Newsweek has a new series of articles about international adoption that's sure to refuel some debates. I don't think the articles are great or broke any new ground. In fact, although the articles overall seem to lend support to international adoption, I was surprised by some of the offensive and negative language they used, talking about the adoption "mill" (which evokes images of puppy mills) and about "supplies" of children, as if you're buying pens from Staples.
One article focuses on UNICEF and its opposition to international adoption. I had only become aware of UNICEF's stance against internatonal adoption since starting my own adoption journey some 15 months ago now, and I've since stopped supporting this organization. While it would be wonderful if we all lived in a world where there wasn't a need for adoption, the fact is that there is a need for adoption, and UNICEF's single-minded approach does a disservice to children who need safe, loving homes now -- with people who (for the most part) feel honored and privileged to be adoptive parents. Yes, I believe that countries like Ethiopia and Vietnam would benefit from programs that increase the ability of parents to raise their children rather than place them for international adoption. But in the meantime, millions of children need homes right now; they don't have time to wait countless years while UNICEF and other organizations put the infrastructure in place.
Here's a selection of quotes from the articles. Links to the full articles are below.
"UNICEF's exclusive focus on domestic programs amounts to an obstacle to international adoption and prevents untold numbers of children from improving their lives through international adoption."
UNICEF and some foreign critics have encouraged countries to look at international adoption as a form of colonialism," says Dana Johnson, director of the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Minnesota and an expert on global adoption trends.
"Forces at the very top are making international adoption more and more difficult," says Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who has written extensively on the subject. "What this means is that fewer kids are getting adopted, more children are required to spend time in orphanages, those who get out are of older ages, and are more likely to have developed serious disabilities that make them hard to parent."
The overriding need is to ensure that intercountry adoption is only carried out in the best interests of the child. For that to happen governments of both sending and receiving countries work together to put an end to the corruption that has damaged the image of intercountry adoption and everyone involved—especially the children.
My heart breaks when I think of the conditions at orphanages, of the fate that waits for these babies," says Olga Dereviagina, who cares for toddlers and babies at the infectious-diseases ward of Moscow's Tushinsky hospital. "I wish foreign parents would come in now and take all our babies to some beautiful, kind place, to warm, loving homes."
When There's No Place Like Home
Who Will Fill the Empty Cribs?
Managing the Baby Backlash