Monday, February 17, 2014

Encouraging intercountry adoptions with hard cash

When half the faculty at Harvard and Boston College Law Schools endorse a bill that encourages poor countries to take children from their mothers and send them to the United States for adoption, you'd think something was amiss. We are talking about a bill  that offers financial incentives to poor countries to facilitate intercountry adoptions.

The learned academics in Boston did not do their homework. They signed a petition endorsing Sen. Mary Landrieu's Children in Families First (CHIFF) bill at the urging of two colleagues:  Prof. Elizabeth Bartholet, an adoptive mother of two from Peru and director of Harvard's Child Advocacy Program, and her former student and professor at Boston College, Paulo Barrozo.

Elizabeth Bartholet
We know Bartholet as someone who never met an international adoption she didn't like. While Bartholet puts a positive spin on the bill, what she and the others neglect is who is behind the bill: the trade associations for those who make their money from shipping children to the U. S., as well as religious adoption zealots: Joint Council on International Adoption, Equality for Adopted Children, National Council for Adoption, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys,  Christian Alliance for Children, the Saddleback Church, and others.

I doubt if these law profs read the bill, SB 1530, nor know much about intercountry adoption. While the law profs are busy encouraging intercountry adoption, the State Department has indicted four people involved in adoptions from Ethiopia, the latest go-to country for children. The charges include paying orphanages to state that the children had been raised in them, when in fact the children lived with a parent or a relative. In the cases cited, this despicable practice went on for five years.

This is only the latest in a string of foreign adoption horror stories. A few months ago, a Washington couple, Cari and Larry Williams, were sentenced to lengthy prison sentences for the abuse and eventual death of a girl and abuse of a boy adopted from Ethiopia. Stories of the unorthodox and unregulated "re-homing" of difficult children have made headlines recently. It is well established that children have been abducted and kidnapped from China, India, Guatemala, Nepal and elsewhere to be sold for adoption.  Over twenty Russians children have been murdered by their American adoptive parents. We've laid these abuses out in past posts and I've linked to a few of them below.

Jane
We going to see many more of these stories if the bill is enacted. Conditioning aid on making children available for adoption in the United States almost certainly guarantees that unscrupulous adoption facilitators are going to emerge in these countries to make sure that their orphanages are stocked with children "available" for adoption.  

While the purported purpose of the bill is to reduce the number of children in orphanages, the opposite will most certainly result. According to Kathryn Joyce in The Child Catchersintercountry adoptions actually increase the number of children living in institutions: "Children who were not unparented or homeless before end up becoming institutionalized as a direct result of orphanages setting up shop in poor areas." The adoption industry helps create these institutions often funded in large part by grateful adoptive parents. As we've seen in the Ethiopian case, practitioners may falsely claim children are orphans in order to line their pockets with American money. Furthermore, increasing intercountry adoptions runs the risk that children will be placed in unsafe homes where they may be killed, abused, or dumped into another unsafe home, as the recent series of stories on "re-homing" has shown us. intercountry adoption also diverts money which could be used to help children remain within their families into the pockets of adoption marketeers.

We do not know, of course, how many countries will change their laws to permit foreigners to take their children in exchange for dollars; we do know that with enough money (and enough is a relative term in a poor country) foreign politicians are likely to bend to Uncle Sam's will. In fact, bribes to officials in countries like Guatemala is what caused the spike in intercountry adoptions, increasing from about 7,000 in 1990 to the high of 23,000 in 2004 before falling to 9,000, as officials responded to critics who began publicizing the rampant corruption. What is also infuriating about all this is that the U.S., with over 400,000 children in foster care, is hardly a model of rectitude on child welfare.

This is the second time Prof. Bartholet has teamed up with Sen. Landrieu to use American power to increase the number of children adopted from abroad. The first was after the earthquake in Hatii. Attorneys and adoptive parents Johanna Oreskovic and Trish Maskew describe Bartholet’s views: “She leaves no doubt where she stands: International Adoption should be if not "the preferred alternative, then at least "a preferred alternative for the ‘millions on millions’ of children in the developing world who would otherwise be doomed to living out their childhoods in damaging institutions or on the streets’” (“Red Thread or Slender Reed: Deconstructing Prof Bartholet’s Mythology of International Adoption", Buffalo Human Rights Law Review, 2009)

Opponents of the bill include adoptees  Niels Hoogeveen of the blog, Pound Pup Legacy; Peter Dodds, author of Outer Search/Inner Journey, adopted from Germany; Jane Jeong Trenka, author of The Language of Blood, adopted from South Korea; and those who adopted internationally: David Kruchkow, of Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform (PEAR); law professor and David Smolin of Fleas Biting blog who came to see the corruption firsthand in their own adoptions. They have an uphill battle against the well-funded proponents of the bill. We encourage those who support family preservation and oppose to adoption for profit to make their voices heard.---jane


Here's the letter the Harvard and Boston College profs sent. It sounds good, but I doubt that the profs had any idea what is really behind these lofty sounding thoughts.

To the Members of the Congress of the United States:
We the undersigned members of the Faculties of Harvard Law School and Boston College Law School write to indicate our support for the following core principles incorporated in the pending legislation known as CHIFF (Children in Families First), S. 1530 and H.R. 3323:
1. Recognition of the child’s fundamental human right to a nurturing permanent family;
2. Commitment by the U.S. government to vindication of that right; and
3. Recognition that children’s interests are generally best served by early placement in permanent nurturing families, and accordingly that:
a) Priority should be put on reunifying children with their parents of origin and, where that is not possible or appropriate, on placing children in adoptive homes;
b) Priority for domestic over international adoption should be pursued through concurrent planning, so that if domestic adoptive homes are not quickly available, children are placed in available international adoptive homes.
Sincerely,
_________________________
Incidentally: A written debate between Smolin and Bartholet is included in Intercountry Adoption: Policies, Practices, and Outcomes (Contemporary Social Work Studies)

________________________________________________
SOURCES
Harvard and BC law profs urge Congress to support adoption   
Senate Bill 1530
U.S. State Department Intercountry Adoption Statistics
Hana's Story: An adoptee's tragic fate and how it could happen again
*Four Employees of Adoption Service Provider Charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States
Stop the Children in Families First Act of 2013
Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform on the proposed "Children in Families First Act"
Ethica: An independent voice for ethical adoption

FROM FMF:
An analysis of SB 1530 with citations.  Senate bill encourages more international adoption
'Re-homing': Dumping unwanted adopted kids
International Adoption Advocates Fight Back against decline in adoptions
The Trauma of being adopted

A few of our many posts documenting the abuses in intercountry adoption:
The Child Catcher exposes the stench of international adoption -- and domestic adoption too.
Abuse in International Adoption: The Lie We Love
Abuse in International Adoption, Part 2 with new commentary
West Not Impressed with Adoption Practice in Nepal
Utah agency places cast-off international adoptees
Kidnapping and Corruption in Chinese Adoptions
Guatemalan Army Stole Kids for Adoption
The Global Trade in Babies Continues to Boom

READING: 
The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption by Kathryn Joyce
"Adoption has long been enmeshed in the politics of reproductive rights, pitched as a “win-win” compromise in the never-ending abortion debate. But as Kathryn Joyce makes clear in The Child Catchers, adoption has lately become even more entangled in the conservative Christian agenda."--Amazon
The Language of Blood by Jeong Kyong-Ah
"My name is Jeong Kyong-Ah. My ancestry includes landowners, scholars, and government officials. I have six siblings. I am a citizen of the Republic of Korea. I come from a land of pear fields and streams, where people laugh loudly and honor their dead. Halfway around the world, I am someone else.

Outer Search Inner Journey by Peter Dodds
"In this riveting memoir a woman in post World War II Germany relinquishes her infant son Peter to an orphanage where he's adopted by American parents and brought to the United States. Separated from family of origin and ancestral homeland, Peter grows up alienated in a family and culture he doesn't understand. He returns to Germany believing happiness will come when finding his German family and reclaiming ethnic identity. But Peter's hopes are crushed as his search twists into a desperate struggle to escape a labyrinth of total despair."--Amazon
BOOKS MAY BE ORDERED BY CLICKING ON PHOTO OF JACKET OR TITLE. THANK YOU. 

36 comments:

Tiffany said...

I saw this bill elsewhere and read it to my husband. We were both ill; clever words do not disguise that our government is seeking to purchase children. They might as well label them directly as a trade import for that is what they have reduced them to: a commodity.

I have never supported international adoption because it cannot be done ethically (history has proven this), but this bill sinks to a new low I did not foresee.

I cannot believe we would actually predicate our aid on the import of children for "adoption" (in quotes because to me, this is trafficking). How on earth can this in anyway be construed as humanitarian? What, will we actually withhold our aid to countries who do not agree? What of the children then?

It quite literally turns my stomach. My letter to send to our state representative is almost done. This bill is a travesty.

Anonymous said...

Children languishing in unheated orphanages, being abused by older children, and by workers, not getting enough to eat, being released to the streets at age 14 with no skills and no families is a good thing?

Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater; while you cheerfully maintain your ethics, thousands of children live in conditions that are truly unspeakable.

I don't think politics should stand in the way of children getting what all children deserve - a loving family.

Focus on your concerns with domestic US adoption but please don't lobby for children to grow up in third world conditions.

I have read Jane's other posts on int'l adoption and winced at them; they are naïve and uninformed and fueled by politics.

You lament so much that kids put up for adoptioin in the US don't need to be. well kids in certain overseas orphanages desperately need homes. I am all for helping them get homes.

citing abuse stats is a red herring. the vast majority of childen killed in the US are sadly killed by their biological parents. disgusting and awful.

getting children out of orphanages as young as possible will hopefully prevent them from developing serious mental disorders such as reactive attachment disorder and will help them adjust to society and live good lives.

Fight for access to birth certiicates but don't consign children to the horrors of orphanages .... I think you mean well but are so misinformed.

This is not to say that there is corruption which should be eliminated. This is not to say that it is far better to keep children in their own countries if possible.

but don't let your ideals keep kids in hell; I remember your post enthusing about making int'l adoption more difficult while you were enjoying your dinner out and it still haunts me to think of you celebrating while children live in such conditions that you seek to maintain.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Anonymous, if you are going to comment here, you do need to say your involvement in adoption and a name would be nice. Since you have strong opinions, please comment as yourself so you can stand by what you believe in.

Thank you.

Jane Edwards said...

Anon,
We at FMF care about the well-being of children throughout the world. We are convinced by the research we've read and the testimonies of those adults adopted from abroad that intercountry adoption does far more harm than good.

Let me respond to your statements.

"Children languishing in unheated orphanages, being abused by older children, and by workers, not getting enough to eat, being released to the streets at age 14 with no skills and no families is a good thing?"

The children adopted from foreign countries are not the children you describe. Eighty percent of the 242,000 adopted since 1999 are under the age of two. http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php

"Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater; while you cheerfully maintain your ethics, thousands of children live in conditions that are truly unspeakable."

Intercountry does nothing for millions of poor children worldwide. The $30,000 Americans pay for a child could help many times more children. American dollars encourage the kidnapping of children from loving families.

"I don't think politics should stand in the way of children getting what all children deserve - a loving family."

FMF's position is child-centered. We're standing up for mothers who lose their children through corruption and for the children who are lost.

Intercountry adoption in no way guarantees children a loving family. Many have been murdered and abused by their adoptive parents. Many more are "re-homed" into deplorable conditions. Other are sent to punitive "treatment" centers.

"Focus on your concerns with domestic US adoption but please don't lobby for children to grow up in third world conditions."

The millions of children in third world countries are going to grow up in third world countries regardless of whether CHIFF is enacted. There is no way the US could absorb all these children.

"I have read Jane's other posts on int'l adoption and winced at them; they are naïve and uninformed and fueled by politics."

I have cited respected authorities in my posts. You cite none.

"You lament so much that kids put up for adoption in the US don't need to be. well kids in certain overseas orphanages desperately need homes."

Yes, help them get homes, with their own families in their own countries.

"citing abuse stats is a red herring. the vast majority of children killed in the US are sadly killed by their biological parents. disgusting and awful."

That natural parents kill their children does not mean we should turn a blind eye when adoptive parents do. Remember, these parents were selected by adoption agencies because they would be better parents.

"getting children out of orphanages as young as possible will hopefully prevent them from developing serious mental disorders such as reactive attachment disorder and will help them adjust to society and live good lives."

Children in orphanages are not for the most part infants. The pictures you see of cribs lined up are often of staging areas where children are collected before they journey to the US.

"This is not to say that there is corruption which should be eliminated. This is not to say that it is far better to keep children in their own countries if possible.

but don't let your ideals keep kids in hell; I remember your post enthusing about making int'l adoption more difficult while you were enjoying your dinner out and it still haunts me to think of you celebrating while children live in such conditions that you seek to maintain."

The minute the gates are open, corruption abounds and governments abdicate their responsibility to care for their children. The CHIFF bill does not address ending corruption. In fact the financial incentives in the bill encourage corruption.

Anon, please read the research by those who have studied intercountry adoption. Set aside the emotional pleas of adoption agencies and learn the facts.

Michelle said...

As you know, I am an AP with a daughter from Russia. I do not agree with this bill.

However, despite the fact that in many ways I regret adopting (based on what I have since learned about the system), I don't believe international adoption should be halted altogether in all cases. I do not believe in absolutes as stated in Tiffany's comment"..it cannot be done ethically". I am a firm believer in UNICEF's position on Intercountry adoption. To me, it is a reasonable, child-centered position. When people ask what I think about international adoption, this is what I point to.

David said...

Guatemala, Cambodia, Vietnam, Columbia, Ethiopia. All of these countries have closed or severely curtailed their IA programs due to widespread corruption. Russia, has closed to the US (partly for political reasons) China has placed tight restriction on receiving countries and launched investigations into child trafficking. Sth Korea, a wealthy advanced nation is now looking back in shame at the mass exportation of children that occurred over decades

The pattern is repeated across the world. Agencies move in to poor developing nations, the supply of adoptable children rises dramatically, and they become the new hot property in adoption land. Within a few years, longer in the case of Guatemala (poor & corrupt) the government wakes up to the illegal practices, child laundering, outright kidnapping and they close or severely restrict further adoptions. Guess what? Then they show up in the next place. Ethiopia is a text book example. Barely on the IA radar as little a Ten years ago. It quickly rose to become a major sending country, and now it has closed up shop after the evidence of corrupt practices became unignorable. Where too next? Ghana perhaps?


The kind of money involved just invites corruption

Tiffany said...

Michelle,

I also agree with UNICEF's stance, but you will notice that their requirements, like adherence to the Hague Convention, have caused problems for countries in regards to continuing their adoption programs. One example would be Chile. After they ratified the Hague Convention and started implementing UNICEP recommendations, like no lawyers and adoption agency intermediaries, they effectively shut down their international adoption program. This pattern has repeated in other countries after ratification and following UNICEF recommendations.

UNICEF views intercountry adoption as an option, but one that should only occur as a last resort and under ethical conditions. This latter has proven to be next to impossible to achieve in most of these countries.

While I think so many of us hurt for the children who are suffering without families and often without even the barest of essentials, the truth of the matter is that overall, people suck. Corruption becomes rampant in countries where US citizens start adopting. People take advantage, people who don't give a crap about the children and instead see an opportunity to profit.

I have close friends from Guatemala. It was well-known in that country that it was dangerous for mothers to have their babies out with them because they feared kidnappings. My friend's cousin experienced just such a thing- she never saw her child again. That didn't just happen a few times. It was rampant in that country.

In Ethiopia, families are frequently lied to about their children and told they are going to the US for an education but will be returning after school. Again, this is not a rare situation but one that has become completely common. Even hiring a PI to investigate does not always turn up the lies, and there are many PAPs who do not do the background research but take the adoption agencies at their words.

It doesn't work. People suck too much, and you cannot put your faith in people actually being good and ethical. Sadly, many are not, and those are the ones who have shown they will take advantage.

I am of the belief that even saving or changing one single life is a worthwhile effort. It is not just a group that is important, but the individual. I would do just about anything to save the life of a child... except sacrifice the lives of hundreds of others in order to save the one. That is what is happening: children are kidnapped, trafficked, and coerced from their families in order to make money for unscrupulous, hard-hearted "adoption agencies," and new families are created at the direct cost of existing families. It's not right.

I deplore the terrible conditions of orphaned children around the world. I am completely supportive of non-profits working to preserve families, provide education, the creation of proper foster homes, better health care, education of counties as to how to respect the developmentally disabled, and so much more. I put my money where my mouth is and support such foundations and efforts. But I cannot support a system that is so incredibly broken and causes pain to thousands and thousands of children to help the few who are legitimately in need of a new family.

Jane Edwards said...

Anon also wrote:
"but don't let your ideals keep kids in hell; I remember your post enthusing about making int'l adoption more difficult while you were enjoying your dinner out and it still haunts me to think of you celebrating while children live in such conditions that you seek to maintain."

I was up against the word limit in my first response so I didn't deal with this.

I have absolutely no idea what Anon is talking about. I would very much like to see better conditions for all children including those in North Korea, Syria, the Congo Republic, Afghanistan, other countries who are victims of war or repressive regimes.

Adoption does nothing to end global poverty and abuse. And it often exacerbates it.

Jill Lynn Broder said...

Can FMF get hold of a copy of the letter Bartholet's colleague Prof. Barrozo sent to drum up support for the bill? If it's inaccurate, it needs a quick response.

Anonymous said...

Can FMF get hold of a copy of the letter Bartholet's colleague Prof. Barrozo sent to drum up support for CHIFF. If it contains misinformation it needs a quick response.

Jane Edwards said...

Jill,
Good idea. Here's the letter. I'll put link to it in the piece.

February 5, 2014
To the Members of the Congress of the United States:
We the undersigned members of the Faculties of Harvard Law School and Boston College Law School write to indicate our support for the following core principles incorporated in the pending legislation known as CHIFF (Children in Families First), S. 1530 and H.R. 3323:
1. Recognition of the child’s fundamental human right to a nurturing permanent family;
2. Commitment by the U.S. government to vindication of that right; and
3. Recognition that children’s interests are generally best served by early placement in permanent nurturing families, and accordingly that:
a) Priority should be put on reunifying children with their parents of origin and, where that is not possible or appropriate, on placing children in adoptive homes;
b) Priority for domestic over international adoption should be pursued through concurrent planning, so that if domestic adoptive homes are not quickly available, children are placed in available international adoptive homes.

SaraC said...

Off topic

HB 162, an unrestricted access bill, was introduced in the PA House of Representatives on January 16, 2013. The bill allows Pennsylvania-born adopted adults, at age 19, to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. The Committee on Children & Youth voted the bill out of Committee and onto the full House where it was passed unanimously in October 2013. The bill is now before the Senate Committee on Aging & Youth. A Senate Committee hearing is anticipated early in 2014.

Anyone with an adoption connection to Pennsylvania, or if you are a resident of Pennsylvania who supports this legislation, please contact Carolyn Hoard, AAC Legislation Committee, at choard192@verizon.net.

Janee said...

What REALLY gets my goat is adoptive parents who claim to be all about adoption ethics... AFTER their purchased child is safely home in the US.

Scoopy wrote the lovely post below on the importance of ethics in adopting from Ethiopia. She encountered fraud during her first Ethiopian adoption, but brought the baby home anyways. And RETURNED to Ethiopia to purchase two MORE kids who had first families who loved and were capable of raising them.

Scoopingitup.blogspot.com's post on ethics is meaningless!

"There is some major slamming and personal attacks on me today on the internet. Mostly from folks who do not believe adoptive parents are allowed to advocate for adoption reform or talk about ethics in adoption due to their participation in an unethical adoption culture. I respect that opinion but I will not stay silent about racial inequality and White privilege just because I am white. I will not say "I am gonna sit by and do nothing because I have the wrong color skin." Same thing with adoption ethics. I wont sit it out. Not advocate just because I see my children's pain and the pain of other adoptees just because parent adoptees. Just because I parent people with loss and work to maintain viable and real connection to my kids culture and first family all the while knowing its never "enough" doesn't mean I don't see the truth. Anyone who listens to first families who've lost children, or adoptees who miss families have an obligation to stand with them. I listen. I will keep listening. Some adoptees don't agree with this and think it is patronizing. To those I say "I am sorry for your hurt. I am sorry for what you've lost." That's it."

Ditto for Mary McBride of findingmagnolia.com -- ignored false paperwork to adopt Ethiopian Zinashi in late 2010, claimed to be horrified by fraud in Ethiopia, but brought 4 month old Elvie home just over a year later!

Mary also claims to be all about ethics -- but not enough to STOP her adoptions because of it -- yet writes movingly about the need for reform in Ethiopia:

http://www.findingmagnolia.com/2014/01/thoughts-on-possibility-of-ethiopia.html

Mary and Scoopy's paens to ethics?? Words, words, words. Meaningless words without action.
They simply do not, cannot, will not care about ethics!!

Janee said...

I forgot to leave a note about my connection to adoption in my first post (about 2 seconds ago):

- I'm huge believer in family preservation and a licensed foster parent who provides in-home respite for mostly very young single mums who need a teeny-tiny bit of help (like 12 hrs of sleep b/c somebody else is caring for their baby), in the short-term, to keep and raise their child
- 3 sisters (my BFF from age 4 & her little sisters) adopted from foster care at ages almost-17, 8 and 7 20+ yrs ago (open adoption, they kept their names, I love and consider their first parents my aunt and uncle and we all celebrate holidays together -- they've been sober for 10+ yrs)

Barbara said...

The idea that we should offer financial incentives to countries in exchange for that country's willingness to provide children for adoption is about as low as it goes, I think. Contrary to the claims of the people involved, there is nothing Christian or even humane about this. Adoption in 2014 has little positive truth behind it, and manifest corruption as detailed in the excellent article above. It is the purchase of human beings for money. It is a foreign policy to exploit the poor.
I'd like to call your readers' attention to an article in LifeNews.com: http://www.lifenews.com/2011/10/06/steve-jobs-changed-the-world-adoption-changed-his/
The article is about adoption and how it supposedly affected Steve Jobs. In this article, Ryan Bomberger, an adoptee himself, states "Adoption is the essence of salvation. There is no Christianity without adoption, in the spiritual sense." In the sense that we are the sons and daughters of God by adoption, that is true. But the suggestion is that means child adoption as it is practiced in the last 100 years is God ordained. He is really on shaky ground with that. The Bible does not mention child adoption except in a few exceptional cases, Moses being one, because it was not practiced in ancient Israel. Adoption was a pagan custom in ancient Rome, used by adults who adopted other adults mainly for the purpose of inheritance.
So where do Christians get the idea of child adoption as an imperative? Some of it was from the idea of looking after "widows and orphans" as commanded in the Bible, but as Mr. Bomberger himself points out, the warped ideas of Margaret Sanger were also involved. The ideas of eugenics, that some people were unworthy to raise their own child, and the false idea that the child is a blank slate and many other nonChristian ideas also formed the foundation of modern adoption. It also should be noted about Mr. Bomberger's article, if one studies anything about Steve Jobs life, he wasn't all that comfortable with his adoption..
So what is left of this? There is no Biblical justification for adoption, and nearly all the supposed reasons for it have been proven false as well. Sure there are some necessary adoptions, but today there are a lot of desperate rich people who want what they want at the expense of anybody who gets in their way, who are willing to exploit others and are looking for an excuse. And adoption "professionals" who are in it for the money. And they choose to use "Christian" as a cover for their selfishness and greed. It is a sacred cow - and a pagan idol.

Anonymous said...

'Agencies move in to poor developing nations, the supply of adoptable children rises dramatically'

I know, when I am arguing against IA, that people will say why to that last phrase.

Tiffany very helpfully described some of the ways that children are removed from their families for adoption.

But what are the other ways, that lead to the supply of adoptable children rising dramatically when the agencies move in? I know that's the point I'll get stuck on when trying to combat the unicorns carrying the myth of IA as salvation for the child.

Anonymous said...

With so many children in Foster Care in the US in need of families shouldn't we be focussing on that before worrying about children abroad?

Anonymous said...

Good article re. CHIFF and orphanage care here:

Orphanages, CHIFF, and UNICEF Recommendations: Is There Science Behind Anti-Orphanage Positions?

http://childmyths.blogspot.ca/2014/01/orphanages-chiff-and-unicef.html#comment-form

Anonymous said...

Hold the phone-adoption is NOT some pagan idol. Pagans NEVER would of enacted the adoption system as it is today. They never would of hidden a child's identity or ripped a newborn from her mother. I am SO sick of Christians blaming everything on pagans when the pagan culture with the exception of a few sects was much more moral and sane than how this world is now. Blame it on the freemasons, blame it on the satanics but leave the pagans alone. We have nothing to do with this. (And fyi satan didn't even exist in pagan times, he is a result of the deity in the bible which came after that deity had a war with the other Gods and took over the planet).
Also:
"Mary also claims to be all about ethics -- but not enough to STOP her adoptions because of it -- yet writes movingly about the need for reform in Ethiopia"
This is a good point because there will be NO reform unless these fools stop adopting.

Barbara said...

Dear Anonymous:
I will digress from my intended point to clarify this a little bit. My main point was, as I wrote to Lorraine, "This is quite a claim: 'Adoption is the essence of salvation. There is no Christianity without adoption.' This person has really been drinking the Kool-Aid. Maybe between humans and God, but that's all." It shocked me that anybody would say such a thing. Ughh!
Regarding your comments - In ancient Bible times, before Christ and shortly after, adoption as we know it was not practiced in Israel. The Jews of the time considered it important to care for the needy, fatherless child, and the extended family would usually take care of the child. Children were not deliberately taken away from some mothers to be given to others nor expected to assume a different identity.
The larger Roman empire spanning the area west of Israel around the Mediterranean Sea was certainly pagan at that time, all of it. This is a fact, not an accusation. They worshiped various gods; each town had its own god, plus the main ones such as Jupiter. The Roman Empire wasn't Jewish, nor were there a majority of Christians until about the middle of the 4th Century. I agree with you that they "never would of hidden a child's identity or ripped a newborn from her mother." However, adoption certainly did exist in the ancient world, usually of adults or older boys and was done in the upper classes to provide for inheritance or succession, Augustus Caesar being a famous example. It was often an honor, and it was quite expensive. They also didn't try to erase the original identity of the person with lies as 20th century adoption has done.
There appears to have been less concern for the orphan child than in Israel, and an orphan often ended up in slavery. They practiced abortion and infanticide in cases of undesired children. Adoption wasn't thought of as a remedy for infertility. I think you're thinking of a later era when you suggest "freemasons or satanics." I hope this clarifies my thoughts.

maryanne said...

As to Christians and Pagans, both terms cover a huge number of people with vastly differing beliefs and practices, many of them bloodthirsty and cruel, especially to women, children and captives.

After all, we have the Inquisition on the one side, and various forms of gruesome human sacrifice to appease the Gods on the other. I do not think that going by what either ancient Hebrew and Christian societies did as recounted in the Bible or what some ancient Pagan societies did is a good basis for modern practice in adoption or anything else.

Yes, modern NeoPagans are generally peaceful earth-loving people who live meaningful lives and practice gentle rituals, but that has little to do with the gruesome practices of some of our ancestors. And not all modern Christians take the Bible literally or try to base modern life on ancient practices or scriptures.

Anonymous said...

Well, ethics, morals, politics, name calling, blaming and bloviating aside, I can at least speak to one part of this -

I am an adult adoptee, the result of an overseas adoption.

Agree or disagree with a bill tying aid to adoption but please don't presume to know the DEPLORABLE conditions of an overseas orphanage and those left to it's fate.

A loss of culture you say? I was adopted at age 9 and knew NOTHING of my birth countries history or culture.

Loss of language you say? I was barely speaking toddler babble (though could understand a bit more when spoken to) of my native tongue.

Ah, doing the best they can with their limited resources? Loved and cared for by caregivers? Stripped from an impoverished family? Hardly.

I weighed 38 pounds when I came home. Had never owned a single personal item or been genuinely hugged. I had giardia, scabies, herpes, severe malnutrition and more. My head was shaved to prevent parasites. I was constantly hungry, cold (or alternately sweltering) and could not yet read.

And guess what? I was a favorite among the staff. God help the disabled and hopeless ones left behind.

Still want to rant philosophical from your sofas? Wave the flag of disgust and injustice over IA?

Fine....but ask yourself this? At whose expense do you make your claims? Have you been overseas to survey the conditions of those you would condemn? Or is it easier to have a "discussion" and cut a check to favorite cause?

I was saved, pure and simple. I am someone today because a family cared enough to leave that sofa and travel halfway around the world to bring me home.

We are NOT just statistics, numbers, interpretations by authors and politician's pet causes.

I laugh when these blog authors hold themselves up as "experts" on IA because they have read a few articles. I hardly think their scope of reading and research is balanced. AND NONE OF IT is first hand.

I almost hold you all in contempt but instead will excuse your appalling lack of insight on basic ignorance.

Betsy

Jane Edwards said...

Anon/Betsy,
I absolutely agree that IA saves some children. As an institution, though, it does more harm than wrong.

Keep in mind that 80 percent or more of IA children do not fit your profile; they're healthy infants procured specifically for adoption.

I understand that because governments are closing infant adoption, some practitioners like Spence-Chapin are arranging adotions of older, needy children. If there is to be IA, then this is the right direction.

CHIFF, however, does not require children be truly without family, only that they be in an orphanage-- a big door which armies of unscrupulous practitioners can step through.

Anonymous said...

@Jane,

Again, please double check your facts. While the true definition of an "orphan" is one with no living parent, there are still MANY children languishing in overseas institutions who, while they may have a living parent, DO fit the profile of a child in need of a family. Children who will never benefit from the support of family or truly be a part of their country of origin.

You use the term "healthy". Most doctors, if you were seek out those who specialize in international cases, who argue that very few are genuinely "healthy" and that most will have a legacy from their time spent in an institution.

In fact, your 80% stat is simply wrong or a gross oversimplification.

In China, those "healthy" girl infants do have living family but are the victims of a stringent and short sighted one child policy enforced by their very birth country.

Additionally, let's just say for the sake of argument that your fact is correct: even the 20% left over of the staggering hundred of thousands of children purported to be living in institutions worldwide, makes up a sizeable number of children left behind.

Would you condemn them to my fate pre adoption? Shall we continue to argue the merits or shall we admit that the situation is as complex as any other known and intuit that sweeping generalizations rarely address all the nuances.

Here I am - I AM International adoption - how can I be wrong?

Betsy

Jane Edwards said...

Anon/Betsy,
I wouldn't condemn any children to your fate. I also wouldn't condemn any children to the fate of the Ethiopian girl murdered by her adoptive parents or to her brother severely abused. I also wouldn't condemn any children to war or starvation or any of the other terrible fates that await millions of children.

Look through and beyond IA to see real solutions for the world's poor and neglected children.

As for China, IA abetted and supported the government's one child policy and the cultural mores that preferred boys to girls. Many of the girls taken for US adoption were kidnapped by the fertility police. Others were taken by male relatives who could persuade mothers to give them up because they would go to the homes of rich Americans. In other words, the "solution" exacerbated the problem.

Keep in mind that adoption of Chinese girls only took hold in a big way after the South Koreans government curtailed adoptions because, during the 1988 Olympics, it got negative publicity over the large number of children sent to the US.

Kit said...

Does anybody know how many of those Harvard signers are AP's themselves?

BJane said...

Betsy,

WOW! I read your post and had to walk away to absorb what you said.

You didn't know your history and culture at age nine. My question to you is as an adult adoptee, is do you care/desire to know now?

It seems that part of the corruption of adoption is the erasing of all connection.

I am glad you had loving parents that rescued you.

I feel TERRIBLE for that culture,for ALL those left behind.

Have you checked to find out if your bio family is ok? Did you know them at all?

Oh, man....a one child law...and if your a girl! I hear it is changing though......I HOPE its changing.

I hope I am not causing you to feel contempt towards me for asking these questions and being "ignorant".

Anonymous said...

@Maryanne
Jews have a violent history, this can not be ignored. Stoning teenagers to death (for drinking) shoving swords through one year olds because their God told them too. The list goes on and on. All religions and cultures have been violent. @Barbara, pagans did NOT practice abortion. Yes, there were some dark pagans, Druids for example. You need to be aware that other Gods DO exist and that both Jews and Christians who hate pagans have made up lies about them, blame them for things that they didn't do while wiping out all the truthful history about them. (Just like adoption agencies do to adoptees)

Anonymous said...

Jane I am anonymous second poster.

You chide me for listening to emotional appeals from agencies. well not one thing I posted came to me from an agency. not one. in fact, you can add to your long list of complaints about agencies is that some did not go into enough details about the conditions these children live in and the resulting short and long term damage these children experience especially with possible neurological damage from living in such sensory deprived conditions (minimal human contact, minimal care, minimal affection, minimal sensory stimulation living in rooms with very little in the way of color, toys, anything beyond institutional rooms.)

My information comes from my own research which has included speaking with IA physicians, with 80-100 adoptive families with children from Russia, and from reading dozens and dozens of articles and research studies.

you cite 80% of children are healthy. I have never seen tthat and I find it hard to believe. where did that come from? Also while I don't have any problem with healthy children who need homes getting them (why shouldn't they????) = "healthy" means something very different in IA. Healthy means that the child does not have serious disorder like cerebral palsy, or AIDS, or significant birth defect. Healhty does not at all mean what an American would consider a healthy baby. Many adopted IA children have skin conditions, parasites, infections, are developmentally delayed, and may have other conditions which can be treated by medical care that they do not have access to.

I know of children who are now deaf because they did not have ear infections treated, ever. can you imagine the pain of ear infections?

I know of children with neurological disorders that cause life long learning disabilities, some of whom will never live independentally - these "healthy" children simply suffered too much damage from living in such horror with no care.

I know of adoptive parents who are haunted by rooms filled with babies who did not make one sound, eerily quiet, because they had already learned that when they cried for help, no one comes. these children face extremely difficult futures no matter where they end up.

Your comments about China are wrong as well. The one child policy was implemented in 1979 due to population growth and it resulted in the abortion (some forced even at late term, forced abortions are not uncommon), infanticide, and abandonment of baby girls based upon 1000s of years of culture that favored sons. IA provided homes for children that otherwise would have either died, lived in horrible orphanages, or fended for themselves.

IA is not perfect. But I challenge you to go to an orphanage in Russia and look at at toddler and say "I Jane gave my child up for adoption and it was the wrong decision. SO now I want to curtail all adoption. I am willing to sacrifice you because IA has corruption and trafficking involved. SO instead of working to stop that, I want to stop it all. And so you will grow up without a home, without parents, without medical care, withouth food and heat, and I am ok with that.

to the poster who mentioned foster kids in the US, the answer lies with you. if you are concerned, which is great, become a foster parent, or offer respite care, or do something. be part of the solution!

most children in Russian orphanages would probably see US foster care as close to paradise, actually - living with a family not in a large group setting in an institution, getting regular and health food (many IA children hoard food for months when they first arrive as they have no sense that food will be readily available to them), getting medical care, going to school, going outside to play, having toys, having heat, a bed, hot water, regularly -- beyond their dreams.

Jane Edwards said...

Anon,
It's puzzling that you are so sure of your facts but you don't give your name nor the names of the adoptive parents you refer to nor cite any authorities.

Let's assume that conditions are as horrible as you say. How is taking 22,000 or so kids from these conditions each year and plunking them in the US going to make a difference when there are millions of kids living in deplorable conditions? And we know that some of these 22,000 will suffer at the hands of their American adoptive parents. Some will go into US foster care or special programs for difficult kids at tax payer's expense. Meanwhile many American children will remain in abusive foster homes.

CHIFF does not restrict adoptions to the kids you describe; it includes all kids in orphanages which will simply lead to kids being placed in orphanages by adoption agencies. As I noted in my post, the US Department of Justice is going after Ethiopians who falsely said the children were in orphanages in order to allow them to be adopted.

Of course those promoting IA can show potential adoptive pareents anything that will help them make a sale.

The fact is that no government has been able to cast so narrow a net that it just catches truly needy children, those with disabilities and without families. A big reason for this is that many of the people paying the freight don't want these kids.

The US can continue the flawed policies of the past--which is what CHIFF is designed to do--or it can think outside the box and come up with meaningful help for millions of children.

Again I encourage you to read something other than adoption industry propaganda. "The Child Catchers" "The Lie We love", and other articles cited in our posts will get you started.

A note about China -- you cannot change bad cultural practices by reinforcing them. By taking children from the mothers because life for single mothers was very difficult as the Irish nuns did made the conditions for single mothers worse. Conditions for single mothers in Ireland, the US, and elsewhere began to improve when women began keeping their babies.

By discouraging women to go to professional schools because there was a lot of discrimination simple perpetuated discrimination. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

The heroes are not those who take the babes of others but those like Jane Trenka who work to change laws and practices.

Jane Edwards said...

Anon,
It's puzzling that you are so sure of your facts but you don't give your name nor the names of the adoptive parents you refer to nor cite any authorities.

Let's assume that conditions are as horrible as you say. How is taking 22,000 or so kids from these conditions each year and plunking them in the US going to make a difference when there are millions of kids living in deplorable conditions? And we know that some of these 22,000 will suffer at the hands of their American adoptive parents. Some will go into US foster care or special programs for difficult kids at tax payer's expense. Meanwhile many American children will remain in abusive foster homes.

CHIFF does not restrict adoptions to the kids you describe; it includes all kids in orphanages which will simply lead to kids being placed in orphanages by adoption agencies. As I noted in my post, the US Department of Justice is going after Ethiopians who falsely said the children were in orphanages in order to allow them to be adopted.

Of course those promoting IA can show potential adoptive pareents anything that will help them make a sale.

The fact is that no government has been able to cast so narrow a net that it just catches truly needy children, those with disabilities and without families. A big reason for this is that many of the people paying the freight don't want these kids.

The US can continue the flawed policies of the past--which is what CHIFF is designed to do--or it can think outside the box and come up with meaningful help for millions of children.

Again I encourage you to read something other than adoption industry propaganda. "The Child Catchers" "The Lie We love", and other articles cited in our posts will get you started.

A note about China -- you cannot change bad cultural practices by reinforcing them. By taking children from the mothers because life for single mothers was very difficult as the Irish nuns did made the conditions for single mothers worse. Conditions for single mothers in Ireland, the US, and elsewhere began to improve when women began keeping their babies.

By discouraging women to go to professional schools because there was a lot of discrimination simple perpetuated discrimination. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

The heroes are not those who take the babes of others but those like Jane Trenka who work to change laws and practices.

Anonymous said...

Jane,

I, too, would like a citation to your statement that 80% of children are healthy and specifically procured for adoption. I have never heard this before and I would to investigate it further,

Anonymous said...

I just had dinner with someone who was talking about a mutual acquaintance who adopted a gorgeous, intelligent girl from Nepal. Right. The mother tells people how corrupt the adoptions that she investigated in Burma. Never thinking that the girl from Nepal might have been kidnapped the same way. Of course. Not her child. Not her. Her image is that the parents with too many children give them up to an orphanage and then come back--after they have been adopted--and want them back! It apparently does not occur to her that the parents thought the children were being educated--not that they left they there to be adopted and shipped off half way around the world.

Barbara said...

Betsy, Just read your story. It is so powerful and amazing. I'm so glad you were saved from that.
In the beginning adoption was meant to help children like you. That was the purpose, why it got started. Sadly, it has been perverted and distorted into something else. I, like others on this site, am a birth mother. I was lied to and suckered by the adoption agency into losing my child. I am also an adoptee who was adopted into a family where I was abused and ultimately pushed out of the family. I don't like to talk about that much because I feel I have risen beyond it, but I have seen both sides of adoption in my life. I don't want to see what happened to me happen to others.
I think needy children should be helped, but I don't think it should be possible to buy a child. Because of the profit motive, there is a lot of corruption. I don't think most American prospective adopters want kids like in that orphanage, silent, emotionally deprived, because they are afraid they will be too scarred by their experience and they may not be able to cope with it. Same reason they don't want kids from foster care in America. You were lucky and your adoptive parents were good people.
I think we should help children in need in their own countries, help people solve their problems, not just solve them by taking their kids. Recently I heard a talk by someone connected to an organization I think does it right: http://www.copticorphans.org/
One can sponsor an orphan in Egypt and they help both the orphan and the mother and maybe father, with the goal of keeping the family together and helping them financially. They don't do adoptions. They just help them through their difficulties and keep them together if possible. I wish this was available in all the countries. All the money that rich people spend - if it was really to help a child, this money would go very far. We also wouldn't be seen as the Ugly Americans in those countries either.

Jane Edwards said...

Anon,
State Department statistics show http://adoption.state.gov/about_us/statistics.php

E. J. Graf "The Lie we Love" http://www.brandeis.edu/investigate/adoption/docs/FPFinalTheLieWeLove.pdf

Tiffany said...

Anon,

The plight of the children in third world countries is horrific. But, adoption doesn't cure the terrible orphanage conditions. It is definitely true about babies not being held and learning not to cry. The psychological damage from that neglect is irrefutable as well as tragically unfixable. I do not see how the drops in the bucket that are international adoption is even considered one of the fixes for this massive problem. My general understanding from statistics i have read as well as reading adoption forums and blogs is that most people are looking to adopt healthy young children. In cases where older children or special needs (not including minor medical issues that are categorized as special needs) are adopted, it is often incredibly difficult on the adoptive family and the child. It sometimes does not have a happy ending. Adoption is never a fix, but simply one solution for an individual.

For those like Betsy who are truly saved, my heart goes out to them. I can well understand their feelings of feeling that their adoption was an overwhelmingly good thing as the outcome definitely makes it so. Betsy speaks for herself; no one has a right to tell her she is wrong to feel how she feels. I do not dispute that her adoption was positive.

But the rampant child trafficking present in adoption cannot be ignored. As I said earlier, the issue is that when countries attempt to adhere to the UNICEF recommendations for ethical adoptions, they essentially have to end adoptions. I have the example of Chile. There are others- Peru being another. Other countries, such as Romania, shut down for political reasons because they realize they can never make IA occur ethically (I'm oversimplifying, but it's too much to delve into in a comment).

One of my dear friends started her own charity over 10 years ago to help Romanian orphans living in a hospital. It breaks my heart to hear what she tells me of their living conditions. You can bet that in a second, I would take one of those abandoned babies (most are actually abandoned at her hospital) and adopt him. The thing is, I could only take one... there are dozens, just at that one hospital floor. There are thousands more... it's an overwhelming tide that cannot be fixed by the adoption of one.

"Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe." I truly believe this. But can we not also save the entire universe if we instead put our efforts towards making it right in these countries? If instead of making a bill about adoption, we made it that countries accepting aid had to use a portion of that aid for the children in orphanages, to hire enough workers to hold the babies, to allow non-profits in to work with them, to spend money on family preservation, and finally, to ensure that IF a child is truly in need of a family, and there is no one in that country, then an ethical IA can occur with no money exchanging hands.

Perhaps I'm feeling a little too John Lennon about it all, but I don't even view IA as a bandaid when the number of children left behind are so very many, and the one taken is likely not the one in greatest need, either.