When we decided to adopt from Ethiopia, our assumption was that the children would be truly orphans! Having nobody! However, when we found out the children have living birth mothers, we simply asked our agency why the mothers did not want their children, and if a family sponsorship program would be more appropriate. Our agency [Ed: Celebrate Children International, Oviedo, FL] director became very defensive. She didn't know why the mothers didn't want to raise their children, we would find out those details when we traveled, she said (when it would be too late). She said there was no such thing as family sponsorships in Ethiopia!
However, we have since researched and found out that there are many such programs and that any ethical agency would both sponsor and support these programs. We have gotten the feeling from the beginning that something very shady is going on, especially since the agency was directly involved in the relinquishment process. In fact, in the videos we received, we can see families that appear to be lining up in the background for their own interviews. Very, very fishy. And you are right, when I tried to bring this to the attention of other mothers in the group, I was reprimanded for questioning this wonderful woman who has a heart to find families for orphans. In fact, I was kicked off the agency's yahoo group and my login was disabled, simply for asking questions about ethics in adoption!!
I would love to figure out a way to shut this agency down, but that is not my primary goal. My primary goal is to find the children and return them to their families, since I believe that is where they belong. By the way, when we terminated our contract, the children went right back up on the waiting child list. And I have contacted all the photolisting sites that continue to list this agency's 'orphans' and they have ignored my plea to remove them from these photolisting sites.
We have been at a loss as to how to handle this. We knew we did not want to adopt children who were not orphans, yet we did not want to leave them in the hands of a crooked agency who would just adopt them out to someone else. For two months we have been working with the Ethiopian Embassy. All our communication has been through one person there. She assures us that they are all very concerned about our evidence, she assures us that our case is being investigated. However, two months have gone by, and even though we have given them the name of the city, orphanage, pictures of the children and their mothers, and the name of the facilitator we have heard nothing about the well being or whereabouts of the children. Why would they not be able to find the children unless they are not really looking for them?
Anyway. I have been under an incredible amount of stress, knowing we committed to these children and we don't want to feel like we abandoned them. We have no idea how to go about finding orphans in Ethiopia without the help of the adoption agency! I thought maybe with your passion for birth mothers and your research, maybe you would know someone who could help us? We would like someone to investigate what is going on and hopefully return the children to their families. We have contacted the State Department, Joint Council, U.S. Embassy, state of Florida. Nobody really seems to know how to help us. Do you have any ideas?
I suggested she work with one of the organizations such as my all time fave, Women for Women International, which supports women for a year in war-torn countries such as The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, and teaches them a trade so they can support themselves and their children, but I realize that will not help her find the mother of the children she wants to support in Ethiopia. Jane suggested that she contact Congressperson or Senator and ask him/her to get after the State Department to look into this; her local media, and the local media, as well as a reputable agency like Holt in Oregon and ask for suggestions on what to do about this rogue agency.
I want to add that while infrequent readers of our blog will find that we are not happy with many adoptive parents, our hearts are gladdened when we come across ethical people such as C.U. In another email, she asked about the special-needs children that other members of her family had adopted--would we have them languish in under-funded orphanages when they could be with families who love them and give them the best care they can? Obviously not. But most people--lets say, Madonna, want and adopt cute, healthy kids. Who have families who want them and have a different idea of what adoption means than we do in the Western world where the social contract pretends that the past is of no matter, that heritage is not important, that parents give up their children and do not long for them all their lives.
Along this same vein, Chinaadoptiontalk has great post, "They Will Return to You," about the different perceptions of what adoption is to people in other nations, not Western. And while we previously have noted that Christian World Adoptions were not facilitating adoptions from Ethopia, their website says they are back at it again. How many more children and mothers must be savaged and lied to before agencies like Christian World Adoptions and others are stopped? How many more children will be kidnapped from the streets of Karachi or Kathmandu?
We will return to the subject of adoptee gratitude soon. --lorraine