I have written from time to time about international adoption. (I’m sorry to say it is a little hard to find all the old posts–I only just started using and “international adoption” tag. Until I go back and retag earlier entries, you’ll have to look under adoption and/or globalization and pick through entries you find.) Here is a new piece of investigative journalism that documents some interesting developments.
As some of the earlier posts (and the number of comments) suggest, international adoption is the subject of some controversy. Doubtless many people initiate international adoptions for the best of reasons, but not everyone who participates in the process is scrupulous. Thus, prospective adoptive parents have always had to be wary of possibilities of fraud, child-selling or kidnapping. That’s part of why international adoption can be a long and complicated process.
The article I’ve linked to details the rise of what the author calls an evangelist adoption crusade. It gives me pause. There is a long and troubling history of religious (generally Christian) efforts to “save” children from other cultures. While many of those involved in these efforts may be well-meaning, they have often been insensitive to other sets of cultural and/or religious values. Indeed, the very idea that this is a Christian crusade–designed to bring children not born/raised as Christians into the fold–seems to me to be inherently problematic.
If you layer this on top of the chaos and need in many countries around the world, you can see that you can get problematic results. Children who are not orphans or children who are situated within an extended family group may end up being adopted into US families. No matter how well-meaning the adopting family, this cannot be good or right.
So I worry about a religious crusade to increase the number of international adoptions and to make them easier to complete in order to do so. I worry that we end up running roughshod over other families, other cultures, and other religions in certainty that a child will have a better life in a US (Christian) home. The impulse to help poor children in other countries may be a good one, but surely we need to think fairly carefully about what the most effective way is to do this. An adoption crusade seems too reminiscent of other forms of colonialism for me to be happy about it.