Great article in Mother Jones by Elizabeth Larson, whose daughter was adopted from Guatemala.
For those of you who don’t know, there’s been a lot of pushback against the “saving children from the benighted countries they were born in” narrative, led by those who were adopted.
The article covers much too much ground for me to sum up, so I’ll just quote the article’s comments on open adoption.
“One of the ways that wrongdoers hide their child-laundering schemes is by the closed-adoption system,” says David Smolin, a law professor who’s written extensively on corruption in transnational adoption. He and his wife adopted two sisters from India only to find out that they had been stolen from their birth family. Last March, a Utah adoption agency was indicted in an alleged fraud scheme involving 81 Samoan children whose parents were told that they were sending their children away to take advantage of opportunities in the United States—that there would be letters, photos, and visits, and that the children would return when they turned 18.
Openness, Smolin notes, would also make it harder for parents to think of adoptions as “rescuing” children. “There are cultural reasons why people give up children for adoption,” he says. “But when you have a situation where money alone, in relatively small quantities, would allow the birth family to keep the child—under current law you are allowed to take the child and spend $30,000 when $200 would be enough to avoid the relinquishment.”
As it stands, families who have forged relationships with birth parents often find it impossible to turn their backs on their economic needs. Some send a monthly stipend; others pay for the education of their child’s siblings, help finance businesses, or buy computers or cell phones to make it easier to stay in touch. And while all this is legal once the adoption is finalized, it’s a lot messier than writing a check for Save the Children. “We need to be careful what kind of impression that makes with other people in the village or area,” says Linh Song, the president of Ethica, a nonprofit organization that advocates for transparent adoptions worldwide. “Will they receive aid if their child is sent abroad?”
If you’re interested in reading further about Transnational Adoptions, there are a bunch of excellent blogs that write about this issue. Harlow’s Monkey is a great place to start, both because the blog is excellent and for the blogroll.