Archive for January, 2008

Not much time on this one, so I’m just cutting and pasting:

We have 24 hours to Turn $10 to $50K for the Sharing Foundation!
Posted by: “Beth” beth@bethkanter.org harry_sarak
Date: Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:54 am ((PST))

If you’ve already donated, thank you. We have a little more than 24
hours to go and we’re in third place. We can win this contest with
your help!

We need you to donate $10 or more and ask your friends and family to
do the same. Please distribute this message to your networks.

The Sharing Foundation is participating in the America’s Giving
Challenge sponsored by The Case Foundation, GlobalGiving and PARADE
magazine to see who can motivate the most people to give at least $10
to their favorite charity online by January 31, 2008 (3 PM EST). The
top four charities in Global Giving will each win $50,000 – and we can
be one of them with your support!

The Sharing Foundation cares for more than 1,500 Cambodian children
each and every day. $50,000 would cover the annual expenses for our
English Language School, attended by over 450 children in Roteang
Village and the Khmer Literacy School attended by more than 140 of
Roteang village’s poorest children. It would also help support a
portion of the operating costs for the Sharing Foundation’s Roteang
Orphanage, home to over 70 children; nearly half of whom have serious

With $10 and 10 minutes of your time you can help improve the lives of
over 1,500 children in one of the world’s poorest countries. Please
make your donation online now and invite your friends to do the same!

Donate online here:

Thank you for your support of the Sharing Foundation and helping us
care for the children of Cambodia.

All Best,

Dr. Nancy Hendrie, President
Beth Kanter, Executive Board Member

P.S. Important Contest Rules:

You must donate to the Sharing Foundation through the online donation
page set up here: http://www.sharingfoundation.org/america.htm or it
will not count towards the contest.

The winner is based on the number of unique donors to the charity. A
unique donor is a unique name, email, and credit card number.

You can watch our progress at the leaderboard – look for the charity
that says “Route out of Poverty for Cambodian Children”

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Maybe it’s because I’m not feeling well this week that the news seems to be all snotty and headache-inducing. Does my miserable cold rule the world, or does the miserable world make my cold feel worse? Mox nix, as the truly jaded would suggest … or those with as nasty a bug as I’ve been full-frontally assaulted by.

Anyway, let’s start in Kenya, shall we? My neck of the woods, and all …

OMG! How few fractions of a millimeter under the surface has all this tribalism hatred been bubbling away? Not many, apparently.

For any not following, all hell has broken loose in “Africa’s greatest democracy” … as if that title ever meant anything other than “Well, there’s an African nation that knows what hoops are for!” … and looks to continue to spiral hellward for some time to come.

No worries, though, for in the usual style of the ways of the world, help is now at hand. Okay, it’s in the form of Kofi Annan, one of the more useless individuals on the planet, but he is there, and apparently has already figured out that things will need at least a year of yacking at before any calming down can commence. Wonder how many dead Kenyans they can chalk up in the amount of time it will take him to admit that nothing can be done without some real consequence from outside …

Yes, this is the same Kofi Annan that managed so well to get the Darfur situation under control.

Whose idea was it to bring HIM into this?

For a look at the Darfur mess through the UN PR spin machine, here’s the “News Center”. Look around and see if one positive thing the organization has done in Sudan presents itself, then understand just what a mess Kenya is in.

Not alone, of course, as checking out this story on a kidney-selling ring in India well proves.

When a place is so poor that stealing the kidneys from people becomes a common enough, if reprehensible, way to make a living, what possible hope is there that something like adoption could be protected. After all, people only have two kidneys, but children? Hey … those come by the dozen with hardly any effort at all.

This is the sort of reality people must accept when they go all misty-eyed over supporting children in birth countries rather than allowing adoption and insisting that everything can be made better enough soon enough to make a enough of a difference to children who are children now.

India is just getting around to thinking about regulation of legal organ donations, and this one “doctor” they’re after has been known to be a kidney thief for 15 years. How long do you figure implementation will take? And where on the list does this rank against female infanticide, child selling, trafficking, etc? (Keep in mind that it’s a lot of men getting their kidneys snatched. That makes it a bigger deal in some circles than if the same happened to women.)

Of course, horror isn’t reserved for other countries. The US gets it’s share, but in more individual doses, which seems better unless you happen to be up-close-and-personal with whatever the horror seems to be.

This one, a graphic example of one family gone to the dogs is about as disgusting as it gets, and from all the way around.

WASHINGTON, Pa. — A woman in southwestern Pennsylvania locked her 10-year-old grandson in a feces-filled dog crate for about 90 minutes because he told his family he had been spiking their drinks with lamp oil and household cleaner, police said.

Rhonda Lehman, 51, also called Washington County’s Mental Health/Mental Retardation office and said if someone wouldn’t come for the boy, she would bury him alive in the back yard, police said.

Apparently the family … mom’s in jail, by the way … doesn’t see anything wrong with any of this; all par for the course, I suppose.

And if you’re wondering about the dogs that are obviously kept in the crate when the boy is out and busy poisoning his relatives … well, that issue isn’t addressed in the report, but I’m thinking it’s not pretty.

(I’m not even going near the story about the Texas father who apparently threw his baby out the window of his car.)

Sometimes, however, animal abuse gets quicker action that bad things happening to kids. This story, for example where two slaughterhouse workers have been fired for mistreating cattle on the way to their death as a hope of getting around some very important health requirements related to the meat people eat.

The abuse, shown in videotapes shot with a concealed camera by an employee who was working undercover for the Humane Society of the United States, included zealous use of electric prods to get ailing animals on their feet; chains to drag live cows down a ramp toward the killing room; and repeated jabs with the prongs of a forklift, which was also used to roll ailing animals along the ground.

What the hell is wrong with people?

I’m going to back to bed.

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Back in the days when I was still working for Adoption dot com, when a new and enthusiastic editor carved out yet another blog for me after noting my news-houndyishness and created the “News” blog, word came down from On High that I should take on the task of examining Presidential candidates and their positions on adoption.

Having worked with politicos during my news days, this seemed an easy assignment; after all, who in a big race would turn down a chance for free press on a topic so much less loaded than weapons of mass destruction and genocide, and to shine with some merciful light radiating from some innocent child?

Turns out, all of them.

After researching who was who and where, I sent emails to the people in charge of getting press for their candidates, for answering questions and sending out miles of column inches of controlled blather in hopes that someone, somewhere, will pick it up and publish at least something, but to no avail.

Yes, I did get on everyone’s mailing list and spend too much time trashing rah-rah bandwagon mail, but any direct adoption-related contact or offers to send position papers my way?

Nope. Not a one.

I was puzzled, to say the least, and since I still have a few contacts in and around the US political scene, some of whom have moved up the power ladder in the years I’ve been away and now hang with hopeful Presidents, I asked around.

In America it’s a ten foot pole, while the Brits say barge pole which must be about that long, but whatever you call it no one was touching me.

I’d been instructed to play the Adoption dot com card … huge Web site, thousands of hits per month, blah, blah, blah … which, it happens, slammed the door faster than if I’d showed up in black leather and asked to give spankings.

Seems the lawsuit the company had recently lost to a gay couple they refused to do business with put the kibosh on getting cozy for anyone with an eye toward not being associated in any way with homophobes.

A representative from one of the company’s advertisers even started a boycott movement, so apparently enough attention had been focused to staple a big “keep away” sign on anything coming that might look like a tie.

This all happened some months ago, and the field of candidates has narrowed a bit, and because of my early attempt at contact … and all the mailing lists that plastered me to … I’ve been following bits from the campaign trail I wouldn’t normally be paying much attention to.

I will vote in the general election when it finally rolls around … You bet I will! … but all the run-up hoopla usually ebbs around me like creek water around a midstream boulder. I’ve not lived in the US since the year after Bill Clinton came into office, so too many of the early posers are so new to me that I’d rather wait until it looks like I really should know about them.

I don’t vote in the Primaries, so it’s all done but the shouting by the time I get to say my bit, so burning extra energy on losers isn’t a hobby I take on.

I did see a tiny bit of CNN this morning, however … a tiny bit is all I get before Chinese State TV in English takes over to spout the wonders of the regime and the overwhelming joy of the people of China … candidate-related, as Florida was just finishing the voting there.

It was Mitt Romney on, spouting to his cheering and oh-so-well-groomed crowd, and I was very surprised to hear that his whole theme was change.

Change to healthcare. Change to education. Change to taxation. Change to war … and on and on. Rousing chants of something like “They didn’t fix it” followed each proclamation of what had badly needed change, but hadn’t been addressed.

Excuse me … but haven’t we had a Republican President for the last almost 8 years? And wasn’t, until recently, Congress also dominated by the GOP? So, wouldn’t they be they?

What am I missing? Really. I would love someone to explain to me how a Republican candidate can be running on a platform of change. (Not why … that’s clear … but how.)

Because he’s never held office in the federal government? Because he’s been a governor and businessman his GOP connection has been without pull … just a regular Joe hanging at the club and demanding better education for the poor?

Okay, you’ve probably gathered that I don’t usual vote the GOP ticket, although I am not a lock-step voter by any means, and I would be cutting him more slack if I thought more like he does, but even if that was the case, one line that got a huge and deliriously agreeable response stood out and had me suspecting that this guy hasn’t had an original thought in a very long time:

We will teach our kids that before they have babies they should get married!


Yeah. That’s new.

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We’re getting close to the end of the month, so I’ll pass along some bits of adoption-related information I’ve been collecting lately, starting with Ann Fessler and Melissa Weiler Gerber on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

With no access to safe, legal abortions, an estimated 250,000 to one million women each year resorted to unsafe abortions that were responsible for an estimated 40 percent of all maternal deaths during this period. Women who did not want or were unable to obtain an abortion were under tremendous societal pressure to conceal and deny their pregnancies. They frequently were shunned by their families, friends and schools. More than 1.5 million such women during this period were secreted away to maternity homes and host houses where they were hidden until they gave birth and surrendered their children for adoption, often against their will.

(If you’ve not yet read “The Girls Who Went Away”, I strongly recommend it as a vital lesson in history, if nothing else. I wrote about my personal experience as a pregnant teen in the days before abortion became a legal option, and the series can be found at the following links: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, response from Ms. Fessler, some follow-up.

These were all written while I was at Adoption dot com, but even though I hate to send that terrible bunch of abusive jerks any hits, I am still very proud of a lot of my work there.)

A new Yahoo group has been started for Adoptive parents of children with Cerebral Palsy. You can find them here.

And a new blog has been started in Seattle by a women who has been writing about her life as a cancer survivor and is now preparing to adopt. Her first post on the adoption blog is here, and her cancer survival blog is here.

Here’s a story about another messy situation involving a surrogate mother, if you have the heart to read about complicated issues where everyone can lose.

On an up note, however, there is this article from the Jakarta Post about Xinran of “Motherbridge of Love” fame, author of “Sky Burial”, “The Good Women of China”, talking much about food.

We then ventured into that tender terrain of identity, of how a person living in another culture survives; for a sense of belonging is surely fundamental to the human condition and something we often overlook.you consider yourself a typical Chinese mum?” I asked, thinking that there is nothing typical or ordinary about this vibrant woman. “I think I am lost,” she replied. “In China they think I am western and in England they see me as foreign. I sometimes feel like I am a wild animal being brought up in a human zoo, like I am living in a double culture. It is a bit of a struggle. Honestly, I don’t understand the language so well. And even China is changing so rapidly. Between brothers and sisters, in just three years, there can be so much difference. “

And also from China, this very interesting article on how some Chinese are managing to revolt quietly and without attracting too much attention from their repressive government.

The sudden “strolls” by thousands of office workers, company managers, young families and the elderly in this sleek financial hub are the latest chapter in a quiet middle-class battle against government officials. The protesters are going about their mission carefully, and many speak anonymously for fear of retribution in a country that stifles dissent.

Speaking of repressive, here’s a story out of Pakistan that should have everyone jumping up and down and making so much noise … but, gee, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

The Lahore High Court on Friday handed over a girl to her parents after recovering her from the city’s Darul Aman. The court handed over the girl after her parents assured the judge that they would get her married off to the Darul Aman’s superintendent, as the girl had wanted.

A “Darul Aman” is like a women’s shelter … sort of … so running away and ending up there is a common enough situation in many cultures. This being Pakistan, however, getting hitched to the guy running the place rather than going home with dear old Dad sounds like a good plan.

Sheesh. Rock, meet hard place … devil, there’s the deep blue sea.

Perhaps this is a good time to point toward the top of this post and ask people to think about the rights of women and how damned hard they are to come by.

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I mentioned in a news roundup post a few days back a story about a Canadian woman who had slapped her elderly adoptive mother with a lawsuit claiming her adoption had been conducted under fraudulent circumstance and that she had suffered “emotionally and financially” because of it.

It is back in the news in an expanded version that suggests hideously nefarious circumstances in that case and others.

A report on violence against women from the United Nations Economic and Social Council, refers to the case of an unmarried woman who gave birth at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital in 1970. The 2003 report says Tina Kelly was reportedly told by her doctor that the baby boy had died and that she was not allowed to see its body.

Kelly later realized she had never received a copy of the death certificate, the report says. The hospital’s records indicated her baby went home with her.
She later reunited with her son.

Kelly allegedly discovered her child had been put up for adoption and that her doctor had accepted a bribe.

A Quebec search and reunion worker says that she believes “false claims of stillbirths were common in her province” during the “baby scoop era”, and there are apparently many who agree with her assessment, as other examples are given in the article.

Thanks to patient addressing of adoptee issues by readers, some of what had been slipping under my personal radar no longer does, so the last paragraph in this report brought me up short and has my conspiracy detector beeping.

Marge, an Edmonton adoptee who has long searched for her birth parents, said she fears the lawsuit will discourage the government from increasing access to adoption records.

Is it possible that there’s an element of spin happening here? Could it be that some of the attention this topic is getting now, or possibly even the lawsuit, has been inspired or manipulated to impact the fight for open records?

I certainly don’t mean to suggest that bad things didn’t happen, but in this world where much contention pits one against the other, often in confusing ways, it seems worth a wonder.

And, by the way, has the UN stated a position on adoptee rights and open records?

Anyone … ?

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In what appears to be a gee-whiz-why-didn’t-someone-think-of-this-ages-ago, forehead-slapping moment, a writer for a previously undiscovered (by me) online publication out of Canada has presented what she sees as THE solution to “a large portion of the abortion problem”.

Ready for it?


And it works like this:

There are women who find themselves pregnant when they don’t want to be. There are other women who are trying desperately to get pregnant but can’t. What we need to do is match the two groups up and transplant the unwanted fetuses of the former into the wombs of the latter in a form of pre-birth adoption. That way, pregnant women can cease to be pregnant without killing fetuses, and would-be mothers can adopt infants without having to comb the world for them.

Apparently, this works with cows … although comments to the contrary are rife following the article … so how big a jump could it take?

Simple, heh? Easy peasy.

But, hold on a minute …

Aren’t we forgetting something? Oh, yeah … children aren’t calves that grow up to be cud-chewing, slow-witted burgers-on-the-hoof, so even if this process is medically feasible there just might be a few niggling issues of ethics and identity involved.

Funny how the end product … the children, fercryinoutloud … can be completely left out of the equation, isn’t it? Okay. Not funny, especially when it happens as often as it does.

Speaking of the kids, there is hopeful news coming out of New Jersey as a panel in the State Senate unanimously approved a bill that will allow adult adoptees access to their OBCs.

Rapper and adoptee rights advocate Darryl McDaniels (DMC) gave testimony in favor of unsealing birth records, saying: This is really about identity and truth of a human being’s existence.

Once again, I’m confused by those who take the opposite stance:

Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life, said she and a coalition of other opponents would continue to fight the legislation. “This is not a compassionate choice at all.”


Where do self-proclaimed “Right to Life” people meet this issue so abruptly that they feel the need to fight legislation in favor of open records?

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It’s no surprise that the adoption world is easily offended when babies are used as props, since a good part of the debate that fumes mightily has everything to do with children posed as possessions to be wrangled over. But it could be argued that kids are not only “property” in the yours, mine and ours sense, but also in the theatrical sense, being that they can be quite handy for setting a scene or revealing character, and they look great posed between the dog and the tree on Christmas cards.

Who doesn’t attempt to position a child adorably for posterity, frame the results to gaze gleefully in perpetuity from the family room wall and send copies off to Granny, and maybe even to parenting magazines with the certainty that a wide audience is prepped to awwwwww? Being that there’s no shortage of kids being dragged from audition to audition in hopes of being the next Daniel Radcliffe, putting kids through their paces for the sake of “art” wouldn’t seem to be considered objectification of obscene dimensions. Would it?

Art being art, objectification and obscenity would both fall within the realm of beholders’ eyes, as what’s art to one is shit to another, and vice versa.

Take for example the paintings of Turner Award-winning artist Chris Ofili whose medium of choice is elephant dung.

How about the centerpiece of an exhibition in London correctly and descriptively titled: 21 Anthropometric Slabs Made Of Human Faeces By The People Of Sulabh International, India, or a shit retrospective in New York that featured “a dense concentration of scatological art dating from 1961 to the present,” some made from the real thing?

Now that we’ve established that art can be tasteless and still considered worthy of the title, and of people paying loads of money to bask in its glory, we can perhaps approach Vanessa Beecroft and the fuss being made over her, her breasts and Sudanese twins.

Ms. Beecroft is a star. An art star. She is not known for being nice or sensitive or caring or generous or … pick a pleasant adjective, any pleasant adjective you would attach to someone you’d like to spend time with. Vanessa Beecroft is not that person.

She is, in every sense of the word, a piece of art (see above). She is her own work, as her eating disorders attest, and with that always in mind, well into promoting Vanessa for Vanessa’s sake, even to the point of having a film made about having pictures taken of having the experience of having a conscience.

This debacle involves photographs of herself breast feeding twin Sudanese infants, a prompt that has immediately been sucked with relish into the black hole of celebrity adoption media spin:

At times Beecroft’s behavior is appalling, her motives and methods highly questionable, but it is difficult to turn away, and the more you watch, the more you wonder: What is best for these African children — to be adopted by a wealthy vain celebrity, an Angelina, a Madonna, a Vanessa (who admits she is a little crazy), or for the babies to live with their relatives in a hut, and take their chances with poverty and disease?

Yeah … like that’s what this is all about.

This is a woman who left her breastfeeding child at home in L.A. while she took off on a self-serving art quest to Africa, and if anyone is thinking the breastmilk-and-black-babies thing was a spur of the moment happening they are seriously missing something.

With a film budget and all to worry about, it makes sense that Vanessa would pull out all the stops on hype, and how better to get coverage outside the wacky art world than to slap the “celeb adoption” card on the table that issues press passes?

And, of course, it worked. Why wouldn’t it? There is no point, but why should there be? it’s art, and for art’s sake.

As Beecroft says:

“I really enjoyed this criticism. It is what I work for. I want people to exercise their thoughts, and I provoke with this image. Because the image was intentional also, not only a souvenir. But it had an intent to provoke. So I was happy with this reaction. That is part of my work. To create a little bit of irritation for the audience.”

The photographs are for sale for $50,000 each.

Here’s the link to her site where you can see the poster for the film … boobs, babies and all … an perhaps make an offer on a print … ?

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Reading the news this morning has been a bit like trying to study individual players’ techniques and philosophies of tennis while watching four courts of Wimbledon play all at the same time; there’s lots going on, it’s all related to issues that touch adoption, but the range is huge and the approaches are all over the place.

I’m taking the “sublime to the ridiculous” trail, beginning on a high note and ending with a dull thud …

And starting off with this story on an adoptive dad with a great idea for helping orphans in Vietnam toward self-sufficiency.

It’s ethanol that forms the basics of a plan to build a community for Vietnamese orphans that would be ” both economically and environmentally stable.”

“You look at any orphanage throughout the world and they’re holding their hand out, saying we need more help, we need to have money for clothes, we need to have money for food,” Miller said. “Or, if they say they’re self-sustaining, they had just enough food for last year, but next year is coming.

“Rather than provide additional funds to institutions that really aren’t as effective as they need to be, we’re trying to come up with a new model,” he said.

He’s looking at sugar cane as the material used, with growing it and refining it as the sources of income, and has business plans in the works for 15 other countries once the Vietnam project takes off.

Anyone interested in more info, or in pitching in on this effort, can visit the Orphan Communities site here.

For a less hopeful look at the lives of orphans, this report on orphanages in Kashmir and the “special homes” that sometimes replace institutional care is informative.

“Orphanage culture is the last resort for those who have none to look after.” But, Dr Rauf observes that such institutions (special homes) are encouraged by certain elements “with an aim to amass wealth.” According to him, earlier special children were taken care by the society itself. “As their number increased, institutions were encouraged. Putting a group of children in a house is an easy way to collect alms from the people. Whereas organizations who work for the welfare of such children in their home-setting do not find it easy to collect donations from the people,” Dr Rauf said. He added that society is not much supportive to the organizations who work for mentally and physical challenged people and lepers as it is for those working for special children.

Because of the war zone nature of Kashmir, orphans whose parents were considered militants are very often left out of the care loop altogether. It’s a rough world up there, cold and prone to shaking, where thousands of kids struggle to make it from day to day with no help at all.

Unfortunately, sugar cane won’t grow in that climate.

Having recently written a fiction piece on the tragedy of the Warsaw Ghetto … yes, the story I won First Place for (blush) … this story in the New York Times caught my eye.

It’s a story about survivors, Jewish orphans who were at one time under the care of Janusz Korczak and are now in their 80s, living and remembering and honoring in their homes in Israel.

Right up until the time that Korczak accompanied the children in his care into the gas chamber at the Treblinka death camp in 1942, he was the model for good sense and caring.

Korczak said it was the job of adults to help translate the world to children, suggesting that a child be approached at times like “a foreigner who does not speak our language and who is ignorant of our laws and customs.”

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was drawn from his theories.

From that example of how differences can and do take beauty and love and turn it to murder and hate, we finish today on abortion … well, Erica Jong’s Huffington Post blog on abortion history.

Again, in the eighteenth-century, my favorite period in English Literature, (at the dawn of the modern era–but before Louis Pasteur), accoucheurs (the precursors of obstetricians) killed many women with the microbes they unknowingly carried from the sickbeds of other patients. There was a great political struggle between midwives, who only dealt with women, and doctors who treated everyone, because the doctors wanted their monopoly.

Many women died of infection–like Charlotte Bronte–or nearly died like Mary Shelley. Women’s health had always been a political football in the supposedly “civilized” Christian era. Many midwives (always specialists in women’s health) were burned as witches throughout modern history.

Although Ms. Jong’s words make an interesting read, it’s the comment section that has me passing along the link. I find so much of the “discussion” horrifying and can almost not believe that some of the attitudes expressed survive in this world.

Like the bigotry of this:

If women were equal to men they wouldn’t have been subservient through out history. Yes, you can sight the exceptions, but it is a rule simply because it is true. Why lie to yourselves about this? Is simply nature.

Or the simple idiocy of this that apparently buys the bogus Beethoven crap that has been put about by those out to manipulate simple idiots, most who wouldn’t know Beethoven from Barry … Manilow or Gibb:

The body of a woman it’s a sacred place,why she would stain it with innocent blood of a fetus which has also his own body that temporarily can’t live outside his mother body and with a soul from even the moment of his conception ? Every woman should decide whatever she likes regarding her own body,but not about her fetus life which has a body distinct from hers,only when his not viable or is threatening her life she could abort her pregnancy,even there are lots of mother which are deciding to carry their unborn children till their natural delivering term;think at Beethoven,her mother decided to deliver him against all odds and what artist would be missing for the entire world otherwise.Every woman should be,for the fetus of theirs,a loving mother not a heartless terminator.

And that, people, was the dull thud I mentioned earlier.

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I’ve been writing about international adoption for a few years now and have to admit that I have never quite managed to get a handle on prevailing attitudes toward adoption from China. Some might suggest that this is a result of obstinacy on my part arising from the fact that I adopted from Cambodia and therefore lug around some crate of sour grapes that flavor my perceptions of programs in countries that are touted to be “clean”, and a bit of that is, perhaps, applicable.

(There is no doubt that I feel Cambodia was singled out for reasons that have nothing to do with suffering by comparison to any imagined purity or transparency in other corrupt nations, and without my understanding that some do seek the domino effect in putting an end to international adoptions forever and everywhere I would be very confused about the specific treatment one crooked little Southeast Asian country continues to receive. That being said, however, I would insist that the real world predominance of corruption should not be a reason to sentence children to short and miserable lives in the countries they happened to have been born in, but rather continue to offer the option of adoption to some while working to eliminate corrupt government practices on a much wider level through effective use of global organizations that should be addressing these issues directly. The UN, for instance, could be using its multi-billion dollar budget and the clout it buys to exert real pressure, rather than continue to pussyfoot around dictators, conflicts, blatant human rights violations, dirty politics and ruling-for-personal gain, and rather than simply pulling the rug out from under children in the name of easy expediency and cheap press.)

It does seem, however, that adoptions from China tend to be bathed in some rarefied light structured to convey a sense that, because the country has imposed hoops it chooses to jump through, all is kosher in the adoption process there. Adoptive parents with Chinese-born kids have been accused of carrying a tinge of “my adoption was cleaner than yours was”, and of sticking up for China’s system even when faced with strong evidence that the country is every bit as crooked, or more so, than others.

There is, at the moment, a fight going on in the UK between Channel 4 broadcasting and the Chinese embassy in London over a documentary that is scheduled to air in early October. The program (or “programme”, as it is to Brits who are quite fond of extra letters for the sake of tradition) is about child trafficking within China and is reported to quote a UN consultant saying that “at least 70,000 young children a year are sold or stolen in China.”

The trafficking is, apparently, not international adoption-related, but about internal problems caused by the one-child policy.

The programme makers filmed undercover in China, speaking to parents who had had a child stolen or had sold a child, and to traffickers. More boys are taken than girls because they will grow up to earn more money. Most are taken for childless couples, although some are sold into prostitution.

The Times carried what appears to be a fair piece on the situation, saying that the “Chinese are angry that they are not being given an advance screening of the documentary, which claims that the trade in stolen children is widespread.”

I had come across the story, so was surprised to see it referred to in a very different color on one of the adoption groups I read, posted by a parent that had adopted from China, that suggested the story was “fed” to the press by Amnesty International, hinting at some sort of plot to sling the mud of child trafficking in the direction of the Chinese government.

The theme was picked up by a few other readers who apparently got the story only from the provided link that led to the “tabloid Sunday Mirror”, indicating also that there was some concealing of sources going on, as if a suggestion that 70,000 children “kidnapped there every year and traded on the black market” was an outrageous claim, and only made to discredit China in its run up to the Olympics.

(Others pointed out that this sort information was valid and should not be dismissed out of hand and voiced concern over such issues in China.)

If we could for a moment include adoption in the bigger picture instead of giving into the temptation to remove it from the shelf that contains all the issues that stem from the system of government in China and stand it alone in the middle of the room as if it exists in a vacuum, it seems a very good time now to shine a bright light into many corners in that vast and complex nation.

The run-up to the Olympics has created an opportunity for many organizations to focus on China in the hope that some changes might be inspired by the extra attention, but unfortunately it seems that so far nothing much has been sticky enough to overcome the propaganda machines’ Teflon from both China and the IOC.

A year ago, Reporters Without Borders officially opposed holding the Olympic Games in Beijing, saying, in part:

The world sports movement must now speak out and call for the Chinese people to be allowed to enjoy the freedoms it has been demanding for years. The Olympic Charter says sport must be “at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Athletes and sports lovers have the right and the duty to defend this charter. The IOC should show some courage and should do everything possible to ensure that Olympism’s values are not freely flouted by the Chinese organisers.

Just this week there has been press coverage of an Olympic torch-style relay through all the countries that have seen genocide in an attempt to draw attention to China’s support of Sudan.

Unsurprisingly, the Cambodian government wasn’t one bit happy about Mia Farrow showing up at Toul Sleng (now the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, but formerly a torture center that saw thousands suffer and die) to gain international attention for this effort to “push Beijing to pressure Sudan into ending the violence in Darfur”. Cambodia gets a lot of money from China and has no intention of jeopardizing future funding for the sake of a waste of time like human rights violations.

(I had to chuckle at the interior ministry spokesman’s take quoted in AFP: “The Olympic Games are not a political issue. Therefore, we won’t allow any rally to light a torch.)

That China is now a powerhouse is not a question, but what sort of power it wields most certainly is. And whether or not anyone cares is another.

Not rocking the adoption boat, on one hand, or jumping up and down hoping it sinks under the weight that comes with tossing every bit of dirt in the country into it no matter how unrelated in reality on the other, are both unhelpful, as is going all rah-rah because the Olympics are coming to town.

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“You don’t know you’ve crossed the line until you get accused of crossing the line.”

That right there is a line crossed, as far as I’m concerned.

It came from the mouth of a guy named Jeffrey T. Schwartz in defense of one Cesar Rodriquez.

Whether Cesar Rodriguez, who is accused of beatings and abusive behavior that killed his 7-year-old stepdaughter, could not have known he had crossed a line is a matter for a jury to decide. He has admitted that he routinely beat Nixzmary with a belt, hit her with his hands using “all my force,” threw her on the floor. He has admitted duct-taping her emaciated 37-pound frame to a chair and binding her with bungee cords.

What he hasn’t admitted to isn’t reported.

The story in the NY Times points out that laws in that state, and all the rest of them for that matter, are “vague on corporal punishment.”


On what planet, other than LegalBullshitWorld, is there dense cloudiness between grabbing a toddler and swatting her on the bum when she tries to run out in traffic and holding a kid’s head under water, beating her savagely, and forcing her to use a cat’s litter box for a toilet?

After all, that’s how Mr. Rodriguez was raised … at least according to Mr. Rodriquez and Jeffrey T. Schwartz … and look at what a fine specimen he turned out to be, so there’s a defense made in some version of legal heaven (which would by definition of ‘self-cancelling phrase’ have to indicate some pact with some devils).

Crossing a line? There is no case of crossing a line here. This is rappelling down a precipice (or repelling, actually), slogging across a vast Sahara of crushingly bone-dry nothingness, then pulling up ten miles of cliff face with nothing but fingernails. One can not possible be confused with the other, and the fact that, indeed, the two are confused, blurred, smudged, smeared, massaged, manipulated, into fitting under one banner is disgusting.

Another child is dead, and before she was dead she was tortured … for years … and those doing the torturing, her mother and her mother’s husband, got away with it right up until the time they snuffed the last of life from this little girl.

This is no special case, no rare occurrence, but just an example with a name of daily events.

And no wonder, when society deems torture “crossing a line” when it is perpetrated on a child.

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