A post that is a year old recently attracted two important comments, thanks to a link to the essay from another website. The topic is international adoption, an issue that I have a special interest in as the parent of an adopted son who was born in Russia. I have seen first hand the conditions described in these posts, and when I wrote the original article, I was unaware of the substantial movement opposing international adoption, a misguided effort with tragic consequences to the children these people supposedly want to protect. I am aware of it now. It is an especially tragic example of what happens when tunnel vision and ideology causes individuals to lose perspective and objectivity.
I am taking the unusual step of pairing two comments as the Comment of the Day. They arrived together, and compliment each other well. You might want to read the original post, “UNICEF’s Unethical War Against International Adoption.”
Here are the Comments of the Day, by Mel and Holly F.
“UNICEF’s stand on international adoption screams of cultural “cleansing” to me.
“Leaving a child in their own culture, to preserve their heritage… what heritage? They grow up knowing that no one wanted them, they are left in orphanages and institutions because their parents and their own country didn’t want them. Special needs children are garbage to the people of their own country in most instances. [The countries] do not have the medical technology or resources to care for them properly so they are left to languish. Even if a family did want to keep or adopt a special needs child, their culture frowns on it, they are outcasts.Is that really the “heritage” that should be preserved? When a loving adoptive family chooses to bring an orphan into their family it is definitely changing the life of that child. There is corruption everywhere, there is dishonesty, and child trafficking, but in a very large percentage of cases, adoption happens because there are children who need to be loved, accepted, and given the chance to grow into productive adults.
“Our family adopted a child from Ukraine last year. His birth family abandoned him at the hospital because he has Down syndrome. He is a bright, adorable, and loving little boy who might never fully understand the effects of living his first four and a half years in an orphanage. His basic needs were taken care of, food, shelter, and clothing. Because of his Down syndrome, and because of the limited education on the subject of special needs children that is given to the people who cared for him, he was never taught to speak, read, write, or even to identify colors or numbers or shapes like a typical child of his age would have been. They believe that his special need makes him unteachable, yet, he is toilet trained, can feed himself, dress himself, bathe himself, and clean up after himself, all tasks that made their jobs easier. If he is unteachable, how did he learn these skills?
“He has been home with us for over a year now, he is a healthy, happy little boy who learns something new every day. He still isn’t able to speak, but can communicate through sign language, and is sure to get his point across when needed. He knows that we love him, we value him, and we will provide for his needs. We will keep his own culture as a part of his life until he makes the decision that he doesn’t want that. He is a dual citizen and if he ever wants to know more about his birth family, we have the information that can be used to contact them. All of his days in the orphanage, no one, from his family or his country inquired about him.
“How can people believe that is a good thing?”
From Holly F.:
“I think there is a ‘lost in translation’ problem here. I was linked to this article from a Reeces Rainbow post. I encourage those defending UNICEF to check out Reecesrainbow.org. This site raises funds to assist with international adoptions of children with Down syndrome, HIV, Aids, Fetal Alcohol syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and many other much more rare syndromes. Their parents view their diagnosis as a personal shame on themselves. They do not want the children; they do not sell them. A very few of them ever visit the child in orphanage. They just want the child gone. If it weren’t for money, every single one of these children would have a home with a loving family, receiving medical care. But at a minimum cost of $25K, it is not doable for many of the families wishing to adopt. If the children remain in the orphanage until the ages of 5 or 6, they are transferred to mental institutions.
In order to highlight the violation of human rights in many of these orphanages, consider these examples:
- A 9-year-old with Down syndrome. She weighs 11 pounds and stopped producing growth hormone at about 2 years old. She wears baby clothes. She could not stand to be touched, was still drinking from a bottle (more like gulping and trying not to aspirate), and bites herself for stimulation. She is now with her American family. After one month, and with the help of feeding tube, she is 14 pounds. She accepts touch, takes small amounts of food by mouth, has finally grown hair. Her bones are brittle like an elderly woman, she is recovering from scurvy.
Should she have kept her heritage? What is her heritage other than starvation…for love, for food, for stimulation? You can meet the amazing Katie here.
- A 12-year-old with Down syndrome. He fits in a baby walker. He also stopped producing growth hormone due to severe neglect. His family is raising money to bring him home. You can learn more here. I invite others to put their money where their mouth is and help bring him home.
There are hundreds of stories just like this. And worse ones. Children dying alone…never being touched or loved. I’m sure this child is now dead. Simple hydrocephalus…in countries with medical care, a simple shunt would have saved his life. Instead, his head became swollen to the point of actually breaking open. UNACCEPTABLE! What is his heritage? Death?
I am passionate about this but I do understand that there is a problem with baby selling and corruption. That corruption does not change that there are children dying right now of neglect. Human rights neglect. If UNICEF does not want to promote international adoption, then they need to promote (money) education of parents and country, laws to protect the orphans, to better the orphanages, and medical care.