Or conversely, Who are my real parents, the ones I was born to?
Today's Times story is a follow up to an earlier piece about kidnapping and forced relinquishment of babies in the province of Hunan to feed "a lucrative black market in children," a subject we at First Mother Forum have written about numerous times. Our stories, which cover the world corruption in the market for children, invariably elicit comments from adoptive parents about how we don't know what we are talking about, or how their situation is certainly different, or that MOST of the adoptions are almost certainly legit, and almost certainly theirs is untainted by corruption.
Really? How would you know, I want to respond. International adoption today is a crap shoot as anyone with half a brain can tell you. You child might not have been kidnapped, but there is no way without a DNA test and meeting the mother, or father and mother, or father if the mother is dead, can you know for sure.
That is not to say that I do not have feelings for the parents who unwittingly adopted a kidnapped child. But if that is the case, and you find out about it, YOU HAVE TO GIVE THEM BACK. TO THEIR REAL PARENTS. Unless you have had the illegally-gotten child so long that repatriation is impossible.
However, the story today quotes folks who are not so willing: Susan Merkel, 48, of Chesterfield, N.J., who adopted a daughter from China in 2007, said that her husband did not want to talk about the possibility that their daughter was kidnapped and sold. However, Merkel, an adoptee herself, is troubled because" meeting her birth mother had helped her understand her past and herself." The story continues:
"What, then, was her responsibility as a parent — to find Maia’s birth parents, who might make a valid claim for her return? How could Ms. Merkel, who got so much out of meeting her own birth mother, not want that for her child? 'What I do know is that she’s my daughter and I love her,' she said. 'We’re giving her the best family and life that we can. And if she has questions someday, we’ll do all we can to help her find the answers.'
"While Ms. Merkel said that she would support Maia’s meeting her birth parents if it were possible, but that she would not willingly return her to them, even if there was evidence that she had been taken. (Emphasis added.)
'I would feel great empathy for that person,' she said. 'I would completely understand the anger and the pain. But I would fight to keep my daughter. Not because she’s mine, but because for all purposes we’re the only family she’s ever known. How terrifying that would be for a child to be taken away from the only family she knows and the life that she knows. That’s not about doing what’s right for the child. That’s doing what’s right for the birth mother.”Let me get that straight: That’s doing what’s right for the birth mother. ??? How would she know that? By that token, all kidnapped children anywhere do not have to be returned, as long as they are being well taken care of.
The story goes on in this vein: that except for a few, most adoptive parents with children from elsewhere in the world do not entertain that it could be "their" child who was kidnapped and sold. That's the kind of "it couldn't happen to me" thinking that lands teenagers on Sixteen and Pregnant. Yet one woman who has two adopted children from China said that the one from the Guangxi province came with an extremely detailed description of her first 11 months in the orphanage. The girl was adopted with a group of 10 other infants, and when the information was compared with that of the others in the same group--surprise, it was word-for-word the same, "making it too specific to be believable."
Though the story is about adoptive parents not wanting to even think about the fact that their children were not abandoned but stolen, or forcibly relinquished, a few voices of reality are heard:
"Such reticence infuriates people like Karen Moline, a New York writer and a board member of the nonprofit advocacy group Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform, who adopted a boy from Vietnam 10 years ago. 'If the government is utterly corrupt, and you have to take an orphanage a donation in hundred-dollar bills, why would you think the program was ethical?' she said. 'Ask a typical Chinese adoptive parent that question, and they’ll say, my agency said so. My agency is ethical. People say, the paperwork says X; the paperwork is legitimate. But you have no idea where your money goes.Authorities and agencies like to say that child abductions in China are rare, and that many boys are abducted and adopted illegally within China itself. Chinese news media reports said that the figure of abductions might be as high as 20,000 a year.
'Now you have to give $5,000 as an orphanage fee in China. Multiply that by how many thousand adoptions. Tens of millions of dollars have flowed out of this country to get kids, and you have no accounting for it.'”
But it is hard to know where all those children end up, notes David Smolin, a professor at the Cumberland School of Law and adoptive father of two teenage girls who had parents at home in India, he learned within weeks of their adoption. No one wanted to help; it took six years to find the girls' mothers and fathers, but find them he did.
"When he started to speak publicly about his experience, he met other parents in the same situation — hundreds of them, he said. 'They all said they felt abandoned by adoption agencies and by various governments,' he said. 'There’s a sense that other people in the adoption community did not want to hear about these circumstances. People were told that it was not a good thing to talk about. So you’re left alone with these practical and moral dilemmas, and that is overwhelming.'”Not to say how it must feel for the mothers and fathers whose children were stolen. --lorraine
See parents who were reunited in China with their children on the news clip at the sidebar.