Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Danger in Drawing Distinctions?

This post about corruption in international adoption generated a lot of interesting comments, including a dialogue about drawing distinctions between various forms of corruption that can (and does) infect international adoption.   Here's a snippet of what I had to say in the comments:
In terms of language to describe "problems in the adoption process," we do sometimes see sloppiness in how people use language for things I see as potentially different problems: trafficking for purposes of adoption, corruption in adoption, illegal adoption, unethical adoption.

I do see corruption as the word with the broadest definition. I see corruption as encompassing both criminal and non-criminal conduct. Corruption would include trafficking, in my view, though is not limited to trafficking.

* * *

Does it matter what words we use? As a lawyer, I tend to say yes! But sometimes the insistence on "correct" language isn't particularly helpful to the discussion, is sometimes used to avoid addressing the real problems.

Yes, kidnapping a child for the purposes of adoption is really, really, really, really bad, arguably worse than many other corrupt practices in adoption -- but problems of corruption can't really be defended by saying, "At least she wasn't kidnapped!"
Little did I know that a few weeks later I'd run across a blog post that exhibits the worst of this tendency to deny problems in adoption by focusing obsessively on the language used:
One area most impacted by AIDS is Africa, so when I read that some people are “concerned” about the rate of adoption among children from Africa because people are “trafficking” in adoption, I am truly amazed. Does anyone really think that people are stealing babies and children to sell them for adoption? Are there not enough babies and children already orphaned by AIDS and other diseases in Africa? Are children left at police stations or with elderly grandmothers who can barely care for them, not truly orphans? Why do these children not deserve a stable home? Is it truly illegal for a judge to rule that this child deserves a family and gives guardianship for a child to a family so that the family can legally adopt the child?

And why is the word trafficking even being used in conjunction with adoption? Trafficking would mean that a child is “adopted” for the purpose of sexual slavery or work. If a child’s paperwork is not in perfect order—that is not trafficking. If the child is brought to the police station and the police see that the child is horribly malnourished and sick, but the police do not have every last bit of evidence that the birth mother and birth father are dead, abusive, or have deserted the child, is that enough evidence to call this adoption illegal at best or child “trafficking” at worst?
Wow.  All I can say is wow.  Actually, I can't really claim to be at a loss for words, because sooo many of the words I spill at this blog is to fight against this attitude.  I guess I'm just a little tired at how useless my words are.

1 comment:

theadoptedones said...

Perhaps Malinda people are listening when an adoption agency tries this type of spin.

They might have a wee bit of credibilty, if they only facilitated adoptions based on oldest and longest at an orphanage were adopted first, and healthy babies were never on the menu to order.

Sadly we all know what the majority order and know the cause and affect of fulfilling that.