Monday, February 19, 2007

The money.

Most adoptive parents are never going to admit that they 'bought a baby'. Many can't conceive of the idea that a child would actually be used as a commodity in the world of adoption. I do feel sad for adoptive parents who have just begun to conceptualize the reality of adoption as a money-making industry because, while there certainly are some people who would not bat an eye at willfully paying whatever large sums of money were demanded in order to get a child, there are many of us out there who are being/were bamboozled by agencies' explanations of 'adoption expenses'.

I'm not going to go off on a tangent about how 'vicitimized' adoptive parents are - but I do think that those of us who have spent a decent amount of time considering adoption ethics should be willing to show potential adoptive parents that we/they, too, are being used by agencies in various ways - to the end of financial profit. I think the manner in which agencies explain away the money/'adoption fee' aspect is one aspect of international adoption (and domestic adoption, for that matter) that we should make sure to discuss with potential adoptive parents. There are plenty of people considering US domestic adoption who (not because they are greedy or inherently evil) haven't even considered that they should never agree to pay expenses for (or directly to) a woman who is considering adoption, for example. They don't understand why, when agencies present it as a matter of 'need', it is 'wrong' to comply. As much as I have complained about certain AP behaviors, I think it is really only fair (and compassionate) to try to understand that one can not possibly know about the maneuvers of adoption agencies until one has experienced it or has the good fortune of participating in a fairly in-depth discussion about ethical practices. Instead of always claiming that people should 'know better' - we have to understand that society sets up agencies who 'help children' as being about as close to an altruistic institution as anything could be - so the average unsuspecting potential AP really has no reason to think otherwise; it's just not common knowledge.

As for me, as I've said in the past I started the adoption process with the idea in mind that there were children who needed homes, and that adoption agencies today were operating out of largely 'altruistic' intentions of helping children in need. Therefore, unfortunately it didn't strike me as being unreasonable to off-set the costs of providing for those needs by the way of paying adoption fees. Back then, it was all part of the package that was supposed to be about providing and helping and doing good. I believed that whatever fees I paid were directly related to defraying the expenses of providing day-to-day care and medical care for my son over the course of seven months. I can't bring myself to declare with any certainty that any individual agency representative in Korea acted out of greed, but these days it is just not easy for me to justify the costs of international adoption - and even if I don't accuse any one individual, there is little doubt left in my mind that there is an industry at work. Other countries' fees confound me even more than those levied by the Korean agencies -but I'm not here to claim that one amount is okay and another is over-the-top....the point is that if a country genuinely can *not* care for its own 'needy' children, then simply having someone else take financial responsibility for those children should be the only 'profit' of an international adoption (and even that concept has its own very real problems) - but that is not what is actually occurring.

Some international adoption agencies say that some of my money is used to help other needy children that will not be placed for adoption. Again, in the beginning that sounded good to me. Until I realized that the bottom line of that concept is that some children are, in effect, used, for the benefit of others (if in fact that claim is true). I was willing to pay to adopt my son....multiply by 1,000 or so, and a country can better afford to care for some of its needy children. So IA must continue in order that all the children will be provided for? Honestly I don't understand all of these concepts, and I highly doubt that I could ever get my hands on an itemized break-down of the fee that my US agency paid (my money) to my son's Korean agency, but it still doesn't all add up, to me.

People who consider international adoption might ask questions about the fees. Instead of giving the good ol' (defensive) stand-by response ("It doesn't cost any more than what you would pay for medical care for a pregnancy, birth, and newborn care if you didn't have insurance..."), let's encourage people to question their agency about the fees and to really consider whether they are 'okay' with paying thousands of dollars related to adopting a child. Also, we can encourage them to consider (or reconsider) the US adoption tax credit which refunds nearly $11k worth of paid taxes to a US couple or single AP who adopts (domestically or internationally). So, a government that could not afford to help a mother take care of her own child, can afford to help someone else take care of that same child.

Any insights or other thoughts, anyone?


At 7:12 AM , Blogger said...

Don't give money to those adoption agencies. If you think an agency isn't ethical then don't become a customer.

Good post.

The only adoption agencies worth supporting are the ones who encourage the mothers to keep their children and offer them ALL the information so they are really making an informed choice. Coercion should be stamped out.

At 6:19 PM , Blogger Erika said...

i think adoption is all about exploitation for all parties concerned. it's an Industry that makes it's money off the impoverished women of the world.It starts off with the mother, then the children are sold, and then a-parents buy into the myths and altruistic garb.after all of this, all parties have to struggle thru with the issues and problems associated.i dont feel sorry for a-parents who feel wronged by agencies. mainly because the only way to stamp out the injustice is for the consumer to take a stand and demand things to be ethical.they dont listen to adoptees and they certainly have no use for b-parents once we have been harvested.This is an Industry that answers to supply and demand.They dont care who they hurt.

At 9:43 AM , Blogger zoe said...

Hi Erika...thanks for your comment! I think you said it all in a nutshell, and I agree with you. The main reason I posted this is because the way that the dialogue is going right now (we all separate into our own corners and complain about our own little issues), people (the general public) are not learning the facts they need to know in order to make ethical decisions - and I honestly believe that sometimes the truth is buried enough that even good people just don't 'get it' at first glance. If discovering the truth were that simple/easy, I'm betting there would be a lot less 'birth'moms out there, and probably some of us who wouldn't be adoptive parents. Nobody goes into it to be lied to and screwed over. I sometimes DO feel sorry for certain APs who feel/are wronged by agencies. Let me give you an example: The agency tells you that you won't know the name or whereabouts of your future adoptive-child's biological mother because (they say) - 'it is very important to protect her privacy because she would be scorned in her society if her family ever found out'. They DON'T tell you (and really, unless you 'know' the adoption biz, you would never guess) that one reason to keep 'birth'mothers' identities hidden is so that there is less chance of communication between the parties, and less chance of the birthmothers' voices ever being heard. But it's near impossible to come to that realization when your agency gives you a plausible and very real-sounding rationale that induces APs to be 'concerned' for the safety and privacy of the bio mother. There are countless other examples. You are right, the adoption industry doesn't care who it hurts, and that includes potential APs (although definitely the crap they give us doesn't hold a candle to the wrongs done to bio mothers and adoptees). But to not be able to be sympathetic to the ways in which APs can be duped by the process, it really does hinder productive conversations that could get more APs to see the ethical issues at hand.

Hi Kim - thanks for stopping by! I always like hearing what you have to say... :)


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