Monday, August 01, 2011

How hard is it to find 2 orphans?!

One of my awesome families mentioned today that her family had a hard time understanding why it would take so long to adopt two orphaned boys. How hard could it be to find 2 orphaned boys in a country where there are estimated to be a million orphans? As I wrote out just how hard that can be, I thought maybe others might like to know what goes into it. I think it's common for folks new to international adoption to naively assume it should be an easy thing.

Here's the deal....

1. We don't try to "find" orphans. There is a huge amount of "luck" (fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it) involved simply for orphaned children to ever be known outside of their village.

2. There is NO centralized system in Ghana to track the orphans in the country. No list of kids in orphanages--not even a complete list of orphanages themselves.

3. If two orphaned boys are identified, the first thing we're going to do is try to see if they can remain with their family (immediate or distant)! Second, we're going to see if the boys could possibly be adopted within Ghana, domestically.

4. If the boys can't be adopted domestically and can't stay with biological family, the known biological family has to be counseled about what adoption is (and what it is not). There are LOTS of reasons why a family--even if they can't care for their children--does not want the child to be adopted.

5. If the family wants the boys to be adopted, they also have to know and accept that they will profit NOTHING from giving the boys for adoption. No gifts. No sponsorship. No ongoing support from the adoptive family after the children are in America. Nothing.

6. Even if the immediate family understands all of this and still wants the boys to go for adoption, the head of the family and oftentimes even the village chief must also agree. [Not a legal requirement, but a cultural one, to be sure.]

7. If all of that falls into place (and that is a lot) we have to hope that the boys are in a region that allows adoption (some do not) and that if the region allows adoption, the officials there are not corrupt (some are).

8. If ALL of that happens, THEN these boys could be recommended for adoption by Social Welfare--being made free for adoption.

This is why it is hard to identify two orphaned boys for adoption in Ghana.



P.S. At the top, two precious SPECIAL (needs) boys who are in need of adoption. Let me know if you think they might be yours!


fullplatemom 6:31 AM  

Our children DIDN'T take this route to being found. They came out of Ghana through an orphanage that was a mess. It has in turn made our lives a mess.

Anita, you're working in a system where the rules change constantly. It's not like China, where there is a route that everyone must take. I applaud you for going through this, and for sticking with the steps. Not everyone does.

I hope Ghana develops a central system for tracking orphans. It would prevent what happened at Luckyhill from happening anywhere else (well, if it's a system that isn't based on bribes). It would help kids from becoming victims to someone else's moneymaking scheme. I've never been in a country where the children are so vulnerable, although it's like this in a lot of countries, I'm sure.

It makes my heart hurt.


Kait 9:07 AM  

Those boys are so cute it hurts. Are they biologically related?

And thank you for this. I know you were speaking directly of Ghana but this could apply to SO MANY other countries in Africa! Yes, there are millions of orphaned kids in the world but that doesn't mean adoption is the best or only option for a majority of them.

Besides, we should never be looking for children for families. We should look for families for children.

Jenni 3:22 PM  

Thanks for the explanation, Anita. I always wonder how there are families on waiting lists and waiting children in orphanages. As an adoptive parent, it is hard to know all at goes intothe process:)

B 6:14 AM  

Thanks for sharing this, Anita. I am wondering if you would be willing to expound on what happens if there is a fall-through at any of those steps. Say steps through 6 are completed typically, but they are in a region that doesn't allow adoption, or where the officials are corrupted...what is likely to happen to the child in that case? ~B

A. Gillispie 12:40 PM  

B, what an awesome question. It doesn't have a happy answer. If all of this doesn't happen, the reality is that the child can't be adopted. We can sometimes do something if the child is in a region where adoptions aren't allowed. Maybe the child can move to a foster home in a different region and go to court there? Bottom line is, if there are corrupt officials in the child's region, we can't/won't do an adoption there. The child may stay in a residential facility (not good) or continue to stay in a family situation that isn't condusive to long-term success (some children have died).

B 6:33 AM  

Thanks for the reply, Anita. That really is a sobering answer. One more Q about this subject, does AAI restrict themselves from doing adoption from regions with corrupt officials, or is it a general guideline put into place but the American or Ghanian side of things? ~B

A. Gillispie 9:06 AM  

B., If AAI is working in a region where an official would require a bribe-type payment or other corruption, we would no longer be able to work in that region. That is a self-imposed restriction.

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Thank you so much for explaining this. For the record... we were the family (impatiently) waiting, and it was made that much harder by those around us that couldn't understand why we hadn't gotten a referral when there are so many orphans. Anita said it best when she told us that our kids would come, and that the kids all end up in "their family". We have been matched with two perfect adorable brothers and are so excited to get our sons home.