The Dutch video has sparked a lot of thought-provoking conversation on the online Ethiopian adoption boards. There are many things that we didn’t think of when we started this process back in August. Now we have more questions than ever… but it comes down to, can we ensure an ethical adoption?
Do we expand our age range to an older child? Clearly the video - and other families’ experiences I have heard about - shows that this does not guarantee that a family was not pressured into giving up a child, but there some good ethical reasons for an older child adoption. The demand for an older child is less than for an infant, so it’s less likely there will be corruption. And an older child can talk about his or her memories and understanding of what is happening, so if someone is lying, you may find it out directly from the child.
Do we request a child with special needs? Again, the demand is less, so it’s less likely there will be corruption. But from what I understand, the demand is not that much less, not when we’re talking about young children, or containable special needs. Tabb and I have discussed the scenario of adopting an HIV+ child, but we don’t know enough about what that would be like. We know that such a child could live a long and healthy life with the proper medication, but we know nothing about the managing or side effects of life-long medicating. We’ve started working on educating ourselves about these issues.
We’ve also been talking about our commitment to Ethiopia and our child’s family in Ethiopia. If and when we do adopt a child, we are committing ourselves not just to that child, but to an ongoing relationship with our child’s first family. That means we are committing to visiting Ethiopia on a regular basis. Those visits will not only be important for our child, but for ensuring good ethics. We will be able to see for ourselves the circumstances of our child's first family.
But how can we be SURE that our adoption is ethical?
Some people have stated on the adoption boards and in blogs that the large majority of adoptions from Ethiopia are still ethical and very much needed, and that if we go with a good agency and minimize the risk, we will almost certainly be helping a child who needs a family.
Less likely. Minimize the risk. Almost certainly. If one day out of the year my kitchen was the scene of a murder, and 364 days out of the year my kitchen was used for cooking, I would not be OK with it. I need to know for SURE that my adoption is ethical.
But is anything 100% ethical? This laptop I am typing on probably contains minerals that are fueling atrocities in the DRC. The clock on the windowsill behind me was made in China, most likely by a worker with very few rights, maybe by a child. The moral questions are no different just because my decisions will affect one specific child, my child, rather than faceless people I will never meet. If I decide I can't adopt from Ethiopia because of ethical concerns, it's kind of hypocritical to continue using my computer, driving my car or buying anything made outside my immediate neighborhood.
Is it enough to make the best effort possible to ensure ethics? Do I crawl under a rock and hide from the 21st century? Do I continue trying to adopt?