Monday, August 20, 2007

Not exactly ethics...but still on my heart

International adoption is not the answer. It won't stop poverty. It won't stop children from becoming orphans. It won't stop AIDS. It is a stop-gap method of giving a handful of the world's most vulnerable children permanency, care, and love. I'm speaking of this issue from a political/world view here--not from the view of we adoptive parents who also have the privilege of being able to bring one of these children into our family's out of love and our own selfish desire to grow a family.

I struggle with this from time to time. When I'm not struggling with it, it's because I choose not to let myself go there. Are we adoptive parents going through programs that are committed to keeping biological families together if possible? Are we going through programs that support and encourage domestic adoption within the foreign country? Are we going through programs that address social issues within the country that could make a difference in the over-all orphan crisis of that country? If not, what are we doing to address that as individuals?

I know an HIV+ child and I'm heartbroken for her. Of course there are millions of HIV+ children in Africa, that are now orphaned because AIDS took their parents. But this little girl.......*I* have met this little girl. I have held this little girl. I have caressed her hair and kissed her cheek. All of the sudden the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS in Africa are personal.

This little girl's family loves her. They want to care for her and give her medicine for the HIV, but they cannot. Who could afford that? $35 could be a month's salary to this family--they don't have it for life-saving medication. So they are forced to think about giving this child to an orphanage. Maybe they can help? Problem is that 98% of orphanages in Ghana can't afford the medication any better than the original family can. And they can't give the girl for adoption because of religious convictions.

What are we doing for family's like these? This is a child who has a family who loves her. This is a child who could have a much longer life with anti-retro-viral medication and close medical followup. This is a child who could have grand babies if she were born in the U.S. But instead her life is melting away like cube of ice on hot pavement. Fast. Without ceasing. It will be gone before long.

But if this child's family was given $35 a month for her medicine, would it be used for that? Every month? What about when there isn't enough rice to eat? Medicine or food? An impossible choice.

Even if an existing aide program was found that could administer the drugs for the family literate? Do they have a watch so that they know when to give the meds each day? Do they have the taxi or tro-tro money to take the child to the hospital?

I sit here sometimes late at night and go round and round with scenarios like these. HIV is on my heart right now. That little girl is on my heart right now. But another day it could be about keeping families together by providing food, or counseling, or....

In the end what are we left with? International adoption. I do not believe that the primary motive for international adoption should be to "save" a child. Parents need to want to love a feel that their family isn't complete without that child. At the same time, international adoption does save these children. If not from AIDS, then from prostitution, or slavery, or child abuse, or a life without one single attachment to another human being.

We're saving just such a tiny percentage. And really, wouldn't our child have been better "saved" if they were somehow able to grow up with their original family, in their original country, without the trauma that occurred when they were yanked from everything they knew? Except where abuse is involved, I believe this to be true.

International adoption helps to alleviate the orphan crisis. But what are we doing to help eliminate it? It has to go beyond international adoption and supporting international adoption programs. We must go deeper. We've gotta go where it hurts to go and ask ourselves how we could have helped to keep our own adopted children with their original families. If you could step back in time would you do that for your child? [A lot of us wouldn't. That's where our selfishness comes in.] But can we step up and find ways to keep the next child from becoming an orphan?



leisa 2:39 AM  

This is a great post, I am going to link it on mine, hope that is ok?
These questions are part of the conversations I am having with the girls (waiting mums and those home with their kids) from our support group. I hope to answer yes to your questions. I don't know how well the system does as far as encouraging local adoptions but I agree we must be actively helping.
I disagree with you regarding the lengths we as adoptive parents would go to to keep our children with their families. I think the vast majority of us would move heaven and earth to spare our children this trauma. Unfortunately it would not make much difference to the numbers of orphans world wide. But making a difference to just one child is what drives me.

Barbara C 5:12 AM  

Anita, I think one of the best solutions is the kind of thing that is done by the home Casa Para Ninos in Guatemala
They take orphaned and abandoned children, give them a good home with good education, good Christian training, and medical care right there in Guatemala. Their hope is that these children would be outstanding members of Guatemalan society, and so far, by and large, that has been the case. I think it is a great idea.

ManyBlessings 7:12 AM  

This has been very heavy on my mind lately. I have too many thoughts on this subject to put it on here. I need to blog about it today...

Anita and Family 9:15 AM  


I would like to think that I would have found out about my children, flown to their country of origin, and committed to correcting whatever it was that caused them to be made available for adoption. But I haven't done that. I met my son's birth mother in Vietnam. Why didn't I see if I could help her rebuild her life so that he could stay with her? I knew that the only thing making my son from Ghana available was the fact that his family couldn't feed him. I didn't offer to support the family, to pay hopsital bills to correct the malnutrition, so that he could be returned to his family. Why not?

Because I wanted to be a mom. And the only way I can become a mom is to adopt a child whose family can no longer care for them. I'm selfish. I feel guilty.

Giving money (and personal support) to individual families isn't a solution to the orphan crisis. But it might have been the solution to my own children's crisis, if only I hadn't been so selfish as to want to love them as my own.

I couldn't give them up. I wasn't as strong as birth families have to be when they relinquish their children.

I profit blessings every day because my children suffered a horrendous tragedy in their lives.


Bingaling 10:42 AM  

I had a big response typed out...but I decided that I had too many feelings, too much to process through and say so I am going to post on my own blog about this later. I'll post a link back here, too.

Christina 11:29 AM  

I think this is the ultimate in ethics... because it goes to the intent behind all the so-called "humanitarian" donations and efforts made by agencies and even by adoptive parents. Are we doing things just to make us feel less guilty (like buying a house for our child's birthfamily) or to keep the channel of available children open (like when agencies give money to fix up orphanages) ... or are we looking at the root causes and seeking to find answers to those problems? It's harder, costlier, and a lot slower to get to the root causes - but I agree, that's where we need to go. (not that the other types of aide aren't needed, but there needs to be a better balance in the aid)

Dawn Shelton 5:12 PM  

Thank you for sharing your thoughts...I don't think you are selfish, though. Your family is beautiful!

I am a waiting mom for China and we would like to adopt from another country next time.

Daddy D 12:20 PM  

You have done a wonderful thing and doing a wonderful job!! YOu have a great family .. supportive husband and a happy life and three lucky kiddos!! Don't beat yourself up over this.. all the thinking.. blogging and talk won't solve anything.. alot of it ends up being just that.. talk. Your going the extra mile with the work you do already. Everyone wants to help... BUT!!! through the my program Echina... I have learnt alot!! the people that want to will..the rest just says ..yes.. isn't it terrible!!! then order an extra shot in their latte!! you can lead a horse to water ... yadda .. yadda yadda!!!!
I am lucky with the sponsors that I have and we are sending four kiddos to school now in Ghana... yes I am willing to help them and support them... but ask me if I would be willing to help in any other way??? I couldnt answer that honestly!!! sorry... I have my own family now... and it's all about me and him!!
Helping our children's family before we adopted them if we had the chance that they wouldn't be separated in the first place?? There are just too many what ifs !!
Ok..... I know .. I have said enough!!
Bright is looking great.. !!! as are the other two little gems!!!
God bless

Linda 10:21 PM  

This is always heavy on my heart but I know that there is no way we could have gotten the money it took to do our adoptions for sending humanitarian aide in the hopes that specific families would use it for the intended purposes. Adoption reimbursements and tax credits paid us back for the borrowed money with which we adopted. NO ONE loans money and gives tax credits or reimbursements for humanitarian aide.That said, we have and do give what we can to established NGOs who care for the older and unadoptable children, and we love and care for the wonderful blessings bestowed upon us through the tragedy of other needy families. As the grand mother of a child placed for adoption because my son and his wife were in no emotional or financial position to raise the child they'd created, and who could not bear watching other family members raise THEIR child, I understand this issue from BOTH sides. No amount of money would have made my son and daughter in law more mature, made them (better) parents, lessened their embarrassment and shame that someone else was raising their child and that they knew they could not. I am thankful for the loving famiy who adopted my now 10 year old grandson. I think about him often, I will never know him. I have two photos of him taken when he was one day old. I would have happily become his mother, but it was not my decision. I am doing my best to be the loving and devoted (adopted) mommy to the birth children of others even as I believe, hope and pray the Texas family who adopted my grandson are to him. It is not simple, it just is......................

Greg and Marcia Erickson 8:35 AM  

Hi Anita,

I've followed Bright coming home...AMAZING!!!

I have a blog and have reposted this story of yours...I love your honesty of struggle concerning poverty in our world!

marcia erickson