Monday, August 8, 2011

Ethics and Morality in Adoption, Part II

This is the second post on the ethics and morality of adoption s spurred by the case of Aneyli who was kidnapped from Guatemala and subsequently adopted by an American family refusing to return her, which appears here.

Ethica has issued a position on the case which while entitled "Not a time to rejoice" claims to take no position on the child's life in the balance. It concludes:
What we forget is that although this case is extraordinary in its outcome (with its ultimate end still to come), it is not extraordinary in and of itself.  Unethical adoptions characterized by outright fraud and more subtle coercion happen on a daily basis around the world.  Until we stand up and demand sweeping changes in adoption, this will not change.
And really, the bottom line is this: in this case, and in thousands like it, there is a child, and she is no longer living with the loving family that intended to raise her.  She was adopted by people who love her and intended to raise her, too.  In the balance swings the child, her entire life experience shaped not by her parents, but by those who stand to profit from the very experiences that cause her trauma.  While we are so quick to judge the families in fraudulent international adoptions, it would behoove us to scrutinize the actors who have gained financially in the process of moving a child from one family to another.
 I fully concur, but add one more thought (thank you Etta): 

These child trafficking rings would not exist
without the Western demand for babies.  
If we are to root out the immoral and unethical as well as the illegal, we need to each ask ourselves if we are part of the solution or part of the problem. 

Every time someone chooses to spend tens of thousands of dollars to adopt a child instead of choosing to provide care for one of the 120,000 children in foster care, they are risking aiding and abetting child traffickers and they are impeding the chances of a family from within the child's nation of birth from adopting because such families who would adopt, cannot compete financially.

Every time someone chooses to spend tens of thousands of dollars to take one child from his or her nation, culture, language, they are leaving behind the rest of his family, siblings and often extended family (if not a parent) in the same impoverished conditions, instead of choosing to spend those same dollars to feed a village, build a school, or provide medical supplies.

Let's tell it like it is and stop rewarding such choices with tax benefits and accolades, pretending these to be acts of altruism, while telling young mothers they are selfish to cherish their own flesh and blood because other seek it!  

Adoption is intended to find homes for children in need not to snatch wanted children or to coerce them from loving, caring, capable mothers for greed, profit or to fill a demand.

“Regrettably, in many cases, the emphasis has changed from the desire to provide a needy child with a home, to that of providing a needy parent with a child. As a result, a whole industry has grown, generating millions of dollars of revenues each year . . .”
The Special Rapporteur, United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 2003.
"Over the past 30 years, the number of families from wealthy countries wanting to adopt children from other countries has grown substantially. At the same time, lack of regulation and oversight, particularly in the countries of origin, coupled with the potential for financial gain, has spurred the growth of an industry around adoption, where profit, rather than the best interests of children, takes centre stage. Abuses include the sale and abduction of children, coercion of parents, and bribery."
UNICEF's position on Inter-country adoption

"If ... the best interests of the child is to be the determining factor in child custody cases ... persons seeking babies to adopt might profitably frequent grocery stores and snatch babies from carts when the parent is looking the other way. Then, if custody proceedings can be delayed long enough, they can assert that they have a nicer home, a superior education, a better job or whatever, and that the best interests of the child are with the baby snatchers. Children of parents living in public housing or other conditions deemed less affluent and children of single parents might be considered particularly fair game." 
Justice James Heiple, Illinois Supreme Court in the "Baby Richard" case.

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