I was reminded of the loss leader when I read this quote from an orphanage director in Ethiopia in an article in Christianity Today (that just happens to be where the article is -- I'm not trying to draw any inference that Christianity is behind this!):
At the Kidane Mehret Children's Home in Addis Ababa, Sister Lutgarda Camilleri said . . .[t]he new government rules have resulted in Kidane Mehret receiving fewer infants, which means less attention from would-be parents across the globe since infants are much more easily placed. And that means less support for the majority of aging orphans who won't be adopted. "When we had babies, people came here and when they came, they would sponsor these older children," Camilleri said.
So those who have been commenting on this post, to say that adoption often leads adoptive parents to care about others in the country -- are you sympathetic to the sister's lament? Is this how you envisioned it working? Is it a wholly positive good that international adoption works this way?
I confess I'm troubled by the quote, though I know as a practical matter that the sister is right in how it works -- once adoptive parents adopt from a country, they have a motivation to help that they didn't have before. But it strikes me as a bizarrely utilitarian argument when made from the sending country's end -- an orphan becomes a tool, a sacrificial lamb, to create that motivation that will help others.
And it's easy to see how that would create strong incentives to offer to internationally adopting parents the most "attractive" orphans for in-country adoption -- as young as possible, healthy -- to stimulate interest and support in the children who would have the most difficulty finding adoptive families in country.
And another incentive is created -- to procure those "attractive" orphans whatever the cost, despite the overflow of truly orphaned and needy children already in the system. That answers that familiar argument that coercion and purchase and kidnapping isn't necessary in a country like Ethiopia where there are already 5 million "orphans" in institutional care (Case in point here: "[W]hen 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?")