Adoptive Parents: We're not the Enemy

 August 18, 2011

I was emotional and upset the last I wrote on this subject. Let me try again.

I believe in international adoption... as a last resort safety valve for children in need of permanent family care (particularly for special needs and older children).

I also believe it is and has been a beautiful way to grow our family.

I do not believe that even the best institutional care can ever substitute for the emotional, physical and developmental support of a family. (The fact that we use terms like “typical institutional delay” is a testimony to this.)

I do not believe adoption is a civic or patriotic duty. If I choose to adopt a child from another country it does not mean I rejected a child here (at least no more than the person who does not adopt at all).


It’s complicated but important for adoptive parents to understand there is an emerging anti international adoption movement afoot. At present I would certainly not say this is a movement with mainstream public support but it is out there and apparently ready to attack (based on recent comments here) those of us promoting the continued NEED for international adoption.

It should not come as a surprise to the adoption community that following the widespread corruption and child trafficking in Guatemala, Vietnam and now Ethiopia that the world community would call for reform. This is an appropriate response and one most adoptive parents support.

Anti-international adoption activists however want IA closed. Not reformed. Not improved. Closed.

In my opinion extreme positions such as these do not advance the conversation and can never lead to any meaningful solutions.

Adoptive parents (many of whom witnessed first-hand the harshness of orphanage life) feel an obligation to keep the doors of IA open. Not so that more “product” is available to adoptive parents (as the anti-adoption rhetoric would go) but so that the children left behind have the greatest opportunity to find a family.

As an active member of the adoptive parent community I find it inconceivable that any of us would support child trafficking or laundering, birth mother coercion, unnecessary family disruption  or any other corrupt, unethical behavior. To do so would be a lose-lose-lose proposition ... for the child... the birth family...and us!

Has it happened...unwittingly? Yes.  Certainly no adoptive parent I know argues this point. Unintentionally adoptive parents have played a role in the problem. We "adopters" paid money (not nearly as much as is reported by the way…but enough) that provided an economic incentive for wrong doing by corrupt governments, orphanage officials, unethical "non profit" agencies and criminals.

But (and this is important) we adoptive families, who often spend our life savings and go into debt to adopt, who invest far more in terms of time, energy and love into these children, who are devastated and left ruined when it turns out our adoptions are fraudulent, WE TOO ARE VICTIMS OF THIS BROKEN SYSTEM.

Pitting the adoptive parents as the bad guy makes no sense. Don't you think WE too were reporting irregularities to the State Department? Were we not calling our Senators, warning others to avoid bad agencies and programs, sickened by every report of adoptions gone wrong? Do you understand we too were coerced and lied to and manipulated by the real evil doers? When an adoption is completed under fraudulent circumstances adoptive parents are as much the victim as anyone.

Adoptive parents have EVERYTHING TO GAIN by rooting out wrong doing in adoption.

While the simplistic response might be to shut down all IA, AP's who have held children  languishing in wretched institutional care, feel duty bound to keep this vital safety valve open. Because for many of them, especially older and special needs children, it's their only hope.

It seems to me that these goals are not mutually exclusive of one another.

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A note to those who wish to comment:  This blog is MINE.  I'm an AP writing for friends and other AP's.  You can guess the bent.  You knew what you were in for a nanosecond after you got here.  So while you don't have to agree you don't have to flame out on me either. (For goodness sake I'm amateur blogger on a free blog service-how do I threaten you??)  I read blogs all the time, by adoptees, birth mothers etc and often I am down right hurt and insulted by what I find BUT I never flame because the conversation is NOT MINE.  A little mutual respect is all I ask.  I mean it's not as if I forced you here.

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