Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Same Sex Adoption

For some time the headlines have screamed of discrimination against same sex couples adopting. Catholic agencies have closed their doors rather than go against their beliefs and allow gay couples to adopt children.  Gays are up in arms and many claim that such policies only hurt the children who could benefit from loving homes regardless of the sexual orientation of those who care for them.

When I went to press with THE STORK MARKET in 2007, the topic was just becoming an issue and my thoughts were not yet fully formed.  I am an extremely liberal progressive and fully and totally support marriage equality.  But adoption as a gay rights issue was another question altogether that required more time to formulate my conflicted feelings and form an opinion. I thus, then - and since - have avoided the subject not wanting to become embroiled in adding to the furor of adoption becoming another platform for gay rights for two reasons:

1. Adoption is not a "right"
2. Adoption should always put the needs of children above those of any of the adults

No one has a "right" to adopt. Furthermore, although they get lumped together in the media and the minds of the public, all adoptions are not equal. State adoptions of children in foster care are mandated by state law while private adoptions - domestic and international - are held to very different standards and looser regulations, based primarily on who can afford to pay the tens of thousands of dollars they cost.  Religious institutions and private adoption facilitators are not bound by the same anti-discrimination laws that state agencies are.

As far as discrimination, we need to step back and recognize that the entire concept of adoption is based on subjective prejudices that age, marital status and finances determine who is more "fit" to parent. We live in a society that makes these judgments all the time. We judge some people as too young or too old to be good parents before they ever even try. This has always been the case.

Private and religious adoption agencies always made their own selection criteria. In the 1940's - 1970's, for instance, prospective adopters had to be a married man and woman of the a particular religion and had to prove infertility - as if that made one a better parent!  Jewish agencies looked for Jewish parents for children and Catholic agencies selected catholic families. Why is that wrong if it is the wishes of the mother? They also tried to match prospective parents eye and hair color to the child so they could more easily pass the child off as their own. Age was always a factor for adopters as were requirements such as having sufficient room in the home for each child. Today the weight of those applying to adopt has become, at times, an issue as obesity is a health issue.

Today mothers considering adoption are more involved and make their own selections from a pool. Surely they are allowed the right to their own person preference, even if that includes ruling out single applicants or same sex couples if it is not what they want for their child.  Bottom line is that there is no right to adopt. Adoption is a privilege, not a right and selections are made, some based on wisdom and some simply on personal preference. And, it is always based on the MYTH that adoption provides a "better" life when in fact it only guarantees a different life. It's all a crap shoot! Background checks are sorely lacking any teeth and in private independent adoptions the adopters pay for their own home studies which are drive-by rubber stamps.

While governmental agencies are bound by anti-discrimination laws, we should be screaming far louder for the rights of children to be protected than worrying about some people being excluded by SOME agencies!  Adoption needs to be a last resort after all efforts at Family Preservation have been tried and failed. It then needs to be child-centered and decisions need to be made as to what is best for each child, not those desiring to obtain a child.

In most cases -- most especially with children coming out of state care -- permanent legal guardianship with visitation is what is best and the parents who are able to accept that are the ones best suited. Many children placed from foster care have developed relationships - good or bad - with their parents, siblings or other kin that needs to be respected and continued.   Criteria should thus put a high value on applicants who fully understand and accept that they will be caring for a child who comes with a pre-existing family and history and are ready to honor, protect and maintain that.  They also need to be people who understand that adopted children - of any age - come with emotional baggage including feelings of loss, grief, rejection and abandonment. They need to be prepared to meet these needs realistically, be able to deal with acting-out and learning difficulties, and not be seeking a child to love them.

These are the criteria all adoption agencies should be screening for, not external factors.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Adoption Blindness, Entitlement, Denial and Justification.

Some theorists posit that beliefs are formed first, then we find facts to fit our beliefs. Other researchers claim the brain processes facts and beliefs in exactly the same way

Joe Keohane, writing for the Boston Globe on "How Facts Backfire" notes: "[I]t’s never been easier for people to be wrong, and at the same time feel more certain that they’re right."

That adoption is a good thing is ingrained into the minds and hearts of the average person - and even deeper ingrained in most who have adopted and some adoption "professionals." It sits on a pedestal on high along with sunshine and rainbows.  Many see it as a noble calling, a rescue mission, altruism at its finest and a win-win for children, families and society in general. These rose-colored views of adoption see all adoptions as equal in their savior quality and abilities, making no distinctions between the adoption of a true orphan from foster care, or a child coerced from young lovers forbidden to marry, or obtained under questionable means under a totally corrupt governmental regime.

Any and all factual evidence to the contrary - cases and facts that clash with this view of adoption - are met with scorn, disbelief. They lie together in a massive garbage heap, shoved under a bulging rug labeled "anomaly." Messengers of "ugly" adoption facts and truths are treated like the whistle-blowers. They are - dismissed as disgruntled, angry and bitter for some personal reason, if not out right liars or craziods. They are defective people who only see the darkness, even in something flawlessly beautiful, as adoption.

Intentionally Deaf and Blind Adoption Professionals

I am on an email list for adoption professionals with a stated purpose of giving "professionals in the field an opportunity to network with one another in a cooperative spirit about how adoption practice can be improved."

I was recently told by the group owner to cease and deceit my "negative" postings of tragic adoption stories. Some  group members thanked the group owner for sanctioning me stating: "It's hard enough to deal with the true loss issues of adoption without viewing all adoption stories through the lens of horror and sensationalism."  I wondered, even if a story might have been sensationalized by the press, did that negate any and all true, factual basis of the atrocity? This argument sounded to me like a politician caught in a sex scandal crying about it being brought to light by his political enemies strictly for political gain. While that is likely very true, turning the issue around and blaming the accusers does not mitigate the act or accusation that caused the revelation in the first place.
The list owner told me she preferred to see "discussions" of  how to deal with various corrupt aspects of adoption than posting theses cases. 

I asked the owner, privately: "What is there to discuss or change or improve if not the ugliness? How can you ever hope to work for change with blinders on, not facing these hideous truths???" I was not allotted the respect of a reply.
I also  pointed out to her, via private communication, that in all the time I had been on the list (a year or two?) the only in-depth "discussion" involving several posters  that took place was generated by an article I posted about the Barretos who had adopted seven children from Guatemala who were subsequently removed because of severe abuse. There was great in-depth discussion about how this could have occurred.

Meanwhile, on the group list one adoption professional replied saying she was opposed to the censorship because: "Sadly, every time this sort of story hits the news, I have clients (usually birth moms) discuss it. I would rather have the information, before I am surprised. If the story is 'too ugly,' I can skip it."Another wrote:
"I don't think that the issue is negative issues vs. positive ones. As professionals in adoption we need to ever aware of the corruption, trafficking and vast array of unethical practices that have surrounded adoption. Too often we like to put on our rose-colored glasses and look away from those unethical practices. I would however like to here more professional reports of these unethical practices. Often many of these stories have a tabloid feel and that sensationalism tends to dilute the real wrongdoings. I would like to see more professional input, factual reports and research based practice ideas. All of the unethical practices have been going on for years and years. We talk about how awful it is and then move on. The practices then rear their ugly heads again with new names, different states, different countries. We owe it to all of our clients to be aware and to educate them and empower them for change no matter where
they sit in the constellation."
The group owner then stated that she alone makes the rules! And apparently her rue is that when rose-colored glasses no longer block out enough of the negativity, replace with blinders and cendorship.

Intentional Blindness of Those Who Adopt

Jennifer Hemsley, 2008 recipient of the Family Preservation Hero of the Year Award was recently  interviewed by Erin Siegal, author of Finding Fernanada. In the radio podcast Hemsley tells why she put a halt on a Guatemalan adoption that was relying on questionable paperwork.

Jessica O'Dwyer was faced with an almost identical set of circumstances and chose to proceed with her adoption. O'Dwyer an author who applauds herself in the very popular (in AP circles) book "Mamalita" -- along with the mother in the documentary "Wo Ai Ni (I Love Your) Mommy" seen counting our her bribery money and noting that some might think it wrong but it's simply "how things are done here here" -- share the title of the quintessential spokespersons for shameless, bold entitlement and justification of adoption despite red flashing lights. (Runner up is the author of "Brotherhood of Joseph").

O'Dwyer, who writes in her book of having her husband bring her UNMARKED BILLS, recently felt the need to comment regarding Hemsley's podcast stating: "for me, false paperwork is a far cry from kidnapping or coercion, although they are often all lumped together as 'corrupt adoption.'

I replied to Ms. O'Dwyer at AdoptionTalk:
1. the act of corrupting or state of being corrupt.
2. moral perversion; depravity.
3. perversion of integrity.
4. corrupt or dishonest proceedings.
5. bribery.

That's the dictionary definition.

Transparency International(TI) defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors." TI uses perceptions as a measure of corruption because "corruption – whether frequency or amount – is to a great extent a hidden activity that is difficult to measure." http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/in_detail

Note that here too the definition is not dependent on legality or criminality.

Adoption corruption takes many forms and exists in domestic as well as IA. Any and all deceit for the intent of earning a fee for their adoption, such as labeling children with parents "orphans" for instance, is corrupt.

I thus respectfully disagree with your opinion. 
O'Dwyer responded:  "I appreciate the dictionary definition of corruption and respect your interpretation of it. For me, the issue is not black-and-white, but a spectrum of gray. My opinion only, Jessica O'Dwyer"
I find it interesting that an author, a person to whom words should be important, simply dismisses the definition of the words she uses so glibly, when to do so is convenient for her.
Malinda, an attorney, law professor and the adoptive mother on whose blog this discussion was playing out said: "I do see corruption as the word with the broadest definition. I see corruption as encompassing both criminal and non-criminal conduct. Corruption would include trafficking, in my view, though is not limited to trafficking." Malinda goes on to point examples of adoptions that could be illegal and not corrupt, "For example, if there's a state requirement that an adoption decree be registered, and the decree is not registered as required, the adoption would be illegal, but it wouldn't necessarily be corrupt" as well as the reverse. "Say, for example, state law gives a birth mother 10 days to revoke consent, and the birth mother informs the adoptive parents that she is considering revoking her consent on day 8. Even if she does not formally revoke before the end of day 10, I would consider it unethical to proceed with the adoption."
I replied to Jessica O'Dwyer:
Well, everyone is entitled to an opinion. I just hope and pray that those who make laws to protect children, protect ALL children from all forms of corruption, exploitation and commodification. I hope that anything done that does not put the best interests of children first is eradicated as evil. I see no gray areas when it comes to lifelong pain, loss and harm caused to children and their families. None whatsoever. Gray areas -- yeah, it's called GRAY MARKET ADOPTION wherein lurks the murky world of coercion and fraud that has found convenient legal loopholes or simply lack of laws and regs to prevent the harm they commit, the ruined lives. Accepting gray areas is accepting all of the corruption that lies there in the grayness because it hasn't quite crossed some imaginary line or non-existent laws and regulations. It's a slippery and very dangerous slope. We must instead be super diligent IMHO because EVERY child is precious, not just SOME. Do we likewise turn out back and accept SLIGHT acts of child abuse - those that don't leave physical scars or broken bones? The gray shadows hide the hidden dangers and allow adoption to be "marketed" as a good, a "win-win". We need to shed light in all the dark areas and gray corners and bring ALL corruption into the spotlight not continue to allow it to lurk and continue operating legally in shadowy gray corners. As a mother - any harm done to YOUR child is a crime! Not just some that cross over some imaginary line. And moral, ethical societies uphold such standards and do not allow evil to survive in the black or in the gray.
Malinda summed it up saying: "Yes, kidnapping a child for the purposes of adoption is really, really, really, really bad, arguably worse than many other corrupt practices in adoption -- but problems of corruption can't really be defended by saying, 'At least she wasn't kidnapped!'"

Indeed. Bribery - such as that seen and brushed off in "Wo Ai Ni" and the use of unmarked bills is what fuels corruption. No Johns, no prostitution. Only those who have benefited from the corruption financially or otherwise attempt to redefine it as our government does when calling war missiles peace makers. Sugar coating acts of destruction with doublespeak make them no less destructive.

Jennifer Hemsley and Malinda help remind me not to paint all adoptive parents with the brush of intentional adoption blindness, entitlement, denial and justification. O'Dwyer reminds me that the problem still exists.

As for adoption professionals who prefer to wear their blinders I can only say SHAME ON YOU! You have clearly defined which side of the fence you are on and it is not the side of right and best interest of children. It is the side of greed, profiteering from misery and loss. "Professionals" who are unwilling to stand up and speak out against adoption atrocities, legal and ethical, are more concerned about filling a demand and their bottom line.

Each of us has a choice to make to be part of the problem or part of the solution. And the public has a responsibility to stop applauding actions such as these!  We need to stop excusing bribery as "how it's done."

News flash to Jessica O'Deyer: Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for CORRUPTION because of BRIBERY. Baby buying by any other name is still baby buying and it STINKS! 

More here: PoundPuppy: Exposing Corruption in IA 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I AM NOT AN ORPHAN! Korean Mothers Campaign

PLEASE SHARE THIS MESSAGE AT THIN LINK: http://www.kumsn.org/main/16265#1
Dec. 1, 2011 
CONTACT INFORMATION: Hee Jung Kwon: kumsn@kumsn.org 
Tell: 82-2-734-5007 
Fax: 82-2-720-5007 
Cell: 82-10-5210-8637 

KUMSN starts post card campaign, I am not an Orphan, to promote the rights of unwed pregnancy and unwed mothers from Dec. 1, 2011. 

According to the Report on Children in Protection by the Ministry of Health and Ministry (2011), the total number of 8,590 children were being protected by the various social welfare programs due to family poverty, parents’ jobless, or child abuse and so on in 2010. Among them, 2,804 children, about 33%, were under protection due to the reason of being born to unwed mothers. 

As has been quoted widely, about 90% of children who were sent for adoption are from unwed mothers in Korea (KWDI 2009). In other words, most children who were sent for adoption already have mothers who gave birth to them. These are mothers who say that if there had been no stigma on child birth out of wedlock and more support policies, they would chose raising their babies. Sadly 70% of them are giving up their babies for adoption as these basic conditions are missing. (Korean Women’s Social Welfare Association 2010) 

Regardless of these facts, the phrases like “Baby Angels without Parent” or “Orphans abandoned” are frequently used in the phrases used in adoption promotion campaigns. It is not true and keeps hiding the existence of unwed mothers who have equal rights to enjoy their motherhood like any other mothers. These babies are forced to be given up due to the stigma on their mothers and no support for raising them. This is very cruel to erase alive mothers and call their children orphans. In this regards, KUMSN promotes the right of mothers who gave birth out of wedlock, hoping for the end of stigma and for more support for unwed pregnancy and unwed mothers and their children. 

Please contact KUMSN if you join the campaign and send the postcard 

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