Adoption: Nature Or Nurture? Essay, Research Paper
Adoption: Nature or Nurture?
Are parents those who give birth to a child or those who care for a child? Does
nature or nurture make a woman a mother? As more and more heartbreaking tugs-of-war
between biological and adoptive parents surface, anyone searching for a baby has good
reason for concern(Casey 119).
Baby Jessica was raised from infancy by adoptive parents, Jan and Roberta
DeBoer. For two and a half years Jessica was at the heart of one of the most bitter
custody battles in America, caught between the parents in Michigan who reared her and
the parents in Iowa who gave birth to her and wanted her back (Ingrassia and Springen
60). Cara and Dan Schmidt took screaming baby Jessica from her home in 1993 when they
won their court battle to get her back (Casey 119). Baby Jessica is just one of the many
victims of child custody battles in America.
Jane and John Doe adopted a baby boy, Richard in March of 1991. Richard’s
biological mother, Daniela Kirchner, gave up her son while her boyfriend, Otakar, was out
of the country visiting his family. He had left Daniela just two weeks before Richard’s
birth. Daniela had heard rumors that Otakar had been cheating on her with another
woman, in Czechoslovakia, so she decided to lie to him about their baby, Richard. She
told Otakar that Richard had died just four days after his birth. In May of 1991 Otakar
returned to Chicago and the couple reconciled. Daniela told him about the adoption of
their son and how she lied to him about his death. Eighty days after Richard’s birth,
Otakar challenged the adoption. He claimed that he had no knowledge of his son until his
return to the US and now he wanted his son back desperately (Ingrassia and
The Does met in seventh grade in a suburban Chicago school but didn’t start
dating until they were in their early twenties. Married in 1979, Jane, a paralegal, and John
and a son. They say that they had not sought to adopt another child but were “bowled
over” by that first call about Richard. Never did they expect that legal briefs and litigation
would dominate their lives for the next three years (Alexander 40).
After three and a half years of court battle, baby Richard was torn away from his
adoptiveparents where he had lived since he was four days old and returned to his
biological father, who had never seen him before (Terry A1).
Wendy and Tom Yack adopted a week old baby girl, Rachael Marie, in 1980.
After five years of trying to conceive and five years of failure, Wendy and Tom broached
the subject of adoption and began to like the idea. When Rachael was only two months old
Wendy and Tom learned of Mary Beth Hazler and Robert Grimes, Rachael’s biological
Mary Beth was seventeen years old and had broken up with her boyfriend, Grimes,
when she was three months pregnant. Grimes had more than twenty arrests as a juvenile
and had once faced charges of assaulting a police officer. After the Yacks had cared for
Rachael for over two months they were informed that Mary Beth and Grimes had
reconciled and decided they wanted their child back.
Less than four months later, Wendy and Tom were served with papers ordering
them to return Rachael to her biological parents. They were filed just twenty days before
the end of a six month waiting period required by Pennsylvania law before an adoption
becomes final (Yack 98).
In June of 1981, Rachael was placed in foster care before the court reached it’s
decision. At that time the judge had concluded that the Yacks had no rights to Rachael,
but he was still deliberating whether Mary Beth and Grimes were fit parents. Four weeks
later, the judge ordered Rachel to return to the Yacks pending a final decision.
The Yacks were overjoyed but the child who came back to their home wasn’t the
same little girl. She stared at the walls. It was as if she knew. On July 10, 1981, sixteen
month old Rachael was taken from her home by Mary Beth and Grimes forever.
Wendy stated, “I feel to this day that we were used. We were caretakers, a baby
parking lot, while the birth mother got her life in order. Tom and I were falling in love
with a baby we thought was our daughter, and Mary Beth was finishing high school and
deciding whether she wanted to take care of her baby and get back together with her
Children learn to bond, trust and love during their first years and removing a child
from it’s home where her or she makes their first attachments can make it hard for her to
connect with others later in life. The blindness of the legal system to the child’s
psychological and emotional needs is devastating to the child (Diamant 96).
Whether we are learning, the sagas of children like Jessica and Richard rivet us, to
a degree that far out-strips their actual numbers (Ingrassia and McCormick 45). The best
interest of the child is often in the eyes of the beholder. It can be very elusive (Hegger 1B).
The pool of prospective adoptive parents has never been larger due to the baby
boom generation. Our insecurity over adoption is at an all-time high in part because
interest in adopting is also at a peak.
Kristi Carman, who works in the national headquarters of Concerned United
Birthparents (CUB) in Des Moines, believes that adoption should be avoided whenever
possible because it causes “a lifelong trauma for all involved” (Diamant 96).
In early August 1994 the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
Laws drafted The Uniform Adoption Act. It states laws on services to birth parents,
timeperiods for revocation of consent, pre-placement evaluators of prospective adoptive
families, disclosure of medical and social background information, contact between the
children and birth parent, order of placement, transracial adoption, multiple new
requirements for state public social services agencies, records, confidentiality and access
and birth fathers.
Many people and organizations oppose the proposed Uniform Adoption Act. A
few are the Child Welfare League of America, The American Adoption Congress,
Children Awaiting Parents and The Adoption Exchange Association. Many of these
organizations feel that the Act fails to adequately protect the rights of the children, and
focuses instead on expediting the permanent separation of infants from their birth parents
in the absence of adequate counseling, exploration of alternatives and procedural
It was the absence of these crucial ingredients of conscientious adoption practice
that the seeds were sown for the anguish of Baby Richard and Baby Jessica: neither
birthmother had adequate , unbiased counseling, something that may have led them to
make more considered, timely choices, including to honestly disclosure the fathers’ names;
nor were they supported in exploring alternatives to adoption (Axness 1).
An adoptive mother and assistant attorney general in Montana, Kim Kradokfer,
states, “I think what the Act ultimately does is to put adoptions more at risk. I think it
makes adoptions in many cases more coercive, because the birth parents may not have had
the counseling, and may not be making a free decision. I think that this Act will cause
more of the Baby Richards and Baby Jessicas (2).
An adoption law should be drawn from the wisdom of several professionals and
consumers who are involved and impacted by adoption and should be judged upon the
following factors: It should ensure that before placement, the child is legally free; it should
require a thorough assessment of the family who would raise the child before the
placement is made; It should require post-placement services; The best interests of the
child should take precedence over any other concerns. The Uniform Adoption Act does
not provide important protections for adoptive parents, birth parents or children who are
subject to adoption (McCarty 1).
Are “parents” those who give birth to a child or those who care for a child? Does
natureor nurture make a woman a mother? As more and more heartbreaking tugs-of-war
between biological and adoptive parents surface, anyone searching for a baby has good
reason for concern (Diamant 69).
Alexander, Bryan and Marjorie Bosen. “The Ties That Bind.” People. 15 August
Axness, Marcy Wineman. [firstname.lastname@example.org]. “In the Best Interests of Whom?”
Casey, Kathryn. “The Case of Baby Lenore 25 Years Later.” Ladies Home Journal.
August 1995: 116-9.
Diamant, Anita. “Is It Safe to Adopt A Child?” McCalls (Jan 1994): 96-99. Rpt. in Family.
Vol. 5. Ed. Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: S.I.R.S., Inc., 1994. Art. 22.
Hegger, Susan. “The Trials of Childhood.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. (Aug 1993): 1B. Rpt.
in Family. Vol. 5. Ed. Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: S.I.R.S., Inc., 1993. Art. 17.
Ingrassia, Michelle and John McCormick. “Ordered to Surrender” Newsweek. (Feb
1995):44-45.Rpt. in Family. Vol. 5. Ed. Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: S.I.R.S.,
Inc., 1995. Art. 41.
Ingrassia, Michelle and Karen Springen. “She’s Not Baby Jessica Anymore.” Newsweek.
21 March 1994: 60-3.
McCarty, Kevin. “Adoption Exchange Association: Statement on the Uniform Adoption
[http://www.webcom.com/kmc/adoption/law/uaa/aca.html]. January 1997.
Terry, Don. “Storm Rages in Chicago Over Revoked Adoption.” New York Times. 15
July 1994: A1:A12.
Yack, Wendy and Susan Littwin. “They Took Away My Baby.” McCalls. (Jan 1994):
96-99. Rpt. in Family. Vol. 5. Ed. Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: S.I.R.S., Inc.,
1994. Art. 22.