Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guest Post: Adoption ethics and orphanage care.

The post below is by a DRC adoptive family I am privileged to know. They challenge me with their dedication to their daughter, their honesty and courage, and their willingness to share their story. The link they reference (please take the time to read it) and their story point out the importance of thorough investigations (that go beyond abandonment reports and social services investigations/reports).  


"Adoption is about loss, loss of a birth family, loss of a culture, a country. There is no way around it. As I read this blog post http://www.gracelings.org/2012/07/guest-post-walking-away-from-ugandan.html last week about a failed Ugandan adoption, it stirred many feelings in me and our 4 adoptions. We adopted first out of selfishness. We wanted a family. Our first adoption, we were ignorant. We were more concerned about buying the best baby stroller than the fact that our need for a young baby was driving a horrific supply and demand chain that was playing out in Guatemala with mothers selling their babies to enable them to feed their other children. Hindsight is always 20/20 and once our eyes were open, we realized our agency was doing little to better the conditions in Guatemala. They were a business and out to make a buck. 


For our second adoption in Ethiopia, we chose an agency with a fantastic child sponsorship program that was working hard to keep families together. They were building schools and other improvements to strengthen communities. About that time, we got involved with World Vision and started raising money on our own to keep families together and build communities along with sponsoring a child from our kids birth countries. It seemed like such a small thing to do to try and swing the pendulum away from the quick and easy answer of adoption to help enable kids to be raised by extended families and supported to attend school. 


We mindfully stepped further in this direction when we adopted from Congo, choosing to work with a group that was not about adoption, but about improving conditions in the DRC. We also chose to adopt out of birth order, enabling us to provide a home for an older child and not feed a supply and demand chain as agencies rushed to open pilot programs in the DRC when Ethiopian adoptions began to slow. 


But we failed, again. Failed to question, failed to go beyond the lemming mindset of adoptive parents, failed stand up and say, “Hey! This isn’t right, I demand more information”. Don’t get me wrong, we love our daughter, and with all her challenges, we will not give up on her, but damn it, she had an option that would have allowed her to stay in her birth country. An option that not many orphans have in the DRC, of a loving Godly single woman that cared deeply for her that we would have more than willingly supported. We could have impacted 6 lives through a sponsorship of this single mother of 4 kids had we known at the time ! 


But sponsorship is messy, right? It take time to locate and check out families willing to foster and reporting to make sure corruption isn’t involved and visits to check on the children and and and…. It’s much cleaner and easier for an NGO to build a brick a mortar building with shiny new floors, beds and mattresses to house more orphans than to actually go out and find foster families willing to love and raise these children in a family setting. We stopped building orphanages in the US over 50 years ago, but for Africa, LET’S GO BUILD ANOTHER ORPHANAGE! 


We can’t claim to be helping when we are just perpetuating a system that has already failed once. The best and the fanciest institutional care facility cannot replace a family. If you are truly not about adoption, then investigate these kids backgrounds before they are referred to an adoptive family, find out if there is a family member or neighbor willing to step forward with a little support, find out if the only reason the child has been relinquished is because the family cannot afford a life saving surgery or medicine, find out if the birth mother passed away in child birth and the family just can’t afford formula, then use the funds that would have gone into brick and mortar to keep a family together. 


Then come back and tell me you aren’t about adoption and I might consider believing you."

5 comments:

Cindy said...

Thank you for sharing.

Sara B. said...

Thanks for sharing Holly. I'd love to chat with your guest writer about this story going in my book...let me know if she would be open to that.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the same in the US hold true countless babies are given up and if these birth mothers were given funds they would also choose to parent. I do agree that the ideal situation is for birth parents to parent. But, firstly a child needs a home. Change is possible and it will be slow. But, for the children caught in the interm there must be options. There are countless orphans left due to social stigma and a new parent not wanting to accept them. There are many orphans left on their own due to HIV/Aids and war. Unfortunately without government structure for orphan care these little people are the ones left in the most vunerable position. Yes, we are excited about our new addition but, we grieve the loss of the birth family and country and have a deep connection to their country and a strong desire to help build up the country for the future. On the flip side if it wasn't for the ability to adopt from these countries, I doubt most people would know about the country and in many cases have reached out to help the people left behind. There are many people who have never sponsored or given to a country now do because they know someone who has a vested interested that all started with their adoption. I agree there are a goodmajority of children that are abandoned and true orphans there is greater need to help children stay in families and adopt those that have no option for that. Sadly many adoption stories start off with a selfish tone, I spoke with an orphanage director and she said the most annoying thing that she gets is "want a baby girl as young as possible" and there are agencies domestically that can't place certian infants cause they have no parents waiting for them... ?? But, luckily there are people like you that also morph into advocacy from just wanting a tiny baby to someone that wants an orphan to have a home regardless of age.

Glad you shared your story

theadoptedones said...

People seem to spend more time researching their next car purchase that researching adoption - I know that emotions do cloud that aspect and am incredibly thankful for those speaking out - now just to get people to hear their message first before they adopt.

Anonymous...

Change will never happen as long as it is profitable and another country to go too when the last one closed/slowed down - due to not doing the right thing regardless of the loss of revenue.

It is a never ending cycle that has no beginning and no end...

Yes - it is the same in the US domestic adoption cycle - where mothers who surrender get scholarships (etc) because of the "selflessness" - but those who chose to parent after their baby is born aren't worthy of a helping hand up - you guess the reason.

Time to say enough is enough - no more excuses. Start with changing the requirements for agencies going into the countries and hold them accountable on US soil - change the US definition of trafficking...

It's just sad - those that truly can benefit from being adopted are not the ones being adopted.

theadoptedones said...

People seem to spend more time researching their next car purchase that researching adoption - I know that emotions do cloud that aspect and am incredibly thankful for those speaking out - now just to get people to hear their message first before they adopt.

Anonymous...

Change will never happen as long as it is profitable and another country to go too when the last one closed/slowed down - due to not doing the right thing regardless of the loss of revenue.

It is a never ending cycle that has no beginning and no end...

Yes - it is the same in the US domestic adoption cycle - where mothers who surrender get scholarships (etc) because of the "selflessness" - but those who chose to parent after their baby is born aren't worthy of a helping hand up - you guess the reason.

Time to say enough is enough - no more excuses. Start with changing the requirements for agencies going into the countries and hold them accountable on US soil - change the US definition of trafficking...

It's just sad - those that truly can benefit from being adopted are not the ones being adopted.