Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haitian Adoption UPDATE: Donaldson, UAI, and & My Perspective

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issued a statement extending"condolences to the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been lost, devastated or irrevocably altered by the earthquake in Haiti" and urging "that priority be given to the protection and care of the children who are most vulnerable during this time of crisis."

They refer to their  2005  Policy Brief outlining some of the "unique threats posed to children as the result of major disasters": "Intercountry Adoptions in Emergencies: The Tsunami Orphans"

Their Tsunami statement states:

"...threats to children in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami were evident in confirmed
reports by the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) of a child being trafficked in the hardest hit province of Aceh, Indonesia, and of adolescent boys and girls being recruited as soldiers by the Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, approximately 90 percent of the people internally displaced by the tsunami had been uprooted before as a result of the ethnic conflict and civil war that has ravaged the country for 18 years (WHO, 2005 March 11). ... In response to fears that children could be exploited or abducted by human traffickers – a problem throughout the region – Sri Lanka banned the adoption of any child affected by the tsunami either for in-country or intercountry adoption, while Indonesia banned the transfer of any child under the age of 16 from the most devastated province of
Aceh, and explicitly banned any intercountry adoptions."

The 2005 Donaldson report goes on to say that "It is clear that current international conventions and ethical adoption practice guidelines would not recommend adoption at the height of an emergency." 

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform hasmeanhile issued a statement stating: "that some Adoption Authority personnel in Haiti have been killed and records are likely lost. Many children have not only been declared to be adoptable, but in the eyes of the Haiti government are legally the children of foreign parents. We call upon the authorities of US, Canada, France and other countries who have families matched with adoptable children to unite the children with their new families as fast as possible." [Please see my perspective below which relates to this "matching' directly.]

Expressing an opposing view on the current situation in haiti regarding adoption is an excellent report by United Adoptees International has a fine report on the situation which includes a statement from Ethica.  They are unequivocal:

Adoption is used as a replacement for safety features which should be placed first before children leave devastated countries for adoption.

Adoption is not a measure of rescuing children never the less the media and the adoption lobby wants us to believe. But every time when something happens in none western countries, the western cultures show no hesitation to fly out the most healthy and young children for intercountry adoption.

Even when children are located and in process of adoption, the measures to fly these located children for adoption out of the country should raise discussion based on the practise and history of such adoptions. At least, adoptive parents (most times board members of adoption agencies and in many cases owners of adoption agencies) should not be in charge of such operations.

Their interest is not to safe the children because of their lives but to safe the children to 'own' them. 

I applaud their unashamed directness!

United Adoptees International is an organisation run and managed by adoptees. Foremost in the Netherlands but with great help and support from adoptees and adoptee supporting organisations worldwide.

The UAI is a foundation focussing on helping Adoptees, data mining and reviewing and commenting on Human Rights issues endangering childrights everyday again. The UAI is not against adoption but against all the side effects which appears everyday in (internationa)l adoption.

We believe, that (Intercountry) adoption should be a last resort for children in need for a family and not a third option and facility for childless couples in the West.

If adoption is an option, than all the requirements for a tracable and correct adoption procedure should be fulfilled before any adoption is executed.

The UAI became last few years an important opinion leader in the Netherlands and abroad in the field of Intercountry Adoption (ICA).

Please see my suggested list of safe sites for donations at this time of great need in Haiti.

My Perspective

In 2007 I attended the Ethica/Donaldson conference. Because the conference date wound up coinciding with the closing adoptions in Guatemala, a special session with UN representatives was added.

The room was filled with a very angry and hostile crowd of prospective adopters who had adoptions "in the pipeline." They were VILE and arrogant to the UN representatives who were trying to explain why decisions were made and what the current situation was. they didn't want to hear any if it!  Many were quite rude. Their position appeared to be "we paid for it and we want it -- and we want it now - and damn you or anyone who tried to stand in our way."

Many of them came holding photos of "their" child. And therein, IMHO, lies the problem.

I see it as much the same scenario that occurs in domestic adoptions. prospective adopters become enmeshed with one parttiulcar expectant mother or in the case of international adoptions - attached to one child. We often read of their heartbreak as they sit by empty cribs, their hopes dashed when a mother finds herself able to care for her child after all!  What should be a joyous celebration is turned into a disappointment and mass sympathy is expressed in the media for the smashed dreams of people who had themselves convinced of a 'sure thing' -- why? Because of all the time and money invested and the focus of one outcome!!

The same is occurring now as those who have APPLIED to adopt have been sent photos and have formed a "bond" of some kind - they now feel as if "their child" is in the midst of this horrific disaster and they want the U.S. to break all ordinary rules and rush "their child" "home" to them!

On the one hand, it is understandable...given the set up for them to believe and have all expectations of this one child being "theirs."  And foreign governments declaring children awaiting to travel to and enter a new nation and have their adoption finalized thereto be "legally the children of" their perspective adopters, as is also done in Guatemala, exacerbates a very emotionally charged situation.

I mean, after all, if you paid the ticket price and filled out all the appear work to say - purchase a new automobile...wouldn't you except delivery of same? Would you not be furious if you were then told that your very expensive guaranteed pre-owned foreign imported vehicle was held up in customs or as a result of natural disaster! 

While understandable, there is something repulsive that in the wake of mass human devastation, anyone could be so narrowly focused on just one child and be damned with the rest. Yet, if were your actual child...or moher...or spouse, wouldn't you feel the same way?  And, after all, it's always what transnational adoption is all about.  Isn't it always the case that the tens of thousands of dollars are spent to obtain POSSESSION and custody of just one child of one's OWN.... dollars which could be so much spent to alleviate the poverty and misery of an entire village, if not at least an entire family - allowing them to remain intact.

I hope the world is watching and sees how selfishly anti-altruistic adoption can be and most often, sadly, is!

Meanwhile...some are calling for some are calling "Operation Pierre Pan" modeled after the "Operation Pedro Pan" movement that brought thousands of Cuban children to the United States in the 1960s according to McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Charities Legal Services in Miami, who has already contacted Homeland Security about the idea, because aside from the logistical issues of how many children would be brought into the United States and where they will be sheltered, there are legal issues revolving around their immigration status that need to be resolved with the federal government.

While he didn't know how many children could end up calling Broward County home, Riordan said he does not every child in the program to end up in South Florida. He also doesn't expect them all to be orphans. "It would not surprise me if parents who wanted a better life for their children gave them up and said 'Here, take care of my child,'" he said. 

Does "take care of" mean permanently deny me access to or knowledge my child and him to me as adoption does???  I think not!!  I fully understand and appreciate that one man's tragedy can be another's saving grace, s in the case of organ donations.  But these are made AFTER THE DEATH of the host, which would, in this case, mean TRUE ORPHANS!

One cannot help but make the connection to vultures who circle the dying...waiting to pounce, as a commenter to my previous blog on this issue noted.  Which is not to say that all who adopt are, but clearly many are.  Even families with children who are truly trying to adopt for purely altruistic humanitarian purposes can be led astray and not realize that in their desire to aid, they are causing harm. Such has been the case with some of the best intentioned, pure of heart and motivation  families who adopted transnationally and found to their horror that they had unwittingly received stolen or kidnapped children,..and that they had unknowingly supported child traffickers.  This latter category of intentional adopters is affected by the myths perpetrated by the adoption industry and religious organizations....those who intentionally overestimate numbers of orphans and downplay the need for familial and cultural connections.

Many "rescued" adoptees show us another reality....their reality.


UAI - PORTAL said...

Dear Ms. Riben,

Thank you for your message and this article at your blog.

Keep in touch,

Hilbrand Westra

Kari said...

I am truly speechless and appalled reading your post- Mirah Riben, did you write this post on international adoption? You have only listed AdoptAuthor? I won't waste the energy or take the time to discuss each of your negative points on adoption, adoptive families or adoption agencies- but I will say that I gasped outloud reading your comparision of me to a vulture circling over Ethiopia waiting for a kill. Your comments are insulting and wrong!!!!!!!!!! I feel this article is like you stated- VILE, angry, rude and arrogant. I respect different perspectives on adoption, but to compare loving families waiting for their children as vultures- WOW that is pathetic AdoptAuthor!

You said- I hope the world is watching and sees how selfishly anti-altruistic adoption can be and most often, sadly, is! Well, I PRAY TO GOD the world is watching and people rise up to do something radical, something loving, something extraordinary and open your homes and hearts to adoption.

You said- While understandable, there is something repulsive that in the wake of mass human devastation, anyone could be so narrowly focused on just one child and be damned with the rest. After all, it's always what transnational adoption is all about. Isn't it always the case that the tens of thousands of dollars are spent to obtain POSSESSION and custody of just one child of one's OWN.... dollars which could be so much spent to alleviate the poverty and misery of an entire village, if not at least an entire family - allowing them to remain intact.

Well, I am an adoptive mom and I will tell you that if I had millions of dollars I would help a hundred village- in fact right now, I'm working hard to help 400 orphans living in Ethiopia. I challenge you to give a gift to my fundraiser- Shirts For Shoes" project. My beautiful adopted daughter is priceless- your definition of transnational adoption is wrong and upsetting in everyway. I hate to assume- but I can only guess you have never adopted a child. If you had adopted your definitions would be fervently, passionatly, radically different!!! Hands down, you have missed the most beautiful aspects of adoption.

I can only assume that you have NEVER traveled internationally to Haiti or Ethiopia or Uganda or India and held the precious orphans in your arms sick and dying and desperate for a mommy and daddy. I can only assume that you have NEVER met the extraordinary people making a difference in this world- adopting and making the Bible verse come to life "James 1:27-Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."

We are all called to help orphans!!!!!!! AdoptAutor, that includes you, too. I challenge you, to take time this year to do something radical- go on a trip that will change your life forever. I challenge you to meet my hero, Katie Davis who has adopted 13 orphans in Uganda (www.kissesfromkatie) she is 21 years old and has dedicated her life to the service of helping orphans and feeding hundreds of Ugandans eat everyday. She is PRO-ADOPTION and helps families bring home orphans from Uganda. I can introduce you to THOUSANDS of adoptive families who have healthy, happy, thriving, loving, beautiful adopted children from all over the world- domestic & internationally, as well as foster. When you have taken the time to talk to these families and children I promise you your opinions about adoption will change drastically.
Hey, I'm just a mom who loves her children- intensly and I'm thankful for the gift of adoption in our lives!!

AdoptAuthor said...

You will note that the views of adoptees are also represented here, as well as the reputable EBDAI. Yu may lso have read the quotes in the masthead and in the column to the right from the UN and other child welfare advocates and experts who advocate for adoption AS A LAST RESORT.

I have no doubt that it is painful to hear how the push for adoption in the face of such utter devastation appears to many human rights activist and others.

It has been equally painful for many very intentional, well-meaning, loving, caring, humanitarian adopters - who I have recognized here and elsewhere - to discover that the children they believed "unwanted" and who needed their "rescue" were instead taken from loving, caring mothers under unethical and illegal ways.

I have not traveled to Haiti but have been Guatemala and held sobbing mothers whose children were kidnapped for adoption. I also visited a Christian run children's home there - Amor Del Nino (google it!) and know that God calls on us to care for the widowed and orphaned - not to take them from everything they know to do so!

Like you, I do not like to make assumptions - but I would bet that you have never experiences the lifelong irresolvable grief of having lost a child to adoption. I imagine that you have not experienced being been torn from your culture, family, heritage, face and language. I would bet that your birth certificates identifies correctly to whom you were BORN and that you have access and the ability to trace your genealogy as far back as you care to and have no idea what it feels like to wonder about your own mother - or if you have siblings?

I don't challenge, but rather hope you will educate yourself to perspectives of adoption other than your own. I suggest you read the worked of adults adopted transnationally as children. Many are not as grateful as you'd like to think they'd be! They have acquired a great deal by being adopted - they have also lost a great deal.

Read some of the works of Jane Jeong Trenka, for one. Go to the UAI website.

AdoptAuthor said...

Folks, this is a heated issue. All of adoption is and this is especially so.

We are all passionate in our beliefs and want to air them.

However, I have rules for comments. Pretty standards:

- no flaming
- no personal attacks
- no vulgarity
- no commercial comments

That is why the following comment has been censored:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Haitian Adoption UPDATE: Donaldson, UAI, and & My ...":

Vultures...hunting for newly made orphans in Haiti's tragedy. White, American, "me, me, me's" with cash in their pockets and plane tickets ready to remove a child from his/her country for a "BETTER LIFE". WTF????

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX I can't stand people XXXX who think children are commodities to fulfill YOUR NEEDS. XXXXXXXXXXXXX


The Improper Adoptee said...

Well Kari-here is more support for Mirah's wonderfully educational entry from another Adoptee-I agree with everything that Mirah wrote and I am glad she posted what she did because everything she said is very important-you however come off like just another self interested PAP who does not a) understand that not all children deemed orphans in Haiti are really orphans,that their parents are still alive and they love their parents and want to stay with them that b) even if some children are really orphans they have extended family, like Aunts and Uncles they love too and would not want to be taken from and c)what these children really need is to be given financial help to benefit their famillies and their country, not a bunch of Infertile strangers who are conceited about America and the sainthood status they give themselves by Adopting poor kids(which all of you do for yourselves so you can be called Mommy and Daddy and you know it). Unless you would give alot of money to help the familiies in Haiti stay together and not get anything back for yourself like obtaining the parental status you want, then you and others like you are fair from commiting a humanatarian act. A true humanatarian act is helping someone else with out benefitting from it in anyway. I do not see that as the underlying attitude that barren couples in this country clamering to Haiti have.

The Improper Adoptee said...

Whoops, a little typo:
Unless you would give alot of money to help the familiies in Haiti stay together and not get anything back for yourself like obtaining the parental status you want, then you and others like you are **fair from commiting a humanatarian act.
** should be far( and yeah, I know I spelled humanitarian wrong everyone but I am too lazy to fix it, lol)(It's raining, I'm tired what more can I say):)

RussiaToday Apr 29, 2010 on Russian Adoption Freeze

Russi Today: America television Interview 4/16/10 Regarding the Return of Artyem, 7, to Russia alone

RT: Russia-America TV Interview 3/10

Korean Birthmothers Protest to End Adoption

Motherhood, Adoption, Surrender, & Loss

Who Am I?

Bitter Winds

Adoption and Truth Video

Adoption Truth

Birthparents Never Forget