Adoption myth busting the evangelical way

This week will be the launch of Adoption Awareness month in the US, a time for certain adoptive parents and adoption agencies to come together and celebrate their love for themselves.

In Australia, adoption awareness takes place at a less grand scale, compressing the self-congratulatory thing in a week. So apparently now is the time for Myth Busters to come to the rescue of the "orphans" in this world.

Über myth buster, Albert, a self-proclaimed Missionary Evangelist teaching the Bible in Sydney, has taken it upon himself to dispel all myths surrounding adoption. Today his myth busting endeavors started with the statement: Adoption is buying a baby. Albert's refutation of this statement says: The children don’t cost money; it’s the process that costs money.

Technically Albert is right. By law, baby selling and buying is prohibited, so indeed technically children don't cost money, the price of a baby is translated into process cost. In a way this is comparable to a brothel where one pays an entrance fee, but sex acts are on the house, a 'free given' if you will, as to make it that no one technically paid for sex.

All technicalities put aside, prospective adopters pay to receive a child, not to fund a process. I have yet to hear of the first PAP gushing over the wonderful adoption process they purchased, or how awesome the required 1-800 application filing really is.

I'd say this adoption myth busting attempt went limp, but I am certainly looking forward to Albert's next try.

Oh before I forget, Albert, you may want to change your video, since it perpetuates a long debunked myth about 143 million orphans "awaiting hope".

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Not buying a baby?

What about the biomom expenses/incentives that PAPs offer some Biomoms? Money for college,cars,ect Just because the agency acts as a middleman, does not change the fact that this is very much a transaction. 

Then you get private adoptions where the sky is the limit. There is simply no way to to know the real extent that PAPs with money would go to obtain a baby.

Some states may have guidelines and caps on Biomom expenses, but that is easy enough to get around. Not to mention, ongoing assistance after the adoption. There are APs that will regularly send money to biofamilies and foster parents of IA, especially GuateAPs.

I am all for helping people but I wonder if these APs would be reaching into their pockets if they did not have a baby as an end result.

Transaction: I give you money and I get baby. Sounds very much like purchhasing/buying to me.

 

F.O.

From Mom, with mythical love

I always had fun moral religious reasoning thrust upon me, explaining and justifying my adoptive status.  According to my Amother, my birth-mother was a married drunk who had an affair that resulted in an unwanted pregnancy, but (lucky for me?) due to strong Catholic religious beliefs, she was forced to chose adoption over abortion.  Yes, by all means, sending a fresh newborn to live in an overcrowded orphanage in a poverty-stricken region is soooooo much better for baby and hungry Americans desperate for a fresh untainted newborn, but that's academic.  What matters most is how everything turns out, in the end.  Who cares if most in an adoption-story is lies?  Who cares if my 26 year old first-mother got knocked-up before she got married and all my Amother told me about my parent-history was completely wrong?  Who cares if those people chosen for me didn't have to be my man-chosen parents?  What mattered most in my little world way-back-when was the church and my AP's were 'right'; sex outside of marriage and abortion are wrong, and if not for adoption, I would have become prisoner to an orphan-ward.  

So, as I grew and began to demonstrate real smarts and talent, a new myth began to form.  No matter how it was sliced, the mythical adoptee experience developed in the minds of others, making me wonder what type of incense they were sniffing. Over and over again I was told by Aparents and strangers alike, just how lucky I was having adoption chosen for me. [....so for God's sake be a good girl; don't dishonor my Amother by showing an interest in the person who squeezed me out,  because I know damn well anytime I mentioned The Other Woman, it would make my Amother furious and insane.  Besides, would it really kill me if I showed some real grateful appreciation for parents who sacrificed so much?  Don't my parents deserve my respect?  Kerry...Kerry... are you listening?!?!?]

<fade into memory>

I recall in fourth grade, (a year I will never forget, since that was the year my virginity was stolen from me... I was 10), class-mates started teasing me because I was adopted.  According to them, I was a bastard, and had the face even a mother couldn't love.  [I had no idea what a bastard was, but I certainly DID feel unloved, unwanted, and abandoned by all members of my family, especially my mother.]

It wasn't until I was in my thirties, and started getting involved in adoption websites that I heard for the very first time the mother of all adoption myths... choosing adoption for your unborn child is the most loving thing a mother can do.

Um... WHAT!?!?  Um excuse me pedophile priests, nazi nuns, and other religious freaks?  Are you freaking serious?!?!?  I mean good lord, WWJD if Mary left little baby J at an Inn, so she could continue with her life, without the burden of motherhood? 

<Shaking disgusted and disbelieving head>

Yes, I know times and practices in Adoptionland are not as they were in the late 60's/70's.... Open Adoption is nothing at all like the Closed Era of yesteryear.  Things are very different now.  The myths and messages, facts and fallacies explained to birthmothers, AP's and adoptees this millennium are not at all like the deceptive lies told decades ago.  Right?

Behold the unspoken reality associated with those supporting adoption as the loving option; see how selling an unborn child creates good (profiting) business for those in-search of God's reward/blessing in earthly living.  [Sharing  the wealth and earning special favor sure takes on new-meaning once religious adoption organizations, like Bethany and LDS, get their dirty greedy paws on family preservation, doesn't it?]

Lucky for us always wondering, never-quite-confident adoptees forced to grow-up accepting a sad belief that we were abandoned and unwanted by our first-love, Mom, (the mythical wonder), there are women writing about the biggest fallacy sold by super-power religious groups/organizations around the world... the one that states offering your child to adoption is the greatest act of love and sacrifice a mother can make... especially if that newborn can be sold to a lovely married Christian couple suffering with infertility. [You know those doing God's work, in Jesus' name isn't cheap or easy these days... good thing the non-profit executives receive compensation.]  Yessiree, thank goodness for messages written by moms... moms who realize just how misleading and dangerous adoption myths can be:

This concept of proving love by abandoning your child is a one way street. Again, only in the sordid world of adoption, is this lie seen as truth and rammed down the throats of vulnerable and confused pregnant women who only want what is best for their child. The adopters on the other hand are EXPECTED to keep this child and should the real parents DARE to do what was naturally expected of them and ask for their child back well, the adopters are given all of the support whilst the family of the child is kicked to the curb and quite literally shat on in the media.

I have even seen adopters say things like, "I could never give X back, I love him/her to much" and yet the mother would most likely have been told if they truly loved their child they would place them for adoption.

This says two things. One, that love can only be proven by abandoning someone and two, that adopters don't love the children they adopt (which happens to be true in many cases; (note I didn't say all!) they love what the children can do FOR them as opposed to the child themselves). Now, I am sure those saying "give up your child to show you really love them" didn't mean to imply the second point. But they obviously didn't follow the natural conclusion of this distorted logic.
 [From:  Living in the Shadows: "Love" in adoption, October 31, 2010 ]

O/T, but not really, I wonder what missionary Evangelist Albert has to say about those adoptees sold to child abusers... does he think they have valid reason to lose faith in God/religion and does he cast blame on the most hurting of adoptees, the ones who lost the will and desire to live, and chose suicide, instead?  

Sorting this from that

Yes, I agree in a sense.

I've personally and professionally grappled with this for a long time and at the moment (which could change given new information) here is how I personally sort this issue out:

Adoption is a legal transaction in most of the world (not all, but that's another long discussion).  Legal transactions usually require lawyers and always courts. In an ethical transaction involving children and families there ought to be counseling from a professional other than a lawyer. There ought to be a thorough home study and background checks. Those services require time which costs money and honestly, when done ethically and morally I do not have an issue with payment for these services by the hour just as any other legal transaction or professional service would require. For instance, to draft our wills it took 2 hours for our lawyer to draft them and meet with us. We were billed for those two hours commisserate to the lawyer's hourly fee. In an adoption proceeding I do not have a problem with paying a lawyer or court fees or having documents apostilled, a social worker etc etc...all that is needed for the process.

What I have major issues is with the very real and pervasive issue of payment to families in exchange for their children, whether that is monetary or a bag of rice or some other good. I have issues with offering expectant parents things like college educations in exchange for their children. This to me IS buying children.

Also enormous payments to orphanages, officials and baby homes to ensure a supply of children referred for adoption is problematic. Not only can this lead to outright child buying, it leads hospital staff, social workers and others to actively recruit parents to relinquish their children. Those are problems caused by grossly inflated fees in adoption even when outright payments to birth family are not occurring. For example, I do not see how fees ranging from $10-20,000 can be justified when the actual cost for services to process an adoption is far far less. I was once told by someone on the ground that the actual cost of compiling paperwork, court fees, passport fees, attorney fees and so forth in Vietnam runs around $3000 or less. There is not one agency who billed their clients anywhere near that amount for the adoption of a child.

If the extraneous fees and so called costs were eliminated from the equation as well as direct payments or inducements I wouldn't personally call it child buying. You'll hear AP's who adopted from foster care talk about child buying in international adoption--they are usually referring to the fees involved since shockingly many people still aren't aware of the high incidence of procuring children abroad--but there were fees involved in their adoptions too, they were just subsidized by the state. And those fees which are for legitimate professional services I don't have an issue with provided it was done honestly and with transparency.

 

 

 

Taking the profit out of so-called non-profits

I fully agree with the many points you make, which leads to the mother of all questions -- how does one remove the over the top fees/salaries 'earned' by those providing services for non-profit agencies/organizations? 

Also, enormous payments to orphanages, officials and baby homes to ensure a supply of children referred for adoption is problematic. Not only can this lead to outright child buying, it leads hospital staff, social workers and others to actively recruit parents to relinquish their children. Those are problems caused by grossly inflated fees in adoption even when outright payments to birth family are not occurring. For example, I do not see how fees ranging from $10-20,000 can be justified when the actual cost for services to process an adoption is far far less. I was once told by someone on the ground that the actual cost of compiling paperwork, court fees, passport fees, attorney fees and so forth in Vietnam runs around $3000 or less. There is not one agency who billed their clients anywhere near that amount for the adoption of a child.

 From what I understand, there is the fee for a service itself, but there is also "staff salary" that needs to be paid, as well.  In the case of state foster-care, many professional salaries are paid by the state, itself.  This changes once a foster/adoption group becomes private.  This is a key point, because as many may already know, private salaries often pay much better than state salaries, especially if one follows an hourly rate.  [The real difference seems to be in benefits, but this is another story...]

My question is, as long as non-profit organizations are able to pay their key workers 'competitive salaries', won't the interest in baby-selling, as it currently exists, continue?  More to the point, if the competitive salary element was removed, wouldn't a battle for 'fair compensation' ensue?  [After all, how many working for a non-profit adoption agency/orphanage are willing to either be completely transparent in all actions, at all times, or donate time and services, but voluntarily refuse any type of salary/payment?]

Personally, I would love to see an end to all private profiting (salary producing) adoption agencies, but I don't see that happening in my lifetime.... God forbid America follows anything that resembles Australian policy!  [Hint: (using Albert's description)  In Australia all adoptions, domestic and intercountry are managed by State Government departments in a loose liaison with the Federal Attorney General's Department. There are no Church or Religious agencies involved - as is the case in America.

Gov't management

'Personally, I would love to see an end to all private profiting (salary producing) adoption agencies, but I don't see that happening in my lifetime.... God forbid America follows anything that resembles Australian policy!  [Hint: (using Albert's description)  In Australia all adoptions, domestic and intercountry are managed by State Government departments in a loose liaison with the Federal Attorney General's Department. There are no Church or Religious agencies involved - as is the case in America.'

This is something I would like to see as well. I think history so far has shown most private agencies and practitioners cannot be trusted with the enormous responsibility given to them.

Hi

Hi,

I'm the Albert you've mentioned and linked to above.
Thanks for linking to my site :)

Wondering if I might be allowed to clarify a couple of things.
I've read through your "About Us", "Our Position", & "FAQ" pages and I don't think there's anything there that I would necessarily disagree with.

The posts on my blog about "adoption myths" are my personal comments about some of the most common remarks and misconceptions made about adoption here in Australia.
The original list is on the Australian National Adoption Awareness Week website here: http://www.adoptionawarenessweek.com.au/Assets/27/1/MYTHSABOUTADOPTIONbw...
My views and comments about the "myths" are my own.

The NAAW group in Australia is not an Evangelical group or Church or Religious organisation. In Australia all adoptions, domestic and intercountry are managed by State Government departments in a loose liaison with the Federal Attorney General's Department. There are no Church or Religious agencies involved - as is the case in America.
NB: There are some welfare groups who work with Foster Care that are run by the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Church here but that is also overseen by the State Government departments.

My involvement and interest with NAAW is because I am both an adoptee and an adoptive parent. It's not because I'm lamely (or limply as the above suggests) trying to advance an Evangelical crusade to "save" the orphans. I'm not anyone's saviour and neither is any other adoptive parent.

As a minor point, I'm not a Missionary Evangelist. I once worked as one, in Kenya, in the 90's. I think my profile was clear on this, but I've tweaked it a bit to, hopefully, make this a bit clearer.
Yes, I am a Christian Minister and yes, in partial answer to Kerry, I agree with you that anyone abused (in the guise of religion or otherwise) should not be subjected to further emotion abuse and trauma by some sort of religious blackmail. Personally, those responsible for such abuse ought to be called to account in the strongest possible way. There is absolutely no excuse or justification to be offered in their defense.

I hope that I'm not coming across as dismissive or simplistic. The care of children, fostering, institutional care and adoption are extremely complex and can't be resolved with short quippy comments. I can see how my blog post referenced above might have seemed like this. That was not my intention. It was meant to serve as part of an on-going conversation to raise awareness about the complexity involved in adoption.

Thank you for your web site. The information is very valuable and the voice you give to adoptees and birth parents is something that adoptive parents (actual and prospective) need to be more aware of.

A.

"orphans"

Hi Albert,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. When I first visited your website, I noticed the myths you are addressing and the "adoption page", featuring a video produced by Shaohannah's Hope, an American Evangelical adoption advocacy group, which plays a pivotal role in the so-called orphan crusade movement. This video perpetuates the myth that there are 143,000,000 "orphans", suggesting those children are in need of immediate intervention.

The figure of 143 million "orphans" stems from the Children on the Brink report, UNICEF published in 2004. The number 143 million is the result of an estimate of the number of children who have lost either one or both parents. Soon after the publication of this report, the American adoption industry started using this figure to suggest that all these children are in need of adoption.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Most of the 143 million "orphans" have a living parent, while many of the children that lost both parents are being taken care of by extended family.

UNICEF has regretted the publication of the 143 million figure, originally intended to raise awareness for AIDS prevention, but eagerly used as a marketing strategy by the American adoption industry, and especially popular within the American evangelical orphan crusade movement. Alexandria Yuster, senior adviser with UNICEF made the following statement to debunk the 143 million "orphans" myth: “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”.

Thank you for explaining how the Australian adoption system differs from the American. It seems that a system run by the government is much less vulnerable to profit motives and religious zeal, than a system that is almost entirely privately run.

"Orphans" not made in America

Just as a personal side-note.... it's very interesting to see just how different  countries (Australia and America, for instance) operate international adoption trade.  One point my Adad always tried to make with me was annoying as all hell -- he kept telling me how lucky I was to be an American.  It never ever once occurred to ANY of them in that family that maybe I did NOT want to be an American.  In my mind, forcing me to become an American was an act of arrogance... a presumption... a final decision I did not want made for me.  For some reason, that always assuming I wanted to be 'just like them' really bothered me. 

I think anyone who suggests

I think anyone who suggests that adoptees are lucky reveals a level of naivete that only serves to damage care and placement processes and services - not to mention how this inflicts upon the soul of the child.

It doesn't acknowledge the trauma and separation of the child, or the birth parents (or extended family) and it tends to be dismissive or prejudice towards whatever life experiences the child had prior to their adoption.

Besides, *tongue-in-cheek*, is anyone really lucky to be an American? I thought Australia was the "Lucky Country".
Maybe not so much, huh.

A.

Not-so-lucky-traumatized-bastards

Thank you, Albert, for recognizing the obvious.... when one refuses to acknowledge the trauma behind an adoption, a gross dis-service is bestowed upon the Achild feeling a most confusing and isolating hurt.  In some of our cases, only God knows why we were 'placed'....

After 40+ years, I have managed a way to deal with the grief associated with (two) Aparent's 'refusal to acknowledge' obvious sources of loss and pain felt by me, the adopted child in their life.  Imagine the sadness and grief I feel for fellow-adoptees put in Ahomes where Afamily members prove to be the same -- uncaring, dismissive, AND abusive, with an adamant refusal to accept personal responsibility in a child's developing  life. 

While I understand many AP's and happy adoptees want me to see the "happy success stories" found in Adoptionland, my sober response is very simple...sometimes, adoptees, in particular,  must look beyond their own navels, and Afamily experiences, and acknowledge not every adoptee is given a remotely lucky/happy experience.  A little outside compassion goes a long way... especially when it comes to long-term acceptance and recovery.

thanks Niels

I've also had some feedback from both local child care staff and adoption advocates that the Unicef figure is unsubstantiated and misrepresents the case of children in need of care. I've modified my 'adoption' page and instead included some information from the Australian Attorney-General about inter-country adoption.

I think the point made about single parents (I think I read that on one of your referred links) is also valid.
Whilst some Hague convention inter-country adoption participants have stipulations about single -v- couples, many actually accept single parent applicants. Those children adopted by single a-parents aren't considered orphans so there's a bit of (unacknowledged) geographic & cultural arrogance occurring to say that children of single parents in Africa (for example) are orphans.

The Australian system is far from perfect. However the education provided to prospective a-parents is fairly robust consisting of several layers of screening, assessment and socialisation of the a-parents with existing adoptees, birth parents and (where possible) parents & families where the adoption placement hasn't been successful.
Australia has minimal services and support for post-adoptive adjustment and education. The attitude towards domestic adoption has been close & deny (and even now in the some states there is no such thing as open adoption). Australia is relatively 'young' as far as inter-country adoption is concerned. So we are still immature in serving and supporting children and families after placement. Having adult adoptees and birth families who are willing to be-friend the children and the adoptive families is invaluable in working towards a flourishing environment.

A

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