Dear Fellow Ministers Outside of the Evangelical Orphan Movement,
I was adopted in 1972 but learned at age 32 that a vast amount of children were not abandoned, but that their parents had been given instructions after World War II to drop off their young children at churches, city halls, and hospitals. Some evangelical pastors even provided drop-boxes. This conveniently allowed for the pastors to make the children available for overseas adoption without having to contend with the (birth) parents. The ministers conveniently avoided having to register the child’s birth information, which allowed for easier processing into the global system of overseas adoption where the children would not be tracked in the adoptive countries.
Along with numerous transracial and overseas adoptees from around the world, my twin and I had been told that we were abandoned. We were supposedly “orphaned” babies found on a street. Of course, like many adoptees, we believed the story of abandonment without question. In the culture of adoption, asking questions is considered rude and disrespectful. And, in my case, the evangelical followers declared war on me for doing so.
The adoption lobby has expanded the word “orphan” in adoption law to include children of poor and single parents. This means that any child is at risk of being processed for overseas adoption. The desire for a child is aggressive. For example, in Ethiopia alone, for every child available, fifty applicant requests are willing and desiring to adopt. No Ethiopian mother can argue against a fierce lucrative demand, just like no Korean parent could fifty years ago. Fortunately, today, there is social media, and connections are being made. This does not mean that we should not take protective and preventative measures. We need to be the watchers and protect future local and global families from being exploited and unnecessarily and permanently severed.
Meanwhile, adoptees in the west were told their people routinely abandoned their children, were secular, atheists, wrong, hated girls, needed to be corrected, and, of course, came from a patriarchal nation. If the citizens did not relinquish their children, wanting adopters and applicants were told that the citizens had an “infatuation with blood-ties.” This gave the implication that the citizens were somehow anti-adoption. In the culture of adoption, followers equated such reluctance as being “anti-God” or part of the “anti-Christ.”
Who do we keep an eye on? The missionaries who build and manage and network with orphanages. In other nations, before the set up of the child welfare system, parents could safely send children to community centers and boarding schools for temporary care. However, after the missionaries arrived and set up more than 500 orphanages in South Korea, many parents returned to discover that their children were gone. These parents were then stigmatized as “birthparents” and refused help to find back their children. Some adoption pioneers, such as in South Korea, used female Korean teenagers to provide care. The congregations would send money while the missionaries maintained control over the citizens, teach, train, and “save” the citizens within the commune. The trickery did not just occur to parents in Asia, but also in India and Africa. You will find one such account from an Indian mother in Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists.
You will also read a story from a colleague of mine from Haiti: Tinan Leroy was sent to France in 1984. He discovered, as an adult, that he had been trafficked for intercountry adoption.
“In 2002, I finally found my family. I learned the exact circumstances of my adoption: I had been kidnapped with forty children from an institution that is called a “nursery” here, where poor families can leave their children, for the time to get out of a distress situation and take them back.”
Like here in the United States, no one would believe that adoption trafficking exists and that many times it fills the intercountry adoption market. Tinan refers to his solo efforts here:
“For my part, I decided to file a complaint against the French government – not against the Haitian government – because rich countries have in this matter the greatest responsibility.”
The industry is managed by the demand side: adoption agencies, adoptive parents, and their beneficiaries, who pursue the highest levels of government for legalization and accreditation. When he attempted to voice his concern at the Hague Adoption Convention, he shared the result in an interview:
“Haiti has signed the Hague Convention. I have been associated with its drafting, but none of my proposals were accepted, with their argument that it was necessary to maintain a certain vagueness to continue adoptions. I wanted to include that poverty cannot be used as a reason [for processing children overseas], while [they argued] the words “economic reasons” are mentioned in 97% of cases.”
Devastatingly, Tinan died of heart failure on October 19, 2014, one month after the publication of Adoptionland. Tinan refers to the anthology here:
“This is the great absurdity of these adoptions: we [The European demand-side] will spend € 20,000 to remove a child from its parents, then with that money, we could help his/her family to raise him/her. We [adult adoptees] are more and more to denounce these abuses; we will soon release a book [Adoptionland] in the United States with a group of 30 adopted writers.”
While alive, Tinan asked me to support his story “because the French will not acknowledge the hidden side of international adoption.” The love affair with the practice of adoption has become a global crisis. During Tinan’s short life, he was a very talented man: an author, a physics professor, a saxophone player, and a choreographer, but he confided that he felt alone. His friends believe that his adoptive mother deleted his profile, author page, and memorial pages from Facebook and YouTube. (A lack of support from adoptive mothers is reported as a common problem for adopted people, particularly those who search for their families.) I hope to keep Tinan’s memory alive. Tinan wanted Adoptionland to reach the mainstream public. So, I ask that you please consider donating copies on his behalf to educational institutions and organizations or recommend it on review sites so that other receptive and like-minded readers will know of our existence.
Survey findings today from a small pool of intercountry adoptees reveal that “adoption” is not a win-win for all as campaigned by adoption special-interest groups and lobbyists. The results reveal that 100% of all [adoptee] respondents believe that adopted people should have the right to search for their biological families if we so wish. Adoption law prevents this right. Furthermore, 91.1% of the respondents believe that it would be unethical for agencies to advertise them as an “orphan” and process them overseas for adoption while their blood-related families are alive. The same 91.1% would not have agreed to be advertised on private agency forums and public website photo listings as “adoptable” while under the age of 18 if given a choice. (If you are adopted, you can take the survey here.)
Moreover, “Was Your Adoption Ethical” Survey results reveal that adoption has not been in the child’s best interest. For more information on the history of adoption, I strongly urge you to read Adoption What You Should Know (coming soon July 2019), as it gives details on how the children had been obtained by the proselytizers who set up intercountry adoptions, now a routine intercountry child-welfare system, which has prevented parents from ever relocating their children and reuniting. Adoption What You Should Know could be an informative book to read; however, if your true intent is to protect and defend “orphans and widows,” it could also be one of the most important books you’ll ever read.
Thank you for supporting the movement to educate the public by the people. We also would like you to know that by supporting orphans and widows, you are in alignment with God’s work, because as you know, God is not merely condensed energy located in a few selected churches. As you know, God is limitless, expansive energy that spans the world over in all things. God is in and around all of us, all of nature, in all that is.
There was something undifferentiated and yet complete, which existed before Heaven and Earth. Soundless and formless, it depends on nothing and does not change. It operates everywhere and is free from danger. It may be considered the mother of the universe. I do not know its name; I call it Tao. ~Lao Tzu (601 BC), Ancient Philosopher, Poet, and Author of the Tao Te Ching.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter,
Rev. Janine Myung Ja, Ph.D., Philosophy,
P.S. How do we resolve the adoption trafficking crisis? Education is key. Knowledge plus action equals power. The power is with the people. If you would like to help us spread the word, please consider joining my ARC Street Team. If you are on Facebook, send my sister, Jenette Vance, a “friend” request, and “LIKE” the Vance Twins FB Page for updates on adoptee stories. If you are not on Facebook and willing to get the word out, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to know more about my childhood personal experiences, my childhood memories are told in the book Americanize 72 and The Search for Mother Missing, under the name VANCE available on Amazon.
Enjoy listening to Tinan Leroy playing the piano. Dance was his second passion.
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