The mighty fortress of adoption under attack!

From the Huffington Post comes this editorial, International Adoption Under Siege?

Okay, the provocative title alone makes me hate the article. Under siege. Sigh. A precious fortress under attack (by whom? "Angry adoptees? Ha!)

Anyway, although in general I disliked this article, I thought this part was interesting, to say the least.

Anyway, I can't resolve the battle of
competing rights — the right to a family, your original family, a
loving home, a secure permanent setting, etc. Everyone seems to agree
explicitly that "there is no right to adopt, only the right of the child to be adopted,"
but the reality is that the demand generated by adoptive parents is one
of the driving forces in this arena — and that includes their money.
(As Bartholet points out, of course, that also means international
adoption is a way of helping children without government spending.)

Ironically, although many advocates for
children are adoptive parents, I am starting to get the feeling that if
policy is going to be true to that premise — children's rights, not
adoptive parents' rights — then the adoptive parents shouldn't be in
the room when the policy is written.
In other words, the humanitarian
impulse, at least ideally, could be the foundation of public policy —
but we can't expect it to be the motivation for adoptive parents any
more than it is for birth parents.

Cross posted from the Family Inequality blog.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

6 thoughts

  1. so maybe I’m confused but I think the blog post from family inequality is his response to attending a conference and citing a Bartholet article with the name “int’l adoption under siege.” (which he links to and is the weirdest piece of non-rigorous academic writing i’ve had the misfortune to read in a long time). blog-guy seems to be sort of absorbing a lot of information and not yet coherent about his response but ultimately somewhat critical of the siege-defenders.
    this is so not my research area but i am so sick of bartholet-type reasoning exalting individual rights and rejecting any discussion of privilege/ institutionalized racism and sexism/ oppression etc.

  2. I realize that I am taking this out of context, but how can one say that children have a right to be adopted, but not have a right to their birth parents?
    I’d be interested to see the flip trend lines for the “sending” countries. I.e., what are the trends for relinquishing children (ideally going down, if domestic policies and economic conditions are more supportive of birth families)? What are the trends for domestic adoption in other countries (ideally going up, *if* relinquishments are continuing)?

  3. “I am starting to get the feeling that if policy is going to be true to that premise — children’s rights, not adoptive parents’ rights — then the adoptive parents shouldn’t be in the room when the policy is written.”
    I think this is 100% correct (and I’m an adoptive parent). At least from my experience, I just don’t see how any adoptive parent could possibly be neutral on this issue.
    (But, in response to the comment above, I’m about 100% sure that the author didn’t mean to state or imply that a child doesn’t have the right to be with his or her biological parents. Just that – vis a vis adoptive parents – the child’s rights and interests are really the only ones that matter.)

  4. Oops. When I said “neutral on this issue” above, what I really meant was “truly objective”. There’s just too much emotional baggage involved.
    Sorry if my slippage of the keyboard was confusing.

  5. FYI, Stacy’s interpretation is how that quote is meant. Note, too, that quote is from an organization I disagree with a lot – as they oppose same-sex couples and single parents adopting, except as “last resort,” for example.
    Thanks for the interesting discussion. I guess I was mistaken to think a provocative title for the post was a plus!
    I was invited to the Adoption Policy Conference to present a piece of public health research I had done – which I linked in the post. I did not realize I would be witnessing a very heated political situation. Not that I am not aware of these issues, I just wasn’t aware of the Bartholet / UNICEF divide, you could say.
    Anyway, I’m interested to read your blog. I think “sort of absorbing a lot of information and not yet coherent” is a permanent state of mind for me.
    So, thanks!

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