Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Willful Blindness: Avoiding the Truth of Corruption

At Rh Reality Check, a review of Erin Siegal's book, Finding Fernanda, about corruption, trafficking and child adoption in Guatemalan adoption (there have been lots of reviews of the book out there, and I haven't posted about every one, but this one seems to be a value-added because the review's author is quite knowledgeable about Guatemalan adoption, too):
However, when Alvarado and many other women’s stories of child abduction for adoption went ‘public’ it seemed everyone in the intercountry adoption community was rooting against 'the truth.' It was unthinkable that some of the beautiful children who had been adopted from Guatemala came to their adoptive families from sinister pathways. ‘Orphan’ adoption is viewed by most as an honorable act and to suggest that children are not truly orphans (and may be trafficking victims) is more than impolite to most people. Unfortunately the historical context and story of Guatemala is far too complicated for such fantasized notions about ‘orphans’ to always be true and when interrogates the facts, a grotesque reality unfolds.

Siegal pulls together many of the facts in her book, often allowing them to speak for themselves. The villain, an executive director of a notoriously bad adoption agency in Florida, gives the reader some insight into the inner workings of a ‘Christian’ woman who uses faith to manipulate her clients as needed. Then, there is the more subtle manipulation of the US Government, ranging from the US Department of State to the many Senators and Congressmen who demand that their constituent’s adoptions be completed—regardless of fears of fraud, coercion, and abduction of children for adoption.

* * *

Then there are the hopeful families who pay outrageous sums to adoption agencies, sometimes ranging upwards to $50,000 USD. How is it really possible that these families honestly believe that such a sum is anything other than the fuel that fed the fires of graft and greed in Guatemala? This is a nation where the average worker makes $2 daily and extreme poverty is almost an understatement.
Doesn't paint a very positive image of international adoptive parents, huh?  Not that I question the veracity; unfortunately, we've all had experience with adoptive parents who don't want to know the truth about adoption corruption.


Anonymous said...


Comparing adoption fees to willfull blindess of adoption seems misleading to me.

Additionally qouting the very top end expense total of Guat. adoptions is hardly reflective of the whole. Most averaged around $30,000, some less. Were those more ethical? Those families more aware of corruption?

There are a myriad of costs that lend themselves to those fees, including but not limited to: legal fees, care for child ( average of 8 to 12 months), legal fees, agency fees (yes, they need to make a living too!), Visas, Passports, fingerprinting, postplacement, Homestudy fees, travel expenses, document fees, ect.

All real and transparant expenses.

Its misleading and frustrating to imply that a family is handing over $50,000 to a poverty stricken Guatamalan family in exchange for a baby and frightening to imply that such fees lead to the corruption. Or stood in the way of resolving the issues at hand.

China has always had one of the least expensive IA adoption programs(in total) and yet corruption and issues are present. Are those too due to exaggerated fees?

Look, I think most of us "get" that a correlation exists; that doesn't mean the handwriting was on the wall for us all and we chose to look the other way. A sampling of AP's does represent the whole.

And finally, in this country a hospital birth without insurance could easily reach $50,000 with complications.

Just adding a bit of perspective.

Anonymous said...

"China has always had one of the least expensive IA adoption programs(in total) and yet corruption and issues are present. Are those too due to exaggerated fees? "

Yes. Do you think people coerce or steal children for a motivation other than money? Do you know how much money 3000 USD "in clean unwrinkled and unmarked bills" is in developing areas of China and Northern Vietnam?

Anonymous said...

@ Anon. 2

Monies that often exchange hands long before the adoptive family arrives btw. To make the direct link is a bit of a stretch; its not adoptive families handing over large sums of money to a poor, exploited family. Or buying a child on the black market.

Frankly exploitation thrives quite well with or without adoptive parents; in every country, in all parts of the world. Not to mention families that "betroth" or sell their daughters for monetary gain in many parts of the world.

Is that too due to adoptive fees?

And what of children with disabilities? Are they too exploited at the hands of exagerrated fees?

Right now SN children account for 60% of Chinese adoptions. Are they being sold?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anonymous 1!

It is also misleading to think that $50,000 is going to any agency. As you said, adoption fees include a myriad of services and expenses. Even if agencies collect the money, it is often paid out on behalf of the clients to foreign attorneys, translators, and to governments etc. in the form of filing fees. I believe most agencies make $3000-$7000 per adoption, and most agencies are working with families for more than a year, often several with all of the post placements that countries may require.