Most people would respect an individual (child, teen, or adult’s) choice to enter into an adoption contract as their way of being included with another person or a group of people with whom they would desire legal and social recognition of being a family unit. Today I’d like to look at the flip side of that – the idea that some adult adoptees would prefer to no longer be legally & socially connected to an adoption contract someone else made on them as children. I support the concept of adult adoptees having the option of removing themselves from an adoption once they are of legal age. Obviously not all adoptees will choose this route and that’s ok. There are valid reasons for those who do desire this, and they currently only have the legal options of either being adopted by someone else OR of changing their legal name to something else. Neither of these options is adequate in all cases. Let’s consider why some adoptees may be interested in more options, what this concept might look like, and the points for and against it.
It is generally agreed that all children deserve to be in safe, loving homes, preferably with their natural family members. When that’s not possible, then alternate arrangements need to be made for them. (This does not have to be legal adoption as currently practiced in the USA, but for this essay, let’s assume it is). Because the law recognizes that minors are not yet fully competent, they cannot sign legal contracts or decide their own custody matters. Their parents may sign for them, and we have courts that decide custody on their behalf. Sometimes that involves assigning strangers to raise a particular child. Sometimes the courts get it right. Sometimes they get it wrong. Sometimes the adults assigned to children are not people that child, once grown up, would want making important legal, medical, or financial decisions for them or caring for their minor children should the need arise. Once an individual is no longer in need of the courts or their parents to make decisions on their behalf, by virtue of being no longer incompetent by reason of minority, they should, by all rights, be entitled to take over making decisions for themselves. It is common knowledge that adoptive parents, who willingly entered into adoption situations, opt out of them frequently, always at their own discretion, if they feel the adoption arrangement is not meeting their own needs. That option is not ever available to the minor adopted child, who has no choice, regardless of whether they feel the arrangement is meeting their needs. To be fair, that option should be available to them as adults.