So recently I was pointed toward an article titled The Lie We Love by E.J. Graff and I have noticed that this article has caused more than one “debate” in the adoption world. I have read three very well written blog posts regarding the article: The Myth of the Safe Choice by Nicki over at VVAI (Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity), Thoughts on EJ Graff by Julie Corby over at The Anti-Racist Parent and Were They Orphans? Does It Really Matter Graff? by Marcie over at Grown In My Heart. I even read all of the comments on Julie Corby’s article.
First, I will admit more than a little ire at EJ Graff when I read the article initially. I read Nicki’s post first and then read the article and when I was done I wanted to tear someone’s head off, particularly EJ Graff’s. Where did this woman get off? I mean really. Then I thought a little bit about what she said and realized that she made some good points, all be it while causing me, part of the audience she wanted to talk to, anger and ire at her and had I not thought about it more I probably would have just left mad and not paid attention to the message she was trying to get across. I then read the article AGAIN trying to get past her tone, which I think could have been a tad bit better, and realized that most adoptive parents would agree that trafficking in children for adoption is NOT a situation they would want to be involved in nor do they want it to occur for any child anywhere. Many adoptive parents refuse to believe that this could happen period. But not only does it, it is sometimes discovered usually well after some families and children have suffered. Step back for a moment and think about what you would do if an investigator came to your door and indicated that the child you had adopted from X country had really been stolen from his/her parents. Honestly initially I would probably shut the door in the investigator’s face but really even though I love my children more than anything I think that I would have to hear him out in the end and make an informed decision about what would be right for my children. I can tell you now I have read stories of this happening to adoptive parents – each has handled it differently. One slammed the door never to reopen it, one takes his children to their birth country every year to visit with the family they lost and helps out the remaining family, another choose to send their child back to the family that the child loved and missed. There is no way without facts I could make a decision but I would at least have to hear everyone out and I cannot imagine cutting my children’s birth family out of their life.
When looking at what would be best for a child, I believe that initially every child is better off with his or her birth parents BUT I know of many situations where those parents are not prepared to parent a child, cannot afford to parent the child in their mind, would do more harm than good to the child (abusive situations), or are very ill or deceased and their family is still unable to care for the child plus I am sure many other situations that I am not listing here leaving these children in a precarious situation not really orphans but without a family and a home to live in daily. In any of those cases the child needs a home, a place to feel safe and secure even if by all sense of the word they are not true orphans. (And by a place to feel safe and secure I am not sure an orphanage fits this bill either as while there are many amazing and wonderful orphanages out there, there are also many orphanages where there are too many babies or caregivers who just plain do not care, trust me I have heard some horror stories from parents who have been in these orphanages.) This home could be a temporary one – foster care – or a permanent one – adoption. And while yes a child would be best off in their own culture, sometimes that is not possible. Take for example the children of Korean mothers and American fathers that were considered outcasts in Korea after the Korean War, some were living on the street these children deserve to be loved and have homes thus international adoption was born in the United States (this is a VERY shorthanded version of this story BUT gets the point across). Or as in China and Korea in the past as well as today – adoption was considered wrong because what mattered was blood lines and an adopted child would not share his/her families blood line. Even today in Korea where domestic adoption is becoming more prevalent, many Korean families adopting are feigning pregnancy so that others are not aware that the child (usually a girl) has been adopted.
In the over 50 years since international adoption in the US started, corruption has occurred and if you want to hear about corruption in domestic adoption just watch Dateline or 20/20. Many countries that allow international adoption are not economically stable and have many other issues occurring there as well such as HIV outbreaks or severe famine among other things, many of those issues Ms. Graff overlooked (to me it felt as if the only issue she was looking at was economic). So there are reasons that families would allow their children to be put up for adoption not just that they were coerced or bribed.
I believe that we need to work towards rooting out the corruption – and by “WE” I mean adoptive families, adult adoptees, the United States, and the countries allowing the adoptions. The children need loving homes, there are homes available here but as I have said before and will say again — I would like to have some level of comfort that my children really needed my home and not that their parents were coerced into adoption. For this reason, I checked into all the agencies that we used and from the time we started the adoption until we completed it and trust me that was much more than one agency. When something occurred with one agency to cast a shadow of doubt on the agency I asked MORE questions and watched the situation. In the end I would have still used that agency but they closed the program for that country before we were able to complete our adoption (the country has since closed temporarily) and amazingly that agency did not try to keep us as clients.
So I beg of you go into international adoption with your eyes WIDE open (go into any adoption with your eyes open), know what questions to ask and when to ask them – if you have a gut feeling that something, anything could be amiss check it out, ask questions etc… Also, know that any adoption is risky, in Korea while the birth mother has the right to reclaim the baby until the Korean adoption is final or the baby boards a plane to the United States or Australia (the only two countries South Korea deals with) and in the last month I have read of this happening twice while in the past it has only happened a handful of times. So please be an educated adoptive parent and an aware one, your future children will thank you for it!
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