The Daily Beast hosted the second “Women in the World” salon series event, Forgotten Children: International Adoption and the Global Orphan Crisis, on Wednesday morning at Urban Zen in Manhattan’s West Village, in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month. Everything about the meeting seems to have been extraordinary, from the participants (Hugh Jackman, Tina Brown, Vera Wang, Ambassador Susan Jacobs) to the discussion to the list of 9 ways to help. Please read the entire article, watch the YouTube video clips, and forward to everyone you know.
But first, know that the polled participants agreed that international adoption should never be the first option to help the 163 million orphans (defined as having lost at least one parent) living without permanent families. The first option should always be to place a child with biological family members. The second, to place a child within his community. The third is to adopt out internationally. Remember, too, that last year, only 13,000 children were adopted to families in the United States. International adoption should never be viewed as the “solution” to the international orphan crisis because it can’t possibly address the overwhelming numbers of children who need homes.
Some selected comments:
Dr. Jane Aronson, adoption medicine specialist and founder of Worldwide Orphans Foundation, speaking about the need for post-placement services: “Children have these problems, and we have to be honest about those problems. People need to know what they’re getting into. And they need to then either step up to it, or not sign on for it.”
Dr. Sophie Mengitsu, director of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation in Ethiopia, speaking about institutionalized care for children: ”Kids are better off in the streets” than in an institution. Why? For every three months in an institution, a child’s development is delayed by one month.
Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s chief of child protection, when asked what kind of contingency is in place to protect children in countries where adoptions are summarily closed with hundreds of cases still pending, such as Guatemala: “At the moment, there is no contingency plan.”
As I said, “Extraordinary.”