Thursday, December 26, 2013

A post worth reading tonight: Weeping

Please take some time tonight to read this post that tells the story of two families.  Likely, if you are reading this and are an adoptive parent, one of the families might sound a lot like yours.  The below expert is from only the beginning:

Not everyone has a merry Christmas. This is an all too familiar story.
A mother is poor and struggling to care for her children. She is approached by a woman who tells her that there’s a place her children can go for help. A place where they can get food, medical care, shelter, and maybe even school. She makes the heroic choice to travel and take her children there, trusting in the person who seems to care.
Then she’s told that she can’t care for her children. She’s poor, uneducated. She has nothing. Her children will starve. They will die of malaria.
She’s told that instead of sure death in her care, if she signs a few documents, the children can go to America. They will live in a home with loving parents. They will go to school. They will get jobs. They will always have food.
They will have a second set of parents. They will write home, and she will receive updates. She will see their pictures as they grow and know that they are doing well.
When they grow up, they will return. They will never forget their family. They will take care of her. Maybe she will one day get to go to America.
The mother agrees. She takes her children to the orphanage. She tells them to be strong and that she will always love them. She goes home and weeps. She comes back to visit every week, but then it becomes hard. She’s still struggling, and she has to care for the older children who stay at home. She weeps, and she trusts.

Please continue to read it here.  It is a very important post and the ending is different than you might expect.  Once upon a time, I helped facilitate adoptions.  I sat in on conversations when birth parents were being counseled about adoption.  I was an observer.  I watched fathers looking confused, trying to understand the word "adoption".  I heard words being said like, "it's about a relationship, they will be your family too, they will visit you again." 

Powerful words in DRC culture where the family code law (the only place adoption is placed) specifies that the adoptive family MUST keep ties with the birth family.  The adoptive family MUST help the birth family if the birth family needs help.  Laws that creates a forever relationship, one that promises care for the birth family and a connection that is never severed. 

On the other hand, most adoptive parents are told not to help the birth family, they are told not to be in touch with them, they are told that the birth family will receive updates through the orphanage directors, they are told that it is a closed adoption, they are told if you help them other families will give up their kids, they are told that the birth family didn't want to care for them, they are told the birth family couldn't care for them (but meanwhile the birth family is caring for siblings), and on and on.  Most adoptive families are not fully aware that they are adopting children from families that were simply too poor to care for them.  Families that never understood what adoption meant.  Families that want their children.  Families that love their children.  Families that were given one solution to their poverty: adoption (the removal of their children from their family).  Families that were often lied to and recruited for adoption. 

Something has to give.  We must stop the injustices of what is happening in international adoption and especially in eastern DRC.  We can't let the story of two families in the post above be the story of our adoption.  


Anonymous said...

I have read your blog many times and continually see you post things to deter adopting from DRC. But, what I don't see is what you are or have done to assist your adopted children's family in DRC. You seem like a hypocrite to me. It was ok for you to adopt but no one else should. I agree the most ideal situation is to grow up in your birth family - one that is able to take care of your physical and emotional needs. However, there are many children in the DRC and other places where that is simply not possible. What should happen to the children that were abandoned or where no family is known? I agree we need to be as ethical as possible in any adoption, domestic or international. But, in the mean time, what happens to the children? The children that will surely die without food, clean water, or the love of a family? An orphanage is never the best plan - whether or not there is a biological family that visits or not. So, please stop being so critical of the process when it seems like you are doing nothing to change anything.

Anonymous said...

You are right, I don't think anyone should start a new adoption in DRC right now. I have been very clear about that and I'm glad to see you have heard what I am saying. Just because I don't post about how I am (or am not) helping my childrens' adopted family in DRC doesn't mean I am (or am not) doing so. Unless you know me personally, you likely won't find that information on my blog. Please feel free to read my blog over the last 3 years, you will find my thoughts on our personal adoption as well as my thoughts on adoption from DRC on a whole. What I have argued again and again, is that the abuses of international adoption in DRC prevent those children that truly do need new families through international adoption from getting them. My points are that ethical adoption in DRC will keep the country open to adoption. Unethical, corrupt, abusive adoption practices will (and rightly so) close it down. Of course there are children in DRC that do need international adoption, that is why I advocate so strongly for ethical adoptions, because it is heartbreaking to me that the abuses of IA in DRC will prevent them from joining their families. It is the only way that those that truly need new homes will be able to get new homes internationally. You write, "the children will surely die without food, clean water, or the love of a family". I have seen Congolese families caring for orphaned children all over DRC. Thousands of children. While I agree that there are children all over the world that will always need adoption, I would argue that there are many many solutions to the problem of children needing new families; international adoption is not the only one. I completely agree that an orphanage is never the best plan for a child. And as I have said on my blog, if an orphanage doesn't have a plan like the alternative care framework it should never be supported. You will find this over and over again. Do not support an orphanage that doesn't have a plan in place for moving children out of the orphanage as soon a child enters in the orphanage. Orphanages should never be anything but a short term, emergency support center for families and children in crisis. Support only orphanages that have these plans in place or ones that have clear goals laid out to make that happen. There are many programs you can read about and support that are doing these projects around Africa. It is encouraging work. I would suggest that you start at the following places: the alternative care framework (Uganda), the Abide Family Center, and the Child's i Foundation. Thank you for commenting. Feel free to email me if you have more questions. Holly, blog author

Anonymous said...

Correction to my comment at 11:08. It should read "my childrens' birth family".

Holly, blog author