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."

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 


Kim said...

I am trying to learn more about both sides of this issue. After reading your post, I must ask: "Have you personally ever spent time in any orphanage?"

Having spent almost a year in Eastern Europe, visiting both orphanages and foster homes almost daily, and recently, days visiting seven orphanages in Dominican Republic, I wonder if you ever have?

Now that my eyes have been open to the life the children exist in, their lives spent being warehoused, at best, I can not understand anyone wanting them to stay there!

There have to be situations when finding the children homes, even in other countries, has to be better than allowing them languish? Even you must be able to understand this?

I love discussion. It's where I learn the most. I hope you reply.

Mirah Riben said...


I understand the knee-jerk reaction to want to grab up as many babies as you can in your arms and take them home with you. And no, I have not personally been to these orphanages, but I trust the sources who have been such as Rolie Post who tells us that conditions are not that awful in Romania, for instance, and that some orphanages make things looks worse for visitors to increase donations.

I also trust the multiple NGOs who work on the ground with these children and tell us that 90% of the children in orphanages worldwide are not orphans at all but have at least one living parent, or extended family who visit and seek to reunify their families. They use orphanages for education, food and medical assistance.

Taking children one at a time does nothing to ameliorate the poverty of their siblings, their clansmen, their village or nation. The tens of thousands of dollars paid to adopt - much of which feeds the corruption and trafficking of children - would be far better pent building schools, buying books or medical supplies or digging wells.

“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.

Kim said...

Dear Mirah,

Hmmm...interesting. That's not what I found in Ukraine at all.

I had a gentleman from Izmail approach me and ask me if it were true what a UNICEF worker had told him - that his country could receive more aid from organizations like U.S.AID and the Gates Foundation, if Ukraine would stop inter-country adoptions, completely? I was shocked and unprepared to answer him at the time...

What I found in the orphanages were, let's take the one in Izmail, was 150 children, age 5 and below, who were not being visited by family members. Out of the 3 months I was there, two times daily, only one child was visited by a mother, one time. She came to inform the director that she was moving away, would not be coming back. Hers was an alcoholism story, and yes, she could have used intervention - on that we agree. Whether she would have accepted help, or even believed she needed help, is another question...

The problem I observed was that any money that would be given to this country to alleviate the poverty I witnessed, would have never made it to the families in need, the corruption in-between and along the 'supply lines' was simply too great. And the orphanages would never see any...of that I'm sure. I witnessed first hand how all the new clothes went home with workers, while the orphans wore mis-matched, faded clothes...however, they were kept warm.

I saw hundreds of thousands of dollars come into the Izmail area through the Peace Corps workers I hung out with. They established museums for war relics and handicrafts preserving their heritage. They tried to establish cottage type industries for the handicapped and single women there, but the turn out for the training offered during the one year's time was extremely low -- less than a handful, total. They obviously needed education on how to learn a trade to help alleviate the poverty they found themselves in, and not wait for a return to communism and help from the state. Those are the types of comments I heard, first-hand.

It makes a huge difference when you observe what's really going on in person. I personally find it hard to give credit to an argument that has no first-hand experience, now. Once you find yourself out of the comfort of your living room, the world looks different. It's not as simple as "tens of thousands of dollars would be better put to use digging wells, school supplies, etc." The money intended for that purpose simply never makes it there! It may be hard to understand, if you've never been there and observed it, as I have.

I'm not so sure that getting children into loving families, one at a time, isn't the best we can do right now, with the corruption going on, and not just in Ukraine. The pressure to ensure that each child is a legitimate orphan is well-placed. Educating parents to the plight of the older child orphan is also necessary.

What I do understand is this -- leaving the hundreds of thousands of children to deteriorate in orphanages as 'victims of a greater poverty issue' is not the best we can do. Their suffering is too great.

Perhaps, the United States could employ a two-pronged approach to inter-country adoption and the prevention of it's necessity. It's a solution I haven't heard of being offered yet, but I believe it's worth consideration.

I'll keep stopping by. Thank you for your reply and allowing me to write my thoughts here! My education continues...


Mirah Riben said...

Yes, Kim, corruption is at the root of much evil, including the adoption industry which is plagues by endemic corruption.

It is the corruption that needs to be eradicated. That is the point of this blog post - we need to face up to it not ignore it. Exchanging one form of corruption for another is not the answer and that is what adoption does.

I am your time there, did any children get adopted? If so, did you follow up to see how they frae din their new homes? Did their FAS interfere with their bonding and development? Adoption does noting to change those underlying issues. It does not prevent unintended pregnancies or alcoholism of mothers or AIDs etc. At best, it trades issues: poverty for loss of culture, language, identity etc...

I highly recommend you read the works of adults adopted from overseas, such as that of Jane Jeong Trenka. You cannot look at a situation from just one perspective. In person perceptions are valuable, but you need to sometimes steep back and view the larger picture.

Mirah Riben said...

Learn. Educate yourself...there is a LOT to learn and many different perspectives.

Suggested readings:

Orphaned or Stolen:

Duped by Indian adoption agency, US family cautions couples.

Read Julia Rollings story at:

Read also: The Lie We Love by E.J.Graff

The works of David Smolin on child trafficking:

Re China, read:

Re Ethiopia:

Mirah Riben said...

"The idea that the developing world has millions of
healthy infants and toddlers in need of new homes is a
myth. In poor countries as in rich ones, healthy babies
are rarely abandoned or relinquished — except in China,
with its one-child policy. The vast majority of children
who need adoption are older, sick, disabled or
traumatized. But most Westerners waiting in line are
looking for healthy infants or toddlers to take home."

K-6714 said...

I am a Korean adoptee.
I was once an "orphan" living in an awful orphanage in a poor country (back then Korea was a poor). It was so awful that anyone would say it's better to find the poor little children good homes in another country than letting them languish.

In fact, I wasn't an orphan (and there were no orphan at the orphanage). I had a father, three older siblings, nephew and niece, many aunts, uncles and cousins.

That awful orphanage was source of adoptable children for adoption agencies and other orphanages.

That's how I was transferred from that orphanage to a second orphanage where I was put up for adoption without the knowledge of my family.

In both orphanages I went through, children were either abandoned or placed temporarily due to poverty; some children were lost. In the first orphanage, some were runaway children or delinquent.

In both orphanages, I saw mothers who had come to fetch their children, but they returned home without them because they were "advised" to let their children at the orphanage. At my second orphanage, one single mother took back her two daughters, but before taking them back they tried to convince her to let them at the orphanage.

I've seen and heard much more while living in the orphanages.

I can understand people wanting to save the children, however I hate that people are using such kind of orphanages to justify the adoption industry instead of helping the families to keep them or even building good orphanages.

Prospective adopters, the money you are spending to buy the children to build your "own" families are destroying families.

Adopters, the money you spent to buy children to build your "own" families destroyed your children's families.

Mirah Riben said...

Thank you so very much for sharing such a POWERFUl and heartfelt testimony!

Mirah Riben said...

NOTE: A recent study finds "that the early stress of separation from a biological parent impacts long-term programming of genome function; this might explain why adopted children may be particularly vulnerable to harsh parenting in terms of their physical and mental health," said Grigorenko. "Parenting adopted children might require much more nurturing care to reverse these changes in genome regulation."

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