"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?