The current issue of the AAC Decree (Spring 2009, Vol. 26, No 2) is on of the finest I have read in years – maybe decades. The cover story – excerpted from E. J. Graff’s “The Lies We Love” – which echoes everything said in my book, “The Stork Market” was just as good a read the second time around. Lorraine Dusky’s letter to Obama was superb in its passion and inclusiveness.
But what moved me the most – nearly to tears – was the response to Graff’s article by Margie Perscheid, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting as our paths crossed at more than one adoption conference.
Perscheid describes with eloquence her palpable pain of tearing open eyes that are glued shut to avoid the painful truth of the corruption of adoption. After discovering the child she adopted from Korea had “falsified records from the orphanage” Margie now reflects that she and others “were blinded to a good degree by our desire to have kids…” She further recognizes, agonizingly, that “the demand we adoptive parents create for healthy infants has been twisted into false charity, which not only leaves those children who are truly in need…in institutions, but incents the corrupt to obtain healthy infants through any means possible.”
Her heartfelt article concludes: “It’s up to us to stop it…”
That conclusion is not reached without Margie’s bold honesty that guided her pen throughout, revealing: “It’s hard to acknowledge that, through your ignorance, you may have played a role in something that conflicts with your personal standards.”
Margie, in this observation you are far from alone. Mothers who lost our children to adoption, such as myself, also wake up and in hindsight know that we were duped by our ignorance and lack of power and options. All of us were kept in the dark and besieged and battered with lies and myths to get us to play along like well behaved puppets in a game in which money-makers pull all the strings. While adoption practitioners were telling you, the adopters, that adopting is a magnanimous act that rescues “unwanted” children; we were being told how noble and selfless our “decision” to let our children go to and have “better” advantages was.
Those seeking to adopt are assured of the health of the child and that it is “the same as if” you gave birth, while we were told we’ll get over it and have other kids “as if” nothing ever happened. That sales pitch has changed with the times to an holding out the carrot of open adoption “as if” it is the same as being a Sunday parent.
Myths and lies all created and perpetuated by “the industry” and all those who rely on the separation of families and redistribution of children for their livelihoods.
We have finally begun to look behind the wizard’s curtain and admit the King has no clothes. However, Graff’s excellent article falls short when she says that: “Poor, illiterate birthparents in the developing world simply have fewer protections than their counterparts in the United States…” It is far easier to recognize and openly speak of exploitive practices when we can cast blame on “foreign” unscrupulous baby brokers “over there.” Yet we must see that infant adoption in this country is just as viral, albeit in far smaller numbers, the coercion more subtle; the children not outright stolen or kidnapped.
My hope is that as more adoptive parents join Margie – good people such as David and Desiree Smolin, Elizabeth Larsen, The Hemsleys - bravely speak out, we do not wear blinders that limit the problems to outside the borders of the U.S.A., but see it as one that is just as insidious in every small town and city. We must not fail to recognize that the supply and demand for healthy infants is here, as well as “there” and that America exports as well as imports baby’s for adoption – anything that makes a buck.
We need only to look at the opposition to open records in California to see social workers and adoption agencies and the organizations which represent them. Those who know better are still seeking to keep control of the key that locks the records, and keeps their secrets in tact. We must accept the ugly truth that not only are corrupt international adoptions not the anomalies we are told to believe, but neither are adoption brokers like Bessy Bernard, Georgia Tann and Seymour Kurtz.
Let us not forget that when we speak about falsified documents – such as those of Margie’s Korean born children - that our government creates a falsified birth certificate for every adoption and does it openly and above board.
Finally, we must go beyond verbalizing and writing about a need for “ethics” in adoption practices. Ethics is as subjective and vague as the word “nice.” We need to insist upon training and certification especially in child welfare for all who are involved in child placement. We need regulations to protect expectant mothers within our 50 states in terms of representation, option counseling, ample time to make an informed decision after the birth of their child.
We have a new role model other than Australia for prioritizing family preservation and kinship care before allowing adoptions…Guatemala! Shame on us when they are less corrupt than we are right here at home.