My husband and I have given quite a bit of consideration to adopting a child. We’re not sure yet if we want children, but if we do decide to take on that immense responsibility, we know that we need to talk about giving a home to a child that otherwise wouldn’t have one. As teachers, we see all too often the effects on children within the foster care system, and the outcome can be heartbreaking. With the recent wave of natural disasters all over the world – hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes – not to mention ongoing global problems such as poverty, food shortages, and political unrest just to name a few, there is no shortage of heartbreaking stories about children ripped from their parents or parents with no other choice but to give up their children for adoption. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems there has been a noticeable increase in discussions in the United States about international adoption, which, along with my husband and my potential desire to adopt children, has prompted me to explore this topic further.
I have many, many questions about international adoption, and have only had a chance to do some cursory research, but I do believe it is important to explore this topic whether you are considering adoption or not, because policies are still being made and desperately do need to be made. According to the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism’s Gender and Justice Project:
For decades, international adoption has been a Wild West, all but free of meaningful law, regulation, or oversight. Western adoption agencies, seeking to satisfy consumer demand, have poured millions of dollars of adoption fees into underdeveloped countries. Those dollars and Euros have, too often, induced the unscrupulous to buy, defraud, coerce, and sometimes even kidnap children away from families that loved and would have raised them to adulthood.
The aforementioned site is an excellent resource for those considering international adoption. Along the right sidebar, about halfway down the page, there is a list of countries. Each of these country names is a clickable link that takes you to a collection of news reports about the adoption controversies in the country. This is a critically important site for those considering international adoption. While someone might be excited to accept a child into his or her home, it is vitally important to know under what circumstances that child was removed from his or her birthplace.
Erin Siegal, a current fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, has written a book, Finding Fernanda, which will be released in the fall of 2011 about two specific cases of international adoption in Guatemala. Once case chronicled is a mother from Guatemala who has her children ripped away from her and the other is a mother from the United States who is trying to adopt a child from Guatemala. This sounds like a fascinating true story, and I am looking forward to reading the book.
On perhaps a similar note, there is also a group in Haiti called The Apparent Projectthat is working to empower families in Haiti to find work and be financially stable so they don’t have to give up their children for adoption. The site states: “After all, the vast majority of Haiti’s “orphans” have not been orphaned by parental deaths, earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods, but are children of living parents who gave them up simply because they knew that the orphanage could feed their child.” This charity seems to combat the attitudes that children in Haiti are orphaned because of the death of their parents, though from what I can tell from the website does not speak to the issue of children being stolen from families or bought and sold like the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism site does. However, it is important to discuss how to empower families to be able to keep their children, as well.
After researching these sites, I still have many questions about international adoption, and I hope to be able to continue my research and find more answers. In the meantime, does anyone have any experience, knowledge, or resources about international adoption? If so, feel free to share in the comments!