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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Reading all the stories and commentary about the recent Russian adoption fiasco have made me think of how much parents crave certainty and how little of it they can have. This story, from today’s New York Times, raises this point nicely in the context of international adoption.
When you become a parent, you give up a tremendous amount of control even as you assume enormous responsibilities. I recall being stunned by the realization that I could not make my children sleep–I could put them in a quiet room, I could sing to them, I could ensure that they were warm and well-fed and dry. But whether sleep happened? Not up to me. (If you are now thinking I was a naive parent, I will accept that judgment.)
That’s a trivial example. There are countless far more serious ways in which we cannot control our kid’s destinies–will they be strong and healthy? Will they be happy? Will they be good people? Parents have enormous roles to play in all this, but cannot be guaranteed any particular outcome. Continue reading
In one of the recent posts on the Russian adoption fiasco, I linked to a discussion of Professor Michelle Goodwin’s observations about the effect of money on adoption. Perhaps it is true that money lies at the root of many of the problems with international adoption. The potential of financial gain may motivate people to snatch children in order to make them available for adoption or to conceal relevant information about children they have available for adoption.
Whether you characterize it as greed or need, the availability of money (which is clearly linked to commodification) can warp human behavior in countless settings. This isn’t the first time the corrupting influence of money has come up in this blog.
Not long ago I wrote about the market for eggs. Here, too, concerns about exploitation surface. Women may be offered substantial sums of money for their eggs, which are in time sold to couples seeking to use ART to have children. Continue reading
Just a quick post with a couple of links. First, the saga of Justin/Artyom continues to be news as well as fodder for discussion. This article details some of the legal tangles around the case.
Torry Hansen had adopted the child and thus become a legal parent. The law is fairly clear that you cannot just quit being a parent. You can place a child for adoption, but that is not what happened here. Generally speaking if you totally shirk your parental responsibilities, you can be held criminally liable for child abuse and/neglect. While this may not happen in this instance, the structure of the law makes apparent the permanent nature of legal parenthood. Continue reading
The story I commented on in my last post has engendered lots of comment in lots of places (and yes, I still need to respond to those who commented on my blog.) I wanted to flag this one blog post from Motherlode that I thought was particularly interesting.
Though Lisa Belkin’s name is at the top, the posting itself seems to be mostly the thinking of Professor Michelle Goodwin, a terrific family law scholar at the University of Minnesota Law School. (The little bio at the bottom also makes me think that this is primarily the work of Professor Goodwin.)
I won’t try to summarize her points here–I think they’re worth reading in full. They consider the current case as one possible instance of a larger problem–the commodification of children in the world adoption market. Much to think about there.
This terribly sad story has been all over the media the past few days. Torry Ann Hanson, who lives in Tennessee, adopted a seven-year-old Russian boy. (She called him “Justin” while his Russian name was “Artyom.”)
Apparently it was not a successful relationship. Asserting that she had been lied to and misled, Hanson decided to return the boy to Russia. Her mother, Nancy Hanson, travelled with the boy as far as Washington. She then put him on a direct flight to Moscow with a note that said:
After giving my best to this child, I am sorry to say that for the safety of my family, friends and myself, I no longer wish to parent this child.
It seems to me behavior like this demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of adoption and perhaps also suggests some systemic flaws. When an adoption is completed (and I’m going to assume one was) you become a child’s legal parent. Continue reading