Or maybe I do. But I don’t.

I am so conflicted again.

A few weeks ago, Foreign Policy published a paper on international adoption. I believe you can read the full text of the article on Cindy LaJoy’s blog here. (She has a very thoughtful discussion on it afterward, as well.)  It was also posted in its entirety on AAR, against copyright protection. Alas. I think FP makes good money on its other articles that do not generate such vigorous discussion.

She asked some good questions on the Kyrgyzstan adoption yahoo! group. (Yes, I am a member of that group.) Unlike many of the other country-specific yahoo! groups, the Kyrg list is uncontrolled and anyone (agencies, anyone) has access to it. I haven’t talked about this much before, but as far as I can see, this has a huge impact on the character and tone of the list: on one hand, everyone can read the things that are published, so *no one* challenges, disputes, or offers any negative reports of agency or program practices on the list. This is not a good thing – people should have access to full information on an agency before signing on with it (simply look at Project Oz, Commonwealth Adoptions, or Mai-Ly LaTrace for google-able terms to see how rogue agencies can be).

On the other hand, people are REALLY CIVIL! Seriously! Everyone is so nice to each other! After spending so much time on the VN and Thai adopt lists, this is just so, so, so refreshing. I originally thought that it was because the people who adopt from Kyrg are just nicer people :), which may actually be the case, but I also think, to some extent, it is because it is a much more public forum – and the people on the list actually do meet each other face to face. Hey – I’ll take it. It made me really psyched to adopt from Kyrg – although that is *not* a good reason to pick a country, it *was*/*is* a good reason to stay – having a tight, supportive community is priceless (OK, at least, I think it is. APs? Correct me?).

I sound like I have actually adopted a child. How sad that I haven’t.

It is because I haven’t that I have these opinions – and because I have these opinions, we haven’t adopted. Yes, a catch-22. If anyone has a good solution, let me know. Even U.S. domestic open adoption isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When I first started calling agencies to ask about a Kyrg adoption, my very first concern was how on Earth they could possibly have so many very young babies available. Let’s be honest: the younger the baby, the less likely it is that the birth parent had the chance to change her mind, and the availability of MANY very young babies might potentially signal corrupt practices. Kyrg had the youngest babies in the world available – by the director’s own admission. So I asked if he was familiar with the cases of other country’s program meltdowns.

He said “no, we don’t operate there – so why should I?”

And that made me nervous. Because even if you DON’T operate there, you should know which structural components of the failed program caused it to fail. The MOU did not just crumple between the U.S. and Viet Nam. Specific, structural things created a situation where it could not succeed.

So when the FP article came out, with its charges that not all babies available for adoption are orphans and there are situations where adoption amounts to trafficking, I expected that people would get upset – but I hoped that people would investigate the claims themselves. I felt that the ensuing discussion on AAR (whose membership is very controlled) was productive. There were certainly those who did not support the article and questioned its claims – that is the prerogative of every reader, of course.

But I am now a little shocked at those on the Kyrg group who wholesale shut down the article as poor research, poor writing, and claimed not to finish reading it.

Because there are people – real, live, people – on all three sides of this triad. There are adoptive parents who are caught in the Guatemala and VN adoption process who lose money, time, and for whom this adoption process causes considerable heartache.

There are birthparents who lose children to a sometimes-poorly controlled system. Who are sometimes illiterate and do not realize they are relinquishing their child for international adoption.

And there are children who do not choose to be moved from one country to another. Who lose a culture as they gain another. Who might lose the only thing they have at birth: their identity. Who are trusting us – their birthparents, adoptive parents, placing agencies, governments – because they do not have any power in this relationship.

I’ve said it once, and I will say it one more time. Adopted children do not come out of a vacuum. They do not appear out of thin air. They have biological parents, and if we had a system to ensure that all children available for adoption were there because their parents chose to place them, that is one thing.

But we do not have that system.

And therefore it is ESSENTIAL be sure that P/APs do everything in their power to complete an ethical adoption. To stay apprised of developing stories. To read things that we might not even want to read. That we might think are horse$hit. If you think an article is stupid, baseless, worthless, fine – read it, evaluate it, and store it in your brain in the category of “things I’ve heard, considered, and do not believe are worth my time” – but do not simply NOT read it.

I think we owe it to our children.

P.S. Yes, aware of possible lambasting. Keep it civil, please, although you are ENCOURAGED to disagree with me (civilly).

PPS. No, I don’t think reading that woman’s book is necessary, though. Readers of VVAI know what I am talking about. Perhaps her book is good, but her approach is not.

PPPS – Domestic open adoption? I read lots of birthmother blogs.