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When a state places its legal imprimatur on the unmaking of one family and the making of another, the state should insure to the greatest extent possible that all the individuals involved have followed or have been afforded the best practices that ethics and humanity demand. The Uniform Adoption Act sets out commonly accepted goals of state adoption laws, among them the goals of protecting minor children against unnecessary separation from their birth parents and of ensuring that a decision by a birth parent to relinquish a minor child and consent to the childs adoption is informed and voluntary. With respect to achieving these goals in connection with services for mothers of newborn infants, the laws governing the timing of their consents and the provision of counseling to them can create powerful incentives for service providers to follow the best practices that characterize ethical and humane services. This is possible when the laws are based on an understanding that for mothers considering placing their children for adoption, skilled, unbiased counseling is invaluable; complete, well-communicated information is indispensable; and adequate time is, perhaps, the wisest counsellor of all.



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