Friday, June 10, 2011

When Potential Trafficking Adds Another Layer to Your Child's Adoption Story

At Bluegrass Moms, Jane Samuel ruminates on what the recent news of corruption in China adoption means for telling her daughter her story:
A month ago I posted about my personal respect for my adoptive daughter’s birthmother, an unknown Chinese woman. I shared that while we did not know the circumstances of our daughter’s abandonment, the most likely scenario was that she was voluntarily and clandestinely (to avoid fines) left at the gate of the orphanage by her birth-family.

In that piece I also alluded to the fact that recent reports of child trafficking were leaving me increasingly anxious with regard to the accuracy of the above story. . . .

Unfortunately, just two days after I posted my Mothers’ Day missive my heart was again sent reeling with a Hong Kong newspaper reporting the 2002 to 2005 abductions and subsequent trafficking of children in Hunan province, my daughter’s province of birth and adoption. My mind lurched from potential scenario to potential scenario.

Had she perhaps been sold by one municipal orphanage not approved for overseas adoption to another approved orphanage? Or confiscated by population control officials and turned over to an orphanage in return for monetary or other recognition? Or stolen directly out of her village by child traffickers? Or relinquished as part of a population control incentive program, which program paid parents while conveniently feeding the increasing demand for overseas adoption?

Then my thoughts turned to the conversations I would someday have with my daughter about this new layer to her adoption journey.
I posted about this issue almost two years ago -- what do we say when news of corruption and trafficking make us question the initial story we were given?  How to we talk about it when we learn for certain that our child was trafficked?  Two links at EMK Press are also incredibly helpful:  The Impact of Illegal Adoption on One Family by Julia Rollings and Telling About Trafficking by Sheena Macrae.

25 comments:

Jake said...

so adoptive parents know trafficking happens in adoption, or they should do by now, but they do it anyway. Adopters really do not care about adoptees, they just want to get their own needs met.

Anonymous said...

Jake-It happens, but it is much less common than abandonment, especially in light of the fact that there have been some who have been condemned for doing it. Do you think it's better to allow the children to be raised in orphanages, regardless of how they got there?

I feel lucky that I have no doubt my daughter was not "trafficked". She is from a province up north that rarely does IA, and was in the orphanage since she was 4 days old, so the chances of her being "sold" to the orphanage are null.
On the other hand, it's very possible that she was taken from the birth mother...from the birth father or another relative, and abandoned. And this is also hard to digest.

Mei Ling said...

"Do you think it's better to allow the children to be raised in orphanages, regardless of how they got there?"

Do you think ANYONE "thinks" it's better for children to be raised in orphanages?

So on that token, it's okay if children got trafficked to the orphanage, as long as they were adopted?

Anonymous said...

*sigh*

Once again contentious.....

@Jake, clearly no AP goes into an adoption thinking the child they hope to adopt has been trafficked and frankly for a lot of us, it was not even hinted at, discussed or documented when our adoptions took place.

@ Mei-Ling, your logic is flawed in the same vain that we could isolate any one instance, either good or bad, on any topic and banter that about. I suspect the point was, as stated, that far more adoptions are legitimate than otherwise and that halting all adoptions due to those cases would be detremental to those children in need that are still waiting.

Clearly there needs to be more oversight and more transparency but to presume all adoptions should be stopped? Wow Jake ~ I wouldn't want to condemn a waiting child to that fate. I was that waiting child, once upon a time.

I am baffled why all the anger continues to be directed only at AP's when these discusses arise. What about irresponsible Birth Families, or corrupt foreign officials, or greedy orphanage workers or inept social workers or foreign government practices or long held societal mores....etc...?

It seems more than one sided & tiresome. Even to me.

Anon. Carrie Adult Adoptee

Anonymous said...

@Anon- Carrie. Very eloquently stated, on all fronts. Thank you.

@Mei Ling. It was a legitimate question for Jake. Apparently, he does think it's better to stay in an orphanage, even if 99% of them are there because of legitimate abandonment reasons.

"Adopters really do not care about adoptees, they just want to get their own needs met" I have a difficult time with that kind of reasoning. If that's true in your mind Jake, couldn't you say the same thing about your birth parents? (I presume you were adopted). It seems to be a very destructive thought process.

Jake said...

I think it's absurd that you think the way to deal with trafficking is to adopt all the children who have been trafficked. That will actually just cause more children to be trafficked. The much better option is to support families in keeping their children.

There's enough information out there now that anyone who goes into an adoption not knowing about the possibility of their child being trafficked is wilfully negligent.

Mei Ling said...

"It was a legitimate question for Jake."

Is it ever a "legitimate" question? If we were discussing the conditions of orphanages, then sure. But the context here is talking about child trafficking.

I'm not sure what answer is to be expected other than "No, I don't think children should stay in orphanages." Hence why I asked why anyone thinks it's a legitimate question.

It's like asking "Do you think children should stay with abusive parents?"

Of course not. (I know there are some diehards out there which will say abusive parents can always be "remedied", but I ain't counting that because obviously it's not happening) Most people with sane minds tend to say "NO I do not want abused children to stay with abusive families."

Same thing with the orphanage question.

And BTW: "Apparently, he does think it's better to stay in an orphanage, even if 99% of them are there because of legitimate abandonment reasons."

Where did he say that, specifically? And what constitutes a legitimate abandonment reason?

I don't think all adoptions should be stopped.

But I do think many are unnecessary, as they result from conditions that are not impossible to decrease. And I do think the system needs to be massively reformed. It's not impossible to do a cultural shift in attitudes. A long time, yes, but not impossible.

Mei Ling said...

Carrie - perhaps this link would help you understand the different views you and I come from?

http://sisterheping.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/would-you-have-preferred-to-grow-up-in-an-orphanage/

In particular, this comment from Psychobabbler:

"I think, for the most part, the international adoption rhetoric we hear, which is AP driven, is one of gain. Adoption involves removing a child from institutional care. Relinquishment and the reasons behind it are typically viewed as separate entities. So the question follows logically from that perspective. However, for the other two legs of the triad, who come to the international adoption table through loss, it represents both relinquishment AND placement. They are not viewed as separate entities. So the question becomes hugely dismissive."

Anonymous said...

@ Mei-Ling,

Thank you for providing additional insight into your thoughts and summations viewing IA.

While I agree with some aspects and applaud your right to share your own viewpoints with vigor, I simply don't agree with the baseline anger directed at AP's on so many sites I frequent.

In so many instances I think the finger wagging occurs because its just easier; they are accessible, hold more perceived power in the so called adoptive triad and are overly represented in most discussions among other characteristics.

I also sadly think its just plain easier to be feel anger and betrayal at AP's or perhaps your own adoptive family, than to lay blame or accusations on a "ghost" family or mother; someone you may never meet or have accurate information about.

Adoptions and children in need existed long before the prevelance in adoptive parents existed. That's a fact. They didn't create the climate that forces abandonement or heaven forbid, child trafficking. I just don't believe the blame lies with them. In fact the article written by the Bluegrass Mama highlights just how serious many AP's take this news and how many plan not to gloss over such possibilities, regardless of how slim the chances of trafficking were.

But we can agree to disagree with civility, something I sometimes see lacking in these dialogues.

Thanks for hearing me out and I respect your voice in this community.

@ Anon. Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Don't you people ever get tired of hashing out the same nonsense?

Mei Ling said...

"I also sadly think its just plain easier to be feel anger and betrayal at AP's or perhaps your own adoptive family, than to lay blame or accusations on a "ghost" family or mother; someone you may never meet or have accurate information about."

Technically, as the "saved" ones, we're never supposed to criticize the adoption system, are we?

Some of us have anger towards our adoptive parents. You can be angry and love someone at the same time. Some of us DO have anger towards our "birth" families - and some of us have met our families in person and are not just speaking out on behalf of a fantasy image.

Some of us have confronted agencies about their procedures, and were treated with the same stuff other adoptive parents have given to us, such as the notion of having been saved, being grateful we were placed for adoption at all, or asking us if we preferred to have grown up in an orphanage.

"In so many instances I think the finger wagging occurs because its just easier; they are accessible, hold more perceived power in the so called adoptive triad and are overly represented in most discussions among other characteristics."

Well, the so-called trial is not equal in terms of politics or semantics.

Two sides out of three, more often than not, are not actually given a voice. At least, not one that is heard.

And if it IS heard, we get the same rhetoric all the time - precisely the question you commented about about - "Do you think children should stay in orphanages?"

I think it is because most people believe cultural and economic reform can never happen.

Anonymous said...

@ Mei Ling-
"And BTW: "Apparently, he does think it's better to stay in an orphanage, even if 99% of them are there because of legitimate abandonment reasons."

Where did he say that, specifically? And what constitutes a legitimate abandonment reason?"

IF Jake believes children should not be adopted from any orphanages, because very few (in comparison) are being placed in orphanages due to trafficking, the the ONLY conclusion is that he believes all children should stay there.

I think you probably know what I mean by "legitimate abandonment reason". But I'll spell it out. Reasons that the birth parents decide are legitimate. Birth parents abandon their children because of the One child Policy. Either because they gave birth to a girl, and would rather have a boy, or because they already have one child when the second child is born. NO other reason, other than their country's regulations to control population growth, and the possible pride of having a boy, or the bad luck a special needs child might pose on the family.
I suppose I should have worded it differently, but then again, I assumed you would understand the context.

Mei Ling said...

"IF Jake believes children should not be adopted from any orphanages, because very few (in comparison) are being placed in orphanages due to trafficking, the the ONLY conclusion is that he believes all children should stay there."

That's your conclusion. The conclusion I read is that ethical and cultural reform needs to happen so birth parents don't feel the need to abandon their children for orphanages to begin with.

But like I said, I think many people believe this to be impossible.

Regarding the legitimate abandonment reason, I guess that'd fit a lot of circumstances.

I still don't see how this is impossible to resolve thus leading to less international adoptions.

BTW, why the heck can't Anonymouses use a different alias or something? I can't tell if I'm talking to the same person or different people, and I would like to know in order to be able to treat you (all?) as such when addressing your responses back at me.

Seeing anonymous comments easily leads to confusion, and we have enough of that in the comments as is.

Mei Ling said...

The children in orphanages should be adopted, even if "only" for the reason that their birth parents cannot be tracked, which I'd wager is still the majority of cases out there.

Also, people have vested interest in adoption, so they don't want to see decreases in it.

Lika said...

@Anon:
I do think Jake was unfair in making a blanket statement that adoptive parents don't care about adoptees, but that has NOTHING to do with wanting children to remain in orphanges. I don't see the connection at all.

I don't think that is legitimate question either. Ever. I can't see it being anything other than an attempt to make someone who disagrees with you look like they're uncaring brutes who wants children to suffer.

Anonymous said...

Mei Ling-
(This is Anon A-the original Anon to make it simple)

Thank you for your intellectual responses. I appreciate them.

IMO, if Jake does not assume all children should stay in orphanages, then I wish he would respond to that question, instead of just rearranging my statement into his own desired outcome of "I think it's absurd that you think the way to deal with trafficking is to adopt all the children who have been trafficked."
It's as if he is creating his own argument and his own obvious conclusion without even listening to anyone else.

Yes, there needs to be reform in China. And in many cases now, there has been, hence many MANY more SN children are being adopted, and it is now taking 5 years and going up, to adopt. I do not think that necessarily means there are less children in orphanages, just less able to be adopted, and being raised in the orphanages or foster care within China.
I think now China has a problem with just opening the ability to keep their own children without abandoning the girls or SN children. IF the one child policy would be lifted completely, there would be a huge baby boom (human nature). So, how do you propose there is reform without the baby boom outburst that is bound to happen? I agree there should be in country reform, but the question of HOW is the bigger issue. This is not a matter of not being able to afford their own babies, as much as it is a matter of not being allowed to keep them, and birth parents wanting to choose which ones they keep.

Mei Ling said...

"So, how do you propose there is reform without the baby boom outburst that is bound to happen? I agree there should be in country reform, but the question of HOW is the bigger issue. This is not a matter of not being able to afford their own babies, as much as it is a matter of not being allowed to keep them, and birth parents wanting to choose which ones they keep."

This is more of the type of discussion that "some" adoptees refer to. Because at this point, it's not about whether nature intended birth parents to conceive children or whether adoptive parents should be parents.

And it seems like when these types of questions are brought up, no one can think up an answer.

It also seems like no one *wants* to think up an answer.

"I do not think that necessarily means there are less children in orphanages, just less able to be adopted, and being raised in the orphanages or foster care within China."

So what would it take to decrease children ending up in orphanages? (I'm asking in general here, not necessarily "directly" you.)

Anonymous said...

My personal belief is that it won't stop. Girls will still be raised in orphanages in China. This is for two reasons, IMO. 1. for centuries, first born baby girls and SN would be smothered at birth, or drowned in the river. Now, instead, there are more abortions and abandonment. We do not know how many are still smothered or drowned, but I believe far less than before, now that there is a more "humane way".
and 2. Unless China allows larger families as a human right instead of regulating family sizes as government rights, there will not be less SN and girls in orphanages. And China's problem is that it cannot deregulate small family size at this point....Genie is out of the bottle, so to speak.
I know this was not directed at me, but I thought I would answer. Anon-A

Mei Ling said...

I meant to ask this earlier:

"IF the one child policy would be lifted completely, there would be a huge baby boom (human nature). "

What makes China's situation any different than the possibility of over-population in, say, America? (as one comment suggested above)

China prefers males over females. Even if it did not do so, China would suffer from over-population as it has in the past. It was also stated this has the potential to happen with our (insert First World nation here) country just as easily.

So what makes the difference? Cultural attitudes? Medical support? Social support?

Lika said...

1. for centuries, first born baby girls and SN would be smothered at birth, or drowned in the river.

Really? Can you give me some stats on that? It's not that I don't think it never happened - I'm sure it did. But somehow I doubt it happened anywhere as much as it before the one child policy was put into place than it did (in terms in abandonment) after the policy.

Anyways, the culture is changing quickly, especially with people realizing that there's a gender imbalance and that means less wives for men. People are valuing females a lot more. Women have killed their own infant daughters are looking at other Chinese women who get to see their daughters grow up and go school and thrive, and they are asking why they were denied that right, why their daughters were.

A lot of people with the old traditional mindset will die out. There is a new generation who are growing up with a new ideas and thoughts. With all the way society is changing there, and if we can continue to encourage them to realize how important and valuable girls are, I think there will be less daughters abandoned.

And I'm with Mei-Ling on your comment about the potential baby boom if the one-child policy is lifted. Why would the Chinese having more babies be a more horrible thing than, say, Canadians having more babies?

Anyways, I have a lot of relatives in Hong Kong, where there was no one-child policy, and no one in my family there had more than four kids. They liked two kids, maybe three. I hear similar sentiments from other Chinese immigrants I talked to. I doubt there's going to be an explosion of families with ten kids.

malinda said...

A couple of factual points:

There is, in fact, strong evidence that there are fewer children in Chinese orphanages today than 10 years ago. Combine more social approval of girls, better financial situations for families in China, the availability of sex-selection abortion, and fewer girls are being abandoned.

In fact, it is the paucity of healthy infants that seems to be spurring trafficking in Chinese orphanages today. There was less need for that trafficking where there were more abandoned healthy infant girls.

Demographic change in China, especially the increased percentage of city dwellers, has also changed attitudes in China about the number of children to have. Even without the one-child policy, and even in city families entitled to have more than one child (because each parent is an only child, for instance), families are voluntarily choosing to have only one child. They believe their long-term economic success depends on having only one child.

Anonymous said...

@Lika- No one here said that Chinese people having more children is a bad thing at all. But the Chinese government obviously thinks it is, or Chairman Mao would have never imposed the one child policy to begin with. And they would not still be enforcing it to this day. Additionally, Hong Kong is much different than mainland China. Some might even argue that it is not even a part of China at all, but a separate government entirely, because of the colonization which occurred in Hong Kong. For the most part, people in Hong Kong do not see a need for more children. Whereas, in mainland China, there has been a long tradition of larger families.
As for infanticide in China, dating back for centuries, just google it. The first thing I found just now when googling it, was a book titled, 'Drowning Girls in China: Female Infanticide in China since 1650'.

and in another book, 'The Great Encounter of China and the West 1500-1800', I found this:
"...in China exposure to drowning predominated. What was unique about the practice of infanticide in China is that it was aimed overwhelmingly at girls. It was caused by poverty, by a culture that valued males over females, and by a desire for greater wealth. Female infanticide has a two-thousand-year history in China"...
..."Confucianism was more ambivalent in its attitude toward female infanticide. By valuing age over youth, Confucian filial piety diminished the value of infants. By emphasizing the family, Confucianism fostered an increase in dowries that were used to enhance a girl's prospects for a favorable marriage match. This made raising girls more expensive than boys so that families felt they could afford fewer girls"....
..."Soon after arriving in China, in the late sixteenth century, Christian missionaries encountered female infanticide in the form of newborn infants who were abandoned in the streets or thrown into the trash or streams. They were unaware until the nineteenth century that most female infanticides occurred immediately after birth in the privacy of homes. Usually the newborn girl was drowned by the mother or a midwife in a bucket of water kept by the birth bed."

As for statistics of how many, or how often, one can only speculate. No one did any record keeping, per se, but it is definitely documented that it was historically practiced in high numbers, as far back as Confuses.

Anonymous said...

Malinda- I might be wrong, but it is my understanding that sex selective abortions are still illegal in China. They might be done, but hospitals found to have a much higher ratio of boy live births to girl live births are highly investigated still. I have not heard that China has legalized it yet.
Also, simply because there are less children in the orphanages does not mean we can jump to the conclusion that there are significantly less girls abandoned. Most of the SN children are being raised in the orphanages now, till they find forever families, while most of the healthy girls are now farmed out to foster care, with the orphanage as their "home base'. That's not to say there are not less. I think there are. But I do not believe there are SIGNIFICANTLY less than 10 years ago. There are less paper ready healthy girls to be adopted, but again, that has nothing to do with less healthy girls. It makes sense that China would not lift the one child policy, yet raise the healthy girls in the orphanages to counter the imbalances, without causing a baby boom. It's a strategic decision on behalf of the Chinese government.

Wendy said...

Just a quick note--AP's who adopt from China, take a history lesson--Chairman Mao did NOT create the OCP! He encouraged families to have many, many children!!! It was a result of his leadership--massive death, starvation, and overpopulation that the OCP was created.

Signed, a fellow AP

Lika said...

Thanks Wendy. I was going to mention that it was Mao who said to have as many children as possible because each child came with two hands that would work producing things. He seem to have forgotten that each pair hands came with a mouth to feed ;)

Malinda, thanks for factual points, especially the one about demographic change. I too heard a lot about Chinese parents preferring to have only one child. I know the OCP has affected the Chinese perspective of how big a family should be, and I think even if it was lifted, there's not going to be a huge explosion of babies.

@Anon - Regarding drowning daughters, it's not that I don't believe it didn't happened and that the culture encouraged it, but I do resent the implication that it's a Chinese tradition, that somehow it somehow dooms China to forever have orphanages stuffed with girls because drowning daughters is as much a part of being Chinese as eating rice.

I'll be honest, as a Chinese woman who wasn't adopted, who was raised by her Chinese family, I'm rather insulted by your insinuations that China is so cultural backass and incapable of change that the idea of a Chinese future where girls are valued more and therefore abandoned less is impossible. That it's pointless to even try to change cultural perception of women which IS IN FACT CHANGING. (I don't know anything about SN children, which is why I'm not saying anything. I'll have to do some research on that.) That the only solution is international adoption because without it, girls will only languish in orphanages so we better be grateful to adoptive parents and encourage IA.

BTW I did grow up in a very sexist Chinese family, made to be even more sexist because my grandparents left China during WWII and my parents retained the old Chinese values in an attempt to not assimilate with Western culture. I actually have a hard time connecting to newly arrived Chinese immigrant women because the Chinese culture they grew up in a far more liberal, educated, and pro-women that mine ever was, and I was raised in Canada.