In May, 2007, Today (MSNBC) featured a story about six common adoption myths and realities. The introduction paragraph reads:
Much of what people know of adoption comes from the media or our experience with adopted kids growing up. So is it any wonder that so many adoption myths still are believed as fact? Becoming educated about adoption will help you be equipped to separate adoption facts from fiction. [From: 6 Common Adoption Myths Dispelled ]
The author, Mardie Caldwell, COAP, founded an adoption agency and is "a recognized adoption expert and award-winning author". (This may explain why five out of the six most common adoption myths she listed are situations that can most certainly affect the livelihood of an operating adoption agency). To be fair, (so as not to seem overly critical, attacking only one person working within the adoption industry), I took a look at popular myth-busting pieces written for the adoption community. As expected, I was not at all surprised to see just how many myths related to adoption are being dispelled by adoption agency founders, (or their affiliates), and those who profit from adoption and associated services.
In fact, it's almost staggering in predictability just how many adoption-friendly websites AND news-media resources promote 'important' adoption issues like child availability, who can (or cannot) adopt, cost of an adoption, length of time it takes to make an adoption complete, and of course, the (personality and chemical) profile of relinquishing mothers. Sure, one can find the occasional bits and small pieces thrown-in about birth-mothers, and the sobering reality checks related to pain and separation, (and all that goes with child relinquishment and the adoption option), but rarely is this information given the same level of attention and importance as myth-busting from adoption service providers. What's even more rare? A good solid reality-check, provided by a frustrated adoptee, offering thoughts and opinions that go beyond the importance of an original birth certificate, and one's search and reunion experience.
Why is this?
Personally, I believe when it's all said and done, three factors influence which voices get picked-up by popular news-media and which hard-core adoption issues, (and the many concerns that go with them) get promoted as serious and significant enough to discuss more openly. First, as it is mentioned in Russia's most recent news-release, there is a powerful adoption lobby, and these people make a lot of money protecting international adoption, which happens to be a very profitable business. Second, people don't like to be forced into a stereotype that projects a negative connotation or image, especially if the negative stereotype is used to describe adoptive parents, adoption agencies, or religious-motivated adoption advocates. Third, unless an adoptee proves to be a credible witness, meaning the adoptee owns a measure of academic success, and has volumes of documented proof (in his/her possession) supporting his/her beliefs, the opinions of the adoptee who dares to criticize a parent or condemn the adoption experience will not be taken seriously, rendering the opinion of those hurt and angry, not at all statistically significant.
Of course, one might question, what sort of person tries to dishonor the good reputation of adoptive parents, and dares to question the high moral standards of those who advocate adoption? Is that person mentally ill? Deranged? On drugs? Ahhhh, yes....the fine reputation given to the non-compliant ungrateful adoptee...
Such is the plight of the adult abused adoptee who wants to advocate child safety within child placement services, but is seen, instead, as an adoption advocate's (unworthy?) opponent -- a voice and growing force that must be argued and discredited as an anti-adoption adoption critic.
These stereotypes and assumptions maintained by those who promote adoption service discussions do a dis-service to the adoption community because they limit information and prohibit open, honest discussions about the not-so-positive adoption experience, which includes life in a dysfunctional/abusive adoptive home.... realities that do exist. Furthermore, these restrictions reflect what important adoption information will get censored and what 'important' adoption information will get promoted (and defended) by those who earn money through the adoption industry.
As many active members in adoption websites can agree, one can discuss and share the many hardships, heartbreaks, and difficulties related to the adoption experience, just as long as the more disturbing issues and concerns are kept private. To this I say, heaven have mercy on the person who tries to go public, and with guts, starts to name names, and list locations, and criticize the actions of those trying to make a profit through shady adoption services. God help those who want to warn others, so horrible acts and bad history does not repeat itself. [Rhetorical question: How many AP's have been threatened with slander lawsuits because of the information they tried to present disturbing information about a specific adoption agency?]
Based on my own personal experience, those who criticize the adoption industry do so for a very good reason: they know first-hand, corruption in the adoption industry exists and every child put in-care is put in harm's way -- a big thanks going to political indifference, inconsistent care, oversight, and neglect.
In addition, adoption critics understand simple math, as it is applied to the salaries (the profits found in non-profits) made through child-placement services. In simple terms, some areas in the world are more financially desperate, corrupt, and politically unstable than others. These are factors that provide rich fertile ground for kidnapping, baby brokering, and illegal adoptions.... means that provide a quick-end to an otherwise exhaustive wait for a child obtained through....yep....adoption.
The simple truth is, no matter where a child is born or lives, children in-care need strong dedicated child advocates because these adult-voices understand first-hand, all children put in-care are vulnerable to the cold and cruel ways of the world. Child advocates know there are many child care-providers who would much rather earn a little extra money for doing very little, or do the wrong thing for a child living without a parent's protection, like lie and claim more cash is needed so 'extra' services, like clean sheets or undiluted milk can be provided for 'the poor children'.
Unlike adoption advocates, critical child advocates will question those who show an interest in adoption services. They will ask, iIs a person directing or working for a non-profit adoption agency doing so because the person is as nice wonderful as he/she seems? Or is it because the person dedicating his/her life to unplanned/crisis pregnancies and the plight of poor "orphans" can make a really nice chunk of change every time an adoption plan is completed? [See: Executive Compensations (in the non-profit sector)]
In addition, the critical advocate will question the motives of an adopter. Is adoption for the benefit of the child 'languishing in poor-care' or is adoption done for reasons that are far more self-serving and vain? [One would be amazed to learn the stupid AND despicable reasons behind an adoption-plan that requires social worker approval. Comforting to know Breeders are not the only people having kids for all the wrong reasons, isn't it?]
Yes, it's easy to see why the adoption industry needs protection from critical advocates who may be bad for future business.
Nevertheless, in general, a negative connotation is given to those who criticize the international adoption industry, and the motives of those who want to see the numbers of foreign adoption increase.
Welcome to the obstacle course an adult adoptee must face, knowing little is being done for those unfortunate enough to be put in-care and forced to live in environments that are scary and unsafe.... places where horrific acts of violent discipline are encouraged and inflicted... situations that prove negligence is common and long-term, and rarely are such circumstances and service providers investigated extensively. Why so few get severely punished for the way they treat children put in-care... it is beyond my scope of understanding, but it substantiates my belief that few want to believe the words and complaints that come from the bastard given a sweet dose of charity.
As one who follows adoption-news, I find myself thinking, if not for Russia's recent interest in Russian children sent to live in American adoptive homes, very little time and media attention would be given to adoption screening services and the post-adoption experience, as it is experienced by the child given the adoption option.
The time has come... much to my relief. The mythical story-telling promoted by the adoption industry needs to end, and a more open and honest approach toward adoption myth-busting needs to begin. Adoption needs a new era, complete with new policies and procedures, and a new-found respect for thoughts and opinions that have otherwise gone ignored, or flippantly dismissed, because those experiences are 'not the published norm'.
It's my strong conviction one can criticize the methods used by those profiting in the so-called not for profit adoption industry, and still support the belief that in some cases, adoption can and does provide a great opportunity for a child chronically neglected and abused by the care-givers made available through local charities or local government.
With that, I'd like readers to appreciate the lessons I have learned after reading-up on topics like child migration and the history of child placement. There seems to be a direct link between the cost of 'state-care' and the benefits given to those who reduce the number of parents/children needing charity. The more a person/group removes 'poor charity cases' from a care-system, the more that person/group will receive praise and reward. The story about the first street-children sent to live far far away is classic, and far too familiar, even in this day and age. What's interesting is the amount of thanks and cash certain people/groups are given to remove a costly burden put upon a government. Interesting, indeed, because certain things in adoption history sure do not change.
Oddly enough, there is another correlation between the easy to convince (the gullible and naive) and the not stupid. The more media features the disturbing living conditions found in 'poor orphanages', and the more a person sees nothing but 'gross disadvantages' surrounding a child put in-care, the more gullible people following this sort of news will agree -- adoption is the perfect solution for abandoned children languishing in-care. After all, those who remain ill-informed will always believe a child found in an orphanage is, well.... an orphan - a child denied and deprived the love, care, and teaching that can only come from 'a good family'. Those who are not stupid know there are many reasons why a child may need to go into temporary care, and one does not have to adopt a child before assistance, and better quality care, can be given. Still, it is always good to know and see there are those who feel really sad (and want to help) when they learn a child is forced to suffer.
It's a relatively safe assumption to think most children in foreign orphanages suffer.
There's a problem with today's orphanage population.
No one knows for sure how many children have been placed in-care by child traffickers. No one knows for sure how many first-family members do not know an adoption plan has been made for a child in-care. No one knows how many parents with language barriers understand "informed consent" and the true meaning behind an adoption agreement, which, in essence, terminates all parental rights, permanently. No one knows for sure, how many of the more than 163 million orphans around the world are put in-care 'temporarily', because arrangements for child-care need to be made.
And still, we have American adopters petitioning members in Congress to lift adoption bans, and speed visa approval for children living in countries where "field visits to orphanages and police departments showed that documents describing children up for adoption as abandoned were often unreliable"
Has Guatemala been so quickly forgiven and forgotten?
Is it possible adopters still do not recognize a core problem that exists in virtually every sending country that has a corrupt or failing care-system?
To blindly assume all actions and papers needed to complete an adoption are 'legal' is proof more people need to be educated about the ways in which unethical people operate under the adoption umbrella. How can an adoption be legal, if the child was stolen, or the parents were tricked, coerced, or lied to, or the documents used to verify parent/child identity were fabricated and altered, somehow?
Adoption advocates seem to forget history, (and the way it magically repeats itself), especially in terms of child-placement "services" that reduce the number of welfare children. Generations ago, the term used to weed-out the unwanted welfare-recipients was 'child migration'. This move, in theory, was going to enable a new/better opportunity for street-children. Migration-schemes were going to provide a wonderful second-chance at life. The street-children would be transported to another country; there, they would have a better place to live, and be given an education... a new lease-on-life, a-la, smart and savvy British Government. Oh, what a success the shipping-out of children turned-out to be (just don't ask too many survivors of said scheme).
As years passed, and other countries began to develop, the term 'child migration' was corrected. Unwanted street-children crowding the streets soon got placed on trains, not ships. Orphan Trains introduced the merits of domestic adoption to hard-working farmers living in America's heartland. Soon, farmers saw the value in having kids not afraid to work and too ashamed to complain. Then the wars hit. Battles fought in Korea and Vietnam introduced American adopters to the pleasures a plane can bring. [Of course, smart wealthy white Americans already knew there were 'better' places to get a child who was all-white and perfectly healthy... but that choice required the infant-buyers to do some foreign travel.]
It took a name-change to make foreign child-trade widely acceptable. Once foreign dumping and displacement was renamed, and given the title, 'intercountry adoption', the practice to deceive the people had already been perfected .
For those not familiar with 'foreign' child placement practices, it needs to be clear -- increasing
child migration the use of orphan trains child trade international adoption numbers only increases the number of 'unwanted' offspring put in-care. In addition, it must be remembered what's deemed 'unwanted' in a foreign country. Depending on who is in-power, 'unwanted' can mean anything unpleasing.... parent's marital status, religious belief, or political conviction. However, many reasons can render a person 'unfit' (unworthy) to parent. 'Unwanted' can also reflect an undesirable trait, like a child's gender, general physical appearance, skin color, or behavior. Ah, the merits of social-cleansing/eugenics... a beautiful thing when pure-breeds try to become rich and powerful.
At this point, I'd like to go back to my beginning. When Mardie Cladwell introduced her piece on adoption issues and myth-correction, she wrote: Much of what people know of adoption comes from the media or our experience with adopted kids growing up.
Back when I was a kid, newspapers and TV shows didn't cover stories about adoption, and in many cases, just like the hidden pregnancy, the adopted child was the big family secret.
My Aparents were different.
As long, and as far-back as I can remember, I knew I was adopted. In that regard, my Aparents never lied to me. I knew I was born in Canada and I knew I had to go to a judge to become an American citizen. Most of all, I knew my first-mother was not married, and I knew she gave me away, right after birth (no child, no matter how precocious, understands 'relinquished' or the meaning behind an agreed-upon adoption-plan).
There is one last fact I always knew about me, and my first year.
I learned, as my Aparents had to wait for their adoption paper-work to be completed and approved, the care given to me (through a private agency) was not very good. According to my Amother, and some of the documents she saved, right before I was 'delivered', I was very thin and small, and had a flattened head. I remember my Amother telling me, and others who would listen, just how horrible I looked -- neglected and malnourished -- when she first saw me. She said this, like it was a good thing, like it was the proof she needed to show and tell people, through adoption, she saved me from starvation, and she, alone, rescued me from those who were grossly negligent.
I understand it was her belief her adoption-plan prevented me from living in Canada's poorly run care-system, permanently. Ironically, I also understand it was my first-mother's adoption-plan that put me in that wretched negligent care-system, in the first place.
Growing up, I only knew one other adoptee... she was Korean, from Korea, (not NYC or anywhere else Korean-Americans could be found), and she was saved by nice white people. [I'm guessing given the era, she was a Holt Girl.] Every time my Amother arranged a visit with her other-adoptive-mother friend, I got to see her little adopted girl, (a little younger than me), from Korea. Even though the little girl spoke English, she and I had very little to talk about, because as far as we knew, other than both being adopted, we had nothing in common. Still, I liked little Suzie. She was very sweet, quiet, and always very very polite. But I have to be honest, her "I'm so grateful" attitude made me sick, especially when I saw the brother (bio son of her adopters) she was forced to live with. Something about the whole situation seemed creepy, and it was a feeling that would not go away.
Having Suzie around was a little awkward and uncomfortable, as forced relationships often are, at first. And yet, having Suzie around made me feel less.... odd and alone. I never told my Amother this, but I wished Suzie talked a lot more than she did. I had soooo many questions for Suzie, but neither she nor I would talk about being adopted, or living with older brothers who were not our real brothers. Suzie never complained, so neither did I. [It seemed like the polite thing to do, even though that politeness was a real painful strain.] It never occurred to me, back when she and I were so young, her limited conversation could have been due to a language barrier.
We'd meet with Suzie and her family a few times a year, but after some time, things began to change. Something was going on with the older brother, and as he was getting in more and more trouble, and as the parents were having more and more problems, my Amother and I would see less and less of Suzie and her mom. Eventually we stopped seeing Suzie, and her very nice parents, (and their older troubled son). I never did find-out what became of them.
What I remember most about Suzie and myself was the way in which we were introduced to other adults, and the ways in which we could easily entertain them. Both she and I were the token adopted girls, girls from another country. Both she and I were "saved" from the horrors of institutional care, and removed from bleak pathetic parts of the world, where there was very little modern development and no real economic future, unless prostitution was going to be one's calling and profession.
I suppose most die-hard Americans (not familiar with children from other countries ) were expecting foreign children like us, chosen from an orphanage, to be drooling retards, or something equally disturbing. Suzie and I proved we were indeed "different" and very much the "unexpected". She and I could sing, dance, and recite poems or a lesson, as well as we could remember. We were the trick-ponies our mothers loved to take out for exhibit. Suzie, (the little Asian girl), and I (the blond almost-American) seemed to have a wealth of untapped talent, and an ability to perform on command and cue. We could do this, and show no sign of discomfort or dread. Our real talent was complex, because whether we had a talent or not, that was not the issue. The issue was, a job, a performance, had to be done, and we would do it, or at the very least, try to do the job, as best we can, hoping our efforts would please others, and win us special favors... like praise, or something special to eat. (We were not at all like our new-parent's sons, boys who, for some reason, refused to behave as well as the goody-two-shoes adopted girls.)
At a very young age, Suzie and I had developed strong survival-skills. For some reason, it makes me sad knowing we were so skilled/talented... so eager to please and so loved and yet so hated, at such a young age.
I can only imagine what the local neighbors thought when they saw the showcased adopted girl (from another country) give her staged performance. Did performing-children like us inspire others to adopt from foreign countries? The answer is yes. I recall several times a new-mom would tell my Amother she and I had been the source of inspiration to adopt from another country, like Guatemala or Peru.
I can't speak for Suzie, but every time I was asked to perform, I simply felt as though I had to please my superiors...or else. There was never a choice in the matter. Most of all, I hated how every one seemed superior to me.
Later in life, I saw in some adoption-circles the adopted child's ability to charm and please was seen as a sign of talent and intelligence. In other adoption-circles, the ability to charm and mislead is seen as a pathology.
As for myself, forced performance, as per my superior's command, took on a whole new level. With each passing year, more was demanded and more was expected from me. The stress that caused is immeasurable, especially when I allow myself to think about the sort of things I would agree to do, without question or complaint. I learned to hate and dread the expectations of others, and to this day, I openly admit I have huge confusing issues with peer rejection and performance anxiety.
All my life I have had the same thoughts run through my mind: "I am not worthy"; "I don't deserve decent care, or love's dedication"; "Something about me is not good enough"; "I can't be loved as I am, so I have to become someone else". Adoption-abandonment issues? I don't know... I have never known or felt happy security in any relationship.... I only know dread and the fear of pain and rejection, and this sick sick need to survive, in spite of my living-hell.
<closing eyes for a moment>
Still, everyone around me kept telling me how lucky I was to be adopted, and what great parents I had. If that wasn't difficult enough to swallow, I had to live with the arrogant belief that every child born in another country should feel especially lucky to be adopted by Americans.
<still wishing I was adopted by very different people>
I was in my mid to late teens when I finally learned there were other kids who got whacked around by their dads, or had off-their-nut moms one step away from another psycho-drama. Knowing other people had family secrets and serious family problems made me feel better... I didn't feel AS alone in my very isolated parental-controlled adopted-world.
While it's true I knew there were some family secrets I could never let out because I was adopted, (I knew my side of the story would never be believed), having a fucked-up family (like everyone else) made me feel less odd... less "different".
I liked feeling as though I owned some 'common element' ... a sense of being, a way of thinking, a shared belief-system, all rooted in disgust.
I liked knowing this 'common element' was felt by my more common (not-adopted) friends, and like me, the disgust they felt went not just towards themselves, but it went towards their families, too.
Yep, just like them regular not adopted but pushed around people, I wasn't so special or lucky. Like them, I was unhappy, I was very angry, and I wished I had different parents... the kind of parents people see and read about when a new adoption-story comes out, thanks to local/national media.
<kicking imaginary stone>
Much has changed for and within the adoption industry since the 1970s. (And yet for many of us Old-Timers, we know too much in Adoptionland has remained the same.)
It's only been within the past few years serious media-attention has been covering international adoption stories like Returned Russian, Artem Justin Hansen (Artem Saveliev). The cynic in me says it's the stuff that can make a real name for an investigative news reporter. With a story like "Returned Adopted Russian Boy", readers can get a glimpse of two sordid adoption-issues, all for the price of one.... a real bargain.
For the newbie first learning about adoption issues, the Hansen case introduces people to adoption disruption, a complex choice, made by 'forever parents' who decide they won't stick around. It's an issue that needs to be better explained, especially to the adoptee struggling with abandonment issues. The second aspect of the story introduces a darker adoption issue, the one that seems to sell a lot of word-space and air-time...the taboo prototype no one want to have, but everyone wants to see and read about.... the adoption case that proves and showcases just how violent, and psychotic older adopted children from orphanages really are. <Woooooo.... memories of Orphan, the horror movie, seeping into people's heads>
Yesssss....<using my spooky voice>.... all older children in-care have RAD and attachment disorders, all want to set fires and kill bunnies and all want to eat paint chips and smear feces everywhere.
Yesss... all older children in orphanages have unresolved mother issues and wish their new adopters dead.
Yesss.... all children put in-care are undernourished feral children (thanks to the alcoholic/druggie degenerate birth parents) and all are in need of attachment therapy.
<taking sip of coffee>
Oooo... all children put in-care have some sort of mental-illness messing-up the insides of their heads, thanks to their God-awful parents.
Ooooooh .... <using sad lamenting voice, because that's what the voices inside me tell me to do...>.... if only there were enough wise parent educators, like Federici or the Pearls, in the world to help educate adoptive parents, and show them the the way, (the right way?) adopted children, (like me?), ought to be taught and treated.
Ohhhh... <using plaintiff Christian wail...>... If only there were MORE Americans willing to roll-up their sleeves, heed the call to help (and serve), and of course, adopt all those young babes stuck in those life-destroying orphanages. <Using stronger voice, sprinkled with just the right amount of religious conviction....> If only more 'good people' would adopt, perhaps the problem of unprotected sex, child abandonment, and pathological parenting will cease to exist. If only this can be done before all the gays and foreigners can get their grubby hands on the (what are we up to now....?) 163 MILLION ORPHANS in the world.
See why people need adoption myth busting, especially from the adoptee's point of view?
When I'm not busy reading new and old abused adoptee cases, I look around news-media sites and channels, just to see what's being sold to the public. And as dumb luck will have it, I am still able to find something like the following, written for individuals who might be interested in involving themselves with international adoption.... a real disturbing find, given the recent ruling made in the EU.
The pros of international adoption are as follows: there are a lot of children to be adopted of both sexes, from infancy and up in age. Once you have an accepted home study you are all but guaranteed a child. With international adoptions you know how it will take (usually around twelve to eight-teen months). The natural mother will not change her mind, all the children for international adoption are orphans. Once you agree to a referral you will become the parent of that child. You will know in advance how much all the fees are. You will get to travel to another country. The cons are as follows: you will not get a newborn; most infants are at least four months old. The Child's heritage and medical information is not always known. The child might have development problems, but should bounce back quickly. There is a ton of paperwork required. [From: Adoption: The International, January 22, 2011]
I'm truly hoping this article was a joke, intended to spoof international adoption. Unfortunately, I have my doubts because there's just too many people in Adoptionland trying to increase the number of international adoptions... for the sake of the suffering children, of course.
There are several adoption myths (and realities) I'd like to share, but for now, I'd like to focus on a mythical concept AP's really want to believe, because on paper, this finding seems to determine whether an adoption is legal, or not. What is the adoption myth that has made international adoption the enormous profit-making business it is today?
Every foreign adoption is done respecting the best interest of the child, and all documents, (such as birth/death certificate, marriage license, proof of residency) used to complete an adoption agreement are factual, and authentic, never altered, fabricated or falsified by any professional or person so legal requirements can be met.
Sub-categories to this mother of all adoption myths:
- Adoptive parents will support the adopted child's desire to reunite with birth-parents/original family members.
- All birth certificates of adoptable children are original and unaltered and all adoption records are accurate, and accessible to the adult adoptee.
- All the children available for international adoption are orphans, or at the very least, abandoned and legally adoptable .
- Legal adoption means the child adopted from a foreign country was neither kidnapped or abducted and sold to an orphanage, nor was any family member tricked, coerced, or paid to relinquish a child for the sole purpose of meeting adoption agency demand..
- Adoption recruiters can be trusted.
For some reason the following reality check is a real surprise to those not at all familiar with the history of child placement or adoption practices: people around the world have, and will create new "legal documents" or falsify old legal documents to help satisfy identification requirements needed to initiate or complete the adoption process. Baby brokers did it, personnel working for orphanages do it, medical professionals assisting birthing mothers will do it... all for one reason: THE MONEY.
Baby-selling is a very profitable venture, especially if the person who wants the baby is very desperate, and the desperate person has enough cash (and doesn't ask too many questions).
What amazes me the the stark contrast between two very profitable industries facing fraud. When the auto insurance industry learned fictitious documents were being sold to those drivers who don't want to pay sky-high insurance premiums, insurance companies went full-force, financing all sorts of efforts to help combat the serious problem. Those drivers stopped and possessing a fictitious insurance card would get charged and punished, as law would require. This fight-against auto insurance fraud continues. When the adoption industry learns adoptive parents have been duped, (promised a child, paid the fees, and then learned there was no child), that con-artist selling fake babies is named, and punished. Yet, how forceful and aggressive does the adoption industry get when it comes to PAPs seeking "cheaper" adoption plans? How aggressive are the checks to verify authenticity of records and the use of falsified/fictitious documents used in adoption fraud? Are the people who agree to buy a child with falsified documents ever charged and punished? Oh wait, that's another adoption myth -- adopters don't purchase or buy a child, they pay legal fees for services rendered.
<sound of crickets chirping>
I myself am at the point where I want those PAP's entering the waters of international adoption to receive the following warning:
- Doubt the authenticity of every document you see, read, and receive from an adoption agency.
- Expect there to be at least one piece of information that has been omitted, altered, doctored, or falsified in some way.
- If you truly care about the welfare of the child labeled 'adoptable', please do everything you can to ensure that child has not been illegally obtained (stolen or kidnapped) for a foreign adoption.
- Please remember, sending countries, and their various service providers and professionals receive far more money from foreign adopters than domestic adopters.
In case adopters don't already know, ensuring document authenticity and accuracy will help your adopted child in the future, when he reaches adult age, and decides it's time he learns more about his origins, his parents, and himself.
This leads to the assumed belief that all AP's are supportive, kind, and loving, and therefore all will understand and assist an adoptee's desire to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the birth, the adoption, and any information that can be found about the parents and their family history.
Given the way some 'desperate' adopters will get, (and agree to follow a not-so-ethical adoption-plan), it's easy to understand why some adoptive parents will NOT WANT the chosen adopted child to search for birth-parents, or any living family members. These adopters do not want their adopted child to discover certain facts, like the adoption wasn't done through an agency, per se (they hired a private lawyer, or broker instead) or the circumstances surrounding the adoption were not at all as explained to the child. This can get very complex and confusing if the adoptee learns he/she was never abused or abandoned by a birth parent, or was NOT an orphan, (with no other living family members), as believed.
Often times, the reason/excuse not to assist or support an adoptee's quest for more information is quite simple: the adoptive parent(s) fear the child they raised will no longer love them, and leave. If the adoptee was abused by Pollyanna-sounding adopters, the not-so-ethical adoption would not be all that surprising, and in fact, an unethical adoption would make perfect sense. Sadly, unethical adoptions are considered legal, and somehow, not at all bad.
The other type of non-compliant adoptive parent an adoptee may get is the one who will simply refuse to acknowledge, or deny the importance of adoption/birth facts, for a variety of reasons. These avoidant AP's can be told over and over again by Mr. Pertman, adoption-guru himself, the adoptee has a right to know birth information and ask questions. But that stalwart and steadfast AP (or birth parent, for that matter) will insist learning more is NOT in the best interest of the child, and the wants or desires of their adopted child are not going to come before the preference of a parent committed to a very strong conviction. [Remember, with parental rights comes the answer: "It's the parent's right to decide what's best for the child"].
When a parent refuses to answer questions plaguing an adoptee, that parent is denying an opportunity for a child to digest, understand, and forgive. Real biggies for the adoptee with a lot of adoption issues, especially if that adopted child grew-up feeling rejected and dismissed.
Without the support of an adoptive parent, the adoptee's need to search and discover more answers doesn't go away... it simply becomes a very lonely isolating experience, especially if one has to become secretive around those who care only about their own level of comfort.
The search for birth information kept in another country is very difficult. VERY difficult. In order to find birth facts, and any additional information about one's family health and social history, the foreign adoptee has to try to do the following:
- Find correct and accurate information about birth-parents listed on a OBC issued in a foreign country, which may or may not be a region with a dark history... a region that may have killed or incarcerated it's unwanted people... a region that may have been known for it's police/military corruption and unstable government.
- Find out if the adoption agreement made in the foreign country was done legally, meaning there was no kidnapping, no bribery, and most importantly, no impostors were used to act and pose as parents/family members during the time-frame between an orphanage intake and a 'legally' adopted child's departure.
- Collect and validate documents saved and archived by the orphanage director working at the time of the adoption.
- Research any underground adoption activity in that region, and all that may go with it.
This process is especially fun if the country/region is still unstable, the language is very different, and the local people are not very willing or able to assist the adult asking all sorts of questions about police agencies, adoption facilitators, workers at local orphanages, and the various ways a person can adopt (or obtain) an infant or very small child.
For some, the search-process can be a very traumatic experience, especially if the adoptive parents turned out to be abusive/negligent and if all the stories told by adoptive family members (about birth parents, and conditions of where you once lived) do not match the information learned during a search. I for one can attest, nothing changes an adopted person's perspective more than that moment you discover your own documents and unfolding adoption story does not read as it should... AND the adopters chosen for you have gifted you years of disinterest, neglect, and/or profound abuse.
To make matters worse, there are not many support groups or trained therapists to help the struggling adoptee stuck dealing with this unfolding, life-changing, event. [God knows, I have tried to search and dig for years, and I have yet to find an adoption-friendly website or adoption support-group that provides the names and locations of free or affordable resources that are reliable and can assist the traumatized adult adoptee facing very complex adoption issues. Even PPL's Adult Aftermath section lacks this reliable resource information.]
<blank futile facial expression>
Readers must remember, the problematic encounters experienced by those adopted during the Closed Era of Adoption are not limited to adoptees past a certain age. The problems associated with corrupt adoption practices are not over. Thanks to adoption agencies serving as
baby brokers legal liaisons for crisis pregnancy/birth centers, and thanks to child traffickers in foreign countries, child centers and orphanages are still receiving prime healthy infant material foreign adopters (with the required cash) want to have or 'rescue' through an affiliated adoption agency.
Today's foreign adoptable orphan, deprived of decent care, may not be what people think -- an orphan with no loving family. In addition, today's foreign adoptable orphan may not become what most want that 'saved' or 'rescued' child to become -- a grateful child who grows to be more than happy to have 'new' foreign parents, a thankful person who loves the country he was sent to, a well-spoken pro-international adoption advocate. Some may turn out to be angry adoptees, determined to go back to the mother-land and try to right some wrongs done to family members who lived in a dangerous, corrupt country, and got screwed by the international adoption industry.
Among our growing collection of abused adoptee case-pages, there may very well be children who were stolen/kidnapped, sold through affiliates associated with a 'legitimate' international adoption agency, and abused, exploited, or killed. They lost their voice and chance to render an opinion. Such a sin... isn't it?
The very worst part about all of this is, few adopters see or understand their role in this chain of events. Few see or acknowledge the way in which the demand for more, faster foreign adoptions, (waits that equal the length of a gestation), puts the lives of very young children of financially restricted parents in a most vulnerable position.
Think about this for a moment -- what would an average struggling working-class American parent do if her child was stolen or coerced away and brought to an orphanage far away, making it very difficult to reach and identify the stolen child? What would the American parent do if he/she learned there's not just one or two people doing this to only one or two parents with healthy attractive kids? What would the American people think if they discovered a large number of children brought to these orphanages are falsely recorded/documented and listed as 'abandoned' or 'orphaned' and "adoptable"? What would the American parent want to do when he/she learns these 'chosen' children are forced to live in an orphanage, where God knows WHAT is being done (or not done), thanks to the director's direction... then sold to foreign strangers, because they had the cash to pay the outrageous fees? Now think: what is that stolen child, living in the orphanage, (a child's prison-system), expected to do? Wait for a parent's arrival, so the child can go back home; pray for a foreigner to follow-through with an expensive adoption-plan; hope locals might show some care and concern about the increasing number of healthy abandoned children; run-away; find a way to die?
Americans need to ask what they would want done if this type of supply-for-demand scheme were happening in their own back yard, and how much moral and financial support should be given to rabid foreign adoption advocates who insist MORE international adoptions are needed, because in theory, international adoption serves the best interest of the child put in a corrupt and failing care-system? Which would benefit children put in crap-care more? A more aggressive international adoption campaign, or a much better, more involved domestic care-system? Perhaps that's something to seriously think about, future adopters of the world.
It's frustrating knowing so many are either blind to the ways of the care-system, or worse, know a list of disturbing facts about child placement service, but choose to say nothing, because silence it's safe and easy. It infuriates me the old child-placement pattern of yesteryear not only continues, but it has grown. More and more countries are allowing their children to be be spirited-away, because it saves money and it also produces a revenue. The most insulting part? It's as if government leaders want their own poor care-system to continue "as is", unchanged, and they want to overlook those who use illegal child-trade as a means to meet the demand set by those can can pay for a child. It's as if these law makers and law-benders know, if the did anything about the corruption, the neglect, and the abuse, they would not receive the foreign aid they now get, which comes in the form of money paid through private <ahem> "non-profit" adoption agencies. The irony? So many foreign adopters truly believe they are making things better when they contact an adoption agency that seems to be dedicated to the best greatest mission of all -- protecting, removing, and assisting ('orphan') infants and young children in need of parents/family, (so they will not be left to languish in a corrupt foreign care-system). They forget what's being done to so many women and children, all so adoption can look so good.
<shaking head and shrugging shoulders>
Fast forward to a best-case scenario, (because I am required to share a happy adoption story). Let's celebrate the happy update when international adoption is used as a humanitarian effort.
Picture it...the adopted child is adjusting nicely to his new toys and new bed, and all the attention he/she gets. The trauma brought by a devestating loss seems all but a small memory. Readers are reminded of the tragic country-facts, the earthquake and it's slow recovery, and the best interest of a child 'stuck' in-care system found in a corrupt country that cannot get much worse. Readers are also given a brief reminder of the many problems and set-backs an adoptive couple has to face when doing so much good for a child in-need. Thanks to an associated press reporter, the following feel-good human interest/adoption update got published for many to see... proof that children adopted from Haiti are doing well, they are adjusting, and they are happy, and have no desire to return to his/her home-land or family, for more than a brief visit. (Reassuring, isn't it?) Allow me to share how this lovely happy story concludes:
In Colville, Wash., Jimmy Lepp, 12, is learning to be a son. At the orphanage, he was used to being in charge. So when Brian and Debbie Lepp took him out in public, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t run off without saying where he was headed.
Older siblings, Kyle, 22, and Emilee, 21, are out of the house, so Jimmy is also learning to live as an only child. He’s in third grade at the private Christian school where Debbie teaches.
He loves his full-size bed, he says. He loves his four cats, his video games and his new family.
But there’s another family he thinks about — his birth mother in Haiti and two younger siblings he never lived with.
“I miss my friends in Haiti,” he says. “And my sister and my mom and all my family.”
He worries about them.
“I might go to visit,” he says. “But I won’t stay.”
[ From: Rescued Haitian children adjusting , January 23, 2011 ]
I especially like how this feel-good piece feeds into another popular adoption myth -- every foreign child is happy to become a Christian American. Let's just hope this particular Christian couple does not use torture methods to discipline their new-found Haitian cherub, as too many American adopters like to use.
I also like how the provided update is within a year post-placement, proving the adoption educator's theory is correct: The vast majority of internationally adopted children thrive in their loving, supportive families. Their lives are immeasurably enriched by the opportunities provided by their families, far beyond what would have been possible if they had remained consigned to institutional care in their birth countries.
I wish this is how I could end my very long essay on adoption myths and issues. But my loyalty belongs someplace else... I have to share another adoption update, one that lets readers know what has changed and improved for two girls (siblings) saved and rescued from Haiti, thanks to an adoption-plan.
Like little Jimmy, Samantha and Saraphina Revelus were rescued from the perils of Haiti. They were adopted in 2004, and all signs seemed to show the girls were smart, loved, and had a bright future. The update on their adoption-story, written five years later, reads like this:
young Samantha was murdered and Saraphina was stabbed by their non-adopted brother during a rampage in which he also decapitated his 5 year old sister.
[I have more adoption myths and realities I'd like to share, but I'm going to pace-myself. I fear I can easily overwhelm readers with international adoption information overload.]
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