Adoptiong an Older Child: blame and poverty

After almost a year of being home with Abel, we are now dealing with some difficult realities. I am also hearing from other moms that are dealing with the same things. Its hard when you find out that your child had no idea that their mom and dad were dead and that grandma wasn't mom. Others are dealing with children who believed their sister was really their mother or visa-verse. We hear stuff about sisters and brothers but the court papers say they are really cousins. You start wanting to blame someone for all this confusion, misinformation and painful conversations you have to have with your kids. Who to blame though? The agency? The country? Your own naivety?

But really, I don't think blame can be placed anywhere completely. We have to consider the fact that there is a language issue in translation, the agency staff in Addis is Ethiopian not American, they respects their culture not ours so they protect it and feed us rich Americans what we want.

I know families that are upset because they found out that the child they adopted had a living parent. But the truth is a single mom in a male dominated country can not support her child and even when she tries, she is unemployed, shunned, and more then likely living on the streets. There is no real welfare, shelters, food pantries, etc for them to benefit from. Or very few to meet the needs of 59% unemployment and millions of people living in extreme poverty. It's NOTHING like America. Also, even here, in rich American where there is assistance, I know MANY single moms, dads, that let the foster system take their kids because they feel they cant care for them. They are real orphans because for whatever reason their parent decided they couldn't parent anymore.

Some families now have kids that tell horror stories of poverty and illness in their families back in Ethiopia. Many of these kids are told they will come here and be able to send money back to the family to help them. This makes the adoptive family want to find ways to send money back to the family in Ethiopia. I have a little education on human trafficking and baby selling and I can tell you that if money is sent back to families after a child is placed here, that is human trafficking because you are basically giving money in exchange for a person. What that leads to is moms putting kids up for adoption to get support, selling babies to agencies because they know rich Americans want babies. Then the country closes to adoptions because of these unethical practices. Guatemala is a prime example of this. Good agencies that allowed money to be sent back to families that were starving are now black listed as baby sellers and traffickers. So all that to say, best intentions can lead to bad outcomes.

The reality is that by adopting a child from Ethiopia we are not helping that country. They allow the adoption of their kids because agencies pour money into their economy, their children are living on the streets by the thousands, and entire generations are being lost, so they are desperate for a solution. They watch as 20-50 families a day take their future leaders, business owners, teachers, doctors, away to a rich country. They do it in hopes that these children will return one day, but most will not move back. I actually don't know of any that have.

There are ways to help Ethiopia. Organizations like Children's Hope Chest, World Vision, Compassion International,Mocha Club, and many others, that build schools, teach job skills, and/or support entire families so that fewer kids become orphans, that is where our money needs to go to in order to not be unethical and ruin the chances for other orphans, who are sitting in orphanages already, to be adopted.

Everything I know about Abel could be a lie, or it could all be true. He lies almost daily because he wants to tell us what we want to hear. The best thing I can do now is help him grieve, heal and move on. We will always be completely honest with him about what we know and share with him all the documentation we have. Then when he is grown, if he wants, we will do what we can to help him return, find out his history or move back there.


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