Friday, May 20, 2011

The Ugly Truths

[I may be about to throw myself into some hot water with this post. I wrote it back in April but never posted it because, well, honestly, I was apprehensive to do so. I know some will disagree vehemently with what I have expressed below, but I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before. And ultimately, life ain't about always agreeing but rather learning to somehow live peacefully among those with whom we differ...]

Here goes...

What if every adoption agency transformed itself into primarily family preservation agencies that provided networks, resources, and services to help families stay together. Oh wait, that's crazy talk--you can't make much money that way. They would
truly have to be nonprofit organizations that relied mainly on donations, fundraising, grants, etc. Oops. And families here wouldn't be able to have the sweet little "international" child they've always wanted and/or be the exemplary, trendy, progressive multi-cultural, multi-ethnic family they've always dreamed of. Oh wait, you mean they could adopt a child out of the foster care system here in the States? Oh, wait, you mean they want a baby or at least a toddler, and they want it to happen asap. I see. Oh, and they hear foster children in the U.S. have issues but kids adopted internationally are a lot more grateful and less problematic. Oh, I see.

[Side note: I am learning more and more that adoption and foster care in America are less than ideal, to say the least, riddled with their own injustices, disparities, and inequities. But that's a whole other topic better addressed by those who live it: The Declassified Adoptee, Real Daughter, or Life of Mom...After Loss to Adoption, I Was a Foster Kid or To Tell Truth-Please Stand Up]

Look, I know not all adoptive parents that adopt internationally think this way--and not all AP's seek after a baby or toddler-aged child. But, a lot do. I know not all adoptive parents view children in foster care in this condescending way, but enough do. And I know there are some adoptive parents that adopt older children or children with "special needs." I realize that, I do.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about, because the adoption world doesn't need more praise and justification. Adoptive parents don't need another adoptee singing their praises or telling them everything they're doing right. They don't need more pats on the back or handshakes or flattery.

They, and the general public, need a reality check--a willingness to face and acknowledge the disparities, discrepancies, the injustices, inequities, etc. that carry the thriving adoption industry.

No matter how you rationalize it in your mind to deny the truth, it will nonetheless remain the truth--that, yes, there is a relationship between adoption and child abandonment. Some AP's have convinced themselves that the two are not connected--and yes, you have to convince yourself of this, because the connection is otherwise obvious and undeniable ("If you build it, they will come").

And before you assume that I'm oversimplifying matters, understand that as an adoptee caught between two lives, two families, two worlds, I can't afford to indulge in simplistic thinking--which means, YES, I realize it's complicated. I realize that social, political, cultural, and economic factors ALL play a role in the root causes that lead to child abandonment. But I'm not okay with folks using these factors as an excuse to say things like, "Well, we don't live in a perfect world, so international adoption is necessary," aka, that's just the way it is, and you can't change it.

Bullhonky.

Look these mothers in the face and tell them that. Look my Omma in the face and tell her you'd rather have given thousands of dollars to adopt me than to help build the social, cultural, political, and economic networks, resources, reforms, and services she needed to keep me and care for me.

Change can happen, but not with apathy and indifference, not with excuse-making and rationalization, not with a mentality of entitlement that deems some more worthy than others based on perceived standards of wealth.

There are people and organizations (Child's i Foundation/Malaika House, KUMSN, River Kids, Rileys in Uganda to name a few) that refuse to submit to the status quo of excuses and rationalizations that produce nothing but stalemate and compromise--and as a result, they're making a real difference to help families stay together. But the world desperately needs more.

And I'm not the only one who gets this. There are actually adoptive parents who get this, too--who don't put up a wall or get defensive or self-justifying--because they have been willing to see and admit to their part, their role in perpetuating a system that favors the rich over the poor. They're not afraid to admit to their initial ignorance and do something about it. They don't need constant praise and adulation because they get that this isn't about them. They get that they're not heroes.

Look, I realize adoptees' experiences run the gamut, and so also do the experiences of original mothers and adoptive parents. But that doesn't mean we ignore the truths deemed ugly in favor of the ones deemed pretty. The pretty ones receive plenty of positive attention and support. They're not in danger of being neglected and ignored.

Family preservation gets an aphid's share of the resources and attention while international adoption receives the lion's share.

If we all want adoption to truly be ethical, we all have to be willing to not only face the realities but also to do something to change them, whether that something is small or large doesn't matter as much as having the willingness to do it honestly.

The counter I hear most often is that we need to do something about the children currently in institutional care [duh]. First, read the preceding paragraphs again--meaning, get the idea that preventing children from ending up in institutions is doing something about it, and even better is preventing the development of and reliance on institutional care all together by establishing strong family preservation programs instead.

Second, that "something" is always assumed to be international adoption. It's true, there are children in institutions this very moment. But how about giving kinship care precedence--how about tracking extended family and attempting to resettle children with kin in their own countries? When that isn't possible, then how about developing the support and resources to establish local adoptions within the community?

You see, there are alternatives to international adoption, and they're even better in the long-term for the children, families, communities and nations as a whole. Rather than taking away their talents and gifts from their home countries and taking their home countries and origins away from them, why not help these children and communities to thrive locally?--so that international adoption can one day be a rare if not wholly diminished practice understood for what it truly is--a well-meaning but misguided and misinformed practice that has led to thousands upon thousands of children being uprooted and transplanted from those who have not to those who have...

* * *

As a related side note, how many of you would watch this video or the one featured below, and say to yourselves, these children would have been so much better off if they had been adopted to America rather than remaining in Uganda--because in America they could live in a big house with nice floors and pretty windows and have nice things and receive a higher education and so forth and so forth?

Now I'm not saying the situations in the videos are perfection, but they're progress and a step in the right direction...and at least these children were not shipped off like a novel commodity to live among a foreign people in a foreign land...

If you're going to say "love is enough," then let it be so not only when referring to adoptive families but certainly when referring to the original families--rather than the double standard that so often prevails...that is, love is enough when adoptive parents adopt but not when an original mother facing poverty, shame, and ostracism wants to keep her child...




71 comments:

Anonymous said...

No, of course you're not being realistic at all! Because then how would international adoptees get the "golden ticket" that is coming to American if we advocated for family preservation?

My own adoptive mom said that she gave me "a million dollars by bringing me to America" and this was part of the reason she was furious at me for wanting to search for my birth mother. Apparently I was suppoused to be forever grateful to her and forget the incredible pain of being seperated from my birth mother and continue to just sob secretly each night as I had done for years.

And people why we adoptees are angry??? Now there's a sick joke!

Mia_h_n said...

"..I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before. And ultimately, life ain't about always agreeing but rather learning to somehow live peacefully among those with whom we differ..." Amen.

And I agree. Nuff said.

lol Who am I kidding?!
I do agree. I think the ultimate solution would be eradicating the need for adoption - or at least IA - all together, even if I don't wish I could have stayed with my bio. parents. Make sense? Hardly. Stuff's complicated, what can I say...

- except I really liked the whole "love is enough" ending. Made me think.

@Anon
You broke my heart a little.

Amanda said...

Right on! :-)

Von said...

I'm with Amanda!!x

Mei Ling said...

"Look these mothers in the face and tell them that. Look my Omma in the face and tell her you'd rather have given thousands of dollars to adopt me than to help build the social, cultural, political, and economic networks, resources, reforms, and services she needed to keep me and care for me."

I once asked an adoptive parent that very same question - what is better, to pay $10,000 to adopt an infant, or give that money so that the infant parents could support their child?

The answer: No one is truly altruistic enough to do that.

I believe that, absolutely. Human nature is inherently selfish. It's part of what makes us human.

So then, now that we've figured that out, don't expect adult adoptees like myself and Melissa to *not* feel grief and anger over their adoptions.

HollyMarie said...

I agree with you; I know it is really complicated... I know it's not as simple as giving the $$ to first parents instead (if you've never had money before and no one has taught you to manage it, it will not last... esp. in African nations where if someone else has a more pressing need than you, you are expected to give them your money; unfortunately we learned this experience first hand!) So it is really important to have established programs in place to help families. There are a number of these off the top of my head that I know of... but NOT ENOUGH! You are absolutely right. It is up to all of us to help in any way we can... to support the organizations doing the right thing. My friends are brand new directors of a brand new program in Mexico called Casa de Luz.. it takes children OUT of the orphanage and helps reunite them with their mothers; gives them a safe place to be while their mom works and and also works with the mom. My friends in Haiti are doing a similar thing with a place called "Harbor House". Yet another program in Ethiopia is called Yezelalem Minch...Adoption should always be a very last option. Unfortunately, people (in general) are usually not willing to look hard enough at other options. And I understand that adoption unfortunately helps drive this mentality. More sad to me (as a Christian) is when churches begin to push adoption on their congregants, w/out being informed. The blind leading the blind.

Rileys in Uganda said...

Hey Mila, Great post as always and I agree with everything you have said. As Hollie Marie has said the Livesays are amazing in Haiti with "Harbour House" a preventative work working with mothers and their babies to prevent abandonment in the first place. They have also adopted from Haiti but they are one of the few IA parents who "get it". There aren't many unfortunately. I have noticed there is a huge movement in the American church at the moment where adopting an "orphan" from overseas is seen as some kind of spiritual acolade and badge of honour. To be honest I think they have completely misunderstood the scriptures. I am sure that Jesus would be a resettler not an adopter if given the choice. I am in the middle of writing a blog entry about it at the moment because as a believer in Christ myself, I am quite frankly horrified by it all. Mila, you are amazing and truely an inspiration. Thanks for being a voice crying in the desert. Hopefully the right people will listen to you. Love Keren x

Haley Ballast said...

I wrote a loooooong comment yesterday and blogger ate it, which is actually fine because much of what I said has now already been said here. :)

I am both an AP and an evangelical Christian but like Keren I just can't get on board with the so-called evangelical adoption movement. It is dressed up like 'orphan care', but it is (in my opinion) largely misinformed and misguided. That said (as HollyMarie pointed out) there ARE some organizations moving in the right direction... but there needs to be way more. The 'agency' we used is not really an adoption agency, but a humanitarian aid and missions organization. I have personally seen them work for family preservation and local adoption FIRST before IA, and all their employees are missionaries supported by donors, so they do not benefit financially from adoptions. Unfortunately this is far too rare.

BTW, I think you picked the perfect title for this post. Well done!

Holly said...

Thank you for posting this! There is SO much that can be done on the ground that doesn't involve adoption and that gets at the roots of some of the problems of why children are abandoned in the first place. Here where we life, maternal mortality rates are very high. Many children are "orphaned" when their mothers die in birth. Fighting to lower maternal mortality rates is one way that can help decrease the numbers of orphans in this country. And simple birthing kits, training for lay midwives, "ambulances" to get emergency cases to local clinics--all of these programs are not expensive. Anyway, thank you!

Haley said...

P.S. Despite my above comment, which sounds a wee bit self-righteous, this post hit me like a punch in the gut and is forcing me to look at how I might be more a part of the problem (rather than a part of the solution) than I realized. Ouch, and thanks.

Sona said...

This whole thing is perfectly stated. Couldn't agree with you more.

Karen said...

As an AP, I so agree. We now try to focus on efforts on helping organizations that support families rather than adoption. Thanks as always!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Your post is gut wrenching. I'm so, so sorry for all you have been through.

I'm an infertile. Modern medicine can't help me become a mother, despite us pushing the envelope and pouring way too much into it. I read the post you wrote when you were a new mother and the intense feelings your described between you and your newborn. I won't ever know that. My husband and I will not know what it means to not have a genetic connection to our past, but we most definitely know what it is like to be robbed of a genetic connection to our future. It's a pain that runs incredibly deep. We are adopting internationally. Believe me, we agonized over the idea of giving the money we are spending to directly impact families to help them stay together if that is indeed an option.. But we would be left with a gaping wound of not being able to be parents, a primal desire we could not ignore. We hurt every day for ourselves AND our babies' original families. This isn't a perfect solution, we know that. We only hope that our deep understanding of genetic loss will help us to be loving and kind and help our children process their unbelievable loss and still have a happy upbringing. But when I read a post like this, I wonder if there is anything I can ever do that will ever ever be enough. That maybe I was just destined by fate to be childless despite my heart's desire to be a parent, because there really is no place out there for an infertile to become a mother in a way that isn't causing great pain and suffering for someone else. Just know that some of us look to adoption as a way to build a family, we are not trying to rescue, or save, or do anything self-righteous but that our hearts are aching and empty. What do you say to us?

Anonymous said...

Regarding this comment:
"Look these mothers in the face and tell them that. Look my Omma in the face and tell her you'd rather have given thousands of dollars to adopt me than to help build the social, cultural, political, and economic networks, resources, reforms, and services she needed to keep me and care for me."

I once asked an adoptive parent that very same question - what is better, to pay $10,000 to adopt an infant, or give that money so that the infant parents could support their child?

The answer: No one is truly altruistic enough to do that."

I follow this logic. I just wish to add another dimension, as an adoptive mother. I have five children, the last of whom is adopted. I don't think the logic in the above comment is quite that simple. I look at my child as just that, my child. I didn't adopt her to save her from an awful situation... I just wanted a child. SO VERY MUCH! I love her to the depths of my soul. The happiness of my children is my life's work. There is nothing that matters more to me. I would die for her in an instant if I had to. With no thought of anything else. I cannot fathom our family without her. I lost a 17 year old child in an accident, and believe me when I tell you, I know the agony of loss. It has never once crossed my mind that my daughter should be "grateful to me", though I believe that all children should honor their parents. I just know, in a spiritual way, that we were destined to be together. Is that selfish any more than it is selfish for any other parent to want to spend their life loving their child? Watching them grow and find happiness? I honestly don't feel selfish. Only grateful. I feel confused when I read the opinion of an adoptee... is this how my daughter will feel, or--- like so many other beliefs we hold, is it the result of the way they were parented, or an unhealthy attitude perpetuated within a family? I have no ability to comprehend the comment by Anonymous' mother that she had given her a million dollars by bringing her to America. No such thing has ever crossed my mind. I just love being a mother. I love it. I wish all could have the same blessing. I know that this is not possible in this world. I know that I could have given money to support her birth mother, but I came from a place of knowing in my soul, that a child, born to another, was destined to be mine. I tell her that God wanted her to be Chinese, to look the way she does, to have a Chinese Mother and Father. And that He also wanted me to be her mother and my husband to be her daddy. I believe that with no reservations, so it is easy to present it as truth. What about the spiritual component? Are there adoptees who feel that they were meant to have a birth mother and an adoptive mother? I am asking sincerely. I am wondering if these feelings are just mine, or if others share them.

Rileys in Uganda said...

I don't share your opinion:) I have two birth daughters and a son who was adopted. I believe that in the beginning of time if God had intended our son to be my son, I would have actually given birth to him. I believe Gods plan was for our son to be brought up in his birth family. Maybe if a proper investigation had been done on point of entry in the "orphanage" and support had been given to his birth family then he could have have been raised with them. If there had been social care structures in place that his family could have accessed before it even came to that, even better. When we adopted our son 5 years later, the trail was too cold for us to find his birth family. So now he is our son, in our family and it is complicated and messy with lots of complex emotions. However we are muddling through and trying to keep open dialogues about it. I have often told him we wished we could have found his birth family , I still wish we could find them for HIS benefit. I love the honesty on this blog, because adoption for all involved in the triad is complicated but when people are allowed to be really frank, real and honest, healing for all can begin.

Anonymous said...

I just go back to this over and again, though it is not a justification for doing nothing but rather a plea to understand the ripples of family preservation first, when all else is stripped away and notions like delivering a $10,000 check to each and every sruggling family is floated about.

Let me be frank: do you then propose that legions of American, Canadian, European AP's storm foreign nations and begin to correct and "fix" their inherent and ingrained social injustices and lack of social structure? From the bottom up? They have leaders, long standing traditions, strife, policies, etc. but hey, we know better, right? Big ugly Americans.

Can a blank check for $10,000 repair such a fracture? Has welfare worked well here?(no) Do we still have a need for a Foster Care System? (yes) Does it really come down then to just money? How many First Mothers would still choose adoption/reliquishment due to social stigmas against single parenting, fears, biasis against their child down the road? One child policies & preferences for males and more? Who will ensure that money is used for that child, for keeping that family healthy and intact? AP's or their same "flawed" government?

In whose ideal do make these changes? Our own? Force our ethics and world views on another nation? For how long? What oversights would be in place? How many children should each AP, church group, philanthropic aid group support per first family? Unlimited? Who gets to decide when one family is being reckless with their family planning? Us? Talk about your "golden ticket" and ego ~ ugh!

So basically AP's held to a differing standard then. We are good enough to parent the children left that no one would wish to parent when its all said and done and good enough to fund every other family in financial or other crises, but not good enough to parent a child from overseas in need. In need right now. A child who waits. Whose government already failed them, over and again. Yes, let's tell them we are working towards change. It wasn't in time for them, but for the greater good, sit tight and wait.

O.K.,hold us to a different then; we can take it and probably already hold ourselves to that same exacting standard or an even higher one. But I just wonder, once we have "remade" all of these other nations in our own image, what the generation of those adult children might say one day....."why did you meddle in our affairs?" "Why didn't you look ahead and see XYZ result?"..."Why NOT adopt kids from overseas, are we not worthy of families too?" "Why did you wait so long?" Maybe a thank you also.....but maybe not. We don't have crystal balls and cause and effect is fact. We could fracture already crumbling economies and fragile social networks already exisitng in some countries. How do we know it would work and families would be held together?

Ripples.... that no can guess. Support families & oprhans yes ( and many of us already do) but asking us to also shape foreign governments and societies? Hmmm....and asking us to do so through our own inaction of not adopting abroad when needs exist.

Wow. That's a tall order and I just wonder what many Adult Adoptees are doing towards that end? Or again, should this only fall to AP's or PAP's with our magic wands and ability to turn a blind eye?

Anon. who supports most of your blog posts, but finds this one far reaching.

Rileys in Uganda said...

Living in Uganda and working with communities, dealing with "orphanages" and chatting to people here you get a different perspective on this whole complex issue than when you are viewing things remotely from the West, I know I did:) Just out of interest, why do people post comments on here anonymously, I'm not very good technically, so I just wondered? It's just a bit confusing when they are so many anonymous comments to know if its the same person or various people. Intercountry adoption raises such high emotions deosn't it - wow:) Do you have to wear a bullet proof vest when you raise your head about the parapet!:)

Reena said...

I am an AP to two daughters born in China. Our first adoption, we were quite naive. More naive than we like to admit, but is the truth. DH and I discussed many topics in coming to the decision that we would adopt from China. A big factor was that due to the government policies regarding family planning and the preference for sons, many baby girls are abandoned.

That was our belief at that time.
We were told, by friends who are Chinese, that orphans in China do not have a good life as adults. Even if they are one of the few who are able to get advanced education, they have a difficult time finding work, making friends, etc., because they are considered to be unlucky. This is also true for people who have any kind of physical ‘difference’ then add to that being an orphan and the stigma is multiplied.


DH and I decided to adopt a second time, a child for who are able to provide medical resources.

I don’t view our life in the West as better—although with our youngest daughter, I do think she will have a lot more opportunities here than she would have in China—I get a sense from Chinese people that I know—and even from her foster family that her life would have been extremely difficult in China. I hesitate to write this because some will likely read this and say that we adopted her to “save” her and we did not adopt to ‘save’ children. We adopted because this is how we chose to have a family.

Yes, we did experience infertility and we did one trial of IVF. We could have tried more and there were other options, but I did not feel right going to such extents to try and bring a child in the world that would have not otherwise been created when there are children already in the world in need of a home.

Since our adoptions and in the recent months, many reports are coming out of China indicating that Child Trafficking is likely played a bigger part of child abandonment. To what extent this child abandonment involved kidnapping- kidnapping by government workers or others, or relinquishment where money exchanges hands for a number of reasons that I am not going to list (it is easy enough to search if you are interested); or true abandonment—we don’t know and I am not sure that sending $$ to China is going to really help with family preservation as the situation there is tied to their government policy regarding family planning. We are supporting All Girls Allowed and Half the Sky.

I don’t think that life in the Western countries is necessarily better than that of people in China. Just because we have more material things does not mean we have a better life—I know better than that. Sometimes the cost of being able to afford material luxuries comes at a cost that far exceeds anyone’s ability to assign a price to that which is being lost. There were many parts of Chinese culture that we saw in the short time we were there that we thought we really beautiful and much more family oriented than found here in the US. Kind of ironic considering China has the one-child policy.

Mei Ling said...

"I know that I could have given money to support her birth mother, but I came from a place of knowing in my soul, that a child, born to another, was destined to be mine. I tell her that God wanted her to be Chinese, to look the way she does, to have a Chinese Mother and Father. And that He also wanted me to be her mother and my husband to be her daddy."

Depends on the adoptee, and if they believe they were meant to be with you.

You say God wanted her to be Chinese but then you were meant to be her parents?

Shouldn't she have just been born to you, then?

"We are good enough to parent the children left that no one would wish to parent"

Aren't statements like these why nobody should ever make assumptions?

Mei Ling said...

"I believe that with no reservations, so it is easy to present it as truth. What about the spiritual component?"

You do. And there are others that do. The thing is, there are also others who *don't.*

"Are there adoptees who feel that they were meant to have a birth mother and an adoptive mother?"

Oh, very likely. There are adoptees who believe their "birthparents" were merely vessels, bringing them to the right parents, and there are those who believe they should have been kept in their families.

Mila said...

@Keren--"I have noticed there is a huge movement in the American church at the moment where adopting an "orphan" from overseas is seen as some kind of spiritual acolade and badge of honour."

I couldn't have stated it more precisely. I might just have to quote you.

And I'm with you on the Anon thing...it can get confusing...even if you want to comment anonymously, adding some kind of marker at least would help...



@ Anon--"We are good enough to parent the children left that no one would wish to parent when its all said and done and good enough to fund every other family in financial or other crises, but not good enough to parent a child from overseas in need."

The above statement tells me that you missed the points of my post overall, and that you are making conclusions that have nothing to do with what I actually wrote, but rather perhaps reflect your own insecurities...[it also shows me that you ASSUME something that is not always true--that we adoptees were adopted because our parents didn't want to parent us. That is a seriously misinformed assumption. But anyway...not the point of this post...]

My overall point [it was italicized], "Family preservation gets an aphid's share of the resources and attention while international adoption receives the lion's share..."

Short and simple. And so very true.

And again, my point:

"that "something" is always assumed to be international adoption...You see, there are alternatives to international adoption, and they're even better in the long-term for the children, families, communities and nations as a whole."

I said NOTHING of remaking nations into the image of America. Goodness, I would never say THAT. I did not say it is only about the money, but that it involves a complex set of factors...as far as the theology of adoption, well, that's a whole other topic and I simply echo what Keren shared.

But, I will ask you this, why is it that folks are UNcomfortable with giving $10,000 to an agency to help a "stranger" raise her child and yet are more than willing to hand over $10,000 to an agency to take that child to live with an even stranger family away from his/her original family, people, country?

There's something a bit backwards and twisted about that to me.

People give thousands to other "charitable" organizations every day--for instance to help fight childhood cancer or to homeless shelters, to organizations like Smile Train and such, so what's the difference from doing that and giving money to an organization that assists family preservation?

And Anon, you should check out some of these organizations that I linked to in this post, if you haven't already. I encourage you in fact to read all the posts to which I linked, especially the "alternatives to international adoption," again, if you haven't already.



@ Mei-Ling--

I actually do believe that people have such altruism within. I'm a hopeless idealist.

But even still, if you want to be nihilistic about it and believe that all folks are hedonists, then just as adoption is trendy right now, family preservation could also one day become "trendy." All we need is a celeb to announce that she has just donated a million smackers to some family preservation organization with a photo of her with a group of moms holding their babies, and watch the tides shift...Of course, I say this with a somewhat sardonic tongue in cheek, and yet honestly, that's probably the only way family preservation would ever get the resources and attention that adoption currently does...

Mei Ling said...

"I actually do believe that people have such altruism within. I'm a hopeless idealist."

Really? *tilts her head, raising an eyebrow*

After all this time, when all evidence in adoption and discussions that string from it clearly indicate otherwise?

Even the comments here...

"Believe me, we agonized over the idea of giving the money we are spending to directly impact families to help them stay together if that is indeed an option.. But we would be left with a gaping wound of not being able to be parents, a primal desire we could not ignore."

"I know that I could have given money to support her birth mother, but I came from a place of knowing in my soul, that a child, born to another, was destined to be mine."

I'm not saying these commenters are "wrong" for feeling what they do. Feelings are just that: feelings. They're not always good feelings and they're not always bad ones. They are just what they are, good and/or bad.

And as you can see, there are people who will openly admit they could have supported the "birth" mother but didn't because they wanted to raise a child.

There are even parents in domestic OPEN adoptions who witnessed the mother handing over her baby - then the mother fell apart in primal pain IN FRONT OF EVERYONE - and still, these folks say "Well it was necessary and adoption will always be needed."

I say, if you can read about that - if you can read about a mother being in such primal pain because she just handed over her baby - or be witness to it, and still declare adoption is best by its virtue of 'being' adoption, then no... I don't believe altruism trumps all.

I repeat: no one is altruistic enough. Selfishness is an inherent trait in human nature.

Mei Ling said...

P.S. Joy wrote a post on the article I spoke about. You can find it on her blog, it wasn't written too long ago.

Mila said...

@ Mei-Ling...

"the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others"

Yep, I myself believe in this...and so, ultimately, this is where you and I diverge and have different opinions...(one divergence most likely among many)

Also, just for clarity, when I state that I believe altruism exists, I was not saying that in reference to adoptive parents. But I do believe there are people willing to deny themselves for the sake of others...and specifically, people willing to help bolster family pres efforts when educated...not necessarily AP's, (that is, until after they've adopted), but others...

Something as simple and as small as a practical stranger bringing my husband and I food after the arrival of our son or something bigger and more complex like an heir giving away his $500,000 inheritance & devoting his life to working on economic justice (Chuck Collins)--this is altruism to me...now, figuring out how to cultivate this toward family preservation, I believe can be accomplished, but just takes time...

Or as I said, just get a celeb involved... ;)

Mei Ling said...

"Also, just for clarity, when I state that I believe altruism exists, I was not saying that in reference to adoptive parents"

Oh, you were talking more about general altruism. That explains it.

Sona said...

"Let me be frank: do you then propose that legions of American, Canadian, European AP's storm foreign nations and begin to correct and "fix" their inherent and ingrained social injustices and lack of social structure? From the bottom up? They have leaders, long standing traditions, strife, policies, etc. but hey, we know better, right? Big ugly Americans."

isnt that exactly what you are doing by removing children from their countries and bringing them to your home?

Sona said...

@ anon: are you frickin serious? asking what adult adoptees are doing? i know you are but what am i? you sound like the idiots who ask me, "are you going to adopt, you know, because you were adopted. to give back?" i would love to hear a conversation between you and a slave asking them what they are doing to end slavery.

Mila said...

Kristen, I wish you would just sign your name instead of posting anonymously...and I wish you would actually read my posts for what they say and not for what you think they say...[also, another thought--being able to raise children is not a right nor an entitlement in life...]

"...I just wonder what many Adult Adoptees are doing towards that end? Or again, should this only fall to AP's or PAP's with our magic wands and ability to turn a blind eye?"

Well, you wave your magic wand of adoption as though it fixes everything, so why not wave it to preserve families? Just a thought. ;)

Furthermore, I echo, Sona. BUT to indulge you, do you know anything about Korea and adoption, Kristen?

Yes, in fact, there are literally ADULT ADOPTEES living in Korea at this very moment affecting legislation and the social constructs to change the nation as a whole...and it's working...slowly but surely...have you not heard of TRACK or Jane Trenka or girl4708 or KUMSN or all the adoptees living and working in Korea to exact the very kind of change to which I often refer??!! So yes, my friend, there are plenty of ADULT ADOPTEES initiating, supporting the social and political reform needed.

Mila said...

And in fact Adult adoptees are the primary ones fostering change...Jane and TRACK were around way before Dr. Richard Boas founded KUMSN...And I believe KUMSN exists in large part due to the work of and headway made by Adult Adoptees in Korea.

So, my point is that, if it can be done in Korea, it can be done elsewhere...

Mila said...

One more point, Kristen...don't forget all the adult adoptees who try to do our part, among other things, by speaking up and out just like I did in this post. ;)

Mark A.Riley said...

What a good debate. The west, and the American Evangelical movement in particular, need to take it on board that it is disingenuous to other cultures to believe that children are better off being removed from their culture and family in the developing world and placed into a western family.

On the ground I can tell you that IA makes it very difficult to get domestic resettlement and adoption programmes up-and-running. IA is open to all kinds of abuse - I see it all the time, most of the time the adoptive parents have NO idea that either there was no tracking of birth family and/or the process is littered with forged documentation and corruption. Agencies after all use local 'partners' as their supply but really they have no idea what is going on and in fact some are implicit in the corrupt process.

And to answer Anons Question - actually $10000 would help resettle and support in EXCESS of 50 children back with birth family, extended family or through domestic adoption. It may not address the many problems developing countries have but it would positively impact 50 families.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

In regards to the post, I just got back from attending the Christian Alliance for Orphans, and I heard many of the big adoption agencies speak about family preservation. All of them seem very committed to it, both in word and in action. In fact, there was a sort of "hierarchy" that seemed to be accepted by everyone attending the conference (and by most AP's I know): birth family is best, followed by adoption in-country, and international adoption as a last resort.

One new model that is gaining popularity is focused on having aid groups who visit orphanages spend their time searching for birth family and trying to figure out what resources to put into place to get the kids out of orphanages and into their birth homes. Saddleback is practicing this in Rwanda, and another big church is doing it in Kenya. I was talking with several people who seemed excited about the idea of US churches partnering with global churches to encourage domestic adoption of orphans in struggling countries.

I'm really sorry that the AP's you encounter give you the impression that they are happy to take a child away from a willing parent, or that they are more worthy than others based on perceived standards of wealth. I have rarely encountered adoptive parents who think like this. I wonder what kind of selfish, AP's you have had to deal with, or I wonder if you are just projecting this stuff onto any AP who has disagreed with you.

I think you will find that so many people in the adoption world agree with you on the ideals of family preservation. It's just a little hard to rally with you when you are being told you don’t. From what I have seen in orphan care initiatives, the Rileys in Uganda would be considered by most to be the gold standard in orphan care - helping get kids out of institutions within their own country. It’s confusing that you present it as it that would be offensive. I’ve now attended the three biggest adoption conference in the US and at each one, there were more organizations involved in local orphan care than there were adoption agencies. Just recently, a huge partnership was formed with most of the bigger organizations, called SEED adoption, with the goal of encouraging local adoptions in Ethiopia.

Honestly, what frustrates me is that you present these ideas out of your own projections, and then people are going to buy your version of the movement and be further incited to anger, instead of realizing that the Christian orphan care movement is about family preservation and local adoption, too. I think your blog so often present an “us vs. them” in terms of adoptees and adoptive parents and I don’t think it creates any forward movement for the children who are at risk.

"Look my Omma in the face and tell her you'd rather have given thousands of dollars to adopt me than to help build the social, cultural, political, and economic networks, resources, reforms, and services she needed to keep me and care for me."

Of course I would not want to do that. But neither would I want you to look my son in the face, who had no living parents, and tell him he should have stayed in an orphanage in Haiti where he was subjected to things that I would not wish on any child, ever.

Adoption and family preservation are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to advocate for both.

Mila said...

I truly apologized if this wasn't you, Kristen. [Although, if you stopped reading my blog a long time ago, then I'm not sure why all of a sudden, you would be aware of this one in particular. Whoever it is has the same exact tone and writing style as you do. An unfortunate, uncanny coincidence, I suppose.]

I love and respect the Rileys and admire them (I correspond with them frequently).

You're right, I don't know you and I again apologize for any wrongful assumptions.

The same is true of you with me.

Even if that commenter wasn't you, you still have in the past not really ever understood my posts or points and have often approached my perspectives with erroneous conclusions.

That said, though, you have the right to your opinions, of course. And I meant no disrespect. I truly thought it was you, and wanted to engage if it was.

Again, I apologize if it was not you. You have a writing twin out there somewhere. ;)

It's too bad you view my blog and ideas the way you do...But again, no hard feelings and best to you in your life and family.

Mila said...

Oh, and one last thing, Kristen, obviously, I'm aware that others, including AP's not just adoptees share my passion for family pres as I stated in the post itself (specifically lauding AP's who do get it) and as is demonstrated in the comments not only here but in other posts...

Mila said...

I need to follow my own advice...don't assume...

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Melissa, in the comment I just left that you deleted (twice) I said that I still read, but don't comment. (Just an FYI, anyone who has already commented is likely subscribed to the comments via email, and therefore saw me say this as well).

Anonymous said...

Mei Ling:

I wrote only one of the anon. comments. Your response was thoughtful:
"You say God wanted her to be Chinese but then you were meant to be her parents?

Shouldn't she have just been born to you, then?"

I understand this, but having had a child die, my perspective is different. I don't believe that life is that simple. Why then would I give birth to a son, whom I adored with all of my heart, only to lose him at such a tender age? I believe in a sometimes complicated journey. Complicated by the actions of others, by our choices, or even by a divine plan yet unknown to us. Something that might seem unbearable now, but which will lead us to something joyful.
"...like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
— E.L. Doctorow

I just think that we are guided, IF we listen and want to follow God's will, to do things that will ULTIMATELY bring us happiness. If your beliefs do not include this, then of course this logic would not make sense to you. I just know this: Before I adopted my daughter (our son died after she came home), I did not feel as though my life, our family, was as it should be. I felt as though she was missing. I tell her that: "Before you came, someone was missing in our family, and it was you."
I did not wish to continue living after my son died. But I have found the will to do so. I have found joy.
I know this is what God wants for me. I know it. Joy. I also know that he wants just as much for her birth mother and father to have joy. They, like me, have lost a child. But I know that we can both have joy.
Erin

Mei Ling said...

"I also know that he wants just as much for her birth mother and father to have joy. "

So why wouldn't He have made it so you could have birthed your adopted child, and for her birthmother to have birthed a child she could keep?

Doesn't make sense for a woman to birth a child only to be "meant" to give her up. The "ideal" logic would be so that she could keep a child she birthed and you could birth a child, rather than she having been the "vessel" of the child actually meant for you.

Because what you write sounds like a selective God to me (one person meant to have the child another conceived).

I don't subscribe to that idea.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not a "Selective God", but rather a God who allows his children to have complications, problems, heartache. Not a God with a hand in our lives who pulls strings like a puppeteer, but a hand outstretched to help us through the agony that sometimes comes with life. Clearly, God doesn't set out to arrange everyone's lives so that we never experience trials or heartbreak. Does he? If I believed this, I could not reconcile so many things--- the fact that my daughter was born with a skull deformation so severe, that her entire cranial vault had to be removed, reconstructed, and replaced. The fact that my 17 year old son was trying to save the life of a friend, and died doing so. The fact that my own father drowned. I believe in a loving God. But to me, God's love means that he helps us through life's troubles.

Mei Ling said...

"But to me, God's love means that he helps us through life's troubles."

Okay, if you put it that way, God uses another woman as a "tool" so that the child can build up endurance to get to her rightful adoptive mother.

But that didn't really respond to my query about a selective god.

My question: Why not make it so that the birthmother would have kept the child she birthed, and an adoptive mother birth the child she had adopted instead?

If you believe the birthmother to be a "vessel" (a path, so to speak religiously), then that would indicate a selective god - a god who made it so that the adoptive mom could be a mother via someone else's childbirth?

Right?

Why not just have both women conceive (and keep) their own children rather than just someone else's childbirth for an adoption?

When you say "meant to be" it sounds like you are speaking of a selective god - a god using one woman for another's gain.

Those examples you gave me - can they not be physically explained?

Anonymous said...

I have no way of seeing adoption as "God using one woman for another woman's gain". I see it as one way that God helps us overcome the heartaches of life.
I have no knowledge about why my daughter's birth mother relinquished her, and I am quite certain that you do not know why my daughter's mother relinquished her. There could have been reasons beyond her birth mother's control--- though it is hard to accept that poverty justifies abandonment when there are destitute mothers all over the world who would die before relinquishing a child. I would NEVER tell my daughter that this is why she was abandoned. First, I do not know that, and second, she might think that if we became destitute we would abandon her. I would not abandon my child if I had nothing. So I know that there could have been reasons beyond her birth mother's control. But maybe not. I have real love for her mother, and I want my daughter to feel that also. All that I am saying, Mei Ling, is that I believe God guided her to me. I have bio children too, and I can assure you, my love for all of them is the same.
In your words from an earlier post:
... why should any human being feel as though she must choose between two parts of herself"

As an adoptive parent, I don't have to justify my love for my child. I never will. I do feel sorrow for the pain that is inherent in adoption. Every adoption has a sad story. But as you might guess from the little history I have shared, I believe that every life has a sad story. Because I believe it is part of our mortal experience. And I believe God has every reason to help us find joy. I do not believe he arranges our lives so that we never suffer. I do not believe that at all. I wish you peace in your life. I hope that your love for your family will give you the joy that I have found, in spite of all the messy and painful things that families go through.

Anonymous said...

I loved the video. But if "Love is enough" for sweet Lydia and her little Oscar, why is it not enough for me and my child? Because I have more earthly possessions? Because our skin is a different color? Because my child was born in a different country from me? Why is love enough for Lydia's adoption and not mine? Her baby has been just as displaced as mine was, is she not?

Amanda said...

Here's what happens when adoptees talk about these things....

People pity you for what they perceive as you simply being in an unhappy place. They suggest you simply do not understand the world around you and adoption very well. They take one thing you've said and run with it, putting words in your mouth. And every once and a while, the adoptee's lack of apologetic attitude for their own opinion is labeled as being mean to adoptive parents.

yaaayyy :-/

Mila said...

Kristen, what are you talking about? I have actually NEVER deleted other people's comments from my blog unless they requested such?

Mila said...

Seriously, Kristen, I have no idea what happened to your comments?! I'm being completely honest when I say I never delete others' comments. Even though you assess my intentions differently, I actually do welcome all comments. BUT as I stated in this post:

"I know some will disagree vehemently with what I have expressed below, but I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before. And ultimately, life ain't about always agreeing but rather learning to somehow live peacefully among those with whom we differ..."

As I said, I apologize to you about any wrongful conclusions I may have made, and I communicated that I mean no disrespect. Please don't make me grovel.

You seem to think you disagree with my general perspective, and that's your right. Although, again, I am not convinced that you actually understand what my perspective is because, based on your comments at least, you often demonstrate that you don't understand what I'm saying.

Furthermore, it's a good thing you were able to clear up any confusion, ultimately. [Also I thought follow up emails were post specific, but anyway...]

Again, I wish you and your family the best.

Reena said...

Hi Melissa,

I tried to post a comment to your most recent entry last night and experienced some kind of error with blogger. My comment was lost (I was able to post today).

I saw it happen. Maybe that is what happened to Kristen's comment as well.

I've read some pretty horrendous comments to this blog-- including some to this post. Comments that really make me cringe as an AP. I think if Mellisa was actively censoring comments, we wouldn't read many of the comments to her blog that we do.

As an AP, I have often found that the comments made by other AP to Melissa's posts (as well as other Adoptee blogs) to be more revealing about the crap Adoptees have to deal with than are the actual posts written by the Adoptees. So why in the world would they censor?

Mei Ling said...

"In your words from an earlier post:
... why should any human being feel as though she must choose between two parts of herself" "

Not sure which post you're referring to.

"People pity you for what they perceive as you simply being in an unhappy place. They suggest you simply do not understand the world around you and adoption very well."

Oh, hell yes.

Anonymous said...

"though it is hard to accept that poverty justifies abandonment when there are destitute mothers all over the world who would die before relinquishing a child."

And there we have it. That's true understanding and compassion, isn't it? Riiight...

Mila said...

"Adoption and family preservation are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to advocate for both."

This is ultimately where we diverge, Kristen. As I have stated in my post, "Yes I love my parents":

"No, I am not anti-adoption, but I am also not pro-adoption. Again, it's more complicated than that, at least it is for me."

Although I am not willing to be either/or when it comes to adoption as a whole, I can say that I am not an advocate for International Adoption. Now obviously in this post I stated that I am supportive of DOMESTIC, LOCAL adoptions, but only when all attempts to resettle with kin, even neighbors, friends, so forth have been exhausted.

Ultimately, God-forbid something happened to my hubs and me, and we died and so also did all our parents and siblings and aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., I'd rather he be adopted domestically by a good personal friend or even a friend of my parents first before a stranger in a foreign country...I'm only advocating what I'd prefer for my own child...

To me being an advocate for international adoption is like being an advocate for triple bypass surgery or chemotherapy. No one is an advocate for these invasive and harsh procedures, but rather they're last resorts and often, unfortunately, do not cure the problem but only delay the inevitable.

But I can be an advocate for the research that scientists and doctors are doing to address the causes and root issues so that hopefully one day there will be those heart disease patients and cancer patients who WILL NEVER have to undergo bypass surgery or chemo.

And even better, what if we could figure out a way to prevent heart disease and cancer all together? That would be ideal.

With heart disease, actually, there already are preventative measures that folks can take, even if they're genetically predisposed. The key is educating and motivating them sufficiently to employ those preventative measures...

So in short, I am not anti-adoption, but neither am I an advocate for IA.

Mila said...

Also, Kristen, when i wrote:

"Look my Omma in the face and tell her you'd rather have given thousands of dollars to adopt me than to help build the social, cultural, political, and economic networks, resources, reforms, and services she needed to keep me and care for me."

And you wrote, "Of course I would not want to do that."

That was my point in phrasing it that way--to help folks make it more personal, to connect the dots. A lot of people respond as you do (and some don't, as Mei-Ling experienced firsthand) when I phrase it that way, but then they also say things like, "Can a blank check for $10,000 repair such a fracture?"

I think it can be easy for folks, myself included, to neglect the "faces" behind adoption--ie, the original mothers, and rationalize that they're not denying original mothers (or families) that money. But that's essentially how it translates: "Of course I would never tell a birth mother that...but I don't feel comfortable giving her that money either." (Even if it's managed through a trustworthy organization that will help her manage it?)

Now, I know you and other AP's support family pres, post-adoption. I'm simply trying to get ALL FOLKS to think critically, a bit more complexly about family pres and what it means for them...

Mei Ling said...

Mila, folks want to become parents. Sure, they would help other parents keep their children... but as long as they got to adopt in the end.

Because isn't that what it's about?

... I think I need to make a post on this.

Anonymous said...

I just wish to comment to this: I see grains of truth...albiet, my own truth, in all of these responses. In some ways I think most of the commenters to this post are more alike than they might realize or that might be reflected in this dialogue.

But I see something else too. Absolutely the Us vs. Them thing and Kristen is right; that only serves to divide and anger; in so many ways AP's and Adult Adoptees could be one another's strongest allies but that might take a herculean effort not likely to be seen soon. That's too bad!

Additionaly, as an Adult Adoptee myself I was surprised to see Melissa personally attack the Anon. who describes the very real difficulties with altering family preservation practices around the world. Anon. did not personally attack and should have been allowed to agree to disagree without being told he/she was insecure or even an idiot by another commenter.

I mean, how can we as AA's spout outrage when our voices are not heard or we are labeled and assumptions are made, while we ourselves readily do it?

Finally, yeah, what are Adult Adoptees doing to help? Should it only fall to AP's or PAP's or church groups or whatever? Seriously are we telling them to give their personal savings to only help another Mother? Why only that then? Why not give to Aids research, cancer research, stop world hunger, disaster relief etc. All of these are worthy and all play a role in family disuruptions around the world.

I can tell you what I'm doing....I founded an organization that travels to remote parts of China to educate mothers on Cleft Palate and other correctable SN. We try to provide medical care for those babies afflicted so they might stay with their families.

To date, not a single woman who has birthed a cleft palate baby has elected to keep that baby even with our aid and an understanding of its medical origins and treatability. They consider the babies flawed and that's unacceptable. Same for baby boys with undescended testacles, facial scars or something easily fixed.

This is how entriched these societal ethos run. This is what Anon. spoke of and they are right. "Waving a wand or giving away money" doesn't cut it. Pretending that if all adoptions just stopped then orpans wouldn't exist, that's just not accurate or factual.

Does that mean we don't try? Of course not, but please don't present others who share logical obstacles and idealogical truths opposing your views as insecure, pessimists or selfish or worse. I don't just mean Melissa personally, but all commenters.

BTW, the parents who do come for these "unwanted" children (yes there are unwanted children) are overwhelmingly Americans and Canadians. They can see beyond the flaw and see the child for themselves.

For what its worth......

Anon. Carrie, AA

Mei Ling said...

"BTW, the parents who do come for these "unwanted" children (yes there are unwanted children) are overwhelmingly Americans and Canadians."

I'd hesitate to say that unwanted children are the majority, however.

"Seriously are we telling them to give their personal savings to only help another Mother?"

Nope. I think that would be unreasonable. I would have wanted that to happen, but I still intellectually believe that to be unreasonable. It's why I believe true altruism in adoption doesn't exist.

"Why only that then? Why not give to Aids research, cancer research, stop world hunger, disaster relief etc."

Derailing the topic. I thought we were focusing on the ethics of humanitarian aid to prevent adoption, not bringing up tangents about research and world hunger.

Mei Ling said...

Some of these commenters make me wonder what they have to say about Korea planning to end all international adoptions by 2012.

Is that idealistic?

Mila said...

It's true, Mei-Ling,

Adoption is obviously all about, well, adopting a child to become a parent...because as you said, folks want to become parents--that's a given...i don't have a problem with that...and lots of people also want to marry or have meaningful careers and so forth...it's the how and after that I'm trying to address...and the sense of entitlement that so often accompanies IA...Don't I have the right to be a parent like everyone else, hence it's my right to adopt internationally (even if that means detriment to others, as you pointed out so poignantly)?

No, it's a want (as you stated) and a very natural, normal want, but it's not necessarily a right or entitlement...particularly, to parent another parent's child...

Again, my point overall is that family pres is underrated and underfunded in part due to the favoritism and bias toward IA which is in part the result of a strange mix of socioeconomic, cultural, political, and well, religious factors (which I often avoid getting into, because talk about "want" overcoming logic and reason)...while there is also a double standard of "love is enough"--for adoptive fams but not original fams...

I'm not talking about "want," because that's obvious and a given and also not my territory--people want what they want...But hopefully we can help them think analytically about how they will proceed to fulfill that want...

And the "want" is ultimately why folks so often don't think critically about IA--because the emotion of "want" prevents them from seeing the whole picture...I've experienced an intense "want" before although in a very different context and it almost resulted in me marrying a man I wasn't really in love with...

But yes, you're right, there will always be a "demand" for children because there will always be folks who want them...

Mila said...

Carrie, you honestly think I attacked "Anon?"

I simply expressed that I think she had missed my overall point which is "Family preservation gets an aphid's share of the resources and attention while international adoption receives the lion's share," while I reiterated that I am aware of how complicated it is and yet even still not all IA children are "unwanted"...

Also, but in the same comment I said the inverse of what you said, "People give thousands to other "charitable" organizations every day--for instance to help fight childhood cancer or to homeless shelters, to organizations like Smile Train and such, so what's the difference from doing that and giving money to an organization that assists family preservation?"

And the "insecurities" reference was simply in response to ONLY a specific statement I quoted from the commenter, Carrie, not to the commenter's address of the complexities. Here, I cut & pasted it so you can see that I quoted a specific statement and was responding to it specifically:

"We are good enough to parent the children left that no one would wish to parent when its all said and done and good enough to fund every other family in financial or other crises, but not good enough to parent a child from overseas in need."

The above statement tells me that you missed the points of my post overall, and that you are making conclusions that have nothing to do with what I actually wrote, but rather perhaps reflect your own insecurities...

Carrie, I stated the "insecurities" not as an attack, but an honest explanation, because I neither stated nor implied nor have I ever previously expressed that AP's are "not good enough" to parent. That the commenter would conclude that I was saying this demonstrated as I said that she missed my point and PERHAPS (which implies only possibility not certainty) she was projecting her own insecurities, because again, I have never stated such in this post or otherwise.

I applaud you for the work you're doing. And your experiences are an example of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles...and yet I still believe a difference can be made...as is happening in Korea...although, it has been 50+ years in the making and still a long way to go...

I simply question the behind the scenes that goes on leading to AP's becoming parents...and if doing so gives you and others the impression that it's an "us vs. them" battle, well, that's unfortunate, because that's not how I feel...but it would appear that I can in no way show you or anyone else that...

And, ultimately, I shouldn't have to...

Like I said at the start of this post, reiterated to Kristen, and I'll re-quote to you again:

"I know some will disagree vehemently with what I have expressed below, but I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before. And ultimately, life ain't about always agreeing but rather learning to somehow live peacefully among those with whom we differ..."

Mei Ling said...

"and if doing so gives you and others the impression that it's an "us vs. them" battle"

Mila, you and I are the second reason why adoptive parents *are* parents.

Without us, and without our blood families, there is no equation.

Mila said...

Kristen, here are your comments that I DID NOT delete but for some reason did not publish, I think due to what Reena referred to (a problem with blogger). They came to my email, of course, so here are ALL of them (in parts as you wrote them). Sorry it took me a while...

I assume I am the Kristen you are attributing this anonymous comment to? Sorry, but that wasn’t me. I don’t engage in your blog anymore for a few reasons. The first being that your tone often makes me feel like if I don’t agree with every conclusion you have come to about adoption, that I don’t “get it” or that it means I am dismissing your entire experience. In the past, I was under the impression that you were open to dialogue, and I was really candid with you. I felt a sense of connection with you. I felt that we agreed on so many points, and I was vocal about that, too. So I thought that it was safe for me to casually say,” I agree here, but not so much here”. The more I’ve read your blog, though, the more I regret that, because it’s pretty clear that you aren’t looking for a dialogue, but rather for people to listen without feedback. (In fact, you posted that pretty directly). I overestimated a connection, assumed a desire for a two-way conversation, and underestimated how you would take any push-back as a categorical dismissal of your feelings. So I’ve listened silently – even though you’ve made it rather difficult. I haven’t really enjoyed having you take my past comments and make them into posts where you parse my words. As I’ve read some of your posts, I can’t help but interpret several of them as being directed towards me. I thought I was being paranoid, but now maybe I think I’m not.

I also stopped commenting long ago because I don’t really like coming here and seeing someone I know in real life use this as a place to make passive-aggressive digs at me. But Melissa, you don’t know me. I’m surmising you’ve had conversations with one of my friends who has felt the need to push me away and project onto me the viewpoints of the clueless adoptive parent that are so frequently presented on this blog. Again I would re-iterate . . . you don’t know me.

For the record, I don’t think you are wrong for feeling grief, or that you don’t love your parents, or that you need to be grateful, or that you are not allowed to question adoption, or that your good life discounts your pain, or any other of the attributions you’ve given to AP’s in recent posts. I don’t think I know what it feels like to be adopted. I don’t think you are an idiot.

What bothers me the most, though, is that it feels like you ascribe the above viewpoints to anyone who doesn’t condemn the practice of adoption altogether. Honestly, you have a number of adoptive parents reading your blog and cheering you on, while you continue to rant about how AP’s don’t care. Do I have to denounce my own adoption in order for you to feel heard, or feel that I actually “get it?” (And is it not a little self-righteous to assume that you are the judge and jury of people “getting it” or not?)

For my part, I don’t condemn you or judge you for your anger, your feelings, or your experience. But honestly, Melissa, the focus of your blog lately seems to be on the attitude of adoptive parents – and I am sorry for whatever experiences have led you to believe that we all think and feel with the narrative you are presenting. If you would really listen, I think you would find a number of people who want to support you and hear your story, but who still believe that adoption is still a good last resort for children with no other options. But it often feels like you are drawing a line in the sand, and then I think that leaves you feeling even more misunderstood. A lot of people are listening and caring about your story, even if you can’t accept it because they’ve come to different conclusions about adoption policies.

Mei Ling said...

"but who still believe that adoption is still a good last resort for children with no other options"

The problem with this is that it is NOT seen as a "good last resort."

Agencies promote adoption as being the *only* resort. People say "Well she can't take care of her kid, why not just give up her child so that the child can have a family they deserve?"

Mother feeling insecure? Adoption. Father not in the picture? Adoption. Poverty? Adoption. Medical care? Adoption.

In all honesty, when I see adoption discussions about poverty, I don't often see fundraising or charity. Well, okay, I've seen it mentioned here. Maybe it gets referenced in a side tangent, as it has been here.

But the point is, adoption is usually the first response. The term "orphan" gets brought up. What does that bring to mind?

Adoption. Not relatives. Not community efforts. Not fundraising.

People create more incentive with adoption than doing anything else. Don't believe me?

Talk to an agency.

I have.

Mila said...

Kristen, here's the other one of your comments that didn't publish (again, sorry it took so long...this has been hard to keep up with having a new baby...:

(I just posted this and it was deleted immediately. Posting again and hoping that if you have the nerve to attribute anonymous comments to me, that you would at least let me speak for myself.)

* * *

Kristen, I hope you have read the apologies I gave to you...and that you realize that I did not delete your comments...

See, we all make mistakes and wrongful assumptions at times...

Oh, and you're right you said you don't "engage" with my blog...Sorry, I misread that...see, I do it, too--thank you for correcting me...

You give me some things to ponder (and I say that sincerely). But I still think I have always given ear to others' thoughts and feelings, but ultimately, I do think as my perspectives have evolved, you and I have hit some differences. Doesn't mean there has to be hostility.

I'll admit when I'm wrong and I'll apologize when I've made a mistake...but I won't apologize for my viewpoints...

And just to clarify, I am not thinking of you, Kristen, when I write unless I quote you specifically. I happen to know other adoptive parents, in particular in association with churches and AP groups I have relationships with and some AP's outside of those groups in particular with whom I'm close...they're most often who I'm thinking of...not you, just fyi. ;)

I will say I do think there are some things you DO GET and honestly others that you don't.

As I've said repeatedly, I do think that you don't "get" my perspective or where I stand completely. And that might be in part because I'm still trying to figure that out myself...

As I've already stated numerous times...I don't condemn adoption, but I also don't advocate international adoption--and again, that's really where you and I differ, Kristen...you advocate IA and I do not. And that's just a difference that we have to accept about the other...

See, THIS can be a healthy dialogue...it gets heated at times, but we can manage it...

Anonymous said...

Carrie, I find it incredibly odd that you think Melissa attacked Anon or Kristen or anyone. I also find it odd that you think there is an Us vs. them attitude going on.

The only explanation I can come up with (if you're commenting in good faith) is that you have not read this blog for very long at all and certainly have not bothered to read the comments very closely. There is a lot of agreement going on between adoptive parents and adult adoptees on this blog. There are certainly times where Melissa disagrees, even strongly disagrees. However, I have never see her attack anyone.

"I mean, how can we as AA's spout outrage when our voices are not heard or we are labeled and assumptions are made, while we ourselves readily do it?"

I think that this depends on the blog and the people who are commenting. We are all coming from different places. I've seen Melissa as someone who honors the different voices in the community. However, if some adoptees feel the need to express their truths more strongly, that that is where they are at. Please keep in mind that adoptive parents have not experienced the silencing that adult adoptees have.

"Finally, yeah, what are Adult Adoptees doing to help? Should it only fall to AP's or PAP's or church groups or whatever?"

Even in these comments there were references to the things adult adoptees are doing to help. It is very strange that you overlooked these.

Critique is an essential part of reforming a broken system. You ask what adult adoptees are doing? They are speaking out. Some of them are seeking dialogue like Melissa. Some are not. Those who aren't shouldn't be automatically dismissed. Critique is always necessary to reforming a broken system.

I think the underlying truth which you have ignored is that even though there will always be children in need of homes, adoption practices as they currently stand can sometimes create a trade in children. That is, children who could be cared for in other ways are adopted. Doesn't this take away resources from those kids who would have no other options at all?

Anonymous said...

Anon, I'd like you to answer a question concerning this statement:

"To date, not a single woman who has birthed a cleft palate baby has elected to keep that baby even with our aid and an understanding of its medical origins and treatability...They consider the babies flawed and that's unacceptable."

So could the reasons for this be because these are SINGLE WOMEN and it is not acceptable to raise a child as a single mother? Because there certainly are parents (mothers and fathers) who do raise children with cleft palates in China. Operation Smile, for instance, has gone to China and helped such families.

I think it's important to be very careful about examining the reasons why children are given up. You're interpetation of why this is happening with children with cleft palates seems flawed since their are Chinese families who are raising children with cleft palates.

As someone who is helping these women and children, I would say careful analysis is even more important because it can help you come up with better solutions and ideas for where to best put your resources.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I apologize if your intentions were not to "attack" Anon. but from my perspective it seemed a bit personal and oddly worded. Something I have seen bandied about and tossed at AP's with frequency from many sources. After reading your follow up to my comment, I better understand your reference. Thank you for clarifying.

To the Anon. who questions my analysis of why these Mothers elect not to keep and parent their cleft palate or otherwise SN child; this was not my interpretation but rather their words.

Its as simple as that and yet not simple at all. I agree with you that so much more goes into a decision not to parent a child. These women/families have been forced into a position to keep just one child, a male child and he needs to be perfect.

But therein was my point. This ingrained systemic ethos is virtually impossible to change without support from the Chinese government. AP's delivering aid/monies, supporting family preservation, etc. can do little to derail these learned taboos.

But that doesn't mean we give up; if it did, I wouldn't be doing what I am; what so many others are trying to do.

And btw, some of these women are choosing not to parent because of systemic reasons and some yes, horrifically just because they don't want a "flawed" child. What they perceive to be less than perfect. The majority? No.....but sadly enough more than I might have imagined. I'm sorry if that's hard for some of you hear.

I have been there. I don't need statistics or interpretations by experts. I have witnessed it.

Over & again.

Anon. Carrie

Mila said...

Blogger, it's a love-hate relationship...another commenter, The Adopted Ones, tried to post a comment and got booted off...

Anyhow, The Adopted Ones emailed me the comment, which follows so I could post it (I'll do so in parts to make sure that it publishes):

www.theadoptedones.wordpress.com says:

I believe we are all guilty at times of reading and simultaneously forming a rebuttal argument in our minds, which leads to hearing words that are not actually written.

Melissa's statement about her Omama (sp?) in my opinion, was solely to apply the human factor to the anonymous birth family somewhere never to be seen again...

And I say the above because if you actually “hear” Melissa's quotes below:

"Family preservation gets an aphid's share of the resources and attention while international adoption receives the lion's share."

"If we all want adoption to truly be ethical, we all have to be willing to not only face the realities but also to do something to change them, whether that something is small or large doesn't matter as much as having the willingness to do it honestly."


Adoption agencies are required by some countries to provide additional supports to the country, if they wish operate in that country. How they do that is up for discussion - do they just build orphanages to house future adoptees or do they create long-term help to keep families together. Each will have to answer for the how - someday.”

From a domestic adoptee I believe if the ethical problems were fixed and the Hague followed with reverence instead of looking for loop holes or going into NON Hague countries, you would find much more common ground between AP's and Adult Adoptees.

When country after country closes because Ethics were left by the wayside how on earth does anyone think an Adult Adoptee should feel?

Ethiopia is the current mess - which country will be the next one because there will be a next one - will it be Uganda? When the demand for "orphans" as young as possible, preferably under 1 fuels the need for supply, problems are going to follow, combined with the need to keep profits up to keep that bottom line healthy and happy.

FIX the inherent problems with harsh laws with jail time in the receiving countries and prosecutors willing to prosecute, instead of simply justifying adoption as needed, and brush the not so nice stuff under the carpet. If the profit was not the motivator then real solutions could be looked at, while at the same time inter-country adoption for those who cannot stay in their own country.

Mila said...

Part 2 of comment by www.theadoptedones.wordpress.com:

Couple of interesting reads that are not controversial...quotes below are the most controversial parts of reasoned pro/cons.
http://www.lawreview.upeace.org/pdf/vol1issue1article4.pdf

"Mechanisms to ensure safe practices cannot be left to private adoption institutions and state actors in underdeveloped sending countries; these parties are vastly under-resourced and are often driven by maximized profits, rather than a value-based
mandate."

http://shadow.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/11/24/a_foreign_policy_must_have_an_ambassador_for_children

"Americans adopt more children from abroad than any other nation and international adoptions have more than doubled since 1989. Adoption is not right for every child without a family nor is it the full solution to the orphan crisis brought on by HIV/AIDS. But for many needy children adoption is the only way to have a permanent family. Yet adoptions must be done right. Unfortunately, weak laws and regulations in developing countries, preferences for infants over older children, and the money involved can lead to inappropriate adoptions and, in extreme cases, baby selling. Such problemshave forced the State Department's Office of Children's Issues to stop adoptions from specific countries like Cambodia and Guatemala until officials could ensure that they were legitimate -- a necessary but tragic outcome for families and children caught in the pipeline."


I do wish to make one comment re this comment from one of the many anons:

"I would not abandon my child if I had nothing."

I am sorry – I doubt you can have any idea of what you would do if you had nothing - most of us have never experienced nothing. Nothing is food stamps and welfare if you live in the US or Canada. Nothing in another country means NOTHING - no food, no water, no shelter - let alone everything we take for granted every single waking hour of our day. If I had NOTHING it would mean my child had no food or shelter and then my choice would be to abandon my child where they would be cared for, fed, sheltered, clothed...or allow my child to starve to death...Mei-Ling has a great post on this and says it better than I ever will.

Anonymous said...

"I have been there. I don't need statistics or interpretations by experts. I have witnessed it."

We have to understand that even when we're hearing words directly from someone we have to put it in the context of their particular life context and culture. We have to keep re-examining our assumptions of what we're hearing.

Everyone from aid workers to anthropologists now undertand that even when we are listening to someone from another culture, there can be cultural miscommunications that ensue. We can think we understand each other, but later realize we didn't.

Actually, this recent issue that came up makes a very good point of that. Worth reading.

http://chinaadoptiontalk.blogspot.com/2011/05/dr-changfu-chang-bryan-stuy-kay-johnson.html

The fact is people are now choosing to adopt in China. But we don't hear very much about that, do we? Why? And why don't we hear about those Chinese parents that are choosing to parent children who aren't "perfect"? (And no that doesn't shock me to hear, that has certainly been a prevailing attitude for much of human history.)

And though the one child policy and its ramifications upset us deeply (no option of placing a child for adoption, abortions that a woman doesn't want, etc.) the truth is if population concerns reach a critical point for other countries, we will all need to grapple with the same moral dilemas that China has.

Amanda said...

re: "us vs. them" analogy. "Us vs. Them" is used to describe how the majority speaks about and views a minority. Majority as in holding power, not as in number.

Adoptees are HARDLY the power-holders in adoption. We are the minority. The once voiceless (unless someone can explain to me what choice and voice I had at three days old?) who are finding our voices.

Mila's opinion is hardly an "us vs. them" for goodness sakes. I applaud her for boldly stating exactly how she feels despite the fact that she knew not everyone would receive it well.

Amanda said...

(sorry to get off topic. People assigning adoptees the facade of privilege within adoption is a huge pet-peeve of mine. I think you're stating your opinions well Mila and Mei Ling. I have nothing to add to what and The Adopted Ones have said :-) ).

The Byrd's Nest said...

Wow...I am a little exhausted from reading all of these comments. I won't comment on what anyone else said but just give my own thoughts:) When we adopted Emma, my views completely changed on adoption. She grieved....HARD...and still does to this day. Sitting with her thrashing around on the floor, asleep but screaming out in a language I could not understand but I could understand one word...Omma. I would pray over her and cry with her and began having different ideas about adoption. Obviously, there are some and I believe a very small number of people who just clearly do not want the child but I know my Emma's mother wanted to keep her. She was very young, poor and truly felt she had no other option. During these nights of terror and trauma that my child was experiencing I had thoughts of Why couldn't she stay with her Omma?" "Why couldn't Holt have some sort of program for these types of mom's to receive help for the child's medical problems or simply for food OR a place to go for counseling if being a single young mother was difficult...someone to encourage them that they can survive?" I don't have the answer and I am aware that as an AP I am part of the problem. I don't think of Emma as having a "better life" with our family. She would have been completely happy and satisfied with having nothing as long as she was with her Omma...she has never expressed this to me...but I know my daughter's heart. The other day while driving she said, "Mommy, when I am 12 years old and my ears are pierced (lol) can we go to Korea and find my mom and meet her?" My grieving child...my child and a young woman in Korea's child is finally expressing herself and the first emotion she decided to share with me? The longing to see her Omma.

So, with all of that said....I think something can be and should be done to keep families together. I am a strong Christian woman but I know in my heart that my God that I love never intended for children to suffer such as my daughter's have suffered. Man's own sin and greed has caused this turmoil and our children are paying the price for this sin and greed.

I often don't comment in these heated discussions because I don't want to be attacked but I just wanted to share our own personal story.

The Byrd's Nest said...

And just to add....no one has ever attacked me on this blog but that is just a fear:)

scotched said...

You know... some of you need to get off your moral high-horse and keep your interpretations of "GOD's will" away from the word "adoption".

To even suggest that God had a part in my adoption is just insulting.