Cause and effect – a very long post…

30 Jun


I listened to the first TED Talk below a couple of days ago, a talk that reminded me to check my biases and assumptions at the door and the need work together to find solutions.  It talks about biases, judgement, self-awareness, empathy, growth, questioning conventional wisdom, considering cause and effect, and whether they have it right or wrong…

From the TED website:

“As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.

Both a surgeon and a self-experimenter, Peter Attia hopes to ease the diabetes epidemic by challenging what we think we know and improving the scientific rigor in nutrition and obesity research.”


The part of the talk on cause and effect – and what if they have it all wrong?  Something very applicable to all types of adoption.  What is the cause that an adoption had to happen? What needs to be fixed so it doesn’t need to happen, or only happen as a last resort?  This part of the talk is what I think needs to happen in adoption (obviously the questions will be different, starting with what causes most adoptions to happen, and then what are the solutions)…

We’ve recruited a team of scientific rivals, the best and brightest who all have different hypotheses for what’s at the heart of this epidemic. Some think it’s too many calories consumed. Others think it’s too much dietary fat. Others think it’s too many refined grains and starches. But this team of multi-disciplinary, highly skeptical and exceedingly talented researchers do agree on two things. First, this problem is just simply too important to continue ignoring because we think we know the answer. And two, if we’re willing to be wrong, if we’re willing to challenge the conventional wisdom with the best experiments science can offer, we can solve this problem.”

There are far too many different groups in adoption not talking to each other, and all believe they are right – no one is willing to be wrong, myself included.  People believe domestic adoption is better today and my era was all wrong.  Was it?  Is what is happening today better?  I think parts of my era were better, and parts of todays adoption is better, and I think that parts of adoption before my time were better – but I could be wrong.  But if domestic adoption is being done better, shouldn’t the numbers be declining to only those where the parents just don’t want to be parents, or chose not to access services to overcome their challenges?  Where, if they wanted to parent – the hand-up that they need for the first few years is there?  Why are the adoption models in other countries seeing less domestic adoptions?  Countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, UK, Germany, France.  Chances are – some may be resistant to studying those models to find out why there are less adoptions, why those models are working to reduce adoptions, and what are the flaws to avoid.

An adoption conservation needs to be uncomfortable and take the “me” out of the equation, and put the “child” back in the center of what is important to the point that adoption returns to finding a home for a child who needs a home.  The children need the adults to find common ground and consensus to find solutions for the primary causes, so only those who need a home are adopted.

What are the primary causes of international adoption in developing countries?  I would suggest that it is likely that most adoptions aren’t happening because the parents don’t want to parent, rather because poverty makes it the only “choice” they have for a child to the chance to reach adulthood.  Is poverty also one of the reasons for corruption in adoption, and is it not also harming the children who truly need adoption because it is their last resort?  Is their a solution to poverty that would reduce the need for adoption?

I also watched the talk below from TEDx Sydney Australia 2013 – a lesson that can be applied in different ways for all types of adoption – if we truly want to reduce the number of children that need adoption, we have to start with the cause, not put on a band-aid called adoption to the problem.  Fix the cause to make sure only those children who need adoption, are adopted.  Stay tuned to the end because it isn’t just working in Australia…note you can just listen to most of the talk, but the start has graphics and Q&A asked to the audience…

Paul Pholeros: How to reduce poverty?  Fix homes

In 1985, architect Paul Pholeros was challenged by the director of an Aboriginal-controlled health service to “stop people getting sick” in a small indigenous community in south Australia. The key insights: think beyond medicine and fix the local environment. In this sparky, interactive talk, Pholeros describes projects undertaken by Healthabitat, the organization he now runs to help reduce poverty — through practical design fixes — in Australia and beyond.”


We all need to listen to each other, below are three posts by Michael V. Funderburk, a parent who adopted from Ethiopia in 2008, and returned to live in Ethiopia from 2009 to 2011.  I think he speaks to the cause and effect, and also, what is missing in the Christian Adoption Movement.


Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Adoption, Ethics


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “Cause and effect – a very long post…

  1. TAO

    June 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm

  2. Don't We Look Alike?

    June 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    Putting the child at the center is the first thing–the most important. Without that as the foundation, no other decisions can be right. After that, it takes knowledge and an inquiring mind to try to get the facts and not just the party line from each organization etc. I don’t have time to watch the video, but responding to the text here, BTW. There are also children who rest in a limbo between needing a home and not needing a home–or rather children who it can’t be determined if they need a home or whose business it is to decide whether they do or not. I’m talking about children of parents who neglect or abuse because of mental illness, drugs, etc. Another thought your piece raised for me, is that it’s probably time to start to dismantle the word “international adoption” when possible because what is true of Ethiopia isn’t true of China isn’t true of Guatemala. We have to look at each culture separately. As far as whether adoption is better today or in previous generations, it’s too early to tell the effects of open adoption. It seems positive because it makes up for some of the problems of previous adoptions, but we don’t know the effects on the children long term. What’s certain is it’s not possible to create perfection out of imperfect situations.


    • TAO

      June 30, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      You are right on all your points – especially re international and not only by country and unique concerns but by Hague status as well. Where the first video – they can determine through science and medicine – with adoption there are so many different scenario’s there will never be an overall perfect solution but there are many more good solutions that what is happening now.


  3. eagoodlife

    July 1, 2013 at 12:41 am

    We need to start way before adoption with contraception and making sure only those women who want to be pregnant are. We need to take away the inducements to pregnancy for money, 5 mins of fame and the thought of making adoptive parents a beautiful gift! If we also concentrated better on making sure those who are parenting do it well and have the resources they need and that poverty was not created, as in Africa, the adoption rates would drop dramatically.Some people will never parent well, perhaps for the sake of children we need to be more realistic about them too.


  4. cb

    July 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Loved the second TED talk.

    Re adoption. I was actually reading a US Child”s Bureau bulletin from the 1940s giving advice on how maternity homes should be run as a community service and it was interesting to note that their advice at the time was quite forward thinking for the time in that they recommended treating unmarried mothers as individuals when undergoing counselling and making sure they continued to receive support and help afterwards, making sure that they got the best healthcare and about trying to overcome the stigma and attitude expressed towards unwed mothers. Of course, we all know that in the 50s-70s, the counselling became more adoption-directive and also certainly for many women, they received much poorer health care and the stigma and attitude towards unwed mothers continued.

    The organisation that organised my adopotion was apparently very forward thinking in the 1940s when it first started, in that, in addition to providing the above services recommended in the aforementioned bulletin, they also had sponsors that helped the women find good jobs and places to live. By the mid 1960s, that had all gone out the window. In the 1940s, I think my bmom would have been counselled as an individual, in the 1960s, it seems most likely that her counselling was directive in nature as was the standard at that time. .

    So my main point is that I think each expectant mother must be treated as an individual and truly counselled as a whole human being, not just as a pregnant woman so that by the time her baby is due to be born, she can make her decision without feeling as compromised as she may have felt before. Sometimes adoption miight still be the best decision for all, however, that decision should be one made through the counsellor getting to know the woman as a person, not just as a possible birthmother.


  5. shannon2818

    July 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    great points – I love TED talks



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