What's the cause of this claimed calamity? "A cataclysmic implosion of intercountry adoption (emphasis added)" according to Tom DiFilpo of the Joint Council on International Children's Services. In addition to Russia closing its doors, adoptions from China, Ethiopia, and South Korea have declined. Domestic production cannot make up for the shortage because, according to Jenny Pope of the adoption agency Buckner International, "as single parenthood becomes more acceptable, 'there are just not as many women placing their children for adoption.'"
The author of the article Wendy Koch doesn't seem to be aware--or at least doesn't report--that a decline in adoptions is a positive trend, signifying that fewer mothers are losing their children due to financial circumstances, cultural mores, and corruption.
NOT ALL COVERAGE IS BIASED AGAINST NATURAL PARENTS
Media bias in favor of adoption is nothing new. The fourth estate ran non-stop pity parties for those oh-so-deserving prospective adoptive parents thwarted when the Russian government called a halt to U.S. adoptions. The media regularly trashes natural parents like the parents of Baby Richard and Baby Jessica when they fight to prevent the illegal adoption of their children. Even The New Yorker spewed errors about the Baby Jessica case in an highly skewed article by Lucinda Franks, an adoptive mother (a fact she failed to disclose in the piece). Among other things, she blamed Concerned United Birthparents for riling up the parent to fight for their child. We suppose any support for a natural mother who wants her child back would be considered "riling up." Lorraine wrote a piece about the biased coverage in the Jessica Deboer/Anna Schmidt baby for a feminist magazine, On the Issues, that itself got a huge amount of mail, mostly from adoptive parents complaining.
Thus it was with delight that I read Michael Corcoran's criticism of the media coverage of (hysteria over) the Dusten Brown case in Truthout (Media Failures Lead Flawed Understandings in Cherokee Adoption Case**). Brown, a decorated Iraqi war veteran and a member of the Cherokee tribe, sued to overturn the adoption of his daughter, "Baby Veronica." The trial judge ruled in Brown's favor and awarded custody of the girl to Brown, finding that he did not knowingly waive his paternal rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the decision. The U. S. Supreme Court has granted review.
Not surprisingly, the media reported from the point of view of the would-be adopters, Melanie and Matt Capobianco, focusing on their heart-break. The media claimed that Brown knowingly gave up his rights, that the prospective adoptive parents did not know that Veronica was an Indian child, and that Brown was a bad father, all of which were untrue. Adoption advocate and television personality Dr. Phil took up the story, as did Anderson Cooper of CNN who has a look of perpetual bewilderment on his face, and Andrea Poe of the Huffington Post. The trio trashing not only Brown but the ICWA, which requires that Indian children be placed with Indian families when possible, portraying the law as out-dated and cruel. The ICWA, enacted in 1978, was based on overwhelming evidence that Indian children generally fared better raised within the Indian community.
THE BABY DEFICIT--REALLY?
I was feeling good about Corcoran's article when I opened the January 21 Time and read the headline "The Baby Deficit: How changing attitudes about international adoption are creating heartbreak for American families."*** I thought, oh no, another pity party for would-be adopters thwarted by chauvinist dimwits.
I was pleasantly surprised. The author Kayla Webley did a fair job of detailing the reasons for the decline in foreign adoptions, a crack-down on wide-spread corruption and improved economic conditions. She quoted UNICEF and other child welfare authorities on the importance of helping children stay with their families. She played only one sympathy card, that of a couple trying to adopt a child who had a cleft palate from Kyrgyzstan, a child who had not received necessary medical care and truly needed a home..
So a mixed result--while much of the media is stuck on the idea of adoption as an entitlement, there are others becoming aware that there's another side to adoption.
*Adoption options as Russia closes its doors
**Media Failures Lead to Flawed Understandings in Cherokee Adoption Case
***The Baby Deficit
For an update on Anna Schmidt (Baby Jessica):
Anna Jacqueline Schmidt aka Baby Jessica wonder how she feels about the Deboers?
May the Richest Parents Win--the DeBoer Case
Adoptive Parents Decry UNICEF's Position About Adopting Overseas
Adoption, It Seems, Is Everywhere, coming to a screen near you
The Lost Child: A story about Rebecca, a woman who goes in search of her natural parents and in the process finds her long lost family and her rich cultural heritage. In response to her search, she is contacted by a woman on a Navajo reservation who is looking for her twin siblings who were stolen from their mother soon after they were born. The women soon realize that they are sisters and Rebecca is welcomed with open arms on a visit to the reservation. But when her husband, Jack, comes to see them, the differences between the two cultures rise to the surface, and Rebecca must integrate the old and the new so that her whole family can be together happily. Made for television.
Baby Richard: A Four-Year-Old Comes Home "This heartwarming narrative--about the mid-nineties case that became the most controversial custody battle in history--answers that question. Written by the child’s psychologist, it discloses the untold, intimate, and private side of the story about the baby who became the symbol of adoption gone tragically awry. How the four-year-old and his birth parents bonded and became a family—in spite of fierce opposition--will make you cry, laugh, get angry, and share the joy of their personal triumphs.
This landmark case for adoption and for fathers’ rights was debated across the country and in Europe, Canada, and Australia. With her clients’ permission, Dr. Karen Moriarty--who donated her services to the child and his family--reveals this rare, behind-the-scenes view of the real people and their passions, struggles, defeats, and victories. Her book provides the exclusive update on all of the major players in the bitter conflict and on the child himself, his parents and sisters, including photographs."--Amazon