Thursday, April 26, 2007

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing - Edmund Burke

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.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

This is for you, Patty...or Oliver!, Revisited

I meant to write this post three weeks ago, but between trips to the doctor for pnuemonia (TM), nearly broken finger (M), strep throat (P), and stomach flu (everyone), I have been a little preoccupied.

I promised my friend, Patty, that I would discuss the educational benefits of what we have come to call the "Oliver! Curriculum". Since Oliver! became all-consuming to our family for much of the month of March and left very little time for much else (we managed eating and sleeping...laundy didn't make the cut), I thought I would take a look at what our "learning outcomes" were as a result. So join me as I translate the musical Oliver! into education-eze.

Language Arts:
  • Listened to the unabridged recording of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Discussed Charles Dickens -- where and when he lived, who his contemporaries were, and how he wrote his novels (He was paid by the word for those who are interested.)
  • Memorized lines for Oliver!
  • Compared and contrasted the novel, Oliver Twist, with the musical, Oliver!
  • Discussed unusual vocabulary words, taking special note of archaic or Bristish-based words
  • Discussed the use of satire to comment on social ills
  • Improved public speaking skills

Mathematics

  • Discussed the pricing of renting various musicals, why they were priced differently, and how that affected our choice of musicals
  • Discussed the rental fees of different theaters--what was included and excluded, what extra or hidden fees there were (ie hiring cleaning staff, insurance), and how to figure total cost
  • Discussed how ticket prices had to be based on the various costs of putting on the show

History

  • Discussed the Victorian period in England--what was happening within England, what was happening in other countries, how was society different from ours at that time, how did society allow what happened to children such as Oliver, what effect did Charles Dicken's novels have on society
  • Research on clothing of Victorian England

Arts

  • Watched both live and recorded versions of Oliver!
  • Learned the musical score--involved choral singing, solo singing, singing in parts, dynamics, articulation, awareness of pitch and tempo
  • Practiced and improved acting skills and abilities
  • Developed an awareness and understanding of the various roles and occupations available in theater--director, musician, actor, lighting coordinator, set designer, costumer, stage manager

Physical Education

  • Learned choreography for show, including learning a gavotte
  • Increased physical stamina--singing and dancing a two hour show is physically challenging

While these academic-type things are well and good, it is the intangibles that I believe make all the effort worthwhile. The cast members learned what it means to have someone depend on you and the consequenses if you don't do your part. They learned that to do something well takes hard work and that hard work pays off in the end. They learned to take directions and both compliments and criticism in a public setting. they learned to work with and become friends with a wide group of people. (The cast ranged from five years to adult.) They learned to speak in front of an audience. Considering the number of adults who are afraid to speak in public, this is a skill which will last a lifetime. So, while the math books may have gathered a little dust, I believe it was well worth it.

Thus ends my final post on Oliver! (really). The show went incredibly well and played to sold out crowds all three nights. The cast had a ball and the audiences loved it and I was incredibly proud of everyone. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

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