Sunday, September 30, 2012

Guest Post: Not My Problem

The following is a guest post that I am privileged to share.  The author is an adoptive parent from DRC who wishes to remain anonymous.  

Not My Problem

Across the internet, families share through blogs and forums their heart-wrenching adoption stories of things gone wrong. Easily enough with a quick Google search you will find numerous agencies that work with DRC who have had problems with current and former clients in regard to their work with in Congo. 

The resounding message both spoken and unspoken by many families in process and after completion is this..........."It's not my problem."

It's not my problem if your agency isn't allowing contact with known biological or foster parents - we didn't have that experience.

It's not my problem if your agency isn't allowing you to travel, and demanding you use an escort instead - we got to travel.

It's not my problem if you haven't received medical reports/photos/translated documents/or information regarding abandonment - we received one or all of those things from them.

It's not my problem if you are being over charged for your adoption - we aren't hindered by costs.

It's not my problem if you have worries that your child's abandonment story was fabricated - we didn't ask those questions.

It's not my problem if our agency we used has documentation of child trafficking in other countries - they are good Christians and God called us to adopt through them.

I have read these things from many an online forum and personal conversations from other families in process and home from DRC. What I want to say is - It is everyone's problem. For those in process to adopt from DRC - it IS your problem when unethical adoptions are happening in DRC. Your child is not home yet. DRC is not a party to the Hague Convention and whether or not your adoption is completed in a timely manner within DRC or through USCIS (our own government) depends on the delicate balance of individual processes. You may fall in love with a photo of a child halfway around the world - but until that child is home in your arms there are many variables. What agencies are or are not doing within DRC is critically important to the future of your family. Each case of unethical practice is dire to you, as you hope that a spark will not light the fire to the end of adoptions out of DRC.

For those families already home with children, It is your problem if agencies are allowed to work unethically within DRC. You have seen the children in need firsthand and know the situation for them is dire. You look at your own children and think....what if? That's someone's older son sitting in an orphanage watching infants come and go because of the Western demand for African infant adoption. That's someone's mother, who felt she was using the orphanage as a short term solution vs. letting her children starve due to extreme poverty. That's someone's mother, who was coerced into adoption through an agency telling her that the child would be better off with a foreign education. Adopting from Congo means that you have the lifelong responsibility to the children left behind. It means that once you accept a Congolese child into your family, you will forever have ties to DRC. It is in your child's blood, and it is now, a part of your own family's DNA.

It is everyone's problem If abandonment stories are fabricated in attempt to adopt children to 1st world countries. The fabrication of child background and history reports further muddles the intimate truth of children within a culture where family is important. It allows those who would want to profit off of international adoption to expedite an adoption with little recourse. It allows a system of adoption that caters to supply and demand to Western families and makes it difficult for legitimate orphans to be determined. 

If you see the slightest issue from other families who are using the same agency as you are - take notice. Listen. Encourage others to speak freely and without judgement. Above all else - examine the story from the APs point of view. There are reasons for every complaint. Listen without trying to justify the actions of the agency. Adoptive parents are very loyal to their agencies.  This makes it difficult for many to listen with open hearts to the problems that others experienced. They want to justify the actions of their agency in order to believe nothing of consequence occurred. Listening to "red flags" told by other families does nothing to further the plight of orphans. Shutting your ears to problems that are occurring with agencies in DRC will resolve nothing. 

It is imperative that as adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents................whether your child is home or coming soon, that we demand answers and transparency in DRC adoptions. Fighting and bickering between APs resolves nothing. Saying, "It's not my problem" or "That didn't happen to me" resolves nothing. 

Friends...........child trafficking, it is happening. Forged paperwork, it is happening. Profiting off of orphans, it is happening. Removing children from families who do not know they are being adopted, it is happening. Any and every issue that has been seen and heard in other countries is happening as well in DRC. If you wanted a smooth and easy adoption process - maybe you should rethink what you're doing adopting in the first place?

The backlash from those sharing horror stories of adoptions gone wrong, lies, deceit, and profiting off of orphans from other APs is bewildering. We must band together and demand a higher standard of best practices in Congolese adoptions. We must push our agencies within the USA to be fully transparent. We must push our agencies to hold in country staff accountable for their behaviors within Congo. We must encourage what's best for all children, not just those that will be adopted. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. Every word is true. I think we need to make sure that we all own up to the shortcomings in our own adoptions. Some are too busy pointing fingers/giving "advice" instead of saying "don't make the mistake I made". I am amazed by those who feel it is appropriate to demand others ask questions and research when they were with an agency known for huge expedite fees and other unethical/money making practices. It might be too late for them, but it isn't fair to act like your adoption process was perfect.

mary said...

Thanks, Holly, anonymous writer, and anonymous commenter - let's band together and keep talking about how we can best influence the agencies and those in process.