We know that the list of results from a google search can make it feel even more overwhelming. Take a deep breath and consider finding someone you trust that has been through it. Talk to them. Pray with them. Find people that have adopted recently and some that adopted many years ago. Listen to their stories and ask them for advice. Ask what they wish had been different. Give them space to be honest with you, try to be a great listener. There is much to learn from the experiences of others.
We adopted two of our children from Haiti before we ever lived here, 12 years ago. The orphanage our children were placed in back in 2001 is no longer operating.
Our thoughts and feelings about adoption have evolved over the last 12 years. We believe adoption can be a beautiful and redemptive thing, but we do not discount how painful and complicated it is. The fairy tale approach to adoption, wherein the adoptive parent "saves" the needy child, isn't a wise way to enter into the process.
We struggle with the fact that one of our three kids probably should never have been placed. He was a "poverty orphan" with two living birth-parents and many siblings and we have a lot of really difficult questions and some guilt about that. His first mother was misled and mistreated. (It took knowing her whole story and speaking the language to finally learn that.) Poor people are easily exploited, we strongly advise new parents to do a ton of research.
If you are thinking of adopting from Haiti:
We urge you to look closely at whomever you choose and do not assume websites give a full picture.
We recommend that you research the methods and procedures of the orphanage thoroughly. (Think about how children come to be placed and be sure you are questioning someone that has a lot of healthy babies in their orphanage - that is a red flag.) Some orphanages in Haiti take children from their families of origin with no questions asked. Some orphanages in Haiti even exchange small amounts of money for children and use child-finders (illegal). Adoption involves money the system can be (is often) corrupt and difficult to navigate. Whomever you chose should be able to prove success and show you other completed adoptions. You should be able to call dozens of references if you wish. Lastly, not all orphanages in Haiti are licensed to process adoptions.
Adoption requires going through pain, having patience, and willingness to grow. In our opinion, it is not a fairy-tale of "saving". That saving stuff happens once, then it is just parenting - and if you are a parent you know that is not a glamorous job all the time. That hero/savior narrative is a dangerous one.
Our heart is for helping families remain in tact, if at all possible. We believe it is very important that the orphanage care about preserving family and that they have some vested interest in helping prevent the placement of orphans too.
Adoption is a beautiful, restorative, and redemptive thing for children in need of a family. It is not without pain and risk. It will not solve or even come close to scratching the surface of the "orphan crisis". Many children in orphanages have a living birth-parent. "Orphan" is a misnomer. The more questions you ask of your orphanage about their philosophy and approach, the more assured you can be that you are adopting a child that was ethically taken into the orphanage and needs to be adopted.
With International adoption it is good to be cognizant that at any point the country can change their rules or shut down. It is a risk you'll have to weigh and consider.
Posts on Adoption:
A letter to future adoptive parents - HERE.
When your children come home - good advice HERE.
And here: The truth about adoption - One Year later (Jen Hatmaker)
Transracial Adoption - Love is Colorblind? A Vision Test
Adoption is built on pain
Calling for Balance
A boat that needs rocking
An adoption reunion story (19 years in the making)
First, Do No Harm
There will never be enough people desiring and willing to adopt to reduce the orphan crisis significantly. It should be the goal of every adoptive parent to find ways to keep families together in addition to being willing to adopt a child that cannot stay with his/her family. Sometimes as consumers from a consumer culture we get to thinking that because we have financial means we are better suited to parent and raise a child than the "poor" biological family. That is arrogant and not usually correct. (Plus, if we believe that it means that 90% of the children in the world are being raised by unfit poor people.) People without material blessing live joy-filled and inspiring lives. Poor people love their children too.
The prevention of orphans is the only way the orphan crisis will ever be improved. There are ministries that work to support women to keep and raise their own children in poorer countries. In addition to adopting it would be a huge blessing for all adoptive parents to also invest in organizations and people that are working to address the core issues and offer support to first-mothers/families.
2012 Nat'l Adoption Day Post with many additional and new links.
(This page is always under construction - new links will periodically be added here.)
It has come to our attention in recent weeks that by asking for transparency and encouraging our friends and others to look deeper at the ethics involved in adopting from a poor country, we have been labeled "anti-adoption". That's not true of course. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sometimes people get defensive and do not stop to listen to what is really being said, we know that because we have done this in the past, too. Saying that we want to stop children from being purchased (or taken without total understanding of the first mother/family) makes us "anti-adoption" - is like saying that because we hate rape, we are anti-sex. No need to make the giant leap. Please, save your legs.
Discouraging unethical adoptions does not (in any way shape or form) equate to discouraging ethical ones.