Wall Street Journal on “Cheating the Orphans”

There’s nothing technically “new” in this clip about Guatemalan adoption, “Cheating the Ophans,” posted by the Wall Street Journal, except for the fact that the Wall Street Journal believes the state of adoption in Guatemala—closed since December 2007, some 100+ cases unresolved, with no signs of reopening—deserves to be recognized. As far as I’m concerned, that’s new enough, and great news, building on a recent spate of articles that question the wide-scale closure of adoption programs with no exit strategy or “Plan B” in place.

First, in December, a front-page article about the Guatemala 900 in the New York Times, then protests in Russia by Russian citizens who disagree with Putin’s decision to stop adoptions to the US, followed by a story about the Krygrz 65 in Time magazine, and now, an editorial and news clip by the Wall Street Journal. Maybe this critical mass of media coverage will lead to meaningful reform and the reopening of programs long closed. 

In the clip where she is shown discussing the situation in Guatemala, Mary Anastasia O’Grady, “The Americas” columnist for the WSJ, registers the incredulity common to people who operate in a world of logic and sense: She cites the “high number” of children living in orphanages, at the same time that ”loving homes” await them. Why is this allowed to happen? O’Grady wants to know. She states that the waiting families of the Guatemala 900 are emblematic of a broader problem: “You have children who the mother can’t take of, and parents–plenty of them–who want them… The net effect is that these children are basically institutionalized. I think that is a crime.”

Ms. Grady, so do a lot of other people.

In the video clip, which I urge you to watch, O’Grady touches on the subject of the State Department, giving the bureaucracy props for trying, while noting that its pace is “glacial.” She also observes that children with special needs are “especially harmed” by adoption closures because many US adoptive parents, unlike adoptive parents elsewhere, will specifically adopt children with special needs. (To which I would add my observation and experience that every child who has been institutionalized or in foster care has ”special needs,” although that is a subject too complicated to address here.)

Finally, O’Grady comments on a “horrible prejudice… that a child born in Guatemala can’t grow up in New Jersey.” I loved hearing her say a “horrible prejudice,” because of course that particular argument is used over and over again by people who are anti-international adoption.

Watching this clip reminds me that many people who don’t “live” in the world of international adoption view adoption as a loving, permanent, and straightforward solution that makes sense. What they don’t understand is why, in this great big world of ours filled with smart people, nobody can seem to devise a way to make it work.

 Me, either.



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