As I have many things I would like to attend to this week, which might literally be one of my only "down" weeks of the next year or more, I have decided to quickly summarize my feelings about the Anonymous Post/Article rather than continue to go at it bit by bit. I had no idea the incredible amount of email and blog comments it would generate and I selfishly don't want to take the time to address them all when I have vowed to use this next week or two period for my "recuperation and regeneration" period before heading into ski season. As you all know what we have ahead of us in the coming year, I hope you'll understand, so let me offer my final thoughts here...
We, as adoptive parents, often find ourselves on the defensive side of many discussions. Notice that I say "adoptive parents" and don't label it as "international adoptive parents", for it seems that ALL of us in the adoption triad find ourselves at one time or another defending our choices to people who, frankly, have no right to questions our motives and decisions in the first place. We are also asked to justify the practices of everyone involved, despite the fact that we literally have NO control over any of it other than doing our research and making the best education decisions we can.
That being said, not every adoptive parent is an angel. Nope, we are not all Saints contrary to what everyone else seems to think. There are adoptive parents who would gladly turn a blind eye to poor practices of a country or agency if they thought that in the end they would have a baby in their arms. Greed runs both ways, my friends, and to deny that is simply unfair. Pointing the finger of blame without seeing how we contribute to it is not only unwise, but will not lead to effective reforms.
The one thing I come away from this with is the obvious fact that many of us adoptive parents often want to gloss over, and that is that every single child is better off if they can remain with a loving biological family. No, that does not mean that it is "better" for a child to end up with a Nintendo Wii, or go to the best schools, or to travel the world on wonderful vacations with their family.
Despite the fact that it would mean that many of us would not have children at all, wouldn't it be a day to celebrate if every orphanage and foster home were shut down due to lack of business? What if every family throughout the world had somewhere to turn to for help should they find they are in dire straits? What if there was no more war, no more famine, no more AIDS? What if families remained together, and were loving and kind towards one another? What if people were no longer vulnerable to alcoholism and drug addition?
Utopia you say? Sure, it is. But shouldn't that be what we are always working towards? Supporting families so they don't have to relinquish children?
You and I both know that adoption will continue to exist through all time, that there will always be unwanted and uncared for children, for sadly Utopia does not exist. That means that we, the beneficiaries of adoption have a moral obligation to not bury our heads in the sand because something makes us uncomfortable. We each have the responsibility to police ourselves and our own decisions to the best of our ability, to do nothing that would encourage unlawful activity for our own gain simply because our dollars can speak loudly in some countries.
On the flip side though, those who feel the need to judge us IA parents for adopting outside of the US simply see the world as smaller than the rest of us do. I actually feel great compassion for those who do not see our world as God sees it, for those who only see false borders dividing us created by mankind. Do you think that when God calls on us to help others that He says "Help only those within the confines of your national borders, for the others are undeserving and are strangers to you."? No, it is man who has sadly created ways to separate us all, and it is man who elects to see the differences. God sees a hurting child somewhere in the world and demands that we take action...yes, you and I. For some reason, I highly doubt that God has some kind of "adoption hierarchy" that places one adoptive family over another.
Just as God does not see the color of our skin, the slant of our eyes, or the region in which we live as reason to judge us, neither should we. No, instead He rejoices in our differences, I envision Him looking down on us all and saying "My, what a fine rainbow of people I have created!!".
Why can't we look at any adoptive family without judgment and simply say "Ahhh....I am glad there is one less unloved hungry child in this world.".
If corruption in adoption is of concern to you, and it should be of concern to all of us, then do what you can to support efforts to stop it. Support worldwide efforts to police adoptions, help a poverty stricken family remain united by offering monthly support where possible (John Wright is a great place to start!), don't use unethical agencies and check them out thoroughly before signing with one, get involved with the Joint Council on International Children's Services, UNICEF, World Vision, or whatever NGO or foundation you feel will help curb the number of children placed in orphanages in the first place.
I urge you not to turn away, not to say "it never happens", because it does and vehemently arguing otherwise still does not make it true. Because someones message is delivered in a way that might be offensive to you, does not invalidate the message itself. Perhaps that statement right there is the main reason I wanted to explore this on the blog in the first place, to challenge myself to see something more clearly rather than through the lens of emotion.
Regardless of unethical practices, regardless of the arguments over the number crunching of available children, regardless of the systems that sometimes encourage adoptive family driven adoptions rather than child centered adoptions, the fact will always remain that there are far too many children who cry themselves to sleep at night without the loving arms of a parent to turn to, there are thousands upon thousands of children who go to bed hungry and suffer from extreme malnutrition, there are millions of children the world over for whom health care is non-existent, for whom dental care consists of pliers...who die from things like diarrhea.
Tonight, in my home just as in the homes of thousands of others, there are 3 less children like that. They will go to bed having showered and eaten a good meal, they will wake up to go to school tomorrow, they will be smothered in hugs and kisses.
So, Ms. or Mr. Anonymous, I sincerely thank you for your contribution, however poorly or angrily expressed it was at moments. You have given us all something to think about, and I hope that you feel you were treated more fairly here in this open forum than you treated us.
And to Mr. and Ms. International Adoptive Parent/Blog Reader also my sincere thanks for your willingness to do what many will not, to see the dark side of something we are all involved in, to want to bring it to the light and examine it.
And to my children's birth parents, may you have made a decision willingly, and may you rest easy in your hearts.
Thank you all.