Sometimes I think I am a glutton for punishment.
I keep clinging onto vestiges of hope that maybe international adoption can work in developing countries. But I am drawn like a bug to a zapper when I see books like this one:
And yes, I felt like a zapped bug. This time, I got to read 312 pages describing (in sordid detail) the stinking cesspool that was the Guatemalan adoption industry. And an industry it was, since at its height, thousands of children were exported from this tiny war-torn country every year. In fact, for several years, 1 out of every Guatemalan 100 babies were sold to America. And while thousands of American families fawned over pictures of "their" children, fixed up nurseries, and prayed desperate prayers, the millions of dollars being sent to Guatemala were being used by adoption agencies, lawyers, judges, and orphanages to manipulate, buy, or just plain kidnap children away from their mothers.
And the pit in my stomach just continues to grow.
As I've said over and over, I wish it wasn't true. I so desperately want to support all international adoptions--I really do. And it would be one thing if collectively the American Adoption Community looked at Guatemala and said, Wow, we really learned our lesson. We won't ever let that happen again. But the hardest part about all of this is that America still has not learned its lesson. It still is turning a blind eye.
You might have read the post I wrote last year called Children Are No Longer For Sale in Uganda. After Uganda's adoption industry turned into its own cesspool, the Ugandan government finally got in control of it and passed some new laws. Perhaps the most significant of those laws is that any foreign adoptive parent needs to now foster the child in Uganda for one year before adopting.
So you can imagine my surprise when I read the following on the United States Department of State website last week:
What does this mean? It means that some American adoption agencies are trying to get around the one-year fostering law by finding Ugandan families to "proxy foster" the child....until the requirement is supposedly met and the American family can swoop in and take the child back to America.
How clear does Uganda need to be? How spelled out do they need to make the law? It's even written in English. You must live in Uganda for at least one year to adopt a child. Is it really that hard to understand? But hey, I guess if Madonna is able to ignore adoption residency requirements, then anyone can.
Some will say, Well, adoptive families wouldn't be able to get away with it if it wasn't okay. Really? Then they obviously have never lived in a developing country before. They have absolutely no idea the depth of the corruption that they are enabling, that they are contributing to, in the name of rescuing a child.
Sigh. I'll say it again:
If you're feeling called to adopt, choose a Hague-Convention country. Do your homework; don't just trust your agency. Ask the hard questions. Read the country's laws for yourself. Support adoption reform. Remember that adoption corruption is rampant and you cannot assume the best.
Please, please, America (and it really is mainly America), let's learn this lesson.