The adoption trance

There was a quote in Saturday's New York Times article on the Evangelical adoption movement from prospective adoptive parents who ultimately choose not to adopt that grabbed me:
It’s the biggest fear of adoptive parents — that there is family out there looking for the child
Time was you heard that quote regularly from adoptive parents after an adoption; probably still do. But in this article it spoke to the fear of adopting a trafficked child. If intercountry adoption has to the point that being afraid a child might be trafficked is that present in the prospective adopters mind, we have a seriously broken system on our hands..

It's plain rightening, and incredibly frustrating. This article isn't the first and won't be the last news story about the pitfalls of intercountry adoption, and there are plenty about domestic adoption, too. From the risk of adopting a trafficked child, to the second-class citizenship of U.S. adoptees, to battles over children before finalization, to the citizenship woes that intercountry adoptees face, there are so many things broken with adoption that politicians - particularly the politicians who have joined the Congressional Coalition on Adoption - could keep busy for years putting it right.

Why aren't they? About the only adoption reform legislation making any progress at all is OBC access legislation at the state level, and that's slow going at best. At the Federal level: virtually nothing. In the past three or four years there has been legislation to extend the adoption tax credit and repeated efforts to pass the North Korean orphan adoption act, which pretty much every North Korea think tank and adoption reform expert has debunked as unnecessary and dangerous. That's about it.

Yet desperately needed efforts to make the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 retroactive to cover all intercountry adoptees are moving so slowly that it's clear to me that legislators just don't give a damn about adoptees once they're adopted. They care about the political props they'll get from supporting anything that smacks of saving an orphan, but are fine with deporting that very same adoptee if adoption agencies and adoptive parents (who will get off with passes) fail to complete the citizenship process.  Many of these same politicians actively fight efforts to give adoptees the same access to their original birth certificates, too.

There is simply no political will to do the right thing for adoption, which is to correct its injustices and establish sensible regulation to ensure ethical operation in the future. But there is also no way adoption can continue safely as a charitable action. As a Facebook friend said recently, there's more political will in the U.S. to regulate fish than to regulate adoption. It's true, and it's appalling.

We need broader support, from outside of the adoption community, that's for sure. Yet even groups whose mission is to promote justice don't seem to care. I was truly disgusted to learn from Kathryn Joyce's book The Child Catchers (I'm about a third of the way through, will post my thoughts when I finish it) that, when approached by baby scoop era mothers for support, the National Organization for Women turned its back.

It seems like the word "adoption" puts a lot of people into a trance, during which they are unable to discern right from wrong. Many politicians are there, and I suspect it may be why they are unwilling to take action on adoption reform. How do you tell your constituents that you've been promoting something that is so seriously flawed?

Figuring this out may be a first step to breaking the status quo.

Comments

Susan P. said…
Margie, I agree with everything you have said here, especially "there is simply no political will to do the right thing for adoption, which is to right its injustices and establish sensible regulation to ensure ethical operation in the future." The adoption issue is so emotional and so tainted by money and ideology that few desire to do the critical thinking that serious reform will require. What wise words -- "It seems like the word 'adoption' puts a lot of people into a trance, during which they are unable to discern right from wrong." You are right -- we need many more advocates.

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