Posts Tagged ‘adoption controversy’

NY Times article on adoption from China and why I believe all adoptions should be open.

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The Sunday, September 18 New York Times ran this article, For Adoptive Parents, Questions Without Answers. An excerpt:

On Aug. 5, this newspaper published a front-page article from China that contained chilling news for many adoptive parents: government officials in Hunan Province, in southern China, had seized babies from their parents and sold them into what the article called “a lucrative black market in children.”

The news, the latest in a slow trickle of reports describing child abduction and trafficking in China, swept through the tight communities of families — many of them in the New York area — who have adopted children from China. For some, it raised a nightmarish question: What if my child had been taken forcibly from her parents?

The details of the story felt familiar to me. As an adoptive parent to children from Guatemala, I also wondered whether or not the adoptions of my children were legitimate. The longer I parented my children, the more deeply I understood the loss endured by their birth mothers. What if those women had been coerced to relinquish their children? Or worse, what if my children had been kidnapped?

How can any adoptive parent not ask the same questions? If one follows newspaper articles, blogs, books, and TV reports, one would believe every birth mother was coerced, and every child kidnapped. What if that described our situation, too?

So I searched for my children’s birth mothers, to hear in their own words the reasons why they gave up their children. Now I don’t have to wonder. I know. My kids don’t have to wonder, either; they’re young, but they’re old enough to understand hardship, and tough decisions, and what it means to feel like you have no other options. At the same time, my kids know they are loved. How? Their birth mothers told them so.

The birth mothers of my children don’t have to wonder, either. “Ana” and “Juana” have seen their children, and touched them. Held them on their laps. Ana and Juana know their babies are alive and healthy, and loved–not only by them, but by me, too. Our family circle is enlarged. At the center, there is no mystery.

The situation in China reinforces my belief that all adoptions should be open–that is, birth mothers and adoptive parents should be allowed contact, and encouraged to communicate. Questions can be answered. Fears can be put to rest.

On a recent trip to Guatemala, I asked our “searcher” how many cases of coercion or kidnapping she had discovered during her interviews with thousands of Guatemalan birth mothers. Her answer: zero.

Wouldn’t adoptive parents like to hear that information from their children’s birth mothers, themselves? That, for reasons of their own, their Guatemalan mothers relinquished their children, not without pain, but with free will? By definition, adoption involves great loss. What it doesn’t need is silence.

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Another Espresso Please says Mamalita shows “the good, the bad, the ugly”

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

People outside the adoption community may not realize how contentious the subject is within the community. This review of Mamalita by blogger ”Coffeemom” at “Another Espresso Please“–self-described as a mother to eight, through birth and adoption, both domestic and international–explains:

Now, to be honest, I wasn’t sure about this book to start.  Obviously, I am an adoptive mom and have adopted here in the states as well as internationally, from Ethiopia.  That makes my family a multiracial, multicultural blended up  mix of people.  It also makes me place adoption and adoption issues pretty high on my personal radar.  All this is to say that I had kind of tangentially followed the roller coaster of the adoption world in Guatemala over the  years, but from afar (no pun intended), and I was a little hesitant to read this memoir.  I feared a skewed perspective or an unfair or romanticized treatment of what was and is still an extremely complicated, layered, and challenging topic.  International adoption is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for the unscrupulous.   You must have hard eyes to see and hold a steady gaze at the roller coaster of process; making sure along the way that your desires are jiving with foundational ethics, preferably those laid out by the Hague Convention.

So, with that disclaimer and mindset, I began.  I found this book honest and compelling… It took me a bit to come to a kind of reading rapport for the author, largely due to my aforementioned guard regarding Guatemalan adoptions.  However, as the story continued I found myself appreciating her honesty and the clear eyes she used to see and describe both the beauty and the hardships in Guatemalan adoption.

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Mamalita is an honest, frank retelling of the Guatemalan adoption process: the good, the bad, the ugly. It is a book that might well engender some controversy in this heated climate of international adoption.  If only because of that, it is worth a read.   It shows us the near precipice where desire, desperation, and truth stand and take stock of each other. I still think about this book because it reveals the complexities of this difficult process, adoption, and it’s not a comfortable thing; nor should it be.  O’Dwyer shows us the heart of a mother, in this case, an adoptive mother and how she will literally go the distance and move the map of her home to go get her child.

It sounds like an oxymoron to say this, but I am passionate about moderation. I believe in balance, thoughtfulness, and the ability to consider an issue from all sides. Thank you, Coffeemom, for recognizing this quality in my writing. I’m grateful.

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