Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lesser of two evils...


Which do you think is the lesser of two evils?

1. Raise adoption fees.
2. Lower humanitarian aid.

For the record, I am not in the midst of choosing between one of these two "evils." It's just something that's been on my mind lately. If I were in charge and had to pick ONE of these, which would it be?


Patty 12:46 AM  

Why do either? Keep adoption fees where they are at and get creative about finding other ways to raise funds for humanitarian aid. I think many adoptive families already have to really stretch to pay adoption fees, so would hate to discourage anyone from adding to their family. I also think in the long run many adoptive families provide much in the way of humanitarian aid, but it is difficult to do so when you are trying to fund an adoption.

Cindy 12:56 AM  

That is a fantastic question.
It is hard to raise adoption fees because the huge numbers do have a tendency to induce panic and make families believe they can ever have the money they need to adopt.
At the same time you have a trust with the people the NGO is helping in the country. Also I for one LOVE the humanitarian work being done there.
Tough stuff. I adore your blog Anita : )

A. Gillispie 1:02 AM  

There are times when one or the other (or both) has to occur. It's assumed that adoptive parents continue to give to humanitarian aide after their adoptions, but I can assure you that this is not always the case (or even the case most of the time). I am just as guilty about this as anybody else.

Obviously, I see things from the point of view of the adoptive parent and cringe at the thought of rising adoption fees. Hmmm...but then I think of how the Lord has always made a way for us to complete the financial side of things in one way or another. Yes, we're still paying off a loan 10 years after adopting our daughter, but I'll be paying off my house for 30, so that's easy to justify.

Seeing things from the behind-the-scenes humanitarian side is a newer point of view for me. What if donations aren't coming in like they used to (recession, more non-profits to give to, etc.)? I think most adoption agencies are seeing that these days.

As an adoptive parent I want to see my agency heavily involved in family preservation projects in the country of my child's birth. I don't have to think about how that happens--I just want it to happen--even if I'm not giving back to my agency after my adoption is complete.

The reality is, either the adoption fees have to cover humanitarian aide, or the families have to donate in an ongoing fashion. As a parent, it's easy for me to not think about the consequence of my inaction. I probably don't know if some Ghanaian family that was being sponsored by my agency so they could stay together is now left alone with no assistence.

Hard problem. Creativity in fundraising is easy to say and hard to do--especially without volunteers to do it.

A. Gillispie 1:05 AM  

Exactly Cindy. And if less families feel like they can adopt, then humanitarian aide goes even further down! I thinking about this one it feels like an absolutely no win situation--the perfect catch 22.

Alysa 1:26 AM  

Let me ask this question: If adoption was free or near free, would all the available children in the world be adopted, or is cost just used as an excuse? And if free adoption would result in all children would be adopted, how would that impact the need for humanitarian aid? I know this is not a simple question but I am interested to hear your answer.

Kait 7:53 AM  

I think more of the problem lies in the fact that most adoptive families don't realize that ongoing aid is needed. The majority of the adoption blogs I read or the Christian adoptive parents I meet all say the same thing - they "ransomed" or "saved" their child. The unspoken part being their attitude of "I did my part. I saved a life. I gave this kid a family."

Of the several adoption agencies we've contacted, all have had a humanitarian fee involved but none have actively explained it. Does that money go to the orphanage? Or does it go to helping preserve at risk families? Does it go to line the pockets of someone along the way of the adoption? I don't know. No one really discusses it. It's almost expected that once we're home with our child we'll feel convicted to continue donating and helping but honestly, most of us are so overwhelmed with adjusting to our new life that the last thing we want to do is try process everything we saw and felt in our child's birth country. It's easy to push it aside.

I don't really know what the right answer is. If adoption fees are raised, even less children will be adopted. That might not be such a big deal as it seems that the most ethically run agencies tend to be the cheapest anyway (less overhead? I don't know). But Anita, your attitude of easy to justify a ten year loan for your child isn't one that carries through most people. Most people look at the $30,000 price tag to adopt one child and never look at adoption again.

But obviously the humanitarian help is needed to preserve families and provide for those not adopted.

exmish 11:01 AM  

My thought is, though, which side of the equation could better absorb the problem?

I don't know the answer to that, and it probably differs depending on the situation, but my guess is that more often than not, an adoptive family would have access to means more easily than an NGO. Maybe?

Heather 11:25 AM  

Hmmm, my gut reaction as an adoptive parent in process, is do less humanitarian work because ultimately, it is an ADOPTION AGENCY that's pupose is adoption, not an NGO.

My gut reaction as a human being is up the fees because I think that there are way more adoptive parents that just want to get their child/ren and be done with it than there are AP's that want to make a difference in their child's country.

My feeling is that because AAI is one of the ethical agencies engaged in ongoing humanitarian aid,it attracts clientel that is also concerned about ethics and ongoing humanitarian aid. But from what I've seen of other agencies. . . Not only are the agencies just in it to make money, but the AP's don't give a flying flip about anyone but themselves.

Not to mention that most Americans have no problem financing a freaking tv,computer, car, trip to Macy's. . . So why not finance something that's actually meaningful?

Sorry for the rant. I'm just so sick of AP's that don't care and don't care to be educated.

A. Gillispie 4:45 PM  

Alysa, what an interesting question. I don't personally believe that even if adoption were free all of the children who need to be adopted would be adopted. The much oldre children...the children with significant special needs...the kids with horrific abusive pasts...some of them would wait even if there were no fees.

BUT--even if I believed all adoptable kids would be adopted, I don't believe that would lessen the need for humanitarian aid. I can't speak for other agencies, but the one I work for (where humanitarian aide is concerned) is just as focused on the care of vulnerable kids who will NOT be adopted as the care of orphaned children who could be adopted. In a developing country, there would always be a need for help--even if that help had nothing to do with adoption or adoptable children.

A. Gillispie 4:51 PM  

Kait, what a thought-provoking comment.

When you ask agencies where the humanitarian aide goes, do they not give you clear answers? That information is given to potential families with AAI from the very first information they receive. It's also on our website. If someone asked for more specifics I wouldn't hesitate to answer. [Not saying to sound goodie-two-shoes. It's just the truth and I would have thought that was nothing out of the ordinary. Why wouldn't agencies want to talk about the work they are doing? That's crazy to me!] =-)

I agree with you that there is a period post-adoption when you are so focused on surviving that "giving back" is the last thing on your mind! But that's probably where we post-adoptive "in a good place" families should fill the gap. Heck--we even have lots of pre-adoptive families that are SUPER generous.

A. Gillispie 4:53 PM  

Exmish, my goodness I think that is a great way to think about it. I hadn't considered it from that angle, but completely agree with you. We parents in the U.S. are much more likely to be able to absorb rising costs (generally) than vulnerable families in Ghana who need that measly $50 a month in food to simply survive. Nobody here is dying or being split up because of rising adoption costs, but children/families in Ghana could pay just that high a price if the humanitarian aide is chopped.

A. Gillispie 5:03 PM  

Heather, thanks for ranting! I totally "get" your rants! Good point that agencies like AAI might draw a more humanitarian-conscious client base. I think that is generally true. And also, it's right there in the contract that they expect families to "give back" in some way (donations, fundraising, volunteering, etc.).

For the record, where AAI families are concerned, I am always amazed at the generosity!!! I can say that for OUR program the bigger problem (lately) is the "loss" of donations to AAI Ghana (and therefore our partner NGO) because people feel that some of the start-up non-profits in our community are in more need of the donations. It might be hard for folks to believe how much AAI relies on donations in order to do the work they do. I know I wouldn't have believed what a big part the donations are until I had seen behind the scenes. It's huge. HUGE. Fees do *NOT* cover the h. work. They help.

In response to agencies that are just agencies and not NGO...I guess my vision of an adoption agency does include a lot of humanitarian aide--unless they are a for-profit agency. I know that doesn't fly across the board. I have been SHOCKED to hear of agencies with active programs that don't even provide for the kids in their program that are being adopted, let alone other orphaned kids or vulnerable kids still with families. I just. don't. get. that!

Michelle 8:50 PM  

I think adoptive parents can afford an increase in cost...when you know that your family is called to adopt...God doesn't let a few hundred dollars stand between you and your child...even if it means cancelling your cable..haha.
The cost already is so great it is hard to step out and start an adoption without a huge sense of faith that everything will come together...funding and all!