There have been many reasons I haven't written in awhile, among them are I have been working a lot, have had sick kids, have been sick parents, visitors, and so on. Another reason I haven't written is that I have been struggling with some deep discouragement regarding the state of international adoption in DRC (and I've been doing some reading along those lines). I have never said straight out that I think adoptions in DRC should stop. But I will now say that I think they should be put on hold until more regulations are put in place that protect children from exploitation and trafficking. Yes, I think that protecting the one child that is trafficked is as important as the other children that are to be adopted into homes here in the U.S. The questionable fate of the latter doesn't justify ignoring the plight of the former.
I recently was told that if we (adoptive parents in DRC) talk out publicly about our concerns that adoptions would stop in DRC. There is a lot of fear about talking out. I have been told to talk about my concerns quietly, to the embassy or to "others" who can help change happen. Then I read this today. And I became more discouraged. I'm told to expect that the embassy in Kinshasa will stop corrupt adoptions from happening. I think that may be a bit unrealistic.
I wonder sometimes about the obvious questions as to why there is a fear that adoptions will stop if we start asking questions and publicly voicing our concerns? What that fear tells me is that there are things that are happening in international adoption in DRC that are very concerning. Concerning enough to shut it all down. What could that be? Child trafficking, abuse, and exploitation of children. Yet, we are told we should not speak up about these things. We should not publicly air our concerns. (Or, we shouldn't involve journalists, the media, or campaigns that fight to end injustice using social media in a public way). Why is it not okay in international adoption but it is okay to raise our voices loud, together, publicly when it comes to rape in eastern DRC, sex trafficking of children around the world, or other injustices that happen on a daily basis. Whey don't we stand up and post on our facebook pages "End child trafficking and exploitation of adopted children in DRC now!".
Why don't we demand--
-answers from our agencies about the money they spend on the ground,
-investigations on our abandoned children that involve radio ads, newspaper ads, independent investigators that search for parents or extended family that might care for the children,
-that there will be no bribes given (or "expedited fees" that are bribes),
-that we will not pay orphanages money to release the child for adoption,
-that orphanage directors are held accountable for the money given them (or better yet, that they be given no money), that transparency and follow through happen every time "humanitarian donations" are given (including follow up that proves the money and donations are being used for the children and not put into the director's pockets),
-if there is abuse in an orphanage, all adoptions stop and the orphanage is investigated thoroughly,
-if there is any corruption in an orphanage, all adoptions stop and the orphanage is investigated,
-histories that are consistent and accurate about our children,
-we have a place to voice any concerns (here are a few ideas),
-information about our children while they are in "foster care",
-better regulations and controls be in place to protect children,
-that agencies/organizations duly work towards reunification/domestic placement as a first option for the children of DRC,
-that if a mother/father/extended family member is relinquishing their child for adoption because of poverty (and not because that child has no family), that the agency/organization work towards ways to help that family keep their child,
-that if we hear of children being referred for adoption that have family members that want them, that we be allowed to talk about this and stop children from being trafficked for adoption?
We love our children this much, don't we?
Maybe you are reading this thinking I am over reacting. I'm not. Adoption in DRC has the potential to spiral out of control because of little to no structures in place that protect children from organized trafficking schemes (which I know are being done on an unorganized level now). Think that the State Department and USCIS can stop it? They can do a lot less than we might think they can (and I don't mean this in a harsh way, I think we tend to over estimate their role internationally). WE as the adoptive parents are the ones that can stop corruption, exploitation, unethical adoptions. WE are the ones that pay the money to the agencies/organizations which then send it to the DRC. WE are responsible for what happens to these children. It is OUR money. WE are the ones with the power and the ones that can demand for change to happen. It is in OUR hands. Please don't stay silent. Please ask questions. Please talk out and demand change. Don't let adoption in DRC become what is has in other countries. WE are the ones that can make it happen.
What are we so afraid of, anyway?
(And as a final note, yes, I believe there is a place for international adoption. A place for children who need a family, to have one. I believe that a lot of children that are relinquished for adoption don't need a family, they instead need to be relieved from the effects of devastating poverty. And I believe that international adoption in a country that is ranked at the bottom of corruption indexes and ranked #41 out of 46 (in sub-saharan Africa) in a scale of ease of doing business should be examined a little closer to look at if an ethical adoption is even possible. Consider this final quote--
"The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence on 30th June 2010 against a backdrop of weak state authority, a culture of impunity, deepening poverty, continuing violence in the northeast and a significant worsening of sexual violence. Decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo have discouraged private investment, destroyed infrastructure, hindered development and considerably weakened the capacity of governance institutions. The DRC ranks at the bottom of every corruption index; pervasive corruption undermines peace, increases business costs and strengthens the predatory state."
Source--United States Institute of Peace, web address here. Bold area my own.
Does this sound like a country that has the ability to regulate international adoptions to make sure they are being done ethically?)