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Archive for the ‘Adoption Advocacy’ Category

Twain quoteWell, hello! I know it’s been a while … about a year and a half since my last post on this blog … and although I’ve been grateful to the nagging readers as they did their best to prompt a bit of writing here, I’ve had neither the time nor the inclination to blah, blah, blog.

An experience last night, however, set fingers to keyboard as I was forced to recall just how important it sometimes is to watch idiots twitch and sputter no matter how futile the activity so often is.

The inspiration for this post is Lori Carangelo, a screech from the distant past I’d had the pleasure of forgetting … until last night when she apparently learned how a search engine works and found a blog post from 2007 and decided to try to chew my face off with her wrath … and show off her writing skills at the same time.

Of course, she has a book she’s trying to flog, so most of the comments included a sales link in amongst the ridiculous blather. Fine by me, as anyone silly enough to actually pay real money for poor punctuation, bad spelling and nonsense either deserves what they get or will see she’s done the work of showing what a moron she is all by her lonesome.

Feel free to read her comments I allowed to post, and my responses, and if you can figure out what actual points she’s trying to make … well … you must have some sort of super power that sees through stupid.

Although I’m guessing she has a blog, the way they work and the concept of moderating comments seems to have escaped her. One long ramble not posted takes issue with me referring to her as “Honey” in a reply, so the idea that this is my blog she’s plopped herself into, a fact that conveys upon me the right to call anyone “Honey” if I so desire, must be beyond her. She also took to accusing my children of being terrorists, mentioning assault weapons and drones FFS!, which is more shit than I’ll allow anyone to throw at a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old.

On the moderation thing …

I rarely filter comments, choosing almost all of the time to approve what comes and let the chips fall where they may. As I slept last night, a flurry of them came in from her, each wackier than the last. Now, I’m no fan of hers, but I’m also not a cruel person, so opted not to publish the comments she sent overnight. Should anyone think this was an attempt to edit her, it was for her own good.

One small example in a screen shot so no one thinks I’m making this up …

Carcarangelo comment

No way I’m posting any more of that stuff than necessary to make the point …

On the adoption front, over the years I have made it very clear that I am a strong advocate of ethical adoption, that I favor children having families over some horrible alternatives, that I support all efforts to open records, believe that everything possible should be done to rid the world of poverty, cruelty, war, greed and selfishness, all of which impact children, and I don’t suffer fools.

Now …

I’ll suggest Lori Carangelo stop spiking the Ensure, become friendly with her meds and stop haranguing those who don’t agree that adoption creates mass murderers.

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I haven’t written about adoption in a rather long time … Heck! I haven’t written about much of anything … but an article in today’s BBC sets wheels to spinning and fingers to keyboard.

Hundreds of parents in Nepal are struggling to come to terms with the fact that their children have been adopted by Western couples without their consent.

The article goes on to say that there are “about 20, mostly female, agents operating in Kathmandu, obtaining children for orphanages …”, and I don’t doubt the accuracy of that estimation.

Reactions from the gut happen … my gut, too. The photo looks fake, the girl in it a faded insert, and the copy states the woman had just one female child yet the caption reads: Sarita Bhujel says that she is devastated that her baby daughter appears to have ended up in Italy.

Horrible. Rotten. Dirty tricks played on illiterate parents in poor countries and hopeful adoptive parents in more affluent lands that must be addressed.

Yep.

At the root of the problem … ?

Adoptive parents pay thousands of dollars in fees and “donations” to orphanages and government officials who process their cases, creating what many observers describe as an incentive for widespread abuse.

Many observers say that, heh? I’m sure they do, and to a certain extent they’d be right to do so.

But …

The root of the problem has nothing to do with potential adoptive parents; it goes so much deeper than that, deeper than the roots of the Himalayas themselves.

The issue is poverty, poverty compounded by corruption, a global circumstance of real life for many of the world’s people.

What happens to children in poor countries? Well, let’s take a look at Nepal, shall we, since this is where this story is set?

– Statistics shows that of about 7 million children between 5-14 years old working in Nepal

– The number of bonded children is estimated as 33,000

– It is estimated that at least 1 million children in Nepal are working as child labourers in difficult circumstances, often as slaves in carpet factories, brick kilns, domestic service, agriculture, plantation, construction, transportation, stone quarry, mines and as migrant workers.

– Available data suggests that approximately 7,000 girls between 10 -18 are lured or abducted into prostitution each year. In many cases, parents or relatives sell young girls into sexual slavery.

– As an illustration, it is believed that 200,000 of the prostitutes in India are Nepalese. 20% are thought to be under 16.

– Half of 100,000 girl prostitutes between 10-14 in Bombay are from Nepal and are kept in brothels against their will.

– Poor, uneducated young women from Nepal’s rural regions are trafficked to India to work as prostitutes and for bonded labour. Nepalese citizens also are trafficked to Hong Kong, Thailand, and countries in the Middle East. Government officials suspect that organised crime groups and “marriage brokers” are the primary traffickers in Nepal and state that parents and other relatives of trafficking victims are sometimes complicit.

– A survey done in Kathmandu on 52 commercial sex workers by the Department of Research and Planning suggests that out of the total commercial sex workers surveyed, 13% were between 13-17 years.

– The NGO CWIN alleges that 2000 brothels exist in Nepal and a high percentage of the prostitutes working were children.

– Notorious in their own right for appalling working conditions, Nepalese carpet factories, where 50% of the workers are estimated to be children, are common sites of sexual exploitation by employers, as well as recruitment centres for Indian brothels.

It has longed seemed that outrage aimed at adoption is a red herring. Sure, shit happens and it should stop and those who profit in any way through corrupt practices should be strung up …

BUT …

wouldn’t it be more helpful to take on the bigger issues of real life?

No. I’m not suggesting adoption should not be subject to examination, controls, effective protocol or that it’s the be-all-end-all-warm-fuzzy-fix, just that it’s too damned easy to slap “Adoption (insert negative emotive word here)” into a headline and prompt a diverting knee jerk that shifts focus from the shit that is our world, no matter how far from our neighborhood where everyone’s heard stories about bad adoptive parents who sent their kid back to Russia.

Countries that conduct business under a layer of sleaze are crooked on all levels and those making money selling kids aren’t picky about who they sell them to … not even biological parents more often than most would like to think … so how about a global push to chop the balls off any man who has sex with a child? That seems a much better use of time and funds and energy, seeing as how the bottom would fall out of the kiddy sex industry pretty fuckin’ fast if there was a real chance they’d be separated from their testicles … not to mention all the extra duck food around.

Of course, some will argue that such drastic action would rob girls of a way to make a living, and in far too many circumstances that’s exactly what child prostitution is, so there would have to be provisions made, but perhaps a population lighter in the scrotum might find ways of being more creatively concerned with methods of living better suited to the welfare of all.

As this in The Independent suggests, the turn against adoption has not been the answer to the needs of children.

Only 60 babies were adopted in England last year – startling evidence of how Britain’s system for adopting children is grinding to a halt despite record numbers being taken into care.

Thousands of children are being held in limbo in care homes, secure units and temporary fostering because so few adoptions are being signed off by social workers. Their guidance has been to try to keep families together, which has also led to some children being left with negligent or abusive birth parents for too long.

Sadly, I can almost hear the standing ovation inspired in some by the news of adoption “grinding to a halt” and hope they read far enough to get to:

Three-quarters of the children in care, or about 48,000, were placed with a foster family. Twelve per cent, almost 8,000, were cared for in residential accommodation. A third of young adults who left care were not in education, employment or training last year.

The world is not a fair place. Bad things happen to good people, and many of those people are children.

Adoption is not a perfect solution, nor is it an evil foisted on the world. It is nowhere near the scale or condition of the sale of children into prostitution, yet one could be led to equate the two and with adoption far less a challenge to halt making that focus an easy rant.

And a BBC headline that shouts, “NEPAL COMES TO TERMS WITH FOREIGN ADOPTIONS TRAGEDY” misses the point that Nepal … for one … needs to come to terms with corruption and the sale of its children to pimps, that children in Britain languish for years in foster care and institutions and that a lot of men will pay money to have sex with kids.

By the way, writing about this again after all this time has brought to mind why I don’t often have adoption as a topic any more …

It just fucks with my head.

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People outside the adoption community are often surprised to learn that there is no little contention on the issue, that there is a contingent of adult adoptees who are dead set against building families through adoption, that some consider international adoption as “cultural genocide” robbing children of their birth heritage. Those purporting such have their points, and I’m not here … today … to argue claims of wrongness about adoption; I’ve done that beforemany times.

Nope. Today is not about what can go wrong in adoption … and, as it is in any case where mere humans are involved, shit does happen … but rather on what is so very, very right.

As long-time readers know, my dear friend Gay has been been heading off to Cambodia to build houses every since we brought Sam home. She does this through the organization Tabitha, a non-profit that does so much for so many … I encourage all to learn more and participate … or, at least, shop their store.

Tabitha was started by a Canadian, Janne Ritkes, personal heroine to anyone familiar with her work and her spirit, in 1994, and she’s been on the ground in Cambodia running the show ever since.

In 1995, Jan and her friend June Cunningham found themselves in charge of an orphanage, Cambodia House, after the person who had establish it abandoned the project and the thirty-two one-to-six year-olds living there.

As Tabitha was just beginning and Cambodia was still very unstable, we decided that running an orphanage was not what was best for the children, so we started a process of adoption. Over the next two years we placed all the children in adoptive families around the world.

While some would see this as a theft of their Cambodian identity, all these years later, the children, apparently don’t.

In the ensuing years, many of the children and their families have returned to Cambodia for reunions and house building. It was good to watch these young people grow and mature. This summer marked another passage for these young people – they are either finishing high school or their first year at university. They came for a reunion – they came to house build.

In the past, a number of these young people would talk about their desire to return to their birth country and work with the people here. They knew firsthand about the poverty and the suffering of so many. As they would say to us as parents, this could have been us.

This summer was no different except that they are now young adults with a vision in mind. Several are training to be teachers, architects, contractors, etc.. Their adoptive siblings are also young adults who have caught the vision.

What was clear was that house building was no longer enough. They wanted to continue impacting their birth country even while they were studying and developing skills. Over the past 6 months, these young people had done fund raising themselves and they had raised enough money for twenty houses. For them and their families it was fun and it was concrete.

We talked about what they could do. We talked about Theoun, one of our children, who had died in a tragic fire a year ago. We talked of his legacy, a school for impoverished children in Kompong Thom – a school that will be finished in August. They talked of their desire to also build a school. And so that is what they will do.

A mom herself to a Cambodian-born daughter, the impact on Janne is very personal.

My daughter Miriam is part of this process. She came home so very emotional about the impact of this past week.

“Mum, these are my brothers and sisters”, she said. “That’s what we call each other – we are all Cambodian, we are all adopted. We all want to help our fellow Cambodians. And their families mum, these are also my family. We know each other, we understand each other, and we take care of each other.”

I wondered at her maturity.

“I want to be a doctor mum, or at least a nurse – then I, too, can come back and help.”

Sam and Cj are still small, but already they have developed a love for and pride in the country of their birth. Over the years, we will visit Cambodia, and Gay has plans now to take them on house-building trips when they’re old enough. I fully expect they, too, will make significant contributions.

I understand well Janne’s point when she says:

As a parent, I often wonder if I am doing the right thing. As Cambodia House Chair, I often wonder if I did the right thing. As founder and director of Tabitha, I often wonder if we keep doing the right things– this week, I know it is right.

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In a bold and sensible move, Argentina has thrown off at least one of the bindings that have yoked Latin America for centuries.

Ever since the conquistadors showed up and began pillaging in the name of the Church, countries geographically south of the US have been ideologically under the thumb of Rome, a very profitable set of circumstances for the collectors of hearts, minds, priceless art and vast tracts of tax-free land, but not so great for millions of struggling Latins for whom it’s been commanded that the path to salvation can best be trod barefoot and pregnant.

So, it is with some hope that the grip is slipping I learn that this week Argentina has legalized same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.

Argentinean lawmakers have legalized same-sex marriage and adoption after 14 hours of debate. The measure passing makes Argentina the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage thereby also legalizing same-sex adoption too.

Lawmakers in the Senate began their debate on Wednesday but heated talks lasted well into early Thursday morning. The Senate voted 33 to 27 to approve the bill despite staunch opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups.

The bill had the backing of the center-left government of President Cristina Fernandez, who said previously if it passed she would not veto it.

“I believe this has advanced equal rights,” Sen. Eugenio Artaza told reporters after the debate.

Seems that it’s been okay for gays to adopt for a while in Argentina, but those opposed to same-sex marriage were hoping to derail that as well, so passing this bill has been vital to protecting the option of adoption in family building.

If I’d been following this, I would have thrown more of my support behind the country’s football team in the World Cup. Seems a popular soap opera has featured a story line about gay footballers that looks worth a gander.

Soap star Cristian Sancho

Even the NBA gets a mention as an Argentine player for the Spurs has stepped up with a three-pointer in support of the new legislation.

Of course, not everyone is happy about extending human rights. The conservative site citizenlink.com, a “focus on family” finger, has this to say:

“The legalization of same-sex marriage in Argentina sets a very negative precedent for Latin American nations,” said Yuri Mantilla, director of international government affairs for CitizenLink. “The decision deconstructs one of the most important historical foundations of any nation, which is marriage as the union between a man and a woman.”

Mantilla has little hope that the new law will help resolve the economic and moral problems of Argentina.

“Considering that the family is the foundation of society – and the foundation for social and economic development,” he said, “the deconstruction of marriage, as the union between a man and a woman, will increase the moral and economic challenges that face Argentina.”

Considering the fact that Argentina is a Catholic country, I’d suggest there be more focus on the moral challenges faced by that institution … and that it’s the economic worries that are tugging on the rosary; there’s a lot of dosh to be lost when Argentines stop auto-plopping into the plate.

One Senator opposed to the bill took an interesting angle:

Sen. Juan Perez Alsina said, “Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species.”

Yeah. Right. Like that’s still a viable imperative. Yes, it’s existed for centuries, but so did smallpox and we manage without that. I also hate to break it to Sen. Alsina, but reproduction does actually occur even without the holy bonds of matrimony.

So, tip of the hat to Argentina’s law makers. Now, get the church to pay taxes and we’ll call it equal.

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Two things came across my desk this morning almost simultaneously. One is about international adoption. The other is not.

First, the not.

Ten pinheaded Idaho bible thumpers attempting to illegally, unethically and immorally grab Haitian kids and bus them out of the country is NOT about international adoption, no matter how many times the term is slotted into the story.

It is about arrogance and ignorance, and I hope all of them, except perhaps the child who looks to be about 12 in the photo, see what life is like inside a Haitian jail.

What is about adoption came from my dear friend and hero, Adam Pertman.

A Webinar featuring Dr. Bruce Perry

Monday, February 1st, 2010 from 7:00 to 8:00 PM Central Time
(a recorded version will be available subsequently)

This free webinar features Bruce D. Perry M.D., Ph.D., the Senior Fellow at The ChildTrauma Academy. He will discuss the likely impact of the many traumas children coming home from the orphanages in Haiti have experienced.

The webinar will help prepare families who are now awaiting or have already received placement under the United States’ expedited program.

Dr. Perry will cover the impact of the multiple traumas on this group of kids, explain what parents can expect, and give advice on how they can ease the transition for their child. The webinar will have practical advice for adoptive parents, adoption professionals, and interim caregivers.

Please forward this invitation to any family awaiting a placement from Haiti as well as staff and/or interim caregivers for these children. In order to give priority to families who will benefit the most from this live webinar, we ask that you refrain from inviting those who are just starting to explore the option of adopting from Haiti.

Dr. Perry will address specific trauma-related questions from the audience as time allows. We ask that you submit questions in advance through the registration form.

PLEASE NOTE: this session is intended for those families who were in process of adopting from Haiti prior to the earthquake and are therefore receiving an expedited placement of their child. The Haitian adoption process itself as well as advice for those looking to start the process of adopting from Haiti will not be covered.

This webinar is brought to you by Adoption Learning Partners, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services and Heart of the Matter Seminars.

If you wish to register for this webinar, click here.

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We knew it was coming, and here it is, just as predicted a few days ago when I wrote:

There is no shortage of arrogant pinheads ready to scream “cultural genocide” and insist that any kid removed from Haitian hellfire is being robbed of his birth right, will suffer lifelong from the loss of said culture, and just may have some blood relatives still alive somewhere who are not too busy bleeding and killing and looting to take in an extra child or ten. In other words, demanding a hands-off-Haitian-children and leave-them-to-rot policy to rule.

At the top of the leave-’em-to-rot hit parade, as always, UNICEF, with their advisor in comfortable, safe Geneva coming out with this …

“We know the problem with trade of children in Haiti and many of these trade networks have links with the international adoption market.”

Of course UNICEF knows the problems with children in Haiti, but what they’ve done to alleviate those over the years is, shall we say, unimpressive. They do good counts of dead kids and can usually tell us how many are undernourished, but how helpful is that to the actual children? Not so much.

And that bit about “links with the international adoption market” is nothing but a dirty swipe with a tarred brush meant to divert attention and cast adoption in the negative light UNICEF is so fond of.

Save The Children is jumping on this one, too; a natural response from an organization that supports its very large staff through donations to kids stuck in poverty and misery.

“Taking children out of the country would permanently separate thousands of children from their families – a separation that would compound the acute trauma they are already suffering,” said Save The Children’s chief executive Jasmine Whitbread.

The children being “rushed” out of Haiti are those who should have been home in the safety of their adoptive families long ago, having been cleared for adoption, abandoned or orphaned, paperwork ready, and held in orphanages simply because organizations like UNICEF demand they wait and wait and wait.

Several of the children arriving in France had been resident in a nursery that was severely damaged in last week’s earthquake but “not a single child was injured and not a single adoption file was lost,” said French consul in Haiti, Jean-Pierre Gueguan.

The children left the school on Thursday where they had taken shelter after the destruction and headed to the Port-au-Prince airport.

Each had a Haitian passport with the family name of their adoptive family but also their birth family’s surname.

For many, it’s impossible to comprehend a mindset that condemns the idea of families welcoming children into the fold, but the anti-adoption steamroller was bound to plow over Haiti’s disaster. As the press hops on for the ride, read well for motives … and look hard for anyone who bothers to ask the kids how they feel.

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Okay. Before I go any farther, I will freely admit that I am in a foul mood. I could very happily rip someone’s head off about now, stick it on a pike, then beat the crap out of it with a hair brush … almost anyone would do … so perhaps, just perhaps, I am not reacting quite the way I should to today’s news.

Whatevahhhhhh …

It’s this story that has me spitting spikes for this post.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the move would allow children eligible for adoption in the US “to receive the care they need”.

Other nations said they were speeding up the process to allow Haitian children to join adoptive families.

Fuckin’ ‘ell …

First bit of vitriol that rises is directly attached to this, from Sacramento, my old town … a story about family waiting to bring their child home from Haiti closing in on the end run of what had to have been a very long process.

The current time frame is 6 to 12 months for a referral, once your dossier arrives in Haiti. Two trips are required for families adopting from Haiti. The first trip occurs shortly after referral, and travel to pick up your child typically occurs between 12 and 18 months after you receive a referral (for childless couples) or 18-24 months (for families with other children).

Yep … kids and parents waiting from one and a half to three years.

Was Haiti a garden spot before the quake? A safe haven for small children? Uh … nope.

It was a dirt poor, drastic place where bad things routinely happened to innocent people, where starvation and disease took thousands of lives and children were victims of horrible events on a daily basis.

Now that rotting dead are piled like cord wood, someone gets the bright idea that maybe kids should get the hell outta Port-a-Dodge. Great. This is what it takes to make international adoption look like a good idea?

Which brings me to the next thing pissing me off … those who will line up to spout off on just what a bad idea rushing kids away from hell is.

There is no shortage of arrogant pinheads ready to scream “cultural genocide” and insist that any kid removed from Haitian hellfire is being robbed of his birth right, will suffer lifelong from the loss of said culture, and just may have some blood relatives still alive somewhere who are not too busy bleeding and killing and looting to take in an extra child or ten. In other words, demanding a hands-off-Haitian-children and leave-them-to-rot policy to rule.

It is almost impossible now to adopt a baby. Caving into hype has created an environment in which children are forced into institutions for a year, two years, three years … more … while hopeful adoptive parents face hoop after hoop and wait after wait. It’s hard on the parents, sure, but devastating for the children.

So, it takes the end of the world to get things moving, does it? What a fucking shame.

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