Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

Two words: Exit Strategy

with 2 comments

about Vietnam’s Withdrawal from International Adoption

International adoption has a double standard and a double face that few adoptive parents are willing to recognize. International adoption is based on the premise that less privileged societies can not take care of their own. International adoption is based on the premise that greater means = better life = more love. International adoption is full of rationalizations that promote the self-congratulatory nature of rescue and the satisfaction of contributing to a color blind world, which is a fantasy. The truth is with more support services parents in temporary distress would not relinquish their children. The truth is poor families love their children. The truth is people instantly respond to people of a different color than they do people of the same color. The truth is the little cute asian bundle of joy is going to grow up one day and realize all of the above. They may be grateful. They may love you, what choice do they have? But they’re also going to secretly be disturbed.

Potential adoptive parents say they are doing it for the children, but in all honesty, the primary locus for the vast majority of adoptions is centered on the prospective parents’ desires to complete themselves and validate their existence. This is called placing the adults’ needs above the child’s needs, and its manifestation can wreak all manner of havoc and confusion for the child. This desire, this need to have at all costs is something that needs to be deeply explored by prospective parents in terms of its healthiness to both the adoptive parents AND the child they are acquiring.

International adoption, due to the imbalance of nations, has been a ripe field for exploitation by first world countries, with little over-sight and regulation. It is a shameful and barbaric statement about our privilege when we find it unacceptable to accept unethical practices in our own country, but we can find ways to look aside or tolerate unethical practices in other countries, if it is to our benefit.

International adoption has been an experiment. An experiment that started out with good, humanitarian intentions, but that has been subverted, expanded, and capitalized upon until it has become an entitlement. It has taken many decades for the outcomes of international adoption to become evident, and because the practice continues, its constant evolution will always be decades away from clear understanding.

First world countries have been too slow to adopt ethical practices and regulate international adoption. It stands to reason supplying nations have learned from the past few decades of this experiment , have become alarmed, and no longer want to be a part of this exchange when they see the aftermath and feel the shame of exporting their babies and the mismanagement of this process. How would you feel if it were your nation on the supply end?

While I disagree with the sudden and complete withdrawal of these supplying nations and the financial and emotional heartache that can result in receiving nations, I can not fault them for finally stepping up to the plate to take a more responsible role in the welfare of their own citizens. I agree with potential adoptive parents when they say, “what about the children?” who languish in limbo post withdrawal and pre reformed social programming. That is why I believe in a ten year exit strategy instead of sudden withdrawal. However, the same criticisms can be levied on our own, wealthy nation. How can we expect to get international adoption right if we can’t even get it right in our own country? Who can trust us?

All potential adoptive parents should examine themselves thoroughly and, like any good actor ask, “what’s my motivation?” Deep honesty will pay off by eliminating much of the politicizing and polarizing. For, upon examination we should better be able to hold our desires up against what is truly in the best interests of the child. In the case of the international adoptee – it’s culture, it’s heritage, it’s place in society, something they can identify with. Many of these intangibles of when held up against a life with foreign parents with greater means are marginalized. But their value is intangible and beyond measure. International adoption is radical surgery that leaves scars on top of the given adoption scars of abandonment and loss.

And for those potential adoptive parents who absolutely think they are god’s gift to rainbow children as if what they have to offer will make all those costs to the child tolerable, to insure the availability of ethnic children, I would hope that you get in on adoption reform and the ethics bandwagon. Quickly. Otherwise, more and more countries are going to follow the lead of Vietnam, and you will be forced to deal with what you have here at home. You know – those kids who really NEED parents. The ones whose parents have really died. The ones who were abused. The ones whose parents couldn’t cope with their disabilities. The ones languishing in OUR foster homes and group homes. What about them? Did I mention something about double standards before?

I repeat: If you’re smart you’ll get in on adoption reform and support it wholeheartedly. There will be less children available, but their interests will be better looked after. It is better (from your perspective) than having the option cut off completely.

As a product of one of these transracial, intercountry adoptions, the end of international adoption would be a dream come true. I hope the adoption agencies exploiting disadvantaged people on one end and separating you from your money on the other end are exorcised out of existence, and I hope this trend towards domestic preservation continues. I’m going to continue to speak out, as more and more of my fellow adoptees do, about the realities of international adoption from the adoptee’s perspective. Our parents were not so different from you. We are not so different from the children you hope to be adopting. We didn’t ask for this. But despite better conditions, we have had to live the consequences of your decisions, and we’re the ones who are asked to adjust and we’re the ones who have to deal with all of our losses. And we don’t want any other children to have to suffer the added separation of country and culture on top of losing our mothers. We just want you to think deeply and hard about what the hell you’re doing. About your wants and your rationalizations.

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Written by girl4708

October 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Q&A

2 Responses

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  1. BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO!!

    Everything else you said is RIGHT ON and eloquently said! I could not agree more…except…I do not think we need to take ten years – I think it needs to stop and stop right now today and too bad for those who are heartbroken. Maybe it will give them some compassion for the mothers whose babies thy have been taking.

    How society views children changes and is greatly dependent on economics and other social factors. Children were once seen only as heirs to carry on lineage, and adopted as indentured servants or farm hands (i.e. Orphan Train).

    As people became wealthier, children began to be seen as children – not little adults. Childhood expanded into teens as opposed to in previous generations when they were out earning a living. Now, it is not unusual, among upper-middle class America and higher to continue to see them as “dependent chidlren” through college and even grad school!

    They have also become more highly sought. It is a sign of your loving kindness and compassion to be a parent, as opposed to a DINK – a selfish couple, spending all your wealth just on yourself. Buy a kid, and then a nanny to go with it! Spend more!

    In past generation infertility was accepted as one’s fate. Period. But in capitalistic societies — especially when capitalism runs a muck with too few regulations — we are manipulated by the money-makers: in this instance the multi billion dollar infertility industry (read Deborah Spar, The Baby Business) and the multi-billion dollar adoption industry.

    Women (and now same sex couples) are CONVINCED that their life is not complete without a baby… but, of course – don’t even start trying until you have your education and career first! Wouldn’t want to have “babies” having babies! No – those get given to others..

    We’ve got it so ass backwards. But it’s real good for the baby brokers. And the US government – led by the nose by industry lobbyists (NCFA, for one) – ENCOURAGES more and more with tax incentives etc. They use foster kids as a wedge and yet give the tax benefits MORE to those who adopt infants and internally and all that does is feed the baby brokers who raise their fees accordingly. A sick sick cycle.

    We brave few who see behind the curtain need to continue to speak out. If people are feeling uncomfortable – that’s progress. Chane is never without some pain. Clearly staying the course is causing a great deal of pain for mothers and their children, so…

    Mirah Riben, “The Stork Market: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry”

    Mirah Riben

    October 25, 2008 at 5:05 pm

  2. By saying I disagree with the sudden and complete withdrawal of supplying nations, I mean I disagree with interrupting cases already in referral. To clarify, I want all international adoption to cease, and by exit strategy I am referring to just what it will take to handle those remaining who are already hard to place.

    It shouldn’t take more than a year to get domestic funding and services in place, so that is when the immediate should commence. I also don’t think we should penalize those who have already been given their referrals. That would be cruel, and because we are asking to take the moral high ground, we have to give it as well.

    girl4708

    October 25, 2008 at 6:31 pm


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