Not For the Faint of Heart: Assessing the Status Quo on Adoption and Parental Licensing

In Francoise Baylis & Carolyn McLeod (eds.), Family Making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges. Oxford University Press. pp. 151-167 (2014)
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The process of adopting a child is “not for the faint of heart.” This is what we were told the first time we, as a couple, began this process. Part of the challenge lies in fulfilling the licensing requirements for adoption, which, beyond the usual home study, can include mandatory participation in parenting classes. The question naturally arises for many people who are subjected to these requirements whether they are morally justified. We tackle this question in this paper. In our view, while strong reasons exist in favour of licensing adoptive parents, these reasons support the licensing not only of adoptive parents, but of all or some subset of so-called “natural” parents as well. We therefore conclude that the status quo with respect to parental licensing, according to which only adoptive parents need to be licensed, is morally unjustified.
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