Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Conflicted . . .

An adoptive father, who is also a human rights activist working to end child trafficking and exploitation, writes about the conflict he feels because he knows international adoption does, in fact, fuel trafficking:
I am the father of 6 children. My 4 youngest are adopted. I am the President & Co-founder of a human rights organization working to end child trafficking and exploitation. I am deeply conflicted. Here is why:

When I was in Cambodia about 8 years ago, the Director of a large human rights agency asked me; “Do you really want to do something practical to stop child trafficking?” I of course answered yes. She said; “Then do something about international adoption.” At the time, I honestly wasn’t sure what she meant. She then went on to explain about how international adoption, if not done well and with vigilance, can fuel child trafficking.

To be truthful, my immediate reaction was defensiveness. I was even a little offended. Mostly because I am an adoptive father and I believe that adoption can be a viable and compassionate response to the global orphan crisis. But also offended, or more aptly put… mad as hell that traffickers would prey on the most vulnerable; turning orphans into commodities.

Since that conversation I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn, from my daily fight to end child trafficking and exploitation, as well as from our family’s own journey of international and domestic adoptions.

I’ve discovered she was right. Intercountry adoption, if not regulated and monitored can contribute to the trafficking of children.
Go read the whole thing, then tell us what you think.  As an adoptive parent who has adopted internationally -- twice -- I often feel conflicted about international adoption.  Do you?

12 comments:

Sandy said...

Great article - was right with him until he provided a link to JCIS...whose membership (funds to operate) is predominantly adoption agencies...

I personally put a lot of stock into old sayings as they survived for a reason. I would never hire a fox to guard the hen house - would you?

Kit said...

Rob also links to an upcoming church-affiliated conference, “IdeaCamp/ Orphans”. The speakers list looks entirely white, includes many from adoption providers, and many whose affiliations I don’t recognize. Does anybody here know anything about this?

https://www.theideacamp.com/

Liz said...

I definitely feel conflicted...I adopted my daughter from Ethiopia last year, and while I feel pretty confident about the ethics of the agency I used, I feel sick about the stories I hear about the increase in unethical adoptions in Ethiopia. And part of my conflict comes fromt the fact that I think about adopting again and would like to do so from Ethiopia, for many reasons...so I want the country to stay open to adoption but I don't want to be part of the ethical problem there...so difficult!

Anonymous said...

No conflict for me.

Choose wisely and carefully. Not all program are well governed. But some are, and so there is no binary answer with respect to international adoption.

Participate only in a program that is nationally regulated at both ends of governance and has a good track record. Some will say, that is no guarantee. Well, there is no guarantee that the chief of police in your local community is not corrupt either. Does that mean you reject local law enforcement?

The fact is that well established policy that is enforced is what governance is. And there are programs that meet this criteria.

Absolutists, which many idealogues become about international adoption (after they adopt in most cases - which is hypocrisy), leave themselves with no alternative then to not participate. Of course as I said, most are hypocrites who only advocate against international adoption after they have completed their family.

By the way, the "do something about" declaration is more relevant to domestic adoption in the case of the United States. There is no national policy and governance of domestic adoption and lawyers and agencys are working the cracks between the states laws and governance.

Sandy said...

Anon,

I disagree with your hypocrisy statement. Many times you only become aware after the fact that corruption happens. That happens because wiser, been there, found that out adoptive parents do not wish to speak on the hard topics...they are the true hypocrites...they don't want the stigma or questions asked so they pretend all is well...

Those adoptive parents who speak out will be the ones who make a difference...and they have the courage to face the questions their children will ask with honest answers. Kudo's to them.

An old adoptee

Anonymous said...

"Those adoptive parents who speak out will be the ones who make a difference...and they have the courage to face the questions their children will ask with honest answers. Kudo's to them."

Sandy, you might want to rethink your broad and generalized claim.

To suggest that only the hypocrites will be the ones who have the courage to face the questions their children will ask is both insulting and innaccurate to many thousands of families.

Nonsense. In fact, many of those who only see "ethical concerns" after they have completed their families through international adoption are spreading rumor and accusations across the internet, without substantiation of rumor or accusation. They do the entire community a diservice. And in truth, anyone that will propagate unsubstantiated rumor and accusation is quite likely to pitch subjective rumor and accusation to their own children as well. These are people who see boogey men everywhere and cannot speak objectively to save their life.

That is a toxic environment for an adopted child to grow up in, in my opinion. The same is true for parents that make up answers to questions that they simply do not know the answer to, filling in the blanks with romantic fantasy from within their own imagination.

Sandy said...

Anon,

You of course are entitled to your opinion...

My opinion, the hypocrites are the ones who say all is well - all is good...

The hero's are the ones who speak up and do not bury their heads in the sand.

Truth is never toxic for the child - secrets and lies are. Note I do have a wee bit of experience as an adult adoptee...who was once an adopted child...

Anonymous said...

"... mad as hell that traffickers would prey on the most vulnerable; turning orphans into commodities."

it's interesting how the mothers and fathers of these "orphans" are conveniently left out of the corruption issue. The parents in most cases are the vulnerable ones, that's the first phase of exploitation. Traffickers must first prey on struggling parents before the child can become a commodity.

Elaine said...

Yes.
Conflicted.
Very conflicted.

Von said...

No I don't but I do have about people who adopt transnationally and then see the light.Don't people do their homework anymore?

osolomama said...

"Absolutists, which many idealogues become about international adoption (after they adopt in most cases - which is hypocrisy), leave themselves with no alternative then to not participate. Of course as I said, most are hypocrites who only advocate against international adoption after they have completed their family."

I don't actually know very many a-parent absolutists, though I do know absolutist first mothers and adoptees. In order for adoptive parents to reject adoption totally as an option, they must reject the very foundations of their own families, something that is impossible to do without invalidating your relationship to your child. I agree that this is very undermining for children.

But I see nothing unusual or amiss in coming to terms with corruption, trafficking, sealed records, adoption loss or other adoption-related issues long after adopting. I asked many questions back in '96 when I started the process and got many silly answers. (There was little on the Internet to go on except one great message board at iVillage.) When I came home I continued to look for answers but it was years before I appreciated how the system in China worked and how some of these issues would continue to impact DD.

Kris said...

Yes, I do feel conflicted. Sometimes I don't know what to do with the conflict in my own mind. If I could go back in time I would not adopt.