Unintended Consequences

 October 6, 2011

Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.
Khalil Gibran 
 Some have questioned my motive for writing about the unsavory things I witnessed during my recent trip to Kazakhstan.  They have suggested there might be "unintended consequences" to this post such as causing others not to adopt from Kazakhstan and thereby leaving children left to suffer.

While not my intention I recognize there is that risk...but without risk there cannot be reward.

In my original post I wrote:

"If I knew then what I know now...I would not have chosen Kazakhstan...because (for one thing) back then I wanted the fiction sold to me (all of us), a healthy well cared for infant."


"Now don’t get me wrong these beautiful kids need families and foreign adoption is required if all are to have a chance at that but they need families who are prepared for reality-their reality.  They need parents willing and able to deal with RAD and SPD and developmental delay, the effects of poor nutrition and FAS.

And frankly they need foreign families who want to adopt older kids and kids with special needs NOT healthy infants..."

I stand by this.

I am not meaning to criticize any who adopted infants nor am I trying to dissuade PAP's from adoption in  Kazakhstan, God knows these children are in desperate need of a family but, I do want them to give pause. 

I want them to understand fully that the fiction sold to us by agencies often times does not match with the reality.  And I want them to be prepared for that reality.

I want them to understand that the real NEED in Kazakhstan is for parents willing to adopt older, SN children and not "healthy or healthy as possible" infants.  And, if they do adopt a "healthy" infant/child they need to be aware of both the trauma that child may have endured, (beyond the universal trauma that is adoption and typical orphanage delay) and the high risk of corruption involved in the adoption process.

Please notice when I said, "if I knew what I know now....I would not have chosen Kazakhstan" it was in the past tense, referring to the place I was in back in 2007 as a new PAP. Today with eyes WIDE open...

I would adopt again from Kazakhstan...

Under certain conditions.

I would even want to go back to that most miserable orphanage because THAT is where there is the most urgent need (but then again I am VERY comfortable and committed to the idea of special needs adoption....now.)

This has been an evolutionary process for me.  In the beginning I was not willing to knowingly and intentionally adopt SN or older children nor did I fully appreciate the level of corruption (as evidenced by the current closure of foreign adoption and supposed movement towards Hague),  hence my "if I knew then..." comment.

But now I do know the realities of Kaz and frankly so does every person who has read my last few posts, (whether accepted or denied or rationalized-you've heard it),  and the question now is... what do you do with that knowledge?

There is/has always been some sort of unwritten code amongst adoptive parents...the don't-rock-the-boat code...don't spoil it for others or,  perhaps it is simply a way to validate/justify our choices.

I understand this, hell I'm guilty of it...

but frankly I think there are much more severe "unintended consequences" possible under this code of silence.

And that leaves me uncomfortable, uncertain and likely unwelcome by a whole lot of Kaz AP's.

As my friends on the anti adoption side of the road  have pointed out, (by the way I have NOT crossed over), we adoptive parents are the dominant voice in adoption. We have the power to change the way adoption is done.

For the sake of the children we so dearly love, we need to use that voice to insist adoptions practices are transparent and ethical. Because while my heart aches for my daughter's birth country and I would dearly love to adopt another child from there, I am not willing to do so under the same conditions I did before.

If my choice is corrupt adoptions or closed adoptions, with great sadness I choose closed.

Furthermore I believe we AP's have a moral obligation to speak on behalf of the children left behind.  We need to insist upon humane care for the orphaned children living in sub standard (even for Kaz) conditions. And at the very least we need to stop glossing over the ugly stuff and blowing smoke at each other.

Truth, transparency, ethics, and support for one another should be our goal...and we should stretch even if it pains us to achieve it.

That doesn't happen by avoiding the icky bits.

We all did the best we could with the information we had.  I waved the Kaz adoption flag and proudly sent people there to adopt.  I too propagated the stories of clean loving orphanages, of a Muslim people who did not drink and therefore had no FAS, of a transparent process free of corruption.

That too has been an evolutionary process.

So the challenge is,...now that I know the truth, WHAT DO I DO?  And equally important how do I balance the urgent needs of the children waiting in orphanages today?

Some asked what my agenda was in writing about my experience.  They asked, what do you want us to do?

Honestly, I don't have an answer yet but I am certain the first step is acknowledgment that there is a problem.

I'm taking that step and I hope other AP's who also feel a sense of obligation to the orphans in Kazakhstan take that step with me.

And I will add two more concrete actions that can be taken;
  • Support adoption in countries that sign the Hague Treaty, which however imperfect and however much a paperwork burden, is the most significant IA measure currently in place to protect children and safe guard the rights of both birth and adoptive families.

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