Hi Everyone,
In looking at the recent decline in International Adoptions, we wanted to hear your view on this.
Are you concerned in the recent decline in International Adoptions? Why or Why not?
Thank you,
Adoption.com Admin
Anyone interested in international adoption should read David Smolin's works:
[url=http://works.bepress.com/david_smolin/]David M. Smolin | Samford University | Professor of Law, Director, Center for Biotechnology, Law, and Ethics[/url]
I particularly like this paper:
[url]http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=david_smolin[/url]
This article is also interesting:
[url=http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2008/10/15/the_lie_we_love]The Lie We Love[/url]
While I do not think that we Americans should just go ahead and adopt "orphans" from poor countries ( think that we should rather support countries helping themselves), there are cases where international adoptions are humanitarian acts that save the lives of children.
I have adopted a 7 year old boy with severe hemophilia A. Due to his adoption, I became aware of the blessing that adoption can be for children with chronic and potentially life threatening conditions. He was in a Chinese orphanage, where he endured abuse and neglect. Hemophilia treatment is VERY expensive, and he was considered unadoptable because of his condition. If he had aged out of the orphanage, he would have become disabled and died a painful death, as a young adult.
To the original question: Am I concerned about the recent decline in International Adoptions? Yes, I am. Most international adoptions these days are for special needs and/or older children, which I consider to be a good cause. Therefore the decline is concerning to me.
I am especially concerned over two things:
1. The insane amount of red tape that has been created by the Hague process. Children who have a severe condition like my son would benefit from a shorter process, and more kids should be identified and get their files ready.
2. I am concerned about unnecessary restrictions reg. adoptive parents, establish both by foreign governments and by US agencies.
A year ago, I attempted to adopt a five year old little girl from India who had a life threatening blood disorder and was told by the Indian Adoption Authorities that at age 50, I was "too old" to adopt her. (One ridiculous aspect was that I already had a five year old daughter, ha!). I found this argument both stupid and evil. There is no evidence anywhere that 50 year old parents are "too old" for five year olds. The little girl had a very serious medical condition, and only very few adoptive parents are open to her disorder. The Indian Adoption Authorities needs to get up to speed on modern child welfare! :eek: Would be great if the Hague process addressed such :arrow: stuff, but it doesn't.
I am also very concerned with US agencies adding their own restrictions on top of the country restrictions, such as e.g. age, religion, birth order requirements etc. I call these "mostly nonsense requirements" because that is what they are. :rolleyes: Kids with medical conditions do not deserve barriers such as those "requirements" - they need our help.
Just my two cents ... :)
WizardofOz,
I wish that little girl was in your care. Do you know if she has been placed since your original attempt to help?
I don't know. :(
But even if she was (which I hope!), there are still many more children with similar conditions who WOULD have parents who would love to adopt them but who CANNOT find a family because of totally unnecessary "restrictions".
For example: I have adopted a boy with hemophilia. I would love to adopt a boy with the same condition from India but I cannot. Simply cannot because of a frivolous age requirement. I do not believe that India will find a home for every single orphan with hemophilia so how DARE they be picky on marginal issues?? Where is the responsibility towards the life of the child?? That's what kills me.
I don't know. :(
But even if she was (which I hope!), there are still many more children with similar conditions who WOULD have parents who would love to adopt them but who CANNOT find a family because of totally unnecessary "restrictions".
For example: I have adopted a boy with hemophilia. I would love to adopt a boy with the same condition from India but I cannot. Simply cannot because of a frivolous age requirement. I do not believe that India will find a home for every single orphan with hemophilia so how DARE they be picky on marginal issues?? Where is the responsibility towards the life of the child?? That's what kills me.
I honestly am not concerned with the decline because I personally object to international adoptions. I believe the children in our country should all have homes first before shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars to buy a child in another country and take them away from their home and culture. Seems immoral to me just like private infant adoptions (shelling out thousands to but a baby). A true adoption does not require someone to pay thousands of dollars.
SC1900, my son has severe graded hemophilia A, which has an average life expectancy of 11. Are you suggesting that I did something "immoral" by "buying" him and saving his life? Should my just just have died? Would that have been "moral"??
A true adoption does not require someone to pay thousands of dollars.
So was my son's not a "true" adoption? Should he have stayed in China, his home country, with his people, become disabled, lose a limb or two and died there before reaching adulthood? Can you please tell him in person that his adoption was not "true"? I am sure he would be thrilled to hear that. :arrow:
I am also a foster parent and as such, I am somehow familiar with the foster care system. Where in the United States are there children that have to die from a medical condition due to a lack of financial resources? I have not seen any so far.
This is a place of support. WizardofOz, you, and other international adoptive parents, are doing a great thing for your child. EVERY child deserves a loving home.:love:
SC1990
I honestly am not concerned with the decline because I personally object to international adoptions. I believe the children in our country should all have homes first before shelling out thousands and thousands of dollars to buy a child in another country and take them away from their home and culture. Seems immoral to me just like private infant adoptions (shelling out thousands to but a baby). A true adoption does not require someone to pay thousands of dollars.
I agree with you about costing thousands of dollars (not the immoral part)--- it should not cost thousands to adopt a child either in or out of country. But dang what is the alternative? If you want to adopt, unfortunately that is what US adoptions cost. If you don't pay-we'll someone else will. Most people adoption are not people looking "buy a baby" they just want a baby to love and provide love to. Believe me if the adoption cost nothing they would be ecstatic. But it is what it is at this point.
SkiFamily 1
I agree with you about costing thousands of dollars (not the immoral part)--- it should not cost thousands to adopt a child either in or out of country. But dang what is the alternative? If you want to adopt, unfortunately that is what US adoptions cost. If you don't pay-we'll someone else will. Most people adoption are not people looking "buy a baby" they just want a baby to love and provide love to. Believe me if the adoption cost nothing they would be ecstatic. But it is what it is at this point.
Hi SkiFamily, I agree with your reasoning. That is true. If people could get past that baby part and open their hearts to the children in foster care (toddlers, school aged, and teens), the cost would be very minimal and in most states and counties, free. Most counties are free, but some have a fee that is under $1000, majority that have a fee are under $500 and will reimburse you up to a certain amount for expenses incurred when they were first placed (clothes, bed, baby swings, diapers, etc). My county has a fee of $500 which includes everything (legal fees, homestudies, classes, etc). My county will also will reimburse you up to $400 PER CHILD. So foster care is very cheap, just wish more people would consider it.
I was in foster care with my sister. I know what it is like for foster kids to see and hear about families and celebs adopting privately or internationally and wonder why they are adopting them. My sister is 1 year younger than me and I remember a couple times hearing about celebs adopting internationally and my sister asking me what was wrong with us. Why was it so important for some people to adopt over seas and not those of us here. Luckily, my sister and I were adopted before I was 10, but many are not so fortunate and age out of the system with no where to go. Yes we did have some problems just like most foster kids do, but that does not mean those problems will always be there. My mom worked with us. She was patient and got us caught up and we are both fine.That is my main reason for adopting here from foster care in the US and just simply donating to the other countries to help those kids. Being one of the kids here, I know how feels. So I want them to have a chance at a good home like I was finally given that chance.
Thank you for understanding my what I meant. Another person seems to have misinterpreted what was meant and somewhat attacked my post. All I did was answer the question on whether or not I was concerned with the decline in international adoption and why. I never said international was terrible thing when helping children, I just prefer to adopt locally first because there are so many already here and doesn't cost nearly as much as private or international. The only reason why I called it "buying" a baby is because that is basically what is being done to a human. We have laws against buying humans, but these agencies get away with it by calling it "adoption", so that is the reason for my objections to these types. I was not trying to offend anyone, someone just took it the wrong way. That is understandable since we cannot hear the tone associated with the words. :)
Thank you for the clarification SC1990. With the background and your experiences, everyone can probably understand the intent of your post more. Thank you for sharing!
IMO there is a world of difference between adopting healthy infants abroad and adopting older, traumatized, and/or disabled kiddos.
There are few, if any, healthy infants and toddlers who languish in orphanages today with no potential same-country APs. This is something that adoption researchers have found. However, there ARE many countries where severe medical or psychological issues make children unadoptable in-country. Sadly, most of those also are pretty unadoptable abroad because many APs want healthy infants. Those who don't absolutely are providing a humanitarian act of kindness, those folks like WizardofOz who adopted a child unlikely to make it any other way.
To me, the cost is a non-issue in the ethics of the matter. I think we should try to bring down costs for special needs adoptions everywhere, but the fact that someone had to sacrifice more to save a child who was sentenced to death in-country doesn't somehow make it immoral to do so.
I am pleased that healthy infant IA is going down. I think children should have the opportunity to live with their parents when they can and in their communities and family culture when they cannot. I would be worried if special needs/older child adoption particularly were going down (I don't know if it is). Kids with serious disabilities or those old enough to be condemned to a life of street violence still need families.
At a very young age, I adopted an 8 year old girl who I worked with while living abroad. Her single mother died suddenly, and her extended family cast her out. Either she came home with me that night, or she slept on the street, probably to be drawn in to gangs or prostitution. I could not turn her away, and now she is my 17 year old daughter. I was NOT a perfect parent, especially not to her. I spoke her language, but I did not know her culture the way families in her country by birth did. She loved her home and did not especially want to move back to the US, but I felt unable to abandon my past life. She both loved and hated the US, her school, and the "new life" I'd essentially plopped her into without ever really giving her a choice. I had experience working with special needs kids, but I was just not ready to parent, especially not a deeply traumatized older child. It was NOT ideal.
But the alternative was leaving her to starve in the streets.
If the alternative had been an older, well-off, experienced couple in her country, I would have gladly sent her to them. But no one like that would have her. I would, so I did. If she were a healthy infant, that couple would have taken her, but she was 8 and behaviorally disordered.
We got there. We still have a strong connection to AD's country of origin, and speak her language at home. I have gained the parenting skills I need to care for her compassionately and well. She is thriving academically and emotionally.
And, y'know, she hasn't starved or had to sell herself.
So I support special needs adoption. I can't really get behind IA for healthy infants.
loving6,
well said. I am totally on board with you. Like yourself, I also do not think that we should take healthy infants away from their birth language, nation, spiritual beliefs, and cultural heritage. I love the direction that IA has taken in the recent years: Children with medical needs and older children who would have ended up in the streets. That is a true win-win situation. :woohoo:
My Chinese son wanted nothing more than to be adopted. Not only did he have a significant medical need, but he was also badly abused in his orphanage (beaten, starved, and tortured). When I showed up in China, he was overjoyed and ready to go with me! He said later that he thought that *anything* - including the weird looking woman who spoke broken Chinese :arrow: and was going to take him to the unknown - was better than what he had. When the bus left the orphanage, he was singing! He receives excellent treatment for his hemophilia and leads a perfectly normal life. He has never looked back, and he tells me many, many times that he loves his life and how happy he is to live in the United States. :love:
Regarding the foster care system: I am a foster parent and also potential adoptive resource, should a child not be able to go home and be placed with kinship. Foster care is not primarily a resource for adoptive parents, it is a system to keep kids safe temporarily until they can go and live with their parent(s) or family members. There are however kids who are available for adoption in the foster care system, and they do need homes. Having said that, not every family who desires to adopt is willing and able to be part of the "system" (which means living in a glasshouse and dealing with uncertainty and red tape), not to speak of the issues that some kids come with.
Regarding domestic infant adoption - I get the money issue. I really do. And help me God, I have something against "birthmother expenses". If it were up to me, there would be no "birthmother expenses", just as is the case in all other countries I am aware of. I am certain that eliminating those "expenses" (which on the average are around $7,500 YIKES!!!), most ethical issues that the private domestic system is plagued with would go away magically. :eyebrows:
However ... (and now I'll essentially contradict what I just said before) ... the birthparents of my son would not have placed him if it had not been for the birthmother expenses". How do I know? Because they said this to me, flat out. They wanted "money for the baby". So my son was placed at birth, and today is a thriving third grader, happy as can be, goes to the gifted program, and is just the love of my life. :love:
On the other hand, his full biological sister, who was born later, stayed with the birthparents and ended up going down the more typical foster care path with removals, returns, etc, until finally the grandparents stepped in and raised her. She is two years younger than my son, struggles academically, has violent mood swings, and hits her teachers and caregivers. I firmly believe that if she had been placed at birth - which may well have involved "birthmother expenses", darn - then she would have been spared a lot of hardship that she went through and would be doing better today. So now, I must grudgingly admit :grr: that paying "birthmother expenses" made all the difference: The brother had the best possible outcome, his sister much less so. That does not mean of course that I think that all is ok with the private domestic adoption system: The opposite is true. I think a reform is long overdue but that's another topic.
Adoption is a complex matter, to say the least. AT the same time though, it is also one of the most rewarding things one can do in one's lifetime.
I love reading your posts! You all have such wisdom and enriched personal experiences. Thank you for sharing!
On one hand, I am happy about the decline in adoptions from some countries, because it results from the fact that those countries are increasing in prosperity, and more families are able to raise their own children. Also, in many of these countries, old beliefs in the importance of the "blood tie" are fading, and families are more willing to adopt children unrelated to them domestically. And, finally, many of the countries are becoming more modern in their willingness to teach young people, and especially girls, about reproduction, sexuality, and contraception, so their are fewer accidental pregnancies/pregnancies outside marriage.
A good example of the changes in the last paragraph is South Korea. The number of adoptable children in South Korea has dropped dramatically over the years. South Korea could have gone the way of North Korea, which is desperately poor because of repressive government policies. Instead, it has become amazingly prosperous, and the government has taken positive steps to increase the well-being of the population, such as setting a goal of getting everyone immunized against diseases such as measles, polio, and so on. In fact, morbidity and mortality statistics in South Korea are more like those in the U.S., where most people die of chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer, than those in North Korea, where infectious diseases like TB are high on the list of killers. Education about sex and contraception keeps many young women from having babies outside of marriage, even though they are no longer as sheltered as they once were, and often date, live independently, and so on. And cultural taboos against people who become pregnant outside of marriage have faded, and some single women are even choosing to raise their babies. The South Korean government is now giving incentives to Korean families, so they will adopt children domestically, and not have to rely on international adoption so heavily. In short, all of these changes make me very happy, as they are leading to a situation where more babies are remaining within their birth families or being placed with families in their own country, and the children are receiving good health care, education, and a chance to participate in the country's strong economy.
On the other hand, I am extremely troubled when declines in adoptions from some countries are caused by repressive policies in those countries, a failure to prevent corruption in the adoption process, extreme poverty, and so on. Some examples follow:
Russia stopped allowing Americans to adopt, ostensibly because of reports that too many Americans have been abusing and killing children, sending them back to Russia, or relinquishing them to foster care or families found on the Internet instead of through respectable adoption agencies. While there is more than a grain of truth in that -- we Americans need to do more to prevent failed adoptions and the approval of unqualified people to adopt -- however, there is, and has long been, a strong nationalistic undercurrent in Russia and some countries in the former Soviet Union that is also at play; a politician in the Republic of Georgia once stated that it was better for a child to die in his/her home country than to be adopted internationally, and many people actually believe something similar. Russia has many social problems, including an alarming rate of alcohol and drug abuse, which harm the health of a lot of children and also lead to their relinquishment or termination of parental rights. It also has a culture that tends to view adoption as shameful. As in the U.S. more than 50 years ago, families with infertility may pretend that they are pregnant; the women put pillows under their clothing, go away to a "hospital" to "give birth", and return home with an adopted baby who looks as much like them as possible; the children may never know that they were adopted, or may find out accidentally, which can be traumatic. As a result, domestic adoptions are limited, and the closure of adoption to Americans will mean that many children stay in orphanages until they age out and find themselves unemployable because they lack education and job skills.
Many Chinese families were forced into abandoning their children as a result of the sometimes punitively enforced government policies promoting a reduced birth rate. Regulations mandating that families wait until 30 to have a child, and then limit the number of children to one, or in a few cases involving ethnic minorities, two, sometimes resulted in corrupt officials instituting fines that could amount to more than a year's salary. Families could also lose their jobs and apartments because they violated the government policies. Fortunately, some of these policies are being liberalized, but the actions came altogether too late for many families, some of whom abandoned an over-quota child or were forced into abortion. In addition, there was a great social stigma against pregnancy outside of marriage. A student could lose her scholarship, the parents of the young woman could be ostracized in their community, etc. Again, fortunately, social norms are changing, especially in more prosperous parts of China, and more and more Chinese people are adopting orphans. And the general prosperity in those areas has also resulted in a reduced orphanage population, with most of the available children being of school age or having special needs. China has done a wonderful job, over the years, in creating an organized and ethical adoption system, but opinions vary as to whether the slowdown in processing "healthy infants" for international adoption is the result of great strides domestically, leading to the placement of few children in orphanages, or whether it marks a political decision to convince Westerners that the country can handle its own problems.
Programs in Cambodia and Vietnam were so marked by corruption that the U.S. government was forced to forbid American couples to adopt from there. (Vietnam has recently reopened to Americans for certain special needs adoptions.) Children were listed as orphans, when they were victims of child-buying or child-stealing, or when their parents thought they were going to America for an education and would return in a few years. Visa fraud occurred. And both Americans and foreigners were employing these unethical and illegal techniques; two American sisters, one of them the head of a licensed, nonprofit adoption agency, were actually convicted in American courts of felonies such as visa fraud and money laundering. Unlike most adoption professionals, they had grown wealthy from their work, and were obliged to relinquish some of their ill-gotten gain. More recently, there have been allegations that, in Ethiopia, facilitators were lying to birth families, saying that their children were simply going to the U.S. for an education or medical care when, in fact, their parental rights would be severed and the children would be adopted by Americans. There has also been a long history of baby-buying and baby-stealing in some Indian states, with the local governments sometimes being complicit; the Hague Central Authority in India, known as CARA, has been working hard to eliminate corruption and child trafficking, but it has been a slow process. However, it is one example of the fact that the Hague treaty HAS made a difference.
Guatemala, now closed to Americans, also had a problem with fraud and corruption. But the underlying social problem was more complex. Most of the babies were the children of indigenous ("Indian") families, usually poor and often uneducated. Often speaking only their indigenous languages, rather than Spanish, and illiterate in any language, these families often had difficulties finding work that would allow them to support children. But with a culture that did not believe in teaching girls about sex, that equated manliness with the number of children that a man fathered, and that believed contraception was morally wrong, children came along in droves. With one of the highest birthrates in the world, many families had six or more children, and difficulty feeding them all. Unfortunately, the financially strapped Guatemalan government did not provide help, such as free public education for the indigenous population, free or low cost health services, and so on. For some families, placing a child for adoption was a way of ensuring that he/she would get food, medicine, and education. And since there was some prejudice, within Guatemala, against "brown" babies in families of European ancestry, domestic adoptions were limited; international adoption was often the only way a child had hope for the future.
These situations, and many others like them, bother me tremendously. In countries like these, international adoption is often a necessity, unless foreign aid is committed to upgrade conditions for poor families, so they can keep their children. The Hague Convention has been a wakeup call for many countries, and it is hoped that some, with a history of corruption, will retool their programs so that countries like the U.S. are willing to work with them, until they are capable of reducing the number of parentless children to a level where only domestic adoption is needed, and incentives can be provided to get domestic families to adopt. International pressure should also be encouraged to support education and health care for the most vulnerable children, and to support , in a culturally acceptable way, family planning for the most vulnerable groups.
I adopted my daughter from China when she was 18 months old. Today, she is less than a month away from her 20th birthday. She is academically very able, and in college, with a strong interest in economics and business. She took a year off to work, and has significant experience in a hotel, a bank, and a real estate office. She does her own taxes, can read leases and health insurance documents. She has made payments on her student loans. She is also a mature young woman who chooses friends well and has been in a good relationship with a young man. She is great with animals, and can't wait until she is in a situation where she can get one of her own. She is healthy and attractive. In short, she's amazing.
As a result, although I'm aware that this level of success is not going to be found in every internationally adopted child, I AM a strong supporter of ethical international adoption. I have seen what can happen when you take a parentless child and give her a permanent, loving family that raises her to reach her fullest potential. I wish that any country with a large population of orphans and an inability to change the conditions under which they became orphans, and/or an inability to find families domestically for them, would create an ethical system for international adoption.
On the other hand, I do believe that Western countries, including the U.S., should do more to help vulnerable families around the world, so that they can keep the children they have. And I would rejoice if there came a point where countries developed the prosperity to create educational, health care, and social safety net options for their citizens, so that they don't need to make adoption plans. I would also rejoice if they developed a strong domestic adoption program, with incentives for well-qualified families to consider adoption of children who cannot stay with their biological families.
I also believe that the Hague Convention can be a very positive force for change in adoption practices worldwide. Developed with input from social workers, physicians, attorneys, and governments with strong adoption systems, the Hague lays out a blueprint for creating a system that protects the rights of children, their birth families, and their adoptive parents. If countries take it seriously and implement it in good faith, it should reduce the instances of corruption in the adoption process and encourage domestic adoption, where possible. Yes, it may increase the time frame for some adoptions, but I'd rather see a longer process than one that is rushed through, without significant attention to whether the children are truly adoptable and whether the prospective parents are qualified to bring children into their homes. I also feel that a small increase in costs, because the Hague requires agencies to have more transparent practices and more protections for adoptive families, is justified.
Sharon
Last update on October 5, 4:49 pm by Sharon Kaufman.