Susan Ogden, Domestic Infant Program Director
I am retiring from Adoptions Together after directing the Domestic Infant Program since 2000. It’s been a privilege to provide assistance to the many hundreds of birth parents and their children who have come to Adoptions Together these last 14 years. I came to adoption work as an adoptive mother who brought home an infant in an open adoption 21 years ago.
Adoption has changed dramatically in the past 14 years. It’s become more open, less shameful, and more collaborative for birth and adoptive families. We’re gratified to see the positive long term effects on children in open relationships from the beginning of their adoptive placement. At the same time, children adopted several decades ago are now seeking contact through social networking. As an agency established in 1990, we can respond to older children and their birth parents and help them navigate the contact with its challenges and opportunities.
One of the most problematic changes in adoption is matching birth and adoptive families through the internet, with out of state for profit providers seeking expectant parents in Maryland, DC and Virginia for families in other states where laws may not be as protective as our three states. Many expectant parents are at risk of not being provided with all the information they need to keep their children in their family or make an adoption plan that meets their needs. Social workers at licensed adoption agencies and our adoption attorney colleagues will be dedicated to the best interest of children and ensure their biological parents get help while in crisis, whether they choose adoption or not. Not every parent in crisis is given adequate information and sometimes they are at risk of being exploited due to misinformation. The increase in reproductive technology, particularly surrogacy, has also brought ethical and practical issues to medical and adoption professionals.
We were proud to participate in a change in the Maryland law in 2013 (similar to the law in Virginia) which made short term living expenses for parents considering adoption legal in Maryland. Maryland expectant parents can receive financial assistance to address their critical needs, which among other things means they can have less stressful pregnancies and healthier children. They can also benefit from laws in our states that protect them with longer than average revocation periods and binding post adoption contact agreements.
At the core of Adoptions Together’s work is dedication to client service: we are available 24 hours a day to talk to parents in crisis; we quickly respond to mothers needing counseling after delivery; we take custody of children regardless of their medical needs; we support and assist parents in creating adoptive homes and we counsel women to ensure they understand their options and choose the best one for themselves and their child. Like any institution, adoption will continue to evolve. Our commitment is to make our practice ethical and respectful to the clients who need us during a challenging time in their lives.