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Confusing the Issues

December 06, 1987

As a mental health professional and adoptive mother of two, I was sad to see that the issue of adoption was even associated with child abuse in your article entitled "The Adoption Debate" involving the tragic death of Elizabeth Steinberg.

Rather than focusing attention on the fact that this abuse occurred within an adoptive family (which it was not, legally), I think the issue should have centered more on the fact that this case slipped between the cracks--that our system failed us--and that our country is in desperate need of a more effective way of dealing with abuse.

Child abuse is no more prevalent in adoptive families than non-adoptive families. It crosses all boundaries--socioeconomic, educational, etc. I would have had much more respect for the integrity of your article had you not tried to sensationalize it by using this case of child abuse as a forum to discuss the controversy between proponents of private versus agency adoptions. Child abuse and adoption are two separate issues and they should have been treated as such.

You also neglected to inform your readers that those of us who do adopt privately in California must go through the same physical exams, fingerprinting, financial scrutiny and home study process as do people who adopt through agencies. You made it seem as if the state had no control over how children are adopted in a private setting. I often wonder how those who don't adopt would feel if they had to undergo such a process to have the privilege of becoming parents.

BELINDA SWARTZMAN

Woodland Hills

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