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Adoption Ethics

Last night I read Jen Hatmaker's post on ethics and remembered that I had one that was never published (mostly because I'm part chicken).

But I realize that I do have a voice, and I don't want to waste it. I want to contribute to the awareness.

To start with, I guess I feel that I have to preface a post like this with a few things: 

1. Yes, we are still adopting.

2. Yes, I believe there are thousands and thousands of children in this world who DO need to be adopted, who need families. Absolutely, yes.

3. But things have gone wrong. As the church of Jesus Christ, we have no choice but to wake up. 

Also, I hate that people are turning this into a boxing match with two sides. One side is stop-adopting-altogether; the other side is just-adopt-because-it's-always-for-the-greater-good. No. No. Neither of those work. There is a middle line to walk. It's not an easy balance beam to get across. It includes fighting hard for ethical adoption as well as looking at other ways to care for vulnerable children AND vulnerable mothers.


Dear Prospective Adoptive Parent,

This is the post I don't want to write. It's probably the post you don't want to read. But it's necessary. More adoptive parents are willing to talk. And it's time that we listen.

There are a lot of evil, greedy, and desperate people in this world who are willing to buy and sell children. And there are a bunch more people who will convince themselves that this buying and selling is okay, for the greater good, to help a child out of poverty or to give a child the gospel.

It is not okay. Two wrongs do not make a right. And it is your responsibility to know-that-you-know your adoption is ethical. Government officials, orphanage workers, agency staff — you can not simply take their word or accept run around answers. They will be willing to turn a blind eye, but you can't.

Because someday you are going to have to look into those eyes . . . the eyes of that child, your child, the one you have parented for 11 or 14 or 17 years and give answers. Your child will want to know her story; she will want accountability. So you must demand it throughout your entire process. 

Here are some ways to help you get started in your search:

  • Google an agency's name + "unethical adoption" 
  • Google the agency's director name. Did they previously own another agency? What can you find out about that? 
  • Run from any agency that has a gag-clause in their contract.
  • Be wary of pilot programs. Ask your agency what kind of in-country precautions they have to insure that children aren't being trafficked. 
  • Hire a private investigator if you have any inkling that your agency is withholding information, falsifying information, or if there are holes in your paperwork.
  • Don't ever ignore a nagging feeling that something isn't right. Because it might not be.
  • Don't base your country choice or agency choice on wait times. If there are gobs of healthy infants readily available — HUGE red flag. If you want to adopt a healthy infant, please brace yourself for a very.long.wait. 
  • Follow the money. If your agency asks for a $9000 referral fee, ask them to itemize that for you, so you can see who is getting paid and for what.
  • Be willing to search for truth, and if you find something shady, be willing to walk away.

The goal is not to find children for families. It's to find families for children. And if a child already has a family (a family who can love and care for them, even if it looks different than the American definition of care), then that child does not need to be adopted. 

More Resources to Read
please take some time to read these posts from other bloggers who share their knowledge and experiences; other people know SO much more than I do — please glean from their wisdom

Ethical Adoptions (part 1)

Ethical Adoptions (part 2)

Adoption Gone Wrong (listen to this story from NPR)

The Farmer's Wife Tells All ~ Ugandan Adoptions

Walking Away from Ugandan Adoption

Necessity of Investigations in DRC 

Reconsidering DRC Adoptions 

PEAR Ethics Alert on Adoptions from DRC

The Dark Side of China's Aging Out Orphan Program

Questions We Should Have Asked

Supply and Demand in Adoption

Ethics in Ethiopian Adoptions

PEAR's Ethiopia Study Results

We all MUST do everything in our power to ensure ethical adoptions.

3 Responses to Adoption Ethics

  • Sharla says:

    Very important for people to read this. I will share this on Adoption Magazine’s Facebook page right now so that more people are able to read and spread the word.
    Sharla recently posted..Our Favourite Sentimental Children’s BooksMy Profile

  • Sarah says:

    Right on the mark. Those top three items were where I was “blind” during our first adoption. Now through our second, I’m the client that makes the agency answer for every single comma in their paperwork. That said, I’m also more settled with the fact that your kid is meant to be your kid, and they will find a way to you!

  • Louisa Green says:

    religion has nothing to do with adoption. Stop preaching the gospel

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