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Adoption Debate

December 10, 1987

This letter is sent in connection with the article entitled "The Adoption Debate." The alleged fatal beating last month, which resulted in the death of Elizabeth (Lisa) Steinberg, is an unfortunate and tragic incident, and a thorough investigation of facts in that case is being held in New York. Such investigation may assist lawyers and social service persons to make recommendations as to remedial legislation as may be needed.

As an adoption attorney and adoptive parent, I would like to make a few comments concerning the debate on the desirability of agency adoptions as compared to independent adoptions.

As the respective labels imply, agency adoptions are primarily controlled by the appropriate agencies (as licensed by the California Department of Social Services) and independent adoptions handled by both the attorneys involved and the appropriate agency of the State of California, which handles independent adoptions.

The advantages of agency adoptions: Anonymity--in most cases, the birth mother does not meet or know the identity of the adoptive parents. Adoptive couples must meet much more rigid standards and may be found unacceptable by an adoptive agency because of such things as their age, different religions, or simply because they already have one child.

The advantages of independent adoptions: Birth parents actually choose who will adopt their child and can meet the adoptive parents. This is called an "open adoption" concept; closer relationship between adoptive parents and birth parents is possible, if desired; the child is usually placed directly with the adoptive parents from the hospital, not into foster case first as with agency adoption; waiting time, for adoptive parents, is usually substantially less.

Drawbacks: The risk that the adoption will be interrupted is much higher; usually substantially more expensive, depending on the birth mother's situation and need for medical expense, pre-natal living expenses, and other appropriate expenses as defined by law.


Certified Family Law Specialist

Beverly Hills

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