143 million orphans and the adoption agenda
- Reviewing Jedd Medefind's response to "The Evangelical Adoption Crusade"
- The problem with saving the world's 'orphans'
- Foreign adoptions plunge in FY 2009 - more orphans for agencies requested
- An Orphan's Crusade to Paradise
- Saints or sinners? You decide.
- The Americans, the Russian boy, and the Russian adoption authorities
- Is the US State Dept. Opposed to Inter-Country Adoption? - A rebuttal
- The Problem With the Christian Adoption Movement
For years adoption advocates and adoption agencies have used the claim that there are 143 million orphans in the world, based upon an estimate made by Unicef, to further the agenda of inter-country adoption.
Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS). a trade association of adoption service providers, claims: Deprived of a basic of human right, these unknown children are denied the nurturing needed to thrive as children and later as members of our global society.
Loving Shepherd Ministries, a Christian adoption advocacy organization speaks of an orphan crises and says on its website: Over 143 million orphans live in the world today, many of them struggling to survive in the worst of conditions.
Bethany Christian Services, the largest adoption agency in the US, makes the following statement: There are 143 million orphans in the world. Orphaned, abandoned, abused, they live in orphanages and foster care waiting and praying for a family of their own.
Adoption Associates, Inc., a Michigan based adoption agency, states: For the 143 million orphaned children in the world, financial gifts from supporters like you are one of their only sources of hope. These children face bleak futures in their birth countries, and while many hope to be adopted, most will never see their dream come true.
We could list many more references of adoption organizations, making more or less the same point. Suffice it to say, there are 277,000 pages on the internet referring to 143 million orphans, 120,000 of which also mention adoption. Many of these pages belong to websites propagating the orphan crusade started by the Christian Alliance for Orphans.
The figure of 143 million, comes from the report Children on the Brink, which Unicef published in 2004. To reach this number, Unicef used a very broad definition of the word orphan: a child who has lost one or both parents through death. While it is sad so many children lost one or both parents, it doesn't warrant the claim these children actually go without parental care. Ironically, if children that have one living parent, get adopted abroad by a single parents, they suddenly don't count as orphans anymore, while they move from a single parent household to another.
The use of the number 143 million by adoption organization is disingenuous, and they know it. Alexandria Yuster, senior adviser with UNICEF made the following statement: “It’s not really true that there are large numbers of infants with no homes who either will be in institutions or who need intercountry adoption”.
The overinflated number is deliberately used to create a sense of urgency to promote the adoption of as many children as possible. By using a very large number, the perception is created that there is a crisis that needs immediate action.
There are even larger numbers than 143 million. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2002 there were 161 million visually impaired people in the world. Does this figure mean there is a vision crisis in the world that needs immediate addressing? Of course not, many visually impaired people receive the help and tools they need. The fact their vision is impaired is sad, but it doesn't mean all visually impaired people need to be saved from impending doom. The same is true for orphans.
While there is certainly need for help, most children declared orphan by the Unicef definition, are being taken care of, either by a surviving parent, by extended family, foster care or in orphanages. The latter solution has received a lot of negative press over the last 20 years, especially after the fall of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. The imagery of Romanian orphanages has created a perception of residential care in a most gloomy light. Adoption proponents never cease to speak of children languishing in orphanages. Yet that doesn't seem to be a reality for all children living in orphanages in Third World countries.
Scientific American published an article this week under the title Orphanages Rival Foster Homes for Quality Child Care, which refutes the stereotype that children fail to thrive in orphanages, and in fact receive care just as good as they would in foster care or through adoption. The research leading to this result has, for a change, not taken place in Eastern Europe, but in countries like Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Tanzania.
The question can be asked, where is the urgency for inter-country adoption when children receive proper care?
The urgency has everything to do with dwindling numbers of adoptions from abroad. In 2004, the US imported 22,884 children through adoption, while in 2009 that number has dropped to 12,753. A drop of 10,000 children compared to five years ago, means a drop of more than 200 million dollars in income for the adoption industry. The Joint Council on International Children's services (JCICS) even estimates the number of inter-country adoptions to drop under 10,000 next year. The trade association itself is nearly bankrupt and so are many of its members.
To curb the trend of plunging numbers of adoptions, JCICS and its colleagues of the Families for Orphans Coalition have written a piece of legislation, which was introduced in congress as the
Orphans for Agencies Act Families for Orphans Act 2009, in July of this year.
Orphans for Agencies Act Families for Orphans Act 2009 also uses the 143 million orphans language to reach the conclusion that the US needs to effectively bribe Third World countries into sending children to the US for adoption, by making assistance, including trade and debt relief, dependent upon the availability of children for adoption.
The proposed legislation is a transparent attempt to increase adoption business, using the incestuous relation between the adoption industry and congress as we reported about in The Families for Orphans Act 2009 and the inter-country adoption agenda.
Orphans for Agencies Act Families for Orphans Act 2009 is good for the adoption business, but it does very little for the 143 million orphans they claim exist. The permanency agenda set doesn't do anything for the vast majority of orphans. It pushes for the adoption of children, but fails to recognize adoption is not a solution for most children, because there is no demand for most of the children.
Of the 143 million orphans, 55 percent are between age 12 and 17, 33 percent are between age 6 and 11, and only 12 percent are under age 6. Inter-country adoption shows the mirror image of that. 46 percent of the children adopted are under a year; 43 percent is between age 1 and 4 years, 8 percent is between age 5 and 9, while only 3 percent is 9 years of age or older.
Adoption is not going to do anything for the vast majority of orphans older than five. Most people want to adopt infant, older children are simply not in demand. So the
Orphans for Agencies Act Families for Orphans Act 2009, while good for business, is set out to neglect almost 90 percent of the children it aims to help.