Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Worth a read...

written by Anti-Racist Parent columnist Julie Corby; crossposted at the Eyes of My Eyes Are Opened

I applaud E.J. Graff and The Schuster Institute for opening people’s eyes to the corruption that exists in international adoption. I think that it is important that people start talking about this, and start implementing changes to ensure that all adoptions are ethical. However, I believe Ms. Graff does a great disservice by publishing the octopus of an article,The Lie We Love, and its tentacle articles in Slate, The Washington Post, and The Boston GlobeThe Lie We Love is full of generalizations and is rarely substantiated with facts. For a better example of investigative journalism on the subject of corruption in international adoption, I would suggest reading, Red Thread or Slender Reed: Deconstructing Prof. Bartholet’s Mythology of International Adoption, by Johanna Oreskovic and Trish Maskew. The article, with sources to back it up, can be found HERE .

This Slate slide show is indeed devastating, and I believe that one case of corruption is one too many. What about balancing these stories with some of the other international adoption stories?

Here, and in TLWL, Graff infers that the next country that will be closed to international adoption due to corruption is Ethiopia. Graff, asked by an adoptive families group to expound on this, responded HERE.

In this link Graff says, “I am hearing horrifying stories that I cannot publish since we do not have the time or resources to investigate, corroborate and publish these.”

Graff who says in the Slate article, “Orphanages do not necessarily house orphans—at least, not in poor countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America,” might have spoken to some people like Melissa Faye Greene, author of There is No Me Without You, or Dr. Jane Aronson, founder of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, who have first hand knowledge of what goes on in orphanages in some African countries. Dr. Aronson had this to say in response to Graff,

“The opinion piece on the so-called “orphan manufacturing chain” by Brandeis University’s E.J. Graff falsely alleges that birth mothers in impoverished countries are largely tricked into giving up (or selling) their babies to meet a greedy Western demand for healthy infants (”International adoption rife with corruption,” The Salt Lake Tribune, Opinion, Jan. 16). The research fails to acknowledge that poverty, war and societal pressures too often force women to give up their children. After losing a husband to AIDS and facing their own sickness, poor women may turn to adoption in a desperate attempt to secure a brighter future for their children. These brave, selfless and courageous women should not be branded as “baby sellers” or too ignorant or poor to love their children.

While unscrupulous operators may exist, a majority of international adoptions are lawful. Graff’s inaccurate account of international adoption is extremely painful to both adoptive parents and their children. Instead of name-calling, we should invest our energies in sustainable solutions to ending this all-too-real orphan crisis.”

It seems to me that Graff is against any international adoption. I don’t think anyone would argue that the best thing for a child would be to grow up with his birth family, in his country of origin, but what about the kids for whom that is an impossibility?

There are legitimate adoption stories that Graff never speaks of. If I were to produce a slide show based on adoption cases that I have watched from start to finish, it would include an Ethiopian adoptee who was taken out of an abusive situation so horrific that it would rival any US foster care horror story. It would show an infant girl who had lost both parents, and whose maternal aunt could no longer afford to feed her (in addition to feeding her own six children). It would show a healthy infant boy who was relinquished by his father, when his birth mother died. (The child’s two older brothers were not relinquished because they were old enough to work on the family’s farm in rural, southern Ethiopia. This is just one example disproving Graff’s statement that “most children who need new homes are older than five”. In rural Ethiopia it is often the birth of a child that throws a family into the devastating situation of needing to make an adoption plan). My slide show would also include children whose parents died of AIDs. It would show a toddler boy who was confirmed to be days away from death due to malnutrition, (I have seen the video footage of this child’s orphanage arrival. In it, his belly is so distended that he cannot stand upright). My slide show would show a family whose first referred child died before they could pick her up, and whose current daughter requires constant medical attention. It would also show an infant girl whose legs are so weak from languishing in a crowded crib, that she requires daily physical therapy. It would show children, with diagnoses of failure to thrive, rickets, cerebral palsy and seizures. It would include HIV positive children who for the first time in their lives will have access the antiretroviral medicine that will keep them alive. Graff writes, “To use the language of globalization, orphans are sometimes “manufactured”: Children with families are stripped of their identities so that Westerners can fill their homes.”

Orphans don’t need to be manufactured in Ethiopia; famine, AIDs and other diseases do that for them.

I agree that it is absolutely crucial to bring awareness to corruption and unethical practices that are happening in international adoption. It is vital to work toward preventing these situations illustrated in this slide show from ever happening again.

I am wondering if Ms. Graff can come up with something besides what seems to be a campaign to stop all international adoptions. I am hopeful that she can suggest to us a way that we can allow legitimate adoptions of true orphans to continue, while allowing more transparency and less corruption. I am also wondering if she can you do it in a way that doesn’t denigrate, and vilify every single adoptive parent or adoptive parent to be.

Julie Corby writes about her life and her adoption at She lives in Los Angeles with her husband of ten years, and her two pups.  She is a contributor at Her online book club for adoptive parents is Julie has been in the process of adopting siblings from Ethiopia since November ‘0

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