My friend Erica posted this yesterday and I had to repost. She has articulated well what has been on my heart since we returned from our mission trip in February. Hopefully it will motivate me to blow the dust off my half-written post discussing some of these same issues and post it here soon---because I think those of us who have advocated for adoption (and specifically our own), owe at least an equal amount of time and attention to awareness of the bigger picture.
Did I get your attention? Are you ready to throw tomatoes?
Hopefully you'll at least take the time to read through this post to get where I'm coming from. No, I haven't gone mad and suddenly become some crazy anti-adoption advocate. I have become more of a child advocate in different ways and I've taken a long hard look at the orphan crisis and I'm continuing to develop my thoughts on the matter. Come take a walk through my brain.
As the waters of international adoption in Ethiopia have become murky, wait times increase and people wonder what the future holds, it has caused me to wonder what has changed. Why has adoption in Ethiopia gone from a huge need to an almost demand? The quick answer? Because of us. Yes. That's hard to swallow. Yes its painful. That doesn't change the reality.
Let me explain.
Ethiopia is home to over 5 million orphans. Of those orphans a much smaller number are actual double orphans or in layman's terms truly in need of a family. This means that many of these children have at least a mom or a dad that would like to care for them. Yes, I said that. I said it because its true. Mothers and Fathers don't generally give up their children unless they feel they HAVE to. As a mother I know this is true, I would challenge any mother that said it wasn't. Some children actually have family members that would care for them if that was financially possible for them.
Adoption is necessary because we live in a broken world.
Its not glamorous. Its painful.
This is a difficult subject. Not everyone wants to hear it and some just honestly don't know. I used to be in the "I didn't know" group. Because I used to be in that place I feel that much stronger about the need to speak out. We need to advocate for change, stand up for those who have no voice (James 1:27) and work on the ethics in international adoption vs. pretending everything is great. Yes, even if that means waiting longer or stopping to correct things.
Just because we feel "called" to adopt doesn't mean we should throw ethics to the wayside.
I'm sure some of you are sitting back saying "sure, now that she's home with her kids she can get on the ethics bandwagon". I've been pretty pointed about my feelings on ethics from the beginning. It was what drove our agency choice and unfortunately knowing what we know now I cannot in good conscience recommend them any longer. Much of the things we've learned/seen have come about after the fact and much in part because we stayed in Ethiopia for a month and saw a lot of what was happening at a ground level. Asked questions and pushed for answers. We can't help the timing but we also can't sit back and be silent.
God doesn't need us to solve the orphan crisis. He allows us to be apart. We need to advocate on ALL levels.
My reason for finally posting this blog that's been written for months is simple. I can't be silent. As adoptive parents we owe it to ourselves and to our children to be educated on what's going on in the world of International adoption. (domestic as well but that's a completely different blog post)
We must advocate, we must be honest, and we must speak up!
So how do we fix it? I believe its a complex issue and there is no "right" answer. I do think that adoption is part of the solution for the orphan crisis but I think in some respects Christians have come to a place of thinking its OUR job to solve this. God doesn't need us to solve the orphan crisis. Nope. Not a bit. Do we really think He's not capable of righting all wrongs all on his own? He does however invite us to be apart, he commands us to care for orphans and widows. Fight for the oppressed, speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Adoption is part of that. I don't think adoption is ALWAYS the right answer. Please bear with me in what I'm about to say next. I don't believe that God wants us to adopt children who have been taken from their parents. That is NOT Gods intent. I've heard some say "well he/she is still better off with me". Really? Better off with you or me vs. their biological family that God designed and sovereignly placed there? I don't think so. It seems we're missing the point. Where are the adoption agencies with STRONG family preservation programs? Are we advocating for KEEPING kids IN families or are we just worried about building ours? Shouldn't our first and foremost goal be to keep families together? If mama is giving up her baby because she doesn't have the $30 a month it costs to support her family shouldn't we do something about that? I think so.
Now let me back up a little before you completely stop reading. Please hear me. I DO believe there is a true need for families to adopt, I just don't think that need is as HUGE as its currently being played out in some countries. I do believe there are children of ALL ages that need families. Yes, that includes infants, toddlers, HIV+ kids, special needs kids, and teenagers that desperately need families! BUT my question is do we have our focus correct or are we just adopting because WE want another child or because its our "mission"? What's the purpose of adopting a child and leaving a mother or family for that matter heart broken when $30 a month could change the circumstances?
Adoption agencies are making money on adoption. I know some of you may find that cruel and mean but it's true. Adoption has become a "business" of sorts. PLEASE don't get me wrong, I love adoption, I love many adoption agencies and I think they are doing the best they can (some better then others) but I urge you to please look at the whole picture. ASK your agency what their family preservation programs look like. That would be the deal breaker for me if we were to adopt again.
Many people assume we adopted because it was the "cool thing" or because we like Angelina and Brad a whole lot. Neither of those are true, well I do kinda like Brangelina but that had zero to do with our adoption choices. Adoption is not for wimps! It is hard. It is messy. Anyone who thinks otherwise should spend a day in the life of a family fresh home with their new baby/child!
I write this not to cause an international uproar, I write it because its important. I write this because we have personal experience and we cannot be quiet. I write this because I cannot be silent. As adoptive parents we must advocate for mothers, for children, those waiting, those adopted, those who will be adopted. All of them matter. All of them deserve an advocate.