Sara is a Christian writer, mom and adoption advocate. Sara and her family adopted a little girl from Uganda three years ago. Sara is writing a book about reforming adoption and orphan care from a Christian perspective. The book will be published in the United States and United Kingdom in October 2014. I'm very excited and honored to have her writing this series of posts on a very important subject, Hague accreditation. When Sara is not busy writing her book, she blogs at Family, Hope, Love.
But what is missing from the complaints? Corruption. Fraud. Bribery. Trafficking.
In researching my book, I’ve talked to dozens of families who have used Hague accredited adoption agencies in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and other countries that are not party to the Hague Convention. Some of these families have experienced their adoption agencies knowingly and willfully falsifying documents, bribing officials or coercing birth families. By the time these families arrive home to the United States – with or without the children they hoped to adopt – their eyes are open. They feel confused, angry, betrayed.
Under the current system in the United States, these families are required to first file a complaint with their adoption agency. And when they do, families are often bullied into silence. Complaints never reach the Council on Accreditation – and adoption agencies are not held accountable for their illegal and unethical actions.
As an adoptive parent, I believe this is not good enough.
As a Christian, I believe children are designed to grow up in families where loving parents protect and provide. I believe international adoption is a miracle for children who genuinely need it. I am not against international adoption.
But I do believe taking a child from a desperately poor mother who fears there is no other way for the child to survive is exploiting the poor. In too many countries, poverty leads desperate families to place their children in orphanages or for adoption. Vulnerable families are at risk of being exploited by a system of international adoption that lacks safeguards against corruption.
Hague accreditation in the United States does essentially nothing to hold adoption agencies accountable for their actions in Democratic Republic of Congo or Uganda. We have a responsibility to take this issue seriously, to make sure our own adoptions are ethical, and to fight for an adoption system that protects vulnerable children and families first.