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Pursuing what you want to pursue in the world of inter-country adoption


The Christian Post is at it again. After having posted three extremely biased articles about inter-country adoption earlier this year, they now continue their barrage of misinformation, linking it to the presentation of the documentary "Stuck".


is produced by Both Ends Burning, an organization whose goal is to expand inter-county adoption by a factor of five. Both Ends Burning is the brain child of former football player Craig Juntunen, after being ticked off by the level of red tape he met when trying to adopt himself.

The mentality behind Both Ends Burning is made very clear in an interview, Kathryn Joyce held with Juntunen, for the article The Evangelical Adoption Crusade

We’ve created this culture of adoption, and now more and more people want to participate and are left frustrated because they’re denied the opportunity to pursue what they want to pursue.

Let's think about this statement for a while and imagine some gang making the same argument, over a culture of cocaine dealing. It would sound preposterous, wouldn't it?

In a civilized world, people are denied the opportunity to pursue what they want to pursue, when that which is being pursued, is detrimental to others.

Inter-country adoption is by and large detrimental to the plight of vulnerable children in this world. Billions of dollars are spent each year to "save" a handful of children, many of whom would not need any "saving"  had there not been an adoption system in the first place.

This may sound crude, but it is perfectly logical when we look at adoption as a market place for children. Adoption is a demand driven market. Prospective adopters go to an adoption agency or hire an attorney to find a child meeting their needs. Those needs are generally a young child, preferably an infant, but not more than five years old, in good health and having no mental issues. Of course there are some exceptions to this rule, where adopters prefer older children or children with severe trauma or deformities, but those are a small minority.

On the supply side of the adoption equation, we find many orphans above the age of five, some in really bad health, others having serious mental issues.

Despite claiming to work on behalf of children really in need of proper care, adoption service providers in reality work for prospective adopters in order to make their dreams come true, "saving" a pretty, healthy, young child.

Demand for pretty, healthy, young children far exceeds supply and has done so as long as time remembered. To meet this demand, adoption facilitators around the world, artificially create orphans, as is clearly demonstrated by our expansive archive of child trafficking cases.

Instead of helping the millions of children in this world in need of better care, inter-country adoption creates more orphans, in order for prospective adopters in Western countries to not only have the child they desire, but feel a savior on top of it.

In this light, Juntunen's statement of being left frustrated because he's denied the opportunity to pursue what he wants to pursue, is entirely self-serving, just like the entire culture of adoption he speaks of.

After decades of having a bad reputation, due to hateful gay bashing, attacks on abortion providers, sex scandals among clerical leaders, the evangelical movement in the early years of this century, needed something positive to focus on. Adoption was the perfect PR vehicle for the movement, embracing specific "family values" without directly addressing the movement's arch villains: gays and single parents. A new way was found to lead a "purposeful" life and brush up the public image of the evangelical movement as "compassionate conservatives".

Let's now look at the Christian Post articles. We skip the introductory part and directly go to the gist of their message:

Seven out of 10 Americans believe that inter-country adoption is on the rise, Juntunen said, when, in fact, the numbers have dropped dramatically. International adoptions to the United States have dropped 60 percent since 2004, going from 22,991 to only 9,319 in 2011.

The film points to many culprits that explain the decline, including the U.S. State Department, UNICEF, a United Nations agency designed to help children, and the Hague Treaty. The Hague Treaty was begun by the United Nations to bring transparency, clarity and coordination to the inter-country adoption process. Landrieu introduced the bill that brought the United States into the treaty, but expressed regret in the film after seeing the results.

The goal of the Hauge Treaty [sp] is to make certain that every child adopted cross nationally is a legitimate orphan in need of a family. The treaty places such strict requirements on its signers, however, that many children who need a home are left in orphanages. Nations that have signed on, or attempted to sign on, to the Hauge Treaty [sp], have seen a dramatic decline in inter-country adoptions. Some nations have even stopped inter-country adoptions altogether after being encouraged by UNICEF to sign onto the treaty.

Most of these arguments have been made in the previous series of articles in the Christian Post and have been thoroughly debunked. Let's however look at the statements made in this article.

While it is true that the numbers of inter-country adoption have dropped between 2004 and 2011, it is only part of the story. Between 1995 and 2004, the number of adoptions boomed just as hard as the number of adoptions busted in the last couple of years. Much of the initial increase had to with a few specific countries with specific circumstances. Most of the increase and later decrease has to do with China. In the early 1990's, that country transformed from an initially communist country, very much focused on its internal affairs, to a fascist state trying to make money on the international market.

The effects of that transformation can be seen in everyone's life, from the cheap goods we purchase at our local chain-store, to the children adopted from abroad. Between 1995 and 2004, China became by far the largest supplier of adoptable children. The growth of the export of children stopped around 2004 and has declined ever since. Right now, most of the children available from China have so-called special needs, while the healthier ones are absorbed by China's growing internal market for children.

Another contributing country to the growth of inter-country adoption is Russia. In the early 1990's that country too transformed from an initially communist state, first to something more or less democratic, to finally become the fascist regime it now is. The first years after the fall of the communist regime, the country was in chaos, while at the same time foreign press noticed the deplorable situation under which many of the Russian "orphans" lived.

Under these specific and temporal circumstances, inter-country adoption from Russia started to boom, finally leveled off and declined in recent years.

Instead of being happy to see China and Russia finally being capable to take better care of their own children, prospective adopters in the Western world call it a disaster.

The Christian Post becomes entirely disingenuous when trying to explain the drop in inter-country adoption, by pointing the finger to UNICEF, the Hague Convention and the Department of State. In doing so, they focus upon one country without actually naming it. That country is Guatemala.

Guatemala had the most lax adoption system in the world, a system beloved by many prospective adopters, because it delivered thousands of pretty, healthy infants for the American adoption market. With the rise of the number of children being exported (mainly to the US), the number of cases of child-abduction, falsified paperwork and coercion grew. Even in a poor and war-torn country, there is a limited supply of young orphans, so in order to keep the gravy train running many children were made into "orphans" in order to make them adoptable.

Nearly all Western countries stopped adoptions from Guatemala in the early years of the century, because of the many irregularities in the adoption system. The big exception was the United States, which kept importing ever increasing numbers of children from Guatemala.

UNICEF played a significant role in closing down the Guatemalan adoption system and they should be commended for it. Of course this was unpleasant for those desperately wanting a Guatemalan child, and that's where the self-serving opposition comes from.

China, Russia and Guatemala together, were responsible for 93% of the fall of the number of adoptions over the last 8 years. A fall that is largely the result of economic improvement in China and Russia and partially the result of rampant corruption in Guatemala.

The argument the Christian Post makes, is a complete fabrication, but one that sells well among their constituencies that believe government is always the problem and never a solution to anything, and the United Nations is a nefarious organization aimed to undermine the freedom of people. In that sense it's mostly ideological political posturing rather than a proper analysis of the situation.

Let's now look at the remainder of the article:

"Stuck" follows the lives of five orphaned children – each with unique circumstances, unique challenges in the adoption process, and unique outcomes by the end of the film.

Nick and Lori Leroy were among the parents featured in the documentary. They first adopted a child from Vietnam when he was only seven months old. Vietnam shut down inter-country adoptions before the adoption was complete, effectively halting the process for the Leroys. Rather than giving up and adopting another child in a different country, the Leroys decided to fight for little Nate. The film recounts their nearly four year long struggle, including an extreme intervention by U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on their behalf.

The U.S. State Department was "more of a hindrance than a help," Lori Leroy told The Christian Post. She hopes that inter-country adoptions will be taken out of the hands of the State Department and placed under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which the Leroys found to be much more helpful.

The State Department "doesn't seem to want to be involved," Lori Leroy said.

In reality the Department of State had bigger fish to fry than attending to the needs of Nick and Lori Leroy. Here are some excepts of cables from the American embassy in Vietnam at the time:

2. (SBU) Through numerous field investigations over the past two years, particularly since July 2007, post has pieced together a more complete picture of how infant children progress their way through the international adoption system in Vietnam. This cable will trace each step of this progression, and show how demand for "as young as possible" infants is creating a very real financial incentive for Vietnamese to fill their orphanages to meet this demand. While there are legitimate orphans in Vietnam, the corruption in the adoption process has become so widespread that post believes that there is fraud in the overwhelming majority of cases of infants offered for international adoption.

In fact, the American embassy in Vietnam even explained how this corruption actually worked.

Long [Dr. Vu Duc Long, head of the Department of International Adoption (DIA) in Vietnam] went on to say that DIA was looking to revise the donation system because the current system was “putting too much pressure on orphanages.” As Long explained it, under the current system, ASPs [Adoption Service Providers] now agree to fund projects at orphanages for certain amounts of money. These donations are then divided by the orphanages into a “per child donation rate” to determine how many children will be provided to that ASP at "a 'per child" rate. Long went on to explain that this could be a problem because if an ASP agreed to accept funds for a project with a donation equal to 10 for example, but the orphanage only had 4 children to deliver, then the orphanage had to find additional children to meet obligation to the ASP. (Comment: We were quite surprised to hear DIA give this unusually frank account of the financial dealings of orphanages with ASPs. which clearly raises serious issues with regard to how the “orphan business” is being run and the pressure on orphanages to produce babies.

According to these diplomatic cables, there was "widespread corruption in the overwhelming majority of cases of infants offered for international adoption", and what does the Christian Post write about: the whining of a couple of entitled Americans who feel they were unjustly hindered by the Department of State to pursue what they wanted to pursue, no matter the consequences.

Finally the article comes to the core of the issue, political power:

At one point in the filming process, the "Stuck" film project was in danger of being canceled for lack of funds. That was when [Foster] Friess was introduced to the project and donated the $500,000 needed to finish the film.

"It's not my money, it's God's money," Friess said in remarks after the viewing.

Friess told The Christian Post that he was "oblivious" to the problems surrounding international adoptions before Juntunen brought the issue to his attention. He hopes that the film will inspire people to put pressure on Congress to, in turn, put pressure on the State Department to use its influence in bringing about the reforms that will enable more orphans to be matched to loving families eager to adopt them.

Friess also noted in his speech the bipartisan nature of the effort to improve inter-country adoptions.

"Here is [Senator] Mary Landrieu – a Democrat! And here I am, to the right of Rick Santorum. I love her!" Friess said as the crowd responded with laughter and cheers.

"I love you too," Landrieu shouted back from the audience.

Foster Friess, the man who "saved" the project is one of several sugar daddies that have come to dominate the political landscape since Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The political sugar daddies are all extremely rich and generally hate being denied the opportunity to pursue what they want to pursue. Their common gripe with modern day society is that they have to play by the rules. Just like many prospective adopters, they want a world where the rules simply don't apply to them, so they can have whatever they feel entitled to.

All the Christian Post writes about, and Juntunen and Friess claim to stand for, has very little to do with children, or even with adoption. It's a call for a world where everything can be bought, whether it is children, political power or the "love" of Senator Landrieu.

by Kerry and Niels on Thursday, 02 August 2012