1es, section 9560.0180, subp. 1, requires that documentation ofpost adoption services be maintained in the adoption record. Agencies should develop policies that provide uniform and consolidated record retention schedules to ensure compliance with this rule
One of the intriguing aspects of the report are the tables in the appendices. If I am reading them correctly, neither Bethany Christian Services or L-d-S received search requests for the timeframe considered. In fact, many agencies claim they received no requests. Why should we believe them, though, since by their own admission, many don’t keep records of search requests and don’t even know how to do searches? (One former BN executive learned that her adoption search through a Lutheran Services office was outsourced to Troy Dunn.). And of course, adoptees have wised up and know that a lot of agencies simply won’t give them information much less the truth. Online search and reunion forums, in-person support groups, adoptee rights activists, search angels and paid searchers–and now DNA testing–offer a better, quicker, and cheaper route to information by doing an end run around the archaic agency gatekeepers.
I haven’t had time to go over the document sufficiently to make a serious critique, but it is clear that post-adoption services in Minnesota and no doubt nationwide are broken. I have assisted in searches based in Minnesota in the last two-three years and I don’t see, from the people I’ve spoken with, that anything has changed since the report was published.