Thursday, November 16, 2006

Another Word on International Adoption

I was very happy to see that my last post on international adoption drummed up some debate. I'd like to use this post to clarify my position on international adoption and to pose the dichotomy in the debate in an alternate fashion.

I still think that opinions on international adoption can be divided between those that think that international adoption is a way to save children and those that think it is racial genocide. I also think the debate can be divided another way. International adoption can be viewed through two different lenses: (1) the immediate, (2) the long-term.

The immediate view sees international adoption as a way for some kids in horrific living conditions to be adopted by those who are capable (economically and in other ways) and interested in raising them. The long-term view thinks that international adoption misses the bigger picture problems -- the global problem of widespread poverty that pushes these children into orphanages.

I do not understand why these two views of the world must be in conflict. Why can't we help some kids (even if it is very few out of the millions living impoverished)? Simultaneously we should be collectively OUTRAGED at the poverty, war, and disease that leaves these kids homeless and in orphanages. These two views -- the immediate and the long-term do not have to be distinct.

Do we lose out on the fight on poverty by adopting children who are currently in orphanages and other institutions? Do we miss the picture of millions of hungry children by saving a few? I don't think so, although, this is a point upon which I can appreciate some disagreement.

Some think that the way to fight poverty is to not use stop-gap measures like international adoption (that reaches a small proportion of children). I ask -- if we're not currently solving poverty -- if we don't think we can heal the sick, house the homeless, and feed the hungry -- why can't we save a few children who we can heal, house, and feed?

There are compelling arguments on the other side. Some think that international adoption is an extension of white empires who enslaved, sold, and stole black and brown children for generation upon generation. I have heard that some people in countries providing children for international adoption fear that their children are adopted for devious means -- to provide organs for U.S. children, to serve as housemaids, etc. Study upon study have demonstrated that this is simply not the case. These children who are adopted internationally are adopted into homes eagerly awaiting them as children -- to love, raise, and nurture.

I hope that we figure out a global solution to poverty. I hope that we can do that really soon. I wonder though, why do we need to leave these kids in orphanages in the meantime? Will their suffering help the plight of their parents in any way?

Any process that removes children from one country, culture, and people and moves them to another is bound to be controvercial, emotional, and difficult to reconcile. I hope that in the debate we do not lose sight of the children in need of immediate help -- that 6 month old, that 10 year old, that premie.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an Anthropology major at a small University in New Mexico, and I have done extensive work in the field of Medical anthropology. If we are to put dent in the poverty problem globally, we really need to look at the problem Anthropologically. Throwing down a bunch of money for a country will probably not solve the problem, because money usually isn't the only problem. Efforts to help medically are thwarted because those in Africa, for instance, do not understand western cultural concepts regarding illness. Pamphlets handed out bear no meaning to other cultures, and frankly, we seem to believe that everything we do is the "right" thing. Areas of interest need to be studied and we need to formulate a plan that is both tangible to those we're trying to help, and efficient. I believe that International adoption is an adequate means of helping a child, so long as the adopting parents have the child's best interests in mind. I've seen many people in my church adopting children internationally, and it sometimes seems that they are just trying to shove christian ideals down another persons throat. It is not racial genocide if a child is given the option of retaining their own cultural beliefs, assuming the child being adopted is old enough to be cognizant of culture. it breaks my heart when I see a small asian child who seems to a christian in training. i am all for international adoption, so long as it doesn't take away from a child's cultural identity.

8:31 PM  

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