I was just reading the story about the Baptists who are being held in Haiti for allegedly trying abduct 33 children, you can check the story out for yourself here. My dad brought our attention to this story yesterday as he had listened to the radio on his way home from town and had just happened to catch the latest Haiti news. Now before I proceed with my diatribe I want to make a couple of things clear:
1. I am not opposed to adoption I think it is a great thing and for some people and children it is the very best thing.
2. I am not knocking that these people were trying to be helpful in very desperate and desolate circumstances, knowing what you should do in these types of situations is very difficult.
Now that we have that out of the way I will proceed.
What exactly is it about people that makes them think that just getting children out of difficult countries and situations and giving them to someone else (other than their family) is the best idea? Many children that are in orphanages in Haiti are not actually orphans, they may in fact have parents, if they do not have parents they may have aunts uncles or grandparents. In Mexico it is not even legal for anyone to actually start an orphanage. The only real orphanages in Mexico are state-run all the rest of the so-called orphanages are actually children’s homes which means that children from under privileged families can be brought to these homes and left there to be fed and educated, kind of like a boarding school.
Someone once asked me if children could be adopted from Mexico and I told them that no they could not, the person I was speaking with was shocked. I continued by telling them that orphans in Mexico can only be adopted by other Mexicans, the state has decided that this is the best way for the children to grow up that way they can preserve their language and culture, they feel that if children are sent somewhere else that they will lose their identity and that Mexico will be giving away its future. In many ways they are correct. We hear it all the time “our children are our future”. We as Americans firmly believe that, or at least that is what we say that we believe. So it is very interesting to me that we automatically assume that what is in the best interest for poor children in other countries is to be removed from those countries, from their culture and their language, removed from their people and to be placed in an American home. We do no think about that other country’s future, we removed it from them.
Can you imagine what we as Americans would think if someone decided that American orphans would be better off somewhere else? Lets say that they decided since there is a lower obesity rate in Sweden and since they don’t allow sugary commercials to be targeted at children that Sweden is a better place for American orphans to be raised and therefore the majority of American orphans begin to be adopted out to Sweden where they lose their language and their American heritage. What would you think about this? What do you think Americans would think about this? Do you think you might feel insulted?
So now lets take it even a step further, how about we start sending foster children to other countries? They may have family that just are not able to take care of them at the moment but it doesn’t matter because there are other countries that could and will raise them better. How about children who may have living parents? What if after Katrina we started rounding up the children that were temporarily separated from their families due to the chaos during the disaster and we started adopting those children out to Canadians?
Is your blood boiling yet? Are you feeling like someone is taking your future? Abducting your heritage?
Now, like I said there are legitimate adoptions and legitimate circumstances that are great for both the adopting families and the children but I think that there needs to be a little thinking change as far as children and adoptions go, children are not only our (as Americans) future but they are Mexico’s future, Haiti’s future, India’s future, Sweden’s future, China’s future… and each one of these countries are full of language and history and culture. We can not abduct someones future even if it is a well-meaning abduction.