Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"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.

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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.

4 comments: said...

Adoption is not in the best interest of all children but it is in the best interest of many children for the world that exists today in many places including the US.

Jennifer said...

Sadly I think it people have to go through the experience of actually adopting to begin to understand this. I don't know if you can really convince someone who is in the "wanting to adopt" phase. At least this has been my experience.

LilySea said...

I think you are right, jennifer. I recently told a friend to get a waiting sibling pair from social services and she said "I want a baby!" Of course she does. So did I. And though my specific adoptions were right for my children as babies, it was through the luck of the draw, not through my own efforts. If I had it to do again, I'd go to social services for a waiting sibling pair. But hindsight is 20/20. said...

What if the "waiting sibling pair from social services" had been eligble for adoption when they were younger? Why do we allow children to stay in unfit homes until they are older? How many chances do you give birth parents? If you have worked in Social Services you will understand what I mean.