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.”