The comment that always pops up in discussions about ethics and adoption

18 May


I am still working on reading all the discussions that have been started since “The Child Catchers” by Kathryn Joyce was published.  Really enjoying seeing both the responses and the pennies dropping.  It’s good – but I knew this comment was coming because it comes up on every discussion on ethics and adoption.  Paraphrased to spare the person who left the comment about why discussing it was bad, and you should only speak to a specific case or agency on a post talking about ethics and corruption in international adoption.

We don’t want people to think we bought our children, or for our children to think they were bought.

You can’t un-ring the bell on the world knowing that there have been, and are wrongful adoptions happening right along side adoptions that are done correctly.  There is proof of more than the rare case when entire countries have closed due to widespread problems that don’t magically disappear from international adoption, simply, because one country closes.  The choice is whether you are willing to do something about it to show both the world, and your child, that an adoption has to be done right, or not at all.  This discussion needed to happen and trying to shut it down only means that wrongful adoptions will continue to happen when accountability isn’t a requirement by those paying the adoption fees.


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16 responses to “The comment that always pops up in discussions about ethics and adoption

  1. Rebecca Hawkes (twitter: @motherdaughterB)

    May 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    “We don’t want people to think we bought our children, or for our children to think they were bought.” My response is, if it’s true then they should know about it. Most of us want the truth, even if it isn’t pretty. Even if it’s complicated. Even if it involves understandings that have shifted over time. Looking back we may see something different than we saw at the outset. But hiding a reality just because it’s complex or ugly is bound to backfire, imho. I agree completely that this is a discussion we need to be having! (But you already knew that, of course.)


    • TAO

      May 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Of course I agree with you that if it is true it must be disclosed – I also think though that at some stage – corruption in adoption should be a frank conversation had by all parents with their children – whether their adoption was squeaky clean, shades of grey, or unanswered, or answered hard questions. Google isn’t the parents friend who doesn’t have that conversation. I think the parent who made that comment wasn’t concerned that ethics were ignored in their adoptions – just that talk of corruption and adoption may think others or their children would assume all adoptions were wrongful – you know what will the neighbors think mentality.

      Thanks for commenting – very much appreciate it.


  2. eagoodlife

    May 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    This is a discussion that needs to run and run until it is fully understood by everyone that payment for children however it is disguised, described or explained is unethical. Where money changes hands corruption exists and ethics are absent.All adoptees need to know the truth, to decide for themselves whether they were bought and sold. My first question as a small child when I was told of my adoption was “How much did I cost?” I was ijn fact free, as were many of my fellow adoptees when War babies were plentiful. I suspect I’m not alone in wanting to know the cost – it is great, far beyond dollars and for some too much.


    • TAO

      May 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm

      And money in developing countries is just a recipe for disaster. It has to be strictly monitored. So glad to see so many taking part in the conversations – we need to encourage them to continue.

      Nice to hear from you as always – hoping this means you are feeling better?


  3. Mirren (@newhall89)

    May 18, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I have the bill of sale for myself at my aparents’ home; I believe it was in the hundreds of dollars and only covered “fees” back in ’69 and ’70. I haven’t looked at it in a while, and it would make me sick. But money still changed hands. There was, and is, a market. People who convince themselves otherwise do themselves a disservice, parents and adoptees alike.


    • TAO

      May 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      The only cost for my adoption was the time I spent in the nursery after my mother left the hospital paid directly to the hospital and whatever the small fee paid to the attorney for the petition – which would have been minimal because dad would not have paid more than his time and the petition was simple. I’m okay with both. FAR more ethical to go through the county to surrender and then adopt rather than an agency – no shame and blame tactics.

      During our era through an agency mothers or their families had to pay the agencies maternity home to stay there…

      Thanks for stopping by!


  4. TAO

    May 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    And thank you all for the LIKES!!!


  5. barb_aloot

    May 19, 2013 at 8:21 am

    That is such a silly excuse to avoid talking about ethics. I’ve heard it, in fact I’ve heard it from public social workers here in Ireland, but the thing is, money changes hands in adoption. Even without the talk of ethics (which is essential), it’s important to talk about it. APs have been fielding questions from the ubiquitous random pest in the grocery store long before there was so much media attention on corruption. My son knows a whole host of people were involved in his adoption – lawyers, judges, nannies, etc., and he knows that is their job and grown ups have jobs to earn money. The corruption issue is another angle and we’ll talk about it, but it is not (sadly) the only context in which people refer to adoptees as being ‘bought’ and ‘paid for’.


    • TAO

      May 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      Barb – you are right – I think every adoptee talks about it as well. I do think that there is a distinct difference in how adoptees of today will react if/when they realize what the cost is today in the domestic infant adoption – where the parents expenses are as much, close to as much, or more than costs that can be explained as paid to a lawyer etc. How do you explain paying the parents expenses and then in the next breath say there was no coercion or implied tit for tat?


      • Beth

        May 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm

        That’s what I am wondering, how the $40K + travel expenses kids will feel/think about it. I only cost $168 bucks and heard “it was the best deal I (my Dad) ever made”. Huh, at least he did talk about it somehow, even if it were joking around a bit trying to ease my purchased property feelings he sensed I was having. It also hit me when I saw the medical form that was actually stamped with “APPROVED”, when I first saw that all I could think was Approved for Sale. It took them 3 months to determine I was good enough to sell. Lets not forget my new title and all the ways that can make one think…
        I can’t imagine what I would think if my ticket price was as much as a nice new car, enough to need a loan, and the expense being an approved tax credit. And what if my parents put up a long fight with another country to get me… I really don’t see how I could decide for myself very easily that I really wasn’t purchased, maybe just given away pretty cheap. I guess it depends on which market you were born in.

        Just thinking about this makes me thankful I was so cheap, I really can’t justify that my parents purchased me, and if they did, they really did get a good deal. I know they would have paid more if they had too, and they had it to pay. I know my Mom didn’t get a thing, except a miserable two month stay at a maternity home paid for by the state, for me.

        I do wonder if I would have put more value on myself like the business has these days in this market. I wonder if it would have pleased me that my parents had to pay highly and maybe even go into debt to get me. I have a feeling comparing my value to that of a new car isn’t so great a feeling either.


        • TAO

          May 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm

          Your last paragraph – no I can’t see how any person adopted would be pleased their parents paid so much money – seems so icky.


  6. Beth

    May 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    “We don’t want people to think we bought our children, or for our children to think they were bought.”
    I’ve heard this soooo many times, to these people I reply “It’s not those of us that are discussing the ethics and corruption that make you look bad, it’s some of your fellow aparents that are making you look bad. Go complain to them and the business they support.”

    “… or for our children to think they were bought.” All I can do is laugh at that LOL most adoptees I know think that whether anyone wants them to or not, sold or not, it doesn’t matter. How could they not think about it and have feelings to sort through about it, regardless of what we discuss on the internet?!

    As far as “neighbors”, a few of mine think in rainbow terms concerning adoption, the rest, well, it’s pretty ugly – like it always has been in society.


    • TAO

      May 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Fellow AP’s and Adoption Agencies (etc)…yes they are making you look bad – not those who give a damn something is done right.

      I was thinking this morning: But for Kathryn Joyce writing The Child Catchers – would this conversation be happening on a relatively wide scale? No, it would just be the few incredibly brave AP’s speaking out who haven’t yet given up in defeat after being kicked off forums, ostracised, call Satan lovers and anti-adoption, unfriended, maligned, marginalized, and of course adult adoptees and mothers…

      Kind of sad that it took a book to restart a conversation that should have happened when the very first country slammed it’s doors shut because of the corruption, and NEVER stopped until those guilty were held to account and changes made.


      • Beth

        May 22, 2013 at 12:19 pm

        You are right, the conversation should never have stopped. It didn’t for some of us LOL but others are very good at derailing.
        My hubby is a real estate broker, the similarities with the adoption biz amazes me. But anyway! Recently a local broker got busted for being unethical and “cheating”, signing forms for people, doing odd things with escrow checks, lying, etc… The other local agents were ticked along with the clients – made them look bad, really bad. Do you think they stopped talking?? NO, they called her out and ran this chick out of town, called realtor associations, the state, got her license revoked, got three articles published in the paper talking about what was done wrong and how it should have been done and alerting others of what too watch out for and what to report. And one article in the brokers state magazine, email broadcasts about ethics, and it was all over the internet. It’s done and their reputations have been saved in the public eye, well, somewhat!
        Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be done?


        • TAO

          May 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm

          Beth – that is exactly how it should be done in adoption – not just real estate or other NON adoption industries. After your comparison I was thinking of all the newspaper articles from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s where heads of adoption agencies were quoted speaking up against the black market / grey market adoption “people”…telling it like it was and pointing fingers to them calling them out by name. Then the 80’s forward that seemed to stop. Why? Wouldn’t your reputation be retained while calling out the bad guys? I would think so…


  7. Beth

    May 22, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Absolutely! Not only did calling this person out and talking about it in every medium available, and inviting others to join in, not hurt his business – IT HELPED IT.. He’s swamped.

    Isn’t the 80’s about when the “inflation” started, and when the supply was on it’s way down??



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