What’s The Value of Consistency and Stability in A Child’s Life?

I know I haven’t written a great deal recently, but I have been thinking.   One of the things I have been thinking about is the value of consistency and stability in a child’s life.   I place a high value on these things.  From what I know of child development, stability and consistency in the child’s primary relationships is important to the development of a healthy adult.   Disruption–losing a parent, say, as the result of a nasty divorce–is associated with problems of many sorts.   (Interestingly, as I recall, losing a parent because of death has fewer negative consequences.  If you stop and think about this, you might see some reasons why this would be.)

I think it is the value I place on consistency and stability that leads me to my support for some variety of de facto parent test.  There’s a lot on the blog about that, but basically that’s a test that says that if you’ve acted as a parent (a social/psychological parent) long enough, then the law will recognize you as a parent.   It rests at least in part on the assumption that this will be best for children because it will preserve their existing parent/child relationships.  

If you look at some of the cases I’ve recently discussed here, you can see how it works.   In the Vermont/Virgina case,  Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins both had the requisite parent/child relationship for all of the child’s life.  Thus, it seems to me, it’s right that the law should recognize them both as parents.   (This is at the time of the original litigation.   As some of the discussion of the case makes clear, post-litigation there are other factors–including the vindication of the judicial system–that I think come into play.)

In the most recent case I wrote about–the one from Canada–you can see the same principle at work in a different way.   The two women who are raising the child have the parent/child bonds.   The man who provided the sperm does not.  Thus, I don’t see much of a claim on his part to have access to the child–it would only disrupt that existing relationships formed by the women and the child.  (I rather wonder what his position is vis-a-vis the status of the two women.  Does he, for instance, acknowledge that they are both the child’s social/psychological parents?)

I won’t claim to be totally consistent (which of us are?), but I do think the majority of the views I’ve expressed here can be linked to my view of the importance of consistency and stability.   And I think I could back up that view with various sorts of evidence from fields like psychology and family studies.

Now I’m well aware that not everyone shares my view.   In particular, there’s a vocal group of people who assert the primacy of the genetic connection.   (By this I mean people who assert that legal parentage should be determined by reference to genetic connection between adult and child.)

I’m not sure I’ve said this before (and if I have, I think it’s been a while) but it seems to me that those who assert the primacy of genetic connection must consider it to be more important than stability and consistency.   Thus, it’s more important to relocate the child so that she or he is with the genetic parent than it is to preserve the existing relationship with the social/psychological parent.   (I think this has to be, else you’d come down on the side of the social/psychological parent rather than the genetic parent.)

So maybe this is a different way of looking at the core disagreement I have with those who would use genetic relationship as the determinant of legal parenthood:  We disagree about the importance of consistency/stability in the care-giving relationships known to a child.

It’s not that I think restating things this way will enable us to resolve our differences, but I think this does offer a slightly different view of where we disagree.   And this point–the importance of stability/consistency–might be one that is easier to establish or refute based on actual social science literature.


37 responses to “What’s The Value of Consistency and Stability in A Child’s Life?

  1. I think perhaps I am somewhere in the middle here. I place an importance on the genetic connection, but not to the level of some here. I support laws that give a fair opportunity for biological parents to assert their rights, because I do believe if a biological parent wants to be in their child’s life, the child benefits from that too. But at the same time, I don’t find adoption, surrogacy, or donor gametes objectionable by themselves – rather, I have concerns about biological fathers not being given a fair opportunity before their child is adopted, or adopted or donor-conceived children not receiving accurate information about their conception and/or birth.

    • I think it is useful to sort out the issues as you have done here. I geuss I would wonder about under what circumstances the biological father needs to be given a fair opportunity (as you put it) or what a fair opportunity means. So for example, it seems to me (and I’m just saying this is my opinion) that a man who provides sperm to a sperm bank doesn’t get that opportunity. His decision to provide sperm in the first place takes care of that. I’m not sure where you’d be on that.

      The harder case, perhaps is one where a man has no particular relationship with a woman but has sex with her and she becomes pregnant. It’s a little hard for me to see why he should have a greater opportunity than the first guy (above). But typically the law says he does.

      I guess I think you have to play out all sorts of scenarios to really figure out what you think–or at least, I do. My plan for my next post is actually a hypothetical (or a series of hypotheticals) to raise some of these issues. It’s when you start to apply general principles to specific sets of facts that you can find where the hard questions are.

  2. But yes, I do think stability is important for a child – but I think there are also ways, if custody change or a change to shared custody is needed, to minimize disruptions in a child’s life.

    But at the same time I will say stability for the child and ensuring my future child has one home for all of childhood is the reason I am using a willing to be known donor rather than an actual known donor. In my state, a known donor has parental rights unless the woman was married. I do not believe it would benefit my future child to be placed in a situation where her life is turned upside down by a known donor who was previously played more of an uncle-type role asserting rights to equal shared custody or even seeking primary custody. There is no way for a known donor to a single parent to legally terminate parental rights in my state whatsoever, while an unknown donor is considered to have terminated his parental rights.

  3. Julie this is real on topic for me, why don’t they refer to it as defacto adoptive parent rather than just defacto parent? I mean truth be told what you describe is an alternative means of gaining legally recognized parental authority over a child that is not one’s own offspring as opposed to gaining legally recognized parental authority over a child that is one’s own offspring. Why is it not more clearly described as an adoptive parent since the effort you speak of is in lieu of an adoption when you want to be the parent of someone else’s offspring. Certainly adoptive parents are in the same boat as parents in that they gain the title prior to doing any of the work. They begin referring to themselves as Mom and Dad before the baby is all the way out the birth canal or before the ink is halfway dry on the adoption decree. What you describe is an alternative route to adoption or taking up a child that won’t be raised by his or her own original parents. You can’t be an adoptive or social parent unless the child looses one or both parents first right? Otherwise there would be no room two is currently company and three’s a crowd so someone has to fail before an adoptive or social parent can succeed.

    • Adoption is a specific and formal process. It’s defined by law and there are specified steps that must be taken in a particular order. De facto parentage kicks in where people skip those specified steps–they don’t go through the process–but actually start to live their lives in a particular way–and I think you possibly could say they live as though they had gone through an adoption.

      I see your point about terminology and I do think some people have tried to describe the doctrine as one of equitable adoption. But the courts have not tended to use that language, I think to keep separate the formal legal process that is at the heart of adoption. A de facto parent did not complete an adoption so they cannot be an adoptive parent.

      In fact, I think most would say that de facto parents are natural parents. I know that that seems odd, but think of it this way: all legal parents are either natural parents or adoptive parents. If de facto parents aren’t adoptive parents, then that means they must be natural parents. I think I wrote not so long ago about the curious usage of “natural parent” to mean anyone who became a legal parent without formal court action–i.e. without adoption. So it includes some (but not all) genetic parents and also some non-genetic parents.

  4. In the case of a divorce or separation between partners, the consistency and stability has already been disrupted so the question of maintaining a relationship with an unrelated partner isn’t necessarily about consistency and stability.

    • This is true, of course. At the same time, judges try hard to ensure that each legal parent maintains a actual relationship with the child–that’s a big part of the reasons for ordering contact with both parents. And this is motivated, at least in part, by some thought that the well-being of the child is enhanced by maintaining these crucial relationships even through the disruption of divorce.

      I guess I’m not sure what the latter part of your comment means. By “unrelated” do you mean genetically unrelated or legally unrelated? And do you mean partner or parent?

      If there is a person who doesn’t have a significant psychological parent relationship with the child then there’s nothing there for the courts to protect. If there person does then my point was that the child has an interest in maintaining that relationship–even if there are going to be lots of changes necessitated by separation of the parties. Indeed, some might say it is even more important for the child to maintain the core relationships if the day-to-day routine is going to be disrupted. At least it assures some fundamental stability/continuity.


  5. If you are merely adding another person in the child’s life – a person likely to be of inherent interest to the child, like the child’s biological father – it may be stressful for a time, but I wouldn’t call it a “disruption” like divorce or the death of a parent is.

    I can imagine someone saying, at age 30, “I wish my father were still alive” or “I wish my parents never got divorced”, but not (barring extreme circumstances) “I wish my biological father wasn’t allowed to start seeing me once a week when I was 2 – he’s a nice guy, and we have a great relationship now, and it’s great knowing all about my ancestors on his side, but boy, was that disruptive!”

    I agree that people who have been taking care of a child consistently for a very long time – as step-parents, usually – should be able to retain access to the child even after they are no longer in a relationship with the bio parent. But do they need to be called “parents” for that? What if I divorce my husband and then have several long relationships with other people of either sex, who my children will become attached to before they turn 18 – do all these people become their legal parents? Maybe we can have a “tried & true step-parent” legal title for people a child would miss if they were gone from their lives.

    Generally, I can’t see adding a caring person to a child’s life – especially if that person is indelibly related to the child – as a disruption. Removing a caring person is more likely to be a disruption.

    Consistency and stability can so easily be abused as arguments in all sorts of outrageous situations – like in the Sean Goldman case you wrote about. Sean’s grandparents tried to pull the consistency thing after they practically kidnapped him and kept him away from his father for years.

    • It’s certainly true that the inclusion of this new and interesting person to the child’s life need not be disruptive. It could actually go quite nicely. But I think this depends on how the involved people work together. Suppose the new and interesting person has it in mind to completely undermine the child’s existing family–to turn the child on one or both of her/his parents, to plant suggestions that the child isn’t love or the parents aren’t real or whatever. Surely we can agree that just as it could go very nicely it could also go very badly. (I don’t for a moment mean to say that this is what’s going on in that Canadian case–I just don’t know.)

      So perhaps it would be fair to say that it might be fine to add the new interesting person and it might not. Depends on the specific case–the specific people and their interactions.

      One question this might raise is who gets to decide what to do with that interesting person in any given case. Our traditional approach is to say this is the parents’ decision. They get to decide who the child sees and who the child does not see. This is, in fact, one of the most important privileges legal parents have. There’s a 2000 US Supreme Court case where grandparents wanted to spend some time with their grandchildren–their son (the children’s father) having died. The trial judge thought it a good idea–there are many reasons why grandparents can be a good thing for kids and these were nice people who could bring music and extended family into the child’s life. Both the Washington Supreme Cour and the US Supreme court said no to that idea. It’s the parent’s right to make these decisions, not some judge who is second-guessing. (The case is called Troxel.)

      I think what that would mean in a case like this is that you’d need to persuade the parents that it was a good idea for their kid to let the new and interesting parent in and that the new and interesting parent would have to be respectful of the existing family. Is that a bad thing?

      There are other good points you make but I think I may stop here–I feel like I’ve gone on a bit. I hope they’ll surface again, or maybe I’ll come back in a while and pick up on a different point. .

  6. I wonder whether based on consistency and stability, a primary caregiver should be entitled to more consideration than say a secondary caregiver. This of course is grossly unfair to the adults, especially to a primary breadwinner who works really hard to support the kid, but whose presence may be less felt. and absence less disruptive?

    • This has been an extreme controversial topic for some time. There was a proposal that post-divorce a child’s time should be divided between parents in roughly the same way that it had been pre-divorce. There was also a proposal for a primary caregiver preference–which is just what it sounds like–what you describe. People did indeed feel that it was deeply unfair to the breadwinners. And you can see that it is harsh in many ways. It’s probably often the man who has played the expected role of bread-winner. And then, because he took that role, he gets less time with his child.

      You can also, though, look at it from the point of view of the child. imagine an really extreme case–a breadwinner who is rarely home and has little contact with the child. If you maintain the same small level of interaction with the child, then the child won’t experience much disruption. If you take the child away from the caretaker–and let’s just assume that is who the child has been spending its time with–in order to give more time to the breadwinner that might be much harder. (This is going to depend on all that stability consistency stuff again.)

      I suppose we try to both be fair to the breadwinner and sensitive to the well-being of the child. In any event, the preference for a primary caretaker isn’t formal law anywhere. It may be a factor taken into account, but it’s one of many.

  7. Yep, I’m having difficulty with the word ‘disruptive’ too. It sounds inherently like there will be negative consequences that the child has to be protected from, instead of something that could potentially add positive things to the child’s life.

    • I think my choice of word was perhaps poor. The introduction of the new and interesting genetically related man is not, in and of itself, disruptive. Indeed, it could be enriching. It could be nothing much. It could be lots of things. I didn’t mean to suggest it would always and necessarily be disruptive.

      But I do think that, depending on how he behaves and what the relationship is between him and the child’s parents it could be disruptive. The fact that he’s gone to court to force his way in (rather than trying to work it out with the women) doesn’t look to me like a promising basis for a relationship.

  8. Yes, “disruption” is becoming increasingly problematic to me unless it denotes an actual loss.

    A child adopted from a cold, formal, uncaring orphanage will experience “disruption” – should we prohibit it?

    Adding a loving, important person is change and change can be stressful. That’s the extent of what can be claimed. Unless the person added is unstable or abusive, the stressful change is ultimately a positive thing.

    • It’s true that adding a loving and important person can be stressful but good. The key here is that it can be. But is he a loving person? Who decides if he is? He could be stable but he could be bent on destroying the child’s relationship with his parents (because he is very angry with them). Imagine if he was–does he get to do that? Who decides whether the benefit of contact with him is worth the cost (the stress occasioned in this specific case) for a two year old child? Is it up to the judge or to the parents?

      As a pure question of law, this is actually a slam-dunk, I think. Judges do not generally tell parents who their kids see and do not see. Perhaps we are thinking here of a new legal regime–one where the man with the genetic relationship has some rights and so can insist on seeing the child. But it cannot (to my mind) be an unqualified right to see the child. There must be some assessment of whether in any particular case, given the actual people involved, it will be a good thing. Or at least, I think there must be such an assessment.

  9. What an interesting debate. I’d go back to your original point Julie about consistency and stability. If the new and interesting genetically connected person (could be man or woman) was respectful of the family the child was being raised in, wanted to work with them and intended to be a consistent and stable person in the child’s life, then GREAT. A child cannot have too many people who love him or her. But, as you say in your last response, it all depends on the circumstances and the people involved. Nothing is inevitable or should be assumed.

    • I agree. And then for me, one question is what can we (as a society, perhaps thinking also of law) do to maximize the chances that there will be a good relationship between the people involved. I say this because I think that is key–if you have a postive and respectful relationship between the sperm provider and the parents, then I think they probably find a way to integrate him into the life of their child and it is indeed enriching. If, on the other hand, you have an antagonistic relationship, that’s a different story.

      Perhaps what you do is encourage careful deliberation (by all parties) before you enter into an arrangment like this. Perhaps you provide counselling (as is the case with adoption) and get people to focus on what it is they are committing too. Realistically you probably cannot mandate this–people can do home insemination with a turkey baster, after all. But perhaps we could set expectations.

      And then there is the question actually raised by the case in Canada: If it doesn’t all work out nicely (as we hope it will) then what? Is it up to a judge to decide or up to the parents? And if the judge, how does the judge decide? Is it her/his judgment about what is best for this particular child or are there some standing assumptions about what is best for children?

  10. I had the unfortunate opportunity to observe a consistency/stability argument recently.

    Birth Mother lost custody to three children because the environment (including Boyfriend) was harmful. Birth mother’s parents became guardians. Birth mother was pregnant w/ Boyfriend’s child at the time.

    Birth Mother and Boyfriend break up because he is physically abusive. She moves into Parents’ motel room. Now there are Parents in one bed, Birth Mother in the other and three children sleeping on an air mattress on the floor between them. There is a microwave and “dorm” refrigerator.

    Child is born. Boyfriend makes no attempt to provide support. Birth Mother cannot support four children so she attempts to place baby for adoption and will then complete her State assigned tasks to regain custody of the other children.

    Birth Mother has new relationship and he moves into room with the family.

    An Adoptive family is identified as socially and financially stable, homeowners with a natural child and who are willing to have an open relationship with Birth Mother. Birth Mother w/ advice of counsel, terminates her rights to baby. Adoption entity makes numerous attempts to have now ex-Boyfriend come to office to execute termination papers. He makes appointments to execute but never appears.

    Government adds the baby to the ongoing case in Family court. Adoption entity identifies to the Court the termination and the positive home study of the prospective Adoptive couple and asks that the baby be transferred to the prospective couple pending the final determination of the Adoption Court.

    Ex-boyfriend-bio-Dad appears in Court and states he will not agree to a termination. Child is now three months old without any support from him. He testifies that he does not have a job and moves from friend’s couch to friend’s couch but wants to parent the baby.

    Court denies Adoption Entity’s request, order’s the Child be placed with Bio-Dad’s 67 year old mother, orders visitation for Bio-dad and that the Child be introduced to the Birth Mother’s three children. The Court the orders the State to develop a plan so that the Birth Mother, her other children, the Baby and the Bio-Dad be reunified as it is in the best interest of the Child.

    The definition of consistency and stability is fungible and dependent upon one’s perspective.

    • There’s a ton going on in the case you recite–many different currents about both stability and the importance of genetics. Surely the ex-boyfriend’s rights arise entirely from the DNA link? I won’t go further right now–I am rushed. But much food for thought.

    • I’m surprised the court did that since I was beginning to feel like the court would rule in favor of two rich people no matter what. There are always going to be people that can do a better job of raising our kids than we can. Always going to be people with more money. The entire family was living in a motel room that sounds like a pretty poverty stricken family trying to pull together. It sounds like her parents did not turn her back on her. It sounds like the parents of the father tried to talk some sense into him before it was too late and they did. Its not illegal to be on public assistance and until it is wanting to keep your kid and be on welfare is not a crime in fact, that is what welfare is for. People with kids who do not have jobs. It sounds like both sides of the family are trying to save this child from being adopted out of their family. It does not matter that the people have a house and more money, that is not the child’s family. Whatever the courts can do to help people to make it work they should do. Only when there is no alternative at all should a child have to leave their own family and go to someone else’s family. The father did the right thing, that child is his responsibility and he should be working and paying the bills for the kid and now he will be on the hook for that and so will the mother. Not everyone in the world has a norman rockwell family it does not mean that the children should be taken away from them.

      • It’s the point you make–that there are always going to be people that can do a better job of raising our kids–that leads us not to use BIC in specific cases to decide parentage. It really would mean the end of any notion of parental rights.

  11. ” It sounds like both sides of the family are trying to save this child from being adopted out of their family.” Your conclusion is incorrect.

    BioMom and her Parents support the adoption. They concluded that an additional child will prevent BioMom from completing the State’s plan so that she could regain legal custody of her three older children.

    Among the other assigned tasks, BioMom has to have a full time job and have an apartment which is large enough for 4. She will have to retain the apartment for 6 months before the State will consider a full reinstatement. Now that the baby is part of the planning, she will have to rent a three bedroom apartment to satisfy the requirements.

    The lesson here is that once your children become part of the system, you are held to a higher standard to retain or regain custody. While this may sound good when you say it fast, the reality is that children will age out of the system more often than their Parent(s) will permanently conform to the lowest levels of acceptable standards of parenting.

    There is another dynamic afoot here as well. BioDad’s statement of parentage is mere pretext to further abuse BioMom by interfering in her life. His ego was bruised when she finally rejected him. This is his only way to pay her back.

    The fact remains that as a mid-twenties male, he has lived with his Mother his entire life save the three months he spent with BioMom. He has never held a job longer than 2 months. He has children with other women, none of whom he has paid support to.

    This is a reality which sadly exists but most tend to ignore. We have to admit that there are some parents or some situations where the children are abused solely because they are stuck. Adoption can be a way to save some of these children from the selfishness of their Parents.

    Some would argue that the perceived value of retaining a family unit is offset by a social/intellectual disability visited the child by the State’s paternalistic actions. As to this Baby, there is a hope that the BioDad will grow tired of his game, sign a voluntary termination and thus allow the child and BioMom (and her other children) some hope for a better life.

    • Robert yes of course I absolutely agree that sometimes an adoptive home is the safest place for children who were abused by their parents. I just had not gotten that either parent had been charged or convicted with having abused them. If they had not gone to jail for battery and its just really shotty parenting skills the state generally requires parents take classes to get full custody back etc. I know that states will require her to have a three bedroom but she’ll be assigned a space in a housing project that has 3 bedrooms. No that is not as good for the kids as a nice adoptive home, but it is not illegal to live in the projects so taking advantage of the public assistance for low income parents should not be reason for preventing a person from raising their kid. thats all i was saying

  12. A quick update on this matter. When told that the conditions of his parentage included holding a steady job and paying child support, BioDad terminated his parental rights.
    Not to worry, however. The happy Adoptive Couple drove 7 hours, picked up the child and went home. Under the rules, they will be visited by a home study person in about 2 months to be sure that nothing has changed since the initial study. The adoption with be finalized in 90 days.
    BioMom and her family are thrilled!!

    • Well its a shame he could not pull his act together and a good thing there are loving people in the world willing to go the extra (sounds like about 500 miles) to help a child in crisis grow up in a safe and loving home.

      Not everyone is born with stellar parents which is why adoption can be the best choice in emergencies just like this.

    • Good news. Hopefully bio mom will be able to get the other children back now. Doesn’t seem it would have helped anyone if that had been harder.

  13. seems like this child had to be adopted for financial reasons- mom being unable to rent a 3 bedroom apartment and so forth. Not that I personally know of the solution myself but it doesn’t seem right. when baby grows up I wonder how it will affect him to learn that he was given away so that his other siblings could be retrieved.
    as for biodad, 25 year old men are often immature and irresponsible.
    not that i know a better solution

    • It’s possible she also just didn’t think she could emotionally handle the care of any more kids, given that she was not in a great situation. Some people can’t handle having a big family. If it truly is just about money then that is unfortunate, but if mom just didn’t have the physical/emotional strength for a larger family then the only real solution is prevention, better birth control access so this never needs to happen.

  14. Robert i can’t help but be taken aback on the phrase “Happy Adoptive Couple”. Could they spare no emotions for the tragedy of this- their child’s family?
    If I was called to care for a neglected kin, I don’t know that happy would be my primary emotion. Which doesn’t meanI wouldn’t do it wholeheartedly- I most certainly would and love the kid. but I’d definitely be sad about the whole situation.

    • Ki makes an excellent point. While it may be the best thing for the child – going to a better more stable place and all lets not forget what a horrible tragedy it is for that child to have to loose his family and even his identity legally forever because his parents and other relatives could not care for him now.

      We should have temporary solutions for temporary problems. The child should remain entitled to receive support, benefits, inheritance, legal recognition of kinship and everything he has now in addition to the other family having the authority to act on his behalf. too bad adoption is permanent in ways that do the child no good. He just needs someone to raise him, not a whole different identity

      • the problem is Marilyn, that most people are not going to devote their lives to caring for someone else’s child strictly out of altruism. there has to be something in it for them.

        • Something in it for them. Wow.
          I have more faith in humanity than that. I believe that people would still seek out opportunities to help other people, children and adults if there were nothing in it for them other than the experience of coming together to do something loving and good

          • but the fact is that they don’t. Look at the foster care system- if people were so eager to do good they would take those kids. Most people are not interested in devoting their lives to an all encompassing undertaking strictly out of altruism.

            • And so therefore Ki we should commodify children when its not necessary because nobody will help them if they don’t get to call themselves parents?

  15. While I prefer to not get involved in a swapping of opinions, I offer some observations in this, my last post here.

    First, this is a 3-4 month old baby who has no idea of anything save a consistent loving Parent. Tragedy is not part of any conversation with the Adoptive Family or the Genetic Parents.
    A month or so ago, I overheard an Adoptive Dad (white) bragging on his now 18 year old son (black) who received a full scholarship to college. This was a young man who was adopted at birth. His mother did not have the ability to care for him. He retained a relationship with his mother and knew that she recently died of drug related AIDS. This proud Dad and his wife had the desire and ability to take a baby into their home and provide an environment to the boy where he could succeed.

    Second, the Adoptive Couple who traveled for the baby have been dealing with infertility and an inability to naturally extend their family. They have the desire and the tools to provide for this baby. We should foster these relationships, not inhibit them.

    The Tragedy is that the greater percentage of children are available because their parents do not have an ability to parent. I do not think that it matters that the causative factor is drugs, abuse, financial means or immaturity. I do see sheer numbers of birth mothers who serially give birth to children, without any change to a life style which caused them to place their earlier children for adoption.
    I am neither a sociologist or psychologist so I do not know how these things occur save to say that most birth mothers confirm that their own parent(s) are themselves in need.
    Finally, the earlier at risk children are placed into an adoptive home, the better they are. It appears that when children are bounced from Parent to Foster parent and probably many different Foster parents, they get damaged. A failure to provide a loving consistent home results in an angry child who will act out in any number of ways, all detrimental to her/his chances of a happy life. I disagree with cynics that say that it is only the babies who are adopted. The older children are passed over, not because they are older, but because the system has damaged them.

    I appreciate those who prefer children stay with their birth parents. The problem is that too many birth parents are not capable of providing for themselves, much less for dependents.
    Sorry, I am not smart enough to suggest how to make this situation any different.

    • My point Robert is not to say that adoption shouldn’t exist. I am just commenting on your characterization of them as “the happy adoptive parents”. (It could be that is your words and not theirs). What are they happy about? That a poor struggling family couldn’t get their act together so they “get” the kid.
      Their goal is to “get” a kid. sounds a bit commodifying.
      They should at least have the humility to realize that they are picking up someone else’s broken pieces.

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