I’ve known for years that the US is both a sending and receiving country in Inter-county Adoption. That Canadians adopted infants through domestic adoption and from foster care. I also knew that Ireland adopted from the US as well off and on over the years. It bothered me, but the numbers were miniscule, and Canadian and Irish babies had previously been adopted into the US in great numbers and with other things happening in adoption, I put it off to the side.
Then I found out that other countries in the European Union adopted from the US as well and that brought it once again to the front of my mind. I had a few misgivings, loosing your country of birth and being separated by an ocean (and sometimes your language) from your family of birth is a big deal. Yet, I was also comforted by the Hague rules Ireland (and other European countries) would have and did put in place for domestic infant adoptions from the states. On that front, I was glad that those mothers (and fathers) in the US choosing adoption would have more protections, and time (6 weeks before consent), than if they had chosen a couple in the US…(although I wasn’t naïve enough to assume everyone would always follow the rules laid out)…
Then I read this article Are we now shifting responsibility for adopted children offshore? and it really bothered me.
So why was I so triggered reading this article?
For one, because it is Australia. A country who has (or had) apparently learned its lesson on how not to do adoptions. They had a public inquiry into forced adoptions from the era I was born in, they apologised, they promised that it would never happen again. Domestic infant adoption in Australia is miniscule as there are decent safety nets so women have resources to fall back on, and adoption is not a for-profit business, it is just one of the services offered. They also stood their ground and said inter-country adoption can’t include wrong-doing, if it isn’t done right, we won’t allow it to happen from that country. Sadly, Australia appears to be on the brink of forgetting the hard lessons learned both at home, and internationally, just a few short years ago.
Abbott claims the seven countries with which the government is pursuing agreements will meet the safeguards of the convention.
If Abbott assumes because a country is a signatory of the Hague inter-country adoption treaty, or isn’t a signatory but says they will comply and follow the rules laid out in the treaty, he has another surprise in store for him, because sometimes the companies doing the adoption don’t. If doing it right matters to Australia then you (Australia) have to ensure compliance. And why won’t Abbott name the seven countries they are in negotiations with? Further on in the article, the speculation is that the US is one of them, and yet, even with Ireland’s detailed clear requirements for adoption from the US, they have (not surprisingly) already run into issues with this new agreement not even a year old if my understanding is correct, Notice-United States, 17th June 2014 (and also read the link to the requirements at the end). Honestly, the requirements Ireland set out are very straight forward despite what I see as wiggle room in some of the conditions, (not saying anyone would take advantage but don’t assume everyone will follow the rules laid out)…So Abbott only has to look at the problems Ireland has had over the years adopting from the US, the number of times it has been stopped and even with a new agreement spelled out in detail, it isn’t always going to be done right.
But the paragraph that triggered a visceral reaction in me? A reaction I admit is solely from the wording in the article.
If lobbyists are to be believed, Abbott has his sights set on engaging with the seriously flawed US system. Not only will Australia be able to receive American children adopted from care or through private arrangements, Australia could hypothetically become a sending country in a two-way flow of children.
The words “two-way flow of children“, stop and let those words really settle in for a moment…then ask yourself if that is what adoption is supposed to be about. Not in my world, to me, adoption is the response when a child has no parent (or guardian) to raise them, an individualized specific solution for that one child. Adoption is not supposed to be flow of children from one developed country to the other developed country, for no purpose other than someone wants to adopt a baby, and that country over there has them available, then, other children flowing back in return. All the rhetoric surrounding international adoption always speaks to the better life a child can have in a developed country, but how do you qualify that better life as the reason it is necessary to remove a child from their country, when it is two developed countries swapping babies, and, profit is being made by people processing the adoptions.
At the end of the day, children aren’t a product to be ordered from a foreign country when you can’t find one you want in your country. We can’t accept the mindset that the primary driver for adoption is finding babies for people who want them, that must stay solely as the solution when a child needs a home. These are little tiny human beings, not commodities, and being adopted means you already lost your entire family, being adopted in your country means you might get to know the family you lost, being adopted to another country means you also lose your country and everything that means, plus the chance of any openness is extremely limited at best. The feelings those words invoked in me is that it is obvious that this drive is not about what is best for the individual child, it is simply to fill the wants of adults whatever country they live in, from whatever country babies are available in. That’s not what adoption is supposed to be about, and I’ll keep talking about it until adoption becomes child-centric first, not the other way around.