Friday, April 16, 2010

'Sketchy' Is Not Synonymous for 'Acceptable'

Last weekend, in anticipation of our trip to DC, we headed to our local mall for summer clothes for the kiddos.  We ended up at Gymboree in hopes of finding a bargain -I can't buy anything there at retail price.  While in the store I ran into an older gentlemen who was carrying a beautiful dark skinned baby girl (I have adoption radar). Eventually the Daddy came over and took her from Grandpa and we struck up a conversation. I asked him where his daughter was from and he graciously replied that she was from the Congo.  She had been home two and a half months and was now six months old.  She was absolutely precious!

I expressed my surprise that adoption was allowed in the DRC.  I knew of only a few countries in Africa that allowed adoption and was happy to learn of another that was opening it's doors to the international community.  He was very open about their experience and went on to say that they chose the Congo because other countries they looked into did not allow adoptive parents to be on anti depressants. 

When I asked what agency they used, he emphatically refused to endorse them and although he didn't elaborate, he said that he wouldn't use this particular agency again because they were "sketchy".  He was quick to point out that his wife did all of the research and let the sentence die with the implication that he had nothing to do with that part of the process. This is where I am thankful for the openness of adoptive parents but instinctively uncomfortable in the turn the conversation has taken.  This isn't the first time I have talked with adoptive parents who have questioned the reputation of their adoption agency. That coupled with the fact that he threw his wife under the bus left me saying a quick good luck and goodbye.

In Monterey there was a family from our church who traveled to adopt their two children from Vietnam and sadly only came home with one child. The other baby's relinquishment was in question by the US government and they would not release a Visa until further investigation.  I had one conversation with the father as they waited for their daughter to be released and learned that they were allowed to adopt four month old babies biologically unrelated at the same time. He, too, was shaken to the core from the experience with their adoption agency. He would not endorse them and even considered legal action but at that time would not rock the boat until after their baby was finally allowed to come home.  He also told me that through the same agency this exact same scenario was playing out with a family living in a different state and the outcome for the second child did not look promising.  I learned that eventually the US released their daughter and she was able to come home but it still left me shaking my head.

The process of adoption can be precarious because of changing requirements,  extended wait times and unforeseeable paperwork snafuus. It's not a place for slippery slopes and questionable ethics.  For me, in adoption, the ends do not justify the means.  I wonder at what point during the process that little voice, that feeling in the pit of their stomach told these parents that something was off.  Do we begin to justify the circumstances to suite our needs? Do adoptive parents in questionable circumstances begin to ask questions like, when you consider the fact that these children are now in 'the system', does it matter how they got there to begin with? Don't they need a home regardless of the circumstances surrounding their relinquishment? Aren't we saving a child who needs a home?

I don't want to be judgmental. I don't want to imply these families did something wrong because I only know bits and pieces of their story. But in the wake of the Torry Hansen fiasco, when international adoption is front and center, I can't help but feel disbelief at the willingness of families who put time lines ahead of the well being of their future children.

To me it speaks to the now! now! now! society we have become.  I mean, who hasn't gotten frustrated waiting for the microwave to count down backwards from one minute? And don't even get me started about how long it takes to fast forward through a commercial on my DVR'd tv shows...

We are driven by instant gratification. Are you kidding me? Wait three years for an adoption to be finalized? can be a common attitude for the faint of heart.  It may suck three ways to Sunday but the process of adoption is a marathon not a sprint and cutting corners to satisfy personal desire should not be acceptable.

There is this pervasive attitude that we deserve what we want, when we want it. It overlaps and spills into our work lives, our homes lives. With the amazing advancement in technology and the rate at which information is exchanged it's unthinkable to wait more than a keystroke to find what we're looking or acquire goods and services.

I remember during the paperwork process H and I grumbling about the fact that we had to wait for forms through the mail. Have they lost their minds?  In this day and age we should have been able to send our dossier online! It was agonizing at times to WAIT for the process to move itself forward with nothing for us to do but be patient. And wait. And wait some more. If I had a dollar for the time we spent waiting for this paper to arrive and that form to be approved I would be one rich momma.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The ends do not justify the means in adoption because ultimately we are responsible for bringing a child into our family. If we don't stand up for ethical adoptions and walk away from "sketchy" agencies, than we have allowed the proliferation of baby buying and coerced relinquishments.

Have a great weekend everyone!


a Tonggu Momma said...

Amen! We've been waiting in the China line for almost four years now. That's not to say that China is corruption-free (because we are fooling ourselves if we believe that), but I at least feel comfortable that China is trying its best to deter corruption... otherwise they would be churning out adoptions as fast as possible.

And of course! I'd love to be added to your blog roll.

April said...

thanks for stopping by Momma!

Wendy said...

Thank God for Holt.

Mireille said...

Sketchy is NOT acceptable, but I wonder when they figured out that the agency is sketchy?? How far are you in a process when you get that feeling in your gut, and what are you doing then?? I would investigate it more, but still that child that is referred to you by now needs a family forever, even if this agency is sketchy... it is a hard thing and the line here is not black and white... there is a huge grey area and the loss is always at the child's side.. unfortunately! Oh, and I hate it that the guy gave his wife all the blame... how weak!!

thecurryseven said...

Very well said! I've stopped asking people who their agency is because I have definite opinions and it is difficult to be all smiley when I think their choice of agency is questionable.

April said...

I think I will take your lead and not ask anymore. This conversation stayed with me for two weeks now!

April said...

I know, I know!! This is the dilemma and why I think it's so very, very important to do research and find an agency that puts the children first! Thanks so much for your input! I love that we can have a conversation as parents who have been through the process!

Frizzy and Bird said...

Ugh! This is a heavy topic. I'm over from Born in My Heart for the first time. We are currently waiting to be chosen by a birth mom for our second domestic adoption. Our initial journey began when we decided to adopt through Russia. I shudder to think how long we would have been waiting had our daughter not literally fell in our lap. My heart goes out to the child at the center of this controversy. In addition, I am sad for the families who are waiting for that special child to complete their family and now have to wait longer.

I honestly believe more assistance and counseling is imperative post adoption/placement. The honeymoon phase after bringing home a child doesn't always afford families ample time to identify their needs or those of their new child until later.

April said...

So happy to meet you and thank you for stopping by!
I absolutely agree with you that there should be an opportunity for more post placement follow ups.
A positive with adopting from Thailand is that they have a six month post placement requirement before they will allow the adoption to become finalized so our social worker came to the home at 2,4 and 6 months before filing a report with our agency who forwarded it to Thailand.
It definitely gave us an opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns and we welcomed the feedback!
Hope to see you again here soon!

coffeemom said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog and how extra glad I am for it as now I have a whole new blog to surf! Wow! And, no surprise, many parallels; the same feelings re: adoptions, ethics etc and the same bouts w/ infertility (tho mine, thankfully, looong ago, a very tough patch indeed that time in my life). Your family is beautiful. YOur blog is beautiful! Can't wait to read more. bless you.

April said...

Welcome and thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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