Sunday, March 28, 2010

Is International Adoption Dying?

That's the question Karen Maunu asks at the LWB Community blog after attending the recent Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) conference on international adoption:

One of the more sobering things about attending the conference, however, was hearing how many adoption agencies have had to shut their doors due to a decrease in international adoption. Membership in JCICS has dropped by over 60 members this year and over the past three years, international adoption has dropped by half the number of children. Tom DiFilipo, President & Chief Executive Officer of JCICS, cautioned that within five years, international adoptions could drop below 5,000 children a year and there may be only be five international adoption agencies left. Some very large organizations are actually completely against international adoption.
What are you feeling about the decrease in international adoption?

Well, what's your answer? For me, I'm perfectly OK with international adoption as we know it ending. The first priority should be family preservation, including placements with extended family members whenever possible. When that isn't possible, countries should look to domestic adoption BEFORE any international placements are allowed. It's so much better for children to be placed within their own country, minimizing the losses associated with adoption. With domestic placements, children remain within their culture, maintain their language, and are unlikely to deal with a transracial placement. Children within their birth country are also more likely to be able to maintain relationships with birth family. Only as a last resort should countries turn to international adoption.

Do I think that that ideal will be reached in my lifetime? Somehow I doubt it. . . .

8 comments:

SustainableFamilies said...

Don't give up hope! I certainly hope so!!!!! (Ok well at least CLOSE to your goal... ) : )

Kris said...

I agree with you completely. One of the obstacles has been the lack of domestic adoptions in some of the countries (I am speaking mostly of Russia, where we adopted from). However, I think in the last few years domestic adoptions have increased (in Russia, anyway)so there is hope that more kids can stay in their own countries. What you are saying sounds like UNICEF's stance, which I agree with.

Von said...

Very good news, I hope to see the goal achieved in my life time or if not mine then yours!

Wendy said...

Put another vote down for agreeing with you. I would hope to see an end of the way things are managed now in our lifetime! I don't think we will see an end to IA in that time, but vast improvements as more voices come out that speak in the best interest of children and birth families. One can hope anyway that the powers that be will listen to those voices that are ringing louder each passing year and that the sending countries will stop looking at IA as a funding source.

My hope is that the call for adoption will won't overshadow the call to end corruption in not only IA, but with global issues and pollution--a major cause in birth differences leading to abandonment. Let's get at the source of the problem, not just a "solution" to a preventable issue.

LisaLew said...

I still firmly believe that there will ALWAYS be children in need of families, and always families wanting to expand by adopting.
To say "we should end International Adoption" based on the criteria you have provided is commendable. But that view, to me, is very idealistic and not realistic for the children involved.

There will ALWAYS be families who are unable or unwilling to parent, whether we choose to accept that fact or not.

In many blogs I see a quest to "end" IA. Like it or not, many countries do not value their children who are homeless. There is an increase in street children in Guatemala now, not an increase in assistance to birth families or domestic adoption. In our current state, if we blanket "forbid" International Adoption in America, then many children overseas will be homeless for life.

SustainableFamilies said...

Lisa, having worked with aged out foster alumni and runaways, I can safely say that our of the hundreds of homeless kids and young adults under 23 we worked with, only ONE had been adopted as a teen.

We in America don't give a crap about the 14 year old foster kid.

Everyone wants a cute newborn with no issues.

Statistically speaking American adopters are overwhelmingly self absorbed jerks. (Ok just kidding, but I get passionate about people abandoning the older kids for the infants!)

malinda said...

SF, to play devil's advocate . . . .

Yes, APs can be selfish, wanting to parent a newborn or infant instead of an older child. But the alternative is for them to be "selfless," which smacks of rescue and gratitude.

It's that conflict between adoption being about having a child, rather than rescue, and adoption about finding families for needy children rather than finding children for needy parents. When we talk about the children being needy, we're suddenly setting adoption up as a rescue mission. . . .

Maybe selfishness is better?!

travelmom and more said...

I doubt we will see an end to IA in our lifetime, as long as there is poverty, corruption, natural disasters and birth defects there will be children without families who can or will support or care for them. The US exports children abroad, IA is not only from poor to rich countries. Rather than an end to IA I would like to see a more transparent process that looks at the well being of children in a placement process. As for adoption through the foster care system, it is very altruistic to say Adopters are selfish, but taking a child into your home is hard and requires a lot of self reflection. Additionally is it wrong to want a family to mimic nature as closely as possible? If an adoptive parent doesn't seriously ask themselves what they are capable and ready for as a family, disaster can happen. I have worked with teens for over a decade and many are troubled with serious need for serious parents, biological or adopted. Add the trauma suffered by many older children in the foster care system and the parent needs to be prepared for serious intense parenting. I know people don't like to think of children in the foster care system as "damaged,” but denying that trauma has occurred and that parenting foster children is serious and requires a lot of: love, support, training and counseling, does more harm than good in placing children and preparing and supporting families.