2 thoughts on “Links I liked

  1. Paul, I agree with you 100%.

    Crusaders against international adoption are modern-day white saviors who exaggerate the problem to burnish their images and work (in addition to Ms. Siegal’s self-aggrandizing work, see Connor Grennan’s heartwarming tale of a wealthy east-coaster saving the natives, hurray!), and — not to be cynical — sell more books!.

    The uptick in articles on child trafficking through orphanages, I believe, is due to the fact that some people want to justify their reasons for NOT adopting children while those who do adopt internationally don’t feel there’s any additional warrant needed. I’ve also noticed a troubling sentiment against international adoption as opposed to domestic adoption. I’ve always found this position ironic, given that the disapproval comes mostly from people who call themselves religious. I mean, after all, if religion’s your thing, then it’s “all God’s children,” right? Not “all God’s American children.” The implication being that international adopters are seeking some sort of cultural cache with a foreign child. An allegation that’s as disgusting as it is petty. If my Ethiopian daughter makes you feel inadequate or strange, that’s your problem.

    Obviously I’ve adopted a child internationally (she’s not Ethiopian, by the way). But I’ve also spent more than a decade working in South Asia and Africa on matters of child welfare, so I think I have better than average experience on this topic. Is there trafficking? Absolutely. Is one child trafficked, too many? Of course. Are some parents deceived by traffickers? Yes. Are some parents so impoverished that they are knowingly complicit in their child’s trafficking. Yes also. Are some parents so worn down by crushing poverty that they abandon their children, or attempt to make a little profit to provide for the other children in their family? Yes. Do these same parents feign innocence and display relief when their children are returned? Yes–it cannot have been an easy decision. Do these same children suddenly have a change of heart when their livelihoods improve and they can suddenly afford to feed another child? Yes. Is Ms. Siegal’s depiction of families being duped by traffickers just another dehumanization of the poor as uneducated simpletons? Yes.

    We’re not likely to see a careful study of adoptions suspected to be criminal because, frankly, there’s not enough will. UNICEF is now against international adoption for the strange reason of cultural continuity, as if international adoption were somehow eroding cultural and national barriers more quickly than global markets and media. Hey UNICEF, despite your place within the United Nations, the nation-state is dead. Keeping Ethiopian children in Ethiopia is not the answer. I would focus instead on finding a way to redistribute income and wealth on an international scale. Of course, that solution is too difficult, so let’s opt for the myopic and self-satisfying position of keeping children “home” among people who look like them. Brilliant.

    The US government wants out of the adoption business because the geo-political value of it has diminished greatly since the Cold War ended. If you’ve adopted internationally, you know this personally by the awful treatment your case received at the US embassy. A 26-year old private liberal arts college graduate (runner up for the Fulbright s/he really wanted) peering dismissively down her/his nose at you, while s/he dreams of getting off this backwater post to something sexier in Europe.

    I digress. Paul, you’re right.

  2. The problem with #3 is the paucity of news articles on the benefits of international adoption. Children rescued from the dire conditions that characterize most orphanages and brought into boring, middle class American homes do not attract media attention, even though the children are gaining enormously. How many of these welfare gains should we sacrifice to prevent one case of child trafficking?

    Until I see a careful study of the share of adoptions suspected to be criminal, or the effect of opening a country to adoption on child trafficking, I rank articles with the same grain of salt as I do articles about children injured by vaccines.

    Do you have any reason to expect the publication bias in favor of articles about harmful adoption is any different than that on vaccine injury?