Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank You All

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.


Anonymous said...

I haven't been able to read all of your posts or comments so I apologize if what I'm going to say is repetative, but the first thing that came to mind for me was the whole "6 month registry" deal in Kazakhstan. Please do correct me if my understanding is incorrect - the 1st three months the child is on the registry it is for the bio parents or other bio relatives to come claim him/her, then the 2nd 3 months is for anyone within country to adopt the child. THEN after 6 months the child is released for local OR international adoption. THEN the PAPs go bond with the child for 15 days and THEN go to court and THEN there is ANOTHER 15 day "appeal period" in which the bio family could again reclaim the child. If at any time a bio relative comes to visit the child it either makes them unadoptable for some period of time or at least starts that 6 month period all over again. It just seems like, at least in countries like Kaz, the idea of corruption, at least on the part of cohersion to relinquish a child and/or a situation in which international (in other words, more lucrative) adoption is preferred over local adoption just ain't very possible. Thanks for addressing this sticky issue. I don't always have time to write you but I LOVE reading your blog whenever I can! Many blessings, dear sister!
Shannon in Colorado Springs

Anonymous said...

As always, well written. The last line should have to be included in all our adoption paperwork and chanted nightly before we all go to sleep!!
Thank you.
Kim in Seoul

rachel said...

Thanks Cindy.

We all get passionate. I have been likened to a slave owner before because I hold an adoption certificate. Many anti-adoption advocates think APs feel they
"own" their children. To me that implies they feel it's ok to "own" their biological kids because they share their DNA. I don't believe anyone owns anyone...and I believe God puts pieces of the puzzle together to make different pictures because we live in a broken world.

The implication that our children are not "ours" (meaning they do not belong in our family) is not only hurtful to us, it's also what spurs on hurt in adoptees. It's what makes them feel like they don't belong to anyone. My children deserve better than that. Most APs do not forget about the birthmothers. I know I talk about the two that brought my children into the world all the time and hope to one day know them. And I surely have more respect for them than most people in this country.

Having three adopted family members (2 brothers, 1 SIL), I've seen first hand that adoption is not perfect...but it is beautiful. Their support is my validation. I don't need anything else.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all your thoughts in this post. May you have a relaxing few weeks!

Peggy in Virginia

Lindsay said...

Great post Cindy. Can't argue with a word of it. I hope "anonymous" has put the same level of honest reflection into their own position and at least come away with willingness to consider (rather than condem) the idea of IA.

I respect "anonymous" for the passion they obviously have for the children in foster care in America. They may want to consider if launching an attack on people who have chosen IA is the best way to promote their ideas. After all, we all (Cindy and we, her "readers") care deeply about seeing children placed in loving families. No child is less deserving that others due to their race or nationality.

Many of the points that "anonymous" raised are those which genuinely concern many of us in IA. But to try to launch an attack rather than open up a discussion is polarising and unhelpful.

Thanks Cindy for the way in which you handled this.

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

Amen and amen!! Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the WORLD!! They are all God's children.