Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Get out of my way, I'm entitled to adopt!"

I'm pretty much used to anti-UNICEF feeling in the adoption community, mostly from agencies and adoptive parents who feel that UNICEF is "anti-adoption."  It's pretty popular to declare, "MY kid won't be collecting for UNICEF this Halloween."  "I'd NEVER send a UNICEF Christmas card."  Fine, whatever. A recent article in the Washington Times, UNICEF's Effective Attack on Inter-Country Adoption, by adoptive parent Andrea Poe setting out her grievances against UNICEF left me shaking my head and thinking, "Is that the best you've got?!":
UNICEF claims that international adoption robs children of their heritage and culture. The organization’s has staked out a firm position: children must be given to birth parents, regardless of the circumstance. In lieu of that, children should go to extended family. Next, to his or her “community.” Finally, domestic adoption should be explored. Inter-country adoption is “one of a range of options” according to UNCEF and should be turned to as a last resort. The organization goes so far as to claim that international adoption must be “subsidiary” to in-country adoption, at all costs.
It's not just UNICEF that says that -- the subsidiarity principle has been a staple of international adoption forever, and is ensconced in the Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption, a document so main-stream that it's been signed by 83 nations, including the United States.  If you have a problem with the domestic-adoption-before-international-adoption idea, your problem is with the Hague Convention, not with UNICEF!
UNICEF declares that inter-country adoption “is not as a good as being raised in their families of origin but better than staying in orphanages.” That would make sense if the world was a perfect place and this Polly Anna viewpoint had any basis in reality. But that’s not the world, nor is it the reality of millions of orphans around the world. Shared DNA does not make for the best families, contrary to UNICEF’s claims. Children wind up eligible for adoption for myriad reasons, ranging from poverty to abuse to neglect.
Huh?  What is outrageous about saying that adoption is not as good as being raised in their families of origin?!  Of course it's not!  The best possible thing for my daughters would have been for their birth parents to have raised them, if they had been able.  That's been the "best possible thing" for the vast majority of people on this earth in the past, in the present and in the future!  I was raised by my family of origin, my parents were raised by their biological parents, and their parents were raised by their biological parents, and their parents' parents were raised by their biologican parents, and so on and so on and so on. . . .  And would you like to know how many of those people were raised in poverty?  An awful lot!  There are 13.3 million children living in poverty in the U.S.  Should they all be removed from their families of origin to be raised in "stable" adoptive families?  Of course not -- we mean children in poverty in OTHER countries!  Well, there are 1 billion children living in poverty around the world.  Should they all be placed for adoption in Western countries?

And UNICEF says that adoption is better than orphanages -- how is that a block-adoption-at-any-cost position?
In some cases, UNICEF’s positions border on racist. In a position paper on inter-country adoption the organization states, that every effort should be made to keep a child “within his ethnic group.” Huh? Some vague notion about cultural ties should trump the basic human rights of children? For what end UNICEF does not say.
Actually, culture IS a basic human right of children.  The U.N. Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child all recognize this. So if you want to argue otherwise, your problem isn't with UNICEF, it's with the entire world!
There’s a disconnect between UNICEF’s position and the welfare of children. Somewhere along the way the behemoth organization lost track of advocating for children and began abstracting the issue.

You can even hear it in the language used in the organization’s Innocenti Digest entitled “Impact of International Legal Standards and the Safeguards of The Best interest of the Child in Domestic and Intercountry Adoption,” where “different stakeholders” in intercountry adoption are mentioned. Stakeholders? What about the children?
Oh, come now!  You're being quite disingenuous here, aren't you?!  YOU, Ms. Adoptive Parent, are a "stakeholder" in intercountry adoption, aren't you?  Don't you want UNICEF to consider your interests?!  Seems to be what this whole article is about -- YOUR interests over any other stakeholder!


Aren't the COUNTRIES offering to send their children abroad for adoption important stakeholders in inter-country adoption whose interests should be considered?  Or do you advocate ignoring their interests and simply invading and taking children to "better" adoptive homes?  I think not!


And if you're not interested in reading someone else's cherry-picked assessment of that UNICEF document, read the whole thing and decide for yourself if it shows that UNICEF doesn't care about the children.
To promote its agenda, UNICEF points out that abuses have taken place with inter-country adoptions. They are right. They have. Just as they have and do with domestic adoptions, which UNICEF advocates. The Hague Convention was developed to provide guidelines for inter-country adoption with the hope of reducing abuses of the system and reducing the risk for child trafficking and profiteering from orphans. This issue so often raised by UNICEF is a canard. C’mon. Who isn’t against corruption and abuse?
A canard?  Abuse, including child trafficking and profiteering, is a canard?  I don't think the author knows the meaning of the word canard:  "a false or unfounded report or story; especially: a fabricated report; a groundless rumor or belief." She just conceded that abuses happen, so UNICEF also saying so is the OPPOSITE of a canard!


And if she thinks the Hague Convention has solved the problem of corruption in international adoption, she hasn't been paying attention.  First thing on her reading list should be the article by David Smolin that I posted earlier in the week. Professor Smolin makes a compelling case, supported by evidence, that the Hague Convention has not fulfilled its promise to end corrupt practices in intercountry adoption.
What’s so disappointing about UNICEF’s position is that for years the organization has been a leader in child welfare around the world. The work that they do to help feed and immunize children is unimpeachable. And perhaps this is the problem. The organization’s success in this area has jaundiced UNICEF’s view on adoption.
That's a pretty damning charge.  Proof, please?  If I were to say, "Adoption agencies don't really care about the welfare of the children, they just want to keep them healthy enough to be adopted so they can make a boatload of money," wouldn't you insist on proof?  You certainly should.  So I can demand proof when others declare, "Child welfare organizations don't want kids adopted so they can get boatloads of donations to take care of the poor orphans."
Arbitrary national borders on a map have become a greater priority to UNICEF than the complicated issues of placing children with safe, loving families wherever those families may be.
You know, "arbitrary" national borders certainly seem important to us when we're trying to keep people from crossing ours;  they only become unimportant when we're interested in crossing others' borders.
UNICEF has repeatedly stated that it prefers the expansion of social welfare programs for poor families within countries, so that children can stay in kinship groups. The practical outcome has been that unparented children are being denied the best homes so that UNICEF can score cheap points in the international arena about the insufficient aid poor countries receive. The pawns here are the children.
Again, proof that UNICEF is trying to score cheap points and doesn't really care about children?  Again, wouldn't you demand proof if I said, "Agencies and adoptive parents in the West don't want aid to families in poor countries because they want to have unfettered access to adopt children of poor people;  they don't care about the plight of poor people, they just want to take their children?"


That's the only damning thing in this paragraph, throwing unsupported accusations about UNICEF's motivations.  Arguing that we should provide more aid for poor families is actually a good thing, I think.  Keeping children with their "kinship groups" (known as "families" when we're talking about our own, but talked about in tribal terms when we talk about "the other") is a good thing.  Not allowing poverty to be the thing that tears families apart is a good thing.  Saying that no child should lose his or her family because of poverty is a good thing.  Kids don't really care about having "the BEST homes;" they care about having their family.


You know, it's quite possible to think rich countries should aid poor countries in order to keep families together, and IN THE MEANTIME, believe international adoption is appropriate in some cases.  That seems to be UNICEF's position.
Harvard Law School’s Elizabeth Bartholet, an adoptive parent herself and a well-regarded child advocate, has publicly stated that “international adoption is under siege,” largely because of UNICEF’s unrelenting assault on inter-country adoption.

In Batholet’s paper International Adoption: The Human Rights Position she writes, “Preferences for what UNICEF calls permanent family or foster care [in country] are dangerous. UNICEF’s argument is that such care could preserve children’s birth and national heritage links. But foster care doesn’t exist as a meaningful option in most sending countries – unparented children are instead relegated to orphanages. UNICEF wants foster care expanded, but denying children adoptive homes now because in the future foster care might exist is unfair to existing children.”
Bartholet's position on international law and international human rights is not in the mainstream;  it is decidedly fringe.  Bartholet has even argued that baby buying is no different from surrogacy -- if we allow one, we should allow the other.  After all, what's the difference between eggs carried by a surrogate and children already born to other people?!


Yes, UNICEF wants foster care expanded so children can be taken care of in-country, wants domestic adoption expanded, so children can be taken care of in-country.  So does the Hague Convention.  But it also recognizes that when that isn't possible, international adoption is appropriate.  And that's what UNICEF says, too! 
The influence of UNICEF on the world community cannot be overstated. It has used its reputation as a leader in children welfare to lobby countries, including the United States, to reduce the number of inter-country adoptions. The results have had dire consequences for children around the world. International adoptions have plummeted and most countries are now closed to American parents.
I think adoptive parents and agencies overstate UNICEF's influence in this area. There are way too many much more powerful actors in the international adoption arena.UNICEF is a popular bogeyman, but where's the PROOF that UNICEF has caused the reduction in international adoption?  Correlation is not causation.  As Professor Smolin says in his excellent article:
The current decline in intercountry adoption, and the recurrent shutdowns or slowdowns of intercountry adoption in many sending countries, are not caused primarily by pre-existing ideological opposition to moving orphans outside of their countries of origin. The primary problem is not ideological disagreement about intercountry adoption, but rather regulatory failure leading to recurrent child laundering scandals and other destructive practices. Recurrent child laundering scandals reveal intercountry adoption systems driven by a combination of profit-seeking and rich-nation demand for children. Sustaining the legitimacy of intercountry adoption under conditions of recurrent child laundering scandals is vain, as the claim to operate for the good of orphaned children is fatally undermined in systems whose “orphans” are frequently purchased or stolen children. Thus, preventing child laundering and related abuses needs to move to the center of the intercountry adoption agenda, rather than remaining a largely peripheral concern.
The causes of the decline in international adoption are so clearly about corruption -- that's what's caused shutdowns in Guatemala, Vietnam, Cambodia -- and the special case of China.  China was such a large actor, and I think we can all agree that UNICEF has little influence with the Chinese government!  For China it is changing attitudes about girls and better economic position for many in China.  That isn't UNICEF's fault, too, is it?!
The dark and highly influential shadow that UNICEF has cast on intercountry adoption has left millions of children around the world stranded, without homes and without hope.
This is part of the either-or discussion of international adoption. It's either international adoption or orphanages.  It's either international adoption or death.  And how many "millions of children around the world stranded, without homes and hope" are we talking about, anyway?


UNICEF's figure that there are 132 million orphans is popular to bandy about, usually by the same people who hate everything they think UNICEF stands for!  But that figure defines orphans as children who have lost ONE or both parents.  When you really start to dig down, you learn that only 13 million have lost both parents. And the vast majority of those 13 million children are living with the surviving parent, grandparents or extended family (you know, the same thing that would happen with our children if one parent should die.)


If you're looking at it as international adoption or orphanage, there are about 2 million children in orphanages, and not all of them are orphans.  They're there because poor families need help taking care of their children.  So the alternatives are not what the author here suggests -- international adoption or a slow lingering death in an orphanage.


And before blowing off better aid to poor families and expanded foster care, you might want to check out this report, Families, Not Orphanages, which argues -- with supporting evidence -- that change is possible.


If you're interested in really finding out what UNICEF's position is, instead of assuming that whatever this author wants to say is true, you might want to look at what UNICEF actually says:


The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which guides UNICEF’s work, clearly states that every child has the right to grow up in a family environment, to know and be cared for by her or his own family, whenever possible. Recognising this, and the value and importance of families in children’s lives, families needing assistance to care for their children have a right to receive it. When, despite this assistance, a child’s family is unavailable, unable or unwilling to care for her/him, then appropriate and stable family-based solutions should be sought to enable the child to grow up in a loving, caring and supportive environment.


Inter-country adoption is among the range of stable care options. For individual children who cannot be cared for in a family setting in their country of origin, inter-country adoption may be the best permanent solution.


UNICEF supports inter-country adoption, when pursued in conformity with the standards and principles of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoptions – already ratified by more than 80 countries.
So you disagree with UNICEF's position on adoption?  I don't. Disagreeing with UNICEF's stated position is tantamount to saying, "Get out of my way, I'm entitled to adopt!"

27 comments:

Sandy said...

Malinda - absolutely love this post. I cannot even begin to understand the mindset of the woman who wrote such garbage.

travelmom and more said...

Malinda
Thank you for posting this. UNICEF does more to eliminate childhood poverty, vaccinate against preventable diseases and provide clean drinking water to children than any other organization in the world. Their work supports families and children and which is what all of us in the adoption community should be fighting for.

Tara Kim said...

Great post! As always :)
I would like to link this

Von said...

Thanks for the reminder to go out and buy the UNICEF Christmas cards, great post which I'd like to link if I may.Happy Holidays!

Jenna said...

I almost always agree with you, but I have to disagree on this post. Please be nice to me :-)Just because UNICEF states that they believe a certain way that does not mean that their actions back up their words. I think most people in the adoption community believe that the best case scenario for a child is for the child to stay in his/her home (culture, community, etc.). Most people believe UNICEF's "stated" position. I believe that the reason people disagree with UNICEF is that they don't agree with the way that UNICEF is going about reaching their goal. It seems by UNICEF's actions (in Guatemala for example http://www.articlesbase.com/parenting-articles/international-adoption-unicefs-and-other-critics-war-against-international-adoption-719309.html), they are trying to shut down international adoption in order to force countries to provide the needed resources to end the need for adoption. The problem is that these countries are resource poor or are facing epidemics. I believe a better approach is to work with the countries to help provide LONG-TERM solutions to the problems that lead to children living in orphanages while at the same time working to prevent corruption in international adoption while adoption is still needed. The ultimate goal is to end the need for international adoption, but this cannot be accomplished overnight. The children who RIGHT NOW have a need for a permanent home should be given an opportunity for a permanent home. So no, I do not support UNICEF. I DO support organizations such as Village of Hope. This organization is going into communities and working on making permanent changes to end poverty. They are providing clean water, schools, and medical care. They are partnering with these communities to make these changes. They do not build the schools and medical facilities unless the community is able to staff the facilities. They are making a positive and amazing change. That is the kind of assistance that is needed. Here is a video that tells about a new project that Village of Hope is starting. http://vimeo.com/16809281 Please, please, PLEASE don't bash me for viewing this differently.

malinda said...

Jenna, I understand the concern you express, but I still don't see the link that allows us to blame UNICEF. The article you cite blames UNICEF for "tough and effective pressure tactics and lobbying efforts towards developing nations calling for ratification of the Hague Treaty for the Protection of Children and implementation of adoption law and policy models which effectively serve to close programs completely or almost completely to foreign adopters." Really? Is this all there is? And from this we should believe that UNICEF doesn't care about children, is interested only in furthering their own policy objectives, and is faking a concern about corruption?

Having a difference of opinion on international adoption and its role in helping children shouldn't be grounds for condemnation, and that's what I'm getting out of the UNICEF-is-to-blame argument.

I'd just like UNICEF to get the same "be nice" reaction from you that you're asking for here, Jenna!

UNICEF has a different position; that doesn't make them Hitler!

Jenna said...

I am sorry if I came across as blaming UNICEF. I don't blame them, nor do I feel that they are like Hitler. I am sure that their agenda is to help the world's children. I just don't know if I agree with their approach. Maybe I have been misinformed (there are so many articles, links, and opinions on both sides of this), but it seems as if they use their influence to close adoption programs before safeguards are in place, and children suffer. I believe their long-term goal is to make life better for all children. However, I would rather support organizations like Village of Hope. I believe that their approach has a greater chance of success. That being said, I did not mean to come across as accusing UNICEF as being like Hitler. I would never say anything like that.

windthrow said...

Well done Malinda as always.

Jenna. Am sure you will have noticed that the author of the article you provided the link for is the Director of an International Adoption Agency. As I posted in comments on the Washington Times blog, what I keep looking for, and failing to find, is an opinion from anyone supporting this view on UNICEF that doesn't have a stake in the business of adoption. If you have found any I would love to see them.

Jessica said...

The Washington Post article describes the position of Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet this way: "Preferences for what UNICEF calls permanent family or foster care [in country] are dangerous. UNICEF’s argument is that such care could preserve children’s birth and national heritage links. But foster care doesn’t exist as a meaningful option in most sending countries – unparented children are instead relegated to orphanages. UNICEF wants foster care expanded, but denying children adoptive homes now because in the future foster care might exist is unfair to existing children.”

You say Bartholet's position "is not in the mainstream; it is decidedly fringe."

How so? I think many people would agree with Bartholet's position. Adoptions from Guatemala closed in December 2007. Since then, there has been no expansion of foster care services; in fact, US-funded foster care has ended. Children who are relinquished are placed in orphanages, along with thousands of other children who are growing up there.

Elizabeth Bartholet's position seems to be that a better option for those children would be to live with permanent families now, instead of waiting for a foster system that does not exist and may never exist. I agree with her.

Another thought: I wonder if the 100,000+ children eligible for adoption in the American foster care system would recommend permanent foster care as preferable to adoption. The Dave Thomas Foundation doesn't seem to think so.

malinda said...

Jessica,

The problem with Bartholet's position is that she essentially views families as fungible -- no need to worry about family preservation or reunification, no need to worry about corruption, all that matters is getting INFANTS UNDER 1YEAR OLD into adoptive homes as quickly as possible.

Since 95% of orphans worldwide are over the age of 5, her concern for orphans is definitely limited, and coincidentally limited to the cohort that Westerners are overwhelmingly interested in adopting.

The reason "U.S. foster care" in Guatemala ended is because it was a system designed solely and exclusively for the benefit of U.S. adoptive parents. In other words, it wasn't a foster system, it was an international adoption system.

Do you really think that the orphan crisis will be cured by reopening international adoption in Guatemala? Maybe preventing families from relinquishing poor children would be the best way to do that?!

Sunday said...

"Another thought: I wonder if the 100,000+ children eligible for adoption in the American foster care system would recommend permanent foster care as preferable to adoption.".

Those 100,000+ foster kids are waiting for ya'll to get as excited about adopting them as ya'll are about protecting your rights to adopt ANYONE but them!

Um, yeah, as an American Foster Care Alumni, I definitely would have preferred my life in foster care over being shipped out of my country, no matter how much junk my new family could have bought me or how much they loved me. I'm so glad you asked since US foster kids seem to be the last thing on the majority of perspective adoptive parents minds!

Amanda said...

Malinda, I thought your recent comment with "95% of orphans in the world are over the age of five" was interesting because the last statistic I heard about international adoption was that 90% of international adoptions are of children UNDER the age of 5.

So really, adoption is helping children even less than I thought it was, leaving the majority in poverty.

I think UNICEF does a lot of good, but I also separate the Family Preservation message from UNICEF. One does not need to agree with UNICEF, their policies or practices, in order to acknowledge that Family Preservation is best for children and families worldwide.

Adoption is a reaction to the problems families face. It will not solve the social problems of illegitimacy. It will not prevent proverty. It will not keep orphanages from filling right back up after children have been adopted out. It will not encourage social welfare programs in place of orphanages to manage dependency.

Family Preservation will.

I have read, several times, articles complaining about UNICEF's stance. More often than not, I gather the impression that you did: the uproar is that people are angry UNICEF is hindering their ability to adopt, not based on whether it is actually good or bad for children and families. And that's a shame. Adoption should be about children; period.

Jenna said...

Windthrow - I truly understand your point that we all have our biases and that articles often need to be read with that realization, but people who work in the adoption field are more aware of these issues and talk about it more. I really understand that there are good, ethical agencies along with agencies who are all about making money, but I believe that it is not fair to discount what someone is saying based solely on the fact that they are connected to an agency. People in the business of adoption talk about adoption - A LOT :-)

About Bartholet, my understanding about her position is that she does care about all the orphans. She just believes that for a child who will be adopted, the least amount of damage will be done to the child if the child is adopted before age 1. No one can dispute the research that backs this up. That does not mean that she does not care about older orphans.

Sunday, you speak so much truth. I hope this issue gets more attention. The 3 major issues that I see with this (and I am not claiming to be an expert): 1)The foster care system in this country is horrible to work with - understaffed, inefficient, not having the best interest of the child at heart, not enough support,etc.. 2) Families not strong enough to handle the real risk of bonding with a child and then having the child removed 3) Adoptive parents not wanting to "mess" with birthparents (please do not believe that I agree with this, but it is a large factor). I am really looking forward to reading your blog. People need to listen to your voice.

Jessica said...

Malinda:

I've just re-read Bartholet's "International Adoption: The Child's Story" and nowhere can I find evidence that she "essentially views families as fungible." On page 359, she talks about the state's "parens patraie" role, established in the US to protect children. On page 361, she states what may be her most famous argument: "What the studies show, what developmental psychologists have long known, what common sense tells us all with any experience with parenting, is that what is key to enabling children to grow up with a healthy sense of self-esteem and identity is a loving, permanent home as early in life as possible."

I don't read that as her undermining the role of family. Every attachment specialist we've ever worked with says that in an ideal world, placement in infancy is, in fact, best for a child's well-being. That's how I read Bartholet's statement. Others may interpret it as "getting infants UNDER 1 YEAR OLD into adoptive families as soon as possible." So be it.

The Guatemalan foster care system was indeed a US invention, designed for international adoption. That's precisely my point. There is no foster care in Guatemala. Just as there is no welfare, no food stamps, and no Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Aside from family support, there is no safety net for most Guatemalan women. And for whatever reason, sometimes families cannot--or choose not to--accept and support every child who is born.

International adoption will never and can never solve the orphan crisis. But it might give permanent homes to some children while they wait for the orphan crisis to be solved. With careful and thoughtful reform, international adoption could one part of the solution.

Jessica said...

Sunday:

Thank you for your response and insight. I agree with Jenna: People need to hear your voice.

Jessica

malinda said...

Jenna, Sorry I should have been clearer that I wasn't directing the "Hitler" comment at you! I was trying to say, in my own inartful way, that sometimes it seems that the adoption community as a whole demonizes UNICEF; it's like we're trying to find an identifiable bogeyman we can blame for declines in IA, countries shutting down, corruption scandals, whatever seems to be standing in the way of me getting a baby. It's hard to wrap our minds around all the complexities that influence IA, so instead we point the finger at UNICEF.

I'm not asking everyone to sing kumbayah and support UNICEF, I'd just like to see a more reasoned discussion that identifies differences of opinion as just that.

Cindy said...

I love this post. Thank you!

travelmom and more said...

I don't understand why UNICEF has become the bad-guy of IA. Their focus is not, nor has ever been about adoption, it is about improving child welfare and supporting the Millennium Goals. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
I spent several days last summer in a UNICEF training course for educators and not once did they discuss a desire to end adoption or anything about adoption at all, mostly we talked about clean water projects, and micro grants for women. Their concern is with Child welfare which is sometimes at odds with the interest of International Adoption advocates. UNICEF does so many amazing things to support children it is sad that their efforts are undermined by those who choose only see UNICEFs involvement in this one aspect of child welfare.

Sandy said...

I have no respect for Elizabeth Bartholet simply because of her willingness to overlook the corruption. If you cannot say there is corruption in IA and it is not okay for one child to be trafficked then you lose all crediblity in my books.

Why anyone is even discussing Guatemala as a viable IA country is beyond me. The US stated in pretty concise language they will have no part in the new pilot program simply because there are no knew safeguards in place to prevent trafficking and nothing has changed.

This is going to come out wrong - not enough coffee yet - but it seems to me that it is the finality of the adoption process, the legal name change, sealed records and the need to be the only legal parents/family that may need revamping to help the children in the orphanage. Why not just be part of the village that raises the child if the child is truly the concern.

Melissa said...

This is a great analysis. Thank you. I wish Andrea Poe would read it!

Anonymous said...

Getting as many children under 1 yr old into permanent homes as possible should be the goal. You know that children older than that will have drastically reduced chances of getting adopted. You know that children who remain "in the system" will have drastically increased chances to be significantly damaged. Is the opportunity for a child to remain in the birth culture of more value to the child than living in a permanent home? More valuable than decreasing the chances of damage to the child? No way!

kantmakm said...

Great post malinda! @Jessica - what makes bartholet "fringe" is that her position is at odds with Hague. It is accepting of corruption and disregards the importance of birth family. And, like windthrow, I too have asked repeatedly within these discussions for any kind of evidence that would substantiate the claims against UNICEF - no one can seem to come up with anything other than the opinion piece by the agency director. As an AP dad, this anti-unicef stance within the adoption community quite frankly has me baffled.

Jessica said...

Kantmakm:
Reading Bartholet, I still don't see where she is "accepting of corruption" and "disregards the importance of birth family."

Using myself as an example, I believe it is possible to reject corruption, recognize the importance of birth family, and at the same time, continue to support international adoption with the belief that reform is possible. But I may be in the minority.

Sandy:
My daughter and son were both born in Guatemala. I feel a great attachment to them, their families, and the country of Guatemala. I agree with the US's current refusal to participate in the pilot program because, so far, not enough protections are in place.

But I believe change is possible, and that someday, even in Guatemala, change will come.

Will international adoption solve the orphan crisis? No. But with careful and thoughtful reform, international adoption can be one part of the solution.

joy said...

BRAVA!

Anonymous said...

My problem with UNICEF is not their stance on international adoption, but their methods of trying to thwart it, which include bribery ($28 million given to the Guatemalan government to stop adoptions) and harassment of orphanage directors (following earthquake in Haiti).

Tackle poverty before you tackle international adoption. In a perfect world, we wouldn't need international adoption. But until we wipe out poverty, these children need families... especially special needs and HIV+ children who really stand no chance in their countries of birth.

Are they deliberately trying to harm children? No, of course not. We know they are trying to do the right thing, but I don't believe they're going about it the right way. The reality is they are keeping children hostage in orphanages when their are families here willing and waiting to adopt.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

I agree that this article and its criticisms of UNICEF are short-sighted at best. It's interesting that she is refuting UNICEF's public stance, which is basically "adoption as last resort". I am constantly surprised that people will argue that one. It should be a last resort.

However, as a few others have mentioned here, I think it is UNICEF's unofficial stance that is the problem . . . which this article doesn't really address. Most people I know who are in the mission field or working in NGO's believe UNICEF to be very corrupt. I know people in both Uganda and Haiti who feel that UNICEF needs massive reform. Yes, the do really good stuff. But they also did a lot of harmful things in the months following the earthquake.

Cindy said...

Malinda I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of how you came up with the different orphan numbers. I loved the breakdown and would like to dig further into it. Especially with so many adoptive families using the UNICEF orphan numbers to bankroll their adoptions...
Thank!