Do You Want Kids to Die in the Streets?

Being a very passionate person on the controversial issue of international adoption, I think often times people are unwilling to hear my critiques or misunderstand them. Below is a question I’ve been asked and hopefully a clear answer.
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Question:
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So, are you proposing that instead of adoptions we should just keep kids in orphanages and foster homes? Or let them die in the streets? Because the reality is, there are some children who do not have families to take care of them.
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Answer:
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Though I am not an adoptive parent, I can understand how words questioning the way in which your family was brought together could sting (because I’ve been there and wrestled with the same questions – does critiquing the system that brought my family together critique the solidity and strength of my family unit?).  I have decided, however, that I cannot ignore the harmful flaws in the adoption system that are brushed over by many for a multitude of reasons. I want the system to change so that when adoptions do happen they are absolutely necessary and ethical. In my criticism of adoption, I am not necessarily condemning all adoptions or all adoptive parents, and it does not mean that I love my adoptive parents any less.
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It is true that there are children in the world who don’t have families to take care of them. And while I think that it is better for a child to be raised in a family over an institution, we need to remember that children don’t just walk to orphanages by themselves. When hearing about children in orphanages or foster care, I think the common question is how to get them out of the system, mostly through adoption. I think more people need to question why children are entering the system in the first place, though. Answering this question can’t be as simple as “immature, first parents who are neglectful” or the fact that “well, the parents chose to give them up.” Were children abandoned by parents who desperately wanted to keep them but couldn’t because of governmental policies like the One Child Policy in China? Were these children given up because their impoverished, unwed mother didn’t have anyone to support her? Or were drugs and alcoholism problems in the child’s first home? Adoption looks at the problem upside down. When we turn to adoption as the solution to these problem, we ignore the discussion on how to avoid the problems in the first place. The short-term solution for the child may be adoption, but it then becomes our responsibility to facilitate long term solutions to prevent family separation that lie in community building, working to eradicate the negative social stigma of single motherhood, and even advocating more education for women and drug prevention programs. I fundamentally believe that most people want to be good parents, but services to aid them are lacking. My desire isn’t to end all adoption. My desire is to have a clean adoption system where money isn’t abused and programs exist to help first families, so it is 100% clear that the children being adopted don’t have living family who want to raise them.
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10 responses to “Do You Want Kids to Die in the Streets?

  1. Well said and succinct response to a multi-layered, complex issue. It’s such an odd question to ask, and I’ve been asked it a number of times also. “So do you want kids just to die and grow up in orphanages?” As if it’s that simple, and as if I’m that heartless, and as if my thoughts on the current flawed system are stating that I’m anti-adoption.

    Keep the dialogue and blog rolling!

  2. I appreciate your insight. Adoption is one answer to a deeply complex problem, but it is not the final answer that solves all. As an adoptive mom it does sting to think of the gray areas and how parents have unknowingly contributed. I cannot even find words to express how much I love my children and how much I wanted to be their mother. Sticking my head in the sand and living in denial will not help anyone, though. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to make things better.

  3. As an adoptive mom of two girls born in China, I couldn’t agree more. Irks me no end when people say that my daughters are so lucky. I believe that the birth parents of my daughters will grieve forever as will my daughters.

  4. I appreciate your comment Joyce Hoffman – I’m in reunion with my birthmother. Even though we’re forging an amazing relationship, I think we both will continue to mourn the 27 years we lost apart from each other. I had a wonderful childhood with parents who continue to support me in everything I do. Mom is even coming down to Colombia with me in June to meet my birthmother! That said, there’s still something about that initial loss that probably won’t ever really go away.

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