Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ghana is not the "Next Ethiopia"

I'm not lucky enough to get to go to big adoption conferences across the country like my boss Merrily. But I have heard from her and a few other people that everybody at these conferences is asking "Where is the next Ethiopia?" In other words, "What is the next country where large number of adoptive families and orphaned children can be matched with few restrictions?" I don't know a lot about a lot of things, but I do know a little about Ghana. And what I can say without doubt is that Ghana will never be "the next Ethiopia."

I am contacted by agencies that are starting up Ghana program more and more often these days. And I think that is a GREAT thing. There are around a million orphans in Ghana, and a large number of them could be adopted. I also appreciate it when agencies who are starting up seek advice from those that are already up and running. We need to work together (to a certain extent) to build a solid and ethical process in Ghana. We can't do that if we aren't sharing notes with each other and learning from each other's mistakes and successes.

It's obvious that some agencies have a realistic idea of what Ghana adoption is. It is an older child program. It is a sibling program. It is a program for couples instead of single women. It is a program for families of small to medium-large size. It is a program for folks under 50. I don't ever think it's going to be a program where thousands of kids a year come home. Heck--our attorney doesn't even want to take cases to court more than once ever few weeks so that it doesn't appear that we're "child trafficking" (a HUGE paranoid fear in Ghana where adoptions are concerned).

So to any adoption agency that happens to read this blog: Yes, there is a need in Ghana. LOTS of older kids and sibling sets are in need of adoption. But please don't think Ghana is ever going to be "the next big thing" in international adoption. It's going to (hopefully) be more like India where a moderate but steady flow of kids come home each year. It is never going to be a baby program. Don't let dozens of folks line up in a program waiting for babies in this program. It just isn't fair. And please--don't push Social Welfare too hard (or pay extra money) for the family criteria to be waived for case after case. Sometimes they will make exceptions, but that IS the exception rather than the rule.

To adoptive families who may read this blog: We need you in Ghana! But we need you to adopt kids over 3, and sibling sets, and kids with HIV and other special needs. And we need you to understand that we can't help that Ghana doesn't "like" single parents or families with more than 6 kids. We need you to understand that Ghana is probably never going to be super standardized. It's always going to be a little bit "wild west" as far as adoptions go. But the kids are amazing. And they are worth it.



matt 8:44 PM  

I've heard the Ghana call and we can't wait!

Tanya 8:46 PM  

Whew! Amen Girl! You said a mouthful and you said it beautifully! I hope all will "get" what you are saying.


Nicole - Raising Animals 8:46 PM  

Oops...that was my DH's account...that first comment was from me, Nicole. :-)

Jen 9:51 PM  

I second what Tanya said and- they are so worth the wait!

just home with Selina

sue 10:36 PM  

Our daughter Gifty is an amazing little girl! Thanks for being such a great person to work with and thank you for the role you played in completing her adoption!

Sue :)