Nightlight, a non-profit organization, has been conducting domestic adoptions for more than fifty years, so we are aware of the many lessons learned for social work best practices. One best practice recognized by nearly everyone in the field of adoption is that a child’s best interest is paramount as we find homes for children. Adoptive parents make it possible for these children to be in loving families. Yet, there are critics of adoption, not only the adoption of children from Native American backgrounds, but of children from around the world. However, we believe that children do best in loving, nurturing families. We also believe that children do best when adoptive parents can offer their child a rich cultural heritage as well as maintain an open relationship with the child’s birth parents.
We at Nightlight also believe that women have certain rights when they become pregnant. It is well established that in the US more than one million women each year seek an abortion. However, many women do not want to terminate their pregnancies, and for the same myriad of reasons that other women seek abortions, some women seek to place their children for adoption. These are good-willed women who know that they cannot parent another child without support. It is not a matter of more government assistance; they need the emotional and physical day-to-day support of a supportive family and community. In a rare instance of two unlikely worlds colliding, adoption honors a woman’s choice and a child’s right to life.
Many imagine that typical birth mothers are teenage girls who have gotten pregnant and marriage is premature for them. Few birth mothers fit that profile. Rather, many women who seek to place a child for adoption had a child as a teenager and then had another child. They often have poor relationships with the birth fathers of their children. Caring for one more child is more than many of these women can handle.
Some women who come to us are poor. Some are not. For those in need, we can provide essentially the same types of resources that government programs are ideally working to provide: housing, utilities, food, rides to and from the doctor appointments, medical costs, and counseling from an outside professional.
All of our birth mothers get to select the family of their choice. Each birth mother gets to talk and meet with the family and build a relationship—not just before the baby is born but afterward as well. We require all of our families to plan for openness in adoption and to be committed to such a relationship if the birth family so desires. Birth fathers are also allowed to be part of the process, but few choose to do so.
We also know that not every conception is made in love. Some women are raped; some have abusive boyfriends; others just do not know much about the man or he could be one of a few men; and other dads are not fit to parent a child. We want these women to know that they can be respected at Nightlight by our professional staff as well as the adoptive families.
We also believe in birth father rights. For the man who does have sex with a woman, he does have options if he wants to know what becomes of his biological child so that he can either help support the child or help make an adoption plan for the child. If he is unsure about the woman’s identity or whereabouts, he can register his name on the responsible birth father registry. He can set up an account to support the child. If he does know the woman, he can be involved in the adoption and help select the adoptive parents, talk with them, be at the birth, and continue communications after birth.
My husband and I are strong advocates of openness in adoption. Both of our daughters are adopted and both have open adoptions with their birth families.
Laura Beauvais Godwin
South Carolina Director
Nightlight Christian Adoptions