What Can I Do?

"The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should
be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds." – Abraham Lincoln

Last year when  I attended the Ethics Conference sponsored by Evan B. Donaldson and Ethica I was struck by many topics that were discussed. I cried often. In several sessions I tried to comment but routinely found myself choked up.  People expected this, no one chided me, but still I felt a bit ridiculous.  At a few panel sessions, I even made the moderator cry. 

In reflecting on the conference the other night, I remembered the single event that hit me, a mother who lost her child to the American Adoption Industry, the most.

Days before the conference, news broke loose about the heinous adoption practices that were taking place in Guatemala.  Kidnapping babies, prostituting teenage girls to make babies, all so the infertile wealthy Americans could buy them. There is much to the story and the practices that lead to the situation. Google Guatemala adoption and you will find oodles of information.

The conference organizers were concerned about the session and there was talk of added security, riots and more. Angry prospective adopters were expected to show, lawyers, legislators, agency personnel, and government bodies.

The emotional energy was palpable.

I did not attend the session and I regret it. I was scheduled to be elsewhere and remembering thinking "what could I possibly add to a discussion of Guatemala adoptions?"

I was sadly mistaken.

I learned after the session that several mothers in attendance (Mirah, Claud and others) did attend the session. They spoke up at one point and said they were there on behalf of the Guatemalan mothers who could not speak for their children. They were there as a show of support to those mothers and teenage girls in Guatemala who had been lied to, deceived, or prostituted so their children could be placed on the adoption open market. They were there to show solidarity for all mothers the world round. They were there to give a face to the absent, faceless Guatemalan mothers. Mothers that could be easily disregarded since they were not present.

The action still makes me cry.

With Guatemala and Vietnam and other countries shutting down (if even temporarily) adoptions, I cannot help but wonder what will happen to those babies?   Don’t get me wrong. I am glad, as in stupid silly glad, that these matters are getting the long over due attention. But while official focus on the corruption, the lawyers, the agencies, the American buyers, is anyone looking to fortify the orphanages, homes, countries, mothers that are currently holding those children? Is anyone thinking ahead on how to care for those children?

Is anyone working on the flip-side of this coin to help those mothers, those agencies and families that will, hopefully, end up being able to keep their babies where they rightfully belong  – in their own country and with their own people?

To use a woefully poor analogy, we seem to be getting the fox out of the hen house. But who is fortifying the hen house while we keep the fox at bay?


My greatest fear is that while the officials get bogged down in red tape and investigations, something horrible happens to a child or number of children, and the officials and religious zealots take the easy way out of their investigation and just end up back where we started – that is, believing selling  children to foreign buyers is easier than addressing the root cause. They will put their own ego preservation above family preservation.

What can we do for those countries? For those mothers? For those babies in those "stalled" adoptions? 

I feel so limited being so far away and with language and knowledge barriers. I can help in the States but in the other countries?

What can I do?

6 Thoughts.

  1. I wish adopter interest didn’t disappear if there are no babies to get. The Madonna-mentality (as in the singer and baby David) is so ruthless and hurtful.

  2. Dawn – A caustic side of me appreciates the disappearance of the prospective adopters once the supply diminishes. Proves that they were only in it for themselves and their own selfish needs versus truly helping a child.
    Since that is often a point the family preservationist (and others argue) I appreciate the disappearing adopters proving us right.
    But yes, I agree with you as well.

  3. I wonder about that too. The abuse has to stop, absolutely. But as one who has been to a Vietnamese orphanage and seen many children who grew up there . . . well, it’s just heartbreaking. If you can get a baby out — one who is there legitimately — then perhaps that child won’t end up with what I saw as the “empty eyes” of the older children, eyes with no spark in them.
    It almost seems like a no-win situation at times, and I truly don’t think it’s something that we as Westerners can provide a fix for from the outside — you know, rushing in and being the great white hope. The changes have to come from within the countries with great support from us. But how? How??? It all breaks my heart.

  4. Among the many responses to the earthquake in China was a response from US adopters asking if there were children who could be adopted. The Chinese government responded that they would be seeking families in China first.
    Now, I have no doubt that among those who have come forward to adopt Chinese earthquake victimes are people with good hearts. I’m enough of a cynic to know, though, that that’s not the case.
    As for what we can do from here in other countries? Donate to the programs that are working for the kids if we can find them. If we can’t, I’m at the same loss you are.
    It’s a right mess.

  5. Ugh. I struggle with this as well, every single day since coming back from Korea. There I saw orphanages and baby homes, and kept asking myself and those around me how to keep children from ending up in those “orphanages” to begin with, to prevent more people ending up like me — ripped from the country and culture that was supposed to have been mine.
    Like Judy said, it breaks my heart, and like Margie said, it’s a right mess.
    And like you, I find myself asking over and over again, “What can I do?”

  6. I am the mother of a beautiful daughter adopted from Guatemala. If you actually read all that is available about adoptions from there you will see that alot of this was politically motivatd. I was not an “infertile wealthy American trying to buy a baby” and you may be surprised to know many of the adoptins from there were not motivatd by infertility but by trying to save a life.
    Many of my friends who adopted from there and I now wrk to raise money for the childrens and families down there and actually physially go down there, sometimes risking our lives to work for these people and children.
    Before you speak on the subject please get on a plane and go down there. Then you can see the children begging on the corner for food, some so filthy I cannot fathom they could ever be clean, with no adult or parent in sight. Drive by the garbage dump and watch these abandoned children living in it, or better drive by what you think is a garbage dump only to findout it is a mass grave where the infants and children are placed after they die of disease or malnutrition. This, like hundreds of other countries in the world is a third world country with no social structure and a corrupt plitical government.
    What can you do???? Adopt a village, sponsor children for education, fly down there and bring supplies and clothes to the villages, pay for food baskets, etc Unfortunately this will not even make a dent in the reality of what goes on but it is a start.
    Poverty was not the reason my daughter was given up so no amount of money could have changed that situation. I thank God every night we found the way to each other so that she was not one of the thousands laying in that dump with human bones and flesh.

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