Monday, June 04, 2007

Adoption concerns-Ethiopia examines its adoption policies and procedures

This article, from the New York Times, demonstrates Ethiopia's current struggle to help its orphan children while maintaining the high standards of adoption for which the country has been known.

The article seems fair and unbiased (with the exception of not mentioning our most excellent agency, Adoption Advocates International). The following is a quote, however, that (I think)reflects a common concern that many adoptive parents face:

“It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” Ms. Suomala said. “Should we just give all the money we’re spending on this to the children’s mother?” Ms. Suomala and her husband, David Vasquez, had already spent time with her.
“It was obvious the birth mother loved her children,” Mr. Vasquez said. “She said to us, ‘Thank you for sharing my burden.’ ”
As a parent, is it possible to bring a child home to America guilt-free, knowing that doing so, in the case of those not *officially* orphaned, leaves a mother's arms empty half way across the world? Our children's birth mother is dead, surviving only a short while after the birth of Baby T, and still, our children's loss of their first mom and first family (who cared for them briefly as best as their resources allowed) is painful to think about.
Many have said that adoption is not the ideal; but at present, only the best option to ensure health and well-being for a growing number of children in need of parental love and support. I would tend to agree with that. I would also agree with another adoptive mom who said (and I am wildly paraphrasing here) that if her adoptive children grew up happy, healthy and well-adjusted; viewing her and her husband as the "really nice American people who raised her" then that was okay with her, too.
As for the choice whether to *give* money to the birth family (if, in that case, that was all it took) to "keep" their children or to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the adoption process, I can see where that argument is headed, but I'm not sure it's the ideal answer either. We've debated this issue in our agency's forum. Many families have some ties to some or all of their adopted children's first family and are aware of their great needs, but to *give* money, in any amount, to those families might imply that their children's lives were being bought and sold to wealthy, American couples; certainly not the impression any reputable agency would want to present. Delivering the money to the governments in some of these countries? I'm not sure anyone would want to open that can of worms either. Considering some of the corruption that already exsists in some places, the potential for stoking that fire with cash is just plain scary.
So, in the meanwhile, countries and waiting families walk a tightrope towards one another, stopping now and again, to check their balance in the hopes that no one falls.

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