Monday, April 30, 2012

Abducted Generation?

Back in March, I posted about the Dan Rather Reports episode about birth mothers around the globe being coerced into relinquishing children for adoption.  The episode is going to air tomorrow (check schedules here, and at the same page, click the button at the top that says "Subscribe" to see if your cable or satellite network carries HDNet), and includes more about the experience of birth mothers in America, including Claudia D'Arcy, who blogs at Musings of the Lame.  Check out a video preview of the episode here, or read below:
In the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, being an unwed mother carried a significant stigma in America. It’s now called the “baby scoop” era and during this time young women -- usually in their teens -- were either hidden at home, sent to live with distant relatives or quietly dispatched to maternity homes to give birth.

Estimates are as many as 1.5 million young mothers who say they were forced -- some just minutes after delivery -- to hand over their babies for adoption during this period. It was a decision that they seldom made on their own. Mostly, it was preordained by the young woman’s church or her parents. Often too, it was a decision that was dictated by the social customs of the time because having a baby out of wedlock was seen as a disgrace to a family.

* * *

And then there is Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy. She claims at age 19, she experienced a much more subtle form of coercion that led her to hand over her son for adoption in 1987.

As an unwed teen, D’Arcy says the social stigma against keeping your baby was not much better than it was in 1965.

D’Arcy told me, “If you were stupid enough to get pregnant, and then to keep your baby there was something wrong with you. Smart girls didn't do that.” She added, “I was a smart girl.”

During an in-depth interview in New York City at the beginning of April, D’Arcy told me how she was sent from the comfort and familiar surroundings of her Long Island home to the Boston area during her last month of pregnancy.

D’Arcy says she didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back feels that the adoption agency was actually a place where helpfulness and support masked a hidden agenda.

“Leaving my home, leaving my family, leaving the people around me, going amongst strangers. It was a very supportive environment because everybody had a vested interest in my relinquishment once I was in the agency.”

I asked her if she considered her experience with the agency in Massachusetts coercive. “At the time, no,” she said. “ With the knowledge that I have now, yes.”

* * *

“Adoption was supposed to be this one thing that happened that was going to allow me to continue on my life as if I did not have a baby. And yet, 25 years later, I'm sitting here talking to you because this has been the single most life altering thing that has ever happened to me and has changed the course of my entire life,” she told me. “And not just for me, but for my other children, for my husband, for family members. The ripples and the effect on everybody, and yet they don't tell you that.”
P.S. A must-read from Amanda at Declassified Adoptee: Adopted or Abducted? Things to Keep in Mind Before Getting Upset at Dan Rather's Report.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Piano Recital 2012

Hard to have a better proud-mommy moment than listening to your children play a duet at their piano recital!  They were soooooo good!  They each did an individual piece, too, but I just loved the duet! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Inside Ethiopia's Adoption Boom

From the Wall Street Journal:
Ethiopia has become one of the busiest adoption destinations in the world, thanks in part to loose controls that make it one of the fastest places to adopt a child. Nearly one out of five children adopted by Americans hailed from Ethiopia the past two years, second only to China.

Many youngsters, like Melesech, are thriving in loving homes. Still, the U.S. State Department has cautioned that Ethiopia's lax oversight, mixed with poverty and the perils of cross-cultural misunderstanding, leaves room for abuse.

* * *

The experience recounted by Mel's biological father, Mathewos Delebo, shows many of the complexities. Mr. Delebo, a 38-year-old farmer, acknowledges freely giving up his youngest child for adoption. Earlier this year, in the mud-hut village of Le-barfeta in southeastern Ethiopia where he lives, he described why he did it.

Four years ago, he claimed, a stranger—a middleman in the adoption trade—came to his village and persuaded him to give up a child with the promise that she would grow up and send money to support him. "White people are taking children of the poor and helping them get a better life," Mr. Delebo said he was told. "It will be good for you."

Mr. Delebo claimed he didn't understand that he was giving up Mel for good, and thought that she would send money home. Mr. Delebo doesn't recall the middleman's name and hasn't seen him for years. [Later in the article it says, "First, Mr. Delebo said, he offered two of his sons, who were then about eight and nine. But the orphanage said it needed children younger than five. So he came back with Melesech."]

U.S. government officials say middlemen are often employed by orphanages to find adoption candidates. Mr. Delebo's middleman can't be found so there is no way to know his motives.

The middleman's alleged pitch had its appeal. Mr. Delebo's first wife, Mel's biological mother, died of malaria when Mel was a baby. Today Mr. Delebo, his second wife, and his six remaining children live on the 60 cents a day he earns building huts. Drought has ravaged his crops. The family subsists on maize flour, beans and wild bananas, which grow in abundance.

Mr. Delebo said he now suffers from malaria himself—the disease that killed Mel's birth mother. "I have the same illness," he said. "Sometimes I feel very hot and sometimes I feel very cold."

Despite mixed feelings over Mel's adoption, recently he wondered aloud if it might be a good idea to give up some of his other children. "When I see pictures of Melesech and how happy she looks," he said, referring to snapshots the Roths have given him, "I wish I could send my other children, too." Since the local middleman disappeared, he's not sure how to make that happen.

* * *

Ethiopia isn't a signatory to The Hague Convention, a treaty to guarantee intercountry adoption is transparent and in a child's best interest. The country lacks infrastructure and personnel to regulate a process that usually begins deep in the countryside. Some of the largest and most reputable U.S. agencies adopt from Ethiopia.

A U.S. investigation of Ethiopian adoptions in 2009 and 2010 found inaccurate adoptee paperwork and orphanages using financial incentives to recruit children. The U.S. embassy found anecdotal evidence that scouts purporting to be state health workers weighed infants, then took them away from their parents on the pretext that the children weren't receiving adequate care. Ethiopian families often are solicited with promises that a relinquished child will become affluent and provide for the family left behind, said Ms. Jacobs, the U.S. adoption chief.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Asians Aloud: Paul & James

This is BRILLIANT!  Thanks to Lisa Marie Rollins for sharing this link on her facebook page -- I missed it a year ago when it came out.  Here we have two Korean adoptees talking about being Asian, as part of an HBO series, Asians Aloud.

This is how 8Asians describes the clip:

Meet Paul Fanelli and James Minger, two Korean adoptees interviewed on camera as part of HBO’s Asian’s Aloud East of Main Street series last year. While both are Korean adoptees, the interview is fascinating in how completely different in how they look, how they interact with each other — think an adoptee Abbott & Costello — and how they identity as Asian American. (Paul is especially entertaining to watch, as he’ll probably be the closest thing to a Korean guido you will ever meet.)

What do you think of it?  I'm curious -- do you think your child will grow up to be Paul or James?  Why?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Artyom's Mom Tries to Avoid Paying Child Support

More shenanigans from Torry Hansen who wants to shirk her responsibility for her adopted child, Artyom:
A woman who touched off an international furor by returning her 7-year-old son to Russia 6 months after adopting him asked a Superior Court judge to enforce a Russian Federation Supreme Court case annulling the adoption.

Torry Ann Hansen sued L.L. Mityayev and A.A. Nikolayeva, as legal representatives of Russian Federation State Educational Institute Orphanage No. 19 Foster Center, in Shasta County Court.

Enforcement of the judgment would allow Hansen to avoid paying child support, according to the complaint.

* * *

The City Council of Tverskoy, a municipality in Moscow, sued Hansen on the boy's behalf, requesting revocation of the adoption "due to the fault of the adoptive parent," Hansen says in her complaint. Tverskoy requested child support.

Hansen says she countersued the boy and his representatives, two city councils, and the orphanage "to annul the adoption through no fault of the adoptive parent," then amended the cause of action to request annulment "due to the fault of the adoptive mother or not," according to her complaint. The Moscow City Court dismissed her complaint, Hansen says.

But Russian Federation Supreme Court reversed, finding "that the annulment was necessary to protect the minor child's rights and legally protected interests, as well as the public interests. It annulled the adoption based on plaintiff's culpable conduct," according to Hansen's complaint.

But Mitayayev, the orphanage's representative, continues to pursue an order for child support against Hansen in Shelbyville, Tenn., Circuit Court, Hansen says.

 "(I)n his purported capacity as the minor child's legal custodian[,] he has apparently authorized the adoption agency plaintiff used and/or the National Council for Adoption to litigate the matter in Tennessee on his behalf," Hansen says.

She asks the Superior Court to recognize and enforce the Russian Supreme Court judgment.
Essentially, Torry Hansen says she shouldn't have to pay child support because she is no longer a parent since Russia annulled the adoption.  It's unclear, though, what that would mean about child support in Russia.  An American court will ordinarily give effect to a foreign court decree, through a doctrine called international comity, but whether that will relieve Hansen of child support responsibilities depends on the terms of the Russian court decree.  It seems that it isn't inconsistent with Russian law to ask for future child support even while terminating parental rights, since that's what the city council asked for in the Russian suit. I'm no expert in Russian law, so I can't say whether child support obligations end with the annulment of an adoption there.

The other issue is that Hansen is filing this in a California court, when there's already a court decree from a Tennessee court that orders her to pay child support.  The California court should recognize the Tennessee court order because of the Constitutional doctrine of full faith and credit. Yes, that Tennessee court order was entered, not after a consideration of the merits, but because Hansen failed to appear for depositions or otherwise defend the suit, but that should not prevent full faith and credit.

So, I'd say Hansen is still on the hook for child support unless the California court decides to ignore that Tennessee decree and also decides that the Russian decree relieved her of child support obligations.  And I'd say both of those possibilities are relatively remote.  We'll see.

Banishing Post-Adoption Blues

At the Atlantic, five tips for dealing with post-adoption blues from the author of this recent study about post-adoption depression:
Remember that you're not alone. Though it's easy to believe that you're the only adoptive parent who's struggling, our research shows that approximately 18 to 26 percent of new adoptive mothers deal with depressive symptoms. . . . .

Bonding with your child may take time. . . .  Remember, it's a new relationship for both of you. . . . .

Get enough rest. One of the biggest contributors to post-adoption depression that we found in our research was that mothers didn't feel rested. Because adoptive mothers don't go through labor and delivery, they often overlook the physical demands of a new child and don't get the support they need. . . .

Examine your expectations. Adoptive parents sometimes forget that the end of the adoption process is really the beginning of parenting. Because of the intense scrutiny that they undergo in the screening phase, they may feel that they have to be "super parents," a title that is hard to live up to once the child is placed. Be sure that your expectations are as realistic as possible. . . .

Seek help for yourself and for the benefit of your child and family. We know from the literature that surrounds postpartum depression that kids experience negative effects from parents who struggle with depression. Research in adoptive parent households indicates the same patterns. Don't hesitate to ask for help. . . .

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What Makes a Terrific (Adoptive) Parent?

In an article at Huffington Post, Alfie Kohn talks about general parenting, but gives the PERFECT advice to parents of adopted children:
If you decided to have a child, presumably it was because you wanted to be a parent and anticipated that the experience would be fulfilling. You did it for you. But the child's arrival demands a radical shift: Now you must do things for him or her. Moreover, you need to be mindful of the difference and how it's predicated on the fact that your child is a separate being with distinct perspectives and preferences.

That may sound obvious, but some parents use their children to meet their own emotional needs -- and seem unaware that they're doing so. To put this in positive terms, we might say that high-quality parenting is defined by three closely related features: (1) an awareness that a child's experience of the world is often different from one's own; (2) an ability to understand the nature of those differences, to imagine the child's point of view and tune in to his or her needs and (3) a willingness to try to meet those needs rather than just doing what's right for oneself.

* * *

In short, the best parents acknowledge the needs of their children (as distinct from their own), learn all they can about those needs and are committed to meeting them whenever possible. And those of us who find it a struggle to do these things most of the time... need to make a point of struggling to do these things most of the time.
In 1,970 blog posts, I don't think I've ever described as well the need to care for your child's internal life when it comes to adoption.  I especially like this quote: "It's not just about asking what it's like to be in his shoes, but what it's like to have his feet."

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Made the LIST!!!

No, not the Circle of Moms Top 25 List -- that one is still cancelled!  But I made the list at two blogs where you'll find lots of other interesting blogs to read!

Check out iAdoptee's contest, started in response to COM's awful treatment of blogs that didn't toe the party line: Top 25 Adoptee Rights Blogs Written by Adoptive MothersTo be eligible, you had to be an adoptive mother "who has written one or more posts focused solely on promoting the basic human right of an adopted person to have an accurate record of their birth."  Not surprisingly, though shamefully, there are fewer than 25 blogs who met eligibility requirements.  But you will find a half-dozen excellent blogs by adoptive mothers, some of whom are already on my blogroll, and some who will be added soon, who have written about this basic human right.

And at Adoption Magazine, a blog hop netted over 100 blogs in response to the closure of the COM contest.  Eligibility was blessedly WIDE OPEN:

This blog hop will be open to all those affected by adoption, not just adoptive parents. My hope is that we will all let go of our preconceived notions and read with an open mind and heart. Sometimes fear, assumptions, and the unknown can make us feel threatened. But I believe that as long as everyone is respectful and open minded, we have so much we can learn from each other. I hope that this blog hop will further break down the barriers.

I made that list simply by adding myself!  I've found  a few new blogs to add to my blogroll on this list, as well as visiting lots of old friends. 

So, enjoy these lists where, as Adoption Magazine puts it, you don't have to "vote for anyone or give your left kidney."

I'm prouder to be on these lists than anything Circle of Moms put together!

Don't Blame Adoption . . .

. . . for adopted son's murder of adoptive father, says this News Herald article:
Bettye Rasmussen and her husband adopted their daughter when the girl was five weeks old.

“We told her as soon as she could understand about being adopted and she never felt unloved,” said Rasmussen. Rasmussen said the daughter, now 37, even met her biological parents a few years ago, and she heard her say to them she was glad she was given up for adoption.

Rasmussen has been upset this week reading about a case in Farmington Hills which links adoption to one of the accused murderers.

The mention of adoption came up again Wednesday when after the accused man’s arraignment Wednesday, a woman named Christine Frederick — who said she knew Cipriano — believed some of his problems stemmed from his being adopted and “feeling lonely and abandoned.”

Cipriano, 19, and another man, Mitchell Young, 20, are charged with beating and killing Cipriano’s 52-year-old father Robert when they broke into the Cipriano family home at 2:50 a.m. Monday. Police said they were confronted by the family and used a baseball bat in the attacks.

Rasmussen isn’t buying that.

His issues, Rasmussen surmised, have “nothing to do with him being adopted.”

Cipriano, she said, “can’t blame his biological parents for anything. They loved him best they could. It’s a tragedy.”

Around Oakland County, adoption services officials agreed with Rasmussen.

Cathy Eisenberg, director of Bingham Farms-based Child & Parent Services, Inc., said, “There are biological children who are also violent and angry,” said Eisenberg,  

“As far as I’m concerned, this has nothing to do with (Cipriano’s) adoption.”
Pretty definitive statements, despite this caveat shared in the article: "Officials with the state’s Department of Human Services said there are no studies comparing crime with adoption."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

China Daily: Hello, Mom & Dad, Wherever You Are

Another birth parent search in China, reported by China Daily:
For Creighton and Reilly Ward, just saying hello to their parents in China would be a dream come true.

The sisters, who were adopted by US citizen Bonnie Ward, know almost nothing about their birth parents.

"They do not wish them any ill feelings. They wish them only good things and hope that they know they are together here in America and very happy," said Ward, a single parent and IT executive from New Hampshire.

"We hope that one day we will know the birth family of my daughters. They want to know if they have a sister or brother in China and they want their birth mom and dad to know they are healthy and happy," Ward said.

However, Liang Zhiyong, assistant dean of the Changde Welfare Institute in Hunan province, said on Friday that locating the birth parents will be very difficult.

"Our records only indicate where the children were picked up and nothing else. Also, many of the institute's staff from that time have already retired," Liang said.

Stranger things have happened, though.

In 1999, Ward adopted Creighton, who is now 15. Then two years later she adopted Reilly, now 11.

No one realized at first they were sisters.

Ward said she had suggestions from her parents and a spiritualist that the two girls might be related. But when DNA tests proved it, she was astonished.
The Wards' story is pretty well known in the China-adoption community; I wish them luck in their search!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tortious Interference With Birth Father's Rights

Remember John Wyatt, the Virginia birth father seeking the return of his child adopted in Utah?  The Utah Supreme Court ruled against him, as I reported here, but he has brought suit in federal court in Virginia against the Virginia attorney who arranged the adoption, as well as the Utah attorney, Utah adoption agency, and Utah adoptive parents.  The Virginia Supreme Court issued a ruling on Friday that allows that lawsuit to go forward in federal court.

Here are the facts, as recited in the Virginia Supreme Court opinion (because a procedural rule, the court accepts as true all the facts alleged in Wyatt's complaint, which may or may not actually be proven true in court):
E.Z. is the biological daughter of Wyatt and Colleen Fahland, who are unmarried residents of Virginia. Prior to E.Z.'s birth, Wyatt accompanied Fahland to doctors' appointments and made plans with Fahland to raise their child together. Without Wyatt's knowledge, Fahland's parents retained attorney Mark McDermott to arrange for an adoption. While Fahland informed Wyatt of her parents' desire that she see an adoption attorney, she assured Wyatt that they would raise the baby as a family. During a January 30, 2009 meeting with McDermott, Fahland signed a form identifying Wyatt as the birth father and indicating that he wanted to keep the baby. Fahland offered to provide Wyatt's address, but McDermott told her to falsely indicate on the form that the address was unknown to her, which she did. She also signed an agreement in which she requested that the adoptive parents discuss adoption plans with the birth father. Wyatt was "purposely kept in the dark" about this meeting, and Fahland continued to make false statements to Wyatt at the urging of McDermott, indicating that she planned to raise the baby with Wyatt, with the purpose that he would not take steps to secure his parental rights and prevent the adoption.

To facilitate an adoption, McDermott contacted "A Act of Love" (Act of Love), a Utah adoption agency, and Utah attorney Larry Jenkins with Wood Jenkins LLP, a Utah law firm representing Act of Love. Approximately one week prior to E.Z.'s birth, Fahland and her father met again with McDermott. At McDermott's urging, Fahland spoke to Wyatt briefly on the phone and then sent him a text message informing him that she was receiving information about a potential adoption. Later that day and throughout the week prior to E.Z.'s birth, Fahland continued to assure Wyatt that she still planned to raise the baby with him.

Fahland concealed the fact that she was in labor during conversations with Wyatt, at the direction of McDermott and on behalf of the other defendants. E.Z. was born two weeks early, on February 10, 2009, in Virginia, and Wyatt was not informed of the birth. The next day, Fahland signed an affidavit stating that she had informed Wyatt she was working with a Utah adoption agency and an affidavit of paternity identifying Wyatt as the father. Despite her full knowledge of his address, she placed question marks as to his contact information on the notarized documents at the urging of McDermott. Thomas and Chandra Zarembinski, Utah residents who retained Act of Love to assist them in adopting a child and planned to adopt E.Z., signed an agreement stating that they were aware that E.Z.'s custody status might be unclear. On February 12, Fahland signed an affidavit of relinquishment and transferred custody to the Zarembinskis, who had travelled to Virginia to pick up the child.
OK, Civics lesson first!  Why is John Wyatt in federal court?  And what does the Virginia state court have to do with federal court?!  Well, there are two ways to sue in federal court:  1) you need a "federal question," an issue of federal law, U.S. treaties, or the U.S. Constitution, or 2) you need "diversity of citizenship."  Wyatt gets into federal court on that second ground -- the parties he is suing are not all from Virginia, which is where he's from.  "Diversity of citizenship" gives the federal court jurisdiction.

But when a federal court is deciding a case based on diversity jurisdiction, it has to apply the state law of the state where it is sitting, which means Virginia law in this case.  Wyatt is alleging that the attorneys, adoption agency and adoptive parents unlawfully interfered with his parental rights, so the issue becomes what Virginia law says about the matter.  Since no Virginia state court had ever addressed the issue of whether Virginia recognized tortious interference with parental rights as a cause of action, the federal court in Virginia asked the Virginia Supreme Court to answer the question.

OK, back to the merits. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the state of Virginia does in fact recognize the tort of interference with parental rights, a cause of action long recognized at common law:
A statutory basis for tortious interference with parental rights is clearly absent from the Virginia Code; we therefore focus our analysis on whether this tort exists at common law. We conclude that, although no Virginia court has had occasion to consider the cause of action, the tort in question has indeed existed at common law and continues to exist today. Furthermore, rejecting tortious interference with parental rights as a legitimate cause of action would leave a substantial gap in the legal protection afforded to the parent-child relationship.
In recognizing this cause of action, the court notes the importance of the parent-child relationship:
We recognize the essential value of protecting a parent's right to form a relationship with his or her child. We have previously acknowledged that "the relationship between a parent and child is constitutionally protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."  Indeed, the Supreme Court of the United States has characterized a parent's right to raise his or her child as "perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." [citations omitted]
So, good news for John Wyatt -- he can sue the attorneys, the adoption agency and the adoptive parents for money damages, including "loss of companionship, mental anguish, loss of services, and expenses incurred to recover the child."  Victory for Wyatt? Well, not really: "We" acknowledge that the most direct and proper remedy, the return of the child and restoration of the parent-child relationship, may never be achieved through a tort action."

The court's ruling has broader application than just to John Wyatt, but the court is clearly horrified by the facts of this case:
It is both astonishing and profoundly disturbing that in this case, a biological mother and her parents, with the aid of two licensed attorneys and an adoption agency, could intentionally act to prevent a biological father — who is in no way alleged to be an unfit parent — from legally establishing his parental rights and gaining custody of a child whom the mother did not want to keep, and that this father would have no recourse in the law. The facts as pled indicate that the Defendants went to great lengths to disguise their agenda from the biological father, including preventing notice of his daughter's birth and hiding their intent to have an immediate out-of-state adoption, in order to prevent the legal establishment of his own parental rights. This Court has long recognized that the rights of an unwed father are deserving of protection. The tort of tortious interference with parental rights may provide onemeans ofsuch protection. Finally, we hope that the threat of a civil action would help deter third parties such as attorneys and adoption agencies from engaging in the sort of actions allegedto have takenplace. [citations omitted]
I wish I was as hopeful as the court that the threat of lawsuits or money damages would deter attorneys and adoption agencies. I think it's more likely that they'll just consider such suits as the cost of doing business, and just pass on the costs to adoptive parents, who will happily pay so long as they get to keep the child. . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2012

China Adoptee Wins Penmanship Award

And this is news because?  Remarkably, she was born without hands:
A Pittsburgh-area girl born without hands has won a penmanship award – and $1,000 – from a company that publishes language arts and reading textbooks.

Zaner-Bloser Inc. recognized 7-year-old Annie Clark at Wilson Christian Academy in West Mifflin on Wednesday with its first-ever Nicholas Maxim Award.

Nicholas was a Maine fifth-grader born without hands or lower arms who entered the company's penmanship contest last year. His work impressed judges enough that they created a new category for students with disabilities.

After the ceremony Wednesday, Clark demonstrated her ability to write by manipulating a pencil between her forearms. Asked whether she was nervous about the attention, the girl said, "Not really, but kind of."

The girl's parents, Tom and Mary Ellen Clark, have nine children – three biological and six adopted from China, including Annie. Annie is one of four of the adoptees who have disabilities that affect their hands or arms. The Clarks also have an adopted child, Alyssa, 18, and a biological daughter, Abbey, 21, with Down syndrome.
OK, clearly her disability is relevant to the story.  Is her adopted status?  The disability status of her siblings? At least that info didn't appear until the 5th paragraph. . . .

S. Carolina Supreme Court Hears Appeal in ICWA Case

This article in the Tulsa World is the only one I've seen with any information about Tuesday's hearing, beyond the fact that it happened and everyone is gagged!  Still, it's not much:
The hearing was scheduled to last 35 minutes, but the oral arguments went on for an hour and a half at the South Carolina Supreme Court.

With the public barred from attending, and both sides under a strict gag order, nobody who was in the room Tuesday can talk about what happened.

But outside the courthouse, observers assumed that the length of the hearing meant the justices had asked a lot of questions - a sign of how complex the "Baby Veronica" case has become.

A couple from James Island, S.C., a suburb of Charleston, adopted Veronica in 2009 from an Oklahoma mother.

The birth father, however, won a court order to have the child returned to Oklahoma, where she now lives with him in Nowata.

* * *

The case could have national ramifications because it revolves around the 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act, a federal law that was meant to help keep Indian children within a tribe.

The Cherokee Nation participated in this week's hearing in South Carolina, but tribal officials fall under the gag order and won't comment on the case.

* * *

The state Supreme Court promised to expedite the case, with a decision expected within 30 days.
I've blogged about the ICWA issues in this case, basically the 'existing Indian family doctrine,' here. I thought it was interesting what the spokesperson for the adoptive family said about why the Cherokee Nation isn't really interested in this child: "She's more Latino than anything else." [Her mother is Latina, her father is American Indian].  Again, as I pointed out in the post about the existing Indian family doctrine, we have white people deciding what it means to be Indian. . . .

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Adoption & Islam

An interesting and provocative piece by Daniel Ibn Zayd in Dissident Voices, responding to this piece in the Daily Beast about Islam and adoption, which I posted about here:
As an adoptee who has returned to his birthplace of Lebanon, I have been actively watching the rise of this trope [Islamophobia and adoption] in the media, on online forums, as well as in private online exchanges for the past seven years. In 2009, for example, the AP reported on a couple trying to adopt from Egypt. Compared to the crime of this couple and the corruption of government officials there, it is nonetheless Islam that bears the burden of opprobrium in the article: Adoption in Egypt is defined as being “snarled in religious tradition”. This became a contentious discussion on the web site Canada Adopts, where the given of the argument was basically how to get around these Islamic invocations, as if they somehow were to blame for the legal transgressions of the would-be adopters, painted as virtuous Samaritans.

For another example, we need go to Pamela Geller’s web site Atlas Shrugged. Here the tables are turned on would-be adoptive parents of Moroccan children who would be required to maintain the child’s Muslim faith. Ms. Geller describes this as some evil Islamic fifth column in the making, despite the fact that most every orphanage on the planet is Christian-based and missionary in outlook and likewise requires that the parents be of a particular faith in order to adopt.

Similarly, in her article for The Daily Beast, Asra Nomani writes an article which implies that the orphaned children of Pakistan are being recruited by Al-Qaeda as future suicide bombers. Her answer to this problem? To undo the “antiquated, shortsighted, and regressive stricture that makes adoption illegal [within Islam].” This focus on Islam as a problem for adoptive parents who supposedly want to help the orphans of the world is quite loaded, and needs to be deconstructed on two levels, first in terms of the historical and economic/political function of adoption, and second in terms of linguistic and theologic use/misuse of the term.
Be sure to read the whole thing;  I was particularly struck by the parallels the author draws between interpretations of the Bible by the Christian Adoption Movement as justifying adoption ("God adopted us!") and interpretations of Islam that seek to do the same thing ("Muhammad was adopted!").  His exigesis of the Qur'an as (no) textual support for adoption reminds me of David Smolin's dismantling of the Biblical/theological basis for the Christian Adoption Movement. Both of which makes me think of what Inigo Montoya of the Princess Bride might say about these uses of the word adoption: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

California Court Won't Undo Ukrainian Adoption

Interesting case, reported by California's Children blog, where adoptive parents seek to disrupt an international adoption:
"This is a tragic case in which there can be no good ending for anyone."

Thus begins the decision (written by Justice Rick Sims, and concurred by Presiding Justice Arthur Scotland and Justice Harry Hull) of the State Court of Appeals, Third District, in the matter of Eleanor Pracht-Smith et al., v. the California Department of Social Services.

* * *

The adoptive parents found that the child could not live in a "normal home environment, is unadoptable..." and the child has been in "intensive foster care placement" in Arizona for four years. In 2008, the parents filed in Yolo County Superior Court to set aside the adoption. Yolo said -- in layman's language -- that it didn't have jurisdiction, the Ukrainian court that issued the adoption decree was the venue.
The issue is, of course, lifetime support of this child. In upholding the Yolo decision, the court of appeals has determined that the support be the responsibility of Martin Smith and Eleanor Pracht-Smith.
The decision rests on a California statute, section 9100 of the California Family Code, that does, in fact, allow a court to vacate an adoption:
If a child adopted pursuant to the law of this state shows evidence of a developmental disability or mental illness as a result of conditions existing before the adoption to an extent that the child cannot be relinquished to an adoption agency on the grounds that the child is considered unadoptable, and of which conditions the adoptive parents or parent had no knowledge or notice before the entry of the order of adoption, a petition setting forth those facts may be filed by the adoptive parents or parent with the court that granted the adoption petition. If these facts are proved to the satisfaction of the court, it may make an order setting aside the order of adoption.
So much for "adoption is forever," hmm?  The court here isn't refusing to vacate the adoption because it feels the parents shouldn't disrupt, it's simply that the law applies, the court says, only to a child "adopted pursuant to the law of this state."  So feel free to disrupt your California adoption, but not this Ukrainian one.

And the California statute isn't all that unusual.  I've mentioned before (see here and here) that certain "reforms" were put into place in the late 80s/early 90s as a response to "wrongful adoption" lawsuits, where adoptive parents sued states and adoption agencies alleging that they were affirmatively lied to or information was hidden so that they didn't know about problems the kids had. Among the reforms were increased informational requirements prior to adoption, and these kind of statutes that make vacating the adoption the remedy for wrongful adoption.

Because of its jurisdictional ruling, the court doesn't have to address the merits of the petition here, deciding whether the child is "unadoptable" because of a "developmental disability or mental illness" of which the adoptive parents "had no knowledge or notice."  Reaching the merits might have led to the same results, since there was some evidence that the adoptive parents were aware of some of the issues prior to the adoption:

In late 2003, appellants spent several weeks in Ukraine for the adoption. On December 15, 2003, by decree of a Ukrainian court, appellants adopted M.S., a three-year-old Ukrainian girl. The Ukrainian court decree stated in part: "It was found out from the case documents that the child's [biological] mother is mentally sick. She left the child at the hospital and never visited her. The place of father's residence was not identified. Since February 2002 the child has been made the ward of the government. The medical history of the girl says that she is almost healthy though psychologically delayed." A hospital record says the mother has epilepsy.
The parents allege, though, that they didn't know any of that until after the adoption. And in fact, they discovered after returning home, that "almost healthy though psychologically delayed" may have been an understatement:
In California, various evaluations were performed due to M.S.'s low level of functioning. Health care professionals diagnosed her with spastic cerebral palsy, reactive attachment disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, moderate mental retardation, global developmental delay, ataxia, fetal alcohol syndrome or effect, microcephaly, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Appellants assert M.S. cannot live in a normal home environment, is unadoptable, and has been living in intensive foster care placement in Arizona since 2005.
So what's an adoptive parent to do?!  You can't put 'em on a plane back to Russia, you can't get the court to relieve you of the responsibility. . . .

So you parent.  Even when it's expensive, even when the child doesn't meet your expectations, even when it's damned difficult.  You parent.  And if the best thing for your child is intensive foster care placement in Arizona, that's what you do.  And you're still the parent. Because no one ever said it would be easy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stranger Adoption and "Chimpanzee"

Yesterday, I posted about adoption themes in the new DisneyNature film, Chimpanzee.  Imagine my surprise when the guest on The Daily Show tonight was Dr. Jane Goodall, spokesperson for the film!

The review I posted had this line: "even in nature foster care and adoption happen."  Hmm.  So I was intrigued when Dr. Goodall spoke about how the orphaned chimpanzee, Oscar, was taken in by the leader of the pack, Freddie.  Jon Stewart asked her if this was a common thing (I got the feeling he was asking if it was a common thing for a MALE to take in the orphan, but maybe that was just me), and Dr. Goodall said no.  Ordinarily, she said, when a mother dies, the orphaned chimp would be cared for by an older brother or older sister (that takes care of the gender thing).  She said that it was extremely unusual for someone outside the family to take in the orphan.

So, while adoption happens "even in nature," it's relative adoption, not stranger adoption among chimpanzees.  Who knew?!

Colombia: Government Accused of 'Kidnapping' Children for International Adoption

So says Colombia Reports:
Colombia's Family Welfare Institute "kidnaps" Colombian children by giving them up for adoption to foreign families against the will of their biological parents, several reports said.

In a program aired Sunday, television station Caracol told the story of a young boy named Steven who was born in Colombia but adopted by a Dutch family.

Steven's biological parents said he was taken from them against their will by the ICBF. The agency said Steven's original parents were unfit to care for him and that the state put the child up for adoption for his own safety. Colombia is one of the few countries where children can be placed with foreign families without the consent of their biological parents.

This is not the first time the ICBF has been accused of unjustifiably taking children from parents and sending them abroad. Colombian channel RCN TV and Colombian newspaper El Tiempo have run similar stories in the past.
So is there something corrupt happening in international adoption from Colombia? Sometimes we look at statistics to figure that out.  Is there a sudden spike in numbers, for instance?  Nope, not recently at least.  According to the State Department statistics, here are the adoptions from Colombia to the U.S. since 1999:
2011       216
2010       235
2009       238
2008       306
2007       309
2006       344
2005       287
2004       285
2003       272
2002       335
2001       265
2000       245
1999       231
So adoptions from Colombia seem to be on the same decline that the rest of international adoption is experiencing, no suspicious spike since one in 2002 and one in 2006.  So is there anything else in the statistics that are enlightening?

In terms of raw numbers, there are not that many adoptions from Colombia to the U.S. -- 216 in 2011, 235 in 2010.  But when compared to the rest of South & Central America?  Colombia is the only country with adoption to the U.S. in the hundreds. Last year, there were 32 adoptions from Guatemala, 30 from Nicaragua, 22 from Mexico, 13 from Peru, and 11 from Honduras.  No one else is even in double digits.  And Colombia is in the HUNDREDS.

Certainly seems suggestive. . . .

Transracial Adoption Challenges Parents, Kids

In the Toledo Blade, a story about Kevin Hofmann, transracial adoptee:
On the subject of race, it's not politically correct when white people say, "I don't see color," said Kevin Hofmann, of South Toledo. "In the black community, that can be offensive. I am proud to be a person of color."

The author of Growing Up Black in White (Vine Appointment Publishing Company, 174 pages, $14.95), Mr. Hofmann talks candidly about his experience as a biracial man. Born in Detroit in 1967 less than three weeks after the riots, he was 3 months old when he was adopted by a white couple. He describes his parents, the Rev. Richard and Judy Hofmann, as progressive on matters of race.

* * *

Mr. Hofmann discusses transracial adoption in a yet-to-be broadcast edition of ABC Nightline: Late Evening News program. True, these children adopted into wealthy celebrity homes won't have to cope with financial disadvantages, but more is involved than just giving them a good home and family.

"You cannot just love a child, but you have to understand that he belongs to a certain culture," Reverend Hofmann said about transracial adoption.

The assumption that it is politically correct to be "color blind" does not benefit the children, the younger Mr. Hofmann said.

"My answer to that is, 'If you are color blind, how do you see your child?' " asked Mr. Hofmann, who posts blogs on the issue on "When your kids walk out the door, they will be impacted about what people see. You have to prepare your children before they go out."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Adoption Themes in "Chimpanzee"

Here's a review of the upcoming DisneyNature movie, Chimpanzee, from a mom who saw a preview, highlighting adoption themes in the movie:
I didn't expect the adoption theme that caught me off guard. Now adoption themes in family movies often go one of two ways - very poorly rendered as a joke within the movie - like ELF - or poor orphan child victim of the foster care system that is always headed up by an evil foster parent, never caring, always in it for money. Occasionally you can substitute adoptive parent for the angry evil foster care parent. Poor sad waif. Victim mentality that drives me bonkers. Or, in nature usually cartoon characters that are adopted by some species outside their normal experience. Cat taken in by raccoons etc.

I am here to say that is not the case with Chimpanzee. This is the story of Oscar, baby chimp born to a caring Mom and a big extended family in the jungles of Africa. This is a stirring look at how one unexpected member takes over when there is a need and how, even in nature foster care and adoption happen. It's beautiful and funny and charming and amazing and I know we will see this magnificent movie again. It gets my highest rating of $$$$$.
Just an FYI for anyone planning to see it!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rejected By Mother, Artyom Happy in Russia

A report from a rare meeting between Artyom and the press:
Two years after Artem Saveliev’s American adoptive mother put him alone on a plane back to his homeland, the towheaded 9-year-old shivers and barks “No!” when asked if he ever would go back to the United States.

The boy who instantly became a potent symbol of failed adoption policies now lives in a cheery home in a village of foster families near Moscow. As he tries to move forward in his life, the legacies of his case reverberate deeply through U.S.-Russian relations.

* * *

Officials have generally refused journalists’ attempts to visit Artem, saying the attention would likely distress him and hinder his adjustment to his new life in Russia. But on Thursday, Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s ombudsman, arranged a rare visit by journalists to Artem’s village, partly to draw attention to two looming court cases involving Torry Hansen, the American woman who adopted and then ditched the boy.

Artem was shy and taciturn, revealing little more of his life than that he finds “Russian spelling” to be the hardest part of school.

His Russian foster mother, meanwhile, says Artem needed months of counseling and speech therapy after his return.

His new caregiver, Vera Yegorova, says any memories of Artem’s life in Tennessee remain a “taboo” for him. She said it took months of sessions with a psychologist and a speech therapist for the boy to start communicating again.

“He is no different now from other children,” said Yegorova, a plump, vivacious 53-year-old who has raised 17 foster children at the village run by the international charity SOS.

The village consists of about a dozen houses on the edge of a forest. Five other children live in the same house with Artem and all go to a nearby school.

But for all the superficial normalcy of his new life, Artem also appears troubled. He can say “thank you” in strongly accented English, but otherwise resists speaking in English. He gets poor grades in school, has trouble communicating and speaks in short sentences.

Circle the Wagons

First, I want to thank everyone who voted for me in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest.  Thanks, especially, if you've been the recipient of my annoying, repeated, sniveling and whining facebook and twitter posts asking you to vote AGAIN!  You will be most relieved to discover that Circle of Moms has decided to bring the contest to a premature end:
After serious consideration, we have decided to cancel our Adoption Blogs by Moms – 2012 contest. Our Top 25 program is meant to celebrate, connect, and support mom bloggers. Following some feedback from participants in our 2011 contest, we decided to make this year's Top 25 more inclusive. In doing so, we unknowingly stepped into a very sensitive issue and debate, and we apologize to all the moms who have been offended, no matter what your position on adoption is.
What the heck are they talking about, I hear you cry?!  Well, maybe you read my post about Circle of Moms removing Cassi's blog, Adoption Truth, from the contest because they didn't find her sufficiently "positive" and "supportive" of adoption.  I wasn't the only one who was offended by that action (see here and
here and here and here and here and here, well, you get the idea!). So, it was all of us "anti-adoption" folks complaining about that action by Circle of Moms that led to cancellation of the contest? 
Not exactly!  It was more like some of the other adoption bloggers yelling, "The invaders are coming, the invaders are coming," and insisting that Circle of Moms circle the wagons to keep out anyone they disagreed with.

Apparently, the activist blogs which were rising in the rankings were “a few bad apples [that] ruin the batch.” The only reality allowed in an adoption blog contest is "the reality that adoption is a loving response to a tragic reality" which "we as an adoption community [should] come together and truly embrace." Yes, those are all actual quotes from disgruntled bloggers bemoaning that adoptee and birth mother blogs ruined the contest!  Oh, and you have got to see the screen grab from one of the contestant's public facebook page that Linda has at Real Daughter! "I am happy to report some of the more offensive anti-adoption blogs have been removed from this list."  AND "I really don't want to see any of these negative on adoption blogs at the top of the list . . . so pisses me off."

So, the contest ended. Yet another incident illustrating the enforced orthodoxy of adoption talk.  Only positive, glorifying, happy talk is allowed.  Too bad that that party line does such a disservice to others who may feel differently about adoption.  I'll say it again: "when adoptive parents ignore the hard truth that their experience of adoption is not the same experience as their adopted children and their birth families, when they ignore the hard truths about corruption and trafficking, they are doing damage not just to their children, but to the institution of adoption as well." 

Yes, this is all just a silly little blog contest designed to draw traffic to Circle of Moms.  But it cast light on this ridiculous orthodoxy where nothing negative can be said about adoption without consequences.  You get kicked out of the circle, you get called a "bad apple."  You're chastised for not recognizing that there can be only ONE reality about adoption, and it certainly isn't the one you're talking about.  You PISS OFF those who disagree with you.  And when you start drawing attention, the forum for your viewpoint has to be shut down -- for fear you might actually cause folks to see adoption as the complex, multi-layered, fraught-with-problems institution is actually is.

Circle the wagons, keep out any dissenting viewpoint!

Again, thanks to all for your votes!  Too bad the contest wasn't as worthy as you all are!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guatemalan President Willing to Speed Up Pipeline Adoptions

From Politico, which highlights Sen. Mary Landrieu's role:
Guatemala’s president says he’s willing to speed up 350 adoptions by U.S. couples that were in process before his Central American nation suspended adoptions by foreigners in 2007 following allegations of fraud and baby theft.

President Otto Perez Molina said Wednesday he hopes to resolve those cases after meeting with Sen. Mary Landrieu. The Louisiana Democrat has been traveling to Guatemala to push for the adoptions to go through.

The Catholic League Stigmatizes Adoption

The Catholic League tweeted about the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney contretemps (not something I'm getting into!), by attacking Hilary Rosen for adopting -- oh, and for being a lesbian, too, though why that's relevant is beyond me.  Here's the tweet:

She HAD to adopt?!  Let's put aside biology for a moment -- even lesbian women can give birth!!! -- how's this for showing the Catholic League's attitude toward adoption?!  I posted yesterday about someone surprised to discover there was still stigma associated with adoption.  Obviously, that person doesn't spend much time on social media! This tweet certainly shows that adoption stigma is alive and well.

Oh, and then the always popular adoption =/= "your OWN" child.  I admit, I don't like the "my OWN" child thing because is sounds so . . . OWNERSHIP.  And I don't really like the exclusivity many apply to the term, as in "she's MY own child, not her birth mother's OWN child" thing.  But still.  When you're using it to mean I'm less of a parent than someone who gave birth to children, I object.  I won't accept that my girls' birth mothers are "less than," nor will I accept that I am "less than."

And I sure won't accept it from MY OWN Church. I've responded to the Catholic League, as have many others.  Their response addresses the lesbian comment in an oh-so-mature way:

No response to the adoption comment.  I suppose they think we should get over it, too, and grow up.  I'd sure like it if my kids could grow up without idiots like the Catholic League stigmatizing adoption.

And if you're on twitter, why don't you let @CatholicLeague know what you think of their view of adoption as a last resort, second-best option?!

Torry Hansen Sues in Russian Court

Lovely.  Torry Hansen, who returned her seven-year-old adopted son Artyom to Russia, alone on a plane, is now suing the Russian children's ombudsman:
Russian children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said on Thursday a lawsuit had been filed against him by an American woman who sent her adopted son back to Russia.

Torry Hansen filed a lawsuit in Moscow’s Savelovsky Court, seeking retraction of a November 24, 2011 article in the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily. She also demands punitive damages.

"The essence of the lawsuit is that I call Hansen an adoptive mother, while she wants me to call her Artyom Savelyev’s former adoptive mother,” Astakhov said.

"I’m glad a lawsuit was filed by Torry Hansen against me and the Rossiiskaya Gazeta. I’ll gladly meet her and request that she visits Russia and the court,” he added.

Hansen was living in Tennessee in April 2010 when she put Artyom Savelyev, then 7, on a flight back to his native Russia unaccompanied, with a note saying she did not want him because he was "psychotic."

Astakhov said that the Russian side would seek child support payments from the U.S. woman, according to the March 8 U.S. court ruling.

“We will try to make her pay the cost of Artyom’s support, nothing more,” he said.

According to the child ombudsman’s estimates, the boy’s stay in a group home costs 42,000 rubles per month (over $1,400), not including psychological treatment costing 27,000 rubles (over $900) per month.
This AP story adds there's a hearing next month: "Pavel Astakhov said Thursday he would like Hansen, who has sued him in a Moscow court, to testify at a hearing scheduled for next month."

If the lawsuit is really about being called Artyom's adoptive mother, rather than his former adoptive mother, I'm sorry to tell her that, at least under American law of libel, truth is a defense.  She is still Artyom's adoptive mother, at least in the U.S., since her parental rights have not been terminated here.  One cannot terminate parental rights by simply sending a child away.  The fact that a Tennessee court has ordered her to pay child support is evidence that she is still his parent, since child support is only a parental responsibility. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adoption Stigma Still Exists

The reviewer of a (relatively) new anthology, Somebody’s Child: Stories About Adoption, was surprised to learn that there is still stigma associated with adoption:
Before I started reading Somebody’s Child: Stories About Adoption, edited by Bruce Gillespie and Lynne Van Luven (Touchwood Editions, $19.95), I worried about how well I would be able to relate to the stories in the collection. After all, I hadn’t had any firsthand experience with adoption.

I need not have been concerned. While the stories in the anthology focus on adoption and the quest for answers about identity and connectedness, they tap into universal themes: how family can disappoint as well as delight us, and how ultimately each individual is left to make sense of the story of his or her own life.

Somebody’s Child — like the two earlier titles in the same series Nobody’s Mother: Life Without Kids and Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids — are designed to promote “a broader understanding of what North American families look like these days — something that is important for all of us,” says Gillespie, an assistant professor of journalism at Wilfred Laurier’s Brantford Campus, who co-edited the collection with Van Luven, associate dean of fine arts at the University of Victoria. “There is real value in people just sharing their stories, happy endings or not.”

What surprised me most, as I became more and more wrapped up in the stories (so wrapped up, in fact, that I came dangerously close to missing my train stop) was the extent to which adoptees continue to feel stigmatized. I had no idea — and that makes me feel sad and guilty for not knowing.
Has anyone read this book?  What do you think of it?

Korea: Single Moms Day

In Korea, there is still significant stigma associated with being a single mother, the same stigma that's been a boon for international adoption from Korea.  Trying to destigmatize single motherhood, Korean adoptee and single mother organizations in Korea have designated May 11 "Single Moms Day."  Here's a report from last year -- the first Single Moms Day in Korea:
May 11 is the first “Single Mom’s Day,” created by adoption and single mother groups. Noh plans to tell her story at an international conference that day at the Community Chest Auditorium hosted by Truth and Reconciliation for the Adoption Community of Korea (TRACK) and KoRoot, a guest house for overseas adoptees returning to South Korea.

“Society will only change if mothers like me show themselves more. I am a mother whose child was sent for overseas adoption, and a single mother. If a base is created so that single mothers can also raise their children, the nation’s concerns about adoption will also disappear,” said Noh. “We must lessen the pain that must be suffered to the day they die by those affected by overseas adoption.”

Kwon Hee-jong, a coordinator at the Korean Unwed Mothers Support Network (KUMSN), said, “70 percent of the mothers at state-supported facilities relinquish their children for adoption, while in the United States, the ratio of mothers who give up their children is just 1 percent.”

Kwon added, “It is absolutely necessary that we eliminate prejudices so that birthmothers can raise their children on their own and expand support before encouraging adoption.”
Thanks to a link at Land of a Gazillion Adoptees' facebook page, here's where you can get more information and help out with a fundraiser for the second annual Single Moms' Day: TRACK's Fundraiser for Single Moms' Day.

"International adoption is not always in the best interest of every orphaned child"

An American adoptive family, living and working at an orphanage in Ethiopia, offers a cautionary take on international adoption:
For the sake of full disclosure, let it be said that we are an adoptive family. Just over two years ago, we adopted a beautiful 3 ½ year-old girl from Ethiopia. She’d been in an orphanage since just a couple of months after birth. We met her while visiting an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Charity (the order started by Mother Theresa of Calcutta) in Addis Ababa. We love our daughter dearly and are so glad to have her as a part of our family. We have no regrets about adopting her whatsoever. Despite the high-quality, loving care provided by the Mother Theresa sisters and the staff, we firmly believe that she’s been able to thrive and grow as a part of our family in a way that she would never have been able to if she’d continued to grow up in institutional care. Having said all that, through our own adoption process, our connections in the adoptive community, and our experience living and working at an orphanage here in Ethiopia, we’ve become very cautious and critical proponents of international option. We’re still proponents, but we’ve come to recognize that international adoption is not always in the best interest of every orphaned child. Before pulling a child from family, community, culture, language and country, one has to think hard about the best interest and specific situation of that child. We have also come to recognize that, while international adoption may improve the life of a specific child, it is not a social solution for the larger issue of orphaned children in Ethiopia.

* * *

International adoption is a very complicated issue. I don’t know about other countries, so I can only really speak to Ethiopia. In the past 10 years, international adoption form Ethiopia has become quite popular and “sexy” (Angelina Jolie, etc.). In the case of infants, there is actually more “demand” than “supply.” Those are terribly crude terms, but they explain the situation. There are actually more adoptive parents in North America and Europe waiting for Ethiopian infants than there are orphaned infants in Ethiopia; thus the long waiting lists. This strikes me as concerning. There is actually a situation of parents waiting for children to be born and orphaned. These adoptive parents are in the process not to adopt an orphan, but to adopt a potential future orphan.
Please read the whole thing;  though Ethiopia-specific, the blog raises important points relevant to all international adoption.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Circle is Broken

Circle of Moms. A website for moms, with the tag line, motherhood, shared and simplified.

What a great concept -- an unbroken circle of women who have the common experience of being mothers, something that connects us when nothing else does. Solidarity.  Connection.  Infinity without end. But Circle of Moms broke that circle when they sent the following email to Cassi of Adoption Truth, just as she reached the number 2 spot in the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest:
--“Dear Cassi,

I’m writing to let you know that we have unfortunately had to remove your blog from the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms competition. As described on the contest page, the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest is open to “mom bloggers who write about adoption or foster parenting in a supportive, positive way”.

The Circle of Moms team” --
That's it, and her blog, voted for by over 100 people, disappears from the list.  Cassi is kicked out of the circle.

Why?  She is a mom.  She is a blogger.  She writes about adoption.  So why is she kicked out of the circle?  Apparantly, the powers that be at Circle of Moms doesn't like what she has to say at her blog or the way that she says it.  She doesn't belong in the circle because she is not sufficiently "supportive" or "positive" about adoption.  This is censorship in its starkest form.  Her speech is suppressed because others disagree with it.  How cowardly is that?!  Circle of Moms is enforcing the norm that the only privileged speech about adoption is speech that sticks to the happy-happy-joy-joy narrative.  That is especially so when the speaker is a first mother or an adoptee.

Which brings me to the second answer to the WHY? question. Cassi is being censored because of WHO SHE IS as much as for what she says. Cassi relinquished her child for adoption.  She writes about coercion in adoption consent.  So do I.  She writes about adoption reform.  So do I.  She writes about open records.  So do I.  She writes about how adoption has affected her now-adult child.  I also write about how adoption has affected my not-yet-adult children.  SO why is Cassi censored, and I am not (or at least not yet!)?  Because adoptive parent speech is the only privileged speech in the adoption triad.  Because I sometimes post photos of my cute adopted kids. And isn't that a shame, that my status privileges my speech, while Cassi's status enforces silence?

When I first learned that Cassi was kicked out of the circle, my immediate reaction was to withdraw from the clearly-rigged contest.  I'm keeping myself from doing so by reminding myself that the only cure for bad speech -- or enforced silence -- is MORE speech.  Or as Justice Louis Brandies said so eloquently, "If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."

Adoption is complicated.  It is not a simple either/or, for-or-against, pro- or anti-adoption duality.  It is complicated, multi-faceted, fraught with ambiguities.  One person's gain is another person's loss.  One person can both gain and lose in adoption.  This complicated institution of adoption needs MORE speech, not less.  Only by discussion ALL perspectives can we explore the multi-layered truth that is adoption.

Here's what I said before when I was accused of being "anti-adoption," the short-hand equivalent of not writing about adoption in "a supportive, positive way:"
Yes, I've adopted and it has brought me immeasurable joy. And it has brought my children loss, pain and grief, as well as joy. It has brought their birth families loss, pain and grief. And when corruption and child trafficking enter the picture, adoption brings everyone involved even more loss, pain and grief. The only joy then is in the black hearts of corrupt officials and child traffickers.

And when adoptive parents ignore the hard truth that their experience of adoption is not the same experience as their adopted children and their birth families, when they ignore the hard truths about corruption and trafficking, they are doing damage not just to their children, but to the institution of adoption as well.

Frankly, it's going to be the over-reaching of the "pro-adoption" folks that bring an end to international adoption, not anything the so-called "anti-adoption" folks do. Haven't you noticed the pattern? A country opens to international adoption. . . just a trickle at first. Then it's push, push, push for more, more, more adoptions from that country. Now the trickle is a flood of money as more and more and more adoptive parents flock to the country. And the money brings corruption. . . . And the country shuts down to international adoption. . . . Wash. Rinse. Repeat. "Pro-adoption?" Really workin' out for you, huh?
So I'm sticking with the contest, and I'm taking Cassi's issues with me, even though I cannot match her eloquence, her passion, her lived experience.  Cassi has asked people to keep voting in the contest, and to vote for the following blogs:
The Declassified Adoptee
Musings Of The Lame
Adoption Talk
Neither Here Nor There
To Tell The Truth – Please Stand Up
I really appreciate Cassi's positive support for my blog, as well as these other fine adoption blogs. So please vote -- before these blogs are also censored from the list!  Let's repair the circle.

Monday, April 9, 2012


An adoptive mother charged with abandonment for returning her adopted child to Delaware Family Services:
One day in August 2007, Cleo Klepzig picked up her 10-year-old adopted son from the home of a respite care provider near Helena, Mont., and drove him to the airport, where they both boarded a flight to the East Coast.

She told the boy’s caregivers that she was taking him to visit his biological sisters in Delaware, the state from which he’d been adopted several years before.

But that’s not what she did.

Instead, she took him to the Delaware Family Services Division office in Wilmington. She found a state employee, gave her a stack of papers documenting the boy’s situation and said, “I’m leaving him with you.”

Then she walked away. She got on another plane, flew back to Montana, and went on with her life.

* * *

Klepzig has a new home in Oregon and a new job as the head of a public agency in Albany.

And the state of Delaware has a warrant out for her arrest on a child abandonment charge.

Klepzig, interviewed last week by the Gazette-Times after the warrant came to light, claims the boy was abusing a younger sibling and that she returned him to Delaware authorities only after exhausting all possible avenues to get help.

“This isn’t about just what I did,” she told the newspaper. “This is about a really broken system.”

But law enforcement authorities in Delaware and Montana say there’s simply no excuse for abandoning a child.
Remember the international version, when Torry Hansen put Artyom on a plane to Russia with a note, saying she no longer wished to parent him?  I posted about the failings in Tennessee law that prevented criminal charges for abandonment.  Seems Delaware law doesn't share those failings. . . .

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Hope you and yours had a festive holiday!  We turned our dyed eggs into deviled chicks -- capers for eyes, carrot slivers for beaks. I can't decide if they're cute or creepy.  I think I've settled on ironic!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Texas Tradition

What can you do?  It's a Texas tradition!  Each year, you are REQUIRED, as incident to Texas State citizenship, to photograph your children in fields of bluebonnets.  We were just about to lose our citizenship status because it's been a few years, so we observed the tradition today! The fields of blue near Ennis, TX were pretty incredible -- these photos don't really do it justice.

Oh, and since we had to climb a fence to photograph the girls in the midst of the bluebonnets, (I can't believe I'm doing this!) I'll share our "riding fence" photo!

Kate & Prince William Open to Adoption?

From Gather:
Kate Middleton and Prince William are rumored to be open to adopting a child sometime in the future, but the Queen has other ideas. One of the most important duties for the Royal couple is ensuring there is a legitimate heir to the throne. Only a child born to Kate and Will is eligible for the ascent to the throne.

A source has come forward and spoken with OK! Magazine and dished on the royal family's most intimate details. According to this unnamed insider, "Their priority is to have heirs of their own to ascend to the throne, but afterward, they feel they feel there is nothing to stop them from doing such a beautiful and humane thing as adopting a child."

* * *

Prince Charles is open to adoption, but it is ultimately Queen Elizabeth, who will have the final say. According to the insider, the Queen has no qualms about the Duke and Duchess adopting, but "only after they have at least two heirs to the throne!"
Well, wouldn't that be a special mixed-bio-and-adopted family?  Where the adopted child is the only one NOT eligible for the throne?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Egg-stravaganza!

Today was official egg-dying day!  I lucked out -- we did it at Mimi's, so I didn't have to deal with the mess!  The tye-dye egg-dying kit, complete with glitter, was a huge hit.  We had three girls dying eggs -- Maya:


And our shy little friend J:

The highlight for Zoe was not the beautiful eggs -- it was the opportunity to hold J's baby sister, six-weeks-old gorgeous baby G (is that one brave mother, or what?!):

Just look at Zoe's face! She really loves babies.

If you judge by the mess after all the eggs were colored, everyone had a great time!

A tip for those with young kids who plan to turn all their hard-boiled eggs into deviled eggs -- there's an easy way to let the kids participate with no mess!  After you remove the yolks from the eggs, put them in a large zip-lock bag, together with all the other ingredients you typically use for deviled eggs:  mayonnaise, salt, spices, etc.  Seal the bag.  Check again to make sure it is sealed closed.  Check again!  Then hand the bag over to the kids to squish and squeeze, massage and manipulate, until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.  Then just cut off a corner of the bag and pipe the yolk mixture into the white eggs.  The kids will be so proud of having helped make the deviled eggs, they'll love to eat them!  Enjoy!

Karma's a B*tch!

Do you remember Jade? She was adopted in Korea by a Dutch diplomat, and then they disrupted the adoption after having two biological children.  Time Magazine reported about it in 2007 under the headline, Can an Adopted Child Be Returned?:
Every child is a gift, as the saying goes. But in a case that has stoked outrage on two continents, a Dutch diplomat posted in Hong Kong has been accused of returning his eight-year-old adopted daughter like an unwanted Christmas necktie. The story, which first appeared in the South China Morning Post on Dec. 9, began seven years ago, when Dutch vice consul Raymond Poeteray and his wife, Meta, adopted then-four-months-old Jade in South Korea. The couple, who also have two biological children, brought Jade with them to Indonesia and then to Hong Kong in 2004, although Poeteray never applied for Dutch nationality for the child — a curious oversight, given that he worked in a consulate. Then, last year, the Poeterays put Jade in the care of Hong Kong's Social Welfare Department, saying they could no longer care for her because of the girl's emotional remoteness. [FYI, Jade was later adopted by another family.]
Well, according to Russian  paper RIA Novosti, Poeteray has been arrested -- for spying for Russia:
Police in the Netherlands arrested a 60-year old employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who is suspected of taking bribes and transferring classified information to Russian spies, local media reported on Monday.

According to De Telegraaf, the arrested officer is "Raymond P.," who the media have tentatively identified as Raymond Poeteray. He had been vice-consul of the Netherlands in Hong Kong since 2008. He was arrested on March 24 and was sentenced to 14 days of arrest on March 30.

The consequence believes that Poeteray passed confidential information to Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag, an Austrian couple that was arrested in October 2011 on suspicion of spying for Russia for seven years.

According to German media, German police were able to unmask the Anschlags using information of a detainee in the U.S., Anna Chapman.

Puteray is also suspected of illegal weapons possession and money laundering.
That Karma, she's a b*tch!