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Discipline policies

Hi, we’re in the early stages of domestic infant adoption. Our agency has asked (required) us to sign a Discipline Policy, which states that we will never use any type of physical discipline for our adopted child.

We are uncomfortable with this, as our personal belief is that spanking is okay and sometimes necessary - in certain circumstances. Of course it won’t be our “go to” discipline but if needed, we are not opposed to it.

We’ve actually been looking into changing agencies because of this (and have found several that require no such statement).

However, I’ve been told“by several adoptive parents, by a couple of agencies, and by an old neighbor who is a judge“that a Discipline Policy like this is only legal until the adoption is finalized. After finalization, it’s not binding in any way. But our agency contact didn’t tell us that specifically….. so I’m a bit at a loss what to do right now.

So two questions: Do you know if it’s true, across the board, that an agency’s Discipline Policy is only effective until finalization?
And if so, should we sign this policy and continue with our chosen agency, knowing we will likely employ some physical discipline at some point in the future, or should we find a new agency that doesn’t require signing something like this?

Note: I DON’T wish to start a debate about spanking here. Just looking for answers to my two questions above. Thanks.


1. It is true that an agency has no legal right to enforce a specific discipline policy once and adoption is finalized. However, it is a good faith contract, which is why..
2. I wouldn’t recommend signing if you don’t plan on honoring the good faith contract. It is better for you and the agency and expectant parents if you are partnered with an agency whose values are in line with yours.

For example. My agency did not ask me to sign anything about discipline. However, I did sign a contract outlining my commitment to several visits with the birthmother each year, multiple pictures sent etc. this particular agency highly values open adoptions. If I had not been comfortable with that, I would have picked a different agency. This is because I know expectant mothers are being made promises and are selecting prospective adoptive families based on those promises. I believe it is our duty to our children to honor the promises we make to their birth parents.

I did, at first, check out a nearby very well known agency that was highly Christian. They asked us to sign a statement of faith. I had to think on this for a few days. This agency was close to my home, well known, very established. But, the truth is I am not super religious. I couldn’t sign that statement of faith honestly. So, I ended up at a smaller agency, far from my home.

I likely would have matched sooner with the other agency. However, the birthmother who chose me would have been mislead into thinking I would raise her child with a specific set of beliefs. I think I would have felt guilty about that misrepresentation for the rest of my life.

Posted by wannabe on Dec 26, 2017 at 7:55am

I agree with everything wannabe said. Find a new agency.

Posted by rredhead on Dec 31, 2017 at 5:27pm

We were asked about our discipline policies during our home study, and we were honest that we will spank as necessary. She cautioned us that some agencies (as we were with many agencies) will automatically dismiss us with that in our home study. She wrote it in our home study with very specific language, as a last resort discipline that will only be administered sparingly with a bare hand on a clothed bottom. It did not prevent us from adopting.

Posted by sugarcane4450 on Jan 05, 2018 at 3:33pm

Our experience was the same as sugarcane4450 and I agree with wannabe that I wouldn’t be comfortable misrepresenting us to a birthmother.

Posted by Adoption Hopes on Jan 27, 2018 at 4:22am

I agree with those above.

Also I have to say that you should understand that adopting a child is different than having one biologically. Discipline that is based on clear rules about losing privileges, and or calming ” time in” can be much more effective with a child who has lived thru trauma of any kind (even in utero)  than spanking, violent, or other types of isolating, or fear inducing punishment.

Posted by Happy Camper on Feb 12, 2018 at 1:15am

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