Saturday, November 08, 2008

Anonymous Judgment on All of Us IA Parents - Pt. 1

I received an interesting and quite lengthy comment on the blog this afternoon, and while I am sure it was a "hit and run" spam-like comment to any international adoption blog I thought it raised some extremely important issues and I thought it provided an interesting opportunity for some thoughtful dialogue. Sadly, as most often happens, those that disagree with you tend to hit you "anonymously" rather than allow everyone the opportunity to learn from one another, to explore the possibilities, to share perspectives. Adoption is such a "hot button" topic that emotion often causes us to explode and think later, rather than simply talk it through. Since the Commenter did not leave a name, I can not address them directly, but thought this was so important I could not let it sit there without a response, so you, my readers and friends, will have to substitute for the Commenter in this conversation. Please comment freely, passionately, and with substance. As you read the post which I am placing here in its entirety to be 100% fair, I would LOVE to hear your reactions, what secret fears it prompts, what thoughts you have on this. Play Devil's Advocate if you want, or merely be bored to tears. But I think this is incredibly important for all of us International Adoptive (IA) parents to consider, to be able to ably defend our choices, to be able to admit the failings of the system through which we have become parents. This is so long and there is so much to comment upon, that I will be tackling this in portions throughout the week.

And to the Anonymous Commenter, although you intended this as a "slam", I appreciate your bringing the article quoted to my attention. There was no reason for you to remain Anonymous unless you were ashamed of your less-than-kind short comments at the beginning and end of the article. I also wish that before you write graffiti on anyones anonymous blog wall that you would at least research the blog you're commenting on a bit to see if your comments are 100% appropriate and applicable. I will address that later on as it pertains to our family. The article you quoted offered a lot of important information and insight, and it is a shame you didn't feel you could post it and offer us all the chance to really talk about international adoption in an open and engaging way. I will attempt to do so with your material despite your chosen anonymity, as I trust my blog readers are far more willing to have an open and honest discourse about a subject so close to their hearts than you have obviously given them credit for. My readers are thoughtful, introspective, generally very honest with themselves and the world about their families and their experiences. Too bad you won't stick around to learn as much from them as I have.

Here is the comment below, I apologize for it's length but am certain you will read it with as much interest as I did. Over the next several days, beginning later tonight or tomorrow, I will then take the article apart, examining it, holding it to the light of my own personal truth (and believe me, there is some real truth to this as well as some things I feel are falsely represented or some facts glossed over), and hopefully all of us can gain something from this exercise. My greatest hope would be that I will find comments from many of you on not only the article, but also my take on it. I will not comment on it in this post, as it is already far too long and I also need time to digest it a bit more. Here it is:

8:31 PM, November 07, 2008

Anonymous said...
Many children are stolen from their birth mothers and later adopted. This is why most countries are closing down their adoptions and adoption agencies are closing down.
Please read the Foreign Policy report on International Adoption.
and consider that there are 113,000 AMERICAN children in US Foster Care that are paper ready for adoption

http://www.foreignp story/cms. php?story_ id=4508&print=1

The Lie We Love

By E. J. Graff

November/December 2008

Foreign adoption seems like the perfect solution to a heartbreaking imbalance: Poor countries have babies in need of homes, and rich countries have homes in need of babies. Unfortunately, those little orphaned bundles of joy may not be orphans at all.


Who's your mommy?: Parents might never know if their adopted child is truly an orphan.

Web Extra: For a photographic tour of the global baby trade, visit: ForeignPolicy. com/extras/adoption.

We all know the story of international adoption: Millions of infants and toddlers have been abandoned or orphaned—placed on the side of a road or on the doorstep of a church, or left parentless due to AIDS, destitution, or war. These little ones find themselves forgotten, living in crowded orphanages or ending up on the streets, facing an uncertain future of misery and neglect. But, if they are lucky, adoring new moms and dads from faraway lands whisk them away for a chance at a better life.
Unfortunately, this story is largely fiction.
Westerners have been sold the myth of a world orphan crisis. We are told that millions of children are waiting for their “forever families” to rescue them from lives of abandonment and abuse. But many of the infants and toddlers being adopted by Western parents today are not orphans at all. Yes, hundreds of thousands of children around the world do need loving homes. But more often than not, the neediest children are sick, disabled, traumatized, or older than 5. They are not the healthy babies that, quite understandably, most Westerners hope to adopt. There are simply not enough healthy, adoptable infants to meet Western demand—and there’s too much Western money in search of children. As a result, many international adoption agencies work not to find homes for needy children but to find children for Western homes.
Since the mid-1990s, the number of international adoptions each year has nearly doubled, from 22,200 in 1995 to just under 40,000 in 2006. At its peak, in 2004, more than 45,000 children from developing countries were adopted by foreigners. Americans bring home more of these children than any other nationality—more than half the global total in recent years.
Where do these babies come from? As international adoptions have flourished, so has evidence that babies in many countries are being systematically bought, coerced, and stolen away from their birth families. Nearly half the 40 countries listed by the U.S. State Department as the top sources for international adoption over the past 15 years—places such as Belarus, Brazil, Ethiopia, Honduras, Peru, and Romania—have at least temporarily halted adoptions or been prevented from sending children to the United States because of serious concerns about corruption and kidnapping. And yet when a country is closed due to corruption, many adoption agencies simply transfer their clients’ hopes to the next “hot” country. That country abruptly experiences a spike in infants and toddlers adopted overseas—until it too is forced to shut its doors.
Along the way, the international adoption industry has become a market often driven by its customers. Prospective adoptive parents in the United States will pay adoption agencies between $15,000 and $35,000 (excluding travel, visa costs, and other miscellaneous expenses) for the chance to bring home a little one. Special needs or older children can be adopted at a discount. Agencies claim the costs pay for the agency’s fee, the cost of foreign salaries and operations, staff travel, and orphanage donations. But experts say the fees are so disproportionately large for the child’s home country that they encourage corruption.
To complicate matters further, while international adoption has become an industry driven by money, it is also charged with strong emotions. Many adoption agencies and adoptive parents passionately insist that crooked practices are not systemic, but tragic, isolated cases. Arrest the bad guys, they say, but let the “good” adoptions continue. However, remove cash from the adoption chain, and, outside of China , the number of healthy babies needing Western homes all but disappears. Nigel Cantwell, a Geneva-based consultant on child protection policy, has seen the dangerous influence of money on adoptions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia , where he has helped reform corrupt adoption systems. In these regions, healthy children age 3 and younger can easily be adopted in their own countries, he says. I asked him how many healthy babies in those regions would be available for international adoption if money never exchanged hands. “I would hazard a guess at zero,” he replied.
International adoption wasn’t always a demand-driven industry. Half a century ago, it was primarily a humanitarian effort for children orphaned by conflict. In 1955, news spread that Bertha and Henry Holt, an evangelical couple from Oregon , had adopted eight Korean War orphans, and families across the United States expressed interest in following their example. Since then, international adoption has become increasingly popular in Australia , Canada , Europe, and the United States . Americans adopted more than 20,000 foreign children in 2006 alone, up from just 8,987 in 1995. Half a dozen European countries regularly bring home more foreign-born children per capita than does the United States . Today, Canada , France , Italy , Spain , and the United States account for 4 out of every 5 international adoptions.
Changes in Western demography explain much of the growth. Thanks to contraception, abortion, and delayed marriages, the number of unplanned births in most developed countries has declined in recent decades. Some women who delay having children discover they’ve outwaited their fertility; others have difficulty conceiving from the beginning. Still others adopt for religious reasons, explaining that they’ve been called to care for children in need. In the United States, a motive beyond demography is the notion that international adoption is somehow “safer”—more predictable and more likely to end in success—than many domestic adoptions, where there’s an outsized fear of a birth mother’s last-minute change of heart. Add an ocean of distance, and the idea that needy children abound in poor countries, and that risk seems to disappear.
But international adoptions are no less risky; they’re simply less regulated. Just as companies outsource industry to countries with lax labor laws and low wages, adoptions have moved to states with few laws about the process. Poor, illiterate birthparents in the developing world simply have fewer protections than their counterparts in the United States , especially in countries where human trafficking and corruption are rampant. And too often, these imbalances are overlooked on the adopting end. After all, one country after another has continued to supply what adoptive parents want most.
In reality, there are very few young, healthy orphans available for adoption around the world. Orphans are rarely healthy babies; healthy babies are rarely orphaned. “It’s not really true,” says Alexandra Yuster, a senior advisor on child protection with UNICEF, “that there are large numbers of infants with no homes who either will be in institutions or who need intercountry adoption.”
That assertion runs counter to the story line that has long been marketed to Americans and other Westerners, who have been trained by images of destitution in developing countries and the seemingly endless flow of daughters from China to believe that millions of orphaned babies around the world desperately need homes. UNICEF itself is partly responsible for this erroneous assumption. The organization’s statistics on orphans and institutionalized children are widely quoted to justify the need for international adoption. In 2006, UNICEF reported an estimated 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean . But the organization’s definition of “orphan” includes children who have lost just one parent, either to desertion or death. Just 10 percent of the total—13 million children—have lost both parents, and most of these live with extended family. They are also older: By UNICEF’s own estimate, 95 percent of orphans are older than 5. In other words, UNICEF’s “millions of orphans” are not healthy babies doomed to institutional misery unless Westerners adopt and save them. Rather, they are mostly older children living with extended families who need financial support.
The exception is China , where the country’s three-decades- old one-child policy, now being loosened, has created an unprecedented number of girls available for adoption. But even this flow of daughters is finite; China has far more hopeful foreigners looking to adopt a child than it has orphans it is willing to send overseas. In 2005, foreign parents adopted nearly 14,500 Chinese children. That was far fewer than the number of Westerners who wanted to adopt; adoption agencies report many more clients waiting in line. And taking those children home has gotten harder; in 2007, China ’s central adoption authority sharply reduced the number of children sent abroad, possibly because of the country’s growing sex imbalance, declining poverty, and scandals involving child trafficking for foreign adoption. Prospective foreign parents today are strictly judged by their age, marital history, family size, income, health, and even weight. That means that if you are single, gay, fat, old, less than well off, too often divorced, too recently married, taking antidepressants, or already have four children, China will turn you away. Even those allowed a spot in line are being told they might wait three to four years before they bring home a child. That has led many prospective parents to shop around for a country that puts fewer barriers between them and their children—as if every country were China , but with fewer onerous regulations.
One such country has been Guatemala , which in 2006 and 2007 was the No. 2 exporter of children to the United States . Between 1997 and 2006, the number of Guatemalan children adopted by Americans more than quadrupled, to more than 4,500 annually. Incredibly, in 2006, American parents adopted one of every 110 Guatemalan children born. In 2007, nearly 9 out of 10 children adopted were less than a year old; almost half were younger than 6 months old. “ Guatemala is a perfect case study of how international adoption has become a demand-driven business,” says Kelley McCreery Bunkers, a former consultant with UNICEF Guatemala. The country’s adoption process was “an industry developed to meet the needs of adoptive families in developed countries, specifically the United States .”
Because the vast majority of the country’s institutionalized children are not healthy, adoptable babies, almost none has been adopted abroad. In the fall of 2007, a survey conducted by the Guatemalan government, UNICEF, and the international child welfare and adoption agency Holt International Children’s Services found approximately 5,600 children and adolescents in Guatemalan institutions. More than 4,600 of these children were age 4 or older. Fewer than 400 were under a year old. And yet in 2006, more than 270 Guatemalan babies, all younger than 12 months, were being sent to the United States each month. These adopted children were simply not coming from the country’s institutions. Last year, 98 percent of U.S. adoptions from Guatemala were “relinquishments”: Babies who had never seen the inside of an institution were signed over directly to a private attorney who approved the international adoption—for a very considerable fee—without any review by a judge or social service agency.
So, where had some of these adopted babies come from? Consider the case of Ana Escobar, a young Guatemalan woman who in March 2007 reported to police that armed men had locked her in a closet in her family’s shoe store and stolen her infant. After a 14-month search, Escobar found her daughter in pre-adoption foster care, just weeks before the girl was to be adopted by a couple from Indiana . DNA testing showed the toddler to be Escobar’s child. In a similar case from 2006, Raquel Par, another Guatemalan woman, reported being drugged while waiting for a bus in Guatemala City , waking to find her year-old baby missing. Three months later, Par learned her daughter had been adopted by an American couple.
On Jan. 1, 2008, Guatemala closed its doors to American adoptions so that the government could reform the broken process. Britain , Canada , France , Germany , the Netherlands , and Spain all stopped accepting adoptions from the country several years earlier, citing trafficking concerns. But more than 2,280 American adoptions from the country are still being processed, albeit with additional safeguards. Stolen babies have already been found in that queue; Guatemalan authorities expect more.
Guatemala’s example is extreme; it is widely considered to have the world’s most notorious record of corruption in foreign adoption. But the same troubling trends have emerged, on smaller scales, in more than a dozen other countries, including Albania , Cambodia , Ethiopia , Liberia , Peru , and Vietnam . The pattern suggests that the supply of adoptable babies rises to meet foreign demand—and disappears when Western cash is no longer available. For instance, in December 2001, the U.S. immigration service stopped processing adoption visas from Cambodia , citing clear evidence that children were being acquired illicitly, often against their parents’ wishes. That year, Westerners adopted more than 700 Cambodian children; of the 400 adopted by Americans, more than half were less than 12 months old. But in 2005, a study of Cambodia’s orphanage population, commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development, found only a total of 132 children who were less than a year old—fewer babies than Westerners had been adopting every three months a few years before.
Even countries with large populations, such as India , rarely have healthy infants and toddlers who need foreign parents. India ’s large and growing middle class, at home and in the diaspora, faces fertility issues like those of their developed-world counterparts. They too are looking for healthy babies to adopt; some experts think that these millions of middle-class families could easily absorb all available babies. The country’s pervasive poverty does leave many children fending for themselves on the street. But “kids are not on the street alone at the age of 2,” Cantwell, the child protection consultant, says. “They are 5 or 6, and they aren’t going to be adopted.” That’s partly because most of these children still have family ties and therefore are not legally available for adoption, and partly because they would have difficultly adjusting to a middle-class European or North American home. Many of these children are deeply marked by abuse, crime, and poverty, and few prospective parents are prepared to adopt them.
Surely, though, prospective parents can at least feel secure that their child is truly an orphan in need of a home if they receive all the appropriate legal papers? Unfortunately, no.
In many countries, it can be astonishingly easy to fabricate a history for a young child, and in the process, manufacture an orphan. The birth mothers are often poor, young, unmarried, divorced, or otherwise lacking family protection. The children may be born into a locally despised minority group that is afforded few rights. And for enough money, someone will separate these little ones from their vulnerable families, turning them into “paper orphans” for lucrative export.
Some manufactured orphans are indeed found in what Westerners call “orphanages.” But these establishments often serve less as homes to parentless children and more as boarding schools for poor youngsters. Many children are there only temporarily, seeking food, shelter, and education while their parents, because of poverty or illness, cannot care for them. Many families visit their children, or even bring them home on weekends, until they can return home permanently. In 2005, when the Hannah B. Williams Orphanage in Monrovia , Liberia , was closed because of shocking living conditions, 89 of the 102 “orphans” there returned to their families. In Vietnam , “rural families in particular will put their babies into these orphanages that are really extended day-care centers during the harvest season,” says a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Hanoi . In some cases, unscrupulous orphanage directors, local officials, or other operators persuade illiterate birth families to sign documents that relinquish those children, who are then sent abroad for adoption, never to be seen again by their bereft families.
Other children are located through similarly nefarious means. Western adoption agencies often contract with in-country facilitators—sometimes orphanage directors, sometimes freelancers—and pay per-child fees for each healthy baby adopted. These facilitators, in turn, subcontract with child finders, often for sums in vast excess of local wages. These paydays give individuals a significant financial incentive to find adoptable babies at almost any cost. In Guatemala , where the GDP per capita is $4,700 a year, child finders often earned $6,000 to $8,000 for each healthy, adoptable infant. In many cases, child finders simply paid poor families for infants. A May 2007 report on adoption trafficking by the Hague Conference on Private International Law reported poor Guatemalan families being paid beween $300 and several thousand dollars per child.
Sometimes, medical professionals serve as child finders to obtain infants. In Vietnam , for instance, a finder’s fee for a single child can easily dwarf a nurse’s $50-a-month salary. Some nurses and doctors coerce birth mothers into giving up their children by offering them a choice: pay outrageously inflated hospital bills or relinquish their newborns. Illiterate new mothers are made to sign documents they can’t read. In August 2008, the U.S. State Department released a warning that birth certificates issued by Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City—which in 2007 had reported 200 births a day, and an average of three abandoned babies per 100 births—were “unreliable.” Most of the hospital’s “abandoned” babies were sent to the city’s Tam Binh orphanage, from which many Westerners have adopted. (Tu Du Hospital is where Angelina Jolie’s Vietnamese-born son was reportedly abandoned one month after his birth; he was at Tam Binh when she adopted him.) According to Linh Song, executive director of Ethica, an American nonprofit devoted to promoting ethical adoption, a provincial hospital’s chief obstetrician told her in 2007 “that he provided 10 ethnic minority infants to [an] orphanage [for adoption] in return for an incubator.”
To smooth the adoption process, officials in the children’s home countries may be bribed to create false identity documents. Consular officials for the adopting countries generally accept whatever documents they receive. But if a local U.S. Embassy has seen a series of worrisome referrals—say, a sudden spike in healthy infants coming from the same few orphanages, or a single province sending an unusually high number of babies with suspiciously similar paperwork—officials may investigate. But generally, they do not want to obstruct adoptions of genuinely needy children or get in the way of people longing for a child. However, many frequently doubt that the adoptions crossing their desks are completely aboveboard. “I believe in intercountry adoption very strongly,” says Katherine Monahan, a U.S. State Department official who has overseen scores of U.S. adoptions from around the world. “[But] I worry that there were many children that could have stayed with their families if we could have provided them with even a little economic assistance.” One U.S. official told me that when embassy staff in a country that sent more than 1,000 children overseas last year were asked which adoption visas they felt uneasy about, they replied: almost all of them.
Most of the Westerners involved with foreign adoption agencies—like business people importing foreign sneakers—can plausibly deny knowledge of unethical or unseemly practices overseas. They don’t have to know. Willful ignorance allowed Lauryn Galindo, a former hula dancer from the United States , to collect more than $9 million in adoption fees over several years for Cambodian infants and toddlers. Between 1997 and 2001, Americans adopted 1,230 children from Cambodia ; Galindo said she was involved in 800 of the adoptions. (Galindo reportedly delivered Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian child to her movie set in Africa .) But in a two-year probe beginning in 2002, U.S. investigators alleged that Galindo paid Cambodian child finders to purchase, defraud, coerce, or steal children from their families, and conspired to create false identity documents for the children. Galindo later served federal prison time on charges of visa fraud and money laundering, but not trafficking. “You can get away with buying babies around the world as a United States citizen,” says Richard Cross, a senior special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who investigated Galindo. “It’s not a crime.”
Buying a child abroad is something most prospective parents want no part of. So, how can it be prevented? As international adoption has grown in the past decade, the ad hoc approach of closing some corrupt countries to adoption and shifting parents’ hopes (and money) to the next destination has failed. The agencies that profit from adoption appear to willfully ignore how their own payments and fees are causing both the corruption and the closures.
Some countries that send children overseas for adoption have kept the process lawful and transparent from nearly the beginning and their model is instructive. Thailand , for instance, has a central government authority that counsels birth mothers and offers some families social and economic support so that poverty is never a reason to give up a child. Other countries, such as Paraguay and Romania , reformed their processes after sharp surges in shady adoptions in the 1990s. But those reforms were essentially to stop international adoptions almost entirely. In 1994, Paraguay sent 483 children to the United States ; last year, the country sent none.
For a more comprehensive solution, the best hope may be the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, an international agreement designed to prevent child trafficking for adoption. On April 1, 2008, the United States formally entered the agreement, which has 75 other signatories. In states that send children overseas and are party to the convention, such as Albania, Bulgaria, Colombia, and the Philippines, Hague-compatible reforms have included a central government authority overseeing child welfare, efforts to place needy children with extended families and local communities first, and limits on the number of foreign adoption agencies authorized to work in the country. The result, according to experts, has been a sharp decline in baby buying, fraud, coercion, and kidnapping for adoption.
In adopting countries, the convention requires a central authority—in the United States ’ case, the State Department—to oversee international adoption. The State Department empowers two nonprofit organizations to certify adoption agencies; if shady practices, fraud, financial improprieties, or links with trafficking come to light, accreditation can be revoked. Already, the rules appear to be having some effect: Several U.S. agencies long dogged by rumors of bad practices have been denied accreditation; some have shut their doors. But no international treaty is perfect, and the Hague Convention is no exception. Many of the countries sending their children to the West, including Ethiopia, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, and Vietnam, have yet to join the agreement.
Perhaps most important, more effective regulations would strictly limit the amount of money that changes hands. Per-child fees could be outlawed. Payments could be capped to cover only legitimate costs such as medical care, food, and clothing for the children. And crucially, fees must be kept proportionate with the local economies. “Unless you control the money, you won’t control the corruption,” says Thomas DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, which represents more than 200 international adoption organizations. “If we have the greatest laws and the greatest regulations but are still sending $20,000 anywhere—well, you can bypass any system with enough cash.”
Improved regulations will protect not only the children being adopted and their birth families, but also the consumers: hopeful parents. Adopting a child—like giving birth—is an emotional experience; it can be made wrenching by the abhorrent realization that a child believed to be an orphan simply isn’t. One American who adopted a little girl from Cambodia in 2002 wept as she spoke at an adoption ethics conference in October 2007 about such a discovery. “I was told she was an orphan,” she said. “One year after she came home, and she could speak English well enough, she told me about her mommy and daddy and her brothers and her sisters.”
Unless we recognize that behind the altruistic veneer, international adoption has become an industry—one that is often highly lucrative and sometimes corrupt—many more adoption stories will have unhappy endings. Unless adoption agencies are held to account, more young children will be wrongfully taken from their families. And unless those desperate to become parents demand reform, they will continue—wittingly or not—to pay for wrongdoing. “Credulous Westerners eager to believe that they are saving children are easily fooled into accepting laundered children,” writes David Smolin, a law professor and advocate for international adoption reform. “For there is no fool like the one who wants to be fooled.”

Do your research on adoptions before you spend $30,000+ plus untold years it could take.

12:14 PM, November 08, 2008


Heather Brandt said...

thank you for committing to analyzing this article for us. I will be interested to read your next posting.

I had a run-on with someone who linked to my blog and used it in her commentary on foster care in America and how negative it is...All I put up was a note on a restaurant donating a portion of sales from frosties to help promote adoption...
God bless,


Lori said...

The pit in my stomach keeps growing...but the conflicts I feel as a woman who desperately wants to be a mom, and am willing to pay whatever fees needed to be so were there at the beginning of our decision and still are.

And provokes one to wonder (again) about the selfishness I sometimes feel as a pre-adoptive parent. I watched Adoption Story this morning and it was on a couple adopting from Colomiba (2002)--The director of the orphanage said something along the lines of, "People are coming to us to fulfill their needs--to be parents, to complete families, whatever...WE are simply trying to find good families for our children." While providing a life for a child that they may not have had otherwise is definitely a plus in my book, articles like this continue to remind me that for me, forging ahead in the process of adoption is not as benefactorial as some may make it and is deeply imbedded in my own wants. I realize they are selfish. I'm human. I don't know how to turn the desire to be a mom off. And, in making all decisions--from agency to country, to gender and age, I pray for God's guidance and counsel that His will is being done.

I think that's about all I know how to do.


That article is food for thought for most international adoptive parents. The adoption industry as a whole needs massive reform. I am sure you heard about Commonwealth Adoptions International. There have been several other civil RICO cases against these types of adoption agencies.

There are also situations with domestic adoption agencies as well. There was one in Florida recently that was shut down. Corruption is pretty rampant in adoption. With all the troubles that adoptive parents have, can you imagine what your child will go through when they decide to search? Its gonna be ten times worse. From what I understand, most international adoptees will have access to their records. It will also be dependent on the agency.

Christina said...

I read this on the comments section and was wondering what you would have to say about it.... I too feel it a shame that it was "anonymous". I too still feel that I am digesting what "anonymous" brought up... I just hope that people will read the post it was left on, as I feel that the openess of your son was amazing, and insightful.. My kids are with a different background, but I know they have some of the same questions at times.... I am sure to remember this as it comes up in our family... Thanks for sharing. I cannot wait for your insight :)

rachel said...

Ah yes, I am quite familiar with all of this. I believe the poster was not necessarily singling you out, but is rather reposting this on as many adoption blogs as possible. I've been in bitter battles with people like this that left me upset for days and days.

First, I was angry. Then sad. I emailed my SIL (an adoptee - as are my two oldest brothers) who finds it just amazing that someone can think like this. To place one child's importance over another is beyond words. It made me sad to think my children could grow up with such hate.

Later I realized that some people just have different worldviews than I do. We have done our research and are aware that only 7% of children in most EE orphanages are available for adoption. However, those are mostly children whose parent's DON'T visit them (as is evidenced in both of my children's court docs). Most children are NOT stolen and it is ignorant to throw out such a generality. Also, some of the countries these people champion, such as Romania, for closing their doors to IA and improving conditions are just spouting false information for good PR. My friend worked in a hospital in Romania and saw first hand the babies that were discarded in the corner for days and left to die. She spoke with those who had lived there forever and heard to horror stories. And you know, the government just didn't care. That doesn't seem like actual progress to me. Is there corruption in adoption? Sometimes yes, as there is with anything else. But to say that a child should be denied a home is ridiculous. Sacrifice 1 to save 1000? What exactly is being saved? Because I sure know what's being sacrificed. The people sharing this information do not have to live in an orphanage without adequate care and love right now. Perhaps they did once, but how many have seen the conditions first hand as an adult? I'm guessing very, very few.

The fact is, both adoption and anti-adoption advocates can find any info they want to support their goals. I know there are a lot of adoptees who are hurting, but there are a lot who see adoption as a wonderful thing (I have three familiy members to prove it, along with several friends who are not only adoptees but also biological mothers AND adoptive mothers. They sure don't have a problem with it).

I will say that through all of the turmoil this issue put me through, I did to a lot of thinking. I am preparing myself do whatever I can to help my children deal with any hurts they may encounter. I want them to know they can talk to me and it's ok to feel the way they feel. I know as a mom that love does not conquer all. Some adoptees have a lot of questions, some very few. It is my job to help them find the answers.

I have more of a desire than ever to find their birthmothers and also help individuals within the countries they were adopted from. I do not believe that our (meaning our family) purpose ended with giving our kids a home (because we are the ones truly blessed). We are forever tied to people abroad and I want to share my faith and love as much as I can.

I do hope this can be a good discussion piece because honestly, I think it's made me a better person and more in touch with God's purpose for us to help others, not just the children we brought home.


What concerns me the most is this comment and I am not attacking you personally:

the conflicts I feel as a woman who desperately wants to be a mom, and am willing to pay whatever fees needed to be so were there at the beginning of our decision and still are.

You see right there is the lead in to corruption, deception and just plain theft. I worry as an adoptee for you and your future child. I fully understand and can sympathesize in your desire to be a parent. I am mother of two daughters that I gave birth too. I do understand the desire to be a parent. I do not want you guys to be hurt by the industry itself. They will take advantage of you as I have seen time and time again.

Its up to you to make it as ethical as possible. You guys have more power than I do as an adoptee. Its up to you to demand ethics in adoption.

emloberg said...

As an IA parent, I secretly worried about my kids' birthmothers and whether they had actually made the decision to place their children for adoption. I worried so much that we hired a private investigator in our children's birthcountry to find the birthmothers.

We did locate both birthmothers and the first question I asked was, "was the decision to place your child for adoption really your decision? Did you feel coerced or influenced by anyone?" Both birthmothers stood strongly by their decision to place their children and although the decision was difficult, years later, each birthmom still talked about how she knew the decision was hers to make.

Lately, I've seen this statistic thrown around a lot about 600,000 US children in foster care, but the reality is that only a fraction of these children are available for adoption. Many of these children are in foster care only temporarily and many of the children have challenges with which most parents aren't equipped to deal. I challege the anti-IA adoption contingency to reflect on the real data about how damaging a disrupted adoption can be.

And then there is the obvious: why do US children trumph all other children waiting for families?

Adoption should be celebrated as a whole, especially when adoptable children find homes that are appropriate for their unique needs and challenges, but sending out enmasse propoganda that implicitly encourages discimination, wrong assumptions and outward hostility to IA families is, well, wrong.

I appreciate the dialogue, but the folks that are sending out this toxic misinformation aren't exactly ready to engage in intellectual discourse.

Lori said...

I just wanted to clarify for Kitekamp, and really appreciate the preface of not directing it at me personally :)--

I guess my point in that statement was I know how deeply ad truly I want a child and the lengths I am willing to go for one. That said, I also know that my ethics, beliefs and Lord prevent ME from going to illegal measures... whereas MANY who have the same wants and desires as I do wouldn't think twice about the circumstances that brought their child to them. The conflict I spoke of is that I know to some degree my wants feed into a system that breeds those same feelings in others--minus the moral compass God has given me to do what is right---regardless of my desires. And you are this, corruption can very easily breed.
I'm glad you commented...I needed to clear that up.

Tapsalteerie said...

We had our first comment that was along these lines just a couple weekends ago. Some girl walked up behind me at a fiber-show and started talking in a loud voice about how I had stolen my children from their birth mother; "ripped them from her womb" I believe is how she worded it. When I turned to address her she literally ran away. It really annoyed me, particularly that it was such a drive-by slamming and she didn't even wait for me to reply.

I think you know how I feel about Anonymous comments. I figure if you can't claim it don't say it.

Becky said...

One of the reasons we chose Kazakhstan is the unity of the adoption
practices through the majority of the country. Even 7 years ago, I was
uncomfortable with Guatemala and some of the others because there
seemed to be too much "flexibility" in the systems. And yes, for
"flexibility" read "opportunity for corruption and exploitation".
However, with Kazakhstan, the process was very transparent. I know of
multiple families waiting to adopt who lost referrals because a
biological family member returned to visit. There was a beautiful
little girl in his group who lived in the BH but was not adoptable
because her mother came to see her regularly. I also know that my
"imperfect" little boy was not visited by any family member in the 3
years he lived there and that he was not regarded as a potential son
by either of the two local families who viewed him. So, for my darling
boy international adoption was the only path to a family.

I know that some countries and some times have struggled with
corruption and human trafficking. The fact that these crimes occur is
real. The Hague Convention, though a nuisance and an incomplete
solution, is a good step to ensuring that all adoptions that occur are
above-board and consensual on all sides.

It is heartbreaking to lose a referral. It is also horrible for those
families who are *all* victims in a corrupt adoption to build a family
based on the lies on another. However, IMO, it is best for all when
the child is legally available and adopted and accepted and there are
no questions about its legality.

Kazakhstan, China, and Russia are pretty clean when it comes to
ensuring that available children are truly available. Other countries
are not so reliable. Stating that is not a slam against adoption. I
read the article that Cyndi posted and then spent much of the day
thinking about it and about our family. I remember how desperately I
wanted a child. I don't know that I could live with myself if I knew
that another person in the world felt that way because I had her child
and she did not know. It is hard enough some days knowing that D's
birthmother is there and she DID relinquish him with knowledge and
understanding of why.

My take on this whole question is this - support the Hague Convention
in the spirit of its existence. Advocate honestly for older child
adoption because they are the ones most likely to be overlooked.
Advocate for agencies known to be honorable in their conduct (we have
all heard some of the horror stories about unethical agencies and can
recognize the "bad behavior"). Take from the article the awareness
that in every aspect of life, there are those who will exploit and
those who will serve with an open heart. Fight the former and support
the latter.

Becky - adoptive mother who is proud of my son, my son's
birth-country's management of adoption, and my adoption agency whom I
trust to ethical and law-abiding.

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