Thursday, July 7, 2016

Thoughts before our trip

There have been a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head as our trip approaches. I go back and read this post and the thoughtful comments that follow it and wonder, is a completely ethical adoption ever possible? Some people seem so sure. They draw a line in the sand and say, this child needed to be adopted and that child didn't. Black and white. It's not like that. Everything is so much more complicated. If a grandmother grabbed her orphaned grandson by the ear, dragged him over to the child catcher and sold him for $50, is that adoption ethical? Before you say no, is leaving him with a grandmother who would sell him ethical? Aren't children removed from those kinds of homes in the US? If a child is dying from lack of medical care that is only available in a Western country, is that adoption ethical? Before you say yes, is it ethical that that kind of medical care is only available in a Western country? Is it ethical to use that inequity as a reason to create a family? An ethical adoption is a chimera, endlessly chased after, proudly proclaimed, but in reality, an apparition that shimmers and dissipates under scrutiny.

We can only do the best we can. We can try to understand what the first family wanted, and provide that. We can try to look at cultural practices through the lens of universal human rights and decide if what the first family wanted is something we feel comfortable providing. We can try to uncover the truth and share it with our child, so they understand their full story and can one day put the pieces together. We can be honest. We must be honest.

Our children did not "need" to be adopted - whatever that means. The person who was legally responsible for them could not care for them. But they had someone else who could, who was. I think that person did not want them to leave. From what we heard on our visit two years ago, everyone else saw it as "an opportunity." The process that Wide Horizons described was not what actually happened. The children were not in an orphanage before adoption came into the picture. The children were placed in the orphanage in order to be adopted. Everyone was free with that information - Wide Horizons must have known. In every message we get from the family, they say they are happy the kids are with us, but they are anxious for us to visit again.

It's easier if I can label this as ethical and that as not, but the reality is so much more complicated.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"They" are right, "we" are wrong

I really wish American adoption agencies would drop this line of " 'They' (Ethiopian families) don't understand the 'real' meaning of adoption." Instead agencies should be educating 'us' (American adoptive families) about the real meaning of adoption, or alloparenting, as it has been practiced for tens of thousands of years. It means deciding that someone other than the birth parents will care for a child, with the decision often made by the extended family, while the child retains connections to the original family, and with the expectation that the child will one day return to help the family. Agencies need to make sure that adoptive families not only understand this but agree to and prove that they can abide by the expectations of the child's community, including ongoing contact and return visits, and if adoptive families can't / don't want to sign on for that, then, sorry, they can't adopt. I know that excludes people who can't afford this responsibility, but adopting someone else's child is a privilege, not a right and no one is entitled to it. 

*Updated to say that of course I know agencies won't do this because they are a business and will take money from anyone who can pass a homestudy, so it's up to us, as adoptive families to educate ourselves.