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« AGI News: "PARAGUAY: ITALIAN COUPLE ARRESTED FOR TRAFFICKING OF BABIES" | Main | Drive-by Culture »

October 08, 2007

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That is racism. It's certainly going to take a lot of work from us parents to battle this mindset. No possible way to keep ignoring it, we only do our children and ourselves a disservice.

JR, I'm wondering what you think of a comment I read elsewhere. A black woman (raised by white APs I believe) said that she thinks white Americans are looking to Ethiopia for more acceptable black kid-that white Americans perceive Ethiopians as being better than other black children (like maybe those in the US).

Is that a kind of colorism on the part of the commenter? Or on the part of the parents? It's a particularly dubious claim, I think, because Ethiopians do have a range of skin tones, many very dark. And parents certainly cannot request a skin tone or turn down a referral because of skin tone. But Ethiopians often do have features that may appear more European to some people. And because there is a lot of misunderstanding in the US about Ethiopia (many Americans can only think of famine and starvation when they think of Ethiopian).

But I do hear a lot of APs talk about how beautiful Ethiopians are. Of course, a lot of people say this, a lot of people of color too.

Before I ramble too much: your thoughts, if you have a minute. Thanks.

Hi,

As a parent that adopted internationally after exploring domestic foster care adoption, I wanted to address the issue of adopting children of color from abroad while children of color are in foster care in the US. We adoptive parents get slammed alot especially by a variety of African-American TV news panelist because we adopt from Asia, Latin America, or Africa while US children are in foster care. They attribute all kinds of racism to us based on "shades" of color.

The real reason is that international children are AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION, while US foster kids still have parents whose parental rights have not been terminated. Thus, you can not adopt them. You can be their foster parent and then after a few years if their birthparents are still abusive/addicted, etc. their parental rights MAY be terminated and maybe then you are allowed to adopt them. But, as a person who dealt with years of the rollercoaster of infertility treatment, the last thing you want is the rollercoaster of dealing with unfit birthparents trying and failing to get their act together. Additionally, since by definition, these children come from severely abusive or neglectful homes, you have a lot of issues to deal with on that front.

Our daughter Emma is a wonderful child and the light of our lives. She is from China and has olive/tan skin, but that is really irrelevant to our feelings for her. We were able to adopt her at 13 months old. Prior to that, she was with a excellent and loving foster family in China who helped to shape her into the intelligent and loving child she is today. She did spend her first 2 months in an orphanage (but it was a better one) and then went into foster care. So, she has not been abused or neglected and has the ability to form loving attachments with her caregivers and parents. So, for us, the reason we went with international adoption is that there are young children who are legally available for adoption, not something that is true of the US foster care system. Just my 2 cents.

Stacey,

1. In my county there are over 100 kids RIGHT NOW who have TPR's and are available for adoption. I'm not sure what county or state you were dealing with, but that is the figure in my county.

2. You probably would not consider any of them because most of them are not babies or toddlers. So that is another factor.

3. Children who have a history in the foster care system might seem like they're harder than those who are virtual "blank slates" from other countries, but I just want to remind people that having less information about parents and family history means you know less for the future. You are lucky you are so sure your daughter has the ability to attach to you. Not everyone who adopts internationally has a child who is like your daughter.

4. My job and my world view is that we find families for children, not children for families.

5. From your description you are describing something in our county we call foster-adopt, or concurrent permanency planning, which is the role of the parent is to be a foster placement with the goal of helping to reunify kids with their parents, and then stepping in to adopt if there is a termination of parental rights. From your own description of "the last thing you want is the rollercoaster of dealing with unfit birthparents trying and failing to get their act together" it sounds to me (and this is just my opinion) that your goal was adoption, not to be a concurrent permanency placement option or a foster adopt parent. If you went into it trying to adopt, and not to facilitate for the children during the reunification process, then of course you would feel that it was a bad system. Because this system WAS NOT MEANT to be for adoption.

OK, this is somewhat disjointed and long, but I hope you won't knitpick it...

My original response had to do with how for us, race was not the factor in deciding to adopt internationally. If adoptive parents were so concerned about race, they would all adopt from Eastern Europe or pay the large fees to adopt a white domestic infant. In fact, originally, we looked into India, but were told by the agencies we contacted that the Chinese program was much better run and faster, so we went with China.

Yes, my goal was to become a permanent parent, not a foster parent, thus birth or adoption were my only options. And yes, I, like most people who want children, wanted a baby or toddler. In our case, my husband and I struggled with infertility for almost four years trying to have children.

Adoptive parents, like almost all other people (fertile or not), prefer young children, since one of the joys of parenting it to be with a child throughout their infancy/toddlerhood/childhood/adolescence and beyond. We are just not as lucky as "fertiles" to be able to conceive children easily. I don't see too many FERTILE people decide to not breed and instead adopt an older foster child, so why is taking care of America's abused children the responsibility of INFERTILE people? Note: when we did re-adopt our daughter here in the US, one of the many court fees we paid was labelled a "child abuse fund" so I guess that adopting our Chinese daughter did ultimately result in some funding going to US foster kids and their families. Your profile state you are the mother to "two Hapa children", are they adopted from the foster care system? If not, why did you decide to give birth instead of adopting older foster kids? What is stopping you, an experienced parent, from doing that now? Oh, right, you are fertile, so you don't have to.

As an aside, I did finally give birth to bio-children through IVF and all of our children get along wonderfully. I can truely say that to me, there is no difference in the love you feel for a child whether they enter your family through birth or adoption.

Anyway, prior to adoption or my bio-pregnancy, when I contacted the public agencies, I was told the only way to get a baby or toddler was to do foster-to-adopt and hope the birthparents didn't get their act together. They said I could improve my chances for this if I fostered a child whose birthparents had already had other children permanently removed...thus showing an inability to parent and probablity that they would lose this child as well. The other option was to take a large sibling group. Does this make any sense to you...people with no direct parenting experience suddenly become the parents of 2-5 siblings all at once that have a long abuse history? Shouldn't they be looking for people with parenting experience to take sibling groups?.

Instead, we chose the more direct path of adopting a child from China whose birthparents had already terminated their parental rights when they abandoned her. Yes, I know that the reasons they made that decision have to do with Chinese government policies and Chinese cultural preferences for boys which both seem unfair to westerners. But, I don't control the Chinese government (if I did, they would still be allowing singles to adopt) and I certainly can't convince Chinese couples that girls are as good as boys. The birthparents' choices are not my responsiblility. My only choice was to adopt a child whose other option in life was not a family in China, but life in an orphanage.

I (and she) were lucky in that she was in a city that has a good Social Welfare Institute and that placed her with good foster parents until she could be adopted. I am aware that there were other children in our referral group from other orphanages in China that had significant developmental delays due to not receiving enough interaction from their caregivers. Thankfully, from what I have heard in year that we have been home with our daughter, most of these kids have caught up develpomentally.

I understand that the agencies' job is to find "families for children" and that is commendable, but the potential adoptive parent is not an adoption agency, they are a person/couple that is trying to find a child and their goal is to to have a family. So, when doing that, you have to look at what the various options are to have a child. Do you continue with so-far unsuccessful infertility treatments, do you look into private domestic newborn adoption, do you do foster-adopt, do you do international adoption, do you remain "childfree" and focus on you career. Each of those options has a different chance of success, a different cost, and a different timeline. You have to weigh those options and make a decision. Many potential parents think that international adoption is the best option.

If people in the US want more children to be adopted out of foster care, then they need to focus on the rights of the CHILDREN, not the property rights of the birthparents. If birthparents have abused a child, why give them a second, third and forth chance? Why keep a child in foster-care for years and years? So they can go back to abusive parents and then be taken away again? Also, why if parents have had parental rights taken away for abusing previous children are they allowed to just give birth and take home new children without any supervision? If you abused your previous kids, you will probably abuse the new ones as well. It seems to me the best interest of the child is to be in a loving, non-abusive family whether they have a genetic connection to them or not. You mention that there are "over 100 kids RIGHT NOW who have TPR's and are available for adoption" in your county...but they are not babies are toddlers. Where they babies/toddlers when they first entered fostercare? If so, why were they allowed to sit in foster care for years? Because the birthparents parental rights were more important than the child's right to a loving family?

Stacey, I actually do understand a lot of what you are saying.

It's just that I find your attitude towards birth parents so demeaning. For example, the majority of the kids I work with were not abused by their birth parents. They came in through neglect because of chemical health or mental health issues. The two that were the most abused were - get this - abused in their adoptive home and were removed (that's why they are now in the system again).

I know that for some adoptive parents it's a lot easier to vilify birth parents and it makes them sleep easier at night. But everyone is human and everyone has their battle to fight. I have no reason to believe that a woman in the US who loses her kid to the system grieves any less than a woman in China who gives up her daughter for the 1-child policy.

As for why I decided to give birth, it's because I WAS ADOPTED AND NEVER KNEW ANYONE WHO LOOKED LIKE ME OR WAS GENETICALLY RELATED TO ME. And it was important for ME to experience that.

Maybe if you were adopted, you'd understand. Actually, I think you DO understand, otherwise you wouldn't have gone through the trouble of using IVF to conceive biological children.

However, you are presuming an awful lot when you state that because I'm fertile I don't choose to adopt. How do you know that I won't adopt? You are right, I am an experienced parent. I even have a teenager. I work with 17 teenagers in foster care right now. How do you know that in the future I won't adopt from the foster care system? How do you know I wouldn't adopt internationally, say, from Korea?

My purpose for keeping this blog is to dispel the myths about international and transracial adoption. I know that what I write will cause adoptive parents to question, and be defensive, about their own choices they have made.

You have a number of good points - especially the one about giving new parents a sibling set. But that is because most people want to adopt babies and toddlers and some social workers are desperate to find homes for these kids. For myself, I disagree with that, but I'm only one social worker here and not everyone would agree with me.

You told Stacey most kids were removed from their birthparents because of neglect - not abuse. Neglect IS a form of abuse.

Neglect IS a form of abuse.

It can be, however, read what this article says:

"Few states make a distinction between parents who choose to neglect their children and parents who can't afford food, clothing, and shelter. Essentially, a state can take someone's child because they are too poor."

Before someone says that "you shouldn't have kids if you can't provide for them", remember that nothing in life is certain and just because you are financially ok this year doesn't mean you will be next year; it can happen to anyone.

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