There are such hateful references on this blog, accusing adoptive parents of stealing and buying babies. It's disgusting that a woman who regrets her decision not to parent then attacks the very people who gave the child a loving home and 24/7 care.Her accusations have been gnawing at me since, and then came a news story (11/09/09) from the Los Angeles Times about people, including, Mark Brown and his wife, Nicki Genovese, who are plagued with the thought that their daughter from China might have been kidnapped:
They had just returned to Los Angeles in 2005 after adopting a Chinese foundling in south-central Hunan province when they read the news reports about trafficking. Police had arrested 27 members of a ring that since 2002 had abducted or bought as many as 1,000 children in Guangdong province and sold them to orphanages in Hunan.
The story makes clear what we have been trying, in our small way at First Mother Forum, to get out to the world, that child trafficking does exist, and it exists not only for sexual exploitation, but also simply to provide willing Westerners who want children to "complete their families," a phrase that always makes me sick in the knees because it almost always refers to adopting. The Times story notes that A U.S. congressional commission that monitors human rights in China said in a 2005 report that "trafficking of women and children in China remains pervasive," with many infants and young children abducted for adoption and household services. According to an estimate cited in the report, 250,000 women and children were sold in China during 2003. (Not all go to Westerners who get them "laundered" through seemingly legitimate agencies: some are sold for child labor, others to wealthy Chinese families who want a boy, or, in some cases, a girl to marry their son, because the Chinese one-child-per-family law and the adoption situation not surprisingly has led already to a shortage of marriageable young women. The message here? Mess with Mother Nature and you get a stiff kick in the behind.)
China has cracked down on many family-planning officials and orphanage workers found guilty of trafficking, with some violators sentenced to death or long prison terms, according to Chinese news agencies. But according to Jane Liedtke, founder of Our Chinese Daughters Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers programs and tours for families with children from China, the United States has treated China differently from other countries. U.S. families, for instance, are not allowed to adopt from Cambodia, Vietnam and Guatemala because of evidence of trafficking or other corruption.
"As a country, we should come out and say the Chinese government has to demonstrate what it's doing to prevent" trafficking, she said. But she added that it would be tragic to close off adoptions from China because "there are still way too many children who need help."
The Canadian government opened an investigation in October after The Times documented numerous cases in which Chinese babies were confiscated from their parents by local government officials and sold for foreign adoption.
Some adoptive parents "looked the other way" when they heard reports about child trafficking in Hunan province years ago, said Liedtke. Now that trafficking cases have been documented not just in Hunan but also in Guizhou, Guangxi and other provinces, "people say, 'Oh, I didn't know. My agency didn't tell me. If I'd known, I wouldn't have adopted.' "
To that, Liedtke responds: "Oh, yes, you would have. You wanted a child."
Do I wonder if any of the children whose parents I know who adopted from foreign countries (two from Guatemala, three from China, one talking about adopting from Ethiopia) have children who were stolen? You bet I do. I think about it all the time when I see the kids, some of whom I've bought presents for.
What do I say to people who think we are accusing them of "stealing" children? I'm repeating here what I wrote at the blog because we are First Mother Forum need to make clear where we stand on issues (as so many accuse of what we are not):
While you may feel that we accuse adopting people of "stealing" or "buying" their children, we are not doing that directly because they are not telling someone to go out and, say, kidnap a young child for a fee. However, this does happen--and happen often--in poorer countries such as Vietnam (where women were told they could not leave the hospital with their babies unless they came up with an exorbitant amount of money) and Nepal and India, where cases of outright kidnapping have been proven, and in China, where government officials are now on trial for extorting children from their parents.
When the Guatemalan government investigated adoptions from a certain period of time in the Nineties, they discovered that over half of the more than 600 adoptions they looked occurred because the mother was killed for the purpose of taking the baby, or was kidnapped, to be sold to unscrupulous baby brokers who appear, to willing and anxious adoptive parents, as ethical adoption lawyers. Adoptive parents who willingly adopt from overseas without looking into why a country has so many children available then become part of the corrupt system, just as, say, people who collect stolen art without investigating its provenance.
Does that make the adopters liable? Yes. Yes. Yes. If you doubt this, simply do a search at firstmotherforum.com [it's it in upper right corner or the bottom of the blog] for "corruption in international adoption" or any of the countries mentioned, and you will be directed to the original source of these statements. You will find that you will end up reading publications such as Foreign Policy or Mother Jones, or directed to CNN and NPR. The stories do not get a lot of play in this country because the public does not want to know.
We have several adoptive mothers who regularly read this blog (see their posts above) and they know that we are not making this up, or accusing anyone directly of ordering someone to steal a child. But it happens. Adoption, particularly overseas adoption, is rife with corruption because there is a buck to be made by supplying the world with freshly-minted healthy babies.
As for adoptions in this country, religious organizations such as the Mormons and agencies with a strong Christian connection (such as Bethany) encourage women to give up their babies in large part simply to grease the wheels and keep the business of adoption going. You can even find websites that list adoption "situations" and show a price tag--white infants go for much more than African-American or mixed race babies.* Without "product," agencies would lose business and in fact, go out of business. And while you personally may be honoring your child's heritage and first/birth mother, many many adopting parents do not. In open adoption cases, they promise one thing and do another, and that is what happened to at least one of the people who has posted here. We do not hate those who adopt. We hate the system that takes babies from mothers and does not offer them the help they would need to keep and raise the child.
One last thought: you refer to the decision to relinquish a child as excruciating and selfless. Excruciating, right. Not selfless. And not "loving," as many adoptive parents like to say, and believe. If the most loving thing a mother could do was to give a child up for a better life, many, many poor mothers would be offering their babies freely. Giving up a child is totally an act of desperation, and surrender to what seems the obvious: that the mother does not have the money or the support system to raise that child. But she remains his or her mother for all her life. While you have been disturbed by much of what you read here, I hope this at least has made you rethink some of your assumptions. And if your son finds himself calling the other woman "mother," please accept that this does not diminish your role as "mom" and "mother" in his life. He knows he has two mothers, and I sincerely hope you can come to accept this with peace and equanimity.
peace to you--lorraine
*With thanks to Osolomama for alerting us to this website.