Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Ethiopian elephant

Isn't this ornament so, so sweet?  A local woman was selling these in December to help raise funds for her Ethiopian adoption.  I love it.  And therefore had to buy it.  It's actually currently hanging in my bathroom, because I couldn't bear to pack it away with all the other Christmas stuff!

As we prepare to bring two new daughters into our family, I think about Ethiopia often.  The country, the culture, the process...all are on my mind  I can't escape it, and quite frankly, I've stopped trying.

But there's an elephant in the room now.  Because, in case you have been living under a rock hadn't noticed, there are a lot of articles...and blog posts...and tweets floating around concerning Ethiopian adoption.  There are some rules and laws that may be changing.  There may be a drastic reduction in the number of adoptions permitted from Ethiopia.  (As in, a 90% reduction.)  And people are arguing online over whether this is a good thing or not and, not surprisingly, has an opinion.  Everyone.

It's honestly a lot for this mama to take in.

Don't get me wrong, I've actually given a TON of thought over the years to the concept of adoption, and international adoption.  And to ethics in adoption.  Choosing an agency back in 2005 was a pain-staking process.  I wanted to get as far away as possible from poor practices and from people who were more interested in finding children for parents, than finding parents for children.  Thus we went with an agency that primarily places older children, and children with medical needs.  Kids who need homes today.  An agency clearly not seeking to supply an ever-growing demand.  I've never regretted our decision.  And we're using the same agency this time around too.

Ethiopia is a beautiful, complex, real place.  Where, just like any country (including our own), many children are legitimately in need of help.  Yet my heart hurts because both greed and misplaced compassion on the part of adoption agencies and adoptive parents have hurt the integrity of this adoption program.  There is simply no excuse for agencies being anything less than forthright, and there is no excuse for families continuing to use those agencies, some of which are well-known for their problems.

So I'm thoughtfully considering this situation and watching the discussions from afar.  I'm not leaving any comments or stepping too far into the fray.  I'm hoping people know that many of us care passionately about ethical adoptions, and also about finding help for children legitimately relinquished for adoption.  There are so many of them.  So.very.many.  And if adoptive parents would adopt these children, the ones who have been sitting in orphanages for years, there would be no place for greed to rear its ugly head and take over.  It is my humble opinion that the consumer-driven United States of America should NOT, under any circumstance, be creating a major demand for children.  Anywhere.  But this is what regularly happens, country by country.  This is why programs shut down and why money talks and why new programs open up.  A few bad apples, or agencies, ruin the bunch.  These agencies couldn't do this if families didn't use them, or primarily pursued children already waiting.  This is the only leverage we have, the only accountability we can offer.

It should come as no surprise that this is, um, an emotionally charged issue for me.  It hurts to think about our girlies being without a family a moment longer than necessary.  (And no, this is NOT about me and my entitlement, it's about the fact that they need resources unavailable to them in their birth country.  Because they were born with Down syndrome.  And, they truly need a family.  They have been waiting plenty long.)  It also hurts to think about the unethical issues that have led to this place.  The pain and damage that have been left in their wake.  It is heart-breaking.

I'll also admit that I think the motives involved here are less than clear.  Another reason I'm holding back on sharing my opinion on the actual law change.  I've read and heard things indicating this has less to do with ensuring ethical adoptions and more to do with power and bureaucracy.  Sigh.

I always, always hope to advocate for the placement of legitimately orphaned children in families, while at the same time advocating for the preservation and resourcing of biological families. 

We can do both. 

We must do both.


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