If you are looking to adopt, ask the right questions.
Do not immediately trust the adoption facilitator and do not pay the non-refundable fees until your questions are answered or sign any silent clause (or gag order) which would prevent you from obtaining justice or voicing public concerns about their practices if they did not uphold their part of the agreement. Do not be afraid to investigate the agency and ask hard questions. The following questions may seem tough, but it will be even tougher to try to legally and emotionally resolve criminal cases. In fact, some cases can continue on for decades. Be sure to demand that the agency demonstrates truth and transparency, and inform you of exactly how the children are sourced. If the agency has nothing to hide, they will be happy to help you and to give you answers. But caution, even those who are particularly friendly have been known to unethically source children.
Getting all the facts about the child is your right prior to paying the fees–which can run up to $60,000 for inter-county adoptions depending on the race of the child and the country of birth. Protect yourself. It is not uncommon for adoption traffickers to emotionally lure paying adoptive couples using photos of impoverished children–who are not truly orphaned–and then accept non-refundable fees. You do not want to get lured in by strong feelings for a child–only to discover years later that the child was never orphaned in the first place, wasn’t even available or that his/her family searched for decades. Facilitators profit more when you (and the mainstream public) do not ask what may seem invasive questions and some agencies have been known for blaming and suing adoptive couples. If you are paying an adoption fee–You have a right to know as much information as you can get. The following is a list that intercountry adopted people may eventually want to know:
What are their methods to source children? Which orphanages do they partner with? Ask them to prove that the children have been obtained ethically. Are the children truly orphans? How were the children brought into their possession? If the parents were missing–and the child appears to be an orphan–was a police report filed prior to obtaining the child for intercountry adoption. How long did the police search for the child’s family prior to making the child available for adoption? Are the facilitators able to provide the death certificates of the families which attests that the child truly has no other living family members? Is the facilitator matching the same child with several different paying couples? If a different child is delivered than the one agreed upon based on the photos, are the fees refundable? Can the child be returned if s/he is an aids victim or has other deformities which were not disclosed at the time of signing documents?
When poverty-stricken parents or relatives are alive, what kind of counseling did facilitators give the family before the documents were signed? Do the facilitators abide by the United States laws against Child Trafficking and Smuggling and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)? Were other–less severe forms of care–considered, such as in-country kinship care, temporary or permanent guardianship, foster care, step-family care, or community or group home care prior to registering the child as adoptable? Has the child’s identity been altered? Were the families of birth informed of the long-term ramifications involved with permanent separations, such as potential trauma caused by removing the child from his culture and country of birth and into a foreign nation? Were the child’s family informed that they would never have access to their children in the future? And that the child would grow up believing that she had been abandoned?
Many individuals who want to adopt might develop strong feelings for children after perusing adoption agency website listings. Adoption agencies know this. On the other side of the world, some parents do not understand what intercountry adoption entails–that it permanently severs all ties from their children. Many are led to believe the practice is a temporary remedy. Some families assume they will be reunited one day into the future. Also, another consideration. It is the tradition of many countries and cultures without Social Security, that once the children become adults, they provide care for the elderly parents. Many rural parents from Africa, Asia, and South America do not have the word “adoption” in their cultural vocabulary. Rather, children are cared for in a variety of community-based alternatives such as kinship care, temporary guardianship, permanent guardianship, step-parenting care. According to the correct interpretation and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), attempts for these types of methods of care need to be provided prior to listing the child adoptable. Adoption traffickers ignore these culturally respectful forms of child protection and welfare.
Are you ready to adopt? Ask the adoption agency to work for you. Do they know if their orphanage partners invite the parents and guardians inside the facility to help with childcare? Or are the family members regularly turned away? Some orphanages must meet certain quotas which serve as an incentive to find as many children as possible–usually in rural areas where it is more difficult for the parents to find them back. In some cases, families do not know that their child is registered with an orphanage and made available as “orphans” on western websites and magazines ready to be matched with a family overseas for intercountry adoption. Once the child is targeted and placed inside an orphanage, they are fair game for a variety of trafficking purposes.
Remember, you do not have to trust the adoption facilitator. Many guilty child sellers appear to be professional, will give you expert answers and lip service in an attempt to calm your anxieties and build your trust. Some might appear especially ethical but will turn a blind’s eye against the child’s birth family and make large sums of money from expediting the child overseas. Remember, it does not benefit the facilitator to ask tough questions. In order to protect yourself, you do not need to be nice. Before you write that check or transfer funds, you can be firm. Do not want to risk bringing home a trafficked or smuggled child. The resolution will be costly for both sides and some cases can go on for decades.