The final cost of an international adoption

In another post/thread, the cost of search-angels has been raised as an adoption issue worthy of further discussion. I myself find this additional fee-for-service to be outrageous, as I believe this biographical information is information that should have already been collected and thoroughly investigated by the adoption agency chosen for it's services, and I believe this information should already be part of a comprehensive adoption record that includes important documents saved exclusively for the adoptee.

Others seem to agree with the opinion that 'search services' should be free to ICA adopters and adoptees, simply because ICA adoption fees are just so damn expensive in the first place... and in private discussion I have learned many contacts do see the way in which orphan-centers/orphanages are being used to launder/sell children in regions where care-systems are poor, poverty rates are high, and child trafficking is rampant. The way I see it, when reviewing an ICA plan, one must never forget all the dangers, the risks, and the complicated implications that go with institutional care and child trafficking.

While many adopters and pro-adoption advocates maintain the vast majority of foreign adoptees are well cared-for and do very well once they are in their new adoptive homes, very little attention is given to the level of care given to children put in care-systems before the adoption is completed. Very little investigation is given into the management of care that seems completely dependent upon public and private donations. I find this quite ironic, since most seem to use poor institutional care as a fundamental reason to create and provide "orphan care" programs, like ICA. Yet, as much as ICA produces in donated revenue for 'over-burdened' orphanages, over and over again I see such donations do not really improve orphan-center staffing or the quality of care or life children receive in long-term care. If anything, I read "more money is needed for orphanages", and yet the number of children who need long-term care in an orphanage remains unchanged.

Donations from overseas adopters of abandoned children have become a major source of income for orphanages, today's Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

The orphanage involved in the scandal in Zhengyuan County of Guizhou Province was accused of taking children away from parents who could not afford fines for violating family planning rules and then sending the children overseas for adoption. The orphanage earned US$3,000 for each child placed with a foreign family, according to earlier media reports.

The money from the adoptions was worth 1.1 million yuan (US$160,992.7) and enabled the orphanage to add a new building. The local government shouldered the remaining 2.9 million yuan needed.

The new building, measuring 18,000 square meters, will house more than 80 beds, compared with the 10-plus beds in the existing home, which was built in 1991 with a total area of 20-plus square meters, according to vice director Rao Fujian.

"Without the money, the new building would have been impossible," confirmed Wu Benhua, director of Zhengyuan County Civil Affairs Bureau.

Rao denied the orphanage made profits by giving up children for overseas adoption. All the money earned was used to improve the facility - as ruled by the country.

"We didn't spend a penny of the money for any other purpose than improving the facilities of the orphanage," he stressed.

Rao also denied the orphanage had conspired with family planning officials to snatch babies from their parents as abandoned children. The orphanage just accepted the children, he said. According to law, abandoned children must be sent to local orphanages, he added.

A joint investigation into the orphanage confirmed Rao's claim. There was no economic relationship between the local family planning commission and the orphanage, Yang Jiansheng, leader of the investigation group, told the Southern Metropolis Daily.

Six local Party and government officials have been punished for their roles in the scandal, after a joint investigation by family planning, civil affairs personnel, police and Party disciplinary officials.

The orphanage began taking abandoned babies from June 1995 and from May 2002, it joined the overseas adoption program.

Of the 81 abandoned babies it took, 60 were adopted by overseas families in developed countries. Eleven were adopted by Chinese families. Another 10 were cared for at the orphanage.

[From: Adoption scandal sheds light on orphanages' struggle, July, 2009 ]

The adoption issue I want to address has to do with money, and the cost of care, as it is seen through the eyes of an adult adoptee. In the above example, an enormous amount of 'earned' money was spent on a new wing and new beds for children who would be cared for (sponsored) by donating PAPs. As I understand the orphan-care system, PAP's donations go towards direct child-care, which means the child in-care will not have to suffer the effects of poverty or poor budgeting because the PAPs donated monies would be covering essential costs like food, linen, health care, etc. This is an important detail, as another complaint I receive from angry APs is related to child malnutrition, and the effects poor care has on growth, development, and the ability to learn. Keep in mind, too, the cases I hear about are cases where the Aparents spent thousands of dollars on orphan-care (forced donations), and yet the description of the children they received reads like a hideous list of signs and symptoms of problems that could have been prevented, had the children not been neglected by care-givers paid to care for young children.

the children arrived with rotted teeth, sores on their skins, spots on their skins due to lack of vitamins, blotted stomachs, puffy cheeks, orange hair due to Zinc deficiencies, and other signs of Malnutrition levels.

I have heard complaints from APs stating the money they sent "for orphan care" was not being used on the children, but used in other ways.... like new construction and new transportation -- for the orphanage director, (not "the orphans"). So how is the child in-care benefiting from all this forced donation operation? Well, if we use the above example from China, the mother of sending-countries, we can see a 10-bed facility can become a much bigger more modern facility, which has it's perks. With more room, it can house more children, which generates more donations. With each required donation, and an 80% turn-over rate, how does this translate into the human experience? If the orphanage is a non-profit entity, all monies received must be spent before the end of the fiscal year. The question is, with so much new room available, and more monthly income, how is that money being spent? Is it being spent on adults, or on the children? Is more staff being hired and paid to care for the 80+ children in-care? Is better quality food being served? Are small children being held while being fed? How exactly does this 'improvement' translate into 'best interest of the child'?

I ask because I myself was one of those babies who was neglected so bad in-care, my head was completely flat on one side. It was not deformed because of my mother. It was deformed because I was never picked-up and held or rotated in the crib.

When you're an adult, and read that information on a fact-sheet about yourself, it does something. It makes you see yourself as a child no one would take the time to care for or about... and that.... hurts. [How does a mother choose this fate for her child, and say relinquishing after birth is a loving decision?]

Some things about the adoption-option and post relinquishment experience make much less sense as the adoptee gets older.

I remember when I was much younger, I would ask my Adad, "How much did I cost?".

His angry silence told me I was on to something, but at the time, when I asked him such questions, I was being sincere (not snide) because I was very confused... I knew what it was like to be an adoptable abandoned/neglected orphan in this world, I just didn't really understand what that entailed and what that meant to him, a man.... a father who worked three jobs to pay the bills... a husband who tried to please his wife... a man who agreed to go against family tradition and travel a long distance, just to get his wife the little girl she wanted for herself. I wanted to know... what did it cost him to get me, because I was getting a real sense of what it was costing me to be my Amother's daughter. I wanted to know if the sacrifice and hardship he experienced was equal or similar to my own.

Turns out there is no equality in a bad adoption decision. If the adoptee gets neglected or abused, that adoptee will always be the one who paid the most for another person's gain.

I don't know if my Aparents paid monthly fees for my care in Canada... but if they did, I think it would make my story much worse. I struggle with the ethics behind the donation plans in Adoptionland. There is a trade agreement being made. Value for value, with the PAP being the customer/client. The PAP trades value (money, which becomes a paycheck to some) in the expectation of receiving value (a child in-care). This fact can't be argued because in Adoptionland, the money that gets sent to aid child-care is sent only to the future sons or daughters of those donating people. That's not donating out of altruism or charity... that's buying, using 'donation' as a euphemism for required fee.

Well, it turns out the forced donation fee-deal that has made many a private entrepreneur wealthy in Adoptionland is growing bigger as I type.

According to recent posts found on, it seems as though Amothers are proud to announce they are assisting birth mothers with the cost of living and raising other children, (provided the donating Amother gets her adopted child, first). This exchange is done under the guise of donations, after an IC adoption has been finalized, and a search-angel has been found and has been paid his/her required finder's fee. This post placement donation money does not include the cost of a private adoption, which can cost well over $10,000 USD.

Our cost [for the searcher] was $1200. By the way, that included the delivery of food supplies when the visit was made --- and I mean significant supplies:
25 pounds black beans
25 pounds sugar
25 pounds rice
25 pounds corn
1 gallon cooking oil
10 pounds pasta
5 pounds cereal
10 pounds salt

What is going on in Adoptionland and the adoption industry, and why is this 'donate cash and supplies' (for a child) being suggested to and supported by APs ?

Do any of these individuals involved take the time to wonder what an adoptee might think about all this trade/exchange for a child put in-care?

The implications are huge, and disturbing, especially if you happen to be an abused adoptee.

The order of fee/service events suggests the bio parents hear about and seized the chance at a great financial opportunity. All that is needed is a child.... a young healthy child, since that is most desired by adopters. The parents then have to agree to put their child in-care and agree to an international adoption plan. The hope, I suppose, is that the chosen child put in-care will be adopted quickly by a wealthy American.

The problems are many as children in-care are often times neglected and treated badly for at least as long as they are in-care. In addition, few American/foreign adopters are as wealthy as they seem or may appear... and many adoptive families/homes turn-out to be dysfunctional and abusive. I can't imagine many APs being able to pay for the cost of raising an adopted child AND paying for a searcher to find and reunite with first-family members, so this scam must be reserved for those who have a little extra and feel a measure of guilt and sadness for those who always seem left behind in impoverished regions of the world.

If I ever learned my bio-parents were receiving donations from my APs.... I would be FURIOUS, on so many levels, and for so many reasons. [Lucky for me this is not a problem, as my first-mother traveled far away from her home so I could be delivered, without family members knowing.] However, at some point, APs must realize their young foreign adopted children are going to grow and mature and learn what adopters and birth-families are doing "for the children" born in poor regions of the world.

I see "search and support " agreements between searchers and adopters as being a most questionable arrangement. First of all, without exception, these practices take place in regions where illegal adoptions have been rampant. These arrangements take place in countries where corruption is a way of life, and where the income disparity between adopters and first families is beyond comparison. There are many factors that need to be questioned, and yet I'm inclined to believe AP's will buy whatever it is a foreign search-angel will tell them, "for the sake of the children".

All in all, the more this exchange gets explained to me, the more I see the way in which money is going to be used and claimed, making it all to easy for "donations" to effectively be used as a payment in exchange for a child. I'd like to learn other opinions on this modern Adoptionland development, as I see "search and support " one step away from an illegal adoption and a far cry from any "humanitarian effort" that helps others build and create their own improved standard of living.

I'd like to know how many PPL readers believe such 'search and support' plans are good/smart routes to take when offering orphan-widow care to those who rely on post adoption services for support and answers to many adoption-related questions.


Monthly fees and rejectionx2

Kerry- You mentioned only the initial cost for the search and the grocery donation for a month. After the search is done, accounts can be set up for the first family, meaning that the AP sends money monthly to an account via Western Union. This money is to buy food, schooling, more.

The corruption in Guatemala cannot be overlooked when using searchers and sending money, especially when this might hurt the first family in the long run. This is something that I feel is overlooked by many.

Most APs are doing this because they do not want their child to feel that they had everything, while their first families had nothing. I know of a few adoptees older than some of the current APs posting about their recent searches or inquiring about searching. Some have known the biofamily for years, sadly some first moms have rejected the relationship after a few years.

Kerry- How does rejection by a biomom AGAIN, after reunion, affect the child/young teen/adult?

Rejection: Round Two

I know of a few adoptees older than some of the current APs posting about their recent searches or inquiring about searching. Some have known the biofamily for years, sadly some first moms have rejected the relationship after a few years.

Kerry- How does rejection by a biomom AGAIN, after reunion, affect the child/young teen/adult?

My contacts-in-conversation have been mostly with adult adoptees, many of whom have met their mothers, got along great with them during the Honeymoon Period, and then out of nowhere got the very clear message that the relationship was over, and it was not going to go anywhere.  How does that affect a person?  It hurts.  It brings all that abandonment, rejection and loneliness back, and it HURTS in ways kids rejected-by-their-parents can best understand.  But these are not the stories you read in newspapers or magazines, is it?  No... the reunion stories sold to the public are the good ones... the ones where all are still in awe and happy because they are still in the Honeymoon Phase of a much wanted relationship.

[Who doesn't want a little taste of that?]

How does second maternal rejection affect a child/young teen?  I'm sure the feelings feel much like an adult's feelings, only less intense.  After all, when you're a child/teen, you're still living at home with your AP's... and in many cases, those parents are more than happy to offer some sort of comfort to the hurting child.  The problem is, I think on some level most of us adoptees think our AP's are hoping the bio-mother does reject the "found" adopted child simply because that sort of conclusion would put the competing ghost-of-a-relationship to rest.  (There can be no more mythical wishful thinking for the adoptee if the mother turns out to be a cold rejecting bitch...)

Keep in mind, however, there are many things we adoptees do not discuss with our APs... and I have found more and more adult adoptees are willing to wait for their AP's to die before they start their search for first family members.  I think that approach itself kinda says something about one's comfort-level with honest communication in the adopted relationship... doesn't it?

The following was written to me by a 35 year old male adoptee; he's been divorced twice, found a third wife, and is a father to three.  This was what he shared with me, after he realized his bio-mother wanted nothing to do with him.

I know when I think about my current situation, being adopted -- OK,all the other stuff is Ok with me too, but the fact that I've 'found' the people who in my world could give me some answers to the questions that I have, and so far they have just flat out not responded, that is just unacceptable, absolutely, positively unacceptable!!!!!! I can not stress that BIG enough!!!!!!
Because we had no choice back then,and obviously she had no choice back then, but I can chose now, and I'm damn sure not perfect, not even close, but I'm sorry for her pain, shame, what ever!
But I'll be damned if anyone is gonna stand in my way on this, like a bull in a china store, Full Speed Ahead!!!!!! Thats just the way it is with me, always has been, always will be.......I wanna 'tell' my self how good I have been to her so far, patient( waiting 6yrs+) caring for her situation (not going to NJ and showing up at her front door during Christmas(( or any other family gathering)) or going to her school and just getting it all out right then and there)
Don't Really Know where I was going with that,but gosh doesn't it feel good to sometimes just say some of this stuff in our heads,right or wrong,it just feels good atleast for a minute   This is just like a broken record in my head, its the part of me I can't OVERCOME----YET.............
Yes, I do have insomnia at times.

With other aspects of my life, I THINK, I am extra giving, extra caring, extra going the extra mile, but when talking emotions, don't fuck with mine and I won't care about yours........

I will insert here, because I had so much honest feed-back from other adoptees, I was able to let-go of my desire to search and find before it became a bigger obsession in my life.  Both adoptees and adopters have to understand, when launching into a search, you are essentially opening a Pandora's Box, with very few safety measures in-check.  The contents within this box of unknowns may be very upsetting and disturbing, and in some cases, the findings can lead a depressed person into such a state of agony and misery, self-injury or suicide are really the only acts the person in pain can try or use as a form of punishment and relief.  This is very difficult stuff... and no one can prepare the adoptee well enough for the information they may find and pain and anger they may feel.

Think about it... especially if you're the adoptee born in another country, where corruption is like air -- everywhere.

<heavy sigh>

Sadly, this is the stuff adoption websites and adoption fact sheets, like Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons keep missing.

Donations by any other word....

Kerry's comment" "I have heard complaints from APs stating the money they sent "for orphan care" was not being used on the children, but used in other ways.... like new construction and new transportation -- for the orphanage director, (not "the orphans")."

That sure seems the case in many Central and South American orphanages. By the looks of the new homes that the directors were building or their new beach homes that they were purchasing or the new homes in Miami, California or Texas that were bought, it does seem that the donations were going more to the directors pockets.

Sadly the children in most need, were not at orphanages created for the purpose of ICA. Healthy newborns and toddlers were procured for that purpose. Neglected and malnourished children winded up living in state run orphanages and oddly enough...they were not adoptable.

The Director... of adoption-trafficking

By the looks of the new homes that the directors were building or their new beach homes that they were purchasing or the new homes in Miami, California or Texas that were bought, it does seem that the donations were going more to the directors pockets.

This reminds me of Lauryn Galindo, and her role in Cambodian adoptions, and the money she 'earned' for facilitating adoptions for Americans.  [See the video:  Cambodia Adoption Scandal ]

Galindo, an adoption facilitator in Cambodia for 13 years, admits to poor recordkeeping but insists that she was not involved in trafficking children. "I have never been involved or charged with anything other than paperwork errors. And that's what I pled to, that's what I'm going to go to prison for," she told Vargas.

But the U.S. government insists it was more than simple errors, citing what it says is evidence that her adoption business paid Cambodian mothers for their babies, sometimes for as little as the cost of a bag of rice.

Last year, Galindo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud and money laundering in 17 cases. She denies baby trafficking but admitted falsifying documents that wiped out the identities of Cambodian children in those cases.

From 1997 to 2001, Galindo facilitated 800 adoptions for American families -- more than half of all Cambodian adoptions. No one knows how many of those orphans were in fact real orphans. Galindo insists it was the responsibility of the Cambodian government, orphanages and her own staff to make sure children were legally abandoned. She says she never checked to make sure they were really orphans.

Galindo told Vargas, "I never wanted to hurt anyone. You have to understand my motivation was pure in helping these children."

"What I pled to was knowing that there was additional information elsewhere to be had. And indeed, I did. And as I said, I made some mistakes,"

[From:  U.S. Families Learn Truth About Adopted Cambodian Children, 2005 ]

Later in the same article, we learn how code-wording helps make certain actions very clear those those in-the-know:

Galindo claims that none of her staff ever approached women to purchase their children. But the U.S. government uncovered receipts that it says lists the expenses for the trafficking of babies. One cost was $200 for "nurse care." A U.S. investigator told "20/20" he interviewed two Cambodian baby recruiters who worked for Galindo. Both independently said the "nurse care" fee was code for paying off birth mothers.

Galindo said the fees were paid on her behalf to ensure that the children were well cared for. U.S. agents also found a note in Galindo's home, in her handwriting that says "freelance locator's are in the countryside." And just above it, Galindo had written "who brings kids in."

Galindo says she was simply documenting her concern and planned to report this to authorities. "I was, in fact, the watchdog and trying to do my best to help bring the problems to the attention of the Cambodian government," she said.

But a young Cambodian mother, Meas Bopha, told "20/20" Galindo came to her home in 1997 and tried to convince her to sell her three babies for $700. Galindo says she is a liar.

Each adoptive family's $3,500 cash "orphanage donation" was to go towards orphan/nanny care.  The children found at the orphanage were doing without medicine and food.  Later, U.S. investigators inspected several orphanages sponsored by Galindo, and they found deplorable conditions. According to news reports, the U.S. government learned Galindo received approximately $2.8 million in orphanage donations, and in 2002 she was keeping a luxury apartment in Phnom Penh, a chauffeur-driven Mercedes and had several bodyguards.  

"When people ask me what I do, I don't say adoptions, I say humanitarian work. I didn't come here to steal children. I came here to do what I could to help."

She conceded that more than half of the average $US9000 fee she charged American couples for adoption processing was given to Cambodian officials.

"It's OK to give tips . . . I'm really happy to share the wealth," she said.

[From:  Jolie's adoption nightmare, 2004 ]

 Before her humanitarian gig, Galindo was a  Hawaiian hula dancer.  Before she was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the child trafficking of  hundreds of Cambodian children, which includes money laundering, visa fraud, falsifying children’s names, dates of birth, places of birth and family history, she took $9.2 million dollars in fees.   Remember, a portion of these fees was meant to go to the orphanages and child-care in Cambodia.  Instead, it seems much of it went towards her multimillion-dollar house in Hawaii and expensive cars.

It's not surprising such practices exist in Adoptionland... what IS surprising is how often American adopters don't or won't speak-up when red flags are raised and they are given babies by 'nannies' and told to leave the orphanage, and go to the hotel... quickly.

Even if what she, and others

Even if what she, and others like her, did was wrong, wouldn't you at least agree those adopted children are better-off living in America than in Cambodia? In America those children are given an education and future opportunities they would otherwise never receive, if they were kept by their parents and forced to live in under-developed villages. Think about the opportunity these children were given. Maybe then you wouldn't be so quick to condemn those who are doing what they can to improve the lives of others.

ends and means

The above comment was posted some two months ago, but was never followed up; time to make up for that oversight.

The better-off-argument is often made when it comes to adoption, as if the end always justifies the means. No matter how unethical the process, as long as children are better off living in the US, it is worth it.

Another aspect of this line of reasoning is that it tends to pit one best-case scenario against another worst-case scenario. Of course the ideal adoption is better than the worst form of languishing in an orphanage, but conversely a child would be better off staying in his or her country of origin than being severely abused by  adoptive parents.

For the better part of the 20th century, Americans and many people outside of the US believed in the American Dream, the idea that the US was the land of opportunity. I guess for the first two decades after WW II this ideal matched reality to a degree, but that is no longer the case. Upward social mobility hardly exists anymore. Health-care is only available to those that can afford it; college-degrees are a minimum workplace requirement, but leave most students with an almost insurmountable debt ; the prison population is the largest in the world.

It begs the question what the US really has to offer a child born in a foreign country. Is a Cambodian child better off having to work three jobs at WalMart, Target and Dunkin' Donuts to make ends meet, than having to struggle for life in his or her native country?

In fact if we look purely at opportunities, a child nowadays may even be better off being raised in China than being raised in the US. The US is an empire in decline, while China is an empire on the rise. Where better to be than in the country that provides real opportunities?

Does this mean the roles should be reversed and China should in fact adopt many American children to give them better opportunities? Or should the US put many of its underprivileged children on a boat to Scandinavian countries where opportunities, life-expectancy, health-care and education are far superior to that in the US?

So far we have not even looked at the unintended consequences of adoption; the number of children that end up in orphanages because of the demand for adoption; the pain inflicted on families whose children have been stolen; the families coerced to relinquish their children. The end simply doesn't justify the means, especially not when that end is by far not as positive as it is proclaimed to be.


So I guess this anonymous is saying that a kidnapper should keep your child.  They have been with them for however long and they have bonded with them.  Even though  they stole your child out of your home and even though you have been overrun with worry and heartache.  They have now bonded with their kidnappers and thus that is more important and justifies the means to an end theory.

Pound Pup Legacy