I was saddened earlier this week to hear a news story from CBS news about Christian World Adoption. Incidences like what CBS reports ocurred in Ethiopia and what the group of American Baptists in Haiti attempted end up hurting more children than they could ever help. The publicity may make some more hesitant about adopting, but the risk is even greater than that.
Adoption involves many areas of law. Laws and procedures in the child’s country of origin must be followed before the child can leave, and laws and procedures of the adoptive parents state and country must be followed before they can bring the child into their home. The laws that regulate adoption are for the protection of the children. When children are exploited or hurt in some way, the number and scope of laws regulating adoption can increase. This can slow down the process, increase stress of those adopting, and even inhibit some from ever starting the process, leaving more children without families for a longer period of time. In some situations, countries have completely closed to adoption.
Haiti has stopped taking new dossiers for adoption. Although this is likely partially a result of focusing on the immediate needs, it has also been said that it is to protect the children from trafficking. This may have occurred anyway; however, the uproar set off by the group of Americans did not help. In their attempts to help a few children, they may have unintentionally hurt thousands more. We are hopeful that Haiti will start taking dossiers in the next 6-18 months, but it may take longer if they decide to implement Hague standards as part of rebuilding.
There is an orphan crisis every day around the world with more than 147 million orphans world wide! Even to provide a "better" life in America, I cannot understand taking a child out of a loving family when there are so many children that need and even ask us to find a family for them. The parents and the three girls mentioned in the CWA story were hurt, but so were the children still in an orphanage in Ethiopia whom that family could have adopted. How many more will be if this program slows down or closes?
It is understandable that the story about CWA would raise questions about adoption practices and the ethics of an agency. As a Hague Approved agency, we take extra precautions to prevent child trafficking and child endangerment. We are audited every year. We are careful about our staff choices, both here and in the foreign countries where we have adoption programs. We will not work with anyone who we think may be acting unethically or not treating children well.
Perhaps more important to building trust than the accreditations, licenses, and audits, is the personality of the agency. A phrase that has become common with our team is ‘we are about finding families for children, not finding children for families’. Our focus is always on the best interest of the children. We are always willing to answer questions and provide documentation as needed. Although we are a multi-disciplinary group of experienced professionals, we hope that our passionate hearts are as evident as our professionalism.