Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are We Making a Difference?

I have been wanting to write about this for a while, but it's a difficult subject...

There has been an interesting discussion on ichild, lately.
For those who don't know ichild, it is a Yahoo Group of people touched by adoption from India and the Indian sub-continent. A  lot of discussions are specific to the Indian adoption process, but there are also talks about adoptive parenting, adoption travel, culture and more general topics that I find very relevant to our Sri Lankan adoption.

These past few weeks, someone has raised the issue of our motivations to adopt internationally. And it has sparked a deep and thoughtful discussion.
Why, indeed, do we adopt internationally?

It's true that some orphans are destined to a life in very poor conditions. And children who grow out of the orphanage/child care system have very little hope of anything better than a life on the streets. These children need a family, and we are giving them just that.
That is one of the main reasons Pablo and I decided to adopt.

The Hague Convention recognizes a few principles:
- A family is a much better place to grow than an orphanage
- Whenever possible, a child should stay with her birth family (unless the family is abusive).
- When the birth family cannot keep the child, he should be placed with a local family and stay in his birth country.
- If the birth family and a local family are not viable options, then international placement may be the only way to offer the child a family.

I tend to agree with these principles. Though we have good life conditions and I consider our family to have a rich culture, I do not have the pretension to be any better than a Sri Lankan family for a Sri Lankan child.

And that is where the problem arises. An adoptive mother on ichild asked a very difficult question:
We are spending a lot of resources to adopt our child - Money, time, energy, we are even going to travel halfway around the world! If we want to help these orphans, why are we not putting all these resources toward helping a Sri Lankan family keep their baby? Why not invest in a local family to help them take a child under their care?

On the other hand, I wonder how realistic this view is. If I traveled to Sri Lankan and gave all the time, money and energy I've invested in this process, would I even be able to do anything at all for even just one child?
Some birth families have complex stories, where poverty is not the only reason for placement. What about unwed mothers? Illegitimate children? Teenage mothers? Cultural barriers to adoption?
Is it true that money can solve the world's problems?

I would love to hear what other people think about this (please keep the discussion respectful). Any insight from waiting families, adoptive families, Sri Lankans, maybe even adoptees?

1 comment:

  1. This is something I also struggled with when we were in the process of adopting from Colombia. I think in an ideal world, all orphans would be placed in loving, capable homes in their country of origin, but in today's world this just isn't possible. Inter-country adoption is certainly not the solution to help ALL orphans in the world, but it will give a loving home and opportunities to your future children that they wouldn't have had otherwise. If you can make the world of difference to even just one child, that makes everything worth it. And also, just because you are adopting internationally, doesn't mean you can't do other things to help orphans. It is not a choice between the two, you can adopt from Sri Lanka and also help out a Sri Lankan NGO someday in the future.