In the United States, a motive [in choosing IA] is the notion that internationalAnother “OUCH” moment for me – comparing international adoption to the outsourcing of jobs to places less regulated. Has a different ring to it to talk about "off-shore adoption" instead of "international adoption." Any adoptive parent in the U.S. knows that our end of things is regulated out the wazoo (a technical legal term!). But at the sending end? This has been one of the issues troubling me lately – most sending countries are about 40 years behind where we are when it comes to "voluntary" relinquishments, I think.
adoption is somehow “safer”—more predictable and more likely to end in success — than many domestic adoptions, where there’s an outsized fear of a birth mother’s last-minute change of heart. Add an ocean of distance, and the idea that needy children abound in poor countries, and that risk seems to disappear.
But international adoptions are no less risky; they’re simply less regulated. Just as companies outsource industry to countries with lax labor laws and low wages, adoptions have moved to states with few laws about the process. Poor, illiterate birthparents in the developing world simply have fewer protections than their counterparts in the United States, especially in countries where human trafficking and corruption are rampant. And too often, these imbalances are overlooked on the adopting end. After all, one country after another has continued to supply what adoptive parents want most.
I've been meaning to post a book review of The Girls Who Went Away, which I read a few months ago, but haven't gotten around to it (I HIGHLY recommend it, BTW). The book is about the era between World War II and legalized abortion, when so many young girls and women relinquished (were coerced into relinquishing ?) their children for adoption amidst a vicious stew of stigma, powerlessness, and poverty. We may do better than that now (or maybe not – it always amazes me that many states (including my home state of Texas) allow minor girls to consent to adoptions without any oversight at all, while preventing minors from having abortions without parental consent/notification or judicial review, and even requiring adult women to listen to all the services available to them if they choose to go to term (paternity determinations, child support, WIC, welfare, etc.). No statute requires agencies to give this information to relinquishing mothers! But I digress . . . . ).
Still, in the U.S., there are currently at least attempts to ensure that relinquishments are voluntary. There are also regulations about what money can change hands in an adoption, in an effort to prevent baby selling. Those regulations often don't exist in other sending countries.So all in all, there is little guarantee that relinquishments in sending countries are truly voluntary.
I know, easy enough for me to say, since China, because of the one child policy, gets a "pass" on this issue. But I'm not exempt from concern even about China -- I worry about how "voluntary" abandonments are, especially for birth mothers. Oftentimes the decision is made by in-laws, after all.
And to place it all in the context of "adoption talk," how does all of this affect our kids when they become old enough to understand it? How can we explain it?