Tuesday, May 12, 2009

News From Ethica...

The JCICS has meeting notes from their conference in Ethiopia. Here is the link on Ethica's website.

It looks like DNA testing will start in Ethiopia. The entire PDF file is worth a read.

They are also trying to come up with a solution to the TB testing situation. Someone who is directly affected by the current policies is this child...

Please read her mom's post about what you can do to help.

These girls are affected as well...

I am relieved today to read about this important meeting in Ethiopia. Especially after hearing about this.

Soon, a lighter post about husbands, and bees, and zebra chairs, and blog friends coming to Los Angeles. Can you tell I have been spending a lot of time in Stage Four ?


  1. Thanks so much for posting this ethica link. This is really helpful to read.

    As for stages: I feel like I'm stuck in eleven, myself, with some four and also a bit of fourteen.

    I look forward to reading about the otehr stuff - especially the zebra chair!!

  2. Julie, I so appreciate the Ethica link. It was disheartening to hear of the staff shortages at the US Embassy, but good to hear of the discussions and of the good input of WH's Dr. Tsegaye. Stage Four - I hear you. Last night, I was so frustrated that I thought it easier to not have children at all. What stage is that?

  3. There's another WACAP'er now caught up in the mire of TB testing, just found out yesterday, was supposed to travel in a few days. Ten kids per year or less my ass.

  4. Nice to see UNICEF coming more around on international adoption after having such had a blanket "never take a child from their home country" approach in the past...it is about time.

    Revised SOP's in the pdf look good but I am still concerned that there is no discussion of mandatory compliance programs for US agencies practicing in these countries. US agencies should be able to provide prospective adoptive families and birth families policies and procedures that are used to ensure ethical placements. E.g., is there a database maintained to identify individuals that present children at the center or alleged areas of the country that the children are from, what verification process is performed internally regarding inconsistent statements and paperwork, is there community outreach and information about family tracing available to families from areas that the children are allegedly from, what processes are in place to confirm representations that adult relinquishing child is in fact the represented stated relative and other family history is accurate, what is the "tipping of care provider" policy...

    Regarding abandonment red flags, this has been a long standing problem in adoption both international and domestic. Abandonment is in fact a red flag that additional measures should be pursued. But a red flag is merely a red flag...it means take a closer look, evaluate it, if problematic escalate and mitigate, if not problematic, then proceed.

    There are many red flags in adoptions (again, both domestic and international...I can tell you horror stories about domestic "facilitators"), a process should be established to identify and detect red flags, respond and escalate to red flags for monitoring and further review,and mitigate or determine 'no issue' for detected red flags in the adoption placement.

    There have been and unfortunately will always be mothers and fathers unable or unwilling to parent their children. This may be due to addictions, war, poverty, youth, scarcity of resources (food, water and money - domestic and international), illness...and sometimes even coercion.

    Some mothers and fathers will not be parents, and some parents will not be birth mothers and birth fathers to their children.

    This is just how it is and how it will be. This is life - the reality of human existence.

    This is the challenge for these little people - the children. How will we adults as their advocates implement a system that serves their best interests?

    Adoption whether it be international or domestic inherently bears the risk that a placement may be based on business considerations rather than the only appropriate consideration - the child's welfare.

    This brings us to yet another challenge - the perception of appropriate welfare. Again - both domestic and international what does each child need or deserve...what are the appropriate objective factors for welfare? Does a child deserve a home that can provide them a Wii and fancy cars and clothes? Is it about money? Or is it about health? Then by what standard of health - third world, first world, what is healthy? (Check out WHO) Is it always in the best interests of a child to have contact with the birth family even in cases that bear the risk of abuse or neglect? What is neglect?

    Each child, each placement, each story is unique and individual. Truly only those that know the facts of the adoption and the child can make these decisions.

    No pre-adoptive parent can look at this system with bright, wide-open innocent eyes and assume that there is no fraud, no misrepresentation, no corruption,no business consideration, no pain. This is true whether you are deciding to adopt domestically, internationally or even - brace yourself - even through foster agencies. (Oh no, not foster, how could that be...I thought those kids were just abused or drug-exposed or something...) No one agency or process is wearing a bright shiny halo.

    Where there is money - there is fraud and abuse.

    When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks he responded "because that's where the money is."

    We as part of the village must be stronger, must be braver, must be willing to stand up, must be parents and advocate for children. So that they can grow up and be adults that demand the same for the next generation.

    This is not the time for complacency, for tears, for 'why me,' for 'it is too broken,' for denial that bad things happen in the world.

    It is the time for action, for advocacy, for change.

    Kids do in fact need homes.

    Kids need parents.

    Orphans do exist. Regardless of definition - they are orphans.

    Unfortunately, the act of adoption is often exclusively centered around the crises of adults - unwanted pregnancy, addiction, child removed by social services, death, illness, poverty, infertility, burning desire to expand one's family or to save a child. The adult crisis thereby creates the trauma or crisis for the child.

    We are all part of this crisis - and our job as the village is to help mediate and mitigate the loss for the children...for our children.

    This means one thing:

    We find famiies for kids, not kids for families. This is a child-centered approach. We work endlessly for a system that meets the needs of children and hold those responsible for their care and placement accountable. We ask the tough questions and demand answers.

    We compromise. We work together. We stand shoulder to shoulder and say "yes, it will be different."

    We support and love one another and as a village help find resolution for these children.

    So what is an ethical adoption?

    Ethical? I foresee an entire new branch of normative ethics developing to just wrestle with adoption issues...

    My best guess in the middle of an inappropriately long comment/rant is that an ethical adoption is one that involves the following: well informed and consenting parents - birth and adoptive; education and services for extended families - birth and adoptive; and, preparation within the community for transition and placement.

    Once we realize as a society that adoption is much more complex than a Disney character plot twist or a singularly focused investigative journalism piece, then we can start the true work and beauty of adoption which breathtakingly expands our lives, expands our families and ultimately expands our very hearts and souls.

  5. Thanks for posting this, Julia. UNICEF still pisses me off, as do the Save the Children people. Sure, long-term, their goals are laudable. But what about the kids who need homes NOW? Seems like a two-pronged approach would be much wiser... long-term goals plus immediate relief.

  6. Oh fioli. You don't know how I needed that today.

    Who are you ladies that I've been missing all my life?

    I love your hearts and admire your brains.

    Thanks for putting it out there.

  7. Wow, what an awful story in that link. I think that is why we, as adoptive parents, have to take VERY seriously the issue of choosing a reputable agency. Even then, I'm sure there can be questionable cases. The more we can know about or children's history and birth parents, the better for all involved, huh?

  8. Thank you for posting, Julie. The whole situation is making my head spin...It's so difficult not knowing the details of your child's story, and heart-wrenching to imagine that what little you know was fabricated...

  9. I'm glad you took me back to your post about the stages. I needed that one.


  10. Thanks Julie and Filoli for giving me such great reading tonight!

  11. We're on to something here - there is a movement brewing and I think Julie and Filoli are carrying the flag right now. Thank you, team of amazing women.

    I worry worry worry about the "story" of my son. All evidence points to "it is what was told", but I still worry and am trying to avoid emotional handwringing while pursuing the truth. To what end, some ask? The truth, is what I answer.

  12. "JCICS emphasizes that the problem with testing slowing down the adoption process by referencing Bucharest Study which finds that every month a child stays in institution decreases health, mental health and IQ."

    Exactly. 6 months is way too long, 2 months is way too long.

    "Why is the Embassy denying visas for children with HIV?"
    Why, indeed.

    Great points to consider about abandoned babies, and how they are brought in and by whom.

    Thank you Julie, for sharing the "hard stuff. Still trying to sort it all out in my mind.

  13. Lighter posts are nice, but not always possible with so much sadness. My heart is literally breaking for these children. Thanks for all your updates.