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by Niels on Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The other day I heard of one of my contacts that an adoption lobbyist, familiar with some work I've been involved in, is trying to dismiss that work on the grounds that I am supposedly anti-adoption. The work, which is a well documented exposé of child trafficking cases, in the minds of the adoption lobby seems to lose value, once the anti-adoption label can be assigned. Corruption and illegal practices simply cease to exist, once the documentation of those activities is perfomed or supported by someone whom the anti-adoption label can be applied to.

These tactics remind me somewhat of the presidential elections where we could see similar remarks. He is a liberal, he is a socialist, he is a muslim. As soon as the label is applied that person is somehow rendered irrelevant or dangerous, radical and certainly irrational. Facts raised by a labelled person just stop being facts, they somehow can be treated as fodder. A foreign policy analysis cannot be trusted because someone is labeled a muslim, an observation about the state of the economy is riduculous because someone is labeled a liberal, or even worse a socialist and the documentation of a child trafficking case is simply untrue because the messenger is labeled anti-adoption.

In his interview with Meet the Press of  Sunday October 19, 2008, Colin Powell made the following statement:

The correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.

Skipping the question of whether I am anti-adoption. What if I am anti-adoption? Is there something wrong with being against adoption in this world? I think the answer should also be "no". There are very rational reasons to be against adoption which I outlined in When is adoption an acceptable option? and I yet have to hear a an intelligent refutation of the position taken in that post. But even if that position would be refuted would that mean child trafficking suddenly didn't take place in China, Columbia, Ethiopia or India? If that's the case I am not going to pay my taxes this year, because my forms were delivered by a mail man who is a socialist muslim.

by Niels on Tuesday, 11 November 2008

When late March we wrote an update about the businesses of Seymour Kurtz, we could not have foreseen how quickly the information we presented would be outdated. Almost immediately after the publication we heard that Kurtz' offices had allegedly been raided by the FBI and later this summer we got news his agencies "Easter House", "Adoption World" and "Birth Hope" had finished operations.

Yesterday we received information that the Easter House records have been handed over to the Illinois Department for Children and Family Services. Those who want to find out more can call DCFS: 1-847-298-9096 ext 29.

by Niels on Sunday, 12 October 2008

When President Clinton in 1997 signed the Adoption and Safe Family Act (ASFA) into law, there were three national goals for children in the child welfare system: safety, permanence and well-being. Now eleven years later it's fair to conclude that permanence, without being all that successful, given the number of children in foster care, has received most of the attention.

Although I realize hindsight is always 20/20, it was predictable that in a world where money talks, the permanency aspect would have received most of the attention. After all permanency was the only aspect of ASFA that received financial incentives. Ít also was the only aspect that could be cast into mould of financial incentives. It's not easy to make safety and well-being measurable, so ASFA from the start could have been perceived as top-heavy on the permanency aspect.

With it's financial incentive aspect, ASFA is very much a law that belongs to an era in which we thought everything was measurable and incentives, bonuses, quota would be the solution to every major problem. We not only see it in child placement but in a many aspects of legislature over the last 20 years, For example, the productivity of police forces is measured by the number of tickets pulled, irrespective of crime rates or traffic safety.

The problem with all incentives is that officials will seek the easy route to go after the incentives. When police corpses receive part of the revenues of speeding tickets, they will seek out places where the situation is most compelling to violations of the speed limit. In reality those are the safest places on the road, so instead of enhancing traffic safety, police officers are spending time fining people for benign activities.

The same is true for adoption incentives. Intended as a measure to expedite permanency for children who would otherwise stay within the foster care system indefinitely, the adoption incentives in fact has mainly lead to seek the outplacement of children as young as possible, because of their adaptability.

by Niels on Tuesday, 07 October 2008

With less than a month to go and some people still having to make up there mind, I'd like to use the opportunity to present what the campaigns of the republican and the democrat candidates have to say about child placement.

The two campaigns address very different issues. The McCain campaign does not address foster care at all and the Obama campaign doesn't address adoption at all, so it is very difficult to weigh the campaigns based upon the issue of child placement.

Of course these are only proposals and the reality of a presidency is far too often based upon the issues that become important on a day to day basis. Many laws have been encouraged based upon an attrocity, such as Megan's law and Masha's law. Those were unforseen tragedies that induced laws that never were part of any presidential proposal.

For those still undecided and want to know what the two candidates want to achieve, here are the excerpts from the campaign websites of the two contenders:

McCain proposals:

by Niels on Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Despite an alphabet soup of titles, Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, Ed.D., LCSW, LMFT, seems to be completely out of touch with reality. Of course one cannot expect a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (I admit I had look that one up), to have any understanding of economics, then why make the claim to have any knowledge on the subject.

Supposedly Mrs Pavao is going to speak at the Hillside Children’s Center’s 17th annual conference, where she is going to deliver the keynote address, under the illustrious title “The Changing World of Adoption: How Far Have We Come”.

May I suggest Mrs. Pavao a couple of issues to address in her speech,

We have come so far that:

by Niels on Thursday, 11 September 2008

On September 1, 2008, the bilateral agreement on international adoption between Vietnam and the United States expired and for now all adoptions from Vietnam have been suspended. A good situation one might say. Neither the US nor France for that matter, ever had any good reason to be in Vietnam and whenever they did, disaster followed.

And with international adoption from Vietnam, disaster followed. As in most sending countries, Vietnamese adoption is riddled with fraud, corruption and child trafficking. That's why we have been speaking against international adoption for years and for helping sending countries institute proper child protection systems, so children don't have to be deported to another country, to supply the demand for children in receiving countries.

That's the change we need in this world. Sending countries should either back off, or start helping sending countries without asking children in return.

Both the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) and its Siamese twin the Joint Council for International Children's Services (JCICS) have spoken out to quickly come to a new agreement with Vietnam. The NCFA plays the orphan card, while we all know that the vast majority of so-called orphans in Vietnam have families, just like most of the so-called orphans all over Asia.

The JCICS is a little more political correct in their assesment of the situation and pays lip service to the Hague Principles, assuming that the Hague has anything to offer when it comes to protecting children from adoption predation. Has the Hague improved the situation in India? Is India's central authority CARA free from corruption? Is CARA powerful enough to do something about corruption in orphanages? But despite the complete failure the Hague is, the JCICS want to change adoptions from Vietnam so they adhere to the principles of the Hague, whatever that means.

by Niels on Monday, 08 September 2008

In the last couple of weeks many articles appeared in the various news papers about child trafficking for the purpose of interternational adoption in India. Similar events have taken place in recent years in: Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Liberia, Nepal, Nigeria, Togo, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile at the Saddleback as part of a question for one of the presidential candidate Rick Warren stated: "Most people don’t know that there are 148 million orphans in the world. 148 million kids growing up without mommies and dads. They don’t need to be in an orphanage. They need to be in families. But a lot of families can’t afford to take these kids in."

Is it just me, or is there a disparity between these two?. On the one hand there are according to Unicef more than 140 million orphans, while on the other hand sending countries have to rely on child-trafficking to meet the demands for international adoption. Here are a few quotes that put the orphan figures into perspective.

Obtaining social history of the children was perhaps the biggest constraint that the assessment teams encountered. It is still difficult to get a clear picture of the children who are real orphans and those who are not but are living in the orphanages. The fact that some of the proprietors have changed the names of the children made it difficult to trace their families especially for children brought in to the orphanages when they were very young.
ORPHANAGE ASSESSMENT REPORT, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Liberia 2006

The research found that, contrary to widely held assumptions, only a small percentage of the children in institutional care were real orphans (6%) with  more than 90% having either one or both parents. Most of the children had been placed in these institutions by families who were struggling economically as well as socially in some cases, with the aim of ensuring their children's access to education. In fact most of the childcare institutions were found to be not about 'care' at all but about providing access to education. This was reflected in their explicitly stated approach to care, the services they provide and the resources allocated by them.
Half a million Indonesian "orphans" institutionalised without proper care, Save the Children UK.

by Niels on Friday, 05 September 2008

Today I received an email from


, the former executive director of Genesis Adoption and former CEO of AMREX. Supposedly


didn't want to be mentioned in the the factual information we wrote about her activities and the organizations she had worked for.


by Niels on Saturday, 09 August 2008

When I first asked my adoptive parents why they didn't have children of their own, they told me they couldn't get children of their own. I don't know if they used the word "infertility", I was too young anyway to understand five syllable words at the time. Had there not been more to it, I would have never heard and probably would never have asked.

In fact I never had to ask much anyway. Especially my adoptive mother would tell every fucking detail of her life to me, much of which belonging to the i-don't-want-to-and-certainly-don't-need-to-know domain. So as I grew up I learned their "inability" to have children of there own wasn't a question of infertility but a a pre-nuptual agreement to not have children. My adoptive father told me his father was an alcoholic and he was afraid it ran in his family and didn't want to burden a future generation with that. His mother also had insisted on never having children. So before marrying my adoptive mother she had to agree on not having children.

I accepted the story, although it never sat well with me, but knowing already too much about my adoptive parents, I never really questioned the story. I couldn't understand why my grand father's alcoholism could be such an issue two generations later, when neither my father nor his brother would drink much, though both drank alcohol with moderation. I couldn't understand why the words of a mother would still resonate in the ears of my father, while his brother did have a daughter of his own. Something didn't feel right about the story, but I never asked and despite that, I heard the story several times over the years.

Several years after my adoptive father's death, my adoptive mother told me a different story, she had just heard from my adoptive father's brother's daughter. Apparently my adoptive father had caught syphilis and lived under the impression he could still infect my adoptive mother even though he had been treated. I don't know how true the story is, my adoptive father is no longer there, his brother who is the original source of this story (his daughter having heard it from him) is long gone too and in all honesty I don't really have to know. It could be true, my adoptive father was certainly a man capable of keeping secrets and taking them to the grave. It explains some of the detail of the i-don't-want-and-certainly-don't-need-to-know stories I heard, but it creates many more questions that can never be answered again.

It taught me one thing though, when people say they can't have children, I no longer take their words at face value. Over the years I have learned that infertility due to syphilis was not uncommon among soldiers returning from the second world war and contributed to adoption at the time. I also learned there are couples that simply don't have sex and therefore claim infertility. It's not something much is written about and certainly not something the infertility treatment and adoption industry wants to talk about. The sympathy for the poor infertile couple is one of their big selling points after all. The realization some infertility is self-inflicted would shred that carefully drafted image.

by Niels on Thursday, 07 August 2008

The escape took place on August 12th 1989, which happened to be a Saturday. The day before that I had returned from holidays. I had been to France with a friend of mine. Now that had been a first time for me. Up till then I had only spent the holidays with my parents, but that time around I had managed to have holidays just for me. This I had deserved.

In mid June of that same year my parents had forced me to go on holidays with them. I was not allowed to stay in their house (how can you call a place home if it isn't your house), didn't have another place to stay, I saw no other option to go along, but under protest. I managed to stay in a foul mood for three fucking long weeks.

It was so horrible, yet I had my vicious little revenge, so delicate, so rewarding I can still feel the sheer joy undermining their power over me. I had one great fortune.

I had someone to write to, a friend whom I had already disclosed quite a few things to. He actually was the first person I did disclose anything to. Until I spoke up to him, my address had been too private to share with anyone. So I had my wicked escape from the daily agony and I added to it big time. I was annoying, ill tempered like I hadn't been before. I was making sure they would have Holidays from Hell.

Every day I wrote this friend of mine a long letter, dripping from sarcasm and that was my reward, I felt I had someone to share the agony with and that made me feel strong.