The United States House of Representatives recipient of Demons of Adoption Awards
For seventeen years, in America, November has been earmarked as National Adoption Awareness Month. Its origins can be found in an initiative by Gov. Dukakis of Massachusetts in 1976. His adoption awareness week was promoted to the national level by President Reagan, and with President Clinton's approval, the entire month of November became the official month to honor and promote the merits of adoption, and bring more public awareness to otherwise little known facts and figures related to adoption laws, practices, and adopted people.
To add more luster to National Adoption Awareness Month, members of congress set up the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a group of senators and representatives that each year organizes the Congressional Angel in Adoption Award gala. This gala is a meet-and-greet opportunity between members of congress, representatives of the adoption industry and sponsors of CCAI (predominantly oil companies for one reason or the other).
Over the years, the Angels in Adoption Award has become an adoption agency love-fest, where members of congress nominate adoption attorneys and directors of adoption agencies for the mere fact of running a business.
For generations, the adoption industry and the world of politics have worked hard to create it's own codependent-relationship. For politicians, the pro-adoption movement is a safe morality-based subject matter turned social service to stand behind, making it an ideal topic to appeal to their constituents. For the sake of business interests and economic growth, both adoption attorneys and adoption agencies depend on lax regulation and little oversight to keep their adoption services alive and strong.
Pound Pup Legacy was founded six years ago, in answer to the many biased opinions and censored facts promoted by the pro-adoption movement and those who applaud, without question, the nominees and recipients of CCAI's Angels in Adoption.
Since its inception, Pound Pup Legacy has raised red flags and has collected documented material that supports and exposes a very different side to the many praised practices and experiences found in CCAI's self-congratulating Adoptionland.
Five years ago, Pound Pup Legacy decided to start the Demons of Adoption Awards, an anti-award to raise awareness about corrupt and negligent practices found in Adoptionland.
Over the years the Demons of Adoption Award has gone to such illustrious organizations as National Council for Adoption, Bethany Christian Services, Joint Council on International Children's Services and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and today we are here to announce the recipient of this dubious honor for the year 2012.
With each award winning announcement, there comes a little background information about the history of adoption, the role the winning nominee has had in ensuring poor standards of practice and corruption have remained constants within the adoption industry, and why PPL voices its concerns through "awareness events" like the Demon's of Adoption Awards and Rohnor's Angels.
Despite the many rosy stories, and positive testimonies featured by the media, adoption is often not done in the best interest of a child. Instead, all too often the desires of prospective adopters and the business needs of adoption agencies prevail. Underneath a veil of charitable altruism, there lies a world of corruption, malpractice and negligence. This world brings much harm and heartbreak not only to birth parents and adoptive parents, (and those who love them), but it brings life altering harm to the very children put into care-systems, both state-funded, and private.
It is not in the best interest of professional politicians to pay too much attention to the dark side of adoption; putting too much focused attention on malpractice and corruption found in child/family services may cost the professional politician much needed votes when it comes down to one's re-election. This see-no-evil policy is as true today, as it was in the 1950s when congress made no attempts whatsoever to follow up on the devastating discoveries behind profitable baby-brokering, as noted in the congressional hearings chaired by Sen. Estes Kefauver.
Built into the concept of adoption lies the potential for child trade. Ever since the incarnation of modern day adoption in the mid-19th century, adoption has been more of a market place for childless couples seeking children, than a human service that promotes and protects the best interests of children without living parents. When the wants and needs coupled with purchasing power of prospective adopters supersedes the desire to create a regulated social practice that helps clothe, feed and educate children in need, the words "humanitarian effort" and "altruism" should be omitted from Adoptionland's language of adoption.
It is often said that adoption services brings together two needs: the need of a child to have a family meets the need of prospective adopters to start a family. In that sense, adoption is considered a win-win situation, where both sides gain, thanks to a third-party facilitator acting on behalf of a child's best interest. This common and one-dimensional view of adoption fails to recognize the depth and scope of the imbalance of power between the two participants in the transaction.
Prospective adopters are, by most legal definitions, adults, who more often than not are registered legal citizens of the area they represent, are financially sound and have the means to raise a child without government assistance, and have no criminal record. In spite of the high (and often continuously rising) costs and fees required to make an adoption complete, it is the prospective adoptive parent who initiates and controls the entire adoption process. Their goal, to receive a child, as quickly as possible, is given assistance through paid adoption attorneys and adoption agency employees familiar with a variety of local adoption laws and the many forms and applications that need to be filled-out, and completed in order to deem the adoption process both legal and complete.
Throughout the entire adoption process, the "adoptable" child has a very passive role and those acting on behalf of the child's well being (and best interest) often benefit financially from agreeing to an adoption plan.
As adopters will readily admit and testify, adoption costs and related fees are by no means cheap. However, rare is it that an adoptive parent, after receiving their promised child, will ever publicly admit the child they finally received was not worth the time or cost demanded from them. With such strong emotional needs and ties association with each adoption, it's easy to see how even the smartest most educated potential adoptive parent can be scammed and robbed of tens of thousands of dollars because the promise to provide a child was made by an adoption lawyer or adoption facilitator.
Over the years, politicians reluctantly implemented stricter adoption regulations that address what many refer to as "adoption scams". From the 1950s onwards, state legislators made it more difficult to openly practice baby-brokering and the last high-profile cases of such practice surfaced in the 1980s. However, the reason for the decline in baby-brokering in the USA, has more to do with the globalization of adoption via international adoption services, than the efforts to reduce child-stealing for child-trade, made by state legislators.
Before the 1990s, inter-country adoption was relatively unorganized. The wars in Korea and Vietnam brought hundreds of babies to the US, just as Germany and Greece provided babies for the American adoption market in the two decades following the Second World War. In addition, before the era of open adoptions and adoption from foster care, Catholic Canadians were yet another rich supply of healthy infants for American couples unable to have children of their own. Yet, despite the prevalence of inter-country adoption, child trade for the adoption industry was still an immature line of business.
Inter-country adoption grew-out of it's infant-stage and became a solid line of business with the fall of the iron curtain and the political changes that were taking place in China during that same period. Almost overnight, thousands of children became readily available for adoption without any legal protection whatsoever. Throughout the 1990s, adoption agencies and adoption facilitators set-up shop both in the US and abroad, leading to unprecedented levels of inter-country adoption numbers that continued well into the first decade of this century.
The results of this adoption-boom were devastating. Ill-prepared adopters were given children they could not properly care for, leading to abuse and disruption.
Adopters were barely screened (to this day a hugely problematic issue), making it possible for pedophiles to acquire children to their taste and liking, and for future sexual exploitation. Children were bought and sold in foreign countries, via child traffickers and "adoption facilitators" simply because the supply of truly adoptable children (legitimate orphans/abandoned children with no living family) ended up being much smaller than the growing demand.
The years following the early 1990s can be dubbed the era of the Wild-West of adoption, a true gold-rush for human flesh and bone, in very small child-sizes. But like most other era's in adoption, that rush eventually slowed, not because of strong US government involvement and interest in the rights of children, but because foreign suppliers faced problems of their own.
Most of the countries of the Eastern Bloc became part of the European Union, infusing billions in the local economy, while implementing strict human rights laws at the same time. As a result, the Romanian gravy train stopped in its tracks. Russia stabilized during the last decade and became more and more reluctant to send its children abroad for adoption, especially since several high-profile abuse cases made the headlines. China too has drastically reduced the supply of children over the last couple of years and nearly all Latin-American countries introduced strict adoption laws, making such places uninteresting for adoption business because quick and easy-child delivery is no longer an option.
Over the last six years, the adoption industry has been in panic mode. The years of easy money and quick and easy baby-delivery are gone. The number of children adopted internationally dropped more than 50% in just a few years' time. Agencies have gone out of business. Many agency directors have cited rising costs associated with an international adoption plan have made their humanitarian efforts cost-prohibitive, breaking the hearts of many anxious adults already approved to adopt a young foreign child. Only those agencies that acquired Hague accredited status are, for the most part, still standing, urging a rebirth of the orphan crusade and a return to the free-for-all glory days of yesteryear in adoption history.
Enter today the House of Representatives of the 112th congress of the United States of America.
Just when the US had implemented much needed legislation to comply with the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption, the House of Representatives decides to pass a new law that throws all caution to the wind in bipartisan zeal to "rescue" North Korean babies through H.R. 1464: North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2011.
In a devastating analysis of this bill, Catherine Hong makes the following observation:
Modeled on a failed series of North Korean human rights bills that stretch back to 2003, the North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2011 proceeds from an outdated portrait of on-the-ground conditions and distorted premises. Empirically speaking, the bill misrepresents the reality of the children whom it purports to help. As a placeholder for children who are, by and large, not North Korean, not refugees, and not orphans, the “North Korean refugee orphan” is a dangerous fiction whose elastic license with the truth imperils the welfare of the children this legislation stands to impact. The bill’s alarmist image of “thousands of North Korean children [who] are threatened with starvation or disease” does not, in point of fact, correspond to the reality of the children who—albeit often poor and sometimes in the care of a grandparent—actually have families, have household registration papers, attend schools, are relatively well-nourished, and are Chinese citizens. Strategically loose on the supply-side details, this bill risks instrumentally construing these children as adoptable when, in fact, they are not. Far from ensuring the best interests of the child, as specified by international protocols, including the Hague Adoption Convention to which the United States is signatory, the North Korean Refugee Adoption Act, if passed, will give legitimacy to practices that shift U.S. adoption policy toward child-laundering.
With hundreds of members of the House of Representatives participating in the annual Angels of Adoption gala, it goes without saying that a majority of media-followed pro-adoption advocates can be found in favor of such "adoption-friendly" legislation. Historically speaking, voting for an act that establishes anti-communist credentials is very appealing to many in congress. This supported act (and all the pipe-lines it suggests) makes it clear the House of Representatives has yet to acknowledge what is in a child's best interest; instead this act supports adoption business as usual, which includes the potential for more infant stealing, more orphan engineering, more insufficient adoptive parent preparation programs, and more cases in which pre- and post-placement monitoring and screening goes ignored.
In this day and age, the House of Representatives has no excuse for acting so irresponsibly and with such obvious self-interest.
PPL's official stance is: The North Korean Adoption Act of 2011 is an irresponsible piece of legislation; it should not have been introduced in the first place, let alone pass with bipartisan support and embrace. Contrary to pro-adoption speak, this act does not reflect practices that are in the best interest of children.
Previous editions of the Demons of Adoption Awards featured organizations that directly benefited from adoption, being either trade associations of adoption service providers, or adoption agencies. This year's recipient of the Demons of Adoption Award is a very different beast altogether. It is a beast that feeds and fuels itself through the feel-good sentiments of American citizens on a personal crusade and mission and it thrives best when their constituents are left in the dark.
In the end, despite all our attention to the dark side of adoption, for most Americans it is much easier and more convenient to accept the manufactured saccharine sweetness offered by the many PR-divisions of the adoption industry. With the exception of those who are directly involved, adoption is not first and foremost on the minds of American citizens, especially if it's a presidential election year. So it is understandable that the vast majority of Americans don't know about negligent screening, ill-preparedness of adoptive parents, coercion and child trafficking, elements that have an ill-effect on child safety, wellness and development.
Members of the House of Representatives should know what lies beneath the veil of altruism and charity; their staffers do research and have the time, funding, and resources to learn about the many wrongs found in Adoptionland. They have been elected to know about the issues passing their desk. It is this willful ignorance owned by members of the House and the cynical exploitation of adoption as a feel-good topic that makes The United States House of Representative a prime deserving candidate to receive PPL's 2012 Demon of Adoption Award.
We would like to thank all our readers for their nominations and for their votes, and it is our hope that PPL's Demons of Adoption Award brings to light the more serious adoption issues that still lurk and still need to be addressed throughout the year, not just during November, America's National Adoption Month.