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Corruption in International Adoption: A discussion in terms of corruption in context & culture
Michele L. Jackson, J.D.
First and foremost, I want to say that unethical behaviors or procedures in the adoption process hurt most the most vulnerable children in our world, the orphan. In the past 10 years of international adoption our government and other foreign governments have identified numerous situations in which the term “corruption” was referenced. It is important to understand the use of this terminology and the spectrum of unethical behavior that is referenced in this term. The mere use of this word causes swift and dramatic reactions, which may very well be appropriate. However, a better understanding of the term in the context of international adoption and foreign culture is important.
The following are situations that have come to light in the past few years that were termed “corruption” in the international adoptions process (none of these stories were personally associated with me or anyone at MLJ Adoptions):
- A birth mother was given $300 by an orphanage when she abandoned her child to the orphanage thus creating another social orphan in international adoption;
- An adoption professional brought a child to US on an orphan visa for one family but intended to disrupt the adoption of that family and readopt with a different family (misrepresentation to US Immigration Services);
- A birth mother was given a bag of rice by social services when she abandoned her child;
- An individual took children for adoption from one country into another foreign country in an attempt to avoid immigration procedures;
- Official documents were tampered with, created or changed in order to fulfill process requirements when documents were not available in the country;
- A foreign service provider (attorney) charged money for an adoption and never processed the adoption;
- Individuals posted pictures of a child that was homeless but living with her parents and indicated the child was able to be adopted (the laws in that country only allow for government officials to identify children available for adoption);
- Biological parents were told their children were going away for school but did not understand that an adoption was a full and final termination of their rights; and
- A government official requested $250 to sign a document that day or no money to let it sit and wait execution for several weeks (the $250 was not an official government expediting fee).
As you can see from the examples, “corruption” comes in many forms and many extremes. In several of the examples above, the child was an orphan and should be available for international or domestic adoption but due to the unethical actions during the process
, the child’s ability to be adopted was jeopardized.
The most significant question that US officials have to determine is if customary gifts or expediting fees will jeopardize a child’s right to be adopted. The problem is you cannot have “grey” in these areas when it comes to international adoption and therefore, often a senseless and customary gift could be considered corruption. We here in the US do similar customs; however, they seem normal to us. For example, sending Christmas gifts to the court or other “thank you” gift to someone that helped in your adoption. It is normal or customary to provide an expediting fee in all forms of government in most impoverished countries. However, there needs to be a collaborative effort with our government, adoption professionals and foreign governments and adoption professionals to end any customary practices that would be deemed corrupt.
Instead of using the term corruption
and ending the conversation and ability of that child being adopted, we need to start the conversation there and find solutions for these children.
Come back next week as Michele continues this discussion on corruption in adoption.
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Nelson Mandela's Impact on Racial Relations
Throughout his 95 years, Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner, president of South Africa, a human rights advocate, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner among many other major awards.
But it wasn't the awards or titles that made him so important. Nelson Mandela had an impact on racial relations across the globe. His goal of racial freedom has been encouraged worldwide, and his death is a loss to all who yearn for equality.
It seems as though every time he spoke, there was a grand message of hope that those focused on improving racial relations could take to heart. He had amazing things to say about ending racism, social equality, and international relations.
Here are some of the greatest quotes he has left behind, which will continue to inspire those interested in a united and peaceful society:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
"A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."
"I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."
"Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual."
"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."
"I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man."
"I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days."
With his words as inspiration and guidance, we can all continue the fight even after his death.
July 18, 1918-December 5, 2013
|Heather Sokol is mother to four amazing, active children through both birth and adoption. She’s a little bit crunchy, always opinionated and sometimes speaks geek, but not fluently. She just translates for her geeky husband and partner in life, parenting, and Studio 27. Heather writes based on her own life experiences, which turns into a variety of topics from dating the hubby to girls’ night to family fun, and everything in between.
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The 12 Days of Giving Back
“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.” We have all heard the song that details the twelve days of Christmas. As adoption advocates, we are giving you another way to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. Instead of singing ladies and silver rings, we’ve found twelve ways to give back to adoption and the orphan while shopping this holiday season.
- The Christopher Radko Company sells a Celebrate Adoption Christmas ornament each year that benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation, which supports the foster care system and advocates adoption of all children, creating an awareness of the great need of children who are in search of their forever families.
- The 1500 TreeProject Shop makes and sells ornaments on Etsy.com to fund their family’s second international adoption of Taiwan. Purchasing a unique ornament for your loved one would allow you to support a family who is giving an orphan a home.
- Ornaments made by Ornaments 4 Orphans are created in impoverished communities. The proceeds of the ornaments are then given back to communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, where about one-third of the world’s orphans and vulnerable children live.
- Noonday Collection started as a small fundraiser for a woman to bring home her son through adoption. Three years later, the company is a entrepreneurship partnership between consumers and local artisans around the world. Orphan care and adoption remain a core value of the company.
- Sevenly.com is a clothing website. Each week they designate a charity to receive $7 of each item that is purchased. You can check the website weekly and make a purchase when one of your charities is the beneficiary.
- Lovolution shirts are available at http://www.theokaysee.com/product/hyde-adoption-love-is-thicker-than-water . The proceeds will help families with international adoption expenses. One of the shirt options is designed to challenge the idea that families with blood ties are stronger than the ties formed through adoption.
- Krochet Kollection is a company designed to empower people living in poverty by allowing them to create goods that can be sold in order for them to generate a fair wage. They sell crocheted accessories and other clothing items as well. The items available for sale can be found on their website.
- Helpusadopt.org is a nonprofit organization that gives grants to families adopting domestically, internationally or though the foster care system. One of the ways that the organization generates money to give is through jewelry.
- 31 Bits is an organization that uses “fashion and design to empower women to rise above poverty.” Their handmade pieces are crafted with beads made from recycled paper.
- Children’s Dolls and doll clothing produced by My World Ethic Doll Clothing help to foster culture. These gifts can be found at http://myworldethnicdollclothing.com/ and would make a great gift to a child raised internationally, a child you want to teach about another’s country’s culture, or an internationally adoptive child.
- A book created and sold by an adoptive family called Ellie Picks a Snack, or one of the many of the valuable resources we have listed on our Adoption Resources page.
- Little Passports is an excellent gift for a child. Throughout the year, each month the child will receive a postcard and information from a different country in the world. It is a great way to expose a child to world cultures and generate awareness of other traditions and people groups.
Hopefully, your loved ones will be singing, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, an awesome t-shirt that helped give a child a forever family,” or at least something to that tune.
Photo Credit: Muffet
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Annual Holiday Ornament Contest
Lauren Hacker, MDiv
It's that time of year again! We're putting up our tree and reminiscing over the ornaments and cards we received last year! We loved receiving the ornaments so much last year that we are asking you all to send us some more this year. It means so much to us to have a tree full of love! When we receive an ornament from a family we will enter their name into a hat, and they will be entered to win a MLJ Adoptions t-shirt!
So get out your glue guns and paint and make us an ornament! For those that are less crafty, don't be deterred, we love ornaments of all shapes and sizes, it doesn't have to be perfect. If you have children that are home we'd love for your kids to help too. Please make sure to include a note with your family’s name with the ornament so we can enter your name into the drawing.
If you are local and able, please feel free to drop off the ornament in person! If your child is home and would like they can place the ornament on our tree!
As the ornaments come in we will take pictures and post them on Facebook
. There will be no identifying info posted, so if there is a family name on the ornament we may not be able to post it. Only one entry per family but you can send as many ornament as you’d like. The contest will be over on Facebook on December 31st 2013, so make sure to get your ornaments in before that date.
All ornaments should be sent to:
617 E. North Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
We can't wait to see what you cook up for us this year!
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The Power of Choices and How To Share It
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
Sharing power is an essential principle of TBRI® (Purvis, K., Cross, Dr. R., & Hurst, J.R. . Trust-Based Relational Intervention: TBRI® Connecting Principles [Instructor Workbook]. Fort Worth, TX: TCU Institute of Child Development.). Children feel valued and safe knowing that their needs and wants are heard and taken into consideration. While parents must be "the boss" to keep children safe and learn all the things they need to know to be successful as adults, being in charge does not have to mean dictatorship. Often the most effective leaders are leading rather than commanding, and our children are generally happier to comply when they know their voices will be heard.
Compromising is one way to share power that may not come easily to all parents. The first time one of my friends observed me prompting my son, "Are you asking for a compromise?" his eyebrows about shot off his face. In his Hispanic family, what mom said was law. Adoption complicates parenting, though; because a judge made the decision that this child would be moved half-way around the world to live with a family he or she had never met, there is often a fear around powerlessness and a desire to control what the child can control. When compromising is uncomfortable for a parent, choices may be an easier way to share power.
When offering choices to your child, the parent is still deciding what and when, but allowing the child to have input on the specifics. For example, I may decide that we are having vegetables for dinner at 6 pm, but I can allow my son to choose Brussels sprouts or carrots - both of which we have in the refrigerator. I would not ask him what vegetable he would like for dinner, opening up additional possibilities because he might ask for a vegetable that is not in season or would requires a trip to the grocery and additional spending. If I would say no to something he might choose then it is not a fair choice. In the same way, it can be overwhelming to a child, especially those who may have come from a place of scarcity, to have too many choices from which to choose. You may have noticed the halting that occurs when offered too many choices if you have instructed your child to clean his or her bedroom and nothing gets done. It isn't that your child is being obstinate but rather that they do not know where to begin. (So far we have had the most success with small cleaning tasks at a time; done sequentially the room still does get clean.) Two or three specific choices are plenty for most children.
Offering limited choices helps the child be able to mentally manage the decision to be made, but it also allows the parent to feel that he or she maintains power while still sharing it with the child. Another example of an appropriate choice would be allowing a child to choose if he or she gets dressed before breakfast in the morning or eats breakfast before getting dressed or the child could choose to drink chamomile tea before or after picking up the toys prior to bedtime. In each instance the parent is still leading the activities while allowing the child some input on the method or order.
It is important for parents to remember that choices are not threats or power plays. All options presented must be acceptable and positive. Hang up your towel or go sit in time out is not a choice, it is a threat. Choices can be used in teaching discipline though. If you would like to yell, you can play outside or you can use an inside voice while playing inside. Which would you like to choose? The principle behind giving children a choice is sharing power with them rather than forcing your will upon them.
Find Brooke on Google +
Photo Credit: unicefiran
Follow our TBRI® Tuesday series right here on the blog every Tuesday.
Older Parents and Older Children
Brooke Randolph, LMHC
“Oh, I’m too old for this.”
“No, you’re not! You’re exactly what I want. I want prospective parents in their 30’s and 40’s.”
2013 is coming to an end. As a part of National Adoption Month, and as well as what I do normally, I was able to speak four times at two different conferences and answering questions at two different churches. When I stand at information tables, I am never “selling adoption”; I am not recruiting. Adoption is a wonderful thing, and I love hearing my adult adoptee friends discuss how it has impacted their lives. Finding families for children is not easy. Prospective parents need to be committed, motivated, and ready to think out the box and invest in long term goals vs. seeking short term gains. I am so blessed to be an adoptive mom to an amazing, joyful, talented, compassionate, and wonderful kid – but it is tough work.
During National Adoption Awareness Month
, I try to bring awareness to adoption in general and how it impacts individuals and families. I want people to be aware of the millions of children who live without the care of a family and want the long-term impact may be for these children. It breaks my heart that the likelihood of a child being welcomed into a family drastically diminishes with each year of age. When children age out of a children’s home, generally between 14-16 years of age, without the benefit of education, or the social training that comes from a parent or mentor, they face a future of crime, drugs, homelessness, violence, and a short life expectancy. While a family is what is best for development, preparation for life, and even survival – I still don’t call for every family to adopt. There are millions of children without families, thousands who could join families through adoption, yet I never badger my Facebook friends or my Twitter followers to adopt – even when I think they would be amazing adoptive parents.
At MLJ Adoptions we have connected several infants and toddlers with families – yet the majority of children that need families are school-aged children. I will never forget walking into an orphanage in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
where the 11yo-ish boy dropped his eyes and looked away from me and 8yo-ish girl handed me an infant because they both assumed the white lady was only interested in the babies. For many children this is what they have experienced. They have been taught that they are unlovable because they are no longer an infant.
While younger parents may have more energy and fewer aches and pains, there are many benefits to being an older parent. Older parents are more likely to be open to older children
that desperately need and want families. This may be because they have other children at home that are older or their children have left the nest, while younger parents tend to desire younger children perhaps because they have not yet experienced the various stages of parenting. When facing the tough work of adoptive parenting, there is a benefit to being a seasoned parent. While every child is different and adoption may be new to you, there is calm that comes with a bit more confidence, and it helps to be able to think of alternatives and solutions in the midst of a “moment.” Even when an older parent is a first time parent, there is a self-understanding and acceptance that comes with age that can lead to inner peace and an ability to self-regulate. Older parents typically make more money which can also be a benefit in adoption (stick with me here….). Yes, adoption can be expensive, but there are grants and ways to save for this one-time cost. The real cost may come later when the child needs glasses or counseling or occupational therapy or specialized nutrition…. Any child can have unpredicted needs, but the longer a child was without a stable family, the more likely it is that specialists may need to be consulted or a private school will be needed or any number of things. Money will not make better parents, but it will make it easier for parents to secure the things their child most needs to thrive.
Ultimately I believe that any parent committed to parenting who is willing to walk into adoption with eyes wide open can be an excellent parent. As the tide in international adoption continues to change the landscape, I am keeping my eyes open for older parents interested in adoption who just need to be supported in their decision. As it is likely to become more and more difficult to adopt infants and toddlers, we may start seeing more older parents adopting.
Find Brooke on Google +
Photo Credit: Geraint Rowland
For more information on MLJ Adoptions' international adoption programs, please click here.
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Five Advantages of Adopting an Older Child
Adopting an older child is certainly not right for every family. A family with young biological children seeking to preserve birth order may have to wait to pursue an international adoption. But for families with older biological children or older prospective adoptive parents, adopting an older child may offer some advantages over an infant adoption.
There are many older children throughout our program countries in need of homes. This may mean a shorter wait to receive a referral. Many countries are becoming reluctant to approve younger, healthy children for adoption. But, their reluctance may not extend to older children, sibling groups or children who have special needs. Therefore, a match between an older child and a prospective adoptive family may occur sooner.
Activities for Bonding
Adoptive parents will be able to interact and do things such as such as playing in parks, riding bikes, or going to the movies right away with an older child. These shared activities will provide common ground that could help with attachment. An older girl from Congo
, for instance, may have an interest and ability in cooking. This will provide adoptive parents with a shared activity around which attachment may take place.
Older children will be able to dress, bathe, and entertain themselves. Adoptive parents of older children will not have to deal with diapers - no potty training! This level of independence could be a blessing for older prospective adoptive parents or for a single parent.
For a couple who has dealt with infertility
, it may seem like the window of time for having a family is closing. Adopting an older child or a sibling group will allow the family to catch up. For that couple dealing with secondary infertility, adopting an older child may allow them to provide a sibling near in age to a biological child.
A child who is placed at an older age may know his birth parents or some of his life history. This information can helpful to adoptive parents. Having health information, such as developmental milestones or childhood illnesses available, could provide adoptive parents with additional tools for parenting successfully
When setting out on an adoption journey, prospective adoption families must set realistic expectations and know what they are and are not ready to deal with. For many of the reasons described above, older child adoption may be right for you.
For more information about MLJ Adoptions' international adoption programs, please click here.
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