Sounded good but my cynical nature took over. I checked out the OSSO website to see if the orphanages were really just a vehicle for proselytizing. Not so: “None of our projects or programs will be used to propagate religious or political ideas that are contrary to the wishes of the institutions in which we are working.”
Hmm, I thought, that’s good but maybe these orphanages are just staging areas for infants slated for adoption in the U.S. We at FMF have written about the rampant corruption in foreign adoptions, fueled in part by the desire of Americans to obtain infants without the annoyance of birthmothers.
OSSO’s office is in Rexburg, Idaho, where a branch of the Provo, Utah-based Mormon college, Brigham Young University is located. Idaho is, of course, also the home state of most of the wacky Baptists who tried to take 33 non-orphaned children out of Haiti.
As those in the adoption reform movement know, the LDS Church is sort of an institutiona non-gratis. The Church pressures single pregnant women to surrender their newborns to “Temple-Worthy” Mormon couples. LDS Family Services is a powerful opponent of legislation to allow adult adoptees to obtain their original birth certificates.
I wrote to OSSO and asked about its role in adoption. I received this amazing letter from Rex Head, the OSSO contact in Idaho.
“Our goal is to try and do what is best for each child.I almost cried when I read this letter. I thanked Rex and sent off a small check. You can donate to OSSO through its website, www.orphanagesupport.org.
When we receive a new child the very first thing we do is to try and find out about her family of origin. We often spend a great deal of time and resources determining if her family of origin is able and willing to properly care for her. If they are not we then see what if anything can be done to help that family become able or willing to care for their child. …. Sometimes we are able to return the child to her family sometimes we are not. If we do, we follow up to make sure the situation remains safe and supportive of the child.
We do not believe that poverty alone should be the reason to seek adoption as an alternative. For example one of the children in our care has a loving mother but is not able to support him as he needs to be supported because he is severely handicapped and caring for him is a full time job and she is very poor. We have tried to employ her in our orphanage but her temperament is not appropriate to work with a large number of children. So we have helped her find other employment. The demands of her job are such that she just cannot care for him during the week so he is with us during the week where he gets therapy, medical attention, good food etc. On the weekend he goes home with his mom and sister.
It is our belief that even the best orphanage is not as good as a good permanent family, so for those who cannot be returned to their families and it looks like the family situation is not likely to change in a favorable direction, or their family is unknown, we do the paper work and legal work so that they can be considered for adoption. We do everything possible to place her inside the country with Ecuadorian adoptive parents. There are however many many more children available for adoption in Ecuador than there are families wanting to adopt so if there are not Ecuadorian families wanting to adopt international adoptive families are considered. In our orphanage we have 22 children, 20 of them have disabilities….
Although we don’t do them [adoptions] ourselves we do allow them to happen even encourage them when needed. I appreciate your concern, and I am very aware of the great injustices done in the name of international adoptions.... There are about 50,000 international adoptions each year. It is a big business where much money is spent to find the youngest cutest healthiest whitest babies and sell them to the highest bidder. Sorry if that sounds rather commercial that is what it is. In some countries it is a very profitable export crop….
Please see the other side of the coin. There are 5+ million children living in orphanages worldwide. Most of them are full of children who are not young enough, healthy enough or white enough to be considered export quality and so the mainstream adoption world never knocks on their door.…. Those children have a right to a family that loves them and if such a family can be found it should be a crime of the highest order to keep the child and family apart no matter where the family lives.”