Up For Consideration

December 29, 2007 at 9:15 am 16 comments

…a very interesting article I found on Google News today.  I’d like to link it here and get everyone’s honest opinion.  I found it quite powerful.

Let me know your reactions and thoughts.

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Entry filed under: adoptees, adopting, Adoption, Adoption Blog, Adoption Ethics, adoptive, birth mothers, Children, Family, first mothers, infertility, International Adoption, Motherhood, Parenting.

An Assignment Global Issues Start With Me (A Repost)

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gershom  |  December 29, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    I felt like the article was dead on!! I applaud the author for his honesty and work.

    Reply
  • 2. John  |  December 29, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Maybe it’s late and I am not thinking strait, but I could not get my hed around a few of the statments… One was the concept that it is unthinkable for muslims to grow up in an orphanage with no family or under guardianship… they may believe this, but how do they reconsile “throwing away” children because they are not “perfect” . I have seen thousands of these kids that have been discarded, and my heart breaks. It IS our goal to bring reform for these kids in there own country, but the changes will save those yet to be born into the system. For those that are already on there way down that road, Adoption is the best senario, but unfortunaly it is difficult for whatever reason to encourage the nationals to step up. Granted there will be some difficulties and some heartbreaks , but these pail in comparison to the alternative which left unchecked will be a life of rap, prostitution, theft, and all other manor of degrading life style. Thy are not given the tools, nor the physical necessities to get a solid foundation in life. As far as there haritage and family conections, they will have no more personal information at there disposal if they stay in country as if they are adopted internationaly. To look down on international Adoption is to hold ones head in the sand! I think it is more a pride isue, like “we can do fine without you… ” the fact is that they are not doing fine. Internatiional is definatly not the ideal situation, but as things stand now…..it is the best solution.

    Reply
  • 3. Sandra Hanks Benoiton  |  December 30, 2007 at 12:36 am

    I’ve given it a lot of thought, Tina, and although your tacky trashing of me indicates your opinion will differ, I offer it, nonetheless:

    http://sandrahanksbenoiton.wordpress.com/2007/12/30/zoes-ark-not-about-adoption/

    Reply
  • 4. imtina  |  December 30, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Sandra,

    I’m glad you took the time to write a post about this article. I will read it with interest. However, I take exception to the idea that I ‘trashed’ you. I think if you read the one thing I wrote to you recently, it was absolutely respectful, though critical. There’s a difference between ‘trashing’ and what I wrote. Also, I am never tacky. Lastly, if you saw the comments section, you’ll see that I did disagree with him on a few points.

    John,
    That point confused me as well, but he may be speaking to the muslim world that he knows, which is very different than the muslim world in central Asia. I’m not sure though.

    Gershom,
    I think the raw honesty was palpable as well and I appreciated that.

    Reply
  • 5. Sang-Shil  |  December 30, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Without going through a point-by-point comparison of the author’s arguments and my own thoughts, I will say this: I agree with the author’s general argument; he raises many important points, and has certainly written an thought-provoking article.

    I think the only thing that concerns me is the timeframe for stopping international adoptions — which I do think is the correct end goal, perfect world/pie-in-the-sky as it may be. While he doesn’t state a plan explicitly, he does seem to think that taking children “out of their home countries” needs to stop now/overnight, that this is a starting point, and that this will catalyze the necessary action in the home countries.

    I guess I’m just not sure if that would be the case in all countries, or how long it will take for the home countries to figure out a plan. However, I do think that *much* more aggressive actions can be taken now by home countries to make the systemic changes that would reduce the need for adoption, *in parallel* to making the adoption process more ethical. I guess I don’t see it as an either/or thing; it seems that we need to do both at the same time.

    I need to do a lot more research before I can comment further, but those are my thoughts right now.

    Reply
  • 6. Sandra Hanks Benoiton  |  December 30, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Tina,

    My apologies. Perhaps it was the company in which your comment was posted that colored my perception, as the Daily Doofus is hardly highbrow commentary and is where I’m referred to as “Skanks”. Your comment there was respectful in comparison. Suggesting, however, that I attempt to “erase others’ experience and feelings” is off-base, and if suggestions of reading back “recent comments on Nicole’s and others’ blogs” are still open, I would like to add mine. It was my experience that was deemed laughable, not me dismissing those of others.

    Reply
  • 7. KimKim  |  December 31, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    I couldn’t read it properly, I have a headache from eating too much chocolate. I wanted to wish you a happy new year though.

    Reply
  • 8. Daniel Drennan  |  January 3, 2008 at 6:45 am

    My point about the Muslim attitude toward to adoption was that we were told, again and again, to count our blessings we were not left in a Muslim orphanage, since we would still be there. The reference to those believing in a nuclear-based family structure means “us”, the adoptees, who were told this repeatedly.

    So coming here to Lebanon I was already carrying a bias against a system which has faults, certainly, but which also more closely reflects the family structure here culturally and in terms of Islam, and which talks about orphans openly. What I want to say is that it is troubling to impose a notion of a nuclear family on a family structure that is not the same. The equation of adoption does not work in this context. Emmanuel Todd is a writer who writes a lot about cultural differences in family structure and how this reflects in the economics and politics of a country, fo those interested.

    I will also clarify that the “most welcoming” groups here in Lebanon are far and away not those in any way connected to my orphanage, so that is the greater point which I admit was clearer to the Lebanese audience reading the article in the newspaper here where it first appeared.

    Finally, half of us were from Muslim families, as far as I can tell in my research, I am included in this figure. All of us were baptized though, and adopted by Catholic families; I am troubled by this missionary aspect of the orphanage as well.

    I have since converted back.

    Reply
  • 9. John  |  January 3, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Danial
    You have touched base on part of the problem, You say that there is the reluctance of the Muslim faith to embrace adoption. This would imply that there are fewer potential adoptive parrents that are muslum, and more that are of other religions. Do you really think that they are adopting in an attempt to convert you…. One of the principals of the Christian faith is found in James 1:27 ” Pure and faltless religion before God, is to care for the orphans and widows in their time of need.” I would think that it would be worse if they went into the orphanages and picked and chose who they were going to help bassed on the religion that a childs was born into. The Christian belief is that Salvation is a personal decision, made by an individual not there ansestory. Therefor it is not possible for a person to be “adopted” into Christianaty. The faith that you chose will always be your choice. God does not have Grandchildren, only children . It would be great if there was a greater “Faith Pool” to draw from so that each child could be adopted into a family of similar faith and culture of there heritage, but the truth is that there is not. Now all that said, You I must agree with you to some extent…. In my travels I have seen times when NGO’s operating under one perticular faith have critisised me for bringing aid to a certain orphanage or village, because they were all Muslim Children, or Jipsy kids. ….. I just can’t bring myself to the point that I would with-hold love basses on religion……it defeats the purpose.
    Blessings John

    Reply
  • 10. Tasha  |  January 3, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Hi,
    I found your blog from another IA blogroll and have been enjoying it.

    Just wanted to pop in and say ‘hi’

    Reply
  • 11. Daniel Drennan  |  January 4, 2008 at 12:48 am

    I am fully aware of Christian teachings, and now Muslim teachings on the subject. I can also tell you of experiences here of attempted conversion, including fake Qur’an’s which are in fact the gospels. Which is odd, considering that Islam acknowledges previous revelation.

    The fact is that what we know as “adoption”–bringing into the nuclear family someone from the outside–does not exist as such; but the community, by faith, is prescribed to care for those abandoned and orphaned.

    And by extension, those not of the faith. You might be amazed to know that certain local groups, labeled in various ways by the American government, provide much in the way of social services to local populations, within and without their faith, so I agree with you whole-heartedly that religion should not be a factor.

    Reply
  • 12. actofkindnessjohn  |  January 4, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Yes Daniel
    I find it apalling, and in fact it makes me sick to think that people would use any decietfull means to convert an individual. If this is hapening in the Christian community, let me be the first to appologise for it. And I wish to publicly distance myself from such practices. It is no wonder that a person would be driven away from a faith that is not 100% open and honest…. God will not be mocked…these may be some of the “goats” He is refering to when He say’s depart from Me, I did not know you, and they reply ” but we did all these things in your name”. simple calling one self a Christian does not make it so. Again I am sorry that this has hapend to you. You are the proof to my point that simply adopting into a Christian family will not change a persons final address… the choice is always an individuals.! Unfortunetly if the followers of the
    Qur’an’s teachings made half the blunders as those following the Bible’s, It would still leave the Orphans in the cold. This day and age, there is no excuse for putting kids in a large run down building with no food, no heat, no cloths…. and waiting for them to die…….but is hapening…. and it is happening to Muslim and Christian kids alike. When this is no longer comon practice, then I will be ready to consider alternative to adoption. I hope that one day you may find the peace that you are loking for.
    Blessings John

    Reply
  • 13. Suzanne  |  January 4, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Daniel touched on many of the issues surrounding international adoption that I wrestled with while researching and ultimately choosing to move forward with it.

    I agree that, in a perfect world, orphaned children would stay in their own country, if not their own community or their own family. And one of the reasons I chose the country, adoption agency and in-country staff that I’m working with, is that they are taking it upon themselves to find more and more local adoptive families for the children in their orphanages.

    For the first several months of my adoption journey, I researched about a half dozen countries and systematically crossed them off my list, due to rampant corruption in their adoption systems and child trafficking that was being reported in them.

    When I finally learned about the program in Kyrgyzstan, a predominantly Muslim country, I specifically looked for a non-denominational adoption agency to work with, out of respect for their faith, as much as my own non-denominational beliefs.

    I dearly want my child (and myself) to maintain a connection with her homeland and if at all possible, with her family or community, and will travel with her back to Kyrgyzstan throughout her life to help make this happen.

    But I did take issue with some of Daniel’s generalizations. One in particular was about adoption as a benevolent act. I think most adoptive parents you talk to see themselves as the lucky ones, to be able to adopt their children. Not the other way ’round. I see my adoption as more selfish than selfless (in fact, I don’t see it as selfless at all). And I wrestle with this at times. But I do think that those who are not in the adoption community do still view adoption as Daniel suggested. Which is a shame. No child should be considered or made to feel ‘lucky’ to be loved, nurtured and protected by a parent, family or community. That is a birthright, as far as I’m concerned.

    I also feel, as others who have posted comments before me, that if we can find a way to end the current reality of international adoption, that it must happen on a parallel path with improvements to the current systems. Until every child can be loved, nurtured and protected in his or her birth family, community or homeland, I strongly believe that international adoption can continue to offer loving families and communities to children who would otherwise languish in institutions.

    Suzanne

    Reply
  • 14. imtina  |  January 4, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    Everyone,

    Thank you for such a lively response to this article and thank you Daniel for being a part of the discussion here, as well as a thank you for the original article. Suzanne, you’ve pretty much summed up in a very articulate way the conclusions and stances that I have. Once again, you and I are on the same level. I think it’s very important that while we are adopting, that we have a life-long duty and moral obligation to better the country from which we adopt so that adoption is something that a country’s impoverished don’t have to let go of their children and its most precious resource.

    Daniel, I get you though from an adoptee perspective. I get the idea that we just shouldn’t send kids out of their countries. But, as I argued with someone after I told them I was adopting internationally, that perspective is one of priveledge. What about the millioins of children who are literally starving – be it nutritionally, emotionally, psychologically or spiritually. Until we conquer the reasons why these kids are in orphanages, the kids still need love and homes and families. And, in these situations where westerners are adopting kids from other countries and cultures, it is squarely on the shoulders of the adopting parents to honor the country from which you are adopting. You must be willing to accept a lot of extra responsibility toward your child. I did write a bit about this in two earlier posts entitled: Would you Like A Side of Rage with Your Issues and also Ok, Here’s the Thing.

    I’d love to hear more about what is was like to go back to your homeland and convert back to Islam and the search for your birth parents that you’ve ended.

    Reply
  • 15. Daniel Drennan  |  January 5, 2008 at 4:05 am

    I’m very heartened by much of what is being discussed here, so thank you. And I think, in many ways, the responses here are echoing what I said in a way, though I said it rather obliquely. I have to admit that the original article was written for the Lebanese press, the newspaper Al-Akhbar. As I was writing it, I realized it was full of defensive postures meant for a Western audience. Having lived here for going on four years now, I am aware of a growing movement within the Third World to truly find an alternative to the dependence on global powers. To finally get past years of colonialism, dependence, and compradorism. So I framed the article in this way.

    I realize too there is this notion in the First World (for want of a better term) that there is “nothing that will change things”. This is so not true. There is a received wisdom that wars around the globe are due to those cultures; that problems around the world are somehow without indirect cause. I can sit and argue with anyone now about economics instead of religion and the wars we seem to think have something to do with installing capital-D Democracy are in fact wars of empire, wars of economic power.

    I don’t mean to preach politics. What I am trying to say is that the Third World is moving ahead–witness South America, for one, and I am seeing it in the Arab press–and you can see in the media and political attacks from the First World–as well as warfare–how anyone who is resisting this idea of remaining a vassal state is being targeted.

    My point being is that if adoptive parents want to engage with the countries of their children–and I have an issue with this, because frankly this is the hardest part of coming back, seeing that there is always this last step that I can’t cross because I didn’t grow up here and wasn’t acculturated here–then there are economic and political means at their disposal to do so from home.

    I couldn’t begin to describe if I started screaming now at the top of my lungs and didn’t stop for a thousand years my anguish during the war on Lebanon two summers ago. That that horror was allowed to go on for over a month to this day boggles my mind; and I can never forgive that nightmare being perpetrated on the people here. My greater discomfort was seeing that the people who were being painted as “evil” in fact weren’t; that the people who were supposedly “Westernized” and thus “modern” and “civilized” were in fact selling out the country for short-term gain.

    So everything is basically the opposite of how it needs to be seen back in the States. The saving graces here are a press that is a reflection of the true complete spectrum of politics, and a social fabric that given half of a half of a chance will prove wrong all who think “there is no hope” here. I mean, when a million people–one third the population of the whole country–were displaced during the war, there was not a single person who did not have shelter or food. I have never in my life seen such a mobilization of the remaining populace to take in those whose villages were being destroyed in the South and in the suburbs of Beirut.

    So what I am asking for in my article is the starting point–the strength to say “there is something else we can do”, the slight shift in perspective that will allow for change. Because until this shift takes place, then the status quo remains. And frankly, it hasn’t changed much in 500 years.

    I’m rambling. Forgive me. There is a diary at my web site that includes a Diary about Beirut. I previously took down much of it, because it was from a more or less honeymoon phase of my being here; I restarted it during the war.

    Reply
  • 16. Suzanne  |  January 12, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Daniel, your statement above, “…the wars we seem to think have something to do with installing capital-D Democracy are in fact wars of empire, wars of economic power,” remindw me of an enlightening (though disturbingly so) book I read last year entitled, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins. It addresses this very topic. And having read it, I have to agree with you.

    -Suzanne

    Reply

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