Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Adoption or Abduction?

The print edition of Arise Magazine asked, "Should non-Africans be allowed to adopt African children? This controversial question kicks off ARISE Magazine’s new thought-provoking new feature, The Big Question, in issue 13." On-line, they publish more of the answer given by "British/Ethiopian/Eritrean poet, writer and performer Lemn Sissay. Having experienced what it’s like to be an African child adopted by non-African parents, he had a lot to say on the matter."  It's a fascinating read;  here's a snippet:
Having an African baby is often a sign to non-African adopters of their philanthropic, political, familial or religious credentials. The African child is a badge of honour displaying their commitment to philanthropy, politics or religion. They feel that by extricating a child from Africa and showing them the light of their way signifies their own righteousness.

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In many ‘adoptions’ the child is saving the parents because it is they who desperately need a child and not just because of infertility. They need it to fulfil who they are – as do most parents who conceive naturally. If they are not colonising the country then in this way they colonise a person. A child who has been taken from their country will in the future ask, ‘Why am I here?’ or else live in fear of asking that question. The answer, ‘We saved you from the dark bad continent and its dark, bad, needy, poor people and tyrannical governments’, will not do.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

I understand what the author here is saying, and there's much for adoptive parents to reflect on. The piece reminded me of a wonderful talk I heard from adult adoptee Jaiya John a few years ago, which cautioned adoptive parents to not "colonize their children's minds." At the same time, it's interesting to consider that Ethiopia is essentially the only country in Africa never colonized (although the Italians had a relatively short run of occupation.) As the mother of children from both India and Ethiopia, I've experienced hostility from some Indians that I feel has some roots in that painful experience of colonization. From Ethiopians, I've received only support, kindness etc and wondered long before this piece was published how Ethiopia's history of independence might have helped foster that greater openness toward our family. In my opinion, the issues he brings up here are not exclusive to adoption from Africa, nor do they paint a complete picture of the complications inherent in international adoption, but they are issues all parents should grapple with.