What’s Your High Horse Standing On?

22 09 2010

So you adopted from Ethiopia and you are worried about ethics violations but you are sure your child wasn’t part of a problem BECAUSE…

… you adopted a special needs kid, and clearly these kids were not wanted by their families.  WHAT?  You wanted that kid.  Aren’t we all always saying that Ethiopian mothers are NO DIFFERENT THAN mothers everywhere.  Don’t the vast majority of mothers who unexpectedly give birth to a special needs child keep that child? love that child? figure out a way to raise that child?  Yes, your agency made less of a profit because of their grants program, but shouldn’t they have a family preservation program that specializes in keeping special needs children in their home?

… you adopted an older child. Clearly it is the older children who really need homes because EVERYONE wants a baby.  Obviously NOT everyone wants a baby.  (In my travel group of 10 families, only three families brought home kids under a year – they were all 11 months old.  Our group also included a 6-yr-old, 5-yr-old, 4-yr-old, 3-yr-old, 2-yr-old… you get the picture.)  However, I won’t argue that many people do request “young-as-possible” – which is the choice our family made.  So, on the surface this works as a demand side argument.

But on the supply side it stands to reason that there would be more babies and toddlers available.  I can imagine a million scenarios, here is one: if I am subsistence farming and my sister dies, I can more easily take in her 12-yr-old and 10-yr-old as they can “earn their keep.”  And on an emotional level, I am probably more attached to them. But her 5-month-old and two-year-old are two more mouths to feed that have no way to contribute.  Guess who is more likely to end up in the care center?  So what is the proper ration of older children to babies in a care-center?  Did you count heads when you were in Ethiopia?  Do you track all the placements your agency or the care-centers they work with are doing?

If you were running a shady operation wouldn’t you make sure to include special needs and older children in your mix so you wouldn’t look so suspicious even if the demand is lower?

…you got to meet the birth family. But you didn’t just meet the birth family, you videotaped the meeting and you hired your own translator to reinterpret the audio.  Do you really believe an agency that would pay for stolen babies would be opposed to hiring actors and actresses to pose as birth parents?  And in a country ravaged by poverty where people are selling/kidnapping babies, don’t you think it would be easy to find people to “play the part” of grieving relatives?  From what I could tell the acting wouldn’t be that tough.  Look really sad and uncomfortable, that’s the kind of acting even I can pull off.  And yes, there is a court process, but come on, people lie in court all the time.

In my travel group of 10 adoptive families, nine of them got to meet birth families.  We were the only family who did not have that amazing opportunity.  If meeting the birth family PROVES no corruption, then our agency must be 90% ethical.  If our agency or the care-center they are working with is running a shady operation, as evidenced by the 10% of their adoptive families that don’t meet birth families, they are taking a great risk for a small percentage of their business.

Are there any agencies out there that ONLY do relinquished child adoptions?  Can that be a criterion for placement?  I do know one family who requested “no known birth-family.”  They just met their new son’s birth father this week… so clearly that is not a request their agency honored.

I really, really wanted to meet our son’s first family for many reasons.  I actually worried about accepting his referral in part because I was concerned about this issue.  But you tell me, if you received this picture in an email, would you walk away from it?  And if you were willing to walk away from it because you didn’t trust your agency or care center on this specific child, isn’t it your ethical duty to walk away from the agency/care center all together?

I am not saying that there are not bogus adoptions taking place in Ethiopia.  I am not saying that we shouldn’t choose our agencies carefully and then hold them accountable every step of the way.  I am not saying that I have the answers.  But I really don’t think there is a “high-horse” here.  And if any adoptive parent thinks they are sitting on one, they should keep in mind that that particular horse is standing on a slippery slope.

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4 responses

23 09 2010
Megan

thanks for these reminders.

23 09 2010
shannoncl

well said.

24 09 2010
Sherryl

Thank you for writing this!

29 09 2010
Tonggu Momma

I agree. It was a humbling experience adopting from China – touted as THE country to adopt from – just two short months before the Hunan scandal broke.

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