exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

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 adoption.com, 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.

by Kerry on Monday, 13 June 2011