Archive for January, 2013

Unicef, Russian adoption, and Guatemala

Sunday, January 6th, 2013


A friend and fellow adoptive mom posted this Statement by Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, on the Proposed Russian Adoption Ban to a Guatemalan adoption listserve:

NEW YORK (December 26, 2012) – “While welcoming Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s call for the improvement of the child welfare system, UNICEF urges that the current plight of the many Russian children in institutions receives priority attention.

“We ask that the Government of Russia, in its design and development of all efforts to protect children, let the best interests of children – and only their best interests – determine its actions.

“We encourage the government to establish a robust national social protection plan to help strengthen Russian families. Alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential, including permanent foster care, domestic adoption and inter-country adoption.

“All children deserve an environment that promotes their protection and well-being. Russian children – indeed all children – need to be in protective and loving families or family-like environments.”

Add me to the list of people who read these words: “Alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential, including permanent foster care, domestic adoption and inter-country adoption,” and said, “Excuse me? I’m confused.”
Where has Unicef been since Guatemala’s intercountry adoption program shut down, five years ago? How has Unicef partnered with Guatemala to advocate for and improve the welfare of the thousands of Guatemalan children in institutionalized care? This includes the approximately 200 children whose adoption cases remain unresolved and whose lives are suspended in limbo, members of the group known as the Guatemala 900. Maybe I’m missing something, but I haven’t read or heard anything about Unicef in Guatemala since intercountry adoption closed in December 2007.
“Alternatives to the institutionalization of children are essential.”
Agreed. But where is the leadership from Unicef?



The Russian adoption ban

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

The Russian adoption ban. What’s to be said? That it dooms hundreds of children who might have been adopted to a life lived inside the four walls of an institution. The reality is almost too heartbreaking to think about, except that, around the world, millions of children have no other choice.

Here are links to two articles that I found compelling. The first, because it describes conditions inside orphanages in Russia; and the second, because it addresses the ramifications of summarily closing a country’s international program.

Russia’s Adoption Ban Is Cruel and Vindictive to All, by Dr. Jane Aronson in the Daily Beast.

Russia’s Adoption Ban Plays Politics with Most Vulnerable, by KJ Dell-Antonia in the New York Times.

I’m pasting here the text of a letter to the New York Times, written in response to a Times cover story about the situation, because the same can be said about the waiting children and families of the Guatemala 900.

Many facets of international adoptions are debatable, but one is not. Stopping nearly complete adoptions is cruel. To let human bonds form and then destroy them shows a level of callousness uncommon even for politicians.

When an American adoptive mother sent her child back to Russia with a note saying she was abandoning him, Russians were rightly outraged. Treating children as objects is offensive. Treating them as political pawns is no less so.

Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 28, 2012

Amen, and Is anybody listening?




Les Miserables

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Over the holidays, my sisters, nieces, and I saw Les Miserables. The film is powerful and moving, and what’s not to love about Hugh Jackman singing? But I had forgotten about the story’s adoption theme. That Jean Valjean took in Fantine’s daughter Cosette, and raised her as “his own,” his commitment as an adoptive father enduring and true.

As I’ve written before on this blog, Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness are adoptive parents to two children–Oscar and Ava–and Deborra-Lee Furness, in particular, advocates often for adoption. As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help believe that Jackman’s bone-deep understanding of adoption’s mysterious bond somehow informed his performance, rendering it both believable and breathtaking.

I loved this movie. ~