Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hey, where'd your old blogposts go?

When I began this blog, I gave updates about the adoption process and then shared about life with my daughter. I honestly never imagined that anyone other than friends and family would read it. But here we are six years later, and well, I never imagined a whole lot of things...

It seems now that folks I don't know are increasingly reading the blogposts about adoption corruption and the complexities of being an adoptive parent. So in an effort to protect my daughter's privacy I've hidden all of the old blogposts. Perhaps one day I'll transfer them to a new private blog but for now, I just had a really nice time on memory lane as I hid the old stuff.

And now back to my regularly scheduled rants. Enjoy, or perhaps be enlightened and affirmed would be a better choice of words, and share with someone who thinks international adoption is noble or easy and blow their minds... 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

You can’t handle the truth!

In the last couple of weeks I have been emailed by a friend of friend and approached in the grocery store by an acquaintance. In both instances, the person wanted to talk with me because they are interested in adopting “from Africa” and they knew I adopted from Ethiopia and how wonderful my daughter is.

It’s true. I did. She is. BUT

My adoption friends on the interwebs and IRL and close personal friends know something of my journey in the last couple of years but many others do not. So here’s fair warning: if your friends are considering adopting internationally and want a true picture of international adoption so they can make a truly INFORMED decision, I’ll talk with them. If they want a cheerleader for international adoption, don’t send them my way!

For I am officially coming out (Whoa, and I thought coming out as a lesbian was tough!) as a mother who adopted internationally and is against international adoption.

I assure you, I do not make this statement any more lightly than I did coming out the last time. And this one has been a journey more fraught with, well, let’s just say really really fraught.

I’ve stated publically many times that talking adoption corruption is not being disloyal to our children. In fact, it is the ultimate loyalty. It’s saying that we love our children beyond measure and are confident enough in our love for them and respectful of the horrendous injustice they (and in many cases their birth families) have suffered to say: THIS MUST STOP!!!

Now before anyone starts throwing out statistics about orphans world wide or the conditions in orphanages, let me say, we agree: the situation is unspeakably bad. But here’s the thing, the current ‘orphan crisis’ and orphanage conditions are often, way too often, a direct result of the international adoption industry!!

Nothing good can come of the commodification of children.

And here’s my response to why your or your friend’s adoption from country X wasn’t completely ethical or corruption-free. Even if you met the birth mother and she expressed her desire to have you adopt her child. Even if you saw your child’s birth parents’ graves. Even if, even if, even if…

Because when adoption is a multimillion dollar industry in a desperately poor country, there is no such thing as an ethical adoption!!

Because 1) in many cultures, adoption doesn’t mean what it does to westerners and birth families often truly do not understand that their children are permanently going to be the children of other parents, 2) when birth families see children in orphanages getting food and education they cannot provide they see adoption as a good option – even when the desperately want to raise their children, 3) there are NO adoption agencies (no matter what you’ve heard about the wonderful, spectacular, faith-driven agency you’re using) that have zero allegations of fraud and corruption against them, 4) in order to process adoptions in developing countries bribes are required and it’s a slippery slope, 5) children who actually do need to be adopted are processed by the same system and people (same facilitators etc) as the children who are being trafficked and it’s not okay that the multitudes of trafficked children and their birth families are collateral damage for the relatively small number of children who actually need to be adopted.

And yes, older children are trafficked, sibling sets are trafficked, special needs children are trafficked, HIV+ children are trafficked. It’s not just healthy infants!!

So when you consider the system as a whole as the source of corruption and any adoption processed within that system is linked to every other, there is no way to assure an ethical international adoption. EVER.


Here’s what you can do instead:
1)   Listen to the stories of families (birth and adoptive) and children who have been victims of trafficking and BELIEVE THEM, because why the hell would they lie???
2)   Stop supporting the international adoption industry by adopting, sponsoring, or donating
3)   Support country-owned NGOs that support family preservation
4)   And if you really want to adopt, consider domestic foster care. It’s not perfect by a long shot but more often than not, you’ll actually be providing a family for a child who definitely needs one, unlike international adoption, where you’ll probably always have to wonder or you’ll know pretty much for sure that you’re raising someone else’s child, and even if you know 100% for sure that your individual child was rightfully and willingly placed for adoption by his/her birth family your adoption is still sullied by the victimization of all the other children and families who were, in fact trafficked.

So I’m out and I’m not ashamed of being an adoptive mom who is against international adoption. I can’t go back in time and change my child’s journey to our family but in her name I can say THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

So you’re so you just completed your ethical adoption, and you want to recommend your agency? Let’s talk about that…

Over ten years ago a friend of mine decided to adopt from Ethiopia. She did as much research as the olden days of the internet allowed and chose a well-respected non-profit agency.  Her child joined their family and all was well. So well, that she decided to adopt again. Not long after her second child arrived, another friend of mine started talking about adoption. I introduced her to my friend with the two Ethiopian kids. She decided to adopt from Ethiopia and chose to use the same agency based on my first friend’s recommendation. Her first adoption went so well she decided to adopt again. When she was in process with her second adoption, I decided to adopt and of course I chose the same agency. After all, two of my good friends had really terrific experiences with the agency. What better reference could there be?

But here’s the thing, it often takes time, sometimes a long time, for unethical practices and fraud to come to light. Now, all these years after my first friend adopted her first child I can say, of the five children the three of us adopted, two had serious undisclosed health conditions, two had fraudulent ages, one’s story of abandonment is sketchy at best, and one’s story of how the child came to be relinquished and who the birth family was is pure BS.

And the agency that facilitated all of this? AAI. The agency that just announced that they are declaring bankruptcy, leaving in-country staff unpaid, PAPs out thousands of dollars in adoption fees they paid and with limited to no assistance to complete their adoptions, children in legal limbo, and donors to their sponsorship program with the knowledge that their donations have been used for agency operations and haven’t been spent on actual sponsorships for many many months.

My friends and I aren’t idiots (we have five advanced degrees between us) and we’re not bad people. We wanted to expand/create families. We wanted to do that by giving children who needed a family, a family. We were duped by people who said all the right things and made it all look pretty, until it wasn’t. It isn’t!

Please remember, good customer service isn’t the same thing as an ethical adoption and unless you have had a INDEPENDENT investigation that 100% verified the info the agency provided and the story hasn’t varied over many years and many contacts with birth family, you have had original Ethiopian documents translated by an independent source and it matches exactly what your agency-provided translated copies said, and you have reviewed every case the agency processed from the area and time period your child was made available for adoption to ensure that there were not other fraudulent cases bundled in with your child’s you should KEEP YOUR DAMN MOUTH SHUT ABOUT HOW ETHICAL YOUR AGENCY IS!!!

And one other thing, talking about corruption isn't disloyal to your child. It is possible to love your child with all your heart and at the same time deeply regret the unscrupulous filth that brought them into your family. I know this because I do it every single day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A REAL prayer for an adopted child

Today, someone in a Facebook group for Jewish adoptive families posted a link to the following prayer.

Prayer for an Adopted Child

By Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

"Adonai is mindful of us, will bless us; will bless the house of Israel; will bless the house of Aaron; will bless those who revere Adonai, the little ones and the big ones together." (After Psalms 115:12-13)

We have been blessed with the precious gift of this child. After so much waiting and wishing, we are filled with wonder and gratitude as we call you our daughter/son. Our daughter/son, our child, you have grown to life apart from us. But now we hold you close to our hearts and cradle you in our arms with our love. We welcome you into the circle of our family and embrace you with the beauty of a rich tradition.
We pledge ourselves to the creation of a Jewish home and to a life of compassion for others, hoping that you will grow to cherish and emulate these ideals.
God of new beginnings, teach us to be mother and father, worthy of this sacred trust of life. May our daughter/son grow in health. May s/he be strong in mind and kind in heart, a lover of Torah, a seeker of peace. Bless all of us together beneath your shelter of shalom (peace), and grant our new family, always, the harmony and love we feel today.

So far, the reactions have been positive. I get that. While I was waiting to adopt and in my first years of parenting, I might have been just as moved. But not anymore. Now, six years into parenting my amazingly articulate and resilient daughter, I'm honestly appalled, infuriated!

It's easy to be exclusively focused on the voice of the adoptive parent... until your child has a voice. A voice to express her unimaginable grief. A voice to ask questions about her birth family, people who suddenly become a thousand times more real in your mind, because their absence pains your child so deeply, a pain you can only marginally soothe.

And to me, the focus on the joy of the adoptive parents in this prayer without acknowledging the loss experienced by the birth family or even the child is profoundly non-Jewish! This prayer is not the Judaism that brings me the strength, patience, and courage I need to comfort my grieving child and raise her to know that we can experience great pain and still be a genuinely happy, fulfilled person.

I am no rabbi by any means and I have never even considered writing a prayer before this moment, but I'm giving it a try now.

Prayer for my adopted child: To acknowledge the simultaneous joy and sorrow in adoption

God of painful endings and joyous beginnings, please keep me ever mindful that the joy I feel at becoming a parent is built on the pain of the woman who bore this child who I will call my own and that the source of my joy will be an unhealed wound for this child I will love with all of my heart for the rest of my life.    

Give me the wisdom and the words to talk honestly and openly with my child about her origins, even when she needs to hear it in the middle of a rough day for me. 

Provide me with the tools I need to help my child deal with feeling alienated and if she's bullied, keep me from going off on the bully, because that would cause more harm than good.

Keep me compassionate and patient when my child rages against the injustice of it all, and my role in that injustice. 

Help me to be a model for her to learn that we are not defined by our circumstances, but by how we deal with those circumstances. 

Help me show her that in Judaism, joy and grief can and do stand side by side in a fulfilled life. Give me the creativity and community support to create a rich Jewish life for our family that is deeply meaningful to her so that the strength of the Jewish people will bring her comfort in times of pain and strength to the family she one day creates for herself.