Upfront and really clear: I'm thinking out loud. This is a shoot-from-the-hip post, so don't expect coherence. And it's not about food.
I've just spent yet another evening+ reading about our potential adoption agency, Ethiopian adoptions in general and the irregularities that have cropped up therein recently, stories of families who now live with grief and guilt over the adoption of their child/ren, and a few rare suggestions of how to conduct oneself in this minefield. I'm not dense, I'm reasonably well informed, and I'm certainly not coming to this from a "let's save the cute black baby from a terrible life" perspective, but I'm stumped.
We believe that children have a right to a family, that the intentions of the Hague Convention are correct, and that there are enough children on Earth that it is unfair to create more - because it burdens the Earth, and because it leaves another child out in the cold. We're a cosmopolitan family with specific ties to Ethiopia, so we figured we were pretty solid candidates for international adoption from there. This leaves us exactly ONE agency through which to work. They fail PEAR's agency checklist.
One of the most serious allegations of adoption fraud mentioned is the falsification of information or documents relating to the child - saying they're orphaned when they were relinquished, changing age and birth information, inducing relinquishing relatives or the children themselves to lie about their circumstances. These are crazy-serious situations that may be illegal, are probably immoral, and are certainly damaging to all parts of the adoption triad. I'm having trouble - and I can't know if it's my own language problems or a document problem or an agency problem - determining if I'm willing to trust that this one agency is above reproach. So part of me says, don't touch it with a ten-foot pole.
But what about the children?
There are, after family preservation initiatives, improved social initiatives and all sorts of other steps in the right direction, children who are "left over", for whom fremdadoption is really the only shot at life in a family. Someone wrote (although I can't find the source now) that we must find families for children, and not children for families. We want to be the family that is found. We are not threatened by the existence of birth parents; we have every intention of honouring them and every other aspect of our potential child's early life. By the same token I would never want to be party to a situation where someone was coerced into relinquishing their child, for any number of reasons but most simply because I wouldn't want that done to me. These positions do not exempt us from potentially being part of the problem by adding to the demand for babies that fuels the traffic of children.
My professional work, when I have the chance to do it, is fundamentally about ensuring that women have real choices about their fertility. They don't always, and so we as a global community have children who are unwanted or desperately wanted but unable to be cared for. I cannot walk away from them. We want the chance to put our money where our mouth is, and we are willing to do what it takes to be able to afford that position. If we applied even half the cost of an adoption to family preservation initiatives, a dozen families could possibly stay together rather than just ours.
Somewhere - I've been reading all night and it's late - Ethica? Pound Pup Legacy? suggests that if a prospective adoptive family is not already matched with an Ethiopian child they should switch their adoption train onto another country's track until Ethiopia can get its system sorted out. Since international adoptions from Ethiopia have increased fivefold since 2000, it's pretty understandable that the system would buckle under the pressure. But we have no personal reasons to pursue adoption from another country. Except Canada or Germany.
Are we really back around to domestic adoption?
All this is made ever so much more complicated by a creeping babywunsch; it is so tempting to type out a wail of my desires in great big capital letters! And it is so counter to the process at hand to even acknowledge them. We are to keep calm and carry on, concentrate on the task at hand, do our homework and wait and see, and a whole nostril full of other ineffective, infuriating placations. None of which makes one child safe with us who would otherwise have been alone, or lets me sleep.