A Quick Note on International Adoption

I need to revisit (and correct!) my post about contract and surrogacy. (I knew I didn’t know enough about contract law.)  But in the meantime, I came across this story I wanted to mention.   It’s an in-depth look at some of the potential problems with international adoption, keyed to the examination of some recent developments in Nepal.   I’ve posted about international adoption recently and so wanted to highlight this story.  

There are no easy answers here and I’m not sure I have terribly much to contribute beyond saying it’s a difficult and complicated issue.   Each individual case may be different.   One child may really be an orphan, another may not be.     It’s hard to tell, in part because, for better or worse,  we operate laden with our own cultural assumptions.    

For example, if I found a child in an orphanage in Nepal I might tend to assume that the child was an orphan.   (Let me just exclude the possibility of kidnapping for the moment, though I realize it’s something one must consider.)   It would not necessarily occur to me that the child’s parents might have placed the child in the orphanage as a temporary measure.   Because that isn’t something that happens in my little slice of the world, I might miss the possibility and might move along, too readily assuming the child to be an orphan. 

I’d count that as a misunderstanding rather than an act of bad will on my part.   But of course, there is the possibility that I set aside above–the possibility that someone along the line acted in bad faith.    The bad-faith actor problem seems to me quite different from the cultural misunderstanding problem.  

Bad faith actors are, I assume, generally motivated by the possibility of financial gain.   The role of money in adoption is clearly troublesome, as is the role of money in ART.   And yet it is no easy task to eliminate money from either picture.   Running the administrative structures to properly identify children who are eligible for adoption costs money.   Caring for children until they are adopted costs money.   Helping prospective adoptive parents identify children they might adopt takes time and effort and therefore costs money.   And yet it does seem that money is a problem. 

So I’ll end where I start–it’s complicated.   Which is not a reason to say “never,” but is also not a reason to say “always.”

6 responses to “A Quick Note on International Adoption

  1. marilynn huff

    Anecdotes; your not fond of them but here goes one anyway:
    Have a friend that was looking for a niece that was in her eyes stolen from an orphanage in Vietnam in something called “Operation Baby Lift” where our government “saved” children in Vietnam. There were all these stoked, white people here ready to receive their shiny new china dolls straight off the military planes. Anyway their family put the baby there intending to go back she was there for medical care that they could not provide being poor and all. They visited frequently until one day they went and all the children were gone. It really for me highlights the temporary nature of adoption. Or what should be the temporary nature of adoption. There needs to be a place where people can have their children taken care of for a while and then get them when they are capable of caring for them. On the flip side all the people that adopt want it to be permanent. They call themselves a “forever family”. Its so so so sad. She said the only reason any of those kids were in the orphanage was because their families could not take care of them, not because they were unwanted and certainly none were orphaned that she new of. This was in Da Nang I probably spelled that wrong. So I found her I think but she’s in France and I’m having a hard time I need a translator.

    • Anecdotes are fine but they are only anecdotes. There are instances where children are truly orphaned, have no homes or families to return to, or are thoughtfully placed into an adoption system. To my mind, your story doesn’t prove that adoption should always be temporary. It shows that sometimes adoption isn’t the right thing for a child at all.

  2. marilynn huff

    Here is a book I just can’t stand its called “Horton Hatches the Egg” http://www.amazon.com/Horton-Hatches-Egg-Dr-Seuss/dp/039480077X
    Its about Lazy Mazy who asks Horton to watch her egg for her while she goes off to party and lay on the beach. Horton the steadfast martyr sits on her egg for her while the lazy mother all but forgets about her baby. When the baby is born it does not look like the mom it looks like Horton and then because the baby is an international sensation she wants it back. I hate this book so much. I can just imagine adoptive parents all over the world reading it to the kids they are raising to put bad ideas about their mothers and fathers into their heads.

    A book I much prefer is Flap Your Wings where a little boy finds an Aligator egg and puts it in a birds nest. They sit on the egg take care of it feed the Aligator when its born then they try to teach the Aligator to fly and he falls back into the water with the other Aligators where he is happy and he waves to them and they look down and say he was not theirs but look how happy he is and they are proud of him.

    This was an aside but my point was/is, many times the family does not think of placement as permanent whether in an orphanage in Da Nang or in any adoptive situation here in the good old US of A. No certainly not all adoptions are like that, but enough to keep me busy and enough that there are 1/2 a million people searching for their family members on adoption.com. Temporary really is key to them. And it would be very wise for those looking to adopt to bear that in mind, like you were saying, not ill intentioned at all, just keep it in mind.

  3. marilynn huff

    Apparently I’m the only person ON THE PLANET that think Horton Hatches the Egg tanks. So be it. It sends a horrid message to anyone raised by someone other than their parents – it says that the people that made them were spoiled and selfish. That is not a good message.

    • No surprise here–I like Horton Hatches the Egg (as I like the Velveteen Rabbit) and I think it makes a good point. The fact that Maisy (or however she spells her name) lays the egg doesn’t mean she’s going to be a particuarly good parent. Indeed, she isn’t. She isn’t willing to make the commitment to rearing young. That’s fine and lucky for the little one, Horton steps in. He is willing to make the commitment and does so.

      I don’t suppose there’s much to like or dislike about the set-up, right? It’s the ending one reacts to. Would it really be okay with you if Maisy flew in and took the bird away from Horton?

    • I disliked Horton hatches the Egg myself although I didn’t see it about adoption- that would be too literal. I saw it as a screed against women who didn’t want to do nothing but but sit in the next, characterizing them as lazy and out only for self indulgence.
      I much prefer Horton Hears a Who. Although some say that is about abortion, I found that too farfetched.

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