There has been a lot of discussion on various Vietnam adoption list serves over whether there is an ethical crisis in Vietnam or not. Obviously, I believe there is since I don't think the title of this post is over the top. Some thoughts...
I am very concerned about some of the things I have been reading in regards to adoption from Vietnam. I do feel for all the PAP's (prospective adoptive parents, for those of you not up on your adoption jargon.) out there who are trying to navigate the world of adoption. I remember how shocked and discouraged (still am...and hope I never cease to be) I was when I would read stories of the sordid underbelly that exists whenever large sums of money and children are combined. (For an example of how sordid, go to http://www.fleasbiting.blogspot.com/ )I do not see a frenzy over ethics occuring. In fact, I see just the opposite. Over and over I read requests asking which agencies have the fastest referrals and travel. But for those of us voicing concerns over the current situation in VN, just voicing concerns does not make a situation exist. Merely stating something does not call it into existence. There were people voicing conerns over Cambodia and others who denied any wrongdoing and the same situation occured in VN before the shutdown. Just because we don't like a situation does not mean we should remain quiet about it, especially if it means children will be harmed.
I am also concerned about the reports of 50-60 infants seen in orphanages. That is just an overwhelming number of babies, espcially in light of a report of the low number of children when she travelled during the moratorium. And if they were all abandoned, then, yes, I do find that very suspicious. Relinquishing a child is not illegal in VN and allows someway to check on thefacts of a child's history. Adoptions out of VN never completely stopped; children were being adopted to western countries...just not the US and Cananda. But when the US (and US dollars) entered the scene again. there seems to be an explosion of abandoned children. But only in certain areas. Not all the agencies licensed in VN have experienced this same epidemic. I have read the arguments that it is a matter of area. But the agency we worked/are working with does not have orphanages filled with babies. And it's not that the orphanages are in remote areas that are sparsely populated. They are in the three major population areas of the country. Curious.
I am also not sure I buy the argument that poor mothers are hoping for a better life in the US for their child and that is the deciding factor in sending the child to the orphanage. I'm not saying it never happens, but that cannot be an explanation as to why there are suddenly so many babies. I would bet that many of the general VN population have no idea of the numbers of VN children that are adopted to the US and other countries. A country does not publicise the fact that they are sending children away. If you don't believe me, go ask someone in your community if they know that the US is a sending country for Canada and Europe...mainly of African-American infants.
Adoption should be about the child. They are the part of the triad who have absolutely no voice in the process. Birth parents may feel as though they have no choice or may have been given wrong information in the making of their decision. For them, my heart breaks and I pray for a world where no parent has to relinquish a child. I would hope that agencies and facilitators do not act too fast, giving birth parents time to reconsider. The best scenario would be that the agency would do all in their power to keep the birth family together. If infants are referred at 1 month old, how could any of this been tried? Prospective adoptive parents may also feel as though they have no voice. Others approve us, others match us with a child, others approve or disprove the match...but we also know what is happening. We are adults and aware of the implications of our actions, and we can always say, "No". An infant or young child has no power to say "No" to an adoption. The adults in the game are expected to act in the child's best interest. But, it seems, too often the adults act in their own best interest. I believe international adoption is a child's last best choice. To remove a child from birth family and birth country, culture, and language is no small thing. And just because we are richer and have more resources and opportunities does not make it OK. Read Camryn Mosley's statement at the trial of Lauryn Galindo http://www.ethicanet.org/galindo_victim.pdf I am not againt intercountry adoption. I am the mother of one son from VN and waiting for another. For children who have no other hope for a family of their own it is a wonderful thing. But it is not something to enter lightly. Our actions affect not only our own families but have far reaching consequences. Money poured into unethical agencies just encourages wrong-doing. Please do your research carefully and do not dismiss experienced voices because they say things that are uncomfortable or are things you don't want to hear. Remember you are entering into a business contract and the nicest, most sympathetic voice on the end of a phone does not guarantee that you are more important than your money.