Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Intersex Adoption

Little personal story: So walking back from a facilitation the other day after hearing Lucy tell her story it dawned on me, I, at some point, would like to adopt an intersex child. I do not want to have (give birth) my own children if I can avoid it, I determined that years ago, but along with being a parent to a child who was previously without I wanted to help in other ways (previously I was going to adopt in the least adopted racial/ethnic group, which is currently African American males, I still plan on this too because I want to adopt on more than one child).Few people know how to handle a situation like having an intersex child and I'm not saying I would be perfect but I sure as hell would educate myself and I would make sure that regardless they are loved.

I tried my best to research the subject of intersex adoption. No surprise there is little to no information about it. The Intersex Society of North America has "tips for adoptive parents" which are the same generally as the "tips for parents" and are very helpful. There is an emphasis on not being secretive; often adoptive parents don't tell the children they are adopted until a certain age or sometimes not at all, this can cause problems in the relationship with the child and sometimes have an effect on how the child feels about their identity. This is true also in intersex children and to a much greater extent! Not telling a child they are adopted and not telling them that they are intersex (if it is avoidable) is double level of deceit.

I called 2 adoptive agencies and one group that puts children into foster care. I also e-mailed the Texas Department of Family Protective Services. I said I was a UT student doing research for my social work class and had some questions: Do you do adoptive services for intersex children? Can an adoptive parent request an intersex child? (I know you can often request a race/ethnicity of a child) Do you have any programs in place for intersex children? (i.e. counseling) Do the children or the adoptive parents have access to their medical records? One of the adoption agencies and the foster group were happy to answer any questions I had but unfortunately were both stopped at the first question, both times I had to explain the meaning of intersex and there response was that it had never come up. I left my name and number with the other adoption agency but I haven't heard back, I will let you know if I do. The woman I talked to in the foster care service suggested I contact Child Protective Services/ Department of Family Protective Services so I e-mailed them the same questions and this is the response I received:
"I am not familiar with "intersex" children. Prospective adoptive parents that are selected for a child are given an opportunity to read the child's case file, which contains medical information."

I wasn't that surprised with the lack of knowledge for the adoption agency or foster care group, the women that I talked to were secretaries who are told to answer questions of callers, not specialists. I was surprised, however, at the e-mail from DFPS, they are trained to deal with abuse, neglect, various psychological and genetic disorders, background, different dispositions, etc., the whole point is to match the child up with the proper family, if a child is intersex it should be a deciding factor on whether or not a parent is right to handle that situation, some parents just may not be accepting enough or have the means (in the case of medical procedures) to handle that sort of situation. Don't you think intersex should be on the curriculum of training the people who are in charge of choosing parents for children?

So I think much, much later when I want to adopt a child(ren) if I want to adopt an intersex child I will definately have to do the research to find them.

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