When I speak to people outside the adoption community, many are incredulous that UNICEF, the very organization that provides so much aid to children worldwide,is behind restricting inter-country adoption. On the surface it just doesn’t make sense.Just what is the first resort? Really?! That's a slam dunk -- not stealing children from loving parents for one. Not creating international adoption programs poisoned by money motives for another. And how about the obvious one -- working to KEEP FAMILIES TOGETHER.
To fully understand what is happening, why countries around the world – from Guatemala to Vietnam to Kyrgyzstan -- are under enormous pressure to reinvent, reduce and, in some cases, end their inter-country adoption programs, you must understand the “why” behind the “what.”
When pressed for reasons why the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and UNICEF they actively engage in closing inter-country adoption programs, the very first response from both entities is that they are protecting children. They say they are working towards an adoption system that works against child trafficking. That goal is laudable.
The safety of children, of course, is paramount and must be the cornerstone of any adoption program. I have yet to meet an adoptive family that believes otherwise. The good news is we all agree. So where’s the problem?
Ultimately UNICEF, and to a lesser extent the Department of State, are opposed to inter-country adoption, calling it a “last resort” for children. Just what is the first resort?
I'm not going to repeat everything I said in the previous post I referenced above, but I want to point out one thing -- the utter disdain this adoptive parent has for family. Oh, yes, she is pro-adoptive-family, that "last resort" she thinks should be a "first resort." But natural families? They're merely an impediment to adoption! How DARE they be a "first resort?" How DARE anyone think that adoption isn't just as good as -- nay, BETTER THAN -- giving birth!
How dare UNICEF think that children should remain with their biological parents?! Never mind that that is the way it's worked since Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, or since the first humans oozed up from the primordial slime. Never mind that I was raised by my biological parents who were raised by their biological parents who were raised by their biological parents who were raised by their biological parents. . . .
As an adoptive parent it's pretty easy to get soooo focused on adoption that you forget it really isn't the norm. You hang out with other adoptive parents, you read blogs of other adoptive parents, you read books by other adoptive parents. Suddenly, it seems like everyone in the world has adopted. It's like the cartoon in the front of the first edition of Adam Pertman's Adoption Nation (I'm doing this from memory, so not a direct quote!): there's a couple talking with another couple with a very obviously pregnant wife, and the first couple says, "Oh, I'm so sorry you couldn't adopt!" Funny, huh, completely reversing that "so sorry you couldn't get pregnant" thing that adoptive parents sometimes suffer through.
That's what this adoptive parent is doing -- so focused on adoption she can't even SEE that adoption isn't a first resort for children. In this adoptive parent's view, the entire biological basis of family is turned on its head. Suddenly, adoption is normal, the natural order of things, not a last resort. Adoption should be the "first resort" for children?! Give me a break.