I don’t know why I have become so invested in what is happening in the international arena except that what I have seen building up scares me and makes me mad. I have followed the course of how one country closes and another opens, and it bothers me greatly on behalf of the adoptees who will have that in their history – regardless if their adoption was completely above-board. And I cry for those who were adopted solely due to corruption. International adoptees in addition to losing their entire family, lose their home country, native language, culture, and quite often any way to find their family when they are grown. IA should only happen as the extreme last resort, always.
Adoptees are the victims in this game of finding the next “go-to“ fertile country. Countries which have some very real major challenges that I an unable to comprehend fully or even imagine living in. Countries that need richer countries help, not take. Yes, there are far too many older children living in orphanages that will never go back to their families even with help. That have little prospects or hope for a prosperous future. Yet I do not see families bringing home these older kids. I see the demand for as young as possible – 0-12 months females as the largest target, males next, 12-24 months next and the story goes.
I do see a small number of older children adopted and some siblings groups but what I have seen they are not even close to the majority – feel free to correct me with actual statistics if you have any. Unless getting the oldest kids out first who have no chance of returning home or prospects, can you really honestly state that what is happening is really doing what is needed most? I ask that question because that is what international adoption is promoted as existing for – isn’t it? Leaving the oldest and least desirable there and taking the best of the youngest just sets up the continual cycle of poverty that reproduces into a new wave of babies to be surrendered, that is, if the country hasn’t closed to adoption due to corruption already. If IA has to exist then it has to actually work to solve a problem at the outset, not set up to continue the supply of adoptable infants. That is wrong.
Having said all of that, I believe there are at least three different mindsets that IA parents may have. Of course this is a generalization which comes with obvious flaws inherent in every generalization – I completely get that…having said that this is a blunt post so feel free to click the close button and don’t bother reading further…you have been warned and yes, I am going to talk about the AP’s in general and feel free to flame away if you feel insulted.
Following are the three different mindsets I see that IA parents may fall into.
The ones who were naive when they entered the process but then found the reality was different from what was shown after the fact. They are the ones who have lived through the discovery of the lies and dealt with the guilt and found ways to fix things the best they can. These are the ones who speak up again and again to reform the way IA is practiced. These are the same ones who are attacked by the pro-everything-adoption groups. PAPs, and APs. Yet they persist simply because they lived through the hell of finding out their child’s adoption, or those close to them, or friends dealt with varying levels unethical conduct to downright corrupt in their children’s adoptions. They want something done and want to make a difference for the future. They are not willing to bury their head in the sand.
Then I see parents of young (and older) international adoptees concerned that if reports like the recent Guatemalan story hit the media, their children will be hurt by it. Hurt by stupid people making stupid comments. Hurt by the fact that their adoption automatically carries a stigma because the country they adopted from was closed due to corruption. They do recognise that there are serious problems happening, but perhaps do not agree to the overall scope of the problem, they want it fixed but choose to pretend that the industry will self-regulate without any external pressure…my question to them is how has the worked so far?
They don’t want the adoption community to bring attention to the corruption by blogging about it or naming names. They may also have stupidly signed a gag order clause in their contract and fear retribution from the agency. So instead their excuse – think of the adoptees who will be hurt by it. Really? and you don’t think the well-known fact that the entire country of Guatemala was closed to international adoption because of corruption, and several years later the US refusing to be part of the new system because it is still massively flawed, will not make them recognise that all adoptions from that country are now tainted for life – whether or not their own adoption was clean? And that Guatemala was not the first country this happened too and won’t be the last?
That the current “go to” country looks like they too have exactly the same issues as Guatemala, or Vietnam, or Cambodia, or Nepal? But you don’t want to speak up for what reason was it? – that adoptees will be hurt by it? Okay so how many more countries and how many more adoptees being hurt by corruption (which includes not needing to be adopted) is okay with you then? To protect “your” child from having the public know the country they were adopted from had some major issues with corruption in adoption – that makes it okay for all the future adoptees from all the future countries to have the same thing happen to them…okay fine…good to know you “care“…but only for protecting “your” adoptee…
Guess what? Your kids are already going to be hurt from the fact that “corruption happened“, “happens today“, and will continue to “happen in the future” regardless of what country it is, if you all do nothing. Did you not watch the recent show on Utah and fathers rights being ground into the dust? Do you honestly not question the ethics in any adoption from Utah now? That is the reality – lack of ethics and corruption taints everyone. For the rest of their lives they will be impacted by the choices made by AP’s, the industry, and by those who have the ability to make a difference TODAY. Haven’t you heard about the internet and how easy it is to search? Adoptees can and will search out their own reality sooner or later. People will ask what country they were adopted from and based on that answer will make comments like “didn’t that country have problems with corruption with adoption” – people remember things for a long, long time. Especially salacious headlines of kids being trafficked into adoption.
How about taking one giant step forward and remove the “will continue to happen” instead of clinging to the hope that the industry will self-regulate and stop repeating the same mistakes?
And finally there is another group of PAPs and AP’s who still believe there is no corruption or at the most it is a one in a million chance of corruption, and that everything in the current “go to” country of Ethiopia is clean as a whistle and there is no way anything unethical could happen because God has called them to adopt from there. That the current slow-down is because of those “adoption critics” and “adoption reform advocates” are just making Ethiopia look bad for sending their children to North America and Europe.
If only I could put on the rose-colored glasses the 3rd group wears then I could happily believe that a country with little resources or processes that had a wave of international adoption agencies descend on them causing a huge demand for those young as possible preferably under 12 months babies (not the older kids living in the state run orphanages), would bring nothing but perfect ethical transparent processes to the table.
With those rose-colored glasses on I would be positive they would have learned the hard lessons from Guatemala (and other countries) and implemented DNA testing in the pilot program stage – why I would be sure they did, or at least took and stored DNA samples from every child sent abroad? You know just in case one of the strict processes failed and a family who was supposedly dead making them orphans came forward…
Without those rose-colored glasses I would be tempted to consider how strange it was that I have not heard that DNA testing (or storage) is part of the every-day adoption process in Ethiopia. I hear they have planes going to and from Ethiopia regularly, so if there was no facility in Ethiopia to test DNA, for sure they are doing at least the storage protocol to protect the children seeing as they are so experienced in adoptions and all…are they?
Sadly those rose-colored glasses came off a long time ago. I can’t go back to being naive and unaware and fall for the “it’s all just an International PR crisis” by those “adoption reform advocates” or “adoption critics“. Nor will I choose to believe that those parents were “mistaken” who have spoken out that the “supposedly dead” parents of their kids - are actually alive and the stories about abandonment was all lies. Neither can I believe that all those orphanages that supply the children for IA that were closed, must have been simply an “International PR stunt” to silence the critics.
If I could believe that - then perhaps the Baby Scoop Era in the US, Canada, NZ, and Australia and elsewhere didn’t happen either – it must have just been a bad movie I watched…
And Georgia Tann and all the rest of her ilk all must have just been LifeTime Movies…
Adoptees from the Baby Scoop Era…will always carry the stigma to a greater or lesser degree of the era, regardless if our story is different – we are all part of the larger story. Kids from Guatemala will have their own stigma to carry. Each failed adoption experiment.country will taint the adoptees from that country.
Why do you think so many adult adoptees speak out about ethics and the need to work towards family preservation first and foremost and if an adoption really has to happen – that it must be done right?
At a certain point in time the madness needs to end…your choice of whether it will be now, or sometime far into the future…
I found these two video from back in 2007…think about what Tom says and then what has actually gone on in Ethiopia…
edited – the video below should be part 2