A Place for Advocacy in Child Welfare Systems: The Case of Adoption

By Ward, Margaret | Child Welfare, May 1995 | Go to article overview

A Place for Advocacy in Child Welfare Systems: The Case of Adoption


Ward, Margaret, Child Welfare


These are difficult times for social service agencies. In province after province, such severe cutbacks in funding have been made that administrators and line staff members are hard pressed to maintain mandated services, and must rely on a reduced number of personnel. Child welfare organizations are, of course, no exception. Often, the result is increased anxiety as workers spread their efforts thin and fervently hope to avoid a human disaster. In such an atmosphere, advocacy may well be regarded as an unwanted and unneeded intrusion. People who speak out or agitate in their own behalf or for those who cannot speak for themselves demand precious time and attention that could be devoted to the agencies' clients. Yet it is in just such times as these that advocates fill a crucial role.

To comprehend this role better, it is necessary to look in turn at the customary operation of agencies, the process of change, and the place of advocacy in shaping that change. Adoption affords a number of examples.

Everyday System Operation

Understanding change in agencies involves considering their everyday patterns of operation. According to systems theory, organizations try to maintain a steady state by a process of self-correction [Jantsch 1980]. Though some changes and fluctuations may occur both within an organization and its environment, the momentum of established practice tends to keep system operation relatively constant. In a child welfare agency--a specialized form of organization--both written policies and the customary application of regulations serve as a benchmark that maintains consistency in service provision. As a result, both staff members and clients know what to expect. Two examples from the adoption field are illustrative.

For a long time, adoption records were sealed to protect the interests of all parties involved. According to then current theory, biological parents were given a guarantee that their past could not come back to haunt them; adoptive parents were assured that their adopted children were truly theirs, as if born to them; and adoptees did not have to face the confusion of competing sets of parents or the stigma of having been born out-of-wedlock (as was true for most adoptees placed as infants) [Sachdev 1989]. When children were placed for adoption, a certain amount of nonidentifying information was given the parents. Records were opened, however, only when an overriding need, such as a possible genetic disorder, was proven in court. That things are done in a particular way often serves to further foster the belief that the method is inherently correct [Rajecki 1990]. Thus, to the philosophical basis for sealed records was added, in time, the weight of conventional practice.

The adoption of Aboriginal children is a second example. A survey conducted in 1971 found that most provinces with large numbers of these children were placing them in Caucasian families, sometimes by aggressive recruitment programs [Ward 1984]. Beginning about this time, many Aboriginal children from Manitoba were placed in the United States. One American agency involved in over 200 such adoptions worked principally with only two Canadian social workers [Ward & Tremitiere 1994]. In this case, placements through the American agency were facilitated because the machinery was in place and time and effort did not have to be expended on developing new procedures. In fact, a newspaper report from that time stated that such placements could be made more rapidly, and thus more efficiently, than local ones [Pigg 1982].

When practices like the sealing of records or placement patterns become embedded in law, regulation, or customary practice channels, it is often difficult to change them. According to Eoyang [1994], any organization low in differences among its parts and high in communication levels is not particularly adaptable. In established social agency practice, communication often becomes a constant cascade of memos, official forms and statistics, case records, and the like. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A Place for Advocacy in Child Welfare Systems: The Case of Adoption
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.