Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Understanding In-Country Opposition to Intercountry Adoption

Thought-provoking and reflective piece at the Mennonite Weekly Review:
It’s been just more than two years since a magnitude-7 earthquake struck Haiti, killing approximately 250,000 people, leaving thousands of children orphaned, overwhelming a nation already in crisis. Kristen Howerton, who has adopted from Haiti and was in the country when the earthquake struck, wrote a great, heartbreaking post on “Rage Against the Mini Van” about the state of adoption in Haiti two years later [she was responding to a CBS News report I posted here]. Thousands of children are languishing in orphanages, not because no one is willing to adopt them, but because of administrative red tape.
Some of those barriers to adoption exist because Haiti (like many other countries) doesn’t particularly want to give up their children. And honestly, can we blame them? Sure, it’s easy for us to look in from the outside and lambast Haiti for not throwing the escape hatch wide open. Those kids need families, and they need families now. The stories are heartbreaking, the images haunting. The current state of affairs is unconscionable.
On the other hand, I can understand why some people in struggling nations aren’t big fans of international adoption. From their standpoint, wealthy outsiders pluck vulnerable children from the poorest of the poor — people so desperate that they are willing to give up their babies, grandbabies, nieces or nephews — and absorb them so thoroughly into a new life and culture that in all likelihood the child will never look back. Adoption may help one child, may bless one family, but it doesn’t do much to address the systemic problems that created and continue to feed the orphan crisis. It doesn’t do much to bless the ones who are left behind, the ones who now need it most.
The author proposes that more families should consider that maybe "that fabled 'red thread' is God’s way of pulling you toward a country, not a child."


Anonymous said...

Ah but that last line supposes that both are mutually exclusive. Don't get lost in the "pretty" semantics of that "red thread" line.

There are in fact many adoptive or otherwise parents who DO advocate for those left behind; numerous philanthropic groups created by those very same parents who DID witness the vulnerability and impoverished conditions for those children and families who remain.

Church groups aside, some of the BEST and fundamental grassroots aid organizations are created, funded and allocated by adoptive families. I can think of no less than 25 off the top of my head, spanning into many corners of the world.

Red tape should NEVER be the only factor keeping a child from a loving family & ethical adoption. If a country chooses not to participate in IA, fine ~ but don't lose the vulnerable children in that dogma!!!!!

And please don't presume that one person's red thread journey can't include both adoption and efforts for systemic change in the birth country of their child and those left behind.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if the world worked this way - but it doesn't. Why not support international adoption and try to build up a country so international adotpion is not needed.

Sharon said...

I'm sure that I will be flamed for saying this, but it is true: there are those in every country who don't want to see the children of the poorest lifted up in any way, and that includes moving to the West with greater access to education, health care etc than the middle and sometimes upper classes enjoy within certain developing countries. International adoption is opposed for many, many reasons, including those noted in the article, but class consciousness most certainly plays a role. For example, I spoke with many people in India who believed not that my adopted child was getting a family, but that she was "going abroad" for education, becoming "rich" etc. Some in the upper castes don't want this for the children of the lower castes; for Hindu fundamentalists, intercountry adoption offends both religious and political sensibilities, because it defies the caste notion.

All that aside, we all have a responsibility as human beings to help build up developing communities and create sound and healthy conditions that preserve families.

Anonymous said...

That article seems a bit stale. I was reading just yesterday that 50% of all adoption agencies in the US will have closed by 2013. This is largely due to the fact that IA is on the decline and has almost completely crashed except for SN adoption, which in some countries is on the rise. Developing countries would just as soon rid themselves of SN children anyway. For the parents, the SN child can be unlucky. For the country, the SN child can be a burden when they're children and when they become adults. It's apparent that these children, for whatever reason, are not wanted in their first countries.
As for being pulled toward a country and not a child, isn't that the way most IA is set up anyway? You have to choose a country before you can choose the child. And in some cases, you **can't** choose the child, you **have to** choose the country. That sentence seems a bit redundant and self serving for the purpose of the author's article only.

Anonymous said...

Is it so horrible to "help one child, ... bless one family?" This author seems to advocate that if you can't help them all, then don't help any. As others have said, I believe there is a middle ground. In helping one child, you are helping that child and the future generations that that child may produce, so in some ways, you may be helping many people.