We have been practicing adoption in the United States for over 150 years. It affects more people than we think*. Its consequences are more profound than we imagine. It is more problematic than we are told.
At the center of adoption lies a dilemma: it can both help and harm. The outcome depends on how well we understand adoption. Whether people will be valued or diminished through adoption is determined by how clearly we, individually and collectively, see this dilemma and the rest of the adoption story: the conditions that enable it, how it works, who it affects and what impact it has.
How we handle this dilemma is a conscious choice. Countless people have a role to play. Lawmakers, options counselors, social workers, lawyers, adoptive parents, siblings, teachers, therapists, filmmakers, friends, neighbors and so many others can influence whether adoption helps or harms people. The people who are affected by adoption most deeply — adopted people, first/birth parents and adoptive parents — stand at the center. They live the experience. They are our most important guides for understanding adoption. Only they can tell us whether we are helping or harming.
There is no space where all people can explore the whole story of adoption. A space where those who shape it, those who are affected by it, and the citizenry who witnesses it can pause, reflect and consider the choices. The Adoption Museum Project is working to create that space.
* It is estimated that over 60% of the U.S. has a connection to adoption. Through new adoptions, more people become involved every year.