The purposes of adoption as an institution have come full circle. Historical studies teach us that in ancient times the practice served the interests of the adopter. In American adoption statutes, however, this objective gave way to a more humanitarian goal, providing for the welfare of dependent children, with the “best interests of the child” serving as the guiding principle. Yet today, the social and legal context of adoption once again emphasizes adopters’ interests. In this era of planned parenthood, adoption has become simply one of several avenues for the infertile to pursue in their quest to create a family. In other words, once again adoptive children primarily serve the needs of adoptive parents, with any advancement of child welfare an incidental benefit. We would do well to ask: What can we do to revive the childcentered focus of adoption law? At the very least we might ask what the law can do to make the interests of children needing adoption and those of adults planning parenthood coincide.
Adoption, Foster home care, Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997