A September 18 NY Times article by John Leland sensitively highlights recent trafficking of babies in China. The article includes interviews with American parents of adopted children from China, focusing on how it feels for a parent to think that their child might have been bought and sold. The complex issues about how to speak to one's child about such matters in the future are excruciating, but not impossible to handle. That said, most parents who adopt from abroad rarely know the real facts of that desperate moment when their child was abandoned or relinquished. We have hopefully learned not to glorify birth parents and to respect what we do know and what we don't know in an honest and loving way when we speak with our children. Those conversations change and become more sophisticated as children grow and develop.I agree with Dr. Aronson that there is a global orphan crisis; but that really has little to do with international adoption. It can't be solved by international adoption. And there's no logic in her claim that the global orphan crisis has somehow caused the recent declines in international adoption. But I whole-heartedly agree that our focus should be on empowering women so as to reduce abandonments & relinquishments. The only way to solve the global orphan crisis is to prevent children from becoming orphans in the first place.
Trafficking is rare in international adoption. It is not because of trafficking that international adoption has gone south. I don't dismiss the importance of trafficking and I hope that the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption in cooperation with each country will continue to work hard to prevent the violation of the rights of birth mothers and to protect the rights of children. That will never happen however, unless there is a financial and educational investment in the sending country's social welfare infrastructure.
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I ask myself a bigger and more philosophical question about the millions of orphans when I read articles like this. There is a Global Orphan Crisis. When I started out helping parents manage the health issues of children adopted from abroad, I knew very little about the social conditions that dominated the communities of developing countries. For over two decades I have traveled abroad on medical missions and learned about the despair and hopelessness in countries all over the world where there are no social workers or community workers to openly engage in discussions with women who are pregnant and poor. Economic strengthening is limited and women have little access to education and medical care. Why did we create such a marvelous bureaucracy to improve international adoption practices and not pour some of that money into the welfare of mothers in these countries? It seems immoral to me to accredit US adoption agencies and to not empower women from sending countries to make international adoption a well-thought out choice for a birth mother no matter what her economic status.
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