Saturday, July 19, 2008


The first section in the 8th edition of Standards for the COA is the administration and management. I realize all of this pertains to Hague countries. According to their website, the reason for standards is the following:

"The Eighth Edition standards are grounded in a long-standing, widely held belief that individuals who receive services are the direct beneficiaries when organizations invest in strong management practice, and can validate the impact of their services on those served."

After reviewing both the private and public sides to accreditation, both are similiar in nature. One of the items that are still not very clear is the definition of clients and consumers. Which are which in adoption? There was none in the standards of the COA. Is the client the child, the natural parents, or the adoptive parents? From here on out my commentary will be in red so that the reader can tell the difference.


According to their website:

"The Eighth Edition standards are grounded in a long-standing, widely held belief that individuals who receive services are the direct beneficiaries when organizations invest in strong management practice, and can validate the impact of their services on those served. We also embrace the idea that the positive effects of implementing national standards multiply when organizations become part of a community that shares and supports this perspective. We hope you will consult and implement the standards to that end."

In the Administration and Management section, it starts of with the ethics:

PURPOSE: The organization earns and sustains the public trust through honest, truthful, and responsible transactions, partnerships, and relationships with individuals, communities, providers, businesses, donors, and government entities. (Is this even working when many adoption agencies are being prosecuted all over the country?)

Open, Transparent Operations.
  • The public must have access to clear, timely, accurate information about the organization's programs, activities, service recipients, and finances. (Interesting, organizations like Catholic Charities, LDS Family Services, and many other church charitable organizations do not have this. Anyone checking into the work of these agencies doesn't have access to the financial portion of these agencies doing the work on the behalf of the churches.)
  • The organization accurately portrays its missions in all communications that contain such a representation.
  • Foundations, Not for Profit Corporations, for profit subsidiaries or holding companies/separate legal entities established under the organizations hospices or on the organizations behalf, take only those actions that are in the organization's and stakeholders' best interests. (Definition of stakeholder is any person, group, or organization that has a vested interest in the services provided by the organization. Examples could be clients, consumers, personnel, funding organizations, referral organizations, vendors and governmental bodies. Again no real definition of a client or even consumer is mentioned here. Just who is this person? Is it the adoptee, the natural parents or the adoptive parents. )
  • The organization eliminates the internal and external barriers to achieving ethical practice throughout the organization, including the unawareness of expectations and current practice. (This sounds like ignorance is not a good excuse. )
  • When the network management entity, organizations with an ownership interest in the network, or members of the network's board of directors provide services to network clients, the network management entity discloses all ownership, partnership, or governance arrangements in all written material describing the network. (Client here is defined as a service recipient. In other words, the organization must state who they work with. As I have read over the websites of adoption agencies, this is not clearly defined. Someone who is researching an agency seriously has to read every page with thoroughness. If you don't you will be caught unaware.)
Conflict of Interest.

The organization prevents enrichment of insiders and other abuses through the adoption and enforcement of a conflict of interest policy consistent with state laws and regulations. The COA doesn't provide the definition of conflict of interest.. Many adoption agencies are non profit entities. They usually use the Internal Revenue Service's definition of it.

1. A conflict of interest policy is tailored to the needs and specifications of the organization. They must include the following:
  • Definition of conflict of interest.
  • They must reveal groups of individuals within the organization covered by the policy.
  • They must acknowledge transactions between the board members and the organization.
  • They must acknowledge policy enforcement.
  • They must identify the framework for evaluating situations that constitute a conflict of interest. (I think the former agency director who is now doing searches for the adoptee qualifies for this type of situation. Representing both the adoptive parents and natural parents is another example of conflict of interest.)
  • They must charge management with developing procedures that encourage disclosure of information to prevent and manage potential and apparent conflict of interests.
2. A conflict of interest policies and procedures ensure the contracts and business arrangements serve the organization's and service recipient's best interests, not private interests. (In adoption, this honestly can't be done. The best interest of the organization is the adoption agency and their ability to make money. The definition of service recipient is too wide. It includes the adoptive parents and the natural parents. This seriously needs to be clearly defined. Who is the agency servicing?)

3. Organizations members, community partners, governing body and advisory board members, personnel and consultants who have a financial interest in the organization's assets, business transactions, leases, and/or professional services must a.) disclose this information and b.) do not participate in any discussion or vote taken with respect to such interest. (How can they guarantee this? There is no way to stop this. In adoption, this is going to happen. Look at who is on the board of this organization and its sponsors and supporters. There is no adequate membership of those living adoption. There are no members of the Bastard Nation, PEAR, Concerned United Birthparents, or American Adoption Congress on the board of the COA.)

4. The network has a process for ensuring that its activities are carried out in an even handed, principled manner and in the interests of the service recipients. (Again, the definition of service recipient is not defined. It is not described as best interests. Is it the service recipients or the organization that decides the interests of service recipients? This is a conflict of interest in my mind.)


An organization that raises funds by individual solicitation from the general public conducts fundraising activities in an ethical, fiscally responsible manner.

1. The organization's governing body and management must oversee fundraising activities and establish written agreements with outside contractors and consultants. (They must protect the confidentiality of the donors if requested.)

2. The organization must do the following:
  • Describe the purpose accurately for which the solicitations are being done.
  • Must spend the funds for the reason that they were solicited.
  • Maintains accounting segregation for nonrestrictive funds.
3. Costs and benefits of each fundraising event are analyzed taking into account factors that will affect the reasonableness of fundraising costs versus dollars raised.

4. Upon the request of the donor or funding source, the organization discloses descriptive and financial information for revenue generating activities including fee for service programs, for profit subsidiaries, and related or unrelated business ventures.

5. The organization raises funds in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements. The organization must also register all fundraising activities with the appropriate administrative authorities.

Protection of Reporters of Suspected Misconduct.

"The organization prohibits employment-related retaliation against employees, and others affiliated with the organization, who come forward with information about suspected misconduct or questionable practices and provides an appropriate, confidential channel for reporting such information." (What is an employee to do when you have the entire family running the agency? In several adoption agencies that I have reviewed, the board members were either married or relatives. These folks are going to protect themselves first. They will leave a reporting employee out to dry.)

Professional Conduct.

1. The organization conducts business and delivers services in an honest, ethical, objective manner and is guided in making decisions by professional responsibility. (In adoption, this is hard to do because adoption itself is not considered a profession. Yes there are attorneys and social workers but anyone with a degree can get into adoption. This makes regulation very hard to do especially in regards to ethics.)

2. The organization prohibits:

  • Personnel know and follow the code of ethics of their respective professions. (Some adoption professionals are not decreed social workers.)
  • making or accepting payment or other consideration in exchange for referrals;
  • steering, directing referrals to, or giving preference to clients easier or less costly to serve for the organization and practitioners within the organization;
  • unfairly steering or directing referrals to, or "creaming" clients for specific network service provider organizations, such as network owners, or individual practitioners within the network, as applicable to networks; and
  • steering or directing referrals to private practice in which personnel, consultants, or the immediate families of personnel and consultants are engaged.
This is really vague for me to understand. I realize that they are including into this definition the other organizations not in the adoption industry. They also accredit debt consolidation organizations and employee assistance organizations. I am sure that they use those organizations to help them do background checks on adoptive parents. My concern is the adoption industry itself. It tells me that these agencies can not make money off referrals to other agencies. They also can not give preference to an adoptive parent who has more money. Sometimes when approving an adoption, there is a home study agency and the adoption agency itself. Both can do adoptions. Isn't this a code of conduct and conflict of interest violation here? It seems like it to me. An example of what I am talking about. St. Elizabeth Coleman (the agency that I was adopted from) is now doing international adoption home studies. They do not state who they are working for and if they are getting any funding from the agencies that it works with on international adoption. I have discovered one of them by sheer accident. Do they profit off these home studies that they do for other agencies? With it now being a Catholic Charities entity, an adopter or a natural parent can't be an informed recipient of their services. To me, this allows too many agencies to get around the laws.

3. The organization prohibits preferential treatment of organization members, community partners, members of the organization's governing body, advisory body, personnel, or consultants applying for and receiving the organization's services. (Give me a break. I know better. The agency has to do something blatantly wrong before these organizations will abandon them. With Reaching Out Through International Adoption and Masha Allen, the JCICS allowed them to close business and open up under another name. It happens and there is no regulation of it.)

An organization requires practitioners with a private practice on its premises to provide their clients with a written statement that clarifies the relationship between the private practitioner and the organization. ( Yea right, look at what happened in New York recently.)

Research Protections.

An organization that participates in or permits research involving service recipients establishes the right of individuals to refuse to participate without penalty and guarantees participant'sonfidentiality.

1. The identity and privacy of participants is safeguarded in all phases of research conducted by, or with the cooperation of, the organization.

2. The organization has a mechanism to review research proposals involving service recipients, such as a human subjects committee or an internal review board, which reports to the chief executive officer or governing body.

3. Research participants, or a parent or legal guardian, sign a consent form that includes:
  1. a statement that he or she voluntarily agrees to participate;
  2. a statement that the organization will continue to provide services whether he or she agrees to participate;
  3. an explanation of the nature and purpose of the research;
  4. a clear description of possible risks or discomfort; and
  5. a guarantee of confidentiality.
This last portion is something that I don't have an issue with. This is all very concise and to the point. I think it was done to prevent situations like the studies of separating twins. There is no wiggle room on this one.

There needs to be further regulation and professionalizing of adoption. We on the underground movement consider it an industry. Since human lives are involved in this, we need serious regulation in order to protect those human lives. As I have been reading over this, I think some changes need to be made:
  1. Home studies need to be made by a independent organization that does not profit from whether or not an adoption goes through. This organization must not be in the adoption industry. The adoption agency must not be able to have influence over those homehome studies example would be if a prospective adoptive parent questions the methods of an agency, the home study would not be affected. If a home study does come back bad, there will not be a way around it. It stops the process right there. The adoption industry has no effect on it to change into their favor.
  2. Just like children have a guardian ad litem, there must also be some kind of organization that does it for natural parents. It represents solely their interests. It can't be associated with the adoption industry. It must be headed by natural parents for natural parents.
  3. There also needs to be an advisory board with equal numbers of representative members of Bastard Nation, PEAR, American Adoption Congress, Concerned United Birthparents, ALMA, and OriginsUSA. This will keep the COA honest. It would interject the thoughts of those living adoption into this process.
  4. All parties (adoptee, natural parent, and adoptive parent) to the adoption must have open access to the records. They must be allowed access to all of the documents in the adoption. The only prohibitive would be medical and financial records. The medical records belong to the natural parents. The financial records belong to the adoptive parents. All court documents should be available to those involved.

No comments: