Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Darker Side of Adoption

I don't spend a lot of time on the various yahoo adopt groups that we are "members" of these days. In the early days of our first adoption, I could read for hours, gleaning information and (what I hoped was) wisdom. Even before Abi and Hana came home, I grew tired of the larger groups and the bickering that often ensued. Now, I typically just check in to our agency list now and again.

But today I decided to go back to the main ET adopt group (the big one). Not even sure why. Oh, the drama. Some of it was just typical nonsense (easy to get a temper up when you can't read inflection, etc). But some of the discussions were very disturbing. As a result, I have spent much time today stewing a bit over some of the darker points of adoption. I don't want to get into the specifics, but there were several families who shared their personal stories with their agencies (several different agencies) and made some very serious accusations. Accusations of some very unethical practices, including lying about health information and "harvesting" children, especially from rural areas.

And it makes my heart hurt.

When we first chose Ethiopia, a big draw for us was that it was still a smaller program. It had seemed to fly under the radar a bit and, we hoped, was avoiding much of the corruption and scandal that many other programs (e.g. Guatemala) were suffering.

But while we were researching, so were hundreds, thousands of other prospective adoptive parents. When we first began our search, only 7 agencies (American agencies) were registered in Ethiopia. Now there are ... I don't even know. 30? The program was growing, so big, so fast... that creates a situation ripe for abuse.

Were we naive? Probably. Frankly, I am probably still naive. I haven't begun to imagine what might really be going on around the world. But I do know that it isn't right.

Adoption is a blessing. Adoption unites families. It gives many children at a last resort that chance they need. It is wonderful and amazing.

But adoption is also a business. And with business follows money. And with money, corruption is often close at hand. Especially with PAPs evaluating agencies (understandably) based on a number of factors - including speed of referral of healthy infants (typically at least). There must be unbelievable pressure to keep parents happy and keep referrals (and court dates and travel) moving - those are stats that PAPs strongly consider.

I don't even know what else to really say - I can't quite make a coherent point on this topic. Just feeling some sadness and needed to vent I suppose.

But I wanted to say this - although I wasn't always 100% happy with the way our adoptions were handled and with our agency in general (oh, just search through my "adoption process " posts and you'll see some good vents. BUT - I have never, ever had reason to question the ethics of Adoption Advocates International.

And that is important. That is a stat that matters.


HMK said...

Yes, I agree disheartening to say the least. I stand by my agency as well... but was saddened to hear about the accusations of unethical behavior being practiced by others... one in particular.

Thankfulmom said...

I agree with you. I have never doubted AAI's integrity or ethics. I recommend them with confidence. Sadly,I cannot say the same for our first agency.

Denise said...

I so agree with your post. We went into Sarah's adoption with quite a naive mindset, not thinking about the "workings" behind the scenes in Ethiopia. It's quite sobering to hear others' stories. I feel our agency was ethical and I don't suspect anything unethical about Sarah's adoption, but I can see that it's really become so huge that instances are not rare anymore, sadly. :(

Marissa said...

I agree. AAI has frustrated me at time but I always have felt that they are always ethical. They always put the child above the adoptive parent. I appreciate that. Not ever having any reason to doubt them made the process so much better.

It horrifies to think what's going on around the world in regards to adoption. At times it makes me seriously question the "rightness" of the process.

All I can say is I'm thankful to have found a wonderful agency that makes adoption of beautiful gift for everyone involved rather than a business.