Monday, December 12, 2011

Buy UNICEF Holiday Cards

At the Washington Times' so-called "Adoptive Family Forum," Andrea Poe is using the upcoming holidays as an excuse to bash Unicef in a piece entitled Why I Won't Buy UNICEF Holiday Cards.  It's pretty much a regurgitation of this article she wrote in 2010, and to which I responded here.  Basically I said that her problem isn't with Unicef, it's with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, because she's protesting the subsidiarity principle, the idea that intercountry adoption is a last resort for children.  Blaming Unicef is like blaming the police for enforcing a law you don't like.

Since I did a paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal of this anti-Unicef stance before, I won't do it again.  But I will note that I agree whole-heartedly with Dr. John Raible's reaction to the article:

Ever since I was a kid, when I would go “trick or treating for UNICEF” to collect spare change in one of those black and orange milk carton-like coin boxes, I have supported the work of UNICEF. I just took the time to read their position statement on international adoption for myself. Compared to the way the author of the above-mentioned article made the UNICEF statement sound, I found the actual statement both ethical and courageous. In contrast, the bombastic article comes off as polemical and whiny. It’s hard not to read the first article as the self-righteous outrage of an entitled Westerner whose “privilege” (to adopt whomever and whenever she chooses) is being threatened.

Indeed.  And I think the feeling of entitlement that Dr. Raible notes must be pretty strong, since I noted it too in titling my previous post, "Get out of my way, I'm entitled to adopt!"

And while you're thinking about whether to support Unicef, think about these facts:  Unicef has vaccinated over half the world's children against deadly diseases (in China alone, my children's home country, in September, Unicef vaccinated over 100,000 children against measles), provided clean drinking water to 1.2 billion people since 1990, and currently in the famine-ravaged Horn of Africa, Unicef is the main provider of therapeutic food. What has Unicef done in your child's country of origin?  Unicef may be the reason he or she lived long enough to be adopted. . . .

So go out and buy Unicef cards, and send one to Andrea, care of the Washington Times!


Anonymous said...

Do not support UNICEF.

Sharon said...

In many instances, UNICEF has shown itself to be anti-adoption in its actions, regardless of what its stated policies claim. Leaving aside Poe's specific critique, the overall argument about UNICEF is not about the Hague, or about entitlement, it's about whether adoptive family placement abroad is better for kids than institutional or foster care in the country of birth in those situations where no relatives can step up and care for the child. In practice, UNICEF favors keeping kids in their home countries, even if that means orphanage care. People have differing feelings on those issues, but I don't give to UNICEF because I don't believe institutions are good for kids, and also for the fact that any huge organization like UNICEF spends a lot of cash on overhead. You do need an entity like UNICEF to get things like mass immunizations done, but I prefer to donate my funds to smaller NGOs with lower overhead. Our family has direct relationships with several small charities, and I have a greater peace of mind about how my money is being used. My money is sending kids to school in India and Ethiopia, and providing vocational training for prostitutes in India so they can get safer, better paying jobs and create a better future for their daughters. We make the same small nonprofit choices re: domestic charities.

Anonymous said...

I got a ticket from our local city police last month, for driving without headlights AT DAWN (7:13 am) on a city street that has street lamps every 5 yards away from each. I could see the sun coming up and I had driven only a block from my home so far, when I got pulled over.
Technically, I suppose I was driving in the dark. Because the sun was not fully over the horizon yet. But should he have given me a ticket? Probably not.
That's the same problem I see with UNICEF. Sure, they're the "enforcers" But should they push their weight around and then say, "Hey, Im only the cop, I don't make the rules!" No. I dont believe so. When humanity stops being a part of human nature, what do we have left? I do not support keeping children in orphanages at all costs, just so they can be raised in their "culture" For whatever that's worth in an orphanage. Love, family, spiritual support of the individual ALWAYS trump culture. A.L.W.A.Y.S. Just ask an orphan if they would rather have a loving, supportive family, or to be in the orphanage setting theyre already in. Then ask a child who used to be an orphan if they would rather go back. Most of the time, the answer would be they would prefer to be with the family than in their orphanage/foster care "culture".
UNICEF does not police the people, making sure they do the right thing. UNICEF polices the policies, and that can be done by a machine. UNICEF takes away the humanitarian aspect that they (IMO) sought to add to the situation, to begin with. They do no good for the individual's soul.

Anonymous said...

BTW-Nice thought, but my daughter did not survive for two years because of UNICEF. She survived because of Half The Sky, which gave her a nanny who loved and cared for her. Half the Sky provided shelter at the orphanage. Half the Sky sponsored my daughter. Half the Sky housed elderly around that orphanage so that they could cuddle with the babies, and my daughter felt loved. Half the Sky ALSO made sure that the children who would not be adopted, would learn to be productive citizens of China.
To this day, if my daughter is BADLY hurt, it only takes some hugs to get her to calm down. That credit goes to HTS as well. Survival is more than just measles shots. The children would still be immunized whether if it were HTS or UNICEF, mainly because the government would not like an outbreak. But, not all children would be loved and cared for so well through UNICEF, including the ones who would STAY in China.

I personally cannot believe you are supporting UNICEF this way.

Anonymous said...

UNICEF has money and power and therefor they control most of what goes on in the world in regards to children. They have totally lost site of what they set out to do. Yes, they immunize, but all kids? Certainly not the ones in small orphanages that take care of the kids UNICEF hopes stay there. And for the record my child, did not have any immunizations. Where were they in my country? Oh, I forgot, throwing money at the in country reps to get them to shut down adoptions and creating reports with false or old data. UNICEF is a very bad org and you are better off putting your $$ directly in the hands of people who are helping the kids left behind. i personally buy shoes every year for kids in an orphanage in my child's country. And yes, I know they get the shoes as we've been back and see them and how the money is used.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you read these comments but please tell us why China is above everything that is happening in all the other countries (closing adoptions). Clearly, China appears to be the most corrupt of all the countries. They are the only one I know of that requires the families to bring specific gifts. The U.S. approves adoptions of abandoned kids. Is it because they have money and don't need UNICEF's? I've asked you to comment on this many times and thus far nothing. I just want your opinion on why China is different.

Anonymous said...

I don't support unicef. I won't buy their cards, nor display any in my house.

Lots of kids in orphanges malnurished and experiencing neglect this Christmas because of unicef.

malinda said...

Anyone out there capable of seeing the BIGGER picture? Unicef doesn't have to immunize your child in your child's orphanage for your child to benefit from immunizations -- the fact that the course of infectious diseases is halted by immunizations in the village/province/country/world actually benefits un-immunized children, too! And the list goes on and on and on -- did a Unicef clean-water project allow your child's birth mother NOT to die of dysentery? And it goes on and on. . . .

Anonymous said...

I support UNICEF.

Anon 6:14 - because your child was helped by another entity they didn't help yours, so you have no reason to support them? I do not understand what you are trying to say here. Your child is the only important child, and UNICEF is bad because another institution helped her?

Perhaps you misunderstand the high level - long-term intent of UNICEF.

Perhaps you misunderstand that because of UNICEF, that perhaps your child is alive today because her parents received vaccinations or whatever services they offered in that country.

UNICEF has helped generations of people around the world who without them, may not have survived into adulthood to procreate.

Perhaps people should blame UNICEF for the population explosion that has happened over the last 50 years, as without them those people would have died before they reached adulthood and able to create more children.

You do realize UNICEF has been around since 1946...

You could be bashing the same organization that saved your child's mother or fathers LIFE, or even their grandparents life. That but for UNICEF your child may never have been created in the first place.

Sharon said...

Malinda, I see the bigger picture of what UNICEF does well, but I'm deeply disappointed that so many folks don't see the bigger picture about what they do so poorly. Someday I will write the complete story of my personal connection to UNICEF and their role in adoption. I have personal, direct experience with this. There are many good people working there, but the organization's work around intercountry adoption has done great harm to kids in many situations. That they also do good is clear, but will I give them my money? Absolutely not.

Anonymous said...

Both my children came home with no antibodies for most of the vaccines they received in their birth countries and had to be revaccinated upon arrival home. Either they were never vaccinated as the medical records indicated or what ever they used didn't immunize them. And this was two different countries!

I've heard this again and again.

So much for that argument. Now we have malnurished and neglected children in orphanages without immunities at Christmas.

Anonymous said...

My daughter came home with parasites from being exposed to contaminated drinking water most of her life. It took over six months to treat because they so infested in her body.

Where was unicef in her village?

That's what unicef should do, stay out of international adoptions and focus their energies on providing quality vaccines and clean drinking water.

malinda said...

I'm simply baffled that anyone who reads this blog could think I'm giving China a "pass" when it comes to adoption corruption. Here are just SOME of the posts on China adoption corruption I've published in the last few years:

malinda said...

Anon -- maybe Unicef couldn't do work in your child's orphanage/village because they don't have the funds to be everywhere -- because people like you are encouraging others to boycott Unicef?

Sharon said...

Okay, when more point: one of the strengths and weaknesses of large organizations like UNICEF is that they give out grants to locals for specific projects. Local citizens are in a position to know what really needs to be done and how to get it done. Unfortunately, there is also little oversight once funds are disbursed and they can be used in ways that the larger organization never intended. For example, I have firsthand knowledge that a local Save the Children office in India used money from their discretionary fund to assist a local activist who wanted to break into sealed intercountry adoption records to look for evidence of fraud. Now, I'm not in favor of sealed records, but I think we can all concede that not everyone would agree that bribing court personnel to leak sealed records in violation of Indian law lies beyond the scope of the Save the Children's mission. This project got shut down when an Indian citizen and adoptive parent who volunteered in the local Save the Children office called headquarters in London to turn the staff members in. Fraud can happen in a small organization too; it's really hard for development to be done well. That's why I choose my organizations very, very carefully and follow up on where my dollars go.

Sharon said...

Oops, my most important point got kind of garbled. let me try again:

I'm not in favor of sealed records. But I think we can all concede that not everyone would agree that bribing court personnel to leak sealed records in violation of Indian law lies WITHIN the scope of the Save the Children's mission.

That kind of thing is far afield from vaccinating kids and supporting clean drinking water.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention, unicef dumping large sums of money into lobbying efforts to get forgien countries to slow down and hault international adoptions in the name of cultural preservation.

unicef needs to stay out of international adoption policies and concentrate its efforts on helping needy children.

Anonymous said...

Malinda - explore unicef a little further and if you still support unicef i'll be 'baffled'. i get that you have posted about china - but tell me why the U.S. isn't shutting them down. MONEY. MONEY CHINA DOESN"T NEED FROM UNICEF. UNICEF is bad. Have you read what they did in Haiti? Have you read about how making water accessible to some they have taken it away from others?

Karen said...

Anon 5 asked:
I'm not sure if you read these comments but please tell us why China is above everything that is happening in all the other countries (closing adoptions). Clearly, China appears to be the most corrupt of all the countries. They are the only one I know of that requires the families to bring specific gifts. The U.S. approves adoptions of abandoned kids. Is it because they have money and don't need UNICEF's? I've asked you to comment on this many times and thus far nothing. I just want your opinion on why China is different.

I just wanted to comment a bit about this. First of all, I seriously DOUBT that China is THE MOST corrupt. If they were, they would have been shut down long before any of the other countries were.
As for the gift giving of specific items, there are no "specific items". However, Chinese people are a bit superstitious. Numbers are important to them for their auspicious nature for luck or their energy for bad luck. When presented with a gift, they accept the gift with two hands, and rarely open the gift in front of the gift giver...and on and on.
I was not told by our agency to give a gift to the notaries, but I had heard from a yahoo group of friends that it's important because notaries stamps and signatures are similar to judges here in the US.
I did prepare gifts (nothing green because that is considered bad luck), small gifts of chocolates. However, our guide asked that we not give the gifts to the notaries because WHEN the Americans give them gifts, they will ask the guides to ask for things such as cigarettes, and if a guide complies, then the guide is forever asked the same, and the guides name gets around. He asked us not to give them any gifts, so we took the chocolates to the orphanage instead, for the nannies to share.
We also gave a gift to our guide, a classic book from an American author because he collects books. He was spending 2 weeks with us, by our sides, and it was just a thoughtful thing to do for his efforts. And we took a gift to our daughter's nanny, (a silver bracelet linked by hearts. That was it.
I've actually NEVER heard that you HAVE TO bring specific gifts. I've heard to stay away from certain gifts because they view these items as bad luck when giving gifts, but NEVER heard that you have to provide CERTAIN gifts.
Unfortunately, notaries are human, and they like their cigarettes in China. That does not make the entire program CORRUPT. It makes the notaries a little insensitive to the process of adoption but that's about the extent of it. I never thought much of giving a gift to a notary whos only job it is, is to just stamp a paper and be on his way, anyway, so Im glad our guide steered us away from that.

Anonymous said...

Anon- I just wanted to add that China has all BUT shut down. It's now taking around 6 years to adopt a NSN child, and will probably go up to around 7 or 8 years. It's at a snails pace. And not due to corruption, but due to China all but closing it's doors to NSN children being adopted out of China's orphanages.
If someone adopts SN child, they will get through the process in 1-3 years. And if they agree to adopt a SF (special focus) child, it can be as little as 3 months.
However, special focus children are children who would otherwise be very difficult to place. Children with physical issues, and emotional issues, and older children with possible attachment issues. And the special need children are also obviously more difficult to find homes for, if the carrot were not in front of a lot of APs to be less of a wait.
IMO, China is doing this to keep it's NSN children in the orphanages to grow up, and to purge the SN and SF from the orphanages....THAT is corruption. Some PAPs will not have the ability to deal with SN and SF children. But China continues to entice these PAPs in exchange for a faster adoption process....all for the sake of keeping the healthier, more productive children (becoming productive adults for China, and potential wives for China's men) WITHIN China. THAT is the corruption I see in China, with it's orphans.

Anonymous said...

read this about unicef in haiti. just the tip of the ice…
malinda - i think you, as unicef has, have lost sight of the big picture.

Anonymous said...

oops, here it is:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that link. When the nuns running the orphanages complain about UNICEF and the negative impact UNICEF has on orphans...and the nuns have NOTHING to gain by pointing out UNICEFs flaws...I think we need to listen.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Malinda. It appears that people who don't normally read your blog were directed here to speak against UNICEF!

I DO support UNICEF. I purchase UNICEF cards and gifts, and I donate to them.

I linked to your 2010 post on my Facebook page and on John Raible's blog. Thank you for getting this information out there. It really bothers me that APs jump to speak out against UNICEF without knowing the facts. I would challenge any of the above posters to give REAL examples of how UNICEF is fighting against international adoption, or point me to articles against UNICEF *NOT* written by Andrea Poe, an adoption agency director, or anyone else who benefits finacially from adoption.

CORRUPTION shuts down countries to international adoption - not UNICEF. UNICEF tries to clean up the mess.

Sharon said...

MyminivanRocks: I'm a regular reader of this blog. Nobody directed me here to critique UNICEF. And should a blog called Adoption Talk that invites people to talk about issues only be read by folks who already agree with one another?

If you are open to considering differing perspectives, please look at the work of Prof Sara Dillon, Intl Law Professor at Suffolk University and her take on UNICEF:

Anonymous said...


I am surprised you would suggest to a commenter that its their lack of UNICEF support that is keeping said organization from providing for a specific country, orphanage or otherwise.

Wow...wasn't is just a day or so ago, you reminded us all to keep our dialogue civil and based on content of arguments not as a personal attack on individuals?

Hmmm...guess that only applies to some.

UNICEF is a business. Period. So many rail against adoption/agencies as a business.

Why too then can't we understand that UNICEF gains from publicity and influencing certain agendas, just like other successful businesses.

When they lower their overhead and most of their staff is voluntary? Then I might support them as our family does other charitable organizations.

Anonymous said...

MyminivanRocks - no we are here all the time. hoping for some post adoption stuff and what the blog says it's about right on the home page - TALKING ABOUT ADOPTION, BIRTHPARENTS, ABANDONMENT, RACE, AND CHINA WITH MY KIDS. THAT'S NOT ALL WE TALK ABOUT -- BUT READING THIS BLOG, YOU'LL THINK IT'S ALL WE DO!!!!!

we aren't looking for unicef stuff and how corrupt adoption is. but you may want to read up a little on unicef yourself. they are corrupt and they are preventing children from finding homes. reading this blog - i think all the talk about the negative of adoption and how great unicef, pear and ethica are. by the way, there is a TON about the other side (not just the cited post in the wash times about unicef).

Anonymous said...

PLease reread the posts. There were a few that DID post links that were very informative.

As for directing people here to talk against UNICEF. I doubt that is the case. There are regular people who read this blog, who also happen to disagree with the concept of UNICEF, and keeping children IN orphanages for the "good" of the child. UNICEF, unfortunately, masks it's true intentions by appearing to be a sincere nonprofit, FOR children.
IMO it's kind of like "planned parenthood" being for "pro-choice", when in fact, planned parenthood is really for pro-abortion, because they do not look at, nor educate about both sides of the "choice".

malinda said...

Thanks for the support, Rocking Minivan! But they're right, I'm blessed by a slew of regular readers who disagree with every word I write and very much enjoy letting me know that! Hard to tell how many since they always post as anonymous. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Malinda - we are just trying to educate you as you are us. hopefully you'll learn something. p.s anon's probably post anon because of the bully's out there.

malinda said...


Yes, I'm familiar with Sara Dillon's work -- I've read most of her articles. In fact, I've read her non-published dissertation! I simply disagree with her position on Unicef. Again, her beef is with the Hague Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She proposes changes to those protocols, but they have not been adopted. So instead Unicef argues that the Hague Convention be followed as the 83 signatories to the Convention seem to have intended. Shocking, I know.

As to her interpretation of Unicef's support of foster care in Vietnam, I'm baffled. Do we honestly think ALL "orphaned" children would be adopted IF ONLY Americans would be given free rein to do so? I don't think so. So helping a country to develop alternatives to orphanage care, including foster care, is an awfully good thing. And given the notorious historical adoption corruption in Vietnam, is it really irrational for Unicef -- and the U.S. for that matter -- to be leery about their ability to handle international adoptions again?!

malinda said...

For those who think I only post one side of issues, note that I actually posted the Reason video about Guatemala adoption (not Haiti as the commenter said)here:

And it's the same unsupported hatchet job on Unicef that this article illustrates. Absolutely NO PROOF that it's anything Unicef does, and the "blame" is really on the Hague Convention.

And we should believe it because nuns say it?! I'm Catholic, Zoe's godmother is a nun, and all I can say is LOL! And Sister Bern would say the same thing!!!!

Sharon said...

Hi again Malinda,

I think what Prof Dillon is saying is that UNICEF is actively promoting in-country foster care instead of international adoption, and that UNICEF equates foster and adoptive families -- but any kid raised in foster care can attest they aren't the same thing at all. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but I know she says somewhere that if UNICEF really thinks foster care is better (as they've shown by their actions that they do), then put it out there honestly and openly as the organization's position and have an above board debate about the merits of that approach for children. Personally, I think the only thing that prevents UNICEF from denouncing intercountry adoption openly is the fact that powerful receiving countries are UN members, so politically and practically, they can't do it. Some people might think it should be denounced in all cases, but if that isn't one's point of view, then supporting UNICEF is untenable.