Saturday, May 16, 2015

Fraud, Manipulation, and Heartbreak in Adoption

Adoptions across cultural and international borders are more difficult than I understood when I entered into my own adoption(s) in 2002.  Almost ten years of living in Haiti has taught me a lot about the culture and what parents and families that relinquish their children actually believe.

I believe that many Haitian parents that have relinquished kids do not actually understand what they are signing up for (not all, but many).  I believe from speaking with several of them that their expectations do not line up with the adoptive parent's expectations. Most of the crossed wires are caused by a middle man, the guy with something to gain financially.

I know that saying that adopting a "poor child" is not necessarily reason to pat yourself on the back or earn you any thanks makes folks that have adopted feel defensive and decide to label me cynical or anti-adoption.  I am not anti-adoption.  Cynical?  Yeah, probably. But I dare you to watch this system up close for a few years and try to to keep from landing in this exact spot. 

There are just far too many ways to manipulate materially poor folks. It matters not where they are located, they are preyed upon across the globe whenever there is money to be made. 

This is a link to an article on a community in NW Arkansas where a population of Marshallese emigrants have been taken advantage of by those in the business of adoption. 

It grieves me that this happens ANYWHERE, but the fact that it happens in the USA makes me want to lie on the ground and bawl my head off.  I recognize that accomplishes nothing, so in addition to doing that I am sharing this article and encouraging you take an hour or two to read it. 

My friend Seth Haines, an attorney in the NW corner of Arkansas, said this when we were discussing the article and the trouble with cultural differences:

"The cultural disconnect of international adoption is not something often discussed by either the relinquishing family OR the adoptive family. I think it would change the dynamic if it were. But who's going to do it? The lawyer who stands to make money? The organization? It's one of those gaps in the system where people need training."

LAST JUNE, WITHIN A SINGLE SPRINGDALE-AREA HOSPITAL, six Marshallese children were adopted in just three days. Making her rounds of the nursery the following Monday, the numbers struck pediatrician Stacy Furlow as impossible. “We wouldn’t have had six adoptions in a year five years ago,” she said. According to one person with inside knowledge of adoption proceedings, about 90 percent of the adoptions in Washington County now involve Marshallese babies.
Like everyone in the region, Furlow, a cheerful, animated mother of four, with a wavy blond bob and welcoming smile, had followed the growth of the Marshallese community with interest. When she was in high school in Fayetteville in the late ’80s, Springdale was so racially homogeneous that she sensed tension when Fayetteville’s multiracial sports teams traveled there to play. To Furlow, the diversification of the community—it’s now 40 percent Pacific Islander and Latino—was a positive development, evidence of a little pocket of progressivism.
Furlow, who has done volunteer health work in Haiti and has developed familiarity with conditions common to developing-world children, ended up building a practice where she sees many adoptive families. But as more and more adoptive parents began coming to her office with newborn Marshallese babies in tow, she was puzzled. Her corner of the Ozarks, it seemed, was becoming the new destination for international adoptions—and this development was bringing along with it some of the ugliest baggage of cultural misunderstanding. On one adoption blog Furlow stumbled upon, a would-be mother wrote of the Springdale Marshallese, “these people make babies.” An Alabama church that had sent nearly two dozen members on a mission to Springdale claimed to have returned home with promises from several pregnant women, according to one adoptive parent’s blog.
(By Kathryn Joyce)